November 23, 2013

… And We’re Back!

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Yes, yes, it’s been awhile since we last spoke, but we, at BetterEdit, promise not to let that much time pass between us again. It feels so good to connect with you once again, we’ve truly missed you. Plus, we have so much to fun stuff to share, like these tips to help you reduce stress!

1. Stay calm about stress. Stressing about stress will cause you to stress out more. Take at least 5 minutes of your day to breathe slowly and focus on the present moment.

2. Make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep, so you’re body can recharge your energy reserves for the next day and stay healthy. Sleep is very important for your immune system, so aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night in a completely dark room in order to produce melantonin, the sleep hormone. If that goal can’t be reached, take naps throughout the day.

3. Eat a balanced diet, preferably locally sourced or organic fresh fruits and vegetables with healthy fats, like coconut oil, grass fed butter, or ghee, and grains, like quinoa or rice.

4. Exercise. Exercise will help your body combat stress by releasing endorphins from your brain, making you feel good about life. And who doesn’t want that? There’s no need to slave at the gym for an hour, walking or bicycling to class is sufficient enough to get the job done.

5. Socialize. Give your brain a rest from looking at words and numbers all day and go hang out with your friends or join a club where you can meet new people. The idea is to have fun and not worry about that five page essay due on Friday, for at least a few hours, anyways.

Learn more at:
How to Reduce Stress While in College

“One who suffers or stresses before it is necessary, suffers more than necessary.”
~Seneca

Filed under: Blogroll,College,Editing,stress reduction — Tags: , , , — admin @ 6:10 PM

November 18, 2006

Current developments: the BetterEdit.com Library

We have been negotiating with a few Internet authors (university professors from the UK and North America) to allow us to publish their articles in the BetterEdit library. The library is intended to be a free resource for our students. We are presently collecting and writing articles aimed at helping students prepare assignments. We will offer a comprehensive “how to write an essay” guide as well as a “how to prepare a thesis” guide. These two guides will form the foundations for our library.

Chelsea Allen, one of our editors, is working on a few special articles including an insider’s guide to what professors look for in an essay and hints and tips resource for using the Internet for research purposes. We hope to add more and more specialty articles like these over the months as we develop the library.

Once the library is established I expect many students will come to rely on it. We have no intentions of every charging for our library and anticipate it will remain free for many years to come.

Yaro

Filed under: Blogroll,Pre-2007,Uncategorized — @ 10:43 PM

April 2, 2005

A BetterEdit update, more about Skype, and I’m back in Brisbane

It’s 4am, I’m sitting with my ASUS S5N laptop on my, ah, lap, typing this blog entry from Brisbane. I made it through the 20 hour flight from Toronto to LA to Brisbane in one piece. I’m a little bit tired and of course this is way too early to be awake. I tried desperately to stay awake Friday but I could only make it to 7pm (note to self – watching Star Trek DVDs are not good for keeping you awake). Brisbane of course is turning on great weather and yesterday was pretty perfect (around the mid to high 20’s C and breezy). We are spoilt down under.

I checked my email and about 60 emails came through during my Internet hiatus while flying the pacific ocean. I’ve trimmed the SPAM away but I’m not even starting to wade through the BetterEdit emails until I confer with Edward who looked after things while I was travelling. I’ll take back admin control and business life will continue from how I left it in Canada. You certainly have minimal boundaries managing an Internet business.

Now that I am back in Australia and with the University semester into the second month I have a lot of work ahead of me. It’s all very exciting stuff and I can’t wait to jump into it. Things have really picked up in the last few weeks as my efforts in Canada to spread the word about BetterEdit.com start to bring in results as the university semester come to an end in Toronto. I haven’t done the detailed statistics yet but I think my persistence poster advertising for a full semester has brought in at least 20 new clients and if at least 10 of them continue to use our service and tell friends then I can certainly call my trip a success business wise.

