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    If you want to learn how to start a web design business, get ready for a wild ride.

    The journey of a freelance website designer is often like a turbulent, yet exciting, roller coaster ride. From a state of confusion to a sense of accomplishment, from exhaustion to exhilaration, with detours along the way for sanity checks, strategy resets and supporter shoutouts. But if you do it right, all those banked turns and barrel rolls can lead to a successful career as a freelance web designer.

    How to start a web design business: A comprehensive guide

    It takes time to build a successful business, so manage your own expectations, and make a commitment to see it through to the end. Use these guidelines to stay on track as you get rolling.

    Let’s get started!

    Editor’s note: Save time with free tools and resources for web designers and developers. Join GoDaddy Pro for free.

    Starting a Web Design Agency Website Code on Laptop

    Are you ready to start a web design business?

    First things first: Figure out if starting a web design company is the right move for you by considering the pros and cons.

    Pros

    • There will always be demand for websites, as new businesses get started, and established organizations want to up their game.
    • The work is fun, creative, and you’ll learn from working with many types of clients and businesses.
    • The work can be done from anywhere, and allows you to flexibly balance family or personal needs.
    • You can get started without a formal degree, and use specialty certifications and training to raise your expertise level and be better prepared.
    • You can expand your business over time, by offering complementary services as you gain expertise.

    Related: The 17 types of clients that every web designer deals with

    Cons

    • In a rapidly evolving field, you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ll need to stay current on new trends and technologies.
    • Precisely for the reasons listed above, there’s a lot of competition, as many are anxious to get into the field.
    • You may be working alone at your computer for long stretches of time, so will need to change your lifestyle to increase outside interaction.

    Related: 11 web design trends to watch in 2019

    Don’t quit your day job yet

    No one becomes a web designer overnight.

    Plan to spend a few years improving your technical skills, then start charging for your services, and continue to develop a stable revenue stream.

    Remember that you won’t just be doing production work. You’ll also be the salesperson, bookkeeper, project manager and account coordinator. These skills don’t come from online courses or from attending a fast-track coding school; they’re learned through hands-on experience over time.

    How can you start gaining that experience now — even if you’re just starting your freelance web design business?

    Use what you learn from these activities as a foundation to build on as you’re starting a web design agency.

    Related: 14 tips for successful web design projects

    Initially, most new clients will probably come from word-of-mouth referrals. But what if you have no existing clients? Consider activities that boost your visibility while demonstrating your expertise:

    • Volunteering your services to an organization
    • Building sites for friends and family
    • Creating side projects of your own
    • Participating in both online and offline communities

    Related: Finding your first client as a freelance web professional

    Learn more about the freelance life

    How To Start A Web Design Business Woman Working On Computer

    Starting a web design business demands a change in perspective, from “I work for a business” to “I run a business.”

    Quiz: Be Your Own Boss

    Do you have what it takes to be your own boss? Take our quiz and find out!

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    Your Answers

    How can you make this switch from employee to business owner easier?

    • Find other web designers, ask questions, and see how they operate.
    • Read all you can about the first-hand experiences of other freelancers, especially their startup business tips.
    • Review articles written by other freelance web designers.
    • Check out books about freelancing, self-employment and home-based businesses.

    Solidify your expertise

    Make a plan to whip your skills into top-notch shape.

    You don’t need expertise at everything, but ensure mastery of the basics.

     

    Identify classes, workshops and seminars you want to attend. Be sure to look at schedules for the next year to plan ahead for annual events.

    Pro tip: Check out web design training and tutorials on Lynda.com.

    Have a good transition strategy to cover your expenses

    If you’re currently working full-time, before you quit your job you should have six to 12 months’ savings to cover living expenses, more cash in the bank for emergencies, and alternatives for covering benefits such as healthcare.

    Build credibility, establish thought leadership, earn trust

    Sharing what you already know boosts credibility and gives you an opportunity to connect with your peer network as well as others.

    • Post useful content on social media, demonstrating your web design expertise.
    • Attend events such as WordCamp, or online webinars, and then post reviews or “what I learned” summaries.
    • If you’re comfortable speaking publicly about expertise you’re willing to share, see if you can pitch a presentation at an event.
    • Offer to write a guest post on another blog.
    • Comment on posts by others, to establish yourself as someone who engages thoughtfully in discussions.

    Related: WordCamps and the WordPress community

    Back to top

    Set up your work environment

    Web Designer Working Alone Home Office

    After you’ve done your due diligence, get ready to start your own web design business by setting up your work environment.

    Create your very own workspace that enables work/life balance

    Entrepreneurs know the work/life balance struggle is real.

    To minimize that struggle, create a dividing line between work and the rest of your life, starting with a dedicated space that allows you to get work done, uninterrupted. Set and enforce boundaries, including rules ensuring your space is left untouched, and that you are given time to work.

    • Carve out space for your at-home office — whether it’s a full room, or just a desk in the corner, and set boundaries around others using it.
    • Work with other residents, such as your family or roommates, to establish guidelines around work time including working hours, and how to handle or avoid interruptions.
    • Stock your office supply station so you’re never caught without printer paper, labels, folders or any other supplies you regularly depend on to get your work done.
    • Identify just a few stores where you can consolidate business purchasing, and set up accounts that earn rewards or rebates.

    Understand how many hours you can reasonably work, while maintaining your productivity, protecting time with friends and family, and continuing to pursue your own hobbies, sports, or other outdoor activities.

    Consider how best to pace yourself, and be more productive each day.

    Related: Separating personal and professional

    Know your contingency plan

    Power or internet service outages are a crisis for those who work at home. Know where you can park for a few hours, with an available wireless network and table space. Locate:

    • Two to three local coffee shops at varying distances, as a power failure might extend further than your neighborhood
    • The closest library (confirm open days/hours)
    • Coworking locations (confirm open days/hours and fees)

    Starting a Web Design Business Laptop in Coffee Shop

    Invest in solid and capable hardware and software

    You’re a web professional, so it’s critical to consider the right tools for creating graphics, modifying photos, and documenting your work.

    • Acquire the best computer and peripherals you can afford, including larger monitor, printer and scanner.
    • If you’ll be taking photos to use on client websites, consider a camera with more capability than your smartphone.
    • Know how you’ll continue working in the event of a computer catastrophe, such as keeping your previous computer available, with battery charged.
    • Identify which software you’ll need, and evaluate whether it’s more cost-effective to buy installable software vs. a monthly license using cloud services. If you’re not sure, many offer 30-day free trials so you can check them out first. The first candidate on your list should be Adobe Creative Cloud.
    • If tools require licensing, determine which levels are most cost-effective. For example, GoDaddy’s Pro Sites offers bundles of specific features for managing larger groups of websites.
    • Don’t forget ongoing costs for cloud-based software that handles financial tracking, video meetings such as Zoom, and remote login capability such as LogMeIn or GoToMyPC.

    Set up a file-sharing account at Dropbox or another provider.

    Related: 90 essential tools for WordPress designers and developers

    Have a bullet-proof backup strategy

    Don’t compromise on reliable security and backup strategies for your computers and office. Having these systems in place will let you sleep at night.

    Select a remote file backup system such as Crashplan or Carbonite.

    Determine if you will want a complete computer backup to an external server, and if so, add that to your hardware startup budget.

    Related: Introducing GoDaddy’s set-and-forget Website Backup

    Establish financial accountability

    Be diligent with bookkeeping and client billing information right from the start of your web design company.

    You don’t just want this information to make sure you get paid, but also to have data for future project and income/expense estimation and forecasting.

    How To Start A Web Design Business Coin Stacks

    Don’t be afraid to get help with small business expense planning.

    • Use an accounting/bookkeeping tool. Make sure your chosen solution easily creates professional invoices, automatically tracks expenses, and allows for recurring invoices and expenses.
    • Set up a separate business credit card.
    • Invest in a few hours of consulting time with a financial expert to establish your chart of accounts and bookkeeping structure.
    • Consider a long-term relationship with a tax professional, who can handle taxes as well as answer financial system questions.
    • Identify items that can be purchased through your business (save money by using pre-tax dollars), including hardware, software, internet service, cell phone, and office supplies.
    • Keep in mind those pesky unexpected costs that can throw a monkey wrench into your budget.

    Related: Best invoicing software options for small businesses

    Clarify how you’ll get paid

    Nail down the details about requesting and receiving money before any billable work is done.

    • Define invoicing processes and policies including creation, delivery and due dates relative to invoicing dates.
    • Clarify how you will accept payment, including checks, credit cards, and online systems such as PayPal or Stripe.
    • Set expectations around deposits, penalties for late payments, and consequences when invoices go unpaid.
    • Know how you will pay yourself. Will you receive a set salary on a regular schedule, or asynchronous payments based on income? Consider using a payroll service, where the small monthly cost lets someone else worry about money transfer between accounts, ever-changing tax laws, and correctly filing government forms.

    Pro tip: Put processes and policies in place to make sure invoices are paid on a timely basis.

    Back to top

    Build your support squad

    Starting a Web Design Agency Team Fist Bump

    Now that you’ve got your initial space, processes and tools in place, it’s time to surround yourself with a community for support.

    Find your peeps

    Even when working alone in your own little office, be on the lookout for ways to interact and engage with others in the web design and development community:

    • Look for local Meetups or other networking groups of freelance web designers, including Meetups for WordPress designers.
    • Join online communities focused on web design and development, through Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media channels.
    • Actively participate in both online and in-person discussions, so that people know you’re interested in what they have to say, or in solving problems.
    • Join community groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce, service organizations such as Rotary, or a small business owners networking group.

    Pro tip: Join online or in-person communities of neighbors, alumni or participants in your current hobbies or outside interests. People you meet in those communities may also need your services.

    Engage a mentor

    Taking the leap into a new tech-based career can be simultaneously exhilarating and intimidating, whether you’re a new college grad or making a mid-life career transition.

    Mentoring works for everyone as a means to build confidence, enhance skills, and set achievable goals.

    When moving from employee to freelancer, a mentor who’s already made that transition can impart wisdom only gained through experience.

    Related: The importance of female mentorship in the tech industry

    Assemble your all-star extended team

    Build a circle of known and trusted “Power Partners” providing complementary services that work in sync with yours, without cannibalizing work or clients.

    • Collaborate with in-person Power Partners such as Information Technology (IT), search engine optimization (SEO), or social media specialists, photographers, and videographers.
    • Assemble a go-to list of virtual Power Partners, including suppliers of hosting, domain registration, email, stock photo libraries, or third-party software solutions to integrate website platforms you might not design yourself, such as membership management solution Wild Apricot.

    Related: Forging strategic partnerships to grow your business

    Consider how and when you might outsource

    As the leader of your business, you need to continue to prioritize and delegate. You’ll never be able to do everything on your own if you also want to learn, grow, and scale up your business.

    Outsource tasks that don’t require your technical or creative skills — including taxes, bookkeeping, shopping, and anything else you don’t enjoy doing.

    Back to top

    Write your business plan

    Starting Web Design Business Woman Typing

    Your business plan should:

    • Define your business vision and identity.
    • Set financial goals and targets.
    • Identify pricing options.
    • Set long-term goals around new products/services.
    • Estimate expected expenses and income.
    • Define your ideal clients.
    • You don’t need to start from scratch; here are five great business plan templates.

    Pro tip: Trying using a one-page Lean Canvas template to create your business plan.

    Treat building your business as a project

    It doesn’t have to be complex, but the project needs to be managed correctly to ensure that it sets clear goals, keeps focus, and stays within budget. This means having a basic idea of project management.

    Many use a diagram called a business model canvas to show how the company will create value for itself and its customers. The diagram will show your business model and list key features, the size of the market, etc.

    Use tools such as Google Trends and Facebook ads to evaluate market potential. Crunchbase is a good tool to evaluate competitors.

    Set and faithfully monitor both short- and long-term goals

    There’s no shortage of advice on how to go about setting and achieving your goals when starting a web design agency, but identifying your goals can be a challenge, too.

    Ask yourself these five questions as you set or review your goals. And you’ll want to make sure they’re SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

    Back to top

    Address legal and administrative infrastructure

    Here’s where you get your paperwork in order. Decide how you’ll structure your business, check with local governments for any licensing requirements, arrange insurance and benefits, and manage your time so you set yourself up to succeed.

    Establish your business identity

    Decide if you’ll operate as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation. Consider engaging a lawyer to help you with the necessary paperwork and/or using an online service such as LegalZoom.

    Get licensed

    Check your city government website to determine local requirements for business licensing, permits and fictitious name or DBA (“Doing Business As”) registration.

    Acquire insurance

    Liability insurance is a good idea in general, and some clients may require proof of it. In addition, determine extra insurance you might need, such as disability insurance.

    Solicit several quotes to make sure you’re getting the right package for your needs.

     

    If you have car, home or renter’s insurance, get one of those quotes from your personal insurance agent.

    Plan benefits

    If your previous job included medical, retirement or other benefits, you’ll need a plan to get the equivalent items in place.
    Can you be covered on a spouse or partner’s medical insurance? What about setting up a retirement account?

    While you won’t earn paid holidays or vacation, you’ll want policies in place to set client expectations and to provide for a backup resource if necessary.

    • Identify if you will acquire medical/dental benefits through another family member’s work benefit, a group affiliation (such as membership in a professional organization), or independent procurement.
    • Plan retirement contributions through your business or other means.
    • Determine your vacation/holiday policy.
    • Know how you will communicate time off to clients.
    • Formulate a contingency plan if your services will be needed during scheduled time off.

    Ace the day-to-day tasks

    Set and enforce boundaries, adopt time management best practices, and maximize your productivity by setting up tools and systems.

    • Choose a to-do list application such as Teux Deux or Todoist.
    • Set up a system to track time and tasks for each client.
    • Have a process to migrate daily tracking information into an invoice or reporting format.

    Identify the key tasks that would benefit from consistent execution. Set up processes, checklists and organizing strategies for:

    • Designing a new site
    • Pre-launch cleanup
    • Post-launch testing and approval
    • Any daily, weekly, or monthly tasks around tracking, reporting, or bookkeeping

    Create templates for:

    • Proposals
    • Contracts
    • Let’s get started” emails that outline initial needs from clients when starting new projects
    • Commonly sent emails, such as those announcing a planned vacation

    Related: How to create a client management system

    Back to top

    Name your web design company

    “I had to choose a business name and decided to use my initials with the two industries I felt most of my services would arise from — KR Media & Designs.” ~ Kristina Romero, web developer and business owner

    Your name plays an important role in attracting customers and clients, submitting legal documents to form your business, and selecting a domain for your business website. Therefore, naming a web design company takes thoughtful consideration and planning.

    Consider your long-term business goals when deciding whether to use a “business” name (Web Awesome Agency of Washington) or your personal name (John Doe Design).

    • Do you see yourself transitioning to an agency, or staying a freelancer and growing your personal brand? Will potential clients view you as “just a freelancer” and expect lower rates, vs. the professionalism that an agency name/structure implies?
    • Do you see web services as the end goal, or do you want to use them to elevate a personal brand into another field, such as public speaking, teaching or writing books?
    • Is this a temporary solution in order to gain experience for a full-time gig? If you enjoy working with a company but need to be on your own at the moment, using your own name continues to promote your availability as a freelancer.
    • Are you 100% certain about the services you will offer? If not, avoid putting specifics in your business name.

    In summary, here’s when to use a business name:

    • You see yourself transitioning from a single freelancer to an agency.
    • You’re switching careers and need to establish a brand name different from your personal name.
    • You’re forming a legal entity such as an LLC or an S-Corp (if in the U.S.) and want to protect and distance your personal identity.

    And when to use your personal name:

    • You’re leveraging your name for SEO.
    • You see yourself as a sole freelancer and would accept a full-time position in your skillset if offered.
    • You intend to grow a personal brand to build credibility (speaking engagements, books, online courses).

    Related: 10 tips for naming a business

    Take action and register your domain

    Once you’ve identified your perfect name, be sure to register your domain right away.

    Try to get a .com, but also consider variations and other extensions.

    Related: How to buy a domain name

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    Craft your brand to tell your compelling story

    Your brand starts with a logo and color scheme, but beyond that, it’s about the messaging connecting you to your target audience, and it affects buying behavior.

    Let your “voice” represent your values, your strengths, your style.

     

    Young and trendy, or mature and experienced? Serious or whimsical? Luxury service or economical alternative?

    Your brand is unique, so tell a compelling story that makes clients want to hire you instead of your competitors. Identify your unique selling proposition (USP) to have ready answers to these questions:

    • Why should I hire you instead of your competitor?
    • What makes you a better solution?
    • Why should I hire a solo freelancer instead of an agency?

    Related: Create It — Building your presence, brand and product

    Create marketing collateral

    Start with business cards, flyers or brochures, and any giveaways that get — and keep — your name in front of potential clients.

    Related: 9 things to use in a swag bag for your business

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    Find your clients

    How to Start Web Design Business Designer and Client
    Photo: Kobu Agency on Unsplash

    Find your niche

    You don’t want to be known as just a generic “web designer.”

    In order to showcase your expertise, consider specializing, whether based on the types of clients you take, or the types of projects you do.

    Specializations could focus on market space, geographic area, or a particular type of site, such as eCommerce or membership management. Communicate your niche throughout your materials.

    Your sweet spot is the intersection of both your skills and your passions.

     

    That’s where you want to spend most of your time, so if an activity is not in that sweet spot, consider delegating, automating, or deleting it from your task list.

    The benefit of spending all your time doing your best work is that the work quality tends to be higher, the outcome for your clients tends to be better, and you’re happier — which is good for avoiding burnout.

    Know your audience

    Once you’ve identified your sweet spot, ask yourself, “Who stands to benefit the most from working with me when I’m doing my best work?”

    Customer satisfaction is critical to the success of a web design business.

    Even more critical is your own satisfaction. Engaging with web design clients who are the right fit for you is one way to facilitate that.

    • Describe your ideal client, including attributes such as geography, cultural, entity size/type, products/services offered, or audience served.
    • Know your evaluation criteria, including financial expectations, technical considerations, location, size, length of engagement, the potential for ongoing work, partnership potential, strategic positioning within your portfolio, and even personality fit.
    • Have an evaluation strategy that allows you to quickly rule out mismatches, make exceptions, suggest alternatives, and if it’s not a good fit, execute a speedy-yet-graceful exit plan.

    Related: What to include in a customer profile

    Strategize to find clients

    How To Start A Web Design Business Client Meeting

    You may ask “How do I find new clients?” as if they are hiding. In fact, clients are not hiding from us; they are waiting to be served. The trick is finding them.

    Business development is an ongoing process to ensure there’s always work coming in the door. It’s not just something you do when you need new clients, but an always-there task.

    Tips that can help you find clients:

    • Consistently do your best work and collaborate on projects where there is a shared vision.
    • Leverage your existing network: let everyone know what you’re up to, post on your personal social media profiles, ask friends and family to share and send referrals.
    • Create a lead magnet, an item of value that you can offer your target audience, in exchange for their email address (e.g., a free download, checklist, or form). Building your email list results is a way to provide ongoing communication and outreach.
    • Use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management Tool) to keep track of who you contact, the results of that contact, and potential future follow-up opportunities.
    Strategize ways to find, meet, and land those folks.

     

    Having your talking points at the ready means you’re prepared when you meet potential clients in unlikely venues, including the gym, Starbucks, or at a concert.

    • Identify how and where you’ll find and meet prospective clients.
    • Carry business cards with you at all times.
    • Develop an advertising strategy.
    • Craft your elevator pitch.
    • Have a ready response to requests for discounts, such as from nonprofit organizations or friends and family.
    • Determine whether referrals deserve compensation, such as a token thank-you gift or credit toward future work.

    Related: A comprehensive guide to finding your perfect clients

    Back to top

    Set up products and services

    Define your services well, then productize them to bring in recurring revenue. You’ll also need to choose the proper price point for each service.

    Keep in mind simplicity and scale when choosing technology

    Look for a solution that offers the features and capabilities you’ll need later on. When selecting technology, keep in mind:

    Simplified workflows. Look for tools that help you minimize steps per task.

    Product trials. It’s difficult to know if a product will be the right solution, so plan to spend time investigating the technology before you commit.

    Scaling with success. The more successful you are, the more projects you’ll need to manage, and that takes time.

    Transferring ownership. As a freelancer, you may cover hosting costs or other fees on behalf of clients. Know how you’ll transfer ownership if costs need to move to the client.

    Clarify your service offerings

    In addition to defining a niche market in terms of your audience, you’ll want to craft a well-defined scope of offerings. For example, you might offer any or all of the following:

    You might also offer complementary services, such as:

    • Web hosting management
    • Content development/editing
    • SEO
    • Social media channel management

    Related: How to sell a content creation service to earn recurring revenue

    Productize your services to create recurring revenue

    Recurring revenue should be part of every web designer’s monthly income.

    It’s automatic money coming in every month, without requiring you to constantly be in the mode of selling. When it comes to developing long-term relationships and reliable income, multiple recurring revenue streams keep business flowing — and cash flowing into your bank account.

    Recurring revenue is scalable, sustainable and profitable.

     

    It removes a lot of the waste from the traditional service business model, such as design revisions, project management, account management, invoicing, and chasing payments.

    Recurring revenue succeeds when you’re providing recurring value.

    Turning your services into a product that works on a short-term-but-renewable basis is key. That value could come from a variety of sources, including:

    • Content creation
    • Care plans and maintenance packages
    • Support packages
    • Email marketing services
    • Social media management
    • SEO services
    • Pay-per-click management
    • Reseller services for hosting and domains
    • Membership site providing training or other resources

    Related: Recurring revenue model for web designers and developers

    Price to be profitable

    It’s preferable to charge for value instead of time, so you’ll want to figure out which pricing model (e.g., hourly or project-based billing) is best for your web design business.

    Defining a per-project price avoids conversations about how every last minute is spent, and price negotiations based on specific features or items clients may feel are not important.

    Keep in mind:

    • Review pricing models of other web designers. Your goal: be competitive without giving away the store — but don’t scare off clients based on price. Beware of underpricing your services.
    • Feel free to use hourly rates to estimate the project cost, but don’t feel obligated to share that information.
    • Remember that you have to cover your own vacation time, sick days, benefits, retirement, taxes, and the other expenses of running a business.
    • Consider the fees associated with taking online payment.
    • Add in project costs such as plugins, software licenses, copywriting, stock images, etc.
    • You need to cover the cost of business development, or finding more work.
    • What you charge is not just about meeting your expenses: you need to make a profit as well.
    • Analyze the market demand and what the competition is providing at what costs. Price competitively, in a way that provides value but would also be fair to you and your goals.

    Here’s the punchline: not all of the activity that goes on in your business is directly related to any specific client, but all of the activity that goes on in your business must be built into the price that clients pay you.

    If clients are not paying for all of this activity, it means you are.

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    Build your online presence

    You’re proud of your work — time to showcase it to the world with a website and social media presence that attract your ideal clients!

    Take time to connect with your audience on social and build a comprehensive marketing strategy.

    Create your own website

    Create the vehicle that showcases your work, shows your product/service offering, demonstrates the value you provide and covers your policies.

    Nothing tells your story better than your portfolio of completed work.

     

    If you don’t have much completed work to highlight, consider building a few volunteer sites to beef up your portfolio.

    It’s OK to start small, but continue building out and improving your site in the background. As you finish with pages or sections, publish and test the site with your potential customers: feedback is key.

    As a minimum, your site should include:

    Include details around any certifications or specialized training, and make sure readers know you are indeed trained, with experience and skills they can use. Show how you stand out from the hobbyist crowd, with a reliable background and formalized education.

    Related: 5 tips for a killer WordPress portfolio

    Establish social media connections

    Set up social media accounts, and consider whether you want business profiles separated from your personal profiles.

    Focus your efforts on the few best platforms for reaching your target audience, and work them effectively. Confirm which platforms your audience is most likely to spend time on, based on demographics such as age, gender, geographic location.

    Related: How to claim social media handles

    Get customers to your website

    Getting potential customers to your site requires a marketing strategy.

    Use tools such as Google AdWords, Facebook ads, and GoDaddy Email Marketing to raise awareness about your business and products.

