Childrens book tells old tale


Though the flood of 1916 may seem an unlikely backdrop for a children’s book, one author with family roots to Madison County found inspiration in the tragedy. Don Harris, an avid fisherman now living in Henderson County, saw all the attention the flood received around its 100th anniversary and thought he’d write an uplifting story around the ordeal.

“I’ve always had an interest in that flood,” Harris told The News-Record & Sentinel in a phone interview.

“Mama’s Quilt” tells the story of a young boy named Buck whose Papa saves, and ultimately adopts, a baby otter. “With the media attention on the 100th anniversary of the flood, and seeing that river otters are making a comeback into Western North Carolina rivers, all the elements fit together for a story of the flood,” Harris said.

After frequent visits to Madison to fish and to visit family in the Rector Corner area, Harris figured Marshall would provide the ideal setting for the story. “The French Broad River has always been a big part of life,” he said. “I’ve fished all up and down the river for smallmouth bass, from the headwaters to way below past Redmon Dam, beyond Hot Springs to the Tennessee line.”

The self-published book features the story told through the eyes of the 10-year old narrator, Buck. “I made the name up,” said Harris. “Later I found up that my family called me Buck as a young boy. I didn’t remember that at all. A cousin told me that.”

Harris’ own daughter, Whitney Wallace, provides the illustration for the story. “It was a great way to connect and get her art out there,” Harris said. “She did extensive research on quilt patterns. We had a lot of people read the story, and then go back to find illustrations as part of baby quilt patterns in the book. It’s part of the story.”

The book aims to engage young readers around the same age as the fictional narrator. “I had elementary school teachers and reading teachers review it,” Harris said. “They said the story could be read to those young as five or six, or by readers eight, nine or 10. My grandson read it at 13 and he enjoyed it.” Harris has shared his work with local readers, making a visit to Hot Springs to share it with elementary school students.

Currently, the book, which went on sale shortly before Christmas, is available at and in Madison County at Artisun Gallery in Hot Springs and Penland & Sons on Main Street in Marshall.

5 Reasons Ecommerce Brands Should Leverage User-Generated Content


Do you know how many sites there are in the ecommerce universe? According to Lemonstand, there are 12 to 24 million online stores — and counting.

As an ecommerce entrepreneur you may find it tough to position yourself successfully in front of your target customers, while knowing that tons of brands are also competing for their undivided attention. So, what’s the secret ingredient to gain ecommerce success? Think social proof.

You’ll be able to stand apart from your competition and skyrocket your sales if you tap into the power of social proof in the form of user-generated content.

But, what exactly is user-generated content? The term (abbreviated as UGC) refers to original, unpaid content created by fans or real users of a particular brand. It can exist in the form of testimonials, pictures, comments, Facebook statuses and tweets.

Why is UGC so important to you? How can it help you achieve your business goals? Here are some of the reasons why you should leverage user-generated content.

1. Nurtures trust through authenticity

Studies have shown that 92 percent of online consumers trust recommendations from others. As an entrepreneur, you can spend a huge chunk of your time running paid ads and creating compelling posts to entice people to buy from you. However, you won’t be able to give customers a solid reason to do business with you if you don’t showcase authentic testimonials from real users.

Social proof is powerful. It helps brands become more transparent and worthy of people’s trust. Consider: When was the last time you bought from an online brand without looking into the opinions of previous customers?

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4 Dumb SEO Tactics That Will Get Your Site Penalized


Is your SEO provider about to get you penalized? Hopefully not, but there is a chance it might. It is too easy to put up a website and advertise SEO services without actually knowing what they are doing. There are also marketers out there who don’t keep up with Google best practices and still use old methods that are ineffective.

If you have never been hit with a Google penalty, let me just tell you it is an experience like no other. Your heart falls into your stomach, you become short on breath and your eyes start to hurt from staring at your computer screen wondering what happened. It’s not a good feeling and one that you never want to experience. Even worse, when potential clients or partners look you up on Google and see you’ve been penalized, kiss your reputation goodbye.

As you plan your SEO strategy for the year, here are four things to watch out for. If any of these are happening, there is a good chance you are on your way to a Google penalty.

1. Linking to your homepage

First, there is nothing wrong with including homepage links into your backlink strategy. However, it must be done the right way.

Some people still believe that acquiring more links to the homepage of your website will help that website rank higher. Those people are still living in 2005. Google doesn’t rank websites. It ranks pages. That is why you need to link to quality content within your website and not the homepage.

A sure sign that your provider is doing things wrong is if they link your homepage to an exact match keyword. For instance, linking the term “SEO provider” to the homepage of an actual SEO provider.

Exact Match Anchor Text + Homepage Link = Road Leading to Google Penalty

Homepage links are fine if they are done naturally. The only “natural” way I see homepage links is if it is branded (e.g., the article is talking about a specific company and links to the homepage of that company) or a quote that links to the homepage of the person giving it (even this is iffy as some black-hat marketers are oversaturating Google links from quotes).

If you only have a homepage and product landing pages on your website, it is time to start reevaluating your marketing plan. Start a blog and generate quality content that people want to read. This is the only way to ensure quality links to your site.

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Will Facebook Marketplace Be the Next Ecommerce Heavyweight?


Circumstances dictate actions, right? Well, that’s especially true in the ecommerce field. By most standards, ecommerce is a young industry. but as the option goes deeper into its 40s in 2017, the slightest hint of an unfamiliar hue turns the dye a completely different color.

The reference is to the Indian marketplace. That country’s emergence in the ecommerce marketplace has it set to overtake the United States in less than two decades, with “digital” sales expected to reach $63.7 billion by 2020.

This offers American ecommerce companies a big opportunity to start exploring more international waters. Amazon has already dipped its toe in — and a big toe, at that — by investing another $3 billion on top of the $2 billion it’s already spent on its Indian unit.

Enter Facebook Marketplace, described at its October launch as “a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items.” With Facebook Marketplace, the potential for independents to take more sales activities overseas and grab a chunk of that potential business grows exponentially. So far, this new functionality is available only in the United States, U.K., Australia and New Zealand, but it could roll out globally if interest catches on.

Facebook’s edge over competitors

If you’re unfamiliar with Marketplace, you’re far from alone. It’s a relatively new feature on the Facebook app, working somewhat similarly to Craigslist with one exception — you can actually see who is selling the product.

Anything you buy has the potential to be connected by eight degrees of social media separation. Buying something from a friend of a friend adds a certain level of trust, which isn’t often present on the likes of Craigslist or eBay. In short, Facebook Marketplace doesn’t feel like such a gamble.

You’ll also enjoy the added functionality of Messenger. When you want to learn more about an item or haggle over price, Marketplace connects you right to Facebook’s texting app. No need to hop on your email and wait for a reply.

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