Don’t Hold Back on Your Content Marketing

Posted by in Marketing

Don’t Hold Back on Your Content Marketing

Many experts have said content marketing is the big thing to follow if you want to increase the online presence of your business. As it happens, these experts are correct. Everyone has a website now, so that’s no longer a good way to stand out. Your articles, blogs, videos, surveys, pictures, and infographics will be the way you get more people to check out what your business is about, and keep them with you. There is no better way to let your customers know you care about them and their concerns than a well-run content marketing campaign. Here are some things to remember when starting your campaign. Don’t Forget Mobile Most marketers know the importance of making sure their material is mobile-compatible, but knowing that and implementing it are two different things. For example, many companies will use emails that customers will open on their mobile devices, but the emails may not have responsive design. Every piece of content your mobile customers will receive should be responsive. It just looks sloppy otherwise. Do Forget Automation Or at least use automation a lot less. Yes, it absolutely takes time and effort and creativity to continually produce and distribute new content. More than three quarters of successful marketers have increased the volume of their content over the past year, which means many are looking for a way to streamline the production of content. The thing is that any automated process for producing content will take a great deal of supervision. If it looks like a robot is producing your content, your customers will be able to tell and they’ll start to ignore it. This defeats the entire purpose of creating content in the first place. You can use it sparingly, but it’s not something that can be used as the major component of your content marketing strategy. Create a User Experience Quality content marketing will bring in new people and keep your established customers coming back for more. If you put a video on YouTube, for example, it’s fairly easy to put a link in there that goes right back to your company. The viewer could go straight from absorbing your content to your website for more information. Draw them in by creating a unified user experience. This is also useful for analytics. You’ll be able to track just how many people were brought to your site from your blog or your Facebook page or your YouTube account, giving you tangible evidence that content marketing works. Content Is Valuable Good content is more than just a way to increase sales. It is something of value in itself. Content that informs, educates, or just entertains has already given someone something they enjoy, free of charge. And if the free stuff is that great, then the rest of what you have to offer will be that much more tantalizing! Good content marketing pieces link your company with good emotions that make people want to learn more. Even if you’re not advertising anything in your content, they could seek out your website for more information. Or they can “like” or “+1” your content and spread it through social media, bringing in more potential customers. Your content should encourage those who view it to at least spread the word. If the content is good, that...

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Designing Your New Website

Posted by in Blog

Designing Your New Website

Tips for Designing Your New Website Designing your new website just got a little bit easier with these tips below. If your website project is a redesign, I bet you have a lot of outdated information on your current site and your business has changed as far as services since you first started (ditto for me as I am creating a new website). Plus you’re probably in the groove of knowing the type of customers you’ve served that have been the best fit. A lot of the articles that I’ve seen about designing a new website, state that the first thing you need to figure out is your target audience. Yes, important, but let’s look at even more considerations for designing your new website. Start with What You’ve Got What’s going to work with your new site? What pages are still relevant? What needs to be tweaked and rewritten? Can you bring over all your pages or just some? Are your current pages and posts relevant to your company? If not, you may want to set up the proper redirects for posts or pages that you no longer need. When doing a website redesign, look at what is working with your current site. Click To Tweet Keyword Study and Analytics If you have analytics set up, what pages are visitors landing on and what at the top keywords that are driving them to your site? Even if you don’t have analytics set up, what are the problems you are solving for your clients? We all understand our services, but how can you help your clients solve their problems or achieve their goals with your services and/or products? Understanding your major services from your client’s point of view is important. Forget any acronyms that are used in your industry. Get down when creating a keyword study and really think of your services in terms of how your clients view them. And of course, Google Adwords has a free tool you can use to find keywords. Look for keywords that have lower competition and higher traffic when possible. Forget acronyms when picking keywords for your website. Click To Tweet Your New Navigation Menu and Pages What pages do you need and which are going to be listed in your navigation menu? This is where you start setting up your website structure. I normally keep it simple to map it out and either use a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet with the main navigation items and any subpages. If you happen to have a lot of subpages, look at using a mega menu. What if you have lots of blog posts? How can you organize your old ones? This is where you can set up an archive page to list the ones you want to keep. When creating your website structure, use a Word document or Excel spreadsheet to map it out. Click To Tweet Your Target Audience I attract a lot of companies owned by men from my online presence. But I love working with women owned companies and I do, but I normally meet them through my personal networking. I know it has to do with the colors of my website and that probably isn’t changing, but my content will for my new website. What kind of companies do...

