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Preparing Your Small Business for the Market

March 31st, 2008

small-business-marketing.jpgThis article by Cheryl Frost covers some of the steps necessary to plan out the practical steps in setting up a small business. Although written from the viewpoint of establishing a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront type of business, the basic ideas outlined here can be applied to Internet marketing and website development businesses as well.


Marketing your small business requires preparation and planning. The more effort you put into your marketing strategy, the more successful your business will be. Take the time to dress up your company before announcing your formal presence. Proper planning is the most important step in marketing; part of this step involves having a catchy name to attract attention and setting prices that benefit both you and your customers.

Naming your company

Although the saying goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” it happens all the time. The name of your business is the cover of your book; it will be judged, because it is your potential customers’ first impression of who you are and what you do. If you are an office supply dealer with a business name of “Curley’s Fun Stuff,” how will your customers relate your title to their needs? Maybe you had a puppy named Curley once, and you wanted to honor him and also make your business sound casual. That is great for fulfilling your needs, but it’s the customer you want to please, not your long lost puppy.

The name of your company should say as much as possible about your business in 2 to 5 words. Let’s say your name is Adam and you have an office supply company that specializes in both high quality and wide variety of paper products. “Adam’s Office and Paper” tells potential customers your name, what type of business you run, and that you specialize in paper. It might not be an exciting title for you, but it is satisfying to the customer.

But you do not have to be boring when choosing your business name. You can be both creative and informative at the same time. Try a play on words, which entices people to read and reread your title. Grand Paws might be a good name for a pet grooming service, for example. This name plays on the glamorous paws of the animals, but also sounds like “grandpa.” People appreciate the extra effort businesses go through to come up with a clever name.

Product and Price

You’ve got a market and a name and a general idea of what you will sell — whether it is a service or a tangible product. Now you must determine how much you will charge.

Price is just as much a part of your marketing strategy as it is a business decision. Your prices must be competitive so you don’t scare away the customers. However, if you specialize in high quality goods or services, low cost might be less important to the customer. In this case, even high prices should be reasonable, which is what you would integrate into your sales pitch: High quality at reasonable rates.

The most important goal of your business, of course, is profit. You would like to have low enough prices to make your customers happy, but you have to consider your own costs to run the business.

Markup costs

To determine how much to charge for each item, you should have a formula to work out how much it costs to you (item plus overhead) and how much of a profit you can reasonably make.

Example: Black ink cartridges, purchased by you in bulk, 10 cases at a time. Resell them to the customer by the case:

One case of 24 black ink cartridges = $40
Markup percentage = 200%
Markup amount = $40 x 200% = $80
Cost + Markup = $120
Selling price = $120 per case.

Note that the $80 markup amount is not your profit. It should be enough to contribute toward overhead costs, such as wages, rent, and other business expenses, while still providing some margin of profit.

Manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP)

If “lowest price” is not the focal point of your business, following the MSRP is an easy way to set prices. Your prices would be average and fairly competitive. Using the MSRP would alleviate the task of crunching numbers in an attempt to always stay below or above the line.

The disadvantage of using a predetermined set of prices is that it does nothing for your company’s image. Even if price is not a consideration to your company’s edge, it is still something the customers weigh out. The manufacturer’s suggestion may not be competitive or even realistic in the current market. So although the MSRP is an option, it might be more beneficial to your reputation to put in the extra effort of calculating desirable prices yourself.

Of course, company name and prices are not the only features of a marketing plan. But they are the bookends of the strategy. You must be thoroughly prepared before marketing your business. Successful marketing always includes a good plan; without a plan, your business is likely to fail.



Search Query Sunday, Sixth Edition

March 30th, 2008

search-engine-logo.jpgOver the past week I have been collecting more search query phrases and revisiting the pages where some of the answers can be found. Although I really have enough queries saved up for two or three more weeks, I will go through the first batch of them here.




ant bait doesnt work how do i get rid of the ants — If your ant bait does not work, there are plenty of other methods for getting rid of ants. In addition to the standard pesticides, there are a variety of organic methods such as boiling water, borax, corn meal, chalk lines, and various types of plants that can be used as repellents. For more details, see my article on How to Get Rid of Ants in Your House.

how to set up paypal with sendearnings — Unfortunately, the SendEarnings program does not currently pay by PayPal, but they do pay by check after you accumulate at least $30 of earnings. I would like to see them offer PayPal as a payment option in the future, however; this would be a good idea to email them with as a new feature request.

