Easier Blogging Using WYSIWYG Interface: Windows Live Writer from Microsoft

From a previous post, you’ll come to understand why I’m delighted to work with my new self-hosted WordPress blog. My main issue with it though is the clumsiness with formatting, adding graphics, etc. It isn’t smooth and simple enough.

But Microsoft is continuing to think, and they’re currently offering a free solution that has reduced my aggravation. It’s Windows Live Writer (WLW) and is currently in beta. I don’t have to be online to write my blog posts, and it’s an easier interface that is as slick as creating a document in Word. Get Windows Live Writer here (it’s not Web-based so you’ll have to download it to your computer).

After you download this free software, you’ll have to set up access to your blog. Click Weblog, Add Weblog Account, Another weblog service, enter all of the appropriate information.

It didn’t work.

I logged into my WordPress blog and clicked Settings, Writing. Under the Remote Publishing section, I ticked the XML-RPC box.

After all this was set up, I created this blog entry using WLW. Using this software is very intuitive…just start clicking and you’ll soon figure out how to work with it. Click to Publish and that’s it! Love it! If you’ve been updating your blog directly in WordPress and you decide to try WLW, you’re going to see why I’m so happy!

One more thing, YouTube has several tutorials on how to use WLW.

Update: For a detailed article on the advantages of using Windows Live Writer, see the Contextures blog written by Excel expert, Debra Dalgleish.

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Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert

Upgrade Your Blog Image and Functionality

I wrote a recent article for SCORE Association’s blog on the process I went through to convert a free Blogger blog and a free WordPress blog to a self-hosted WordPress blog. And I am so glad I did.

I want my blog to be viral with you linking to it, downloading my blidget (the Widget in the right sidebar that lists recent posts and updates automatically every time I add more), and spreading the word by clicking any of the social icons at the end of each post. And I wanted a more interesting design with better choices.

I can have all these things with a self-hosted WordPress blog. Click here to read the details of what I went through. I hope you’ll pick up a tip or three that will save you some time.

Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert

Promote Your Own Products and Services on Your Blog

I was in a meeting recently with a group of solopreneurs. We pulled up each other’s blog and talked about each one. The most important thing I walked away with was this: since the purpose of my blog is to share helpful information and not about making money from ads, I should create Web banners and promote my own stuff. And stop advertising my competition’s training (from Google ads).

I always had pictures of my books, but I hadn’t considered promoting my training (other than mentioning it in an article).

So I removed the few Google ads from my blog and used PowerPoint to create my Web banners. As you look around this blog, I’m advertising my hands-on workshops, Webinars, and consulting services. The banners link to my Website that has more details.

So if you’re just making pennies from Google Ads, try advertising your own products and/or services and see how it goes. Let me know.

P.S. Check out my PowerPoint class on how to use it to create marketing collateral.

It’s also available as a Webinar. And here is a blog entry “Create interesting art projects with PowerPoint.”

Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert

A Green Office: How I Ran My Business Without a Printer for a Year

A sheet of labels got stuck in my HP All-in-One LaserJet printer and I tried pulling it out. I got it, but I destroyed the sensor that lets the printer know I have a cartridge. After finding out it was almost as cheap to buy a new printer as to fix the old one, I threw up my hands.

I considered buying another printer but I realized how rarely I printed anything. It dawned on me to try doing without one. Here’s how I managed without a printer for a year.

  • Documents I need to sign. My clients either send training agreements as a Word document or a PDF. Word Documents: When the agreement is in Word, I pop in my signature from AutoText, save a softcopy, and email it back. I had already scanned in my written signature and saved it as a graphic. In Word, I saved it in AutoText (display the graphic on a page, select it, click Insert, AutoText, New, give the entry a name. Every time I need to sign a document, I click where I want the signature to go, type in the name of the AutoText entry, and press F3.) PDFs: When the agreement is in a PDF, I have a Custom Stamp with this same signature graphic and insert it as needed.

UPDATE: Here’s a video I recorded on how to do this. It’s part of my new series for Suite Minute TV: tips that will save minutes or hours every day for people who don’t have a second to spare.

