DIY Vermicomposting – A Worm Farm on a Budget

Have you wanted to set up a home worm farm, but been put off by the high cost of purchasing one of the neat “designer label” multi-tiered “vermicomposting” kits, promoted by garden centres and mail order companies? Well, let’s cut through the crap! – ITS ACTUALLY NO SECRET !!! -You can easily make your own DIY three bin kit for a just a few dollars and your worms will be as happy as little pigs in the yellow stuff, with no big bad wolf in sight. Moreover, you don’t need to be an expert handyman to achieve this!

  • Hardware stores, supermarkets and camping outlets sell tough, general purpose black (opaque) plastic storage containers for a very reasonable price. These are usually tapered so that they can be nested to facilitate stacking on the retailer’s shelves and come with a “snap-fit”ce lid. For your worm farm, you will need three of these tapered containers (but only one lid). For a simple home worm farm I would advise going for 12 gallon (45 litre) containers. Typically, they will be about 15 inches deep (400mm). You can go smaller, if you want.
  • In the first storage container, drill a 3/8 inch (15mm hole), centrally placed, in the side of the bin, just above the base. Insert a ½ inch (12mm) cheap plastic barrel or irrigation tap (with washers) into your hole and tighten fast with lock nuts – make sure you get a good seal – test by filling the container with tap water. This container is to be the lowest one in your stack and will retain the highly nutritional “worm tea” leachate, that will start dripping down from the composting bins above. Worm tea is a valuable liquid organic fertilizer, that can be diluted and used directly on your organic vegetables.

The two upper bins will actually hold the worms. They are to be identical and are prepared as follows : -

  • Drill a pattern of ¼ inch (6mm) holes across the entire base of each container for drainage and to allow drainage and the upward migration of the compost worms, these holes should be regularly spaced at approx two inch (50mm) centres in either direction.
  • For aeration, drill two rows of ¼ inch (6mm) holes at two inch (50mm) centres, in a continuous band around each of the bins. This band of holes would be about four inches (100mm) below the top rim of the bin.
  • It is not essential to drill holes in the lid, which is closed tightly over the upper bin. as you should get enough air through the sides.
  • You first set up the lower (sump) bin on bricks or blocks, allowing enough space to tap off the fluid from beneath it. Choose a shady location for the worm farm (in a shed or garage, if you are subject to frosts).
  • The second and third bins are “nested” within each other and dropped into the sump bin. To maintain a working space for the worms, and for accumulation of compost, you need a few spacers or packers of about six to eight inches height, between the two upper bins and some smaller packers of about four inches in the lower (sump) bin. You can use wood blocks or sealed food jars for packers. The packers also prevent the tapered worm bins from jamming together.
  • To prevent “nasty bugs” from squeezing in between the bins, you should close (caulk) the small gap between them with strips of shade cloth, or mosquito netting.

Now you are ready to go into production. Space prevents us from giving fully detailed notes here for the fine points of operating the system, such as choosing and feeding your worms, eradicating pests and maintaining the worm farm etc – you can visit our website for this information. However, just make sure that you cover the following points: -

  • Set up your worms in the top bin with a good (damp) fibrous bedding (or even shredded newspaper) and after a few days you will be ready to start feeding in your kitchen scraps. Cover the food with more bedding material to discourage pests and keep the lid closed.
  • Make sure the worm farm is never allowed to dry out, by sprinkling water over the bedding periodically, if there is not already enough moisture coming from the food scraps.
  • When the top bin has been fully productive for a while, the worms will multiply and compost will be start accumulating from the worm castings. When the quantity of compost is meaningful, stop putting feed into this bin and swap over the upper two bins by putting bin No 2 to the top of the stack, with bin No 1 now in the middle. Set up this new top bin with clean bedding, a small amount of the old castings and immediately start feeding your kitchen scraps into it. The worms will naturally migrate upwards towards the new food source, leaving the lower bin with only a few stragglers and ready for the harvesting of your compost within about three weeks after the swap.
  • All you need to do is to keep repeating the process of alternating the top two bins on a regular basis, taking out the compost, whenever it accumulates, and tapping off the worm tea from time to time. Use both products in your garden and grow delicious fully organic vegetables and stunning roses. Sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labours – your worms are doing most of the work anyway!

To see a detailed diagram of this simple worm farm, as described, and some illustrative photos, you can visit our web site at http://www.working-worms.com/

Happy worming!

What is Internet Marketing? Define Internet Marketing

What is Internet Marketing? In broad terms Internet Marketing refers to promotion of commerce or business through the Internet medium. It is the way in which products or services are promoted and sold over the Internet. Internet marketing, also called web marketing, online-marketing and even “i” or “e” -Marketing uses the Internet to deliver all types of media to a global and even local market. The relatively low cost to disseminate information to a global audience makes it very unique compared to marketing of the past.

The interactive nature of the Internet has forced the evolution of its marketing strategies to include specialist skills to deal with the instant response and eliciting responses now present with this unique medium. A device must be included in your Internet marketing system to accommodate this instant response.

