Here's what we do for ourselves and our clients to help save money while getting top-notch products and services.

Review subscription fees yearly to save money. 

Every year (or every six months if we're feeling ambitious) we review all the recurring fees for products and services we use (both for business and personal), there are often quite a few. We ask if it's still needed, and if so, we look to see if how we use the service may have changed. Sometimes we can downgrade a plan because we don't need all the bells and whistles any more. Sometimes there are new ways to get the same service for free. Many companies add new, and cheaper, plans too.

Services to look at include software subscriptions, email broadcasting, video storage, backup systems, website hosting fees, phones, fax routing, magazine/newsletter subscriptions, cable/satellite TV, internet, and computer/equipment maintenance plans. The last time we did this we saved over $800 for the upcoming year.

I suggest adding a reminder to your calendar and then go for it. You'll be surprised!


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AuthorRockin Robin
CategoriesWorking Smart

I have heard that artists and creatives live tortured, angst-ridden lives. I'm very creative but I've never thought of myself as either tortured or angst-ridden. Well, not usually. 


So now that Harry and I have found ourselves working with lots of kindred spirits (creative types), which I absolutely love, I question it more. Does artistry alway lead to anguish and suffering?   

So with that question in mind I recommend to you this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love). She says,

“We’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish. And the question that I want to ask everybody here today…Are you comfortable with that?”

Nope, I am not comfortable with that. Neither is she. Watch this, it's a goodie.


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AuthorRobin Sagara

Keeping your computer skills sharp is important and a smart thing to do. Surprisingly, most people don't improve their computing skills over time, believing that they can "get by" with what they already know. The problem is, they pay dearly for it in lost time, money, and productivity. 

Even if you have staff to take care of your computing needs, YOU still need to have good skills so you don't end up spending three days trying to print out address labels like a client of ours did. True story. Why on earth she didn't ask me to do it I'll never know. Three days of her time gone! It would have taken me about 30 minutes. Go figure.

So when you do it yourself, at least have the skills to do it in a reasonable amount of time.


No, you don't have to know everything but you should have a solid grasp of the basics. Take a computer class at a local college or learning center (or at the Apple store if you have a Mac), use the tutorials that come with your computer and software, or learn everything from basics to advanced by using the video tutorials.  Why? They're the best. They do a fantastic job, it's deductible (!), and it's really fun too.

I'm just sayin.  ;-D

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How much software do I need?

Recently Harry and I were shopping in the art supply store. I was drooling over paints, brushes, and everything else. I told myself that the brushes and paint were somehow different than what I already had. For Harry, it's those sets of screwdrivers and rachety thingys from the home improvement store (that look suspiciously like the four sets we already own).

Thankfully, we do (usually) realize that while we may want it, we don't need it, or it's a duplicate of something we already have. 

While we were shopping I had a realization: Many of our clients do the same thing with software. They believe that they need to buy more software to do certain things when they probably already have what they need. They just don't realize it.

A quick Google can yield an answer.  "What software will (do the thing you want to do)?"

Try it. You'll be surprised.

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AuthorRobin Sagara
CategoriesWorking Smart

Notice that I did not say "metrics" or "analytics" in the title. That IS what I'm talking about, but whenever I say those words people glaze over and exit faster than a wet cat. So don't you go running off just yet! Stay with me here. 

Website, email, and social media metrics - Sagara Development

Once you see how easy it is to view this kind of info, you'll be amazed at how helpful it is. You will be much better prepared to make good decisions about your online marketing which includes your website.

The info is called analytics, sometimes "metrics" or "stats" and they consist of information you can use to understand and optimize your website, email campaigns, and social media. It's the science of the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data.

Most websites and online systems will do all the heavy lifting for you and will assemble the info into graphs and charts, you only have to remember to LOOK at it.

Here's what I suggest you do:

  1. Set a reminder on your calendar for no less than once every three months. Set aside 30 minutes (or ask me or your webmaster/support person to do this for you and send you a report).
  2. Log into your website and social media accounts.
  3. Go to the place where they show you the analytics, metrics, insights, reports (or whatever).
  4. Spend a few minutes reviewing the info. You'll be surprised, I promise.
  5. Now, was that really so hard?

