Tools I use for Blogging

I had an English teacher turn me onto writing at a relatively early age. I believe I was 13 years old; I had an English teacher, Mr. Carter. I remember him standing on his desk quoting Walt Whitman. His slightly crazy eyes were looking over our class as he, with his best orators voice, yelled, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” It was the start of the year, and I remember him getting me so pumped on these old writers.

He had a creative writing assignment where we were to write a short story. We talked about writing novels. We were asked to keep a journal. A journal is this weird thing that happens with a notebook; you know like blank paper bound together, within which one writes. If you date it, you have a pretty good record of your life. Writing helps keep track of your thoughts and progressions in life.

At some point I realized my penmanship was atrocious, and if I typed out my entries I could read them again later.  I began keeping it on online platforms. Then it began to be popular to have blogs. I think my first real blog was on Xanga. I tried MySpace and Facebook’s solutions as well. I went blogger, and now I’m on WordPress.

There are some tools that I use to do my blogging.

  1. Site Location/Design:

I have purchased a bunch of different domains on various websites. I mostly use GoDaddy. I have added HostGator to this for my web hosting. They make it easy to setup a WordPress site from the control panel.

I currently favor using WordPress for an actual framework for the site. It seems to make it pretty easy to integrate it with a few other programs.

  1. Monitoring:

Once you get the site up and going, I recommend you set up Google Analytics. Also, make sure you head over to Google Webmaster Tools and Adsense.

Google Analytics lets you monitor how your site is doing, where you are getting your traffic, and how much time people spend looking at your site.

Google Webmaster Tools give you a pretty good understanding how you are doing on Google rankings, as well as if there are major problems with your website.

Adsense allows you to make money on your blog. Having Adsense ads on your site is a double-edged sword. They clutter your site,  but they might have the potential to make your money. If you have lots of traffic, they could help pay for your efforts, but they could also frustrate your viewers.

  1. Content:

I don’t use anything but my brain to develop content. I use my personal experiences to find things about which to write. I do have problems editing my work. Making sure your content is relevant is important. But also making sure it’s legible is pretty significant as well. I’ve been using Grammarly since an embarrassing mistake I made while working for PICR. I thought I had proofread my writing, and I also showed someone else as well. I know that Grammarly would have fixed a bunch of what was wrong with the writing as well.

  1. Promotion:

I like it when I get feedback on my work. The idea that someone will read my work makes me strive to make it worth reading. I could write an awesome guide to buying a car, or growth hacking your Instagram, but what’s the point if no one reads it?

I’ve been getting lots of success using Social Media. Facebook, in particular, has a way of allowing things to go viral. I hear you can have the same thing happen with Twitter, still trying to figure that out. Instagram and LinkedIn have been pretty good to me as well.

SEO is an important part of traffic. It relies on good content. But there is also a little know thought about the internet; it rewards interest. Finding out what words looked for online, you can build your blog around those topics.

The final thing is making sure you get people to link to your website. If you get people to share your articles on their websites, it helps with how search engines few your site! So- please link back to this! 😀

(I plan on working on this as I change things up, or learn more.)

HowTo to Finding the Loss Leader Car

I sold a car yesterday, a 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8 TSI. According to TrueCar, this morning (4/17/16) the target price for this car is $22,556, or $2,909 below the MSRP of $25,465.

I sold it for $20,900. That’s a huge saving- a $4,566 discount! How did the client score this deal? Were they super negotiators? Were they friends and family? What’s the secret? I often get shoppers looking for the best deal on the lot, and this certainly was the best deal. But why was it so low?

It all has to do with marketing. Every company has a myriad of marketing tools that they try to use to get buyers in the door. During one of our sales meetings, I heard that on average we spend something like $350 per car sold.

We do traditional things, like television and radio. We’ve been doing PPC and SEO. We are even trying to push into social media. Each sales person goes through lists of past clients trying to drum up repeat and referral client. All of it pushing hard to make sure we bring people in.

One of the big no-nos in every industry is lying to your clients. It just shouldn’t happen, and if the company is reputable, which mine is, they have to back up promises with reality. How does a company trying to make a profit make giant claims about huge discounts and still stay in business?

