Sunday, May 13, 2012

Today's win-win: Free website giveaway!

Do you need a website? 
I need fresh new websites for my portfolio!
Let's help each other out - it's a win-win.

I will build a basic 3-page website for free*, in exchange for allowing me to use it as an example of my work when advertising my marketing business.

You provide the content (text) and pictures, and we'll work together on what design you have in mind.

What do you you get in this free website dealio? 
  • You get a basic three page website designed and built. While I recommend one page should be your homepage, the other two can be anything you like. It's your site. Tell me what you want.
  • All of your social networking sites will be integrated into your website - Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blog, photo sharing, event calendar, etc. 
  • Unlimited emails with your domain name, such as 
  • Your site will be listed in all of the major search engines. 
  • As an added bonus, you get a QR code that can be used to promote your website in print and online 
How do I get this free website?
Just "Like" my Pam Hawk Marketing Facebook page and leave a comment telling me what kind of business you want the website for. Hurry! The first three comments get a free website. Super simple.

So what are you waiting for? Get over there and tell me about your business! Go on; I'll wait right here.

*Gosh, you say it's free, Pam. So what's this asterisk for? Is there a catch?
Yes, actually I'm glad you mentioned that. I wouldn't say it's a catch, just the cost of having a website.
While I am providing my website building services for free, there is still the cost of publishing a website live on the internet. This is the one cost you'll be responsible for. The cost will vary a bit, depending on what kind of website you're interested in, but I'm all about getting the most bang for a buck, so we'll keep it as budget friendly as possible.

Well can you at least give me a ballpark price? 
Accounting for a little variation, we're looking at your annual cost to be under $120. That averages out to about $10/month. This price includes both your hosting fee and annual domain renewal.

Can you say that in English?
Think of having a website like having a phone.
  • The domain is your very own version of and like a phone number, and you have to pay an annual fee to keep your domain. Usually it's about $10/year. 
  • Web hosting is like having a calling plan, and you can pay monthly or annually. It costs less overall if you pay annually, of course. This price can vary, but the company I prefer using is less than $120/year. Plus this company uses only wind power for their offices and equipment, and appeals to this Oregon girl. (That would be me. I live in Oregon and am proud to be a dog-loving, recycling, rained-upon treehugger.)
What the heck is a QR code?
This funky little square barcode is cellphone readable and can store any alphanumeric data you can think of, such as website addresses, phone numbers, special messages, coupon codes, email addresses, etc. Here is an example of a QR code:
Pam Hawk Marketing

Friday, May 4, 2012

Take a Tax Deductible Vacation

Today I read a particularly interesting email from CPA Solutions TM , which talked about how to turn a vacation into a tax deduction. In a nutshell, it explains how to benefit from mixing business with pleasure. 

It appears that the advice below could even be reversed allowing you to potentially squeeze a little vacation time into a business trip.

While reading, I thought about my keen interest in marketing local bands, and wonder how much tax and business savvy their manager has in this area. If a band manager isn't familiar with business accounting and tax laws, it would most certainly be worth examining this angle and consulting their accountant or financial planner as they book shows out of town. 

These tips would work out great for a Portland band doing a gig at the coast. They'd even work when making the short trip down to Salem for a gig.

Turn Your Vacation Into a Tax Deduction
Tim, who owns his own business, decided he wanted to take a two-week trip around the US. So he did--and was able to legally deduct every dime that he spent on his "vacation". Here's how he did it.

1. Make all your business appointments before you leave for your trip. 
Most people believe that they can go on vacation and simply hand out their business cards in order to make the trip deductible.


You must have at least one business appointment before you leave in order to establish the "prior set business purpose" required by the IRS. Keeping this in mind, before he left for his trip, Tim set up appointments with business colleagues in the various cities that he planned to visit.

Let's say Tim is a manufacturer of green office products looking to expand his business and distribute more product. One possible way to establish business contacts--if he doesn't already have them--is to place advertisements looking for distributors in newspapers in each location he plans to visit. He could then interview those who respond when he gets to the business destination.

Example: Tim wants to vacation in Hawaii. If he places several advertisements for distributors, or contacts some of his downline distributors to perform a presentation, then the IRS would accept his trip for business.

Tip: It would be vital for Tim to document this business purpose by keeping a copy of the advertisement and all correspondence along with noting what appointments he will have in his diary.

2. Make Sure your Trip is All "Business Travel." 
In order to deduct all of your on-the-road business expenses, you must be traveling on business. The IRS states that travel expenses are 100% deductible as long as your trip is business related and you are traveling away from your regular place of business longer than an ordinary day's work
and you need to sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away from home.

Example: Tim wanted to go to a regional meeting in Boston, which is only a one-hour drive from his home. If he were to sleep in the hotel where the meeting will be held (in order to avoid possible automobile and traffic problems), his overnight stay qualifies as business travel in the eyes of the IRS.

Tip: Remember: You don't need to live far away to be on business travel. If you have a good reason for sleeping at your destination, you could live a couple of miles away and still be on travel status.

3. Make sure that you deduct all of your on-the-road -expenses for each day you're away. 
For every day you are on business travel, you can deduct 100% of lodging, tips, car rentals, and 50% of your food. Tim spends three days meeting with potential distributors. If he spends $50 a day for food, he can deduct 50% of this amount, or $25.

Tip:The IRS doesn't require receipts for travel expense under $75 per expense--except for lodging.

Example: If Tim pays $6 for drinks an the plane, $6.95 for breakfast, $12.00 for lunch, $50 for dinner, he does not need receipts for anything since each item was under $75.

Tip: He would, however, need to document these items in your diary. A good tax diary is essential in order to audit-proof your records. Adequate documentation shall consist of amount, date, place and business reason for the expense.

Example: If, however, Tim stays in the Bates Motel and spends $22 on lodging, will he need a receipt? The answer is yes. You need receipts for all paid lodging.

Tip: Not only are your on-the-road expenses deductible from your trip, but also all laundry, shoe shines, manicures, and dry-cleaning costs for clothes worn on the trip. Thus, your first dry cleaning bill that you incur when you get home will be fully deductible. Make sure that you keep the dry cleaning receipt and have your clothing dry cleaned within a day or two of getting home.

4. Sandwich weekends between business days. 
If you have a business day on Friday and another one on Monday, you can deduct all on-the-road expenses during the weekend.

Example: Tim makes business appointments in Florida on Friday and one on the following Monday. Even though he has no business on Saturday and Sunday, he may deduct on-the-road business expenses incurred during the weekend.

5. Make the majority of your trip days business days. 
The IRS says that you can deduct transportation expenses if business is the primary purpose of the trip. A majority of days in the trip must be for business activities, otherwise, you cannot make any transportation deductions.

Example: Tim spends six days in San Diego. He leaves early on Thursday morning. He had a seminar on Friday and meets with distributors on Monday and flies home on Tuesday, taking the last flight of the day home after playing a complete round of golf. How many days are considered business days?
All of them. Thursday is a business day, since it includes traveling - even if the rest of the day is spent at the beach. Friday is a business day because he had a seminar. Monday is a business day because he met with prospects and distributors in pre-arranged appointments. Saturday and Sunday are sandwiched between business days, so they count, and Tuesday is a travel day.

Since Tim accrued six business days, he could spend another five days having fun and still deduct all his transportation to San Diego. The reason is that the majority of the days were business days (six out of eleven). However, he can only deduct six days worth of lodging, dry cleaning, shoe shines, and tips. The important point is that Tim would be spending money on lodging, airfare, and food, but now most of his expenses will become deductible.

Consult us before you plan your next trip. We'll show you the right way to legally deduct your vacation when you combine it with business. Bon Voyage!

This article was written by Joe H. Craft CPA/PFS, CFP and reprinted from an email sent by CPA Solutions TM for Adams, Ewing & Craft, LLLP with Bridgeway Financial Corporation. For more information, you can visit or call (206) 501-3868.

Flickr photo courtesy of Giorgio Montersino