Watch Video of the Cork City Herons Below... K.O'Connell Fishmonger - English Market, Cork City. An introduction to the hidden, early morning, Cork city centre. And it's earliest-rising residents. A fixture every Mon-Sat outside the English Market in Cork city. A must-see for visitors and residents of the city alike. Anyone who knows me, knows I go for a run - usually really early in the morning. My route around Cork City takes me through the Grand Parade. The main street in the centre of Cork City. That's where I often spot the grey herons and their early morning 'fishing expedition'. As you can see in the video, the herons are a fixture Mon-Sat outside the English Market. I never usually see them on a Sunday though. And according to Paul of K. O'Connell's fishmonger's in the English market. They don't show up on bank holidays either. Whether that's fact or local lore. I haven't been able to determine yet. But I thought I'd include it anyway. Maybe someone out there can confirm the bank holiday 'legend' for us? Not that I don't believe Paul or anything. But a good writer should double-check his facts nonetheless IMO. Anyway, like I also stated in the video. If you have the time and can spare a few euros. I'd recommend stopping by K. O'Connell's fishmongers in the English Market and picking up some fish the day before. Then setting the alarm clock for around 5 AM and feeding Cork city's boldest aviary residents and seeing for yourself. See you there.

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Choosing software for your small business can be a make or break opportunity for a small business. You need something that's value for money. Doesn't go offline too often and allows you to take your data with you should you decide to switch to another provider down the line. In this article, i'm going to go through the 10 points I look for in a software vendor solution. In the hope that it can give your small business some food for thought. Intro: I have a checklist of requirements that I go through before committing to choosing software for my small business. It's not only the cost involved in subscribing to the new software that matters. But there's also the not inconsiderable time commitment required in learning a new user interface and workflow. 1) Does It Have Data Portability? Can you switch software service providers and take your customers and customer data with you when you go? Important. Especially when it comes to payment gateways like Paypal or Stripe. Ask their support before committing to a solution. 2) Server / Bandwidth issues. How fast is the service? Simple test. Sign-up for a free trial and access the service online via your web browser. Is the site slow or fast? If it's slow, check Google to see if Google is slow or fast. If both are slow. Then it's your own Internet connection. If Google is quick. Then it's the vendor's software that is slow.  3) Investigate Uptime. The length of time between the vendor's service going offline for any reason. Worth checking out for your software solution (see below). 4) Support. Always test support. Often software companies will offer support over Twitter. Some companies are based on the other side of the world and work 9-5. So it takes at least 24hrs for support to get back to you. Also, is the support helpful and knowledgeable? 5) Sign up for a free trial. Generally, software vendors have a free trial. If you sign up but get distracted and can't spend the time to test. Ask them to extend your free trial for another few weeks. Make the time to test the system the second time around. I often get an extension on a free trial for software I haven't used much the first time around. 6) Check online reviews. Most important. Sites like trustpilot.com, capterra.com, g2.com all contain customer reviews of software services. The best thing to do is to type in "my-software review" into Google and look for one of these sites. Where "my-software" is the name of the software product you're researching. 7) Does the site have a status subdomain? Eg. "status.acuityscheduling.com". Acuity Scheduling has a status page that gets updated if they go offline for whatever reason. The status page should also tell you the uptime of the site. AcuitySheduling has a 99.98% uptime, which is good. 8) Does the software have an up to date changelog? Bit of a technical one. But you want software that is updated and improved often. The changelog displays changes made to the software. The when and the what. So type "changelog mypthub.com" into google and it brings up the latest changes to the software.  9) Does it have a WordPress plugin? Not a deal-breaker, but handy nonetheless. Especially if your website runs the WordPress content management system. Most software should have a WordPress plugin that gets updated regularly. WordPress runs 38% of websites so it's a good sign if the software integrates with WordPress. To check type "my-software Wordpress plugin" and see what comes up.  10) Are you contacted over social media (particularly LinkedIn) by a company employee after signing up? Good sign. Gives you a go-to person to contact with any issues you are having. Generally this means the company has their house in order in my opinion. Conclusion: Finally, I'd suggest shopping around when it comes to choosing software for your small business. Often up-and-coming software vendors will try to make a name for themselves by offering features for free. That their more established rivals are charging for. If you think I've missed any steps in the list. Let me know in the comments below. Alternatively if you have any questions. Just leave a comment or else contact us. Don't forget to read our blog post on sourcing free images for your business. If you market to clients in the health, nutrition or fitness niche. Make sure you check out the Hahamarketing.com Health Profiler. Happy Hunting!

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Next in our series of articles about the Trading Online Voucher Scheme by the Local Enterprise Office in Ireland. We talk to John Kennedy from the Bank Of Ireland business resource site ThinkBusiness.ie. If you've never visited ThinkBusiness.ie, we suggest you check it out for information that concerns Irish businesses. For more information on the Trading Online Voucher Scheme read our blog post. For specific advice from the Local Enterprise Office please view our article. What is the current state of Irish e-commerce in 2021 John in your opinion? Better than it was certainly. At one stage only 1 in 4 Irish companies had an online payment facility. It's improved a lot lately. Back in 2014 it was estimated that 70% of all e-commerce transactions left Irish shores. Nowadays it's estimated that 60% of irish people buy from overseas. The government started the Trading Online Voucher Scheme 5 or 6 years ago. They made it a big focus. Today companies such as Salt+soul, siar photography, ps i love you and many others are reaping the whirlwind. Salt+soul used to do 70% of their business online. Now it's 100%. Multyfarnham cookery school did only 10% of their business online. Since the pandemic, that's increased to 100%. So 100% of their revenue comes from the Internet. They received the help of their Local Enterprise Office in Westmeath. How has the pandemic changed the way people do business in Ireland? Online matters now more than ever. However, there are still disadvantages to shopping online though. Such as waiting weeks for goods to come from abroad. Then there's Brexit and customs charges. What would your advice be to business owners who are thinking about expanding their online presence? Enquire at your Local Enterprise Office. Online marketing is hard. The Local Enterprise Office will help you with site, training and ongoing support. Take this opportunity with both hands. A lot of shoppers and consumers won’t be going back to shopping offline in my opinion. The bigger sister to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme is the Online Retail Scheme. So businesses should check that out if they don't qualify for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. Has the Trading Online Voucher Scheme been a successful business-incentive program in your experience? How could it be improved in your opinion? It could be improved by having more case studies coming to the surface. It's a great thing that it exists at all. Anything that helps. Which online tools should small business owners know about when beginning to trade online? Pointy.com helps you bring all your inventory online. It's an Irish company that was acquired by Google. They created a piece of hardware that interfaces with your Point Of Sale software. They help drive footfall to your brick-and-mortar shop. Sharing your site to a local community group on Facebook is a good idea. Shopify.com covers everything to building website, training, online promotions. It may not be your own website but allows you to trade online. Also, some retailers display a QR code in their window for customers to scan and be taken to their website. Which niches are in the best position to capitalise on the scheme and on online trading in general? I would have thought it’d be clothes and physical goods. But really it’s people being inventive. Necessity is the mother of invention. The ones that surprised me most were people who had something to train or teach. What is your advice to business owners who are thinking about applying for the scheme? If you don’t already have a relationship with your Local Enterprise Office. You should have. Start by enquiring. Local Enterprise Offices are keen to help. Talk to them. See what’s feasible.  How can business owners maximize their budget with the scheme? Do your research. If you plan to spend on tools, courses and platforms. How does that fit in with your working capital cost? People don’t have time, the problem is lack of time and trying to keep the lights on. The Local Enterprise Office will direct you better in terms of what is a priority and what isn’t.  Study other businesses and see what they invest in. Make sure you spend your cash on the right things. Web designers aren’t cheap.  What sort of support does the banking sector (and BOI in particular) offer to SME’s that they should know about? We did some work with Shopify, Pointy and the E-commerce Association before Christmas. Talk to your bank manager and check out what’s available. The banking sector is a key part in keeping the lights on. Do your research.  Having taken on the government schemes is a string in your bow. The Credit Guarantee Scheme helps with funding if a business needs to expand. These are loans underwritten by the government. Anything you’d like to add that might be important to readers? Just that digital is the future. People are shopping online out of necessity and convenience. You can still have a relationship with your loyal customers. Online selling means your business keeps selling while you sleep. Conclusion: A big thanks to John Kennedy from ThinkBusiness.ie for taking the time to share his experience. Online trading is clearly the future and is here to stay whether you like it or not. Contact your Local Enterprise Office. Do your research. Start today. If you would like to discuss any of these tips. Please leave a comment below. For a free consultation about developing, marketing or designing a website or expanding your online presence. Contact us.

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Article continuing our series about the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. For more info on the scheme and to see if you qualify. Read our blog post. Our series will consist of interviews with participants of the scheme and with other business professionals that are tangentially connected with the scheme. Today is the turn of Paul McGuirk. Head of Enterprise for the Local Enterprise Office in Ireland. Paul has some tips for people participating in the scheme or thinking about participating. Let's get started... How do most businesses hear about the Trading Online Voucher Scheme Paul? Most people hear about the scheme by word-of-mouth. From friends or their accountants. Either that or online. We also ran an Irish radio ad campaign to promote the scheme. What do most businesses use the grant for? The majority of businesses use the grant for developing or enhancing the website/e-commerce facility of their business. Some people only have a social media presence. Others have a brochure site and upgrade it to fit an e-commerce, online booking and/or payment facility. Many use it for their Shopify or eBay subscription. Also, many businesses apply and receive the grant twice. Is the 90% grant over? Or will it return? The 90% grant scheme ran from Apr - Dec 2020. It's back to 50% now. There are no plans to bring back the 90% grant rate. What do you wish businesses knew before applying for the grant?  Participants of the scheme should first have a firm idea in their own mind of what they want from the grant. For example, they should know which social media channels their customers use. They should know how they want to drive traffic to their website. They might need to commission ongoing maintenance work for their website. Having a strategy for driving people to their website is a must. They should also have a process in place for online ordering. How can businesses maximize their budget? To maximize their limited budget. Business owners should only spend 30% of their budget on social media. They should be able to identify what they want on their website. Be able to prioritize what they want. They might want 5 or 6 things but only be able to afford 4. Eg. They may wish to do some online training programs such as SEO, LinkedIn and Facebook training. The more they can train themselves the better. What other supports does the Local Enterprise Office provide business owners? Local Enterprise Office supports come in 3 parts. First the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. Next is ongoing online marketing training classes with experts eg. Facebook, SEO and Twitter training. Finally, there's one-to-one mentoring in running a business online. What’s the best way to source a Trading Online Voucher Scheme services/partner?  Ask around business colleagues, friends and relatives. The best method is through word-of-mouth. What’s the key takeaway from the online introduction webinar? Business owners should be able to understand what they want. Be able to define the 3 or 4 objectives that they want from this. It's not just about creating a website and letting it look after itself. Social media marketing, maintenance and driving people towards the website are all key ongoing factors. Conclusion So there you have it. Tips for participating in the Trading Online Voucher Scheme from the LEO Head Of Enterprise, Paul McGuirk. The key takeaway in our opinion being that business owners should be as knowledgeable as possible about web marketing and their ideal customer in order to have a better idea of what's right for their business. One way to stay up to date with online marketing trends is to sign up for the Hahamarketing email newsletter below. Also, check out your local LEO office for more information. Need help with your Trading Online Voucher Scheme application? Or just web advice in general? Contact us and we'll be happy to give you a free consultation.

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At Hahamarketing.com we are doing a series of articles about game-changing online tools. In keeping with this theme, our first interview is with web entrepreneur and marketer Andy Barr. Andy came up with the idea for a tool that would help calculate the amount of physical activity needed to burn off certain foods and drinks. Not only was this tool a runaway success, with media exposure in nearly 15 countries. WorkOffYourDinner.com was featured in the mainstream media in newspapers in the UK such as Metro, The Sun and on national television shows like The Jeremy Vine Show and This Morning TV Show. So let's get on with the interview with Andy and discover a little more about the process of creating the online calculator and the very personal reasons Andy had for coming up with such a tool. How did you come up with the idea for the tool Andy? "Well basically, I used to be very overweight myself. For over 7 years I weighed 19 stone. Now I'm down to 13 stone. The tool was an aid to my weight loss journey and was created to help others in my position." How long did the tool take to create? "The tool took around 2 months to create. I came up with the idea and did some data points in an Excel spreadsheet. I used sites like Myfitnesspal and Harvard Uni for the data. " "Then I handed it over to the developers. Then to the designers. I was the weak link in the process, to be honest. Or else it might have been done sooner." How many people were involved in the creation of the tool? "Overall there were 5 people involved in the process. Myself as the creator and researcher. 2 Developers to work on the code. 1 Designer to do the look and feel of the calculator. And a PR person to get the word out." Does the tool require much maintenance? "Not really no. Calories don’t change. However, we add a few meals as requested from time to time." How successful has the tool been? "Well the tool has achieved news coverage in 15 different countries including Spain, Portugal, UK and US. We earned 130 coveted backlinks to help with our Google Ranking. Many from high Domain Authority sites." What was the biggest issue you ran into when developing or rolling out the tool? "When it came to building the tool. We encountered some time overruns. Especially when trying to hit deadlines. We also had some unrealistic timelines." "It proved a controversial tool for the fitness community. But i figured if it worked for me it might work for others." What has been your 'North Star' metric in creating the tool? ie. which web statistic have you been tracking the most (eg. sales, visitor numbers, time on site etc..)? "Well, the calculator was created to promote our website Alertr.co.uk. So I'd say customer sign-ups. The tool drove up to 200 sign-ups per day during the peak." How did you go about promoting the tool? "PR outreach primarily. We leveraged social media first. I have a decent following on social media on my Instagram. fitnesswanker tracks my weight loss journey and has somewhere between 12-15,000 followers." "Plus the mainstream media are always on the lookout for popular trends online. So soon after we launched - many news organizations picked up the story". Conclusion Finally I'd like to say a big thank you to Andy for taking the time to do this very informative interview. We'd also highly recommend trying the tool for yourselves workoffyourdinner.com. Have an idea for a game-changing tool for your industry? Then simply contact us for a free consultation. Happy Hunting!