    Related: Lead generation for web design businesses

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    Establish proposals and contracts

    Do the pre-work to confirm client fit

    Before proposing work for a prospective client, additional pre-work can help you minimize re-work, avoid gifting clients with “free” work and steer clear of projects that are not a good fit for you.

    That pre-work includes recon on your part: Is there an existing site? Where is it hosted? Is their business model ethical?

    You’ll also want to ensure prospective clients have a solid grasp of key factors involved in developing a successful web design for them, including purpose, measurable objectives, realistic budget/cost/schedule expectations, and the site’s intended audiences.

    Start the negotiation with preliminary costing

    Most projects start with speculative preliminary documentation that initiates the project costing conversation — ideally leading to a more formal contract.

    Estimates provide a general idea of whether services can be delivered within budget in the client’s required timeframe — and are offered with the understanding that details could change as more is learned about requirements.

    Quotes are more formal, with a fixed price constrained by a limited valid timeframe.

    Bids provide documented responses to a set of well-defined specifications, often submitted in competition with other bids.

    Proposals deliver a comprehensive, detailed document, and are perfect for letting you outshine the competition.

    Once you’ve negotiated an agreement with your client based on one of the above methods, it’s time to seal the deal with a comprehensive contract.

    Related: 14 project estimate mistakes that freelancers make and how to fix them

    Create a contract that protects both you and clients

    A web design contract protects you, your time, your bottom line, and your sanity.

    As with any contract, a web design contract defines the business and legal relationship between you and your client, as well as the personal relationship concerning business practices, communication and interactions.

    Legally, it’s a mutually binding agreement, where each party makes commitments around deliverables and compensation for the work to create them. If either party fails to meet its commitments, the contract becomes the basis for possible legal action.

    There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and the web development agreement that’s right for you won’t be right for others. Contracts are critical in:

    • Specifying a clear scope of promised deliverables.
    • Making sure you get paid.
    • Describing each party’s role in the process, including actions, confidentiality, and consequences of not fulfilling that role.
    • Clarifying who owns the work after delivery.
    • Explaining post-delivery activities, in terms of changes, warranties and liabilities.
    • Mitigating common “what if this happens” scenarios.
    • Protecting yourself in the event of exceptions.
    • Creating a helpful reference document for later.
    • Setting the stage for a successful relationship.

    Developing your own contract from scratch can be time-consuming, and you may forget something important. Then again, paying someone else to create your custom contract can get expensive. The compromise solution starts with finding a free, customizable web design contract template.

    Related: How to create a web design contract that converts new clients into long-term customers

    Back to top

    Formalize project management and communication protocols

    How To Start A Web Design Business Email Communication

    Tracking time and communication, establishing an onboarding process and effectively managing scope changes are all part of a web designer’s job, and it’s critical to have the right tools and processes to help you stay on top of everything. Here are a few proven tips:

    Formalize project management

    Find an online tool that makes it easy to keep track of communication. Managing projects through email is impossible once you get bigger.

    When you bring someone in, or the client brings in a new employee to handle the project, you will need a way to go through what has been done.

    Establish a new client intake/onboarding process

    Once you’ve found and landed those ideal clients, and have the signed contract, plan the process you’ll use, including:

    There are many different types of clients you will likely encounter as you get your web design business off the ground — so plan to adjust your communication style to suit each type of client’s unique needs.

    Track time obsessively

    Track your time on everything. Time adds up, with a phone call here, and email there. Time is one of the only things you can’t get more of.

    Control change requests

    You will always want to keep a client happy, but if you start off making simple unplanned changes to the project you’ll be opening the door for your client to expect big free changes.
    Have a way to document a change request and make sure they know that it costs something.

    One of the quickest ways to lose profit in a web design project is to mismanage client expectations when it comes to scope changes.

    A good way to avoid this situation is to get your client interacting with the website as quickly as possible.

    Even a prototype with limited design elements gets them viewing the site as if they were an end user, so questions will come up sooner. This is where the concept of interactive prototypes comes into play.

    There are many ways you can develop prototypes quickly using WordPress. The idea is to keep it as plain as possible and get your client to sign off on functionality.

    Back to top

    Establish a comprehensive client site launch process

    When it’s go-time, your job is to make sure the website is absolutely ready to launch. First, the content and technical check, including these topics (although you’ll want to customize):

    • SEO and analytics
    • Connection to social media channels
    • Validation of HTML and CSS
    • Accessibility
    • Cross-browser and device testing
    • Testing of all functionality
    • Testing of form submissions
    • Image/JavaScript/CSS optimization
    • Security
    • Fonts
    • 301 redirects
    • Google verification
    • CDN
    • 404 pages
    • CMS up-to-date
    • Themes and plugins are up-to-date
    • Daily and weekly backup schedule in place

    Then you need to prepare your client for their website launch, including the following considerations:

    • Are we satisfied that the website is going to help us achieve our SMART goals?
    • Does the website clearly state what we do and who we do it for?
    • Does the website contain clear calls-to-action?
    • Are we ready to receive and read Google Analytics reports?
    • Do we have a content calendar in place for the next 12 months?
    • Do we have the resources to promote our website through social media channels?
    • Are we ready to take incoming inquiries from the website forms?
    • Are we using live chat, and if so, is someone ready to monitor it?
    • If running advertising campaigns, are our tracking code in place?
    • Is our email marketing service provider plugged in and ready to capture email addresses?
    • Are our email marketing automation campaigns ready to fire?
    • Are we trained in how to use the content management system?
    • Have we subscribed to a care plan, and if not, who will support the website in the future?

    Here is a fantastic resource to make sure you cross your t’s and dot your i’s before you launch a website.

    Related: How to perform a website launch and handover

    Solicit social proof

    When it comes to attracting new clients, few things are more powerful than social proof.

    Getting good testimonials is about delivering value before you ask, and then timing your request.

    If you have over-delivered on value, offered a service that really solves their problem, provided exceptional customer service, and made customers feel like you’re there for them, then they’re usually happy to give you a good testimonial. Best to ask immediately after the project is done, as soon as they have begun getting value from your work.

    Related: How to ask for testimonials and reviews from your clients

    Back to top

    Conclusion and next steps

    Even with all of this information to get you moving in the right direction for starting a web design business, you may be wondering … what’s the secret to making it happen?

    Mark Twain said “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Take the time to absorb all that’s covered here, dig into the linked articles for more information, make your plan, choose a starting point — and then go for it!

    To summarize the main steps in the process:

    • If you’ve determined you’re ready to start a web design business, set up your work environment and build your support squad.
    • Focus on business planning by writing your business plan, addressing legal and administrative issues, defining your brand, identifying your perfect clients and how you’ll connect with them, and clarifying your product and service offerings at a profitable price.
    • Create infrastructure and processes for working with clients, including proposals, contracts, project management, communication, and launching their beautiful new website — designed by you!
    • And finally, establish your online presence and let the world know you’re ready to work.

    No matter what, the best thing you can do is just get started. What are you waiting for?

    This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Kristina Romero, Randy A. Brown, Aaron Reimann, Troy Dean and Andy McIlwain.

    The post How to start a web design business appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This year’s WordCamp Europe took place on June 20-22 in Berlin, Germany. The schedule followed a typical WordCamp structure with multiple tracks, 40-minute sessions, 20 minute break times, hands-on workshops, and a lively afterparty.

    Oh, and someone even walked 700km to the event to fundraise for charity.

    If you weren’t able to make it out to Berlin for this year’s event, don’t worry — we pulled together this recap to cover all the important takeaways, including links to all the slides and recaps we could find from each presenter.

    If we missed anything important, please give us a shout on Twitter (@GoDaddy).

    Had the best time at #WCEU in Berlin this year. Love this team and this #WordPress community. Until next time! pic.twitter.com/l1yVOSWQQO

    — Tara Wellington (@TaraMacMiller) June 23, 2019

    Also: Shoutout to our colleagues at GoDaddy Deutschland for putting together a fantastic highlight reel from the event.

    A brief history of WordCamp Europe

    If you aren’t familiar with #WCEU, here’s the gist: WordCamp Europe is the largest WordCamp in the world. It’s an annual event bringing together thousands of WordPress users and developers from around the globe to learn, share, and connect with each other.

    The first #WCEU, WordCamp Europe 2013, was held in The Netherlands. It’s moved to a different country each year since then: Bulgaria (2014); Spain (2015); Austria (2016); France (2017); and Serbia (2018).

    The consistent change of location celebrates Europe and its diverse mix of language, people, and culture. Quoting from the inaugural WordCamp Europe 2013 site:

    “WordCamp Europe is the first large-scale WordCamp to be held in Europe. By large-scale, we mean big. And by big, we mean awesome. This is a chance for the European WordPress community to gather together in the idyllic town of Leiden to geek-out, share experiences, do business, and most of all, talk WordPress. It’s an opportunity to welcome WordPress community members from all over the globe to our continent to experience the diversity and culture that makes us so unique.”

    Open, inclusive, diverse, and community-driven. The event is a lot like WordPress itself.

    WordCamp Europe 2019 sessions & workshops

    This year’s WordCamp Europe packed the schedule with 46 regular sessions, 12 hands-on workshops, 12 WP Cafe breakout conversations (a first for WCEU), and 5 facilitated wellness sessions. There was also a WordPress Workshop for Kids and a Contributor Day on the Thursday before the main conference.

    We’ve compiled a list of all the sessions and workshops, linking to the decks or posts from their respective presenters. If we’ve missed any links, please let us know.

    Session recordings are posted to WordPress.tv as they become available. You can also view the livestream recordings in their entirety on YouTube. Shoutout to Mathieu Sarrasin of Iceable Media for creating a great list of links to the livestream timestamps of each session.

    Business sessions

    Content sessions

    • Structured data & blocks with Omar Reiss
    • Evolving SEO in a mobile-first world with Aleyda Solís
    • Accessible content with Maja Benke
    • Copywriting & CTAs to improve conversion rates with Fernando Tellado
    • 7 ways to repurpose content and maximise your efforts with Yvette Sonneveld
    • How to engage your audience with Jesse van de Hulsbeek, Marieke van de Rakt

    Design sessions

    Development sessions

    Community sessions

    Workshops

    WP Cafe discussions

    • Advanced SEO thoughts with Robert Jacobi
    • Who are the deciders? A governance conversation with Morten Rand-Hendriksen
    • It is never too late to find the right career path with Afsana Multani
    • Linking together the WordPress Community with Norbert Mayer-Wittmann
    • Moving to WordPress: Evolving businesses into successful stories with Alessandro Kaounas
    • Investing in the WordPress Community with Mike Demo
    • Sell WordPress without talking WordPress with Robert Jacobi
    • Development tools, tips & tricks with Alex Bordei
    • Why you should go to a silent meditation retreat with Aslam Multani
    • Core-Privacy with Heather Burns
    • Representing WordPress in the political arena with Morten Rand-Hendriksen
    • Progressive WordPress with Pascal Birchler

    "We are not campaigning for new freedoms, we are campaigning against the removal of existing freedoms that make our work possible."
    Paraphrasing a participant in the #WordPress in the Political Arena #WPCafe session at #WCEU pic.twitter.com/JFIL2B19gM

    — Morten @ home (@mor10) June 22, 2019

    Matt Mullenweg’s WordPress summer update

    Officially titled “Matt on WordPress” in the WordCamp Europe 2019 schedule, Matt Mullenweg’s WCEU keynote served as a mid-year summer update on the status of WordPress and, most importantly, the progress of the Gutenberg block editor’s next phase.

    There were demos of Gutenberg in the wild; upcoming Gutenberg features; new block types currently in development; mobile app support; plus Q&A about licensing, governance, and the future of themes in the age of Gutenberg.

    See more: Matt Mullenweg’s Summer Update (WP Tavern)

    Spotted on social

    Some highlights from the social media backchannels of #WCEU:

    Dear #WordPress-Family! @mm_mikemeister re-translated my #Sketchnotes on @motherofcode's talk about https://t.co/a4knYZbEPW on @WCEurope /#WCEU in english. Please #retweet and donate!! pic.twitter.com/kfEYC2qwJy

    — Ania Groß (@SketchnotesAG) July 6, 2019

    It's extra hard to get everything you have to say about @WCEurope in one blog post. But I tried! Here's my #WCEU recap: https://t.co/T8veBRVR4V pic.twitter.com/IRiQdZ0JQ5

    — Vassilena Valchanova (@vasvalch) July 2, 2019

    It was really nice meeting to @topher1kenobe in a person at @WCEurope the man behind @heropress.😎🤘
    Really you are doing a great work and thanks for creating a such an amazing platform for all @WordPress geeks who want to share their stories. ❤️#WordPress #WCEU #WordCamp pic.twitter.com/IMeC7WIADh

    — Nidhi Jain (@jainnidhi03) July 1, 2019

    Some #morningmotivation and wise words from Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States, recently applied to web development and design at @wceurope 2019 in Berlin 🇩🇪💪🏼✨ #WCEU#wordpressscotland #wordpressmeetup #wordcamp #webdev #webdesign pic.twitter.com/aUpv1s1pY9

    — Design33 (@design_33) July 2, 2019

    And the winner is ….. @carolasperi 🎉🎉🎉
    Was proud of you for winning @GoDaddy giveaway MacBook PRO at #WCEU in Berlin. #Congratulations 👏 pic.twitter.com/mOCAkFqDCp

    — Manny (@manny) June 25, 2019

    Looking ahead to WordCamp Europe 2020

    The next WordCamp Europe takes place in Porto, Portugal on 4-6 June 2020. The venue is the Super Bock Arena / Pavilhão Rosa Mota at Jardins do Palácio de Cristal.

    If you’re interested in helping put on the event, the call for organizers is open until July 15, 2019. You can find all the details on the WordCamp Europe 2020 website.

    Come help us make #WCEU 2020 a reality! Submit your application to be a WCEU 2020 Organiser now! 📅 https://t.co/hhzrf3uBD0 pic.twitter.com/3DQR8aUCx1

    — WordCamp Europe (@WCEurope) June 22, 2019

    Want to stay connected? Join GoDaddy Pro.

    The GoDaddy booth at WordCamp Europe 2019

    WordCamps are great events for bringing together WordPress users, designers, and developers. Ditto for local WordPress meetups. But what if you can’t make it out to these events?

    Sure, you can dig into the material after the fact, but you miss out on connecting with other people.

    And even if you do make it out, how do you stay in the loop with the people you meet?

    That’s one of the reasons we created GoDaddy Pro. It’s not just an all-in-one collection of tools and resources for web designers & developers. It’s also a community of people who make a living building websites.

    If that sounds like you, come and join us: Become a GoDaddy Pro member for free.

    The post WordCamp Europe 2019 recap & slides appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    If you own a community-oriented or events-based WordPress site, you already know how difficult it is to keep track of all the events you need to schedule and promote.

    WordPress doesn’t come with any functionality for hosting events or booking appointments by default, so you will have to look to an appropriate plugin for this task.Using a WordPress calendar plugin can ease your work tremendously regardless of the type of events you are hosting.

    By using such a plugin, you can create and keep track of official events, webinars, seminars, parties, concerts, informal events, or any other type of scheduled meeting. A WordPress calendar plugin will let you keep everything under control and organized, with just a few clicks.

    This article created by our team at Amelia, helps you to learn more about how WordPress calendar plugins work and what benefits they bring to the table. Further down, we will offer you a list of the most popular WordPress calendar plugin examples so you can choose the one that suits you best.

    Why Do You Need a WordPress Calendar Plugin?

    Not sure if you need a WordPress calendar plugin or not? Think about how easily your website visitors could find information about the upcoming events you host if you could automate the process.

    A blog announcement is great, but having a neat system in place to manage registration and actual attendance? Priceless!

    Some WordPress calendars come equipped with all sorts of features you can think of and more, while others focus on very basic features for managing events. Both options are useful, based on what you need for your website.

    Certain WordPress event plugins are even so powerful that you can manage multiple calendars on the same website and add eCommerce functionalities to it, like buying tickets or booking a place.

    WordPress is very flexible when it comes to adding different services to a site and using an event calendar to keep everything organized is easily achieved with a good plugin – no need for fancy (and costly) custom development.

    How Can You Choose the Best WordPress Calendar Plugin?

    When choosing between WordPress calendar plugins, you will have to keep in mind one big criterion – what features does it offer? Naturally, different plugins suit different needs.

    If you are managing a lot of events, you will likely need a plugin that offers a powerful set of tools all in one.On the other hand, if you are managing one-time events that don’t require much effort to manage, you can happily opt for a simpler plugin.

    Each WordPress calendar plugin is built fora certain purpose that may or may not meet your goals. You need to research your options and find the plugin that is aligned with your own intentions and requirements.

    For instance, a medical-related website should be equipped with an appointment calendar that tells patients when a place can be booked and what times are available for further bookings. Of course, not all WordPress calendar plugins are built for that specifically.

    You will have to research the market and find the one that suits your website best. Think of your goals and purposes, list them, and see what plugins respect these needs.

    See below for a list that will help you find the most suitable WordPress event plugin.

    8 Popular WordPress Calendar Plugins

    Amelia

    The first on this list is Amelia. Amelia is a complete, enterprise-grade WordPress event booking plugin that has a highly user-friendly interface and is very flexible in terms of customization and usage.

    With Amelia, you can help your website’s visitors book any type of appointment or meeting – from medical visits, lawyer meetings, repair services, massage sessions, and much more – while keeping all your booking details organized and easy to manage in one place.

    The wizard for booking a spot is a breeze for visitors and is extremely effective at converting online visitors into real-world clients. To list a few of the best features of Amelia:

    Amelia also has an Events Calendar module integrated within its features.

    What this means is that you can now automate your event bookings as well: you will be able to schedule a single day, a multi-day, and also recurring events with Amelia.

    To test things for yourself, I’d suggest checking out the demos and see how things look on the front end as well in the back-end.

    The Events Calendar

    Much like Amelia, The Events Calendar is a great plugin perfect for those who want to keep track of all sorts of events from meetings to social gatherings. You simply install the plugin and create and publish an event with ease – all within minutes.

    The user interface is intuitive, and it can be integrated with any website design or theme. The dashboard is neat and organized,and allows the website owner to create everything from simple to complex events (even those with multiple venues).

    The Events Calendar is very convenient to navigate as it offers in-built tools and filters, and you can also add a separate widget to your website for easy access.

    All-in-One Event Calendar

    An all-round solid events management plugin, All-in-One Event Calendar is another of the most popular options out there. It is ideal for those who’ve never used such a plugin before, as it is beginner-friendly and easy to learn. The interface is intuitive and simple, while the tools it offers are just enough to manage events fast and efficiently.

    This plugin can also be integrated with Google Maps to help your website’s visitors spot the venue of the event easier, and you can even sync it with Google Calendar. The plugin supports iCal and you can add other third-party services to it in order to improve its functionalities (e.g. buying tickets directly from the website).

    Events Manager

    Another WordPress calendar that is worth mentioning is Events Manager. It has just been updated to its fifth version and it’s more powerful than ever. The latest update added a few excellent new features that users have been requesting for a while now.

    Using this WordPress calendar plugin, you can create events, add them to a calendar, allow users to register and make appointments, make reoccurring events, and so on. Moreover, the plugin is social media friendly, and you can easily add elements of social engagement that are useful for attracting a larger attendance.

    The visual appearance of the interface can be personalized too, to make it fit the rest of your website’s design.

    WooCommerce Bookings and Appointments

    If you’re already familiar with WooCommerce, you might want to opt for a calendar plugin like WooCommerce Bookings, created by the original developers of WooCommerce.

    For any money-making oriented website, premium plugins are the most suitable because they offer a large collection of tools that will come in handy, and also offer good support. With WooCommerce Bookings you can rest assured that this plugin is of the highest quality.

    Simple Calendar

    Simple Calendar is just as its name denotes – simple. It can be integrated with Google Calendar, which means you can create and manage events with Google Calendar and they will be synced with the plugin via your feed URL.

    Simple Calendar has all the tools you would need to control the events included on your site. You can use shortcodes for fast changes and customize the appearance of the interface using stylesheets.

    My Calendar

    My Calendar is a free WordPress calendar plugin that is interactive and easy to work with. This plugin adds another section on your Dashboard where you can add, edit, and manage all of the events in one place, just like you manage pages and posts.

    As for the end user side, it is very simple and organized, so that your audience can quickly find what they are looking for and easily interact with the calendar themselves.

    Events Schedule

    Events Schedule is one of the most useful calendar plugins on the market. It is straightforward, responsive, easy to use and very powerful. You have it all in one single plugin.

    The events can be displayed in twelve different styles and the plugin is compatible with educational events, like classes or seminars. It can be set up using Visual Composer and it can be integrated with eCommerce websites as well.

    Calendarize it! for WordPress

    This premium WordPress calendar plugin is worth all the money considering how much bang you get for your bucks. With Calendarize It! you can beautifully display the calendar anywhere on your site, and it is highly compatible with Visual Composer.

    The event manager was never this easy, so give it a try if you are happy to spend $25 on a good software product.

    Ending thoughts on these WordPress Calendar Plugins

    As you can see, the options are numerous when choosing a WordPress calendar plugin. Analyze these options carefully and choose the one that is suitable for your website and particular type of business or organization. Calendar plugins are the most efficient way to handle events, so don’t hesitate and add one to your website as soon as you’ve made your decision.

    If you enjoyed reading this article about these WordPress Calendar Plugins, you should read these as well:

    The post WordPress Calendar Plugins You Should Know About appeared first on Amelia Booking WordPress Plugin.


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    You can’t promote a product if you don’t know some basic things about your target audience. To this end, you have to analyze all the different types of people who are interested in your offerings and learn to present the product in an appropriate light.

    The easiest way to conceptualize your target market is to create user personas. Whether for an app or a real physical product, you will need to create a persona that tells a few things about the intended user of your product at a single glance.

    All people involved in the process of developing a product’s image should know how to use the persona template you have created to ease the course of their work, be it in marketing or user experience design.

    Keep reading more about this topic in this article created by our team at Amelia and find more information about what a user persona is and how user persona templates can help you.

    What Is a User Persona?

    Before explaining why you would need user personas, let’s first define the term itself. User personas are conceptual representations (i.e. models) of who your target audience is. Designing a user persona requires a lot of research and analysis of your audience’s goals, behavior, desires, and more.

    Regularly, the following criteria are analyzed:

    • The goals of your audience
    • The background in which your audience lives
    • Your audience’s age and gender
    • The behavior and habits of your audience
    • The pain points and needs

    Besides the obvious benefit that you will get to know your target audience better so that you will be able to launch products that are more suitable to their needs, you can also build a user persona that works to boost sales on existing products.

    Research is important in all given situations when you own a business, so you really can’t skip this step regardless of what your purpose is. Even if it doesn’t help you with an already low-performing product, it will at least help you take wiser marketing and design decisions in the future.

    Why Do People Need User Personas?

    You may ask yourself why anyone would need a user persona to begin with, especially professional designers or marketers who already understand their audience pretty well.

    The fact is, in today’s world of hyper-relevance, simply knowing ‘just enough’ about a particular target audience doesn’t cut it anymore.

    Instead, you need to focus on highly-relevant, human-centered content and design that will resonate with specific groups of users and their particular use cases, else your products run the risk of falling flat for everyone for uses them.

    If you have no idea where to start, you can use a persona template that suits your business specifics. The main goal of using one is to make people who visit your website feel something and get engaged with your content and website. The content needs to fully appeal to the user’s needs and be relevant from start to finish.

    The more specific your user persona is, the better chance you have to turn visitors into actual clients. As such, you need a persona template that suits your business and which convinces your audience that your brand is the best in the niche.

    Ultimately, your user persona will help you establish an emotional connection between your business and the target audience.

    What Should Your User Persona Design Include?

    If you don’t know many things about user persona design, you should first focus on target audience research to draw out your audience’s needs, desires, goals, and frustrations.

    Simply put, you have to tell a story using your brand, a story that is meant to touch the users emotionally and make them feel like your product was made just for them. Your user persona will express your users’own traits, goals, and dreams.