The business focus is on providing the best service we can which will promote healthy word of mouth. If you start with even just a small group of clients, for example say we have 10 regulars now in Toronto, and meet or exceed their expectations, by the same time next year we may have 30 new clients just from the original 10 spreading the goodwill. It’s not speedy growth but its healthy growth. I often tell myself this when I am struggling to negotiate for a job that is only worth say $25 to the business. It’s $25 today but potentially a lot more tomorrow and month after month if you can keep your quality at a high standard.

Added to that good news is that BetterEdit is making strong gains in Google placement and I’ve started to notice an increase in the amount of international clients that come through from search. Even better news is that BetterEdit is now positioned at 1st-3rd for all of our key search terms for Australian based searches using Google. We are in the lead position for university and academic editing services in Australia. Now we just need to make sure we stay there, continue to lead the market in proofreading and editing in Australia and continue to improve our overseas position.

Excuse me, I have to make two phone calls…

.
.
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Okay, I’m back.

What I just did was use SkypeOut to call a new client in the USA. It cost me about 20 cents to have two phone conversations for a total of about 10 minutes. One of the calls was to a cell phone at an airport. I’m sitting in my lounge at home at 4am in the morning and my client is in an airport in the USA waiting to board a plane. How cool is that. Later this morning I’ll call my grandma in Toronto using my laptop to let her know that I made it back to Brisbane okay. She will be sitting down to Friday night dinner and I will be just about to head out on a Saturday morning.

What’s even more exciting is that Skype has two new services in BETA testing that I’m eager to start using. One is SkypeIn, which allows a Skype user to have a ‘normal’ phone number which is purchased on a subscription basis. What happens is that anyone can call this number using any normal phone or cellphone and it will go to your Skype account which you answer using your computer. The person will only be charged as if they were calling locally for that country. If they are not in that country then they are charged a long distance fee exactly like they were calling internationally over a landline. Because of this you may buy numbers for each country you want to have a local number in.

The other service is Skype Voicemail which is included for free with SkypeIn or you can subscribe to it separately. This acts like a standard voicemail service for your Skype phone. It records messages for any SKYPE calls you miss, including Skype to Skype, or if someone was to call you using SkypeIn and you missed the call.

For our business this is how I would use the services – I subscribe to have a local number in the USA, Canada and Australia, our main markets. I can then list our new ‘normal’ SkypeIn phone numbers for customer queries in each of those countries. Any person that calls gets routed direct to my Skype account which, since I am always on my laptop means I could answer it wherever I am. If I miss the call it goes to my Skype Voicemail which I check and then use SkypeOut to return the call to any phone in the world. This potentially can replace our entire business phone needs, allow us to improve client support and all at extremely cheap rates.

Right now these services are in BETA and only available in a few countries but I am very, very, excited about their potential. Combine this with wireless Internet access and it’s truly a global, mobile business world.

Yaro Starak
BetterEdit Manager

Filed under: Blogroll — admin @ 4:23 AM

March 21, 2005

A Yaz! Update

It’s the weekend here in Canada so I allowed myself to indulge in a hobby site I’m working on called Yaz! which is an Australian student community and trading site. I’m calling the site a hobby because a) I don’t intend to make any money from it and b) I don’t want to distract myself away from business projects too much. I love running these community forum style sites but sometimes I can pour so much time and energy into them that I forget that I do have to work sometimes on business, BetterEdit.com.

So far things are growing nice and steadily over at Yaz!. We had our first columnist sign up to write articles on a weekly basis which really goes a long way to legitimise the site as an entertainment source. Unfortunately at this stage most of the users are lurkers or one time sales posters, listing their textbook for sale (etc.) and then running away. Hopefully we can establish a few regulars soon so the place will be a bit more lively.

In the meantime, drawing on my experiences growing MTGParadise, I’m adding new content whenever possible so the place doesn’t die down. Yaz! has started to get enough members that it’s starting to look like it might make it to critical mass but for the moment we are still in that precarious point of having a very quiet looking forum.

I spent some time yesterday expanding the main content pages to a larger width. I originally launched the site with a 640 resolution so it would fit in even the oldest and smallest monitors however I always had intentions to expand it to an 800 pixel size. Having the extra space allowed me to increase the amount of content included on the front page and the site is really starting to take shape as a media content portal for students. I also changed some of the code to utlise PHP includes rather than SSI since PHP runs more efficiently. Load times are significantly quicker on the front page now.