Want to see specific examples of what we use? Read on!

All of this type of info is widely available. What's covered here are the basics to get you started. You don't have to become an expert, but you should be able to find out if all your time and money is paying off, and if it isn't, why.

Websites / Squarespace

As with most website analytics, you can review an overview of activity, get info on popular content, see who is referring to your website, learn what search engines and words people use to find your website, what they are searching for once they are on your website, and much more.

Look at the overview graphic below. Did you do a big email campaign, a live event, a mailing, or some type of marketing in January? And now you see a big spike in views. Good! Whatever you did, it was effective. Do more of that! Did you do some marketing in October? Uh oh, something went wrong. It didn't work very well if you meant to drive people to your website. That's okay, now you know what IS working, so you can do more of it!

Metrics Overview of Squarespace Website

There is more detailed info if you want to look. It's important to know what website content is popular (see the graphic below). Did you do an email campaign and send people to a specific page? Check the info for that day, and see how it worked. 

Squarespace website metrics


Email Broadcasting / MailChimp

"Is my mailing list growing?"  It's THE most common question we get, but there is so much more to effective email campaigns than just growing your list. When you use an email broadcasting system, you can easily see your list growth over time and WHEN it grows. You can see who is opening your newsletters, unsubscribing, clicking through to your website, and how many emails bounced or were undeliverable due to a bad address (or a full mailbox). You can even see if people are clicking through to your social media pages.

Social Media / Facebook

On your business page click Insights (top of page), and you'll be taken to a page of all kinds of info to help you see how effective your page is along with info on how effective each individual post is. 

Individual posts will show you how many people you reached with that post, and you can read and reply to comments below each post.  

While personal pages (you have "Friends") don't have the in-depth info of a business page (you have "Likes"), there is still a lot of info you can review. Go to the View Activity Log button (upper right) for lots of helpful info. You can see a list of your posts, see who has tagged you in a post, review your Friends list, and much more.

The info in this post is to get you started. You don't have to become a website, email, and social media expert, but you should know some things about how YOUR website, email campaigns, and social media are performing. Like I said, no less than quarterly, for 30 minutes. You can thank me later!

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AuthorRobin Sagara
CategoriesWorking Smart

Using blog categories and tags properly will go a long way towards helping the search engines find you and your content, and they will help viewers find what they need once they get to your website, via a search box (consider adding one if you don't have one).


What's the difference between Categories and Tags?

Think of categories like drawers in a filing cabinet, and the tags as the file folders in the drawers.

  • Categories are broader, like entree, dessert, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack(type of meal). They are topics you address on your blog.
  • They are the table of contents for your blog. Do as few categories as possible so it doesn't get unwieldy.
  • Tags are more specific like chicken, beef, cream, potatoes, butter (the actual food itself). They are specific and address items you discuss in your blog post. Use one or two words only. They should reflect the keywords or points of your article. Tags are your blogs index (categories are the table of contents). Use as many tags as make sense, although less is more when possible.
  • Then use them consistently and train anyone you have helping you to use them the same ways you do.

Tips for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for blogs:

  1. Do not duplicate tags and categories. This applies to synonyms also (Google understands similar phrases and will consider them duplicate content - bad). This is essential.
  2. Be consistent so tags and categories don't get out of control.  A well-organized blog actually adds to the usability of the site and makes it easier for your visitors to quickly find what they're looking for.
  3. Minimize "link bleeding."  Each page starts with 100% of link value, that value is divided up between the links on the page. Minimize links to worthless pages like Contact page, About page.
  4. Use widgets judiciously, they can dilute link values.
  5. The best links are links to relevant content.
  6. The category and tag links listed at the top or bottom of the post will help increase relevancy of the post (better ranking). If you are doing well you will see your category and tag pages/posts doing better than other pages on the site.
  7. Pages that change content often (like a blog) are good. They provoke the search engines to crawl them more often.
  8. Tags and categories can have multiple pages with tons of content within them. It's a good thing.
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AuthorRobin Sagara
CategoriesWeb Sites