    Those who will use the user persona in crafting relevant content or outstanding user experiences need to feel like your user persona is an actual character that plays the main role in a very complex story.

    Below you will find a list of user persona templates that should inspire you, regardless of the domain of your business. Find one that suits your needs best and feel free to customize it based on what you yourself have learned about each persona and how they relate to your products.

    Once your persona (or personas) has been shared among all stakeholders (e.g. designers, marketers, content creators, etc.) your business will change for the better in an instant.

    Keep in mind that without target audience research, you won’t be able to meet the expectations of your users, so remember to put in some legwork here and add your own insights accordingly.

    User Persona Template Examples You Can’t Miss

    UX Designer

    The list starts with this template of a UX designer persona which illustrates the basic concept of a user persona extremely well. This template contains information related to the target audience based on age, personality, goals, motivations, frustrations, and other details.

    As for aesthetics, we can notice a very colorful photograph that rapidly stands out from the rest of the design, which demonstrates a vigorous personality and a certain type of lifestyle. Thus, even a single image can tell you a lot about this kind of user.

    In this example particularly, the motivations are placed in the center of the page, to guide the reader towards understanding the goals and behaviors that the ideal user adopts. The motivations are a map to the aspirations of the created persona and are useful in understanding what this kind of user cares about more generally. 

    The Nerd

    This persona template is just as impressive and bold. Ctrl Metrics is a minimal template that focuses on emphasizing a photograph that has one sole purpose: listing adjectives and nouns that describe the targeted person in the most succinct way possible.

    Ctrl Metrics is a template that highlights the nerdier side of a larger audience, as the name of the user persona says – Nerdy Nina. The template doesn’t stop there, as the nickname is combined with a powerful quote, which end users might largely identify with and which can elaborate on a certain mindset.

    The Researcher

    Referral Saasquatch is a persona template that shows the kind of user who loves to do their homework before taking action. This user persona sums up the characteristics of a wise decision maker that seeks out the full story on any matter.

    This is a one-page template where content is separated into columns. This template is less desirable because the content is more difficult to read. Compared to Ctrl Metrics and UX designer, this template is oriented towards dense information.

    Regardless, the style of this template is nicely representative of the target user as a whole.

    The Manager

    Even though it might seem quite crowded, the Fake Crow template is exactly what you need if you want an impactful user persona for managers. This persona template is attention-grabbing and aesthetically pleasing while speaking to the confident personality of a team leader.

    You get everything combined beautifully and in the right order –listed goals, frustrations, and motivations. The graphical representations of each of the points presented in this template make it easier for the reader to understand this type of user at a glance.

    The Health Advocate

    This persona template is pretty straight-forward. You can easily tell that the person who is represented there is a middle-aged woman, the proud mother of two children. What is even more evident is that this user persona focuses a lot on food – healthy food, to be precise. Without even reading the text, the viewer can tell where the story is going.

    The short quote included in the template reinforces the core objective of this user persona – encouraging mothers to adopt a healthier diet for their kids. This persona template presents a modern character that likes to adapt to changes and become a fashionable consumer.

    The Influencer

    Another perfect example of a buyer persona template, Universe User Personas makes great use of color and contrast to emphasize the dynamic yet cool-and-trendy personality type involved.

    The persona is presented visually, using a bold photograph that is meant to transmit the idea of a strong personality, a voice that can be heard at any given moment – the influencer.

    The Mom

    A very basic template example for a family-focused persona, Rachael the Stay at Home Mom is minimal in terms of content. In this case, Rachel is presented in the simplest manner possible, emphasizing the plain and simple needs of a person who wants stability and simplicity.

    She has the basic problems that any mother would face at some point in her journey – the lack of time, financial problems, stress, etc. All she needs is a simple, trusted solution to help her cope with everything easier – nothing fancy required.

    The Designer

    Xtensio’s Interior Designer user persona template deserves a place in this list because of its boldness and clarity. This is a neat, well-designed template that makes great use of contrast and loud colors.

    This persona template is all about grabbing attention fast and keeping it for as long as needed, clearly demonstrating the creative designer mindset.

    Generic Persona

    Finally, if you have no idea where to start and what kind of user persona template to use, you can follow this great example given by Piktochart. This template demonstrates the essentials of a user persona and briefly describes why each section is included in the template itself.

    Ending thoughts on these persona templates

    You can either choose to follow the examples of persona templates from the ones presented above or create your own from scratch.

    Either way, use the inspiration you’ve gained from these excellent template examples and combine your own audience research and insights to craft something you can share with your team. It might take some work, but your colleagues and your users’ will thank you for it.

    If you enjoyed reading this article about these persona templates, you should read these as well:

     

    The post User Persona Template Examples to Make Your Life Easier appeared first on Amelia Booking WordPress Plugin.


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    Have you ever wondered how media outlets, bloggers and other professionals are able to write about major brands with such speed and accuracy? Most writers couldn’t do this without the help of a media kit. What is a media kit?

    It’s the not-so-secret source of high-resolution images, detailed information on how and why the company started and even quotes to make the article more immersive.

    If you know how to create and popularize a media kit, you can capitalize on its utility, and get featured more frequently and more accurately in the press.

    Related: Media relations insights from “The Fourth Estate”

    What is a media kit (aka press kit)?

    A media kit, also known as a press kit, is a set of materials, images, content, files and information related to a company or organization (and sometimes, an individual), all organized for use by the press.

    The “press” here could be practically anyone, from national news organizations to local bloggers.

    If properly assembled and easy to access, a media kit can make it more likely that your business appears in published articles, and increase the correctness and consistency of how your business is presented.

    Why your business needs a media kit

    There are several advantages to creating a media kit, all of which focus on improving the benefits of appearing in the press. Being mentioned in the media in the form of reviews, announcements, press releases and industry-focused discussions is almost always good for your brand. It means more people will be exposed to your brand, and you’ll likely earn a link that passes referral traffic your way.

    A media kit streamlines this in several ways:

    Accessibility

    Having a media kit on your website increases the likelihood that a journalist or blogger will write about you. With the details readily available, it’s easier and more convenient to write a feature.

    Convenience

    Making a media kit accessible on your site also increases your own convenience.

    Ordinarily, a journalist might reach out to the leaders of your organization, asking the same basic questions about your company history and requesting quotes. If you bundle all this information together in a media kit, you’ll cut down on the number of people reaching out to you.

    Quality

    Putting together a media kit gives you more control over the quality of the content being published in relation to your brand.

    For example, rather than relying on a journalist taking their own low-quality photos or grabbing low-res images wherever they can find them, you can provide a convenient source of high-resolution images, good quotes and other good materials.

    Consistency

    Media kits also give you a chance to dictate consistency standards for how your brand is represented.

    For example, you can ensure that your company’s name is spelled and formatted in a way that reflects your brand standards (assuming journalists follow the rules stipulated by your kit).

    How to create a media kit

    So how can you create a media kit? Depending on what stage of business development you’re in, you’ll have a few options.

    For example, if you have a creative director and/or a team of graphic designers, you could enlist their aid in creating a media kit from your branding and style guide. You could also hire a professional to assemble (or design) all the necessary elements. If you have access to your own brand files already, you may be able to create the media kit yourself.

    Your media kit should include all (or most) of the following:

    The story of your brand

    What Is A Media Kit Man Reading Book
    First, you’ll want to tell the “story of your brand.” If this sounds vague, that’s because it is. Many brands will start by introducing the name of the company or organization, followed by why it exists.

    If you have a mission statement or a vision statement, this is your opportunity to include it for media coverage. Other brands may get more creative in setting the stage for their organization, but make sure you don’t leave too much to interpretation.

    Literal, blunt descriptions tend to work best.

    Related: How to tell your story on your website in 3 easy steps

    Company history

    You may also want to include a paragraph or two about your company or organization’s history.

    Some journalists will use this to provide context to readers, and others will mainly rely on it to fact-check. In any case, briefly explain how and when your company got started, and where it plans to go from here. If you’ve launched a series of products, this is a good opportunity to list and describe them.

    Company location

    Many businesses will benefit from listing where they are located. Depending on the nature of your business, that could mean listing the address and phone number of your headquarters, your factory locations or locations of your retail outlets.

    If you’re going to launch new locations in the future, consider listing them as pending or forthcoming (if you want them to be mentioned).

    Related: Local Business Listings —The easier way to manage your online business listings

    Logos, branding and other assets

    Brand assets include things like logos, taglines and signature elements that make your brand distinctive.

    You’ll generally want to include high-quality files that allow media outlets to use your brand assets appropriately. This usually means including multiple file sizes and file types, and possibly different versions for different applications (such as a color version of your logo and a black-and-white version).

    Related: Resources for building a brand 

    Branding requirements

    While you’re on the topic of your brand, make sure you specify how you want your brand to be represented, if you have specific requirements.

    For example, you may require that your company name be lowercase, or be punctuated in an unusual way. You may mandate that certain colors be used in association with your brand, or that certain logos must be used in different applications. Be concise, straightforward and specific here to avoid the possibility for miscommunication or misrepresentation.

    Related: A beginner’s guide to branding your business

    Key team members (and bios)

    Some companies will want to identify and describe key personnel who are relevant to the brand.

    For example, you might list the CEO, other C-suite executives, your head of engineering, your head of marketing and advertising or your public relations director. There’s no right or wrong person to include here, so long as they’re relevant to your press goals. Be sure to include the correct spelling of their names, their contact information (if relevant) and possibly a brief bio for each.

    Existing press releases and press coverage

    If your brand has been featured in the press recently, consider linking to or providing those articles. You can use these as examples of how you want your brand to be represented, or as references for other journalists to cite for their own work. It may also make you seem more “worthy” of press coverage.

    Awards and recognition

    If your company has recently won any awards, or has been recognized in some other important capacity, be sure to list those credentials. It rarely hurts to get a mention of your accolades in a press article, but you’ll only get those accolades mentioned if you list them explicitly.

    Social media links

    What Is A Media Kit Social Media Icons Mobile
    Chances are, you have links to your social media profiles somewhere on your website already, or that you’ve made them as easy to find as possible. However, it never hurts to include them anyway—just in case a writer has difficulty finding them, or can’t be bothered to hunt them down.

    Related: How to claim social media handles — and why you should do it now

    Specific quotes (in context)

    Assuming you put some thought into them, quotes can be a powerful addition to any article about your company.

    Consider collecting a handful of quotes from your leaders, polishing them for press use and displaying them in your media kit. You may also want to diversify the quotes that are available, ensuring there’s an equal mix of both short and long quotes.

    FAQ

    If you’ve encountered confusion about the nature of your brand or your brand assets, you may want to include a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) section in your press kit. Here, you’ll be able to proactively list some of the common questions journalists and writers might have, like “where do I find more images?” or “what’s your company’s stance on ____?”

    Samples

    Depending on the nature of your company or organization, your media kit may include a sample of the product or service you offer.

    For example, if you sell water bottles, you might send a free water bottle to reviewers who request one.

    Though you may think of your media kit as a one-time effort, in reality it’s something that will require some degree of ongoing maintenance.

    As you take more photos, develop new products or change company directions, you’ll want to update your press kit with new files and content. You’ll also want to periodically review your media kit for accuracy, changing location addresses as relevant and altering quotes for better accuracy.

    Where to host your media kit or press kit

    Using GoDaddy’s Website Builder, you can create a specific page for your media kit. You can format the written elements of your kit (like your company’s story and FAQ) and provide download links for the multimedia content. You could also package all these elements together in a .zip file and include a download link for it on your press kit page. Alternatively, you could host this content on an about page or a contact page.

    In some cases, you may also want to put together a physical media kit, including printed documents with details on your company.

    This is especially important if you plan on giving away free samples of your physical products.

    In this case, you’ll need to include a “request media kit” link on your website instead of or in addition to your digital asset download links.
    What Is A Media Kit Woman On Video Camera

    Media kit examples

    It’s often helpful to see some live examples of well-done media kits. Learn from these companies and organizations, and consider modeling your own media kit after theirs:

    Coca-Cola

    As you can imagine, an international brand like Coca-Cola needs to pay close attention to how it’s represented — and has many assets and facts to share with journalists. Its press kit includes a list of recent press releases, formal company statements, bios for all its leaders, a video library, an image library, and a list of contacts within the company you can reach for more information.

    LinkedIn

    LinkedIn offers a number of assets on its press kit page including its logo and color patterns. But most prominently, it offers a download link where users can download all the requisite information for a press article.

    JimmyCase

    JimmyCase’s media kit also leads with an email address to contact for more information. It then has a short list of articles in which the brand was featured, and a handful of images for use in future articles.

    Drupal

    Instead of listing all the assets on a single page or within a single download link, Drupal has a series of links to other pages, with more specific categories of assets, like contacts, social media links, logos and photos.

    If you’re curious to see more examples of real-life media kits, consider searching for one of your favorite brands followed by “media kit” or “press kit.” Most major brands will have a press page, giving you more context for how to put your own kit together.

    Customize your media kit

    As long as your information is thorough, concise, organized, and easy to find, there isn’t really a right or wrong way to put your kit together.

    Do what makes sense for your brand.

     

    Putting together a media kit is an important step for the success of your company. However, no one will be able to find your media kit if you don’t have a website — and ideally, one that looks professional. Use GoDaddy’s Website Builder to create your website in under an hour, and create a unique page for all your media assets.

    The post What is a media kit and how do you create one? appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from Vito Peleg at WP Feedback, a visual website feedback tool for WordPress. Looking for more tools to save time and manage your web projects? Join GoDaddy Pro for free.

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    Have you reached a point in your business where you’re struggling to scale? Are you spending too much time on providing support to your clients and managing their websites? Leaving you with no spare time to grow your business, and chipping away at your profitability?

    We see this happen often in the web industry. Having multiple clients on your monthly support plan is great for sustainability, but trying to provide great support to 50+ clients (or even 5+) while trying to land more big projects can seem impossible.

    What aspects of your workflows could you change to ensure you are serving your clients in the most efficient way possible? How can you alter your client communications to create a blossoming relationship, where you are working in perfect harmony?

    In this article we are going to take a peek into issues that arise when your client base begins to grow. We’ll look at how to streamline your client communication and website management, so you can improve your client relationships, and have more time to focus on your business.

    What are the best ways to communicate with clients?

    Every person is different and we all respond to things in our own ways, so it’s difficult to say that one way is better than the other.

    The majority of all communications across the internet are done through email, we all know that. Naturally, this is the case when we’re talking about design agencies, freelancers… anyone who is working in web design and development.

    And why wouldn’t it be? It’s the easiest way to communicate, isn’t it?

    It’s definitely easy for one client, but it’s far from the easiest when dealing with multiple clients.

    There are many platforms striving to become the ultimate way to communicate with clients; to be rid of 10 different emails with a single point in each one; to stop unclear screenshots from clogging your inbox.

    Unfortunately, these communication platforms are completely separate from your client’s website. They’re usually over-complicated, too. Sometimes they even make communications messier than if you had stuck to emails.

    Visual website feedback clears up confusion

    Wouldn’t it be easier to meet with your client face-to-face? So they can point at the screen and say “I don’t like that it’s too small”, or “can we change this image, it doesn’t fit”?

    But, again, this takes time and scheduling. Either you or your client needs to travel. And imagine trying to meet up with 50+ clients a month… you’d lose your mind.

    The catch-22 of providing ongoing client support

    As you grow and increase the number of clients on your monthly support plan, it’s both great and awful at the same time.

    On one hand, you can finally stop worrying about your — or your team — salary. You have more money to put into your marketing, and you can be picky with the projects you take on.

    On the other hand, you are bombarded with support requests from every angle. You have a huge amount of websites that you need to keep up-to-date, create back-ups for, and ensure that everything is in working order.

    There are platforms that aim to solve this problem. They provide automated backups and updates, which can ease some of the stress. But how do you deal with the 100s of emails you receive every month?

    Lack of technical knowledge from your clients

    I want to preface this by saying that this is not your client’s fault. They aren’t a web designer or developer. They don’t know why “above the fold” is so important on a landing page, or why that call to action needs to be higher up on the page. Why would they?

    This can create situations where you waste time, trying to convince your client that the design you’ve created should stay the way it is. It can make it a struggle for your client to describe why they want something to be different.

    “Can this red be redder?”

    “No Jim, it can’t, it’s as red as can be.”

    In essence, this forces you to teach your client how to communicate with you, and vice-versa. You spend hours trying to get on the same page, and finally, you are communicating gracefully about the design of their new website…

    …but then comes the dreaded content collection, and you have to teach them all over again.

    What if you had a visual website feedback tool?

    What if there was a tool to communicate efficiently with your clients at every stage of a project? A tool that is intuitive to use, doesn’t require any technical knowledge on your client’s part, and you don’t have to spend more than 10 minutes to teach them how to use it?

    We’re working on a WordPress plugin called WP Feedback that is trying to achieve this.

    How is WP Feedback different?

    WP Feedback enables you to visually communicate with your clients.

    Adding a comment in WP Feedback

    When you and your client are discussing their website, how do you usually go about it? I assume it’s done over email, with a few sentences, describing an issue. Maybe there’s a screenshot or two to give more clarity.

    Sometimes though, your client’s technical knowledge about web design/development is lacking (it’s not their fault, this isn’t what they do for a living).

    This can cause your client to struggle when trying to provide feedback. Maybe they can’t describe what they want clear enough. This leads to a back-and-forth through emails, or force you to get on a call and share your screen. (Then you have to walk your client through how to use the screensharing tool…!)

    With WP Feedback, this is all removed.

    Firstly, all communications are directly on your client’s WordPress website. They don’t need to sign up with another platform, or spend time learning how to use it. And you don’t need to add another account login to your already-gigantic list.

    Once the WordPress plugin is installed, on any live page, your client simply clicks the plus icon and enters into “comment mode”. This allows them to hover over any part of the page to click and leave a comment.

    When hovering over an element, the plugin detects the <div>s of the page, meaning you’ll know the specific point your client wants to discuss. Once a comment has been left, a task is created in WP Feedback. You’ll have a whole bunch of awesome options from there.

    WP Feedback - Visual website feedback tool for WordPress
    Viewing comment details in WP Feedback
    • You can set the urgency of the task, letting other users know whether a task is highly urgent or can be left till last.
    • You can set the status of the task.
    • It gives you the technical details from the user that made the first comment and created the task, saving you the hassle of having to ask your client for it should you need it.
    • All of the tasks are neatly organized into a dashboard in the WordPress admin area, which you can filter based on user, status and urgency.
    • It even has the option to take a screenshot of the current view, which is posted as a comment to the task automatically.
    • Any file type can be uploaded to the task and is also uploaded to the media library of the website.

    As you can see, all of those long back-and-forth email chains are transformed into a concise task list on your client’s live website. They are no longer held back by their lack of technical knowledge, and you don’t have to spend time deciphering what they are trying to tell you.

    You can demo the WP Feedback plugin here to see how it all works.

    We’ve even included demo pages for the most popular page builders on the market.

    Managing everything in one place

    Both WP Feedback and GoDaddy Pro share the same philosophy: “Spend less time managing, more building.” What WP Feedback can do for your client communications, GoDaddy Pro can do for your website management.

    We want you to be able to handle hours of website maintenance with just a few clicks. That’s why GoDaddy Pro and WP Feedback compliment each other so well.

    GoDaddy Pro gives you access to all of your WordPress websites from a single dashboard, meaning you also have access to all of your client communications within WP Feedback.

    All of your client communications are neatly organized into each website, and GoDaddy Pro Sites allows you to login with the click of a button.

    1. Add your client sites to GoDaddy Pro Sites
    2. Log into each client site in one click
    3. Communicate with your clients in WP Feedback

    You can see all of the different tasks that have been created by your client. You can follow up on specific points, almost as if they are sitting with you, pointing at your screen and telling you what’s up.

    Leaving visual website feedback comments in WP Feedback for WordPress
    Responding to comments in WP Feedback

    WP Feedback + GoDaddy Pro: Saving you time every day

    When you turn your computer on in the morning, I bet the first thing you check is your inbox.

    It goes a lot like this: You have 10 different emails from 4 different clients. Some are requesting design changes, some need support, and others are sending you content for the site.

    You have to go through each email and log in to each client’s website to see what they are talking about. Maybe you even take some screenshots for your replies.

    This is all taking up precious time that could be better spent elsewhere.

    So what if it went more like this: You check your inbox and see notifications from WP Feedback that some comments have been added.

    You log into GoDaddy Pro to access to all of your clients’ websites. Then you log into each one with the click of a button, go to the WP Feedback dashboard. You respond to the comments directly on their own website.

    In the long run…

    Getting monthly contracts to provide support is the best way for you to scale your business. But the time it takes to maintain all those sites can hinder you from landing bigger projects in the future.

    With GoDaddy Pro, combined with WP Feedback, you can save time on the major processes of a website project: collecting content; getting client approvals; and providing support.

    Do you require content to finish a page? Add a comment directly on your placeholder text to request content from your client. They can even see the design implications, like why the text has to be a certain length, without you having to explain it.

    Your new design needs client approval? Your client can visually flag issues directly on the page, letting you know what they might want changed.

    Does your client require support? You’re not just providing great monthly support with automated updates, backups and reports in GoDaddy Pro Sites. With WP Feedback, clients can also leave a comment on a page, while the plugin automatically takes a screenshot and collects technical information.

    Not only will this save you time, but it will make your client feel taken care of, even if they are only one of  100+ clients you support.

    Bottom line? It’s better for your business.

    GoDaddy Pro Sites empowers you to maintain all of your client websites in one place.

    WP Feedback empowers your clients to easily provide visually accurate and detailed feedback.

    Justifying your monthly care plan becomes much easier, and you can use all of the time saved to start scaling your web design/development business.

    The post Finally, a visual website feedback tool built for WordPress appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Not every web design certification is created equal.

    Many are built for those new to design—students, new graduates, and people starting out with their first clients.

    Some are more technical, helping more experienced designers and developers understand specialized topics like front-end development frameworks and digital marketing tools.

    Others… well, let’s say some others just aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

    So how can you separate the wheat from the chaff? Which web design certifications will keep your skills up-to-date with the ever-changing design industry?

    To help you out, we’ve put together seven valuable web design certifications to keep your freelance business competitive. These certifications cover a range of web design and digital marketing skills, from web analytics to inbound marketing and paid social advertising, so you can find at least one certification that’s relevant to your niche and valuable for showing off your expertise.

    While most of the certifications do require some experience or study, each of the certifications can be completed online, and they’re all comparatively affordable—many are even free.

    Let’s jump into our first web design certification—Google Analytics IQ.

    7 web design certifications to boost your freelance rates

    1. Google Analytics IQ
    2. Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)
    3. General Assembly Bootcamp Courses
    4. freeCodeCamp Certifications
    5. Google Mobile Web Specialist
    6. HubSpot Academy Certification
    7. Facebook Blueprint Certification

    Web design certification #1: Google Analytics IQ

    Becoming Google Analytics certified can help boost your freelance web design rates.
    Image courtesy of Content Marketing Institute

    Yes, understanding web analytics isn’t strictly the domain of web designers—but it’s certainly a skill that’s in high demand from clients. And when it comes to web analytics, Google Analytics is undeniably the heavyweight.

    So how can learning Google Analytics further your freelance web design business? Basing your web design decisions on data instead of assumptions leads to better results for your clients. You’ll be able to uncover what works (and what doesn’t) on your clients’ sites, and improve their ability to attract and convert visitors. You can also find and patch the holes in your clients’ existing sites, saving them money on potentially expensive redesigns. Certifications from recognized brands like Google are also instantly familiar to clients, building trust and validating your experience.

    The best way to demonstrate your analytics expertise is through the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) certification. The certification covers everything from setting up dashboards, tracking events, measuring conversion goals, and reporting site performance. You can also brush up before taking the exam with two optional courses covering beginner and advanced concepts, each of which takes an hour to complete. The exam takes an additional 90 minutes and can be taken online.

    Cost: Free. Certification is valid for 18 months and must be retaken to maintain the credential.

    How to get started: Sign up for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification right here.