spaghetti substitute for diabetic — Certain vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini can be cut into strips julienne style and used as a pasta substitute for diabetics. See the linked article for more details on preparation methods.

free bum marketing technique — Information on free bum marketing techniques can be found at my Bum Marketing Guide page. Yes, it is rather long, but I have verified that the methods really do work. In fact, I have actually received a few Clickbank sales just from the search engine traffic to the aforementioned page. ;)

percentage of oil that is converted to gasoline — The exact percentage of gasoline that is made from crude oil varies according to the location of the refinery and the methods used for processing. As an approximate guide, the proportion of gasoline is about 50 percent in the United States, while in Europe and Asia the figure is closer to 35 percent, with the difference being made up for by higher proportions of fuel oil, heating oil, and diesel.

history of tuberculosis — Information on the history and treatment of TB can be found here. This was an essay that I had managed to sell through Constant Content before this site existed. Although I have edited it somewhat to reduce the duplicate content, I still need to get some backlinks to it in order to improve its visibility in the search engines.

does replacing a battery fix my water damaged phone — Possibly yes, if you can manage to remove the battery before the phone itself short circuits. In fact, most people who have managed to save their cell phones after getting them wet usually need to replace the battery before attempting to restore power.

what does theraflu do to cure the fluTheraflu does not actually cure the flu (did you actually think it was going to be that easy? :roll: ); however, it can only be used in an attempt to treat the symptoms. According to some reports, it doesn’t even do a very good job of symptomatic treatment, although it does contain acetaminophen and some antihistamines that are similar to what can be found in other over-the-counter cold medicines.


English Lesson 3: Correct Use of Its and It’s

March 29th, 2008

Of all the instances of grammatical errors that occur both online and offline, the misuse of its and it’s is probably the single most prevalent example of poor English usage that I have encountered. Interestingly, it is also one of the easiest kinds of mistakes to avoid. If you’re (not your) confused about which word to use, the rule is actually quite simple.

Use it’s (with the apostrophe) whenever you would logically use “it is” or “it has” in the sentence; it’s (not its) a contraction of two separate words. Otherwise, use its (without the apostrophe), which is the possessive adjective form of the pronoun it. This word is used in a similar fashion to other possessive adjectives such as my, your, their, his, her, and our.

Although its usage is less common than the other variants, I should point out that its’ (with the apostrophe after the s) is simply invalid syntax and should never be used in a proper English sentence unless you have some strange desire to look like an ignorant fool. Now let us look at some examples of correct and incorrect usage:

Read the rest of this entry »


What Is the Meaning of Amigos?

March 28th, 2008

meaning-of-three-amigos.jpgThe word Amigos means “friends” in both the Spanish and Portuguese languages. There is also a feminine form, amigas, so amiga refers to a female friend and amigo to a male friend. Common expressions include hola amigos, which translates to “hello friends” and adios amigos, which means “goodbye friends”. Meanwhile, according to Wikipedia, Amigos was also the name of a play by David Williamson from 2004 and the name of an album from 1976 by Carlos Santana. Outside of the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, the word is often used in reference to the movie title ¡Three Amigos!, a western style comedy produced in 1986.

Ummmm….Ok. So what is this doing on an Internet marketing blog?

In a word — keywords! While doing research for possible keyword-based articles, I noticed that Wordtracker was returning a relatively high number of searches for the phrase, “what is the meaning of amigos”. According to the KEI Observation Deck, the low competition on this long tail phrase gave it a whopping 41,760 KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index). Frankly, I am rather skeptical of the search volume figure from Wordtracker; it doesn’t seem like there would be that many people searching for this particular phrase. Nevertheless, since I did not have any other article topic planned for today anyway, I figured it couldn’t hurt to do a little SEO experiment and see how many search hits this little article can attract and where it will rank for other amigo-related terms.

According to my keyword research tools, amigos by itself is a surprisingly popular search term, although much of the traffic may be coming from non-English speaking countries. Also fairly high on the list were the phrases “die amigos”, “encontrar amigos”, and “amigos restaurant”. For Internet marketers, the major search engines of Google, Yahoo, and MSN can be our “three amigos” if we aim enough backlinks at our keyword-optimized pages. Now I will hope that not too many other blog owners would consider “amigos” to be an overly spammy keyword name. :)


How to Avoid Spam

March 27th, 2008

spam.jpgSpam, not to be confused with the shoulder pork and ham product made by Hormel, denotes junk mail, an important aspect of life on the Internet. It has become highly notorious word that is regarded as synonymous with annoying advertisements and unwanted bulk email marketing messages. This article by Sarath Kumar provides some tips for preventing and avoiding the dreaded inedible forms of Spam.


Companies and individuals, perhaps including some of our friends bombard our mailboxes with junk mail on a regular basis. There are veterans of spamming – the ‘art’ of sending junk mails - like Sanford Wallace who earned the nickname ‘Spamford Wallace.’

The spammers use several intrusive methods to send junk mail. The Internet allows them to store our email addresses in databases that cross reference each other, so that they can build our profiles that tell them details including what sites we visit, how often we visit those sites, how often we click banner ads, and what kind of products we purchase. Companies and individuals will happily sell this information they collect to other companies and individuals, so that once our email address is on one list, they’ll eventually be on ALL the lists.

Here are some proven steps to avoid junk mail:

1. Don’t click on suspicious links or banner ads

Email harvesting companies can track our habits on the Web extensively by using banner ads or links designed to trick you into downloading adware, Trojan viruses, or other privacy-invading critters.

2. Don’t give out your email address

This may seem obvious, but don’t give out the email address to marketing companies. For example, any surveys we may fill out, or any form to fill out when purchasing something over the Internet. Some companies require our email address before we can download software. In these cases, always enter a bogus address.

Also, don’t include the email address in the Web browser settings. Use a fake one, or leave the field blank. Web sites we visit can grab this information without us ever knowing about it.

In cases where we absolutely need to enter a valid email in a form (for example when we need the company to send us a receipt or a product key), we should have a second email address, preferably at a free email service on the Web. We shouldn’t bother if we get Spam at that account, as it is meant to be a ‘garbage bin’ account. However, clean it periodically, and block unsolicited mails as required. The blocking and Spam reporting facilities are part of many free email services including Hotmail and Yahoo.

3. Don’t list the email address on a web site or newsgroups

Instead of listing the private email address on a personal Web site, use the second ‘garbage bin’ account, or a separate ‘Web feedback’ account. Do the same with posts made on newsgroups. There are automated programs that scour the Web and news groups to harvest emails. Another trick that usually works is to write the email address in a slightly different format that harvesting bots will not detect as a spam target but is still readable to human visitors. For example, you can use (at) or (dot) in place of the appropriate punctuation.

4. Don’t reply to Spam

Never reply to junk mail asking them to stop. A lot of junk emails provide a bogus ‘unsubscribe’ link, or ask to reply with ‘remove’ in the subject. This is a trick. The spammers don’t actually know if our email addresses are active. They purchase thousands of emails from other companies and sometimes even guess at email names. As soon as we reply to junk mail, they will know that our email is active. And we continue to get the junk emails on a ‘priority basis’.

5. Filter out the Spam

Filtering the junk emails that we receive prevents them from reaching our inbox or places them in a separate Spam folder where they can be easily scanned (just in case any legitimate mails slip through) and deleted. Most email programs have built-in filters to do this.

Additional Resources:

http://www.howtofightspam.com/ - more information and resource links on how to deal with Spam
http://www.templetons.com/brad/spamterm.html - article on the history of how the word “Spam” came to be associated with junk emails



Ignorance Abounds: 24 Percent of Internet Users Cannot Find Google

March 26th, 2008

cant-find-google2.jpgAlthough I have long realized that the conditions of ignorance and stupidity have always been prevalent in human societies, today I ran across a recent tidbit of research findings that surprised even me. According to Jacob Nielsen’s latest Alertbox article at UseIt.com released last week, some 24 percent of Internet users could not even perform a simple Google search:

If you thought it’s easy to get to Google, think again. In our current round of usability research, only 76% of users who expressed a desire to run a Google search were successful. In other words, 1/4 of users who wanted to use Google couldn’t do so.

The article goes on to point out that these were actually supposed to be above average Internet users who took part in the study. Participants were equally distributed among low, middle, and high income earners, effectively overrepresenting the most financially successful computer users compared with the normal income distribution found in the general population. People who failed the Google search test either ended up on a different search engine from whatever type-in fields they could find or simply gave up the search altogether.