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Intro What is the most common job amongst spiders? Web designer. Whether you are a budding web designer. Or you're someone who spends a lot of time on social media for business. And you would like to know how to use free stock photos for your business. Maybe you're only starting to use social media. Or alternatively, you remember a time when Tom was your first Facebook friend. Regardless, this article has something for you. We aim to give you a firm grounding in how to use free stock photos for your business. Including where to get free-to-use images for your blog, website or social media profile. And to avoid getting sued or gaining a reputation for riding roughshod over other people's intellectual property. We'll have a look at some of the more permissive licences available for you to use for your business. Along with some image sharing sites where you can find images you can distribute, modify and use commercially free of charge. And without attribution. We'll also look at how you can optimize your images to reduce file size and download time. As well as go through recommended width, height and aspect ratios for the 4 main social media platforms. First though, let's look at some facts and figures. Why should you use images on your social media posts? Maybe because on Twitter -tweets with visual content are 3 times more likely to get engagement (ie. like, shares, comments). Ditto for posts on Facebook. People only remember 10% of what they hear after 72 hours. But pairing a relevant image with your message. Means people can remember 65% of the information over the same time period. So choosing the right image matters. Which Licence Is Right For Me? With so many licences out there it's difficult to know when it's OK to use an image and when it's not. You don't want to be hit by a bill from a photographer or image hoarding website after using one of their images without consent. And yes, it does happen. Let's run through the main form of free-to-use image licences here so you don't get caught out. Keep an eye out for these licences when you're searching for images for your business. Public Domain Licence - images under the public domain licence are outside of copyright law and are free to use, modify and distribute with no attribution required.Copyright Free - image released without any copyright by the owner. Free to use in any way you wish.Creative Commons Zero - no rights reserved licence by the owner. Free to use commercially. Not to be confused with Creative Commons licence with which attribution is legally required. Where Should I Source My Images? Sourcing images on the web can be tricky. On one hand, you want a great image, professionally shot. Preferably one that your visitors haven't seen before to avoid ad fatigue. While at the same time paying for single-use images from stock photo sites can get expensive after a while. These are my top 3 websites for downloading high-resolution images that are free to use or modify for commercial purposes on the web. unsplash.com: Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright licence to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash.pixabay.com: On Pixabay, users can find and contribute images and video clips. For uploading files and downloading full-sized images, registration is required. By uploading files, the contributors waive their copyright and related image rights.picjumbo.com: All photos are free to use Which Image Editing Software Should I Be Using? Let's break image editing software users into 3 distinct but overlapping groups. For three different kind of web users. Have Time, No Money: Go with GIMP.org. Completely free to download and use. My personal choice. Especially good for scaling, optimizing and cropping images. Bit of a learning curve initially. But so worth it in the end. Especially if you work on the web often. Have Money, No Time: Canva.com - also the choice if you want to post to multiple social media sites and have images automatically resized. Or you want to produce info graphics. Canva costs €11.99 per month but also comes with a free plan. Have Money, Have Time: Adobe Photoshop. Used by a lot of professional graphic designers. Unless you're a pro. GIMP and Canva should be fine for most purposes. Which Social Media Image Sizes Should I Use In 2020? Unlike your website or blog. When it comes to social media images. You generally want to upload as high an image quality as possible. You might also want to check how the image appears on your social media profiles on your computer or laptop and on your phone. Just to be sure. Often social media platforms will stretch or squeeze images to make them fit the required aspect ratio. Even if you don't get the width and height of the image exactly right. Try to get the aspect ratio correct for social media. The easiest way to do this is to use the crop tool on your image editing software. Generally you want to upload images to social media in JPG or PNG format. For intricate or detailed images choose PNG format. PNG image file sizes are larger and so take longer to download, so use sparingly on your blog or website. Social media platforms have their own optimizing (scaling and compression) processes so you don't have to worry about file type. How do you know what type of image you are working with? The clue is in the filename eg. myblogimage.jpg or mysocialmediaimage.png. Here are some recommended image sizes for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Along with their aspect ratios. LinkedIn Image Sizes: Profile Image400(w) x 400(h) pixels AR 1:1Cover Image1584(w) x 396(h) pixels AR 4:1Blog Post Link Image1200(w) x 627(h) pixels AR 1.91:1Stories Image1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR 9:16Article Image744(w) x 400(h) pixels AR 1.86:1 Facebook Image Sizes: Profile Image170(w) x 170(h) pixels AR: 1:1Cover Image851(w) x 315(h) pixels AR: 1:1Post Image1200(w) x 630(h) pixels AR: 1.91:1Stories Image1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR: 9:16 Twitter Image Sizes: Profile Image400(w) x 400(h) pixels AR: 1:1Header Image1500(w) x 500(h) pixels AR: 3:1Feed Image1024(w) x 512(h) pixel AR: 16:9 Instagram Image Sizes: Profile Image320(w) x 320(h) pixels AR: 1:1Feed Image1080(w) x 566 to 1350(h) pixelsStories Image1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR: 9:16 Tips For Using Images On Social Media As previously stated, social media platforms have their own software to optimize images. So it's best to upload high-quality images because low-quality images will get degraded. Avoid images with small text or details that won't be legible on mobile phones.If you are creating text graphics on Canva, use at least 16px font size for mobile legibility.Use high-resolution images for Social Media. Use the recommended aspect ratio.Use highly contrasting colours.Mix it up. Use a variety of images such as stock photos, mobile phone shots and even a video or animated gif from time to time. When in doubt about which image to use for social media. Choose a smiling female. Studies show that images of smiling females get the most engagement on social media. Next come images of children or pets. LinkedIn Image Tips: Choose images of people in business attire.Single person photos work best. Facebook Image Tips: Don't use blues and whites on Facebook as they tend to blend with the Facebook brand colours.Avoid too much text or logos on images on Facebook.Friday posts get the highest engagement rate on FaceBook. Sunday the lowest. Twitter Image Tips: Tag people in your photos for best resultsUpload multiple photos in one go using the Twitter mobile app. Instagram Image Tips: Use single dominant colours in images.Blues often work best on Instagram.Choose images with whitespace. Optimizing Images For Your Blog Or Website Don't forget, you'll need to optimize your images before you upload them to your blog or website. Fast web pages. By which I mean ones that download in 3 seconds or less. Usually have a file size of around 500KB. I've seen websites where the small testimonial image alone is nearly 10 times that size. And people wonder why their website's page speed is so slow. If you learn anything from this article. Learn this. Optimize your blog and website images. To optimize your images. Simply follow this 3 step process. 1. Download, install and open GIMP on your computer. GIMP image editing software is completely free and is compatible with Windows, Apple and Linux. You can download GIMP at gimp.org/downloads/ Follow the instructions to install GIMP on your system. 2. Open image in GIMP. Scale and/or crop image. Save. Once you have GIMP installed and opened on your computer. Open the image file after downloading it from the web. The follow these instructions to scale (resize) the image and/or crop (focus on a particular section of) the image. Crop an image: docs.gimp.org/2.10/en/gimp-tutorial-quickie-crop.html Scale an image: docs.gimp.org/2.10/en/gimp-image-scale.html 3. Upload image to tinypng.com Tinypng.com is a great site for reducing the quality and size of images for websites and blog posts. It handles both jpg and png image formats. It also handles up to 20 images at the same time. So assuming you've already scaled and cropped your images. You can just upload your entire image folder for your small website in one go. Then download the optimized images and have your website admin install them on your website. Conclusion In conclusion, we hope you enjoyed our brief overview of the world of image sourcing for your online business profile. Don't get caught out in the future using images to which you have no rights. Stick to permissive licences and websites and you won't get caught out. Where do you source your images? Do you have any tips that you wish to share with the community? Let us know. Happy Hunting!

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