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The Virtual Home of Rich and Dorothea Helms

Ronnie Hawkins

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by Dorothea Helms
Photos by Celia Bronkhorst

After 48 years in show business, he’s slowing down a bit so he can stop and smell the roses more often – but Ronnie Hawkins is still rockin’ and rollin’ to please the crowds. Long known for his generosity in helping dozens of young music artists get started in the ‘biz, rock and roll superstar Ronnie also lends his celebrity status to help raise funds for numerous charities.
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Celebrity Interviews

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For the past six years, I’ve been interviewing Canadian celebrities, first for a magazine called “Homes & Lifestyles,” then for the newspaper section “Today’s Homes,” which is distributed in Metroland community newspapers across York Region in Ontario, and currently for the DriverSource Saturday section of “The Toronto Sun.”
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How to Interview Celebrities

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Interviewing is a skill every non-fiction writer should nurture. Although it can be difficult, there are effective ways to approach people who can help you with the information you need for an article or book. The number one obstacle to your getting an honest and interesting interview is the person’s nervousness about the unknown. You may ask questions they don’t want to answer, and worse yet, you may print the answers inaccurately.
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Tips for Writing a Website

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People go to websites for CONTENT

  • If they see a glorified ad or brochure, they’ll most likely leave. If you want the visitors to call or show up at your place of business, you have to earn the right by providing information.
  • Internet users want details. They can browse websites in their pajamas in the middle of the night, and linger for hours longer than they would in a store or office. Give them a reason to linger on your website.
  • Deliver content quickly and accurately; otherwise users will leave your site. Fancy graphics that take a long time to download will lose you business.
  • There are two schools of thought on how much content to include on a site. Some people feel they want to limit content so that consumers will have to go into the store or office, because they feel the customers can be sold “up” more effectively in person. Others believe that putting everything, including prices, on a site totally targets purchasers, so that when and if they do come in in person, they are already sold on the product or service, and can still be sold “up.” We believe that putting everything onto a well-kept-up site is much more effective for targeting.
  • Keep your content up to date. There’s nothing more frustrating than going to purchase something and finding out the prices or info on the website is “old.”

Think about how people get to your website

  • They either obtain your web address from an ad or business card, or they find you through Google. To reach people who search on a topic in Google, make sure your site contains all the words you can think of that the person might search on. For example, if you sell writing services, make sure that somewhere in the site the words author, writer, books, etc. are somewhere in the text.
  • Advertising is great for getting attention, but once you get them to your site, give them something – a reason to trust you and come back.

Make it easy to do business with you

  • This cardinal rule of business applies to the Internet. Arrange your content in a logical, easy-to-find manner.
  • Do not bombard users with tremendous amounts of text and graphics on the index page. Provide links instead.
  • On the linked pages, provide substantial content so you don’t have people getting lost in “layers” of information.
  • Remember, Internet text and graphics are governed by Canadian Copyright Law. You do not have permission to use other people’s words, photos or graphics without permission.
  • Place yourself in your clients’ or customers’ shoes. When they click into your site, how might they best like to access information? Cluster your information and links accordingly.

Websites need effective visual AND text

  • In creating web content, make sure the graphics and writing are high quality.
  • If you don’t write well, hire a writer. If you don’t do graphics well, hire a designer. Visuals and graphics go hand in hand. Most people take in information visually more quickly, but if all that’s there are pretty pictures, they’ll be gone in a flash.
  • Use words on your site that appeal to all kinds of learners. Most people respond primarily to visual cues, but much of the population needs auditory or kinesthetic (textural) type words.

Consider including value-added information.

  • A tailor may do well to have a link to a page on how to get stains out of fine items of clothing. A business writer might offer tips on writing an effective memo. A garden centre could provide a seasonal gardening tips page. The website visitor might think that if you can give away that much information, there must be a lot more to gain from actually doing business with you.
  • Consider links to pages with complimentary information. If you sell food items, how about a page of recipes? If you sell writing services, how about a page listing the types of documents that can help market a business (newsletters, brochures, etc.)? If you sell fabric, why not link to pages with how-to information on making seasonal pillows?
  • Consider establishing links (with permission) to complimentary websites and arrange for them to point to your site.
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