For Internet marketers, this is important information to take into account when putting together an advertising campaign. After all, most of us who are in the business of trying to make serious money online end up focusing most of our efforts on designing our web pages for search engine optimization. But if a significant group of people cannot even find the world’s most popular search engine, our wonderful SEO skills are not going to mean much to them.

In my opinion, the takeaway lesson here is for us to remember that offline advertising still has its advantages, even in cases where our entire income is generated from online sources. That means getting those business cards, flyers, bulletin board leaflets, and old school classified ads out there so that people will remember our website address and type it into the browser bar even if they do not go through a search engine. Of course, good old-fashioned word of mouth doesn’t hurt either. After enough people have heard about our website, even the technically challenged will wind up at right place eventually. Once they get there, we will have the opportunity to teach them about these newfangled contraptions called search engines.


LibraryThing.com Review

March 25th, 2008

library-thing.gifThis article by Ashley Ludwig is a review of the website LibraryThing.com, an open source book sharing platform that allows readers and collectors of books to share their personal favorites with other literary enthusiasts.


The Thing is no longer just the infamous billboards that grace I-10 between the Arizona and New Mexico borders, but a craze that is sweeping the nation’s bibliophiles.

Created by Tim Spalding, who keeps an interesting and informative blog on the site, LibraryThing.com is a phenomenon in its own right. LibraryThing.com is a unique open access website that allows its members to catalog, review, share, and discuss their personal library shelves with the world at large. The novice user can upload 200 titles for free, unlimited titles for $10 a year, or for a $25 investment, users can register an unlimited number of texts in their online library for life. The question remains, how does this website benefit the average book lover?

Through the magic of a highly functional online application, users simply copy the ISBN (International Book Serial Number), or Title/Author combination of the books within the collection, and LibraryThing.com searches out the matching bibliographic data that is available from libraries worldwide. A savvy user can determine which libraries or websites to draw from, limiting your choices to your top three selections. Your online library and profile is created and then the fun really starts.

According to the site, users can enter books they’re reading or their whole library in an easy, library quality catalog to connect users with people who read the same things. With the novel use of tagging and word-clouds, site users and visitors can find out which topics, titles and authors are all the rage across the globe. Titles are matched to cover images, and if no image is provided, users are encouraged to scan in and post their own cover images to share with the general LibraryThing population.

LibraryThing.com encourages users to generate their own reviews and even acknowledges well-written or starred reviews for other users to read. The user friendly platform allows users to easily tag their titles with keywords. The tags then allow you to search comparative titles within their growing database of books and can be viewed in the general Zeitgeist section of the site, which needs to be viewed for its wealth of information. Users can also rate the books in their collection and arrange bibliographic information in predetermined formats or in a unique manner. In the spirit of the open source movement, users can also share titles with other members, and ultimately join forums of discussion on an array of topics.

Whether for personal or professional use, LibraryThing.com is a tool that is changing the way that people interact with books and fellow book lovers online. It’s definitely worth the trip.



TIB Expands Program to Include Paid Offers, Surveys

March 24th, 2008

The program called Take the Internet Back (TIB) is expanding beyond its usual email routine to include paid offers and surveys similar to sites such as SendEarnings and Treasure Trooper. As a paid email site, TIB has been one of the easiest of this genre of programs for me to accommodate. All of the mails that are sent have a nice, conspicuous confirmation link at the bottom that can be clicked on for immediate credit. There is no timer, nor is it necessary to log into the account to receive the mails, so the time cost is practically negligible.

tib-banner.gif

The program is free to join and is open to all registrants. Points are earned for each mail that is credited, after which the points are converted to cash earnings based on the company’s advertising revenue. Extra points are awarded for referrals; surprisingly, I have not collected any of these yet, perhaps because too many visitors have already signed up. Nevertheless, the latest admin update that arrived over the weekend explains the new features and is posted after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Search Queries, Fifth Edition

March 23rd, 2008

search-engine-logo.jpgEarlier tonight I finished “mining” another group of interesting search queries from my FireStats report. Some of you may be able to answer these better than I can; if this is the case, please don’t be shy about using the comment section to provide additional information for our visitors.

  1. how do the scammers get away with egold fraud — While there are many ways in which scammers can initiate fraud through e-gold or other payment systems, one of the more dangerous methods is through the use of Trojan horse malware programs such as the infamous Maxiptrader HYIP scam that caught many e-gold users off guard last year. In this type of scam, users are prompted (usually through spam emails) to download “free software” that masquerades as something useful and beneficial but is actually a Trojan. After the malware is installed on a user’s system, it will automatically make spends from the user’s account to the scammer’s account whenever the user logs into the e-gold interface. This kind of fraud can be avoided by being more skeptical of email spam offers and running anti-virus scans to keep your system free of dangerous malware applications.
  2. importance of alexa ranking — This is a somewhat controversial topic, as many webmasters have doubted the usefulness of Alexa as a reliable metric of site performance just as they have with the Google PageRank system. For a more thorough explanation of the issue including tips on how to actually increase your ranking, see my article on 10 Methods for Increasing Your Alexa Rank. I should also point out that Entrecard is another excellent way to increase Alexa rank, although this particular method did not make it into the above article because Entrecard did not yet exist at the time of its writing.
  3. increase global reach and alexa — see the answer above
  4. does sendearnings pay — Currently yes, according to the payment reports that I have read from other members. Meanwhile, I have reached the $30 minimum payout threshold and am currently awaiting a check from them, which is due to arrive in about two weeks. When I receive the check, I will get it scanned and posted so that it can be added to my own payment proof posts. I will also update the SendEarnings review page.
  5. stupid americans — You’re in luck; there are plenty of examples of both ignorant and stupid Americans. Some of them can be found at my two previous posts, Are Americans Stupid? and Stupid in America. Eventually, I’m hoping to find some entertaining examples of stupid people from other countries as well.
  6. how do you see what programs are currently running on your computer — If you’re using a Windows-based system, hold down the Ctrl and Alt buttons simultaneously and then press the Del key. I would need to do some further research to find out exactly what the relevant commands are for Linux or Mac systems. Perhaps some of our visitors who are more familiar with these platforms can provide relevant information on this in the comment section.
  7. Just like Dance Dance Revolution, except with your arrow keys ONLINE — You’re probably looking for Flash Flash Revolution.
  8. how long should your phone be in rice if got wet — It is difficult to give a precise answer for this one because it depends on how wet your phone is when you put it in the rice and on how easily the rice is able to absorb moisture from the phone. Overall, the estimates range from about 24 hours up to 7 days. Some people have even recommended using a hair dryer or other heat-emitting device to speed up the drying process. For more information, see How Can I Fix My Cell Phone - It Got Wet.



English Lesson 2: Correct Use of Your, You’re, and Yore

March 22nd, 2008

your-you-are-english.jpgIn this second post on English usage, we will explore the issues related to the words your, you’re and yore. Misuse of these words has not only been running rampant throughout the Internet, but has also crept into email marketing and corporate documents. Occasionally I have even seen mistakes involving your and you’re slip past editors and find their way into printed publications such as owner’s manuals or instruction booklets. Naturally I am keen to stamp out this sort of ignorance before too many people forget (or never learn) how we are actually supposed to use these words.

First of all, your is the possessive form of the personal pronoun you, and is used in a similar fashion as the word their from last week’s lesson. It is commonly used as an adjective as in the following examples:

  1. This is not a permanent fix for the memory leak issue, but it will keep your Firefox extensions from consuming all of your computer’s memory. - Jared Hislop from Gearlive.com
  2. I do not recommend getting rid of all your gold because there are still offsetting factors, such as war with Iran, a falling dollar, a major terrorist attack, or a major purchase of gold by a central bank. - Gary North at LewRockwell.com

Meanwhile, you’re is actually a contraction of the words “you are”.

  1. No one ever came to me and said, “You’re a fool. There isn’t such a thing as God. Somebody’s been stuffing you.” - Frances Farmer, 1931
  2. You’re not stupid, just ignorant in this area of topics. - user Xevion at Ars Technica forum

Finally, yore, although sometimes written as a misspelling of your, is a relatively obscure word that means “time long ago” or “in times past”. It’s actually a pretty fun word to use, especially when reminiscing or entertaining romantic visions of enjoying life in a previous historical period.

  1. Pirates of yore attacked any ship that crossed their path. Today’s pirates plan their attacks and select their prey before they leave shore. - Cindy Vallar, 2000
  2. We were standing at a guard tower on the Great Wall of China, looking across to the expanse of Inner Mongolia and wondering about those barbarians of yore. - Elaine Lowe

Now we can look at some examples of correct vs. incorrect usage:

Incorrect: If your using yahoo, hotmail or msn, you might want to consider switching to gmail. - Michele Ballard

Correct: If you’re using Yahoo, Hotmail or MSN, you might want to consider switching to Gmail.