    Web design certification #2: Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)

    Becoming an Adobe Certified Expert can help increase your freelance web design rates.
    Becoming an Adobe Certified Expert can help increase your freelance web design rates.

    Adobe makes some of the most widely used web design tools in the industry, and there’s a high demand for Adobe-certified professionals. Although the cost of getting certified for each individual product can quickly add up, becoming an Adobe Certified Expert shows potential clients you know Adobe’s products inside and out.

    Adobe keeps close control over their testing process and certification curriculum. This makes it one of the rare certifications that truly sets you apart from other self-titled “experts” in the design industry. Clients trust that when they see Adobe Certified Expert on your resume or freelancing site, you have a strong knowledge of the products you’re certified in. Clients can also locate ACEs by name, expertise, or location in an online directory, helping to drive leads to your business.

    Each of the products in the Adobe ecosystem comes with a different exam and certification. The exams can be taken in-person at a testing center, or online—individual exams cost $180 either way. Each test includes a series of multiple-choice questions covering your knowledge of the software—you don’t actually have to do any creative design work to pass the exam. Adobe also offers plenty of resources to help you study for the exams, as well as a free skills assessment to get a snapshot of your skills. Certifications don’t expire, but Adobe updates them frequently as they release new product features, so it helps to periodically retake the exam to stay up to date.

    Cost: $180 per exam, one exam per Adobe product. (Adobe frequently runs buy-one-get-one sales, letting you take two exams, or one exam plus a retake, for the price of one.)

    How to get started: Register for Adobe Certified Expert exams or learn more right here.

    Web design certification #3: General Assembly Bootcamp Courses

    General Assembly's boot camp courses can help you increase your freelance web design rates.
    General Assembly’s boot camp courses can help you increase your freelance web design rates.

    General Assembly‘s bootcamp has the most extensive and valuable courses on web design and development you’ll find anywhere. They offer extensive on-campus and online courses teaching everything from basic front-end web development to more advanced JavaScript frameworks, web and mobile app development, and digital marketing skills.

    What makes GA’s courses stand out? First of all, the instructors are all industry experts, sharing real-world insights from top businesses like Google, Amazon, and Airbnb. The courses focus on helping students develop practical skills—hands-on lab sessions help you apply the skills you’re learning to real-world projects. This makes GA a great choice for web designers and developers looking to boost their skill set in a short period of time.

    Courses are offered both in-person at one of GA’s 20 campuses or as self-paced online courses. The extensive knowledge being taught, and the experts teaching it, mean the courses demand a higher cost—sometimes reaching into the thousands of dollars. But General Assembly does offer free introductory courses on topics like user experience design and JavaScript programming to give you a taste of the full experience.

    Cost: Free to $4,000, with payment plans available.

    How to get started: Sign up for courses at generalassemb.ly.

    Web design certification #4: freeCodeCamp Certifications

    freeCodeCamp gives you hands-on web design experience for free.
    freeCodeCamp gives you hands-on web design experience for free.

    Of course, unlike General Assembly, certifications don’t always need a high cost to be highly valuable. freeCodeCamp lets you learn new web design and development skills for free, offering thousands of videos, articles, and interactive lessons, as well as thousands of local study groups from around the world at a cost that’s impossible to beat.

    In addition to their free educational materials, freeCodeCamp is unique in that they let you gain hands-on experience by contributing to open-source software projects used by nonprofits. This free experience is particularly valuable for freelancers who are looking to build their portfolios.

    freeCodeCamp offers six certificates:

    • Responsive web design
    • Algorithms and data structures
    • Front-end libraries
    • Data visualization
    • APIs and microservices
    • Information security and QA

    The curriculum for each certificate takes roughly 300 hours to complete and includes five required projects. Completing all six certificates grants a Full Stack Development Program Certificate, signifying completion of roughly 1800 hours of hands-on training and experience.

    Cost: Free

    How to get started: Sign up at freeCodeCamp.org

    Web design certification #5: Google Mobile Web Specialist

    The Google Mobile Web Specialist certification can help increase your value to freelance web design clients.
    Image courtesy of Google Developers on YouTube

    Our fifth certification brings us back to Google. The Mobile Web Specialist certification from Google lets you show off your mobile web development skills and set yourself apart from other web developers.

    Google’s developer training group worked hard to create a more generic certification that wasn’t based on a specific curriculum, with the idea being that such a certification would be seen as more valuable by clients. “Based on a thorough analysis of the market,” program manager Sarah Clark explains in her post on the Google Developers blog, “this new certification highlights developers who have in-demand skills as mobile web developers.”

    The online exam challenges developers to write code in response to real-world tasks, covering topics like progressive web applications, performance optimization, accessibility, and mobile web forms. Completing the exam gives you a digital badge you can share on your website or social media, as well as a listing in a directory of developers who have completed the certification, proving your skills to potential clients and generating more freelance leads. Google even provides a free Mobile Web Specialist study guide to help you prepare for the exam.

    Cost: $99, includes study guide and up to three exam attempts.

    How to get started: Sign up to take the Mobile Web Specialist exam on the Google Developer site

    Web design certification #6: HubSpot Academy

    The HubSpot Academy is a great certification for freelance web designers.
    Image via HubSpot

    The line between web design and digital marketing is blurrier than ever. Clients need an online presence that can sell around the clock—baking digital marketing right into your clients’ sites can help them grow leads and conversions, and can help you charge more for your design services. HubSpot’s free Academy is a great way to start learning the ins and outs of digital marketing.

    For web designers, understanding the basic principles of digital marketing helps you demonstrate the ROI of your design services to clients. Focusing on ROI makes your designs more effective, generating more value for your clients’ businesses. You’ll also help clients increase conversions without having to pay for expensive redesigns every few years, while charging more for valuable optimization work. It’s a win-win.

    HubSpot offers a number of popular certification courses on their site, with topics ranging from growth-driven design to email marketing, social media, and more. As a web designer looking to expand your service offerings, you’ll likely find the most value in the Inbound certification course, where you’ll learn the fundamentals of inbound marketing, how to understand the buyer’s journey, and more. Each course is available for free, and most take between two and four hours to complete. After completing each course, you’ll also be eligible to add HubSpot certification badges to your website or LinkedIn profile.

    Cost: Free

    How to get started: Sign up today on the HubSpot Academy site.

    Web design certification #7: Facebook Blueprint Certification

    Becoming Facebook Blueprint certified can help you boost your freelance web design rates.
    Image via AdEspresso

    HubSpot’s free course on inbound marketing is a great first step into the world of digital marketing for web designers—but as social sharing continues to decline, paid promotion is becoming a necessity for most clients. The good news is, Facebook’s laser-sharp audience targeting, sophisticated analytics, and innovative retargeting tools make it one of the most powerful advertising platforms on Earth.

    Becoming certified as a Facebook advertising professional through Facebook’s Blueprint Certifications can make you highly valuable to clients and employers alike, proving you’re experienced with the platform and that you can help them reach their marketing goals. The Blueprint certifications are administered and proctored by Facebook, and are designed to test your proficiency developing ad strategies, measuring campaign performance, and troubleshooting any issues. Once you’re certified, though, you’ll be able to charge clients upwards of $1-2k per month or $100-150 per hour, according to this pricing survey from marketing matchmaker Credo.

    Full certification requires a minimum of two exams—the Facebook Advertising Core Competencies exam, as well as either the Facebook Certified Planning Professional exam or the Facebook Certified Buying Professional exam. Each exam must be re-taken once per year to maintain the certification. The exams are challenging, and the proctoring process is thorough—Reddit user simohayha writes that “I like Facebook’s process because they want their certifications to have value. I am cynical to the point if someone tells me they are Google AdWords certified, I immediately think they just looked up the answers to the test. Facebook is actively avoiding this pitfall by making their tests as rigorous and truthful as possible.”

    Cost: US$150 per exam—each certification requires two exams, for a total of US$300.

    How to get started: Learn more about Blueprint certifications and get started on the Facebook Business website.

    Remember, certifications aren’t all that matters

    Landing the best web design clients requires more than just a certificate from Facebook, or a HubSpot badge on your website.

    Most clients don’t choose designers based on which certificates they’ve completed. Instead, they’re more concerned about what you can do to help their business grow. To quote Jeff Atwood from Coding Horror:

    “The certification alphabet is no substitute for a solid portfolio; you should be spending your time building stuff, not studying for multiple-choice tests. But that doesn’t mean they’re worthless, either. I don’t think certifications get in the way, as long as you can demonstrate an impressive body of work along with them.”

    The seven web design certifications listed above are all great ways to boost your hourly rate, prove to clients and employers that you’re an expert in your field, and set you apart from the competition.

    It’s important to remember, though, that providing value is not just about what you’ve learned. Make sure you’re demonstrating your newly gained knowledge by creating great work you can show off to potential clients and tying that new work to the knowledge and experience you’ve gained while getting certified.

     

    Header image via Pixabay on Pexels

    The post 7 web design certifications you can use to increase your hourly rate appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This post was originally published on May 30, 2016, and was updated on May 10, 2018, and July 15, 2019.

    It’s no mystery that search engine optimization, or SEO, matters. Websites are meant to be discovered by search engines and SEO makes that possible. As a business owner, it’s important to know not only what SEO is, but also what it can do for your company. And if you’re completely unfamiliar with the subject, don’t be shy about cracking open a beginner’s SEO guide — like this one.

    Search engine optimization entails an ever-changing list of steps and processes that can drastically improve the success of your website by increasing its visibility in search engine results — earning you more organic website traffic.

    The information in this beginner’s SEO guide will help lead you through understanding the basics of SEO and how to incorporate methods to improve the visibility of your site in search engine results. While search engine optimization can be a complex process, we’re going to boil it down to five key steps.

    Beginner’s SEO guide: 5 steps to optimize your small business website

    1. Understand the basics of search engine optimization.
    2. Do your homework.
    3. Create valuable content.
    4. Make friends.
    5. Measure success.

    Ready to get started? Let’s go!

    Windows Building Google Ranking Quote Jimmy Wales

    1. Understand the basics of search engine optimization

    According to Moz, “SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”

    How search engines work

    Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! are the librarians of the internet. They use robots, also called spiders or crawlers, to collect information about every page, image and line of text on the web, then sort it to display relevant search results for search queries.

    All of this is made possible with super complex algorithms that are used to analyze the quality and relevance of a website’s content. Each search engine has its own unique algorithm, and in turn, they display results differently.

    On top of keeping up with the differences between each search engine, we must also keep up with their ever-changing algorithms. Luckily, these algorithms have four consistent steps and processes that deliver results to match your search: crawling, indexing, ranking and delivering.

    They find. The internet is made up of trillions of pages that are all connected to one another with links. These links are how search engines “crawl” the web, using virtual spiders (or bots). As these spiders follow the links on pages to other pages, they store information as they go. From search terms to images and videos, these bots survey, collect and take note of any information they can get their spindly little hands on.

    They organize. After crawling your site and collecting every bit of information possible, search engines index and organize their findings in databases (think of these as massive file folders). All of these databases make up what’s called The Index.

    Indexing makes it possible for search engines to retrieve and deliver search results in a matter of milliseconds.

     

    Without it, responding to a search would requiring digging through billions of sites to find what you need. Totally impossible.

    They rank. Ranking is likely a key topic of interest in this and any SEO guide. All search engines deliver results based on relevancy and popularity, but how they determine what’s relevant is what differentiates them from each other. All search engines crawl and index the web, but each have their own algorithms (complex systematic equations) for ordering the information that they’ve gathered.

    They answer. In milliseconds, search engines assess a number of elements — images, keywords, content, metadata, links, etc. — before delivering results. Ever wonder how a small handful of lucky websites make it to the first page of Google’s search results? It’s because they were deemed the best resources for your search query — using an unimaginably complex version of the system described above.

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    SEO glossaryDictionary Glasses Resting Glossary References

    Search query — A question or search term you enter into a search engine.

    Metadata — Data found in the source code of a page (Title Tag, Meta Description Tag, etc.) that tells search engines what your website is about.

    Backlinks — Incoming links from other websites that point to your websites.

    Keywords — A word, or group of words, used on a website that correspond with the words a user enters into a search engine.

    Sitemap — A file on your website that tells spiders where to find your web pages so they are crawled and displayed properly in search results. There are two formats, HTML and XML versions.

    SERP — Search Engine Results Page.

    Additional resources

    Now that you have a basic understanding of what SEO is and how it works, let’s move onto the next step to optimizing your small business website.

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    2. Do your homework

    You’re reading this beginner’s SEO guide for a reason. You want your business to show up on Google when people search for something, but what? The next step to SEO success is to decide which keywords are the best fit for what you do and if anybody out there is using them now.

    The goal of SEO is not just getting visitors to your site, but getting the right type of visitors to your site.

     

    Search engines remarkably scour the internet to find keywords and clues to match search results, but if your website isn’t giving them the right clues, your SEO efforts will take a dive. Ultimately understanding your audience, competition and keyword options will play a major role in your website’s SEO potential.

    Identify your audience

    Words are everything, and using the right ones is key to attracting the right audience. Put yourself in the place of the people searching online for your type of products or services. What words or phrases will they type into their favorite search engine to find what they’re looking for? These keywords provide valuable insight about how your audience thinks and searches; your challenge is to figure out what terms they use.

    To choose the best options that will attract your ideal audience, ask yourself these questions as you edit or create your keyword list:

    • What words would your audience use to describe your products and services?
    • How relevant are these keywords in their day-to-day lives?
    • What pain-points will your products or services solve?
    • What keywords would your customers use to describe what sets you apart from your competition?
    • What are some trendy terms or verbiage your audience is using to describe what you sell or offer?

    Write down a list of keywords and topics that you think are most important to reaching your ideal audience and generating valuable leads.

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    Survey the competition

    Here’s some food for thought that you won’t find in every beginner’s SEO guide: A local business competitor might not be your only online business rival. Welcome to a bigger game of tug-of-war. As you work to improve your SEO, it’s your ongoing job to stay ahead of the competition and detect emerging rivals as they climb the ranks.

    Horses Racing Competition Through Snow

    Find out which sites are currently ranking. Seeing which sites are currently ranking in the top results for a given keyword or keyword combination will help you understand and determine the online competition. And as you continually keep tabs on keyword search results, you’ll see some new sites sneak their way up.

    Pro tip: Don’t just assume that the top three results on the first page are your competition. In reality, all of the sites or documents that made it to the first two pages of results are competitors.

    Scope out the competition’s keywords. Here’s one thing you can thank your competition for: doing a lot of the keyword research for you! Sites like SpyFu and SEM Rush are great resources that show you which keywords your competitors are using for organic and paid search, and how many visits they get per keyword. What valuable insight!

    Of course, the keywords that work wonders for your competitors might not do the same for you, but this option will help you narrow down some successful contenders.

    If a beginner’s SEO guide had to be written in just a few words, then this would be it: It’s all about working smarter, not harder.

    Another techy way to see what keywords your competitors are using is by analyzing their website’s source code. Not every site will have metadata in its source code, but it never hurts to check.

    Don’t worry, the process is easier than you think! Here’s what you need to do:

    • Look for the meta name=”keywords tag located near the top of the source code (it should be right below and near the <title> tag).
    • Once you find it, you’ll see a list of the keywords that business is using.

    The goal isn’t to copy your competitors — you want to stand out as a unique brand. But your competitor’s keywords will help you strategize ways to dominate the keyword market for your industry.

    How to spy on competitor keywords

    1. Go to a competitor’s website.
    2. Right-click on a page (start with the home page).
    3. Click View Source. A window will open displaying the page’s code.

    at Spying Through Window

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    Define your business’s goals

    As you gather intel on your website’s audience, the competition and commonly used keywords, it’s up to you to make informed decisions to determine which SEO strategies make sense for your business.

    Staying relevant is crucial to ensuring your website visitors are happy with what they find on your site — but don’t let staying relevant keep you from taking keyword risks and trying something the competition isn’t doing.

    Consider creating lists specific to your business goals and dividing your keywords among them. Do your keywords touch on all of your goals? Are some missing? Ask yourself these types of questions as you analyze your keywords to make sure you aren’t leaving any keywords on the table.

    Take into consideration what you specialize in or are known for to find unique, realistic and successful keywords for your site.

    Study your keyword options

    Once you create a solid list of keywords that your target customers use to search for and find you online, it’s time to consider the value associated with those keywords.

    If you choose popular keywords that everyone’s chasing, you won’t stand a strong chance of ranking.

     

    And you don’t want to use keywords that nobody is searching for, for obvious reasons. So how do you find keywords that are being searched for but don’t have too much competition?

    You choose longer, more specific keywords, also known as long-tail keywords.

    An example of a long-tail keyword is “womens red dress size small” as compared to the short-tail version, “dress.” Though these long-tail keywords get significantly less traffic than short-tail keywords, more than 75 percent of online searches are for long-tail keywords.

    People who search for products and services with long-tail keywords are further in the buying cycle than those who use short-tail keywords.

    But how do you find these long-tail keywords? You can use the Google Ads Keyword Planner to help generate some keywords combinations and then see the average searches and competition level for each of those options. Another great tool is KW Finder, which will help you find long-tail keywords with low competition.

    Pro tip: Peruse the related searches at the bottom of your Google results page for other popular long-tail search queries.

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    Piggy Bank SEO Quote Marc Ostrofsky

    Quick checklist: Do your homework

    With each item below, refine your keyword list by adding, removing, and changing your keyword options:

    • Identify your audience.
    • Discover who’s ranking with top results for your industry.
    • Write down the search terms (keywords) that are working for your online competition.
    • Define your business goals and list your keywords under them. Missing any?
    • Come up with two to three long-tail keyword options for each of your short-tail keywords.
    • Look up the estimated visibility and competition associated with your keywords.
    • Finalize your list of keywords and start placing them throughout your site.

    Time to do your homework: 5 hours or less

    Additional resources

    Use these tools and tips to step up your keyword research and find the best options for your business:

    Great! Let’s move onto the really fun stuff now.

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    3. Create valuable content

    Search engines are constantly changing to keep up with the fast-paced, intelligent world we live in. They’ve become more human than ever before — making valuable, relevant and unique content the No. 1 SEO influencer.

    Today there is no such thing as SEO without content.

     

    So what is content, you ask? Images, videos and text — any bit of information that’s compelling to your web visitors and meets the expectations of search engines.

    But not just any content will do; you need quality content that answers questions and solves the needs of your visitors.

    Having done your keyword research, you’ll want to incorporate those words that people are searching for throughout your content to “answer” their questions.

    This is where being human comes in handy — you’ll want to write like you’re writing to a live person, not a search engine. More and more, search engines are recognizing how humans talk, and look for naturally-written, quality content.

    “Content that is truly exceptional, unique, and useful can earn tremendous awareness through social media, and that social amplification often leads to great links, which leads to great rankings.” ~ Rand Fishkin, CEO/Co-founder, Moz

    Search engines want the most relevant and natural result to be at the top of their pages, so when crafting your website content ask yourself:

    • Is it unique (not copied from another source)?
    • Is it remarkable?
    • Is it worth sharing?
    • Does it supply a demand?
    • Does it help people?
    • Does it change the way people will live their day?
    • Why would someone link to this or write about that?
    • Would someone bookmark this or share it with a friend?

    Here’s a nifty worksheet to walk you through creating search-friendly content for your small business website: Web content development — What to include on 5 core website pages

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    How to incorporate keywords into page content

    No SEO guide would be complete unless we talked about how to work the keyword you’ve identified into the copy on your website.

    If you want your website to be found, it’s important to place the keywords people will use to search for your site in your site’s content — especially in the titles, headers, subheads and body text.

    But keep in mind, the number of times you use your keywords isn’t directly correlated with search engine results. There’s no magical number of words you should include (though most SEO gurus still recommend a healthy word count of at least 300 words per page).

    The word count and use of your keywords will depend on your audience!

    Does your keyword-sprinkled content answer all of their questions? Does it explain every topic thoroughly and adequately? Is your content informative and valuable?

    Sprinkle Cupcakes Dessert Frosting

    What matters is that you use your keywords naturally throughout your content. If you find the keywords you use are awkward, perhaps you’re using the wrong keywords?

    Creating SEO-friendly web pages

    First impressions matter, which is why you must design how your web page displays in search engine results to attract the right audience.

    Tags and page elements will help tell search engines and your visitors what that page’s content is all about and what they can expect to see and/or read.

    Though easily overlooked, this is how people determine which search result websites they’re clicking on.

    “Search engines can’t read pages like humans can, so we incorporate structure and clues as to what our content means. This helps provide the relevance element of search engine optimization that matches queries to useful results.” ~ Cyrus Shepard, Moz

    Here are a few web page elements to fine-tune as you optimize your website for search results and user experience:

    Title Tags. A page’s Title Tag is the clickable text that displays in search engine results pages and in the browser title bar. Though short and sweet, this page element gives a glimpse of what people can expect to read and/or see when they click on the page. They dared me to say it — it’s one of the most important factors in on-page SEO and capturing your visitors’ attention!

    Meta Description Tags. A page’s Meta Description Tag is displayed right below the Title Tag and gives a more detailed explanation of what the page content is about. Though Google limits this section to a 155-160 character limit, the text should attract people to visit your site.

    Header Tags. Header Tags give your web page structure and help search engines better determine what your page content is about. They are ranked by hierarchy with

    H1 being the most important:

    Heading 1 <H1>: Page title (Each web page should only have one of these)

    Heading 2 <H2>: Subtitles

    Heading 3 – 6 <H3 – H6>: Subsections

    Make sense?

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    Optimizing images

    Mobile Phone Camera Taking Picture

    Great images complement great website copy, and since millions of people search for images online, they play an important role in your on-page SEO.

    Similar to Title Tags, using customized image tags will help describe the subject of an image.

    Each page element — Title Tags, URLs, Header Tags, Image ALT Tags — should naturally (and logically) reference your page subject and/or keywords when possible.

    To optimize images:

    1. Align the page’s target keyword to the image file name. For example, if the page targets the keywords “beaded turquoise necklace,” the primary image’s file name should be “beaded-turquoise-necklace.jpg.” Always use lowercase and separate each word with a hyphen.
    2. Use and optimize the Image ALT Text attribution, again using the page’s target keyword. For our example, the Image ALT Text should be “Beaded Turquoise Necklace.” Uppercase, no hyphens.
    3. Make sure the page text corresponds to the image file name and Image ALT Text. Search engines look at the text content around the image to help understand its subject matter. They can safely assume the image actually is a picture of a beaded turquoise necklace if they spy the keywords “beaded turquoise necklace” in the content on the page.

    Pro tip: Making your image file size smaller so it loads faster can also help your search rankings.

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    Can a blog help your SEO?

    In an SEO-driven online world where content is king, blogs have never been more helpful or important.

    Blogging is one of the most cost-effective and valuable ways to boost search rankings. While interacting with your customers can be a great way to build a following that keeps coming back for more, a blog can also help you position yourself as a subject matter expert.

    Besides allowing you to add fresh, relevant content to a site that might otherwise remain static, a blog has a lot of other benefits worth mentioning:

    • It can help you attract inbound links and social shares.
    • It can help you leverage your keywords.
    • It can position your site as a resource.
    • It can provide highly shareable content for social media sites.
    • It can help you capture feedback about your products and services.
    • It’s a great way to network and build relationships with industry influencers.

    How cool is that?

    Mobile and SEO

    At a time when mobile phones are the primary devices used to search the web and with 89% of people searching for a local business on their phones weekly, you can’t afford to overlook mobile optimization.

    Would you be surprised to learn that search engines rank websites differently for mobile than they do for desktop? They take into account the page load times (if your site doesn’t load quickly on mobile, then forget it!), responsive design and scannability. If your text isn’t readable without zooming in, then your rankings will fall

    It’s all about user experience — and if your mobile website is falling short, so will your rankings.

    Now let’s focus this SEO guide on optimizing your mobile site:

    Design your site for fat fingers. People get frustrated when they click on something but get taken somewhere else. Space design elements out, making them easy to click.

    Create a responsive design. Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool to see if your mobile website’s design is falling short.

    Focus on page speed. Your website should load in a matter of seconds. If it doesn’t, consider hiring a professional to help you optimize images, leverage browser caching, and reduce coding errors.