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Use These 10 Slides for the Perfect Pitch

Posted by in Small Business Marketing

Use These 10 Slides for the Perfect Pitch

Guy Kawasaki’s Ten Slides for the Perfect Pitch This could not have come at a better time. I’m in the middle of creating a presentation for a contract. Although Guy Kawasaki created this for startups, it’s very relevant for any presentation you have to create. For small to medium sized businesses, we have proposals where we need to present or pitch to prospects or current customers. These ten slides force you to be brief and and concentrate on the main points you need to present. I especially like the second slide where you address the problem or opportunity. I know I’ll need to tweak it for my presentation, but this certainly forces me to be brief and as he says, do the presentation in 20 minutes. Will also force me to not be long-winded and make sure I don’t bore the heck out of them. by julielynnf. Can you make your presentations with only ten...

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Pictures NOT to Use on Websites

Posted by in Website Design, WordPress

Pictures NOT to Use on Websites

Pictures Not to Use on Websites – Unless You Want to Look like a Rookie A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? Well what if your pictures on your website merit some awfully bad words because they are not really showing your company’s professionalism, spirit or heart? Or they look cheesy? How can you assure that your images represent your company the right way? Well here are the the type of pictures not to use on websites. 1. The Perfect Business Meeting The perfect business meeting with everyone around the conference table smiling, looking like models and normally with the perfect mix of diversity. I wonder how the company does not think that we know it’s a big, fat fake picture and certainly is one in the “pictures not to use on websites” category. So, I know they are not the people that really work for the company and I wonder what the company is hiding. Are they actually an offshore company (nothing wrong with that as there are some great companies outside of the US) that want to pass themselves off as a US company? That’s where I have the problem. So, if you are using people, it’s best to use people that look hmm, like real persons. Just everyday normal looking people. Or better yet, have a professional photographer take pictures of your employees around that conference table. 2. The Good Looking Male/Female Model Should this guy be modeling a suit or be on your website as an employee? Yes, you may have some pretty good looking people working at your company and this picture represents them. But wouldn’t it be best just to take pictures of them? Even though we do business with companies, we actually do business with individuals at the company normally, unless of course it’s a big box company. Visitors to your website may not realize why, but if they are looking at generic and perfect looking model pictures, they may just navigate away. If website visitors view generic looking pictures, they'll probably navigate away. Click To Tweet 3. Blurry, Pixelated Images So, I really did take a picture of this tiger and yes, it was great quality. But what if I didn’t have a high quality picture and needed an image for a slider? Well it wouldn’t look good, would it? This stretched, blurry or pixelated picture makes your company look bad. Remember bad pictures = bad service or products. That’s how visitors to your website will see it and may not even bother to contact you. Bad pictures on a website = bad service or products in the eyes of prospects. Click To Tweet 4. Super Popular Stock Images Whenever I’m searching for WordPress templates I’ve noticed that the same stock photos are used over and over. And yes, they are usually the generic looking ones – with the best looking business person, models and business meetings. Or when I visit sites, I’ve seen these types of images in the sliders often. If you are using stock photos, make sure that the stock photo provider hasn’t sold thousands of the image you plan on using. Here’s an old post I found on a contest run to Spot the Stock Photo. The picture above has had close to 400 downloads. I probably...