Incorrect: So you’re money woes may be a bit grating now, but they won’t be forever. - Brian Freedman

Correct: So your money woes may be a bit grating now, but they won’t last forever.




Incorrect: Wow man that is really nice, looks like you got yore money worth out of that chip. - user Kohan, Overclockers forums

Correct: Wow, that is really nice! It looks like you got your money’s worth out of that chip.




Incorrect: When yore done frying the lamb you just make a plain sauce with the cooking grease as base. - Kaftan Barlast, Obsidian Entertainment forums

Correct: When you’re done frying the lamb, you just make a plain sauce with the cooking grease as a base.




Next week we will tackle the infamous issue of its vs. it’s, which has probably manifested itself in more errors found on signs and other forms of advertising than either of the other two groups of homonyms that I have already covered.


The Malawi Nsima Saga: How Not To Be Diplomatic

March 21st, 2008

nsima-malawi1.jpgA school teacher known as “Missjenn-Malawi” set off a torrent of anger recently when she posted a blog entry at travelpod.com referring to the Malawian staple food nsima as “the most disgusting and pointless food in the history of the world”. The visiting English tutor from Irvine, UK then proceeded to describe how she managed to avoid eating the dreaded nsima by stuffing it in her bra while also expressing her disgust with other Malawian foods such as pumpkin leaves and goat meat.

Although the backlash prompted Missjenn to delete the original article from the travelpod.com site, there is still an archived copy of it at storiesonmalawi.blogspot.com. I had more than a few laughs while reading through the 48 comments at the Blogspot page. Most Malawians were outraged that this “mzungu” could not only criticize such an important staple of their diet but also do it in such a mocking way. References to possibly contracting bilharzia from the local lakes also struck a raw nerve with many people. One angry anonymous commenter remarked:

miss jenn is a disgrace to our nation. the police have been informed about the issue and we should expect her not to be on our soil malawi. come on, miss jenn is stupid. what are doing in a country where they is bilhazia or the food is disgusting? l have a strong opinion that you suffer from syphillis or you have once fallen in a toilet tank. please leave our country and never return. we will deal with u idiot.

Another commenter noted that insulting the culture of a host nation is not exactly a wise diplomatic gesture:

The content of this article just shows how shallow some mzungu are. They don’t know that disrespecting a people’s culture is the worst insult. I don’t know if this mzungu even went to college but if she did, it was just for nothing. How brainless!! And the chicks she wants to buy, may be she had just better give them her real name because she thinks like a chicken herself.

Others even mixed statements from the local language in with the English ones. I’m not sure what this first sentence means, but if the rest of the paragraph is any indication, my guess is that it’s not pleasant:

Mwanakazi uyu mabvi yakhe. This sucks to the core. Behead the wicked one. Those who insult our nsima and its delicacies do not deserve to live. I have never been so offended in my life.

Meanwhile, there were a minority of commenters who actually defended the “mzungu” to some extent, encouraging fellow Malawians to add more flavor to the nsima and diversify the overall diet:

Am a Malawian who totally agree that Nsima is one of the most tasteless and least nutritious food in the world. Preference for Nsima has contributed enormously to malnutrition of children in this country. For those of you who think its traditional, know that maize is a fairy recent crop in Malawi brought in by the Portuguese. The modern way of making & farming nsima is partly a contribution of colonialism. Instead of venting your frustrations on this brave young lady who is brave enough to come here and live among us I suggest you engross yourself in finding ways on how to make Nsima more tasty and nutritious and how to encourage sustainable diet diversification among ordinary Malawians.

Overall, this incident has to be one of the worst diplomatic faux pas I have ever seen during my years of reading international news stories. Even more interesting is the fact that this “missjenn” is apparently visiting Malawi as a primary school English teacher according to some type of prior arrangement. Now that the content of her article has become known among the locals, she may find life in Malawi somewhat more difficult if she does not return to the UK soon.

Meanwhile, as I was browsing through some other reactions to the original story, I wound up getting quite an education about nsima and its importance in the cultures of several African nations. It is essentially a kind of paste made from corn meal and water, which is then served with side dishes composed of various meats and vegetables. A very comprehensive article on the history, significance, ingredients, and preparation of nsima (or nshima in Zambia) can be found here at Bridgewater.edu. When I have the time, I might try to make some of this stuff and find out whether or not it is really a “pointless” food.


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