I often lament my inability to code software as I surf around and see a lot of web software features, such as ratemyprofessor.com, that would be perfect for Yaz. Also more dedicated textbook exchange tools, tutoring databases and trading software could all enhance the usability of Yaz!.

A friend pointed out a project called php college exchange which looks like a PHPNuke style open source content management portal site. It looks very promising but it’s a work in progress. A lot of the features I’d like are not yet developed. I contacted the lead developer about perhaps doing some custom work for me but he was a student too busy at school.

I then went on a typical entrepreneur style idea trip, taking the college portal concept and turning it into a start-up business. I went even as far as thinking about getting venture funding and hiring a team of software developers, marketing the software to universities and schools and establishing it as the pre-eminent college portal software. After going for a walk however I thought some more over it and while I think it’s a good idea and there is a need for it, I’m in no position to chase it as a start-up business AND more importantly I reminded myself that the same challenges that I face now with Yaz! (growing user numbers and content) I would still face regardless of how feature rich the software was.

So I decided to write the idea down in my little textpad with all the other ideas I have for possible future implementation. I reminded myself that Yaz! can take off just using the forum software as the means for trade. It doesn’t need the bells and whistles, it needs users. When Yaz! gets large enough then I can consider adding the software and have a thriving community to help develop the features they want, rather than me guess what they want.

By the way, we have some interesting sex, dating and relationships topics over at Yaz! Forum which you might be interested in. Feel free to register and participate :)

Yaro Starak
Yaz! Community Leader

Filed under: Blogroll — admin @ 2:14 AM

March 20, 2005

A new pricing structure

I’ve been discussing with our editor team at BetterEdit about a new pricing structure. I believe we have lost some clients due to our current prices. I would like to increase sales conversion rates and I think changing pricing may be the solution.

Currently there are many clients that prefer a quick fix solution and do not really utilise our critiquing service especially if their deadlines are tight, in which case it’s usually a print and hand in situation. My initial idea is to segment the pricing structure to offer a premium service which includes the critique and an opportunity to have interaction with the editor. We will also offer a basic edit service for those in a hurry or price conscious. I’m still collecting feedback from our editing team regarding whether they are willing to test the new system.

The potential problem I see with this system is that the premium service will not sell and students will expect miracles from the basic edit service where they really need the feedback and guidance as provided by the premium service. We can try to force students by stating that their writing needs extensive help, but this may just turn them away.

In the end it is about testing the market to see what happens.

Yaro Starak
BetterEdit Manager

Filed under: Blogroll — admin @ 2:47 AM

February 25, 2005

State of the union…BetterEdit update.

Well it’s about time I did an update on where I am at with BetterEdit. If you read my entry titled ‘mind of a human entrepreneur‘ you would realise I’ve been awash with options, at least within my head anyway!

I’m still in Canada. I can though happily say I have made a decision regarding how BetterEdit is going to continue growing it’s Canadian user base.

I found a lost message on my cell phone voicemail asking about BetterEdit. I had no idea how long it was sitting there but I called back and it turned out to be Zunaid, a fellow that runs a business putting up posters in Toronto. He had seen my posters popping up and gave me a call to ask about helping with distribution.

I met with Zunaid and he turned out to be what I was looking for in a poster distributor. He made an effort to get my business which was more than I could say about any of the other poster distributing operations. He was upfront, honest and serious, all characteristics I appreciate in a business relationship. We discussed my needs and nutted out an arrangement and I hope to have a long term relationship with him. As long as I get reasonable results for my investment I will continue to distribute posters in Toronto, and if that proves successful Zunaid can also help me with some of the large universities in the surrounding area. It’s not going to be the cheapest, but Zunaid has certainly been fair with his pricing. I’m treating him in a sense like an advertising manager – get me results and I’ll give you a bigger budget.