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Website Images Best Practices to Rock Your Site

Posted by in Top Resources, Website Design, WordPress

Website Images Best Practices to Rock Your Site

Website Images Best Practices Want to land more customers? Here’s how your website images can rock your company. If you have a blog or website, good quality images make a HUGE difference. They represent you – your reputation, the quality of your work. If you have blurry pictures or low quality pixilated images, forget about it. Your company looks like THE bad rookie of the year. Visitors to your website may not know exactly why, but they’ll immediately leave your site to view your competitor’s websites instead. Here are some website images best practices. GREAT WEB PICTURES = GREAT QUALITY? Or so that is what visitors to your website think. You may have the best customer service, provide the best service and sell the best quality products, but if your pictures suck, they’ll think your company sucks. A company can have the worst service and yet look great because they have great pictures. Pictures sell your company. That’s all there is to it.  Images portray emotions and people are swayed by how they feel when they visit your site. Images portray emotions and people are swayed by how they feel when they visit your site. Click To Tweet Your Images Have to be Superb Whether you have a product or are a service company, your product pictures have to be superb. What can you do to have great pictures? Well, hire a professional photographer for one. If you decide you to take your own pictures, stage the setting so that it looks professional and hire the photographer to show you how to set everything up and take a course in photography. If you are house painter, remove your paint cans and make sure the room looks warm and inviting with a designer’s touch. No clutter, great lighting, good furniture, etc. Taking your own product pictures? Use a tent to avoid shadows and use proper daylight balanced bulbs. What if you don’t have any good images and need some now? Purchase good stock photos that represent your company. If you need images with people, don’t use cheesy stock photos like Vince Vaughn’s promotional pictures for Unfinished Business. Yes, they PhotoShopped him into an  Istock image. The traditional business attire and conference room pictures are the cheesiest, aren’t they? Avoid them. Avoid cheesy - we know they're fake - pictures on your website. Click To Tweet Using pictures of your employees and customers is fantabulous. It shows the heart of your company. But make sure they are GREAT quality. Hire the professional photographer. Using pictures of your employees and customers shows the heart of your company. Click To Tweet When uploading any images to your site, make sure you optimize them so that they load quickly but are still good size and quality mages so that your prospects can see the details of your products or get the feel of your company. Use Mega Pictures Use as big of pictures are possible. Doing this one thing can really make a difference in improving conversions. You can land more subscribers, get more shares on your posts and page, and convert visitors to customers. Check out the Image License There is a misconception that if an image is on Google anyone can use it. Wrong! Yes, I’ve run into this in my career as...

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Top 10 FREE Image Sites

Posted by in Ebooks, Social Media Ebook Downloads

Top 10 FREE Image Sites

Your Website Can Look Like a Rock Star SiteGet Your Copy of the TOP Ten FREE Image Sites We studied and searched for the best resources to bring you this book. Don’t get in trouble using the wrong images. And LOOK like a Pro Rock Star. Find: Where you can get FREE images Info about searching “reverse images” to verify you can use images you find Info regarding Creative Commons and Public Domain images The proper license requirements when using free images on the list Download Your FREE Ebook...

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Why WordPress?

Posted by in WordPress

Why WordPress?

Why WordPress? Here are 10 Reasons. If you’re ready to graduate to a great platform or are starting your first website, this is why you should use WordPress to build your website. Note that there is WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and I’m referring to the .org, which is a self-hosted platform. Find out more about the differences here. Easy to Update If you know Word, you’ll be able to update your website, post blogs, change info on pages, etc. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, I love that as a small business owner I have control over this without having to hire a darn web designer (me) to update my site every single time. We are talking peace of mind and joy, baby. In WordPress, you have control over your site without having to hire a darn web designer. Click To Tweet Color Options Right out of the box, you’ll have built in color options on some themes. So, if you’re not used to coding, pick a theme that has colors that you like. Have a go at it. Try different colors and see what you like the best. Get close to your logo. Tons of Different Layouts You can pick the theme that has layouts fit for your website. Does the home page demo look like it will fit what you want? Or do you want a blog? Are the images the size you want? What are the different page options on the theme? Thousands of WordPress Themes Besides the layouts, because WordPress is an open source platform, LOTS of developers built themes on WordPress. And you will have unlimited choices. You Can Build a Custom Theme If you can’t find a theme you like, you can build on WordPress. And if 23% of the top 10 million sites have WordPress, you can’t beat that. 23% of the top 10 million sites have WordPress, you can’t beat that! Click To Tweet Customize by Using a “Drag and Drop” You can build what you want and also customize your theme. Without having to start from scratch, you can purchase a “drag and drop” WordPress theme and build your WordPress site to be just what you wanted. Note that these do take longer to build and the choices are soooo many. With drag and drop themes, you’ll have built-in pages that you can customize to your needs. SEO Friendly Ah, yes an overused buzzword, but it is. As long as the coding is good behind the theme you picked or had built, WordPress is search engine friendly, which means that it can be easily read by the different search engines including Google. Over 30,000 Plugins to Choose From Now that’s a lot of choices! Plugins are apps or almost “programs” that allow you to tailor your site without having to hire a coder or developer to create. Need a contact form other than the one that came with your site? There’s a plugin (a ton) for that. And there are great SEO plugins. Take your pick when choosing plugins. Just make sure they are supported by the developer and have good ratings. Make sure WordPress plugins are supported by the developer and have good ratings. Click To Tweet Different Permission Levels You can give people in your organization...

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Questions to Ask a Web Designer Before Hiring Them

Posted by in Top Resources, Website Design, WordPress

Questions to Ask a Web Designer Before Hiring Them

Questions to Ask a Web Designer Before Hiring Them You need a new WordPress website design, but aren’t sure what to expect. Here are the top questions you should be asking. What is included with my website design? Do they custom make the WordPress template or use a template? And what is the difference? Often if you start off with a template, you’ll be able to see a great sample of what your website will look like. But be aware that not all WordPress templates are good. Some have bad coding and you may have issues in the future. If they are going to design the site from scratch, the price will be much steeper. Your designer can do a PSD to WordPress, where you can view the end result in PhotoShop and then create your site. There are also some good “drag and drop” WordPress templates where you can get a lot of options and have your site semi-custom built. Again, these take longer and the price you are quoted will generally reflect that. How many pages are included? And this is something you should be thinking about – what specific pages you want on your site. Plus how you are going to structure the navigation and how many pages are included in the design quote? Do you need different formats on your pages or will they be the same?  If you have an existing site, can your designer migrate and use some of the existing pages and graphics? Who’s writing the content? Or in plain English, who is doing the writing? Do you have to provide the content for the pages or do they help you with any of your writing or story telling? Do you have existing content that needs to be tweaked? And that’s another thing, make sure that any writing you have on your website is not about you – like we provide, our mission is, etc. No one cares about you and your vision and goals. They want to know how you are going to help them. Usually, you can tweak your writing to make it about them. Find out how much rewriting or writing your content will cost. When writing content, think of what's in it for your customer. Click To Tweet Is your designer creating any graphics? Do you have any images or graphics? Do you have a logo? What will they be doing for you and what can you provide? I find that with my projects, we normally quote some image/graphic creation in the design. And it’s all in-house, so we can keep the project going. But we also work with any existing logos and graphics that our clients have if at all possible. Sometimes we need some stock photos (not cheesy ones like Vince Vaughn’s spoof) for the websites we design. So, we have to make sure that either they or we purchase the photos with the proper license. Make sure you have the proper license for images purchased. Click To Tweet How long will the website project take? Find out how the web design firm works. When will your site be finished? When will they start on your site? Some companies are booked months in advance. And as designers, we often juggle quite a few projects at a...

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How to Secure WordPress from Hackers