Enter one of the oldest marketing strategy, the loss leader. A loss leader is a pricing strategy where a product is sold at a price below its market cost (Wikipedia). Our dealership has a few things that dictate the price of cars. One of which is the age of the vehicle, as in how long it has been on the ground at our dealership. Another is availability. Sometimes manufacturers let us know that we have ten cars of the same model coming in next Tuesday, and we will be overstocked on that model. And finally, the prices at which our competitors are listing their cars. All of these things create room for us to sell one of the cars at a little bit of loss. One of our cars we will listed as a loss leader, leaving all of the other cars priced regularly.

We advertise that loss leaders heavily. We use all our usual channels to let the clients know, and get them excited about that car. Here’s the catch, if you want that car, but it’s missing some feature you need, we’ll switch you to a different car. The special pricing doesn’t apply.

To get the best deal on the car- you have to want that particular car. If you are a value shopper, keep an eye out for those loss leaders. One great way to ferret out loss leaders that I have noticed recently is to turn your cookies on in your browser. Cookies are a small text file (up to 4KB) created by a Web site that is stored on the user’s computer either temporarily for that session only or permanently on the hard disk (persistent cookie). Cookies provide a way for the Web site to recognize you and keep track of your preferences. (Source: pcmag)
Once you have turned them on, figure out which brand of car you want to buy. Go to their website. Go to the dealership website. Look at the car you like.

Do it a few times.

Now keep an eye out for banner ads! Cookies will let advertisers know which car you are interested in, and will tell them with what to tempt you. Suddenly you might notice that there are ads for cars recently looked by you! I know this sounds pretty creepy but trust me it’s totally worth it.

If you liked this article, check out my Guide to Researching Cars. 

mDimitry’s Guide HowTo Grow your Instagram

Ever wonder how people get huge Instagram accounts, every photo liked 100’s, 1000’s, of times?

I don’t. It’s easy.

Be awesome!

Save that, it might take a bit of work and consistency. There are a few… hacks to get it to grow quicker. Now- warning- they might seem a bit of gimmicky and spammy so be aware of this, and take into account that they work. So let’s cover the non-spammy stuff first.

  1. Don’t spam. No one wants to see 15 photos of the kangaroo you are looking at the zoo. Or your meal, every single bite. If you want to have a good Instagram presence, post consistently- 1-3 posts a day. And those typically hours apart. This Huffington post has a pretty good article about when to post.

  2. Keep content interesting. I like to post man crush Monday’s of myself. I add a Kanye quote, and then some sort of inspiration or encouragement for life. My followers expect it, and I imagine giggle a little as they like it.

This is really hard to do, keeping the content interesting. It takes a lot of thought. Before you post anything, think about it- and why your followers might like to see it.

  1. Always evaluate what you are posting. If one post gets 100 likes, and another very similar post only gets 5… try and figure out why. This constant self-evaluation has taught me a lot about my audience.

  2. Keep in mind- your audience is going to have characteristics. I’ve been helping a hairstylist friend of mine to build her page, a lot of her followers are women- fashion designers/makeup artists/ hair people. These are the people she is targeting. Thus, she tries to put stuff up that they might find interesting.

  3. Hashtags are your friends. #hashtag everything. I like to write long posts. After the post- I post the image with the long post- I immediately post a comment with all of my hashtags.

Finding the right hashtags is very important. I usually go to the search page (detective glass) and look for applicable hashtags. There’s an option for “Trending” and to the right of it says “See all.” I’m pretty bad, I grab anything that even remotely relates to what I’m posting.

I also add stuff that I know is relevant. For example, I post selfies on Monday’s- so #Monday #mcm #mancrushmonday #mancrush. If I was in Miami -#Miami. If it was a sunny day #sunny. You get the picture.

  1. Have fun. Unless it’s your job, then stress out or hire an expert. If you have any more question you can ask me.

Now for the Hacks.

The big one I use I call Churning. Not sure if this is a name for it… but whatever. I add and drop followers. This might seem super simple, but there is a trick to it. And some things to remember.

  1. Limits. Adding a ton of people might seem easy, but for some reason, it works much better if you have more followers than you are following.

There is a maximum number of actions you can do per hour. As of the writing of this post, you could only follow 160 people per hour. Conversely, you can only unfollow 19 people per hour. If you use a program, you have to be careful to follow the rules. Instagram will suspend you if you break them.