The term is also inclusive of the post-sale relationship between a business and its customers because it encompasses digital customer data management and electronic customer relations. It is widely used in the business world today and referred to as ECRM – Electronic Customer Relationship Management. This makes the scope larger as it refers to the on-going relationship supported by the Internet, e-mail, and wireless media.

Internet marketing ties together the technical and creative aspects of the Internet including design, branding, promotion and advertising, as well as sales. Here are three main objectives to help define Internet Marketing:

(1) Deliver a company’s message or presence in a marketplace. Branding its culture, mission and value as well as educating or detailing its products or service via the computer screen.

(2) Collect data research not limited by demographics, individual preferences or past requirements of both existing customers and (different groups, classes, stereotypes, etc.) as potential new customers.

(3) The actual selling, collection of fees, tracking of distribution and follow up of goods, services, or advertising space over the Internet.

The way in which one reaches out via the Internet to its prospective client is through different strategies. The more popular Marketing Strategies utilized by Internet Marketers are Social, Content and Paid marketing approaches. Each has their own attributes as well as limitations or short-comings.

There are several Business Model terms associated with Internet Marketing.

E-COMMERCE (electronic-commerce) refers to business over the Internet. Web sites such as Amazon.com and eBay are all e-commerce sites. The two major forms of e-commerce are Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B). So, while the neighborhood baker doesn’t sell his cupcakes on the Internet, he utilizes the benefits of the Internet to search and find the supplier with the best price for flour.

LEAD-BASED WEBSITES are organizations or groups of websites that create value by capturing prospective clients or sales leads from the Internet to be utilized by or sold to a third party.

AFFILIATE MARKETING is a process in which a product or service is promoted by many people or entities that receive a percentage of the profits when the product is purchased. The Affiliate did not develop or produce it themselves. The owner or producer of the product has authority over whom and how their product is sold and customarily provides the “affiliate” with marketing materials; i.e. Website links, capture pages, and banner ads that have encoded tracking – the device used to ensure the affiliate gets credit for the sale.

LOCAL INTERNET MARKETING is the process used by a company with a “local customer base” that traditionally sells by warm market referrals, signage, location visibility, and utilizing the Internet to find and cultivate relationships with potential customers to later interact with offline.

BLACK HAT MARKETING is a form of Internet marketing or search engine optimization (SEO) commonly referring to the practice of using unethical techniques or employing deceptive, abusive, or less than truthful methods to make your search rankings go up to drive more traffic to your website.

The birth and growth of Internet marketing has also made a mark on the “personal worlds” of many individuals. With Internet Marketing offering individuals infinite ways to promote and market themselves, products, services and opportunities, the world of home-based-business has exploded.

Initially for the person that desires to capitalize on this medium for their own person commerce, Internet Marketing can be confusing or even overwhelming for most. Each method seems to have its own language to decipher and obstacle to overcome. A system or platform to manage all of these strategies can be very useful if it includes support training. It’s best to only choose 1 or 2 initial strategies to focus on at one time. The best strategy for one person may not be the best strategy for you. Most important is that you discover the strategy that you like most and are comfortable performing. If you enjoy the process you will be certain to be better at it. And the better you are at it, the more likely you’ll become consistent with its implementation. You will find that the strategy you choose is much less important than your ability to do it consistently in order to achieve results.

I agree it can seem overwhelming at times, but actually the process can be quite simple if you focus on just one strategy at a time. There are unlimited training courses, Internet tools, websites and programs to help you be more effective and efficient in each category or strategy you choose. Having someone to help guide you through the process, pointing out which tools and programs offer the most help, not only will save your sanity, but also can save you hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in the process.

Facebook Advertising Best Practices

The popularity of Facebook, with it's almost half a billion active users, and the time that its individual users spend on this site (estimated to be almost an hour), has made Facebook marketing the next big thing in online advertising. You can expand your customer base and probably even have an opportunity to reach out to others which are new to your niche.

Facebook fan pages are effective vehicles to have your message throughout to lots of viewers and increase your web presence. You can even create a separate Facebook account for your business, separate from your personal account and have a separate fan page for this account.

A good practice in advertising on Facebook is to identify what your goal is with this ad campaign. If you aim to get highly targeted traffic to your site you can have the pay per click as an option, but if you want to promote more of your brand, then it would be better for paying per impression because it can display a well created and Interesting image ad.

A good practice also, is to keep your content pages fresh and regularly updated frequently so that viewers will be interested and be motivated to come back on a regular basis. Adding and sharing content can give extra mileage for your Facebook page.

Facebook fans new or old should be encouraged to participate in your fan page. By keeping your page regularly updated, you can encourage them to interact and share information since this can give them opportunities to get information that they have not encountered before and even share it to other people.

By keeping your visitors involved all the way when they are in your page can be good for your Facebook marketing efforts. Sending your visitors to your interesting landing pages can make them more familiar with your products as well as being acquainted with your pages.

For the ads that you placed in Facebook also, you have to make these clear with concise and direct texts that will be understood to your targeted clients. You have to make sure that your products will stand out when placed side by side with competition by highlighting unique features that can clearly benefit customers.

Making ads on Facebook that have strong and unique call-to-action phrases can make your ads different from all the others. These strong and compelling words can make them go to your landing page by making a click on your ads.

An attractive and interesting image ad that is relevant and appropriate for your products or services is also a good advertising practice in Facebook. Remember that your ad is specifically aimed at getting the viewers attention and these people may not be interested in your product in the first place, so you have to make ads that can really attract customers' attention.

Your "Must Know" Ecommerce Metrics

Web Analytics can be an amazing technology, but also a highly under-utilized one. Complex deployments and integrations frequently leave business users befuddled. Without dedicated staff to analyze, analytics packages more often than not collect dust.

This brief is focused on outlining the 7 most important web metrics to monitor within your eCommerce business and what to look for as it relates to your website’s performance.

Bounce rate

First on our list is the most important metric you will encounter: bounce rate. Think of bounce rate as a first impression. The definition of bounce rate is the percentage of users that leave your website after only viewing the initial page that was presented.

Bounce rate is so vital because it provides details into how you initially message your value proposition to the customer or prospect. It provides a cue to also help you identify performance issues with your site that may be causing the inflation the metric.

Bounce rates vary by industry, but eCommerce businesses should focus on getting the metric below 30%. Especially important within paid search campaigns, bounce rate will provide valuable cues into which product assortments and promotions at the category and sub-category levels of your taxonomy are doing well. This knowledge can be leveraged across the business in other categories and implemented via multi-variate testing deployments.

Email Capture Ratio

The next metric you want to track is your email capture ratio. As an online business, you probably sell some type of tangible product or service in which you monitor orders or completed information forms. Most businesses monitor their standard conversion rate, but few businesses frequently monitor their email capture rate and take a proactive approach to increasing.

With eCommerce conversion rates yet to eclipse an average of 3%, 97% of users who come to your store are leaving without buying something. Just because they are leaving however does not mean they are not interested in communicating on some level with your business. By gaining an initial step of trust through the capture of an email address, you are not only increasing the size of your house list for future marketing but you are also building a relationship with your customer and can win their business by providing them solutions to their lives.

Strive for a 7-10% email capture rate and place the sign up tool prominent in the header. Too many businesses bury their sign up tool and do not leverage rich applications that can use browser technologies such as ajax to expand a capture field over standard text in an overlay fashion.

Number of non-branded organic keywords

Make sure you look at number of monthly non-branded organic search keywords. When monitoring SEO performance, you need to first strip out the branded terms that correlate with your business. Thats traffic that you would have received without effective SEO. Then look to the number of remaining keywords that were utilized to make up the balance of the remaining natural search visits.

Why is this important? Because SEO is driven from the long tail. Sure, core SEO terms are nice but you need to capture the 4 and 5 word queries that make up the majority of Google queries each day. Long tail placements are achieved through proper site architecture and quality targeted content. Simply put, the more terms that people are using to find you, the better your site is doing in content development. Aim for a 5% to 10% increase each month within non-branded search keywords as you structure your SEO campaigns.

Shopping Cart to Checkout “Step 1″ Progression Rate

Our next metric directly correlates to the transactional process. Make sure you monitor your direct progression percentage from the shopping cart to checkout step 1. See how many of your users are bailing for price shopping and/or they see a promo code box on your site and they are going hunting for one. This type of behavior dramatically impacts your conversion rate and overall profits and steps should be taken to measure and reduce.

Consider adding the promo box at the end of the transaction for non-affiliate sessions in order to reduce leakage. Use a cookie from an affiliate or potentially a URL to trigger two versions of the cart page. By incorporating checkout abandonment tools that re-market via email, and aggressive banners both internally and externally to try and re-capture the lost transaction, eCommerce businesses can pull prospects back in the sales funnel.

Browser and Resolution Percentages

Dont forget about looking at Browser/Resolution percentages (types and sizes) when scaling your eCommerce business. Lace face it, when you sell online you are in the “looks professional…is professional” world and goo design can make even the smallest retailer seem large. If your build your site and it breaks in Safari (Mac’s browser), or the navigation breaks on Firefox 3.5 on a PC, you essentially shoot yourself in the foot.

Look at the varied browsers and resolutions that are being used to view your website. Conduct full cross-browser testing, on varied platforms, to fully notice any potential usability problems that arrive.

Average number of cross/up sells added per visit

If you are an eCommerce business, you already know that intelligent merchandising is a crucial key to success. A primary metric to help you understand performance within online merchandising is that of average cross/up sells added per visit.

This datapoint associates to your cross sell tools that integrate at the product and the cart level and measures the average number of cross-sells added to the cart per visit. The number will provide details into the effectiveness of your product recommendations and if the recommended products are actively engaging and persuading customers.

It is tough to provide a benchmark statistic for this metric since products can vary so greatly in terms of pricepoint. But look at your historical performance and consider automating this component through algorithmic third party solutions.