  • QuickBooks invoices for clients. I used to print my client invoices (created in QuickBooks) and fax them along with all the receipts. Without a printer, I create a PDF of the invoice, scan all the receipts and attach them to the PDF and email everything. (Since I lost my scanner when I lost my all-in-one LaserJet, I either asked every establishment for an extra receipt, or I scanned all receipts with either my business card scanner (Executive CardScan) or my NeatReceipts(TM) scanner.I use the CardScan when I have one or two small receipts. I use the NeatReceipts units when I have several by taping as many receipts as possible onto one sheet of paper and then scanning.)
  • Shipping labels for packages and envelopes.For shipping, I either handwrite whatever I need, but most times I print everything with my Dymo LabelWriter(TM) Twin Turbo that doesn’t require ink cartridges.
  • Documents I absolutely had to print. On very, very rare occasions when I needed a printed document, I saved it on a Flash drive as a PDF and either printed it at a friend’s office up the street (on my way out), or I’d wait until I got to my hotel and printed it at their business center. This was never an inconvenience. My friend didn’t mind because every time I stopped by there he had a list of computer questions to ask me.
  • Outlook Calendar details to use on travel. I put all the details of my trip in the text area of a calendar appointment. All of this information gets synched to my PDA, but I like having it on paper in case the PDA locks up and it’s inconvenient to boot up my laptop. When I had a printer, I printed all this. Without the printer, I had to handwrite notes with the main information I’d need (flight and hotel info, host phone, etc.).
  • Documents I had to mail but wanted to keep a copy. When I needed to keep a copy of a document I needed to mail (e.g., a rebate form), I simply scanned it (with the Neat Receipts scanner).

After a year, I discovered I was doing just fine without a printer. Then I purchased a new desktop computer that came with one. It’s an HP Color Deskjet and does everything but fax. It’s nice knowing the printer is here if I need it, but you can go broke buying ink. It’s been two weeks and I’ve used it once (to copy a receipt for a rebate) because, as usual, I have no intention of printing anything unless I absolutely have to.

So rethink how you use your printer and let me know if you have any success with not using it.


Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert

How to Sign Mail Merge Letters

A financial planner sent me a letter that went into the trash the instant I opened it…without even blinking. Here’s why:

  • The letter was typed using the Comic Sans typeface. The typeface you select for your business correspondence should reflect the type of business you’re in. If you’re running a daycare center, a playful font like Comic Sans would be appropriate, but not for a financial planner who wants to be taken seriously.

  • She started the letter using “Dear Peggy.” Since I don’t know her, the planner should have addressed the letter with “Dear Ms. Duncan.” If we had met in passing or had talked on the phone at least once, or had our paths crossed at all, Dear Peggy would have been OK.

  • The signature was wrong. Real wrong. The financial planner was asking for my business and sent me a letter with a TYPED SIGNATURE! She didn’t even bother to sign her name! Never do this…regardless of how fancy the typeface is!

If you’re sending someone a form letter that you’re creating using mail merge, or you’re having something printed requiring your signature, do this instead of typing your signature:

  1. Sign your name as you normally would on a blank sheet of paper using a fluid writing instrument so the signature will be smooth and solid.

  2. Take a digital picture or scan it (if you need to scan and don’t have a scanner, someone you know does or perhaps your local office supply store or copy center…don’t buy one because you’ll probably rarely use it).

  3. Save your scanned signature as a graphic as you would any item. (I also saved this graphic as an AutoText entry in Word so anytime I need it, I type the name I gave it and press F3.)

  4. Create your mail merge letter as you normally would, and insert the graphic signature into the letter where you would normally sign it. Resize the graphic if you need to.

  5. Run your mail merge. Your original-looking signature will print out on every letter.

Direct mail experts say that a signature signed in blue ink has a better response rate (I don’t remember why but I think it’s to show it’s an original). So if you’re sending out a direct mail letter and you have a color printer, sign your name in blue ink and scan using the color option.

Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert