Category Archives for "Technology"

Jul 21

How to Start a Blog

By Charles Hall | Technology

From time to time I have readers ask me how to start a blog or how I started mine.

Picture is courtesy of

Picture is courtesy of

I recently responded to a reader. Here’s that email (almost unedited, so it may be a little rough around the edges):

Dear Mary,

I have been blogging for about three years. I am not “expert,” but here are some thoughts. (You may already know all or some of what I will share.)

Use WordPress

You’ll need to get a blog hosting service. I use Host Gator (but there are several good ones).

I used an ebook from Amazon to guide me through the steps of setting up my blog: it’s called 30 Minutes to a WordPress Website.—Step-ebook/dp/B007KSK0KU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436192256&sr=8-1&keywords=30+minutes+to+a+wordpress+website&pebp=1436192268240&perid=10305WX53RN06ZTYKSZ1

The book is just a $1 I think. Step by step instructions.

You might also check out Michael Hyatt’s post:  (He is the king of blogging/podcasting in my opinion and a really nice guy.)

Listen to Michael Hyatt’s Podcast: This is Your Life

I get plenty of good (free) ideas from listening to Michael’s podcast.

Pick a Nice Looking WordPress Theme 

There are plenty of nice looking free WordPress themes (I believe you get those when you download WordPress).

I use GetNoticed (as my WordPress theme); it is about $200.

Pick Your Interval for Posting

Your audience wants consistency, so if you can post at least once a week, that will be good. I try (but am not always successful).

Blogging Takes Longer Than I Anticipated

I had no idea how much time blogging would take, but it is substantial—usually at least five hours per week for me (and I do most of this at night). Even 500-word posts can take several hours. You may be able to do this much quicker than I.

Use Pictures

I purchase my pictures from; they are $1 each. They have a good selection. You will need to give attribution for each picture; I usually just put “Picture is courtesy of”

Readers love eye-candy. Video is even better (but that takes a great deal of time). You can embed videos into your posts. You will see an example on my sidebar at I shoot these with my camera at home. The cost for the camera, lights, microphone, etc. is about $1,500.

Traction Takes Time

It took, for me, about two years of posting to see any real traction. I now have about 300 to 400 visitors a day.

Stay Practical 

Readers want practical information that they can implement. CPAs love information that is useful (and free).

Build an Email List

Each person who subscribes to my blog provides me with their email address. 

You can build an email list by using GetResponse, AWebber, Mailchimp (and there are many more). I use GetResponse (which has a nominal cost but has more advanced features than MailChimp, which is free).

I offer free magnets (e.g., an ebook about fraud prevention) in exchange for the subscribers email address. Then I use my RSS feed to trigger weekly emails to my subscribers (providing them with all the new information I have posted). I can email those subscribers at any time (but I generally don’t do so unless I’ve got something really important to communicate—I try to keep my communications to a minimum—once a week). 

The Main Benefit


Readers come to know you as a person. I have built relationships through my blogging. People see that I am here for them.

Closing Thoughts

I started my blog as an effort to share what I’ve learned through the years and just to have the opportunity to become a better writer. I love blogging and am now considering a podcast.

Charles Hall

Closing Comment

If you are interested in blogging, I hope you will start one. If you have any questions, please post them here, and I will try to assist.

Jun 20

Three Ways to Increase Your Recall (and Look Smart)

By Charles Hall | Technology

Is it possible to recall everything said in a meeting and remember every word for years? Well actually, yes.

Here are three ways to increase your recall.


Take your notes using a Livescribe pen, and take pictures with your smartphone of whatever you desire to retain. Then store the data in Evernote. It’s that simple.

The Livescribe pen records audio in conjunction with your notes. After the session, touch a word in your notes and the audio will play at that point in the conversation, allowing you to hear a select part of the discussion.

Use your smartphone to take snapshots of handouts or notes on a whiteboard. Use scanbot (an iPhone or android app) to take several pictures and then upload them.

Jun 10

The Minimalist Auditor

By Charles Hall | Auditing , Technology

Are you a minimalist auditor?

I remember when I would load my audit files on a hand-truck (I’m not kidding), especially for local government audits. I felt like I worked for a moving company rather than a CPA firm.

My back is thankful for paperless software.

In the present age of minimalism, everything is smaller, even the audit gear we use. Scanners, monitors, cell phones, tablets, projectors–all are more compact. For the traveling auditor, this is like manna from heaven.

Let me suggest a few hardware and software ideas to lighten your load.

minimalist auditor

Courtesy of iStockphoto


Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Mobile Document Scanner

The weight is 4.9 pounds and the cost is $249.99. It has a ten-page document feeder.

If you want a lighter scanner with fewer features, try the ScanSnap S1100, weighing only 12.3 ounces. The cost is $169.99.

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 CLR 600DPI USB Mobile Scanner (PA03610-B005)

Can’t spare the traveling space for a scanner? Or maybe you’d rather not spend the money? Buy the cell phone scanning app: Scanbot. The cost is $1.99. Scanbot is available on iPhones and Android phones. The app can scan multiple pages and will–once you tweak the settings–automatically feed output to a cloud product such as Evernote. Alternatively, you can email the scans.


I use a Dell laptop that has a ten-key pad built into the keyboard, so I don’t need a separate adding machine. I use Judy’s TenKey software; the cost is $19.95.

Cell Phone

Apple iPhone 6s

I use an iPhone 6S and love the feel and intelligence of this device. The battery life is substantial and the weight is 6 ounces. It fits in my pant’s pocket.


Most cell phone companies offer Internet hotspots. Since you probably already own a cell phone, there is no need for an additional physical device for an Internet connection. Check with your cell phone company about activating the hotspot. The cost will be about $30 per month.


Apple iPad mini MD529LL/A (32GB, Wi-Fi, Black)

I am an Apple fan, so you know I will recommend the iPad mini which can be purchased for as little as $279 (16GB model) on Amazon. The weight is less than 1 pound.


AAXA P4 P4X Pico Projector, 95 Lumens, Pocket Size, Li-Ion Battery, HDMI, Media Player, 15,000 Hour LED, DLP Projector

The Pico Projector is pocket sized and, at $240, provides you with 125 lumens. The dimensions are 5.6 x 2.7 x 1.2 inches and it weighs 12.8 ounces.

Your Ideas?

How do you lighten your traveling load? Please share your ideas.

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