    Bicycle Traffic Surrounded by Speeding Cars

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    Get your geek on (metadata and sitemaps)

    Helping search engines know what your site’s about at a quick glance is where a sitemap and metadata play a crucial role.

    A sitemap is a file that tells search engines about the organization of your website content — it gives them hints to more intelligently crawl your site.

    Similarly, metadata summarizes and describes your website content, making it easier for search engines to recognize important elements within your content.

    Quick checklist: Create valuable content

    Let’s run through the tasks needed to create valuable (and SEO-friendly) content for your website:

    • Start writing your page content with emphasis on unique and valuable content.
    • Create Title Tags, Meta Description Tags and Header Tags for each of your web pages.
    • Read your content to make sure your keywords are used naturally throughout.
    • Optimize your images.
    • Create a blog (optional) and consistently post to it.
    • Optimize your website for mobile (required).

    Time to create valuable content: Ongoing

    Additional resources

    Get your knowledge on with these additional resources:

    Now let’s get social.

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    4. Make friends

    Social Media Usage Statistics for Amercian Adults
    Stat source: Pew Research 

    Let’s pivot this SEO guide to social media for a sec. You’ll find that getting a website found online extends beyond your on-page SEO efforts — and social media plays a huge role. With billions of searches performed on social media platforms each year, it’s just as important to focus on your social presence.

    Though the relationship between social media and search ranking is not crystal clear (Google tends to keep its algorithm specifics hush-hush), we do know that social media can help:

    • Promote your website.
    • Legitimize your brand.
    • Build customer relationships.
    • Expand your reach.

    You’ll even notice that every once in awhile social media profiles or pages and review site listings pull up in top search results, though this is more often for local search results.

    If all of your SEO efforts are spent on your website, you’re missing some valuable opportunities.

     

    These days, strong online marketing efforts require investments in link building, social media signals, and local listing sites.

    Legitimate link building

    There’s no denying that a website’s popularity correlates with how high it ranks in search engine results, and in a way, backlinks are like popularity votes.

    The more inbound links you have leading to your website from outside websites, the more traction you’ll gain from search engines.

    But be warned: Faked and manipulated website content (even backlinks) can actually harm a website’s SEO. For this reason, creating newsworthy content that inspires viral sharing and natural linking is the best way to ensure valuable SEO-rich backlinks. Paying people to link to your site won’t pay off in the long run, and could seriously damage your search rankings.

    Pro tip: To see how many linkbacks your website and a competitor’s website have, use Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool.

    Get social to boost your SEO

    Bullhorn Promoting Website via Social Media

    There’s no point in getting dressed up if you aren’t going out, so why create content and not show it off?

    Enter social media — your exceptional content’s new best friend. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram continually prove to play a major role in doing business online. And with social signals — like follows, shares, likes and retweets — influencing the reachability of your content, your business’s social media presence is something to take seriously.

    Consider offering some of the social sharing options listed below to further promote your website’s content online:

    • Add a Click to Tweet button to pull quotes and other “tweetables” on a web page.
    • Add a Pin It plugin to your site, making it easy for people to add your photos to their Pinterest boards.
    • Add Facebook “Like” and “Share” buttons.
    • Showcase your social feeds on your home page.
    • Add follow buttons to your site, making it easy for visitors to become social followers

    Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Website Builder includes social links that make it easy for website visitors to like, share or follow your business on their favorite social platforms.

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    Take advantage of local SEO

    If your business is local, your SEO potential just got a bit sweeter thanks to local review sites. You might notice that when you search for a local business (like “dog groomer in Phoenix”), the top few results are Google My Business and Yelp listings.

    With local review and business directory sites becoming another way to rank higher in search engine results, you’ll want to claim your online business listing and make sure the information — such as hours of operation, contact information, website, menus, etc. — is accurate and makes you stand out from the crowd.

    Check out GoDaddy’s Local Business Listings solution to manage all your online listings from one convenient dashboard. It’s awesome.

    Again, your carefully curated content and beautiful images will make a significant impact on your website traffic. If people visit your profile and like what they see, chances are they’ll drop by your website, or better yet your store!

    Quick checklist: Make friends

    Here’s a quick recap of the steps to take to drive traffic to your small business website (and grow your business) using social media:

    • Create business social media accounts (if you haven’t already).
    • Network with industry leaders and influencers to generate inbound links (like via guest blog posts).
    • Incorporate social media sharing options on your site.
    • Get on local review sites.
    • Stay social.

    Time to make friends: A few hours to set up social profiles, then ongoing

    Additional resources

    Take getting social for your business to a new level with help from these additional resources:

    With these first four steps behind you, you’re well on your way to boosting your small business website’s organic search rankings. But don’t stop there!

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    5. Measure success

    Cactus Measuring Tape Quote by W. Edwards Deming

    Search engine optimization isn’t a one-and-done type deal. It requires constant updating, tweaking, experimenting and testing.

    With SEO being one of the highest returning investments you’ll make for your website, you’ll want to constantly measure its success to maintain powerful results.

    While every business is unique and has different ways of measuring success, organic search results and organic search conversions should be on your radar when tracking your SEO efforts. These numbers will give you insight as to what’s working and what’s not.

    Luckily, one of the most popular tools for measuring SEO is completely free and has a slew of advanced tracking options: Google Analytics.

    Use Google Analytics (or your tool of choice) to:

    • Track organic search traffic.
    • Measure the quality of your organic SEO by tracking conversions.
    • Identify factors that aren’t working in your favor (low-performing keywords, slow loading pages, etc.).

    In the end, search engine optimization success is measured by how many people are referred to your site organically through search engines. If your business sells products or offers services, one of the simplest ways to track your SEO success is by tracking organic search conversions and then turning that number into a dollar amount.

    If you’re using Google Analytics, use these steps to see your Organic Search results: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search

    Analytics glossary

    Bounce Rate — The percentage of visitors who leave your website without visiting other pages (leave after visiting just one page).

    Conversions — The number of website visitors who become customers.

    Impressions — Page views.

    Referrals — Where people are coming from to get to your site (including other websites, search engines and social media sites).

    Direct Traffic — Visits to your site where the user types your URL directly into their browser bar.

    Funnels — A series of steps (links, pages, buttons, etc) that a visitor makes to reach an end goal.

    New Visitors — Online visitors who have reached your site for the first time.

    Entry Page — The first page a visitor arrives at on a website from another site or referral source.

    Exit Page — The last page a visitor is on before leaving a website.

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    How do you measure your website’s success?

    It’s all about website analytics — a powerful tool that gives you a full-picture analysis of how your website is doing online, and insight into areas that can use improvement.

    Tools like Google Analytics give you a full-picture view of your site’s success with detailed statistics about a website’s traffic, visitors, conversions and sales.

    Though you can simply just add a tracking code to your web pages for website analytics tools to start measuring your web stats, Google Analytics (and products similar to it) have website plugins and add-ons that tremendously expand the reporting capabilities.

    Another benefit of website analytics tools is their tracking of off-site analytics — a measurement of your website’s potential — letting you see how your website compares to the competition.

    What do you need to measure?

    The whole point of SEO is having a website that works for you, but you’ll never know how it’s performing without the help of web analytics. If not, you’ll have no solid results and will essentially be running your website blind.

    Though a single metric can’t measure the results of your work, there are a few measurements that will give you insight to what’s working, not working, or what you could do better.

    Woman Mountain Climbing Success Overlooking Valley

    Here are a few metrics you should regularly keep tabs on:

    Your visitors. With website analytics, you can hone in on your audience, identifying things like their interests, demographics, language, locations and behaviors. You can track in which geographical locations your visitors live (down to a specific city) to help you focus your advertising efforts and keywords to a specific location. Understanding these elements can help you revamp website content for improved SEO.

    Search engine and website referrals. Knowing how your visitors are finding you is important to determining if your SEO (and other marketing efforts) are working. If will also help you hone your focus and attention on the referrals that are giving your website healthy traffic.

    Pages and Paths. Understanding your website’s user experience is how you’ll create an even better one! Analyze the effectiveness of each page and track how people interact with, navigate and explore your site to gain tremendous insight that you can use to make improvements.

    Your goals. Tracking all of these stats are for nothing if you don’t have realistic goals in place. Set new goals as you hit certain milestones so that your journey through creating a search engine optimized site is fun, exciting and fruitful.

    Once you’ve gathered valuable information and insights about your website, web visitors and referring sites, it’s up to you to take action and modify your methods. Iterate on existing methods and try, test and modify new methods to make the most of your online goals.

    Pro tip: To take your SEO to the next level, don’t just measure your Google results. Loads of visitors use Bing and Yahoo! to do their searching, so make sure you keep those search engines in mind.

    Quick checklist: Measure success

    To measure the success of your SEO efforts:

    • Create an account with Google Analytics (or your analytics tool of choice).
    • Set up your analytics account with your website.
    • Write out a list of online goals you have (and ways you can track them using analytics).
    • Create a list of the measurements you’ll take.
    • Create a weekly and monthly analytics calendar to stay on top of your tracking and measuring.

    Time to measure results: Less than 1 hour to set up analytics, then ongoing

    Additional resources

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    That’s a wrap

    You’re probably finishing this beginner’s SEO guide and wondering when you can expect to see results. That all depends on the time (and money) you put into optimizing your website for top search engine rankings.

    We didn’t get into paid search — which can turbocharge traffic to your website — but it’s worth exploring that option once you’re comfortable with these basics.

    When you get the steps and processes mentioned above implemented on your site (that’s the easy part), be sure to take the time to track and measure your results so you can continue to improve your site’s organic search rankings.

    The hardest part for most people part is the wait — to get a real reading on what’s working and what’s not, it’s important to track, measure and compare a few month’s worth of results. Plus, you’ll need numbers. If your website isn’t getting enough traffic, having enough hard data to analyze will be tough.

    Just keep working at it and you WILL see results. Need some help? Give the SEO pros at GoDaddy a call!

    Stacey Hartman contributed to this article.

    The post Beginner’s SEO guide: Search engine optimization for small business websites appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    If you’re an entrepreneur and small business owner without professional design experience, it can be really intimidating to think about how to design a logo for yourself. Where do you start? What tools do you need? How do you make it look professional? I get it, it’s scary. But it’s also completely teachable, I promise.

    Even though your logo is just a small image, it has a huge impact.

     

    Learning how to design a logo lets you say a lot in a small space. A custom logo makes you look more established and trustworthy. Customers feel like they can depend on you to stick around and continue to provide support to them because you took the time to create a solid brand for your business.

    Another perk to having a custom logo is that it acts as a sort of visual shorthand for your business.

    Anytime customers and website visitors see your content online or receive a letter embossed with your logo, they know it’s yours. And since they trust you already, this just further reinforces that trust, which results in more sales and more sharing about you with their network (which results in even MORE sales).

    It’s a win all around.

    There will come a point in your business life when you’re ready to hire this out to a pro, but if you’re just getting started or have a small budget, then learning how to design a custom logo yourself is worth the effort. All you need are some step-by-step instructions and examples.

    Related: Collection of resources for building a brand

    How to design a logo in 12 steps

      1. Learn some custom logo design best practices.
      2. Pre-work brainstorm.
      3. Choose a design tool.
      4. Pick a font for your custom logo.
      5. Purchase some premium graphic elements (optional).
      6. Get your file set up.
      7. Stack logo text creatively (in black and white).
      8. Play with graphics and icons.
      9. Try different arrangements and stacking.
      10. Add a border or background.
      11. Rearrange and test at different dimensions.
      12. Mock up your logo for different formats and sizes.

    Finally, we’ll go over some custom logo design tips for success.

    To help get you started, we’re going to practice with custom design for a fake company. Teresa is opening up a wedding photography business in her hometown in Seattle, Wash. She’ll be using her logo on her website, business cards and flyers, as well as on custom printed swag that she’ll gift to her clients.

    She’s in the wedding industry right now but wants the ability to branch out into other types of photography in future. The name of her business is Engaging Photography.

    Ready to help design Teresa’s custom logo? We’ll do a little pre-work and then walk through this process using her fictitious logo as an example. Feel free to follow along at home.

    1. Learn some custom logo design best practices

    Before we dig into actual design, it’s important to learn some custom logo design best practices. When you see how some of the big brands handle this, it will likely spark some ideas for your project, too.

    Try it with just text

    One of the most helpful things to keep in mind when designing a logo is simplicity. This is true for professional designers and non-designers alike.

    The smart option for a first timer is to just use your business name by itself in text form.

     

    No fancy icons or illustrations. Start learning how to design a logo with a font that makes sense.

    There are more nuances and decisions that go into adding illustrations or graphics to your design so if you dip into that idea too soon, you run the risk of having an amateur-looking logo.

    Logo Design Coca Cola Example

    One inspirational example of a logo made entirely from words is Coca-Cola. They probably tweaked this logo when they created it but it’s essentially just a fancy swirly font. You can get this kind of effect with your logo design easily.

    I strongly suggest you stick to one or two fonts maximum if you go this route.

    I prefer to pick one font family that has several thicknesses to choose from so I can combine two styles of the same font into a single, cohesive logo with a naturally stylish look.

    Create in black and white to start (no color)

    Playing with color in your logo is super fun, but I want you to hold off on this in the beginning.

    The truth is that when you actually are using your logo out in the wild, you’re sometimes going to be stuck with a grayscale version. Either for cost reasons (color is expensive) or because your logo was snagged to be shared on social media and your colors were altered.

    You need your logo to stand on its own whether it’s in color or not.

     

    Another reason to start in black and white is because you want to focus on your shape and concept first. If you dive into color too soon it can be very distracting and actually makes it harder to hone in on a strong logo design because you’re depending on color too much.

    Logo Design Apple Example

    You don’t want color to do all the heavy lifting. You want your logo to be rock-solid first, then add color later. Or if your brand is light on color, maybe it stays black, white or gray.

    The point is, you want a recognizable brand whether color is there or not.

    Just like with the Apple logo. You’ve seen this a million times I’m sure, and you never wonder what company it represents. No matter the color, this is clearly the Apple logo every time.

    Keep it scalable and versatile

    Your logo needs to look amazing whether it’s blown up huge on a billboard, or printed onto small flyers. If you use a ton of text in your design or overwhelm it with patterns and layers of imagery, that’s all going to become a muddy, unrecognizable mess when it’s shrunk to the size of a business card.

    If you design your logo with variations of text and no text, then you can strip out the nonessentials for smaller usage, like when you need to turn your logo into the “favicon” that shows up in the tab of your internet browser.

    Logo Design Taco Bell ExampleBe sure to resize your logo and test it out at different dimensions to make sure it still looks great.

    One example of a well-known logo that works whether it has text or not (and at different sizes) is the Taco Bell logo. You recognize this easily whether it’s big or small.

    Watch your balance and alignment

    One major thing to focus on when you learn how to design a logo is balance. If things are off balance in your design, then people feel subconsciously uneasy, and have trouble trusting you.

    A well-balanced logo design feels solid, strong and trustworthy.

     

    Portraying that balanced feeling is subtle but has a lot of impact — so it’s worth it to pay attention to this with your custom logo design.

    One tip for keeping things balanced is to make sure you are aligning portions of your design properly. If you’re using Photoshop, turn on the smart guides and use the Align Panel to help with this. You don’t want to guess about where the center is on your design; use these tools to do it perfectly, easily.

    Related: 5 must-know Photoshop tricks for beginners

    Logo Design Twitter Example

    You also want to make sure your fonts work well together, size-wise. Use all the same size, or at a contrast that looks nice.

    The basic idea is to get every part of the logo to flow well together. Nothing way taller or wider, too loud or too quiet, or the balance will be thrown off.

    An example of a nicely balanced logo is the Twitter bird. Note how all the curves are the same angle as one another. It has perfect symmetry with pleasing proportions and alignments.

    Use your words (or not)

    Many of the most famous logos in our lives, like Nike and McDonalds, are recognizable even without words included. So it’s easy to drop all the words for uses where only a small image can fit. You may be wondering how to do this if you’ve designed your logo entirely out of text.

    Sometimes for long business names, you can just use the initials as the logo or a decorative piece that accompanies it.

    Take a look at your design in the early stages and ask yourself what happens to your logo if you take away an element like the tagline. Does it still work? If so, maybe you don’t need it there at all.

    There’s no room for fluff in your logo design.

     

    As you learn how to design a logo, remember every piece should be intentional and deliberate.

    One example of a design that works well with words and without them is the Adidas logo. See how it’s effective either way?

    Custom Logo Design Adidas 1 Example

     

    Custom Logo Design Adidas 2 Example

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    2. Pre-work brainstorm

    It’s important to take 20 to 30 minutes before you get started and set a really solid foundation for learning how to design a logo. Ask yourself these questions:

    What image are you trying to convey?

    When you sit down to pick a symbol that represents your company, you have to be very clear on what image you’re trying to put out into the world.

    What’s your brand personality?

    • If you are in a more serious field like accounting or financial services, then a cartoon character doesn’t make sense.
    • If you sell children’s toys, however, then a cartoon character is a perfect fit.

    Custom logo design is like choosing how to dress. You head to the office in your business casual clothing, not a clown costume … unless you’re a clown. Take a few moments to think about how your business would dress itself.

    How can you represent your image, visually?

    Now that you’re clear on the image you want to convey, think about what kind of visual best represents that.

    If you run a yoga studio, then a lotus flower or bubbling brook might fit the bill for the relaxing feel you’re creating. If you’re a landscaper, maybe you want to use a leaf or a lawnmower in your design.

    There’s no need to get too clever with this. Obvious works. And don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel, either. Take a look at what other businesses in your industry are using to visually represent their brands.

    Inspiration is everywhere.

    Related: How to design a killer logo for your landscaping business 

    What parts of your name and tagline are critical?

    Look closely at your business name. Is it really long plus an accompanying tagline — or is it short? Since logos aren’t just used on websites, you need to plan for occasions when the area it fits into are constrained. Like the pocket of a T-shirt, for example, or the back of a baseball cap.

    Printed promotional materials have different needs from digital ones.

     

    If your logo name is long, it’s essentially becoming a wide but short rectangle. What if you need it to fit into a square space?

    Consider some variations of your design where wording is stacked so it fits well into these applications. I’ll show you how to do this with Teresa’s logo in the tutorial section below.

    Where will you be displaying your logo?

    You need to be super practical here. Is your logo going to be on a billboard? Or lapel pins? Or both?

    Keep your logo as simple as possible so it’s recognizable from a distance or up close. Big or small.

    And if wording needs to be included, make sure the font is readable at all sizes. Display fonts like fancy scripts are sometimes hard to read at small sizes.

    Related: Website typography basics for online businesses

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    3. Choose a design tool

    The next thing you want to do is choose a design tool to work in. Your best options on the market right now for custom logo design tools are:

    • Photoshop
    • Canva
    • PicMonkey
    • WordSwag

    Professional designers would likely use Adobe Illustrator, but it’s very advanced so I don’t recommend it for beginners. Canva, PicMonkey and WordSwag are excellent for beginners.

    For purposes of this article, I’ll be showing you the steps in Photoshop screenshots.

    Just make sure that whatever design tool you end up choosing can create crisp designs and has the ability to save out transparent .png files. And if the tool also gives you the ability to use high-quality fonts you’ve purchased, that’s even better.

    As we learn how to design a logo, let’s look at these four design tools in some detail.

    Photoshop

    Photoshop is a “raster” image-editing tool. This means it uses pixels (tiny squares) to create images. This has advantages and disadvantages.

    It’s great because it gives you incredible control over every aspect of your design. The disadvantage of using a pixel-based tool is the risk your design will look blurry.

    Sometimes working with a large file to start with will help offset this issue. When learning how to design a logo in Photoshop, you’ll want to save it out as a transparent PNG file. This ensures the custom logo stays crisp and doesn’t look blurry in the final version.

    That’s the advantage Illustrator has over Photoshop. Illustrator is a “vector” based tool (no pixels) so lines stay sharp and focused at any size.

    Like I said above, it’s pretty complex so not the best tool for non-designers, but your end results will look more polished and professional once you’ve mastered this tool.

    Canva

    Canva, on the other hand, does work with vectors. So it’s a great choice for your custom logo creation because you can feel confident that your final exported logo will be crisp. No pixelation worries here.

    Note that Canva comes with some fonts of its own, but if you want to use custom ones you’ve purchased, then you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version of Canva.

    Related: How to use Canva to create branded images in less than an hour

    PicMonkey

    PicMonkey is a paid program, and a popular alternative to Photoshop. It’s a photo editing and graphic design program aimed at beginners.

    You can edit your photos, and create new items ranging from collages to social media posts and logos. There is a free tier but to get full use from the program, including the ability to use your own fonts, you’ll need the paid version.

    WordSwag

    WordSwag is an excellent mobile application option. Since it’s a phone application, (available on iOS and Android) you can create your logo from anywhere — no laptop required.

    The advantage of this app is that it is built to arrange words beautifully, and that’s what you want when you’re making your custom logo design. However, since the built-in fonts and layouts are limited, there is some risk that your logo will look similar to someone else’s. I wouldn’t worry too much about this, though, as your business name is unique so chances are slim someone would mimic you exactly.

    When you use WordSwag to create a logo, be sure you head to the “free photos” section because there’s an option for a transparent background there. You’ll need to pick that first, then add in your logo text. That way when you save the final file, it’s on a transparent background — a MUST for logo creation.

    Related: How to make Pinterest pins on your mobile phone

    Again, I’ll be designing our practice photography business logo in Photoshop.

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    4. Pick a font for your custom logo

    When you decide to create a unique one-of-a-kind custom logo for yourself, but it’s simple and text based, invest in a paid font. If you use a font that’s easily accessed by everyone else for free, there’s more risk that someone else’s logo will look too much like yours.

    High-quality fonts used to be hundreds of dollars, but these days you can find nice options for less than $30.

    One of the best places to buy your font is on Creative Market. And the great thing about this site is that when you are looking at a particular font, you can actually preview how it will look before buying.

    Just type your business name in the box, testing uppercase and lowercase letters.

    Let’s look at Stay Classy, a beautiful font duo option. A “duo” means it includes two versions of the font. In this case, it has a serif as well as a script version included in the package. And it’s only $22 for the standard license so it’s very affordable.

    Logo Design Stay Classy Font

    If you scroll down the page a little bit, you’ll find the box where you can type in your business. Let’s try it with Teresa’s logo. Type “Engaging Photography” into the box and it will show you a little preview of your text in both the serif and the script version.

    Logo Design Creative Market Name Box

    Try this out on a few fonts and then download and install your favorite.

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    5. Purchase some premium graphic elements (optional)

    While you’re on Creative Market, take a look through the icons and illustrations. There might be something perfect to add to your logo design.

    I know we were focusing on keeping our logo simple and text only to start, but I found this camera icon and since it’s only $3 there’s pretty much no risk in snagging it to try out.

    Logo Design Creative Market Camera Icon

    Important: Make sure to always check the licensing requirements before you buy any icons or fonts for your logo.

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    6. Get your file set up

    To help get you started we’re going to open up a new Photoshop file. If you’re learning how to design a logo at home, make it 8.5 inches wide by 11 inches tall (letter paper size) and 300dpi or higher. You’re probably not going to use the logo at this size, but it’s great for starting the design process.

    If you are using a vector program, the size doesn’t matter because you can make it bigger later (huge … like the billboard I mentioned earlier) and you won’t lose quality at all. But it’s completely cool to work with a smaller file now for your first DIY custom logo design early in your business. You probably won’t be making billboards anytime soon.

    Designing to printer paper dimensions makes it easier for you to print out some proofs of your design as you go along.

    The idea is to make it simple for you to print out at home because it’s easier to look at a design objectively when it’s printed on paper, compared with on your screen.

    How To Design A Logo Format File

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    7. Stack logo text creatively (in black and white)

    Next we’ll try arranging the words in different ways to find the best layout.

    When you’re in this step, think creatively about how to arrange the words and accompanying graphics, if applicable.

    If you put the pieces on different layers, you can move things around easily to see what looks best.

    You can also experiment with altering the text itself. You could try:

    • Thin and thick versions of the font
    • Bold or italic versions of the font
    • Uppercase
    • Lowercase
    • Drop-shadows
    • Outlines (called “stroke”)
    • Stacking words creatively
    • Overlapping letters
    • Staggering letters
    • Spacing out the letters
    • Pushing letters very close together
    • Combining items so they share a common letter or line

    Start simple, then slowly introduce a new treatment if it feels like you need it to emphasize or de-emphasize certain words in your design.

    Logo Design Example CNN]

    One company that’s leveraging the “Combining items so they share a common letter or line” method (last bullet from above) is CNN. The CNN logo has combined the two “Ns” together so they share a common line. Fonts aren’t designed to do this naturally, so you know it was an intentional decision.

    Now let’s tackle this with Teresa’s logo.

    The first thing I did was to type out her business name in a script font (Madina Script) that I had on hand. My thinking here is, it’s simple, and script fonts seem to fit in well with the wedding industry.

    But I’m a bit worried it won’t be readable at different sizes.

    How To Design A Logo Script Font

    So I’m going to switch to a simpler, sans-serif font (Brandon Grotesque) instead, and try it out in all caps.

    How To Design A Logo Sans Serif All Caps Font

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    8. Play with graphics and icons

    The last version looks nice but is pretty plain. I think we need to add a graphic to spice it up. Let’s pull out our camera icon and add it to the design.

    How To Design A Logo Name With Camera Graphic

    This looks much better. We could add a wedding ring shape to the circle on the camera lens, but we’re going to leave that off so Teresa isn’t stuck in the wedding niche with this design.

    The thickness of the lines on the camera are very close to the thickness of the lines on “Engaging Photography” and that’s good — it keeps it cohesive. But the overall layout is really wide.

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    9. Try different arrangements and stacking

    I think if we keep it to more of a square or skinnier rectangle shape, it will be more versatile and easier to use in tight spaces. So let’s try stacking the name.

    How To Design A Logo Stacking Name

    That’s looking really good. This design could fit well when centered on a page.

    But I know from experience that logos often get placed in the upper left corner of your page — either on your website or in a document. And this wouldn’t look good pressed up to a left edge. So we need an alternate version.

    How To Design A Logo Side Version

    Nice. This side-by-side version is a great alternative for upper left placement needs.

    However, I’m not in love with the empty space above the “PHY” on “Photography”. So how can we fix this? It’s pretty easy if we play with the size of the words.

    Let’s make “Engaging” wider so it is the exact same length as “Photography”.

    How To Design A Logo Font Size

    Then we can resize and rebalance all the pieces to fit together better and have edges line up to one another.

    How To Design A Logo Stack Alignment

    Perfect. This is going to look great centered or aligned to a left or right edge.

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    10. Add a border or background

    Let’s start exploring borders and backgrounds in our quest to learn how to design a logo.

    If you want your custom logo design to be more interesting and feel more contained, you can use a border, background or shape, around it.

    You could use a rectangle, square, circle or add a thick or thin border.

    Logo Example Baskin RobbinsFor example, Baskin Robbins has added a circle around their logo. (Fun fact about this logo: The pink portion of the “BR” looks like the number 31, which is the number of ice cream flavors that they offer.)

    We’re going to skip this step on Teresa’s logo because it’s looking great as is. We want to stick closely to our plan of keeping this design as simple as possible. A rectangle or box could easily be added later, though.

    I’m also not going to add color to Teresa’s logo because her brand is going to be very classic — black and white. Like a tuxedo, with a minimalist flair. She wants all the color to be expressed in the photographs with nothing to distract the viewer’s eye from her photos.

    But when you’re exploring color with your logo, there are some tips that might help.

    Most logos are three colors or less. There are always exceptions (like the NBC peacock) but for the most part, brands tend to use fewer colors. This is even more true in recent years, with trends toward flat and minimalist design. Think about the logos you see on a regular basis — Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. … They’re all a single color (blue is the most popular).

    Many of the food logos we see in our daily travels use the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. See how these play out in the Pizza Hut, Burger King, Domino’s and other restaurant logos below?

    Logo Color Examples for Famous Brands

    There is plenty to know about color theory in design, but you don’t need to worry much about that right now. There’s time to dig deep on that after you figure out how to design a logo, when your business is more established.

    For now, I’d say just go with what fits your industry and subject matter and your personal preferences. If it’s a personal brand, look in your closet. Your favorite colors are likely on display there.

    Related: How to choose brand colors and use them on your website

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    11. Rearrange and test at different dimensions

    We looked at arrangements and dimensions in the graphics and icons step. But let’s think a little deeper on that now. There are occasions where we might need a very abbreviated version of your custom logo design, like in the browser tab.

    You know the spot in your tabs in Chrome or Safari where there’s a tiny icon showing? That’s called a favicon.

    Usually, it doesn’t make sense to shrink down your entire logo and shove it in that spot. The text would be unreadable. What can we do with our custom logo design? We can just show the camera.

    Super easy.

    Just open up a Photoshop doc at 16x16px or 32×32 px, 72dpi. And put your camera in there. Save it out with a transparent background, and then upload it to your website building platform.

    It couldn’t be easier.

    If we hadn’t used the camera icon in our design, we could just use the initials “EP” instead. Maybe inside a circle or rectangle.

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    12. Mock up your logo for different formats and sizes

    Now that you’ve learned how to design a logo for your business, it’s time for some fun. Grab some ready-made mockups from Creative Market (or look on Google for some free ones) to put your logo on and visualize it in real-world settings. Look for mockups of business cards, stationery, T-shirts with logo pockets, water bottles, store signage. And yes, even billboards.

    Why not?

    How To Design A Logo Mockup
    Photo: Creative Makret

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    Custom logo design tips for success

    If you follow the above steps for how to design a logo, you’ll be off to a great start. But there are a few important custom logo design tips that I want to share with you to ensure your success.

    Be consistent

    You’re going to use your logo across many marketing channels, probably in print as well as digitally. So take the time to show off your brand in a consistent manner, using the same messaging, style of imagery, fonts and colors.

    This will inspire trust in your customers, and help with brand recognition.

    If you get lax with this and start mixing in different colors or odd font treatments, it dilutes your brand and makes you look unprofessional. So keep it consistent.

    Create a design that can evolve easily

    Remember keeping things simple? This holds true for logo evolutions as well. If it’s too complex, it will be a pain to change later. So try to keep just a few important elements intact like the primary color and font. Then if you need to upgrade it later, it can be done with just a few small tweaks and the main identifying features remain intact.

    That’s why we didn’t add a wedding ring to the circular shape on the camera icon.

    Teresa wants to be able to pivot her business focus and not be limited to just weddings in the future. By keeping the icon ring-free, she can easily use it in a new photography business without editing the logo at all.

    Order some swag with your logo printed on it

    There’s nothing that makes your new logo seem more real than custom printed swag. Seeing your logo printed on Nalgene bottles, notebooks, T-shirts etc., really makes you feel like a legitimate business.

    So take a minute and order yourself some goodies.

    And grab extras so you can hand them out around town. Giving clients, and potential clients a custom water bottle with your logo on it keeps it top of mind way better than yet another business card in their overstuffed wallet. I consider this the celebratory and most fun step of the logo design process.

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    Ready to design your custom logo?

    Now that we’ve walked through the steps for designing a simple custom logo, I hope it seems more approachable and accessible. If you want to DIY your custom logo design, follow these steps and walk away with a well-planned logo that works beautifully for multiple platforms and uses.

    But if you go through the tutorial and still feel unsure, don’t be shy about hiring a designer.

    Many people are nervous about talking with designers. They don’t know how designers work … it all seems to come together as if by magic. And there’s usually some worry about cost. But you can absolutely find an affordable solution and approachable, helpful designers to guide you.

    So how are you feeling so far? Ready to fire up Photoshop or need a little help with custom logo design? If it’s the latter, check out GoDaddy’s Logo Design Service for an affordable logo by talented, professional designers.

    This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Julie Deneen and Jennifer Dunn.

    The post How to design a logo in 12 steps — A DIY guide appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    When building a marketing strategy for your business, it’s key to make your social media and email marketing strategies work together. Strategize well on both channels, and your social media and email strategies will keep you top-of-mind and at the top of those customer inboxes.

    Why do social media and email marketing need to work together?

    59% of companies have integrated their social media and email marketing channels, according to eConsultancy

    Together, your social media posts and email campaigns can maximize your brand’s impact with your target audience. You can find new customers (through social media). And, at the same time, stay relevant with your fans (through email marketing). 

    • Social media platforms help you reach a wide variety of potential customers, and email marketing helps you build and nurture relationships with those customers.
    • Social media is a great way to spread the word about your business to new customers, and email marketing keeps those customers engaged with your business. 

    90% of brands use social media to increase brand awareness, according to Hootsuite.

    You can introduce new customers to your business with great social media content, and then, use email marketing to keep them up-to-date. You can use both channels to give your customers incentives to make a purchase or come visit your shop. 

    66% of online shoppers made a purchase after receiving a message through email, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

    We have what you need to make your social media and email marketing work together. Start building brand loyalty with new and potential customers with these key tips:

    Claim and optimize all social media pages

    Take a look at all of your social media pages before you use an email newsletter to drive traffic there. You want your social media presence to look polished and professional. Claim any unofficial pages and optimize any existing pages you’re running (with great photos and up-to-date information).

    Once you claim and update your listings, you will have control over your business’s online brand, voice and reputation. That way, when your email subscribers click to find you online, everything will be up-to-date and looking great. 

    Collect those emails!

    You can build your subscriber list with both online and in-store tactics. In store, try a sign up sheet at your host stand or next to your register. On your website and social media, you can add a space where interested customers can enter their email to sign up or subscribe. It’s also a great idea to use social media posts to drive your followers to your email list.

    Get your social media followers to subscribe

    Many of your social media followers are your most loyal fans. They want to hear from you and know everything that’s happening in your business. So, get them to subscribe to your emails so you can spread the word! Just keep in mind that you should give your social media followers a reason to subscribe. Let them know that your communication will include news about new products, and especially, deals. Most people are looking to receive email communication for deals and discounts. 

    70% of subscribers open marketing emails in search of a discount or a special deal, according to eConsultancy. 

    Create posts on Facebook and Twitter with links to subscribe to your email list and pin them to the top of your feed, offering incentives for customers to subscribe. 

    You can give your followers a coupon or discount for subscribing. For example, Sign up for our emails and get 10% off your next purchase!

    On Instagram, you can use your Story to remind your followers that they should sign up to hear news and receive promotions from you. A good caption for a post like this would be, “Sign up for our email newsletter for our best deals and steals. Link in bio!” (Just make sure you’ve changed the link in your Instagram bio to your email sign up link!) 

    One post is not enough, though. Think about posting a monthly reminder on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get your followers excited about receiving your newsletter and/or email campaigns. 

    Send your subscribers to social media

    Give your email subscribers the opportunity to engage with your social media content in every email you send. Add social media icons with links to your pages at the bottom of your templates. Mix in links to your best social media posts to keep those readers clicking to your pages. 

    You can really pump up your best Facebook, Twitter and Instagram content by incorporating your posts into the body of your emails. 

    Think about it: The people who want to receive email content from you are more likely to interact and engage with your social media content. 

    And, every one of those interactions and shares has the chance to get your content in front of new eyes. 

    A subscriber might see a social media post they like in an email, then visit your page and give you a follow. If they’re already following you, they might like and share that post with their friends. Their friends will see this on their timelines and, now they might follow you, too!

    Interacting with both your email subscribers and your social media followers in a meaningful way can increase your brand awareness and drive real results for your business. Get a strategy in place for both your social media and email marketing channels to build relationships with new and loyal customers.

    Now, go forth, and use both social media and email marketing together to bring customers in the door!

    Editor’s note: GoDaddy Social offers a variety of products to help you develop relationships with your customers — including our social media services and our professionally designed, branded email campaigns. Get started with us here.

    The post Make social media and email marketing work together appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Our Malware Research and Incident Response teams work diligently around the clock to identify and stay ahead of the website security threat landscape—and we’re dedicated to sharing our knowledge and publishing our findings.

    In the spirit of security education, we’ve curated a selection of our most popular posts and discoveries from June to help you protect your website.

     

    Why your website’s SEO makes it a target for attackers

    Sucuri eats, sleeps and breathes website security. We deal with thousands of hacked sites every day, and one of the most common attack scenarios we see are spam infections.

    When a website is infected with spam for a long enough period, search authorities like Google or Bing commonly blacklist them from their search results or display warnings that the site may be hacked. This can have a significant impact on a website’s traffic – and ability to generate revenue from organic traffic.

    Even small sites make attractive targets for bad actors.

    Website owners who think their small site makes them less of a target may be surprised to find out that factors like website size doesn’t contribute to the likelihood of a website being targeted for malicious spam campaigns. In this post, we explain why.

    So, what does a spam infection look like?

    Spam content can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but typically includes spam links to legitimate pages or doorways that redirect web searchers to spam sites.

    From a visitor’s perspective, spam keywords often appear in search results and web pages. Discount fashion, pharmaceutical, and gambling are among the most common types of SEO spam. It’s not uncommon for spammers create tens of thousands of pages on your site in order to rank for their keywords.

    Why would attackers target my small site?

    When a bad actor injects malicious spam on a website, they usually link back to a website to promote their clients’ content.

    After a website is created, it starts to accrue domain authority and pagerank. New websites start to become relevant to search engines after a few months of creation, which is around the time that they become attractive to attackers.

    By leveraging your own website’s domain authority and page authority, attackers are effectively raising their pagerank and increasing the visibility of their campaigns.

    Another common reason for an attacker to target your site is to increase your spam score, which indirectly promotes another website. They may also leverage your website to redirect web searchers with doorway links.

    How do I avoid spam infections?

    We’ve got a few simple recommendations for you to mitigate the risk of a website spam infection:

    • Keep your CMS and software up-to-date.
    • Remove unused third-party components (like plugins and themes).
    • Choose strong passwords and change them regularly.
    • Use a password manager.

    Read more from the original post by Douglas Santos. 

     

    Why do hackers hack?

    When a website gets hacked, a natural question that often comes up for website owners is, “Why was my site targeted?”

    It may feel deeply personal for a website owner — but in the majority of cases, these attacks are actually opportunistic and based purely on automation.

    Automation is key in today’s website attacks.

    In fact, bad actors aren’t always so fussy about what kind of business you’re running, who your customers are, or how much traffic you’re getting. Instead, their motivations are centered around a few main areas: resources or financial gain.

    Resource Motivation

    When an attacker targets a website for it’s resources, they’re looking to leverage assets like your server, pagerank and domain authority — or simply add your site to a large-scale malware campaign. The actual target might even be another website on your host or shared server.

    Some examples of exploits that fall under the resource category include SEO spam, pharma spam, and defacements.

    Financial Motivation

    Bad actors frequently seek out vulnerable websites for valuable data such as credit card information, contact information, and login credentials like usernames and passwords.

    Examples of how this data is used include selling the information for a profit on the darknet, generating advertising revenue, or maintaining access to websites to collect personal information.

    Sometimes, an attacker will hack a website just to prove that they can. Or, they might build their reputation and campaigns by obtaining valuable information from compromised websites.

    Read more from the original post by Pilar Garcia. 

     

    Website reinfections from FTP passwords

    Logs are extremely valuable for website owners. While reviewing a website’s logs may seem like a daunting task for some users, they keep an important record of what actions have been performed on a website, and by whom.

    Typical log entries consist of the following values:

    current-time   transfer-time remote-host   file-size filename transfer-type   special-action-flag direction access-mode   username service-name authentication-method authenticated-user-id completion-status

    This information can be used to identify important details – for example, what username transferred which file through FTP, and at what specific time.

    Using FTP logs to determine attack vectors

    In a recent investigation, we had access to the logs and were able to perform forensics on a website seeing frequent reinfections.

    What we discovered was while the website was initially compromised on February 7th and cleaned up shortly afterwards, the FTP passwords were not reset. The following week, the website was compromised again and new malware was uploaded.

    By using the website logs, we were able to identify which usernames were associated with the initial and subsequent compromises and malicious file uploads.

    If your website has been compromised, we strongly encourage site administrators to reduce the risk of a website reinfection by practicing good password hygiene.

    Read more from the original post by Krasimir Konov. 

    Stay ahead of emerging threats. Subscribe to Sucuri’s Email Newsletter.

    The post Top website security posts by Sucuri – June 2019 appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    UAT (User Acceptance Testing) is the final testing phase for any software product and represents a crucial set of procedures in the software development lifecycle. Before a software product is launched on the market, it needs to be subject to UAT testing or it might just fall dead in the water upon release.

    You might know this testing phase as beta testing, app testing, or end-user testing. Regardless of the name you know, UAT testing refers to a set of testing steps taken right before making a software product available for sale.

    During this phase, the product can be available for free as a beta version, or it can be tested in-house. This article created by our team at Amelia, will discuss the meaning and importance of UAT testing, as well as the steps involved in the UAT testing process.

    Defining UAT Testing

    Many new developers have heard about UAT testing but don’t know much about the process itself. Fortunately, the full form of the acronym, User Acceptance Testing, is self-explanatory and refers to testing a pre-release product to see if it is acceptable for end users.

    Other people call it beta testing because it is the final phase in the process of developing a software product, and the version being tested is usually called a beta release.

    To elaborate on the question of “what UAT is”, it represents a somewhat well-defined series of test procedures that can be applied either by people who are selected as part of the target audience to which the software product will be sold or by in-house teams of software testers.

    The UAT phase essentially helps to detect unexpected errors, bugs, and other barriers to a smooth user experience so that the development team can correct them before the official launch.

    UAT Criteria

    Now you know what UAT testing is, it’s time to move on to the criteria that are taken into account when performing this testing phase. Overall, there is a set of requirements that needs to be respected during User Acceptance Testing for the best results.

    These requirements are set according to the software product that is being developed, as well as to the conditions set by the business which owns the product. Setting the right criteria for UAT testing ensures the success of the entire operation. Some popular entry criteria are:

    • Analyzing the business requirements and if they have been met
    • Having developed the application code fully and to all specifications
    • Completing unit, integration, and system testing before starting UAT testing
    • No major defects present before the final test phase – only cosmetic defects are allowed before UAT
    • Completing regression testing with little to no defects
    • All defects found before starting the UAT procedure should be fixed
    • The System Testing Team has sent approval for starting UAT

    Why Is UAT Testing So Important?

    The next question would be why do developers need User Acceptance Testing in the first place if the product is basically ready?

    Well, the answer is simple. Developers have a very technical way of creating a product and they interpret data and facts from a methodological point of view. Developers know when the software product is completed only when talking about code and functional specifications.

    This is where UAT intervenes. A functional product is not necessarily one that meets business standards and requirements. In order to adapt the product to real-life circumstances, it needs to go through the User Acceptance Testing process.

    This way, the product is verified by people who would like to work with the product and who will actually use the product on a regular basis.

    Whenever UAT testers notice that something is not right, they can send their feedback to the development team that can make further improvements. This is the safest way to improve a product and launch it without errors. The more time is invested in User Acceptance Testing, the better the software product will be in its final version.

    Without beta testing, the software product would not be validated and users who purchase it directly will be the ones to discover the errors and downsides of it. Instead of putting a broken software product to market use, it’s best to run UAT procedures and see what can be improved.

    Who Is Behind UAT Testing?

    Another confusion that is common when discussing UAT has to do with who performs it? User Acceptance Testing, as the name suggests, should generally be performed by regular users.

    Professional testers only deal with testing parts of the software product that are more technical. End users, on the other hand, are required to test their experience with the product as a whole.

    Product team members won’t have an objective perspective on the product when testing it. This is why UAT testing is performed by people who are outside the development team. Any person who is part of the development process will have a tunnel vision perspective which is not appropriate for testing.

    Moreover, developers tend to skip steps in the testing process because they already know how the product works, which is time-saving but very inefficient because unexpected problems can easily arise in non-standard usage.

    Secondly, UAT testing requires a genuine user reaction that gives some hints about whether the product is appreciated by the target audience members or not.

    UAT Testing Process Steps

    Now that you know what User Acceptance Testing is, let’s look at the steps involved in this process. Here’s a list with a short description of each step:

    Planning

    The planning stage involves outlining the strategy that will be applied during the UAT procedure. There are different strategies that can be used in this direction, but the team has to choose the strategy that aligns with business requirements and timelines.

    Test Scenarios

    After planning UAT testing, it’s time to identify different test scenarios. These refer to establishing what should happen in each situation and covering all the potential situations that may arise when using the software product. These are used to create test cases.

    Test Cases

    Test cases heavily rely on live data coming from the UAT process itself. Data is scrambled to avoid privacy issues and to keep the evaluation objective. When running the test cases, all encountered bugs and glitches need to be reported.

    For executing the test cases, developers use various Test Management tools.

    Business Requirements

    Finally, UAT testing analyzes whether the product respects business requirements or not. If the answer is positive, the product can be launched on the market.

    If there are still issues that need fixing, another round of UAT will be required after making the needed changes.

    UAT Testing Benefits

    Even though the investments in UAT are considerable, so are the benefits. UAT testing only requires 5% to 10% of the entire development process and it can save 30% of the time required for making additional fixes and changes. UAT testing is necessary for a good ROI score for such projects. Other benefits include:

    • Clients are more satisfied with the final version of the product.
    • Clients will know from the very beginning what the target audience thinks, how they react to the product, how the product behaves, and so on.
    • The quality of the product is verified through all stages of development.
    • Vendor communication is better, as they get information after each testing session.
    • The development team has an efficient, well-defined workflow.
    • Stakeholders know what the target audience wants through the feedback offered during UAT.

    Ending thoughts on UAT Testing

    As you may have noticed, UAT cannot be neglected. UAT testing can prevent the development team from making difficult changes or wasting time down the line, and can save the business from embarrassing uncaught mistakes.

    The testing process keeps both users and businesses happy, reduces a considerable amount of costs, saves time, and plenty more benefits that are worth considering.

    At the end of the day, a software product should never be launched without testing because users will discover bugs and errors. Even though they may be small, they will negatively affect the user experience and – with that – the sales of the company that owns the product.

    If you enjoyed reading this article about UAT Testing, you should read these as well:

    The post What Do You Need to Know About UAT Testing? appeared first on Amelia Booking WordPress Plugin.


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    So, your business is all set up on Instagram. You’re posting great content at a regular cadence and getting a fair amount of likes. But, you know you could be doing more to get more Instagram followers. 

    As a savvy Instagrammer, you know that more followers means more likes, and more likes means spreading more word-of-mouth about your business. You also know that spreading the word about your business, especially on Instagram, is a great way to get new customers in your door. But first, you have to get more Instagram followers.

    Get more Instagram followers

    1. Make your Instagram bio awesome
    2. Infuse your Instagram with personality
    3. Use effective hashtags to attract new followers
    4. Incorporate fan content into your Instagram Stories

    Make your Instagram bio awesome

    Find your voice and put together an Instagram bio that scores clicks to get more Instagram followers.

    You want people who are likely to follow and engage with your business on Instagram to find you easily. This means that your Instagram bio should represent who you are and show off what you’re all about. It should also have the right link (since Instagram bios can only include one!)

    Consider that your bio link is often your first introduction to a potential customer. In this example, The Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans, LA says, “A Garden District gem — Established in 1927.” Right away, you know their location and that they’re a long-standing establishment in NOLA. Then, they point to their link.

    The Pontchartrain says, “Book your stay with us!” ahead of the link. It’s important to tell your visitors what to do next in your bio. Help them take the next step to book with you.

    They also included a hashtag in their bio — the popular and localized, “#FollowYourNOLA.” If this makes sense for your business, think about using a widely-used hashtag. Or, you can always add your own branded hashtag if you want to encourage your followers to use it in their posts. 

    Adding these elements to your bio will make it easy to get more Instagram followers (and more business!) when users come across your page.

    Infuse your Instagram with personality

    Your business has a unique personality, and so does your Instagram! Don’t be afraid to use your authentic voice, incorporate humor and have fun with everything you’re posting to get more Instagram followers.

    Instagram users appreciate authenticity. They want to engage with content that feels genuine and real. And, they’re astute at identifying content that’s either lazy or trying too hard. So, go for the voice that feels like you! They’ll appreciate getting to know the real personality behind your business. Your genuine vibe will only help you get more Instagram followers.

    How can you infuse personality into your content? Try using user-generated content, questions and team shout outs. 

    User-generated content

    Have you started using user-generated content, yet? Your customers are giving you great content to repost. Take advantage and share their posts on your feed to get more Instagram followers!

    Here’s an example from East Austin Hotel in Austin, TX. They loved a photo posted by another user, so, they shared it on their account and gave him credit in their caption by saying “📸: @ryann_ford⁣.” 

    Questions

    You can also use your Instagram captions as a good time to ask your audience questions to encourage engagement and get more Instagram followers. It can be as simple as “How do you take your coffee?” like the Graduate Seattle Hotel in Seattle, WA asks in the example below. 

    Or, you can ask your audience for feedback like, “What’s your favorite dish on our menu?” or “If you could have the recipe to any of our dishes, what would it be?” paired with a photo of a fan favorite. 

    Showcase your team

    It’s also never wrong to show off your team. It gives your employees a shout out, and it presents a familiar face to the people who love and follow your business. 

    Here’s an example from M3Yoga in Athens, GA wishing one of their instructors a “Happy Birthday.” You can see in their comments that their followers sent lots of birthday wishes as well:

    If people searching for your business see varied content like this that incorporates content from their fans, interactive captions and posts and team appreciation, they’ll be attracted to your account. If they love what you’re doing, you’ll be sure to get more Instagram followers.

    Related: 5 ways to upgrade your business’s Instagram strategy

    Use effective hashtags to attract new followers

    Hashtags create great visibility for a post or campaign on Instagram and can help you reach your target audience to increase your following. In addition to adding any brand hashtags you’ve created to your posts, (70% of hashtags on Instagram are branded!), use relevant hashtags that you know your audience already follows. That way, anyone searching for a hashtag relevant to your business will come across your page and could become a new follower. 

    This Washington, D.C. restaurant, Rose’s Luxury, posted their newest selection of cocktails on Instagram with effective hashtags:

    The descriptive caption is followed by branded, industry and local hashtags. They also break it down to individualized neighborhood hashtags to make sure they reach their community members. 

    Branded hashtags: #rosesluxurydc 

    Industry hashtags: #michelinguide, #foodandwine

    Local hashtags: #thrillistdc #dclife #eaterdc #dcdining

    Neighborhood hashtags: #capitolhill, #easternmarket, #barracksrow

    Users can discover content by searching hashtags on their own or tapping through related posts for a particular hashtag. If they are searching for one of those hashtags above, they will likely come across the post from Rose’s Luxury. Seeing a great post like this might make them follow their account and like their posts. This is the kind of attention Rose’s Luxury is working for to get more Instagram followers through effective hashtags.

    Related: How to hashtag on Instagram and Twitter

    Incorporate fan content into your Instagram Stories

    Take your followers along for the ride — repost from customer Stories to your Story to get more Instagram followers. 

    Fun fact: 70 percent of Instagram users watch Stories on a daily basis.

    Keep an eye on your fans who are posting about your business in their Instagram Stories, then share that content on your own Story!

    Here’s how you do it:

    • If a user mentions you in his or her Story — the Story will appear in your DMs.
    • In your DMs, click the “Add this to Your Story” prompt that appears there. 
    • In the Story creation screen, resize the Story and add stickers, text and more to the background.
    •  Share that user-generated content with your followers. 

    Remember, users are more likely to trust recommendations from strangers than from their friends and family. 

    86% of millennials say that user-generated content is an indicator that a brand or service is good quality. 

    Every time you share user-generated content into your Instagram Story, it’s like sharing a mini testimonial from people who love your business. And, like all of these ideas, it’s a great way to get more Instagram followers!

    Editor’s note: Want to get more Instagram followers? GoDaddy Social can help you with all of your Instagram needs. Get started with us here.

    The post 4 ways to get more Instagram followers appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Can people really be making money on YouTube? This is a question many of us have thought to ourselves — after all, we’ve heard the success stories of how much money some of the top influencers make through advertising and sponsorships.

    The reality is, yes, you can make money on YouTube — and if you are creative and strategic enough, you can earn good money doing it.

    If you’re an entrepreneur looking for ways to monetize YouTube, consider the guide below as a starting point.

    How do you make money on YouTube? Four revenue tracks to consider.

    The tactics in this guide will show you:

    1. How to earn money on YouTube through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).
    2. How to get started with sponsored videos.
    3. Why you should consider selling your own goods or services.
    4. How to use branding, SEO and marketing to earn more money on YouTube.

    Let’s dive in.

    1. Join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP)

    Starting in January 2018, YouTube changed its monetization policy to gain more control over their users’ ability to earn revenue through the platform. Now, users must apply and be accepted into the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) before they are able to monetize their content and channel directly.

    Not only is there an application process, but there are minimum eligibility requirements. The threshold to being admitted into the YouTube Partner Program:

    To apply for the YouTube Partner Program, follow these steps:

    1. Log in to your YouTube account.
    2. Navigate to the Creator Studio.
    3. Using the left menu, select “Status and features” under the channel section.
    4. Select “Enable” under the monetization section.
    5. Complete the steps and apply.

    Note: As of March 8, 2019, YouTube notified users that the application process to be accepted into the YouTube Partner Program is taking longer than one month.

    Once accepted into the YPP, you will have access to creator resources, tools and support. But, most importantly, you’ll be able to start earning money on your content directly.

    Below are some of the monetization options for YouTube users within the YPP.

    Earn money with AdSense

    YouTube is a subsidiary of Google. As such, they allow users to monetize their videos using one of Google’s other products — AdSense. Google AdSense is a free service that connects publishers with relevant advertisers. If you’re an approved publisher, when a viewer lands on your video, they might see an advertisement related to your audience or content.

    If that viewer clicks the ad, you get paid.

     

    Advertisers are looking for channels to reach their target audience, and YouTubers want to monetize their video content.

    AdSense provides a bridge for those two objectives. As it relates to the earning potential of AdSense on YouTube, it’s estimated that creators earn between $3 and $10 per 1,000 viewer engagements, which for someone who can generate 10,000 views a day can be $300 or more.

    To start earning money from your YouTube channel with AdSense, you’ll need to have an active AdSense account. If you don’t already have an AdSense account, you can apply for one here.

    There is more to AdSense than just signing up. You will need to make some decisions about the type of advertisements you want to display and the format of those ads on your channel.

    If you want to block specific brands or sensitive categories, such as religion, gambling, sexuality, etc., you can do so within the AdSense dashboard. You can also dictate the ad experience to a certain extent by choosing the ad format on your videos or channels.

    How Do You Make Money On YouTube Monetization PreferencesRelated: How to use YouTube for successful digital marketing

    Benefit from YouTube Premium revenue

    While ads are the most common revenue stream for YouTubers, a second monetization option for YPP members is shared revenue from YouTube Premium views.

    YouTube Premium is a service from YouTube that allows viewers to pay a monthly subscription to view original and ad-free content in addition to downloading videos for offline viewing.

    The users benefit from a friendlier experience and YouTube benefits by receiving a direct revenue stream irrespective of ad interactions.

    If viewers are not being shown ads, how are your earnings determined? YouTube distributes a percentage of its revenue to creators based on the number of viewers and length of time spent viewing your content.

    YouTube Premium and its revenue-sharing model incentivize creators to continue to produce high-quality videos, which in turn provides value to its viewers through premium, original content.

    Add the Channel Memberships feature

    Do you have a highly engaged following? If so, you might want to see if your YouTube channel is eligible for channel memberships.

    YouTube’s channel membership feature allows select channels to offer special rewards and perks to viewers who subscribe and pay a monthly fee. In exchange for being a paying member to a channel, the viewer might gain access to exclusive content, live chats or other bonuses like custom badges or emojis. These small perks provide additional value to the end user in exchange for a small, recurring payment.

    Creators earn 70% of the monthly membership fee after sales tax.

     

    In other words, channel memberships can be an excellent revenue source for YouTubers who can find creative ways to incentivize paying members.

    Sell products with merchandise shelf

    YouTube has also designed a feature for creators who offer merchandise to their fans — known as the merchandise shelf. If you live in one of the approved countries and have more than 10,000 subscribers, you might be eligible to start earning money with YouTube’s merchandise shelf.

    This feature is pretty straightforward in that it allows YouTube channels to display up to 12 items from the creator’s Teespring merch page (this feature is only eligible for products created on Teespring).

    YouTube is also incentivizing creators to push this revenue stream by offering an additional $1 per item sold through the merchandise shelf on top of the revenue earned through the sale of the merch.

    If you’ve built a loyal fanbase and have a marketable brand, the merchandise shelf could be an additional way to earn money on YouTube outside of the more traditional advertising models.

    Enable the Super Chat function

    Lastly, within the YPP, creators can monetize their channels through another feature called Super Chat.

    Super Chat allows viewers to pay to have their comments pinned to a live video or chat messages.

    The more a viewer pays, the more prominent their message. This enables your followers to feel more connected to your content and gives them the opportunity to interact with you directly. As a result, you receive a percentage of the fee they paid to feature their comment.

    2. Sponsored video: Become an affiliate or sponsor other brands

    How Do You Make Money On YouTube Counting Money

    The traditional way of making money on YouTube has always been the YouTube Partner Program. But how do you make money on YouTube if you’re not part of the YPP? In fact, there are many other ways to use YouTube to drive revenue beyond AdSense and other YPP monetization features.

    One of the best ways to generate revenue through your YouTube channel without relying on YPP is through the marketing of other brands: aka influencer marketing.

    Most followers of YouTube channels have distinctly similar demographic and psychographic characteristics — for brands targeting those markets, partnering with a channel that already has a following allows the brand to circumvent the time and resources necessary to build their own, engaged audience on YouTube.

    Instead, they can simply pay the creator to market their products or services to their viewers in an organic and engaging manner.

    The direct line to a targeted audience isn’t the only benefit to using a YouTube influencer; brands can also mitigate the expense of creating content while also acquiring some of the trust that viewers have for the YouTuber.

    In other words, sponsored videos on a YouTube channel are like micro-celebrity endorsements.

     

    We know brands value YouTube sponsorships, but just how much? It’s estimated that YouTube creators can earn about $2,000 per 100,000 followers when working with sponsored videos.

    If you do decide to go the sponsored videos route, remember that you need to follow FTC guidelines for sponsored content and mark your video as an advertisement.

    Also, keep your audience in mind as you create the sponsored content. They are following you for a reason, and if you start posting too much promotional content or videos that are outside the scope of your typical content, you might lose your viewers.

    Related: How to work with brand influencers when you don’t have a budget

    3. Sell your own goods or services

    Another way to use your channel to generate revenue is to create and sell your own products or services.

    YouTubers can go beyond the merchandise store’s Teespring page and create their own online store through an eCommerce platform. Then, using the reach of their YouTube channel, they can attract and convert viewers into paying customers.

    While most YouTubers will go the merchandise or branded swag route such as T-shirts, coffee mugs, hats or bags, the more innovative you are the better.

    For example, if you publish motivational or inspiring videos on your YouTube channel, consider writing and publishing a physical book or eBook. Or, maybe you can sell individual consulting or mentoring calls to interested viewers.

    When it comes to using YouTube to generate revenue through your own products or services, it’s all about finding creative ways to market your talents or goods. Think outside the box and look for ways to offer value to your viewers beyond the normal merchandise.

    4. Leverage branding, SEO and marketing to make more money on YouTube

    How Do You Make Money On YouTube Logo On Mobile

    Now that you know how to earn money on YouTube, it’s time to look at how to actually succeed at generating revenue with your YouTube channel. While getting accepted into the YPP or finding sponsorship opportunities are nice, you should aim to create steady and sustainable revenue streams.

    Here are three ways to do that.

    Build an engaged audience and following

    First and foremost, the only way you are going to earn substantial revenue on YouTube is to have an engaged and active fanbase. If you are not able to generate views on your videos consistently, you’ll struggle to earn much money on YouTube.

    The best way to build a successful YouTube channel is to create high-quality content.

    This might sound easy, but it’s incredibly difficult. Producing a great video takes time, strategy, creativity, execution and skill. Moreover, you must frequently post great videos on your channel. If you fail to meet viewers’ quality expectations, they could unsubscribe — if you go on a hiatus from posting videos, you risk losing the attention of your viewers.

    Take time to develop your channel identity before you start publishing a lot of videos.

     

    Emphasize understanding your target audience and be methodical about developing your brand voice.

    By taking a measured approach, you can create content that is specifically targeting the views, interests and problems of your target market — thus, setting your channel up for success.

    Optimize your channel and videos

    Another way to increase your chances of success on YouTube is to make sure you understand and implement optimization techniques for your channel and videos.

    Most YouTube creators are not SEO experts and might not even realize that YouTube is a search engine. But, much like its parent company Google, YouTube uses an algorithm to display content that it deems most relevant to various searches.

    When you type “best domain registrar” into YouTube’s search bar, it’s using hundreds of internal signals to determine which video is best to display.

    Much like with traditional search engines, subtle nuances can have drastic effects on your rankings for various searches. Understanding the basics of YouTube SEO can help you improve the organic visibility of your videos, which can help you drive more views and subscribers.

    From video keyword research and exact match titles to tagging and strategic descriptions, invest a few hours learning the ropes of SEO for YouTube and continue to test techniques to help you improve your view count.

    Market your brand and videos off YouTube

    While the goal is to use YouTube as a revenue-generating channel, you aren’t limited to using the video content on YouTube alone. In fact, the best YouTube channels have active websites and social media channels where they distribute content.

    YouTube is just one of the many communication mediums for your brand — not the only one.

    Find creative ways to market your brand and videos on your own website and other social platforms.

    You can up your digital marketing game with GoDaddy’s Online Marketing tools — from easy DIY solutions like email marketing to managed services such as SEO. Using these skills, you can grow a channel-agnostic brand online.

    Entrepreneurs who can build a brand that is not dependent on one specific channel for revenue stand the best chance of sustaining success in the long run.

    If you invest all your eggs into one basket (YouTube) and the platform makes a change that hurts your ability to drive revenue, you will be left out to dry — just look at Vine or Myspace.

    Get started

    By following these four revenue tracks — and some patience and hard work — you can start making money on YouTube.

    Once you decide on how you’re going to make money on YouTube, you need to get a plan in place to market your YouTube channel.

    Beyond monetizing your YouTube account, you’ll need to claim your social media handles, create a website that your YouTube channel can point to, and have a plan for engaging video content in place.

    The post How do you make money on YouTube? Try these tactics. appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This post was originally published on Dec. 30, 2015, and was updated on July 18, 2019.

    Why learn how to build a WordPress website? Well, here’s a scenario to consider: You run into a friend you haven’t seen in quite some time at the supermarket. While catching up, you mention that you started your own business recently and things are going well. She immediately responds with, “Oh, that’s great! I’ll have to check it out … What’s your website address?”

    Panic. Dread. Cold sweats.

    You see, you haven’t yet tackled what you view as the overwhelming issue of building a website. You know you want to use WordPress, but you don’t know how to build a WordPress website. Who even knows where to start?!

    Deep breaths … you can do this.

    Learning how to build a WordPress website for the first time isn’t as hard as you might think.

    How to build a WordPress website — A guide for first-timers

    With the right tools and a little know-how, you can have a great-looking website that you’ll be proud to show off. Here’s what we’re going to cover in this guide:

    Ready? Let’s get your first WordPress website up and running!

    What is WordPress?

    WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) available, powering more than one-third of all websites. While that might sound highly technical, it’s really quite simple.

    A content management system does exactly that — it manages how your content is displayed.

    Basically, you provide what you want to show on your site, and the CMS takes care of how it gets displayed. This means that a CMS is fantastic for anyone who wants to create or maintain a professional-looking website without having to earn a new degree in computer programming.

    There are many different content management systems available, but we’re going to focus on WordPress. It is widely supported, easy to customize, and best of all, free to use (with the exception of hosting — more on that below). WordPress is a great option for building a flexible, polished website without learning code.

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    Who should use WordPress?

    In short, anyone who wants an easy-to-maintain but highly customizable site should learn how to build a WordPress website. WordPress is often thought of as a platform for bloggers, but it works well for many different types of websites.

    A small business needing an online presence to advertise, a family wanting to keep loved ones up to date with photos and news, and the professional offering their services to the public can all benefit from WordPress.

    And yes, it works great for blogs, too.

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    OK, but how does WordPress work?

    Think of it like this — WordPress is your framework. Just like a house, you first start with the framing.

    Think of WordPress as the skeleton of your website.

     

    It is the backbone and provides the support for all the main functions you will need.

    Next, we add the content. This consists of text, images and videos that you use to convey your message to visitors. In our house analogy, this is the furniture, pictures and items within your site.

    Your theme controls how your site looks; overall colors and page layouts are part of your theme. These are your paint and carpet in your website house.

    But, as you’re learning how to build a WordPress website, what if you decide you want to change your color schemes and rearrange your furniture? You don’t want to have to buy a whole new house just to change the look. This is where building your website with WordPress provides a huge advantage. Once your content is set up initially, you can change your design without having to recreate your pages.

    The beauty of WordPress is you can easily edit content, add features, or completely redesign your site without having to start over from scratch.

    You can expand, remove or edit content without any change in functionality. You can also choose to change your look (i.e. your WordPress theme) without losing any content or having to recreate your page structure.

    WordPress can do many things right out of the box, but what if you want to add functionality?

    This is where plugins come into play.

    Plugins are additional features you can install (or plug INto) your WordPress website to add functionality. Think of them like adding apps to your mobile device; you can add capabilities to the basic structure by finding a plugin that does something WordPress doesn’t offer by default.

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    What you need to build a WordPress website

    Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: what do you need to get started?

    Every website needs two main components: a domain name (also called your URL, or website address) and hosting.

    The domain name is how people will access your site, and the hosting refers to the physical computers that store and serve the website files.

    A word of advice: stick with a reputable hosting company. “Discount” hosting can cost you much more in the long run.

    Start by securing your hosting and domain name.

    Related: How to buy a domain name in 3 steps

    A GoDaddy Managed WordPress hosting account would be a great place to start. WordPress is automatically installed and configured on these plans. And with managed hosting, tasks such as automatic core software updates, website backups and malware scanning are handled for you.

    If you decide to go with an unmanaged hosting plan and install WordPress yourself, you can grab the latest version download from WordPress.org. Any hosting plan will work as long as you have access to both a database to store values and a place to upload files. We’ll cover self-installation below.

    Once you’ve secured hosting and registered a domain name, there are a few other things you’ll need to gather to get your website up and running:

    • Content — What are you going to say?
    • Images and/or videos — Because an all-text website would be incredibly dull.
    • Theme — WordPress comes with several defaults installed, and there are many free themes to choose from beyond the default options. If you prefer a certain look, there are also themes available for purchase from online sources such as ThemeForest
    • A cup of coffee — OK, I guess this one could be optional.

    What you DON’T need to get started:

    • Expensive editing or web-design software — Everything in WordPress is created, added and edited from within your web browser.
    • A rich uncle or family inheritance — WordPress is free and hosting plans are very affordable.
    • An advanced degree in computer programming, mathematics or physics — once you know the basics, WordPress is easy!

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    The easiest way to build a WordPress website

    The single easiest way to set up WordPress is to start with a hosting account specifically designed for WordPress websites. If you choose a plan like the GoDaddy Managed WordPress Hosting account, for example, WordPress is already installed for you.

    GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Hosting makes building your first WordPress website easier with a Quick Start Wizard, pre-built themes, core software updates, daily backups and 24/7 support.

    Many hosts will offer a one-click option or simple directions to install WordPress directly from their control panel. If WordPress is already installed, you can skip the next section.

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    How to install WordPress manually

    If you are feeling more adventurous and want to install WordPress yourself, we’ve still got you covered. Before you can install WordPress, we’ll need to do a little bit of setup work. Let’s install WordPress manually.

    1. Create a database

    We’ll start by creating a database. A WordPress website is slightly different from what we used to think of as the “standard” site. Back when the internet was new (you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth), websites were only a collection of files stored on a computer.

    WordPress operates differently; your site is generated from a combination of files stored on a server AND information saved and accessed from a database. This means we need to set up a database for WordPress to use.

    You should have received credentials to log into your hosting control panel, or cPanel. Once you log in, you should see several options on your administrative dashboard. We want to start by locating the Databases section; we’re going to create a database using the MySQL Database Wizard.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Database

    Follow the prompts in the wizard to create your database. You will specify a database name and create a database user with a password. When prompted, make sure that the user has “All Privileges” to the database.

    Note the database name and username and password you set — you’ll need these in a minute.

    2. Upload the WordPress files

    Next, we’re going to set up the files needed by WordPress. Download the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org.

    Return to your cPanel dashboard and click on your File Manager.

    How To Build A WordPress Website File Manager

    Once there, click on the public_html folder; this is where you want to set up your files. Click Upload and upload the zip file you just saved from WordPress.org.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Folders

    Once the file is finished uploading, return to the main File Manager window. Right-click on the file and select “Extract”. This will unpack all of the files needed by WordPress into your working directory (be patient, this part might take a few moments to complete).

    Once finished, you’ll see a “wordpress” directory under your “public_html” folder. Click on that folder and select everything inside.

    At the top of your screen, click Move and move all of the files into your pubic_html directory. You can delete the (now empty) “wordpress” folder and the original wordpress zip file. If you’ve done everything correctly, you should now have a file structure that looks like this:

    How To Build A WordPress Website Structure

    3. Install WordPress

    For the final step, go to a web browser and visit your website at whatever domain name you picked. The installation process should begin automatically for you by asking you to select a language.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Installation

    4. Enter your database credentials

    Remember those credentials we saved from earlier? Here is where you will need them. Enter the database name, username and user password in the appropriate boxes. Most hosts will use localhost for the hostname.

    If you are uncertain, your web host can provide this information.

    It’s also a good idea to change the default table prefix from wp_ to something different. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just make it different from the default. Click Submit to continue the installation.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Credentials

    5. Set username and password

    Now you will set the username and password that you will use to log into your new WordPress website.

    It is a good idea to use a username other than “admin.”

    This is the default username, and therefore increases the chances of your site being hacked later on.

    Select a secure password, or let WordPress generate one for you. Give your website a title if you wish, and continue the installation.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Password

    That’s it! WordPress is now installed.

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    Getting to know the WordPress dashboard

    As you learn how to build a WordPress website, the dashboard is where you will control every aspect of the project. Access the dashboard by going to “yourdomainname/wp-admin” in your browser. Log in using the username and password you created in the last step of the install process.

    This dashboard is the center for all things WordPress. Where to start?

    Let’s begin with a quick overview of the different areas you can use to add content to your site and configure WordPress.

    The bulk of your website will be built using posts and pages. Posts are generally used for content that is updated frequently, such as blog articles. For content that does not change as frequently, such as an About Us or Contact link, it is better to use Pages.

    Most themes will display your most recent posts on the home page by default (think blogs). However, you can change this setting to always display a static page if you wish. This option, as well as other options — like setting your time zone or changing the administrator email address — are found under the Settings tab on the left menu.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Dashboard

    The Appearance menu is where you will control your theme and everything related to the visual display of your website. Here you can select and upload themes, create menus, and decide what will show in your sidebar using widgets.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Appearance

    The Plugins menu allows you to view plugins currently installed and add new ones.

    Any plugin currently installed on your WordPress website will show on this page. However, only plugins that are activated can be used on your website.

    Sometimes when you install a plugin, a new menu item will be added to the left-hand menu (themes can also add these menus). Often, however, new options will be added to one of the existing menu items.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Plugins

    The Media Library is where you can view, edit or delete images you have added to your WordPress website. All images, regardless of where they are added, will appear in the media library. For example, you can add an image to a post or page directly from the post or page edit screen.

    These images will still show up in the gallery. If you add an image directly to the media gallery, it is accessible from the Content section of your pages.