Zunaid has already taken over most of my runs here which left me personally, in an unusual situation. I’ve been a bit lost for things to do. There are always countless little things I can do for BetterEdit and I keep at that list most days but they aren’t a specific focus, more an ongoing chore list. I came to Canada with two objectives regarding BetterEdit – test the market using posters and find someone to take over postering (done!) and to complete and launch of the BetterEdit Student Library (also done! – but will continue to grow of course).

So I needed a new major objective. Thanks to reading all the Internet business biographies I’ve been mentioning in this blog, especially the eBay book, I’ve had all these ideas churning over in my head. At some point during my readings, in fact at about 3am one morning it hit me that I could combine a lot of my ideas into one website and even launch it now myself. Most of my ideas I had been shelving for after my return to Brisbane and after I hire a web dev guru to build all my ideas because they were technically beyond me. But on this night I realised there was no reason why I couldn’t do it, in some way, by myself right now. I already had the skills and experience from building MTGParadise.com and I figured I could try and make lightning strike twice with this new project.

Okay, you are probably a bit lost – what the hell is this guy talking about right?!?

I’ve had many ideas for projects to do with the student marketplace, which seems to interest me the most, because I’m exposed to it a lot when running BetterEdit. The synergy of this new project with BetterEdit and with me personally is perfect. I can’t really describe in words how relevant this idea is, so instead I’ll show you.

A few days ago I launched a new site called Yaz! You can find the site at www.yaz.com.au. You can also find a good explanation I wrote describing how I came up with the concept. For those really keen, you can read my news post at MTGParadise telling my old friends about the new site (and also an interesting discussion about the legalities of trading essays on Yaz!). If you read all that you will have a pretty good understanding of what Yaz! is all about.

I put Yaz! together in a few days using the existing BetterEdit forum, a few custom modifications and by combining some old templates I built for the BetterEdit and MTGParadise early days. Of course it’s very early days still for Yaz! and I expect it will be months of ongoing promotion before the site reaches a good number of users and posts (critical mass) and I hope word of mouth will start to take over. It’s not a new idea, the student portal concept, but I’m in a very good position to make it work and most of all I’m having fun with the site so I’ll continue to pour energy into it. However it doesn’t actually take much time to promote it because most of my current channels of promotion for BetterEdit, can be replicated for Yaz! (there is no reason why I can’t put up Yaz! posters at the same time as BetterEdit posters, for example).

You may be wondering what my revenue model is for the site – well guess what, I don’t have one at this stage. I do, if the site takes off, have loose ideas to generate revenue from advertising, possibly subscription based services, but I’d be reinvesting a lot of that back into enhancing the technology behind the site. The forums are not the ideal trading platform for a super large community, but they are perfect to test an idea like this. Forums are good in that they are open, easy to join and allow a natural progression of a concept. However, they don’t provide all the tools I’d like to see. The great thing is, usually a site like this grows so organically that the community itself defines it’s needs so I’m very much going to let this project define it’s own boundaries and see what works. I’ll keep throwing ideas and features at users, but it will be the community that makes the final decision simply by doing what they want to do (if you read the eBay book you will see this is a very eBayasian concept).

So my plans now are – I’m going to head back to Brisbane soon enough. Canada is taken care of for now and I don’t want to spend any more time or money then I have already budgeted for this area. I will turn my focus back on to Australia and start to develop my grand plan. The combination of three ideas into one network – BetterEdit, Yaz! and Student-Marketing.com.au – and they will feed and grow off each other.

At least, that’s what I am thinking right now…but I do change my mind easily 😉

Yaro Starak
BetterEdit Manager

Filed under: Blogroll — admin @ 1:48 PM

January 30, 2005

A very productive day

After all that reminiscing in the history of BetterEdit in my previous post it’s time to get up to date with the latest BetterEdit news.

Today I had one of those wonderful energetic and productive days. I’m sure you know what I am talking about. You wake up full of energy and it lasts for the whole day. I think today, for the first time in a long time, I put in a full 8 hours worth of work, and then some.

My primary activities were the new BetterEdit navigation system and library. As a loyal blog reader you can have a sneak preview of what the new site is going to look like and check out the new library as well – follow this link. It hasn’t been polished yet so please excuse the typos if you find any.

I spent a lot of time working on writing good keyword focused and natural sounding copy today. I have to send out thanks to Will Swayne for reviewing and providing advice regarding my website copy. Also a big super thank you to our resident professional editor, Chelsea Allen, who kindly volunteers to proofread all my copy before I launch on the world wide web. There is nothing worse than when an editing and proofreading business has typos in their website copy. I try and avoid it, but I’m not perfect and it has happened in the past. (Don’t get me started on my feelings about the guy that emailed and offered to ‘sell me’ where a spelling mistake was on the site for $100 – how rude!)

The new library is going online soon and while we only have a few articles at the moment, some very good articles mind you, I will slowly add more as time goes by. The purpose of the library is to increase the bookmark value of BetterEdit.com. I was recently surprised to find in my site stats (provided by AWStats) that BetterEdit.com is presently holding down a 50%+ ‘added to favourites’ stat, which is very, very impressive. How good is yours?

Yaro Starak
BetterEdit Manager

Filed under: Blogroll — admin @ 4:02 PM

January 10, 2005

Author editing services and the University of Toronto

Today I spent some time working on our services page for the authors/writers market (currently not available live). Whilst our most significant marketplace is students, there is a demand from other demographics and I hope to slowly expand awareness in these areas. In the past we have been widely praised by the few American writers that have used our service, mainly as we offer a very competitive option thanks to the currency exchange. Having the Internet as a means of service delivery helps us to reach overseas markets that we would otherwise not be able to reach and allows customers access to a valuable service at cheaper prices by leveraging currency differences. In particular I expect (hope!) the self-publishing market will benefit from our services as they don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on proofreading and we offer an affordable alternative.

Being a small growing business much of the administration and marketing work is completed by the same people. I do most of the copy writing (thankfully we do have professionals to edit my writing though!) as well as the web content design and updates. I make use of some network contacts to enhance my sales copy. I produce the advertising materials (posters and flyers) and handle their production and distribution. In fact tomorrow I will be heading to the University of Toronto to begin our first ongoing major campaign at this campus.

U of T is one of the oldest universities in the area and is situated in the heart of downtown Toronto. The campus has some very old architecture but from my point of view is one of the hardest campuses to poster because it is very spread out. It takes a long time to get around! For those interested you can learn more about U of T at their website – http://www.utoronto.ca/

Onwards!

Yaro Starak
BetterEdit Manager

Filed under: Blogroll — admin @ 11:48 AM

November 25, 2004

New: Frequently Asked Questions

I have just finished adding the new Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ] page that I have been collating over the past few months. Throughout the year we are often asked questions by students and in general they are the same questions over and over again. Hopefully the FAQ will answer a lot of the more common questions before students have to ask them and hence speed up the decision process.

If you were ever curious whether we write essays for students, whether our term paper editing service is free or if we have an affiliates program so you can make money selling our services, then check out the FAQ

Filed under: Blogroll,Uncategorized — admin @ 9:15 AM

November 21, 2004

More news on the Library

We have managed to get permission to publish three articles in the BetterEdit library. They include two thesis writing guides and one undergraduate English essay guide. We have begun to code them into our library and hopefully by December we will have things ready to go. I am quite impressed with these articles as they have been written with care by university professors that have worked with many students closely, so they understand the issues students face when writing academic papers. I expect you will also find them of value so please check back over the coming weeks. I’ll post a notice in the blog when the articles go live.

Chelsea Allen is also hard at work putting together an in-house how to write an essay guide which will be one of the feature pieces for the library. It’s aimed at simplifying the writing process for any student new to essay writing. It will provide a basic outline to follow and should get you on the right track if you are struggling.

In other news, Edward Chalmers takes over administration of BetterEdit on a trial period this week. I will be supervising him while I am still here to make sure things run smoothly in the lead up to my departure next week. Ed will then manage things on his own for about two weeks at which point I should have settled down in Toronto and will have reliable Internet access so I can resume my administration duties.

Yaro

Filed under: Blogroll,Uncategorized — admin @ 8:38 PM
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