Posted by in Top Resources, WordPress

How to Secure WordPress from Hackers

How to Secure WordPress from Hackers If you’re technically challenged, you may not want to read this article. But you SHOULD before you lose your website. Knowledge is power, right? Using WordPress to design your site is great because it gives us small business owners flexibility to update it easily without hiring a coder or web developer. But it is vulnerable to attacks. So, what can you do to secure WordPress from hackers? Here are five ways on how to secure WordPress from hackers. Keep Several Backups Your hosting company usually keeps some backups for you. But what happens if the stars align perfectly and you happen to lose your site (guilty) and don’t have a backup? You can lose everything. And yes, as hard as it is for me to admit, I lost my site once when those beautiful stars aligned perfectly and never recovered  100 pages – but that is another story and it won’t ever happen again. Don’t rely on your hosting company especially if they are just backing up once a week. You can run your own backups with Duplicator, but it is somewhat technical although it has great reviews. VaultPress costs between $99/year and $299 and you’ve got 30 days of backups. Have your hosting company run a backup for you and keep it on your computer and on your own backup system. If you host your site on Site Ground (they’ve been great so far), purchase or upgrade to their Grow Big package and you’ll have 30 days of archived backups. GoDaddy also has 30 days of backups for WordPress installations, although I don’t use them for hosting WordPress. Oh and before you make any changes to your WordPress website’s backend, make sure you backup. Don’t Use Admin for Your Username Oh my gosh, I’ve seen this so many times: many web developers or do-it-yourselfers use admin. Make your username is difficult and NEVER, ever use admin. Use a random password generator like Random.org., Norton. or LastPass. Use a combination of numbers, symbols and capitalization and make it longer. Same goes for your password. Make them difficult. Check All Plugins Before Installing You’ve probably read about the WordPress plugin vulnerabilities that opened up websites to being hacked. Take caution when installing plugins for your WordPress website – check them out. Use the WordPress plugin search to find out information and ratings. Is it compatible with your version of WordPress? What do the comments say about the particular plugin? How many positive ratings does the plugin have? And how many reviews does it have? And checking them out, doesn’t guarantee that they won’t eventually be open to vulnerability, but it does help. Recently even one of my favorite and highly regarded plugins –  Yoast SEO had some problems. But they immediately addressed them and created a patch. But I’ve even purchased plugins where the developer does not update them and eventually I’ve had to delete them. Update Your WordPress Version WordPress releases new versions and you should be updating yours. You’ll be notified when you are logged into your admin panel or by your hosting company. Make sure you backup that site before you update. I’ve also run into problems with some sites that I’ve taken over from other web developers. I quit updating one of my customer’s...

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Five Pre-Planning Steps for a New Website Project

Posted by in Website Design

Five Pre-Planning Steps for a New Website Project

Five Important Steps to Make Your New Website Project an Easy Breezy Process Have a new business and want to create your new website? Or are you migrating your first website to a new platform? Here are five important steps to save you tons of stress and make your website project easy breezy – well almost. Find Your Domain Name Here’s my process for finding a domain name. Use a thesaurus and notebook or document. You’ll get suggestions from any domain registrar if a name is/is not available, and keep a list of the ones you like. Use the thesaurus to find more suggestions of similar words – it’s like brainstorming ideas. When I changed my company name in 2009, I found at least 20 possible .com extensions that were available. And then queried friends, clients and business associates for feedback. Oh and make sure that you control your domain name by purchasing it yourself. I’ve worked with clients that purchased website packages that included their domain and guess what? Several had to change their company name (what a hassle) because the designer would not transfer the name to them or the web design company went out of business. You MUST be the queen/king of your website domain.   Always purchase your own domain name so that you control your website. Click To Tweet Hosting for Your New Website A very important thing to consider. Again, make sure you have control of your hosting. Many companies offer hosting as part of their website design package, but I don’t. I want to make sure my customers have complete control of their hosting account. You may not have any problems purchasing hosting through your web design company. But just be careful. I’ve had good luck with SiteGround for  hosting WordPress websites! They have extra security features for WordPress and a great cache that loads your website. Yes, I’m an affiliate, but do check them out. You’ll pay from $4 to $8/month typically, unless you have a humongous site. Have complete control of your website by purchasing your own hosting. Click To Tweet Decide on a Budget Oh the number of prospects I’ve spoken to about a budget for a site or other services and their answer is – hmm, I don’t have one. Really? Well ya need to go back to the drawing board because you really need to know how much you want to spend. Imagine if your clients told you they didn’t have an idea of what they wanted to spend for your services. Does that mean unlimited? Hmmm. Having a budget helps you determine if you can hire someone or if you should try to ramp up and create your own site. If you’re thinking of creating your own website, you can use services like Wix, WordPress.com or GoDaddy. You’ll be somewhat limited, but if it’s more of a business card or simple online presence you’ll need, these will work – for now. Or if doing your own website doesn’t interest you and you’ve budgeted to hire a professional, talk to a web designer and see what platforms they use to build websites. My favorite – WordPress (self-hosted not WordPress.com). Why? Again, control and “search capabilities”. If you know Word, it will be super easy for you to...

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