  1. Apps. I really like the app called InsTrack by Innovatty. It allows you to manage a few accounts. Yes- you have to pay for some of the features.
This is the simple interface of the program I use to manage my churning.
This is the simple interface of the program I use to manage my churning.
  1. Rhythm. I follow a bit of a rhythm. I will follow people at the peak posting times. Around 4-5 pm. I then choose a time to do my unfollows. On the hour works for me. That way I can just keep track. It takes a lot more time to unfollow people, so getting the most out of the day is important.
  2. Target. When adding people, don’t be random. When I want to start adding people I think about the type of audience I want to build. I post a lot of Kanye quotes- maybe I’ll find a Kanye Instagram account and follow of those people. (That was actually a pretty terrible idea.) If you are a hairstylist- find other hair stylists and follow their followers.

  3. Metrics. Keep track of how well did with everything. For example. I tried following Kanye followers. They didn’t like me. I didn’t get as many followers following them.

I recently found a self-help guru with a ton of followers. Her followers love my Instagram. Because I’m keeping track, I know now that the best use of my time is self-help people.

  1. Like and comment on anything you find interesting. When I am Churning I go through my news feed and immediately like and comment on practically everything. The more engagement you have with people, the more likely they will follow back.

  2. Drop everyone. When I am done clearing out people who aren’t following, I go back and unfollow people I don’t want to follow. If you are selling something, I’ll probably drop you. If you post 12 selfies in a row. Or things that are very negative. I’ll prune the people I follow down to people I actually want to follow.

  3. Repeat. Then I’ll start the process all over again.

  4. Feel free to follow my Instagram. @mDimitry

 

Buying a car- Cash or Financing?

Word is finally getting out to my friends that I am working at Dick Hannah Volkswagen as a sales and leasing consultant. I haven’t really been spreading the word as aggressively as I should, and my circle of friends is very wide, so it makes sense that its taken so long for people to catch on. It’s pretty awesome getting calls about cars.

Recently a long-lost friend of mine asked me if he should pay for a car outright with cash or purchase it through some sort of financing.

This gentleman served in the military for about 8 years. He was Navy, and I assume spent a lot of time on tour, billeted, on the government’s dime. He had had a steady income, fairly low expenses, and was able to save up some money. He’s now a civilian trying to figure out what’s best for him and his family financially.

He has an aging car. He knows it’s time to upgrade his vehicle to avoid the potential expense of keeping his old car running. On top of that, his car still has some inherent value he wants to use in the purchase of a new vehicle.

In the future, he wants to keep his monthly expenses down as well as limit the amount he will pay for the new vehicle by avoiding paying interest. Also, he thinks that the dealership might a prefer selling cars for a for the car and would prefer it?

Dealerships do not actually prefer to receive cash/check for cars anymore. In fact, the dealership would probably rather finance the cars. Why would they give you a discount to do something they don’t want you to do? (Don’t get me wrong, people with cash often make good clients, but it has more to their willingness to do the deal now as they have been planning for it.)

Did you know that banks will often pay the dealership to underwrite through them? Banking was once a very risky business. (To all the bankers out there, yes- I know banking is still very risky… but not as bad as it once was.) But now we have fairly accurate credit scores and high-tech methods to validate and track people, making it much safer to loan money.

That safety allows for banks to accurately gauge and manage risk. Having an accurate gauge of creditworthiness allows the banks to offer very competitive interest rates to customers.

Here’s where things get interesting. My friend has to gauge opportunity costs of spending his money on a vehicle all at once. Opportunity costs are the loss of potential gains from choosing one alternative over another.

For example. What if he can get a loan for 5 years at 2% interest? The money would be free to invest. Say he is very lucky and gets an average of 8% a year for 5 years. That would be of benefit to him, no?

But what if he takes a loan, and lacks discipline? Spends the money elsewhere, and then ends up not being able to afford the car. What if he can’t keep a job. What if the market crashes like it did back in 2008, and the US economy lost trillions and the investments he put his money into all go sour. What if you want to buy a house and your debt to income ratio is too far off to get it?

It all comes down to a matter of preference, and risk management. I personally believe he should buy the car using financing if the interest rate is low. I assume he can manage his money well enough if he is asking for advice on the topic, and also managed to save enough money for this to be a question. He must try to keep his loan from being underwater by putting enough of a downpayment to allow for flexibility in the future if something comes up. A car’s value tanks like a rock after the purchase. Should he need to get rid of it, it’s good to have a smaller loan balance than amount owed.

Why would you invest into something that is a liability? Keep the money, be wise with it. Having cash that you can invest in your future goes a long way. There is a phrase in business,  “Debt is cheaper than equity.” Read the article to see what I mean.

Another great article gives you some good advice: Here