    Now that you’re familiar with the different areas, let’s do some basic setup work. Start by setting your URL structure.

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    Setting your URLs by configuring permalinks

    How To Build A WordPress Website Permalinks

    By default, WordPress utilizes a form of URL writing that is not SEO (search engine optimization) friendly. We want to change this setup so search engines will rank the website pages higher in their results.

    Do not wait to complete this task — get it done quickly before you start publishing pages or blog posts.

    There are many other WordPress SEO tips and tricks you can use later, but let’s start by setting your permalinks.

    In the Dashboard find the Settings category link on the left rail navigation. Select Settings and then Permalinks. The Plain URL writing rule will be selected by default. We need to change that, so select the Post Name and click Save Changes.

    How To Build A WordPress Website Permalink Settings

    What did that accomplish?

    By default, WordPress uses “messy” URLs that specify the post ID. We changed them to be more user friendly and readable. This will not only help our visitors find the pages they want, but it is much better for SEO.

    Now that WordPress will create “pretty” links when we add content, we can start focusing on the website display.

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    Choosing a theme for your WordPress website

    While the most critical piece of building a WordPress website is the content, you should also give careful attention to your theme. The theme affects how your website is displayed and the overall impression it gives to your visitors.

    There are many things to consider when choosing a good theme, but anyone can learn how to design a website when you’re not a web designer. Overall, you want a theme that is stable, clean and easy to work with.

    You also want to select a theme that is responsive (meaning it will handle different screen sizes, like tablets and mobile devices, as well as desktops).

    Many themes are also highly customizable, allowing you to change colors and backgrounds with ease. This can help you achieve a more unique look that better suits your website design idea.

    Adding content to your WordPress website

    As I mentioned before, nearly all content is added via a post or a page in WordPress. Adding content to a page and post are handled the same way. With the release of WordPress 5.0, the method for entering content on a page changed dramatically.

    WordPress now uses what is known as the Gutenberg editor, and you can read this great article that details how it works. If you want to stick with the classic WordPress editor, here’s what you need to do.

    There are a few tips to note when working with your content. Along the right-hand side, you will see some additional options. Setting a featured image, for instance, automatically sets the thumbnail image that goes along with posts in many themes. You can also save an item in draft format if it is not yet finished. This saves your changes but does not make them live to your website.

    Only posts and pages that are published will be visible.

    Related: Web content development — What to include on 5 core website pages and How to write a great blog post

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    What’s next?

    There is so much that WordPress can do that we have hardly scratched the surface. Ready for more?

    You can review the most popular WordPress themes and plugins from the past year, discover how to optimize your website for SEO, or just review tips for working with images.

    Once you’ve got your WordPress site looking and working the way you want it to, share it with the world!

    Start including a link to your website in your social media posts. Add a website link to your email signature. Use a plugin to begin building an email subscriber list … the possibilities are endless.

    Whatever your needs, building a WordPress website for the first time is easier than you might have thought. So go have fun and create!

    The post How to build a WordPress website for the first time appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    One feature that many businesses seek to add to their website is the ability to schedule activities like consultations, meetings, webinars, and other events. Luckily, with WordPress, there is a wide range of WordPress schedule plugin options that can help you manage scheduled events with ease.

    This article created by our team at Amelia will briefly explain how the various WordPress schedule plugins work and which ones are worth a try. Read on to learn more.

    Could WordPress Schedule Plugins Help You?

    If you often find yourself desperately searching through your agenda for details on upcoming appointments or if your desktop is full of untitled Excel spreadsheets containing all sorts of contact information and dates to remember, you might be in need of a scheduling system.

    Since you probably know how a booking calendar looks already and what makes it so useful, why not catch up with the 21st century and go digital? A WordPress schedule plugin may well save the day!

    Even if you’re not very tech-savvy, WordPress makes it extremely easy to implement a scheduling calendar that integrates with your current website so that you have everything you need in one central, organized system.

    With a scheduling plugin, you can now plan and manage events directly from the plugin’s interface, and you can also add the ability to let team members, clients, or visitors interact with your calendar for greater collaboration and easier appointment-setting.

    Ready-made WordPress scheduler plugins are created to automate the booking process and help both the users of a website and its owner be more organized. Most booking calendars are highly customizable, and they include all the tools you would need to keep track of appointments and events.

    Given that there are several great options available, some with big differences in features, you will have to find a scheduling plugin that suits your business type the best.

    Below you will find a list to help you with this task.

    8 Examples That Will Convince You to Use One

    Amelia

    Let’s start with Amelia since it’s the most modern WordPress schedule plugin out there. This booking calendar is based on the newest technology on the market, and the team behind Amelia works tirelessly to keep this multipurpose scheduling plugin up to date (excuse the pun).

    Amelia works perfectly with all the latest WordPress themes out there. No matter how complex your demands are, you can easily customize and automate the booking process for your small, medium, or enterprise company, or even for your personal website.

    Amelia has all the tools you would need for managing events and appointments and it won’t require much effort from you at all. Just set up the events and watch this WordPress reservation plugin do its magic. 

    Here are some of its features:

    Among its latest features, we have the Events Calendar module.

    This helps you automate your event bookings as well: you will be able to schedule a single day, a multi-day, and also recurring events with Amelia.

    To test things for yourself, I’d suggest checking out the demos and see how things look on the front end as well in the back-end.

    Timetable

    Timetable is another excellent multipurpose scheduling plugin designed specifically for WordPress. It is fully automated and modern, following the latest tech requirements and supporting all the necessary user demands for a complete and highly usable booking system.

    The interesting part about Timetable is that it relies on scaled timetables. You can create three scales in the back-end live editor and personalize each event the way you want.

    The events can either be separated per each timetable that you create or per column, which is easier to manage if you have a lot of events included on your site. You can also add custom links, descriptions, images, and other media files.

    Another nice feature is that you can add search filters that visitors can use to find an event they are interested in easier.

    EasyTimetable — Responsive Schedule Management System

    A WordPress appointment plugin like EasyTimetable has the great advantage of being easy to use, as the name suggests. Because you can make all required changes from the same spot, you will save loads of time when configuring your calendar events.

    The interface of this plugin allows you to create new events, manage existing ones, and personalize them, all in the same place. This plugin is perfect for those who’ve never used a WordPress booking calendar before and would like to give the experience a try.

    It comes in a free and a premium version so that you can decide to expand its functionalities if you ever outgrow the basic free edition.

    Timetable Responsive Schedule For WordPress

    You can’t compare this simple WordPress schedule plugin with Calendarize It or EventOn, but it’s definitely not far behind.

    Timetable Responsive Schedule for WordPress does exactly what its name says – it is a powerful timetable creator that is perfect for those who want to organize numerous events and give visitors the chance to make online reservations.

    This plugin mostly targets freelancers, solopreneurs, coaches, teachers, and tutors. For instance, a teacher that wants to host a seminar can add this plugin to their site and let students enroll based on how many free slots are left. It is customizable and suitable for most industries.

    WP Simple Booking Calendar

    WP Simple Booking Calendar is a basic WordPress schedule plugin that contains all the functionalities you would need to keep your appointment system organized. For those who are not very tech-savvy and would like to test the watersfirst, this plugin might be the best shot you’ve got.

    This plugin helps you add an availability calendar to your site – no more, no less. The calendar will display the dates when you are available for services or when an event takes place. It doesn’t give visitors the opportunity to make an appointment, but it’s enough to keep users informed about future events/availability.

    Google Calendar Weekly Timetable

    If you want to use a WordPress schedule plugin that integrates with Google Calendar, this option might be the best. It offers the needed degree of customization that is required to make a booking calendar fit the rest of your site’s design and it is very responsive at the same time.

    A nice touch is that you don’t have to create timetables from scratch each time when your events change dates or suffer modifications.

    Google Calendar Weekly Timetable has preset templates that you can customize based on your own needs and preferences. It is a time saver for those who need to include weekly timetables on their website instead of fixed calendars.

    If you already have your timetables created in Google Calendar, it’s just a matter of minutes to upload your feeds to the plugin and have them synchronized.

    Timetable Responsive Schedule

    This WordPress schedule plugin is powerful, yet very intuitive to use. It has enough tools to create and manage events professionally. The plugin is especially dedicated to industries such as sports, education, restaurants, or medical departments because it is timetable-based.

    The tools you will get if you opt for this plugin include an event manager, shortcodes to have everything customized after your own liking, widgets, and more. You can also use your own CSS if you want to personalize the looks of the calendar further.

    Unitimetable

    This WordPress scheduler is dedicated to educational purposes. You can use this plugin to create and manage timetables. The templates are perfect for those who work in the education field. Teachers and students can create easy-to-read timetables based on classes, subjects, lectures, student groups, and so on.

    Ending thoughts on these WordPress schedule plugin options

    Depending on what your purpose is, a WordPress schedule plugin can help you with managing time better and more efficiently than you would with the classic pen and paper method. The purpose of moving your business to the online field is to make the most out of technology, so don’t be afraid to give these tools a try and ease your work.

    The time you save can be directed towards something more productive. Just make sure that you choose the proper software product!

    If you enjoyed reading this article about the WordPress Schedule Plugin options out there, you should read these as well:

    The post WordPress Schedule Plugins That Will Get the Job Done appeared first on Amelia Booking WordPress Plugin.


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    Your website is coming along nicely. You have a lot of the basics down: a home page, an about page and a contact page. But there’s one other often-overlooked page that plays a key role in your visitor’s transition from casual browser to customer — or even brand advocate. That’s your FAQ page, also known as frequently asked questions, help or support.

    What is an FAQ page?

    Your FAQ page is a well-organized collection of valuable, honest answers to questions that customers (and partners) ask about your products and services.

    While your about page focuses on stories about your brand and company — such as how you got started and what you stand for — your FAQ page focuses specifically on questions about your products and operations, from product contents to shipping timelines to return or refund policies.

    Editor’s note: Build a beautiful website in under an hour with GoDaddy Website Builder — complete with every page you need, including an FAQ page.

    Why do I need an FAQ page?

    Many businesses decide to build an FAQ page when they, or their customer service team, gets tired of answering the same question over and over and over. But there are many more reasons to create an amazing FAQ page for your website, even before the questions become frequently asked.

    When casual browsers visit your FAQ page, it signals that they are actually sales prospects.

     

    By checking out the FAQs, they’re clearly indicating that they’re interested in learning more about your products or services.

    Here are a few other ways you can use you FAQ page:

    Earn trust with your customers

    Proactively providing information on an FAQ page easily helps you build trust with your customers. If you’re positive and transparent in your FAQ answers, your customers get a good sense for how you’re going to behave in the rest of your business.

    By publishing these answers where anyone can see them — yes, even your competitors — you demonstrate that you have nothing to hide.

    Beyond the trust factor, you also establish your brand as an authority in your industry.

    Reduce barriers to purchase

    Many consumers today want to do their own research, not wait for a salesperson or customer service rep to get back to them. In fact, it can take between six and eight touches before someone is ready to talk to sales  or move forward with buying.

    A well-crafted FAQ page can provide many of these touch points, and help move clients from the interest stage to the decision (or even buying) phase of the sales funnel.

    If you sell online with an eCommerce shop, FAQ pages and help pages keep visitors on your site for answers, instead of heading back to a search engine. That increases the likelihood that they convert from browser to buyer.

    Alleviate concerns your sales copy may not address

    You write your sales copy to be as compelling and motivating as possible, but your ideal customers may still have concerns or objections you can’t address easily.

    Your FAQ page can provide visitors the reassurance they need that this buying decision is the right one.

     

    You can even address questions they hadn’t thought to ask. That shows them that you’ve really thought through every aspect of your product.

    Related: 5 ways to use urgency to boost eCommerce sales

    FAQ Page Questions On Board

    Improve SEO

    Your FAQ page gives you the opportunity to target additional keywords and use alternate phrases to describe your products and services, both of which improve your SEO. This extra content is full of valuable information for your customers and search engines. It’s often picked up for featured snippets on search engine result pages.

    Build your brand voice

    Your FAQ page is a great place to practice using your brand voice.

    Whether you’re friendly and approachable or buttoned up and professional, using the same tone throughout your FAQs helps you establish and extend your brand personality.

    The key to doing this successfully is to be consistent throughout your website and marketing materials.

    Reduce stress for your customer service department

    The last, but certainly not least important, reason to have an FAQ page is to reduce stress and workload for your customer service department.

    Rather than fill their phone queues and inboxes with the same repetitive questions, allow your customer service department to shine by helping customers with more unusual requests.

    Your customers also will thank you for empowering them to do more on their own without waiting for a response from a busy customer service representative.

    Related: 5 ways to wow with customer service on social media

    How to write an FAQ page in 3 steps

    Now that you know the benefits of having an FAQ page, it’s time to start creating your own. To do that, there are three important steps:

    1. Identify your frequently asked questions. 
    2. Write answers to each question.
    3. Organize the questions and answers on the FAQ page.

    Let’s take a closer look at each step.

    1. Identify your frequently asked questions

    One of the first things you’ll need to do is identify your actual most commonly asked questions. The best places to find these are your customer service inbox, customer support tickets and call logs.

    After you’ve collected those questions, consider the follow-up questions that someone may have after you’ve answered the initial question. For example, if one of your common questions is about shipping, you can follow up with questions and answers about upgraded shipping options and gift packaging. Ask (and answer) the questions they haven’t even thought about asking yet.

    You also can strategically create additional questions that educate and drive demand for your products or services.

     

    For example, a business coach might post the question “How many clients do you work with at a time?” In the answer, she can state that she only works with five one-on-one clients at a time, so each client can get adequate attention on their business. The exclusivity built into this question and answer helps drive demand and give the potential client the insight that they’ll be getting plenty of personalized attention.

    Finally, you can turn common sales objections into questions.

    If you’re providing an exclusive or high-quality product, such as handmade candles infused with essential oils, you may often get objections based on price. Your FAQ page can share why your candles are worth the higher price than they may find at their local home decor shop, based on the slower burn time and essential oil enhancements.

    Overall, your FAQs should focus on questions that are highly relevant and drive engagement and conversation with your customers.

    Don’t add questions that nobody would ever actually ask, like “Who are the awesome ladies who make these candles?” or “Man, that candle smells so good. Can I eat it?” While you may see those questions as clever or engaging, they also can be distracting to customers who have real questions they’d like answered.

    2. Write answers to each question

    FAQ Page Man Writing Questions
    Once you’ve picked out the questions you want to address, make sure to structure the questions appropriately.

    Write your questions from your customer’s point of view with openings such as “How do I …?” Then answer them as the business owner using language like “We provide” or “You should …”

    Once you have all of your questions written, it’s time to start answering. Be sure you answer your questions in a positive way.

    For example, one of the questions may be about how you compare to a competitor. Rather than point out flaws in the competitor’s product or service, focus on the advantages to and benefits of your product.

    When you start writing, you might find yourself a fount of knowledge, with answers flowing like spring runoff.

    You might have to temper your enthusiasm a bit and focus on only providing the answers customers really need. Otherwise, your potential customer could get overwhelmed and move on to another choice. It’s better to be clear and concise than overly precise.

    Of course, your FAQ don’t have to just be written content. Some of the best FAQ pages include images and video to help answer user questions!

    3. Organize the questions and answers on your FAQ page

    FAQ pages usually have a lot of information, so it’s really important to make it easy for readers to find what they’re looking for. One way to do this is to organize the page into sections, such as “shipping timelines” or “about the product.”

    You also may want to integrate short versions of your FAQs onto specific product pages. This is a great way to enhance the content (and SEO value) of your product pages.

    Broad questions that apply to all your products, like shipping timelines or return requests, should be part of a centralized page, linked to from your navigation or footer.

    If you have a complex product or collection of product offerings, you may want to have a self-service help desk to organize your FAQs.

    It’s also impossible to answer every question, so be sure to include ways for your customers to reach you if they happen to have an infrequently asked question. This may include a support email address, phone number, contact form or even a chatbot.

    Get inspired by great FAQ pages

    Looking for a little bit of inspiration on how to write an FAQ page? Here are some great examples of FAQ pages from well-known brands that can get you moving in the right direction.

    Dollar Shave Club

    This company uses a help desk organized into categories, such as blades and shaving products, all with cute custom graphics. Once you get into the category you’re interested in, you’ll see more traditional lists of questions like “What are the ingredients in Dream Hair Cream?” or “Why should I buy True Hair Fiber?”

    FAQ Page Dollar Shave Club Help Center
    Photo: Dollar Shave Club

    Purple

    Similar to Dollar Shave Club, bedding company Purple has categories for the nuanced browser, but they also pull some of their most popular questions front and center, including “How do I return the mattress for a full refund?”

    FAQ Page Purple Support Center
    Photo: Purple

    Vat19

    Vat19, a novelty gift shop, integrates FAQs on individual product pages, like this one for NanoDot cubes. You’ll even find questions from the community — spelling errors and all.

    FAQ Page Vat19 NanoDots FAQ
    Photo: Vat19

    Ancestry

    If you offer a lot of different services, you probably have a lot of FAQs. Ancestry’s support page includes a search option front and center to help visitors find what they need before moving into common questions for their two most popular products: Ancestry DNA and the classic Ancestry account. They also feature popular articles that may not exactly be the question you had, but do give you new ideas on how to use the site.

    FAQ Page Ancestry Support Page
    Photo: Ancestry

    Hulu

    Hulu not only keeps their support pages simple, they also make sure they’re timely. In April 2019, for example, they featured questions about how to watch “Game of Thrones” on Hulu (just in time for the final season premiere), as well as details on watching Major League Baseball. Hulu also personalizes its FAQs if you’re logged in, to anticipate your needs.

    FAQ Page Hulu Help Center
    Photo: Hulu

    Cards Against Humanity

    Cards Against Humanity does a brilliant job of maintaining its brand throughout the FAQ page. If you’re familiar with the game, you already know it was developed to be irreverent with a healthy dose of rudeness. That personality definitely comes through in one of their questions about returns:

    I would like to return my order.
    If you want to return something unopened that you bought within the last six months, we can help you out. Just reply to your confirmation email. If you bought your thing from Target or Amazon or anywhere other than this store, you’ll have to take it up with them.

    FAQ Page Card Against Humanity FAQ Your Dumb Questions Page
    Photo: Cards Against Humanity

     

    Salesforce

    As one of the largest businesses in the world, Salesforce takes a slightly different approach to their FAQs, with each product line (or cloud, as they call them) having its own FAQ page. The pages are easy to scan to find the question that you have — plus some you didn’t know you had — with plenty of links to additional resources including blog posts, eBooks and contact pages.

    FAQ Page Salesforce FAQ
    Photo: Salesforce

    Next steps

    Whether you call it FAQ, help or support, adding an FAQ page to your website or product pages can help you accelerate the buyer’s journey from casual visitor to intentioned buyer.

    A well-thought-out collection of questions and answers can save valuable customer support time, extend your brand and even help your SEO.

    It’s easy to get started by simply reviewing your most common existing customer service questions and answering them on your website. Your FAQ page will evolve and change as your business grows, so there’s no time like the present to get started.

    The post FAQ page: Benefits, best practices and examples appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Amazon Marketing is a competitive, ever-changing and essential tool for sellers. Not long ago, a new feature appeared in Amazon’s Sponsored Products advertising campaigns. The feature, product targeting, is currently working in beta mode, but it has already provided sellers with positive results.

    With Sponsored Product campaigns, you can create two types of product targeting: automatic and manual. To target by keywords or product type, you must select a manual advertising campaign. You can choose different match types for keywords, and select categories, products, brands or features related to your product.

    Related: Where to promote your Amazon store with paid advertising
    Product Targeting Sponsored Campaign
    Keyword targeting allows you to choose keywords to showcase your products in customer searches and detail pages, which is a helpful strategy when you know which search terms shoppers use to search for products similar to yours.

    Product targeting allows you to choose specific products, categories, brands or other product features that are similar to the product in your ad, and you can use it to help shoppers find your product when browsing detail pages and categories, or when searching for products on Amazon.

    Product Targeting Beta allows you to customize how Amazon ads are shown on other ASIN pages, and in search results by category.

    Editor’s note: GoDaddy Online Store makes it a snap to list your products on Amazon, Etsy and eBay, sync your inventory to multiple sales channels, and manage all your orders from the same dashboard.

    When to use product targeting

    When will product targeting likely be most effective for your business?

    • When you are launching a new product and are not sure which keywords will work best.
    • When you want to compare your product to other brands. Products and brands of other sellers should be carefully selected to highlight the advantages of your product over theirs.
    • When you want to offer additional products under your own brand, and advertise your other similar products as options.
    • When you want to expand the target of your ad campaign by trying this new opportunity from Amazon.

    Experts recommend using all targeting techniques and approaching your goal from different sides. This is the most efficient way to skyrocket Amazon sales.

    Related: How to sell stuff on Amazon

    Setting up product targeting ads on Amazon

    Categories tab

    In the categories tab, you can target suggested categories relevant to your ad product. You can also search by category, or browse the categories listed below the search field.

    Categories can be refined by brand, price range and review star ratings. Carefully consider which categories of products will most likely appeal to your target audience.

    Product Targeting Categories

    Products tab

    In the products tab, you can target suggested individual products similar to yours.
    Product Targeting Individual Products TabYou can also search for specific products in the search field.
    Product Targeting Individual Products Search
    Once you have selected the product and brand categories to run your advertising campaign, you can assign bids for each group.
    Product Targeting Assign Bids
    As an option, you can specify a list of products or categories to be excluded.
    Product Targeting Negative
    Product Targeting Keywords Results

    By choosing to target by category, you can refine your selections by brand, price and product rating.

    Refine brand targeting: Select specific brands to target your ads. Try showcasing your products alongside brands that have high brand value among buyers and are clearly visible on Amazon.

    Refine by price: Refining by price makes it easy to target high-end products similar to yours.

    Refine by rating: This helps you target products with lower ratings and reviews, giving your product more chances to sell.Product Targeting Refine Category
    Targeting by category can give your product more visibility, an advantage when you are trying to increase brand awareness and launch your product. However, it will broaden your coverage, meaning your product will be displayed in irrelevant searches, leading to lower conversion rates and higher ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sale).

    Individual product targeting gives you a much narrower scope, but it will showcase your product to targeted users, giving you a better chance of making a sale.

    Build your campaigns

    Thanks to this Amazon update, you can now create multiple ad groups in a manual campaign. To make the most of it, target categories, products and keywords in their own individual campaigns for better control over data and reports.

    The best results are shown by target keywords, then by individual products and further by categories. If you correctly approach target advertising, each of these advertising campaigns can be effective for achieving higher sales.

    The post Product targeting — How to optimize exposure on Amazon appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This post was originally published on Feb. 6, 2018, and was updated on July 22, 2019. 

    Writing a business plan isn’t the most glamorous part of starting a new business, but it’s extremely important. To help you save time and eliminate stress, you can access some of the best business plan templates online. Some are available to use at no cost, while others require a nominal subscription fee.

    Whether you are pitching investors for a funding round, applying for a traditional small business loan, or self-funding, you need a rock-solid business plan to lay out your vision and map out the steps required to create a successful business.

    A business plan also acts as a guide, which you constantly turn to during the early growth stages as well as day-to-day operations.

    Related: Big collection of resources for starting a business 

    8 best business plan templates

    Many entrepreneurs don’t know where to start when it comes to creating a business plan, which is why a template is a great option. They offer structure and guidance, while remaining 100-percent customizable. With the help of some small business owners, I have put together a list of the best business plan templates available to download.

    1. U.S. Small Business Administration business plan (free).
    2. Slideshop Business Pitch template (subscription).
    3. Slideshop Visionary Pitch template (subscription).
    4. Rocket Lawyer state-specific templates (free).
    5. SCORE startup business plan template (free).
    6. Microsoft business plan templates (free).
    7. Slideshop Business Strategy presentation template (subscription).
    8. LawDepot free business plan depot (free).

    So if you’re ready to get serious about your business and learn about what to include in a business plan, then keep reading.

    Related: Using a Lean Canvas to create a business plan

    1. U.S. Small Business Administration business plan builder

    Best Business Plan Templates SBA

    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has one of the best business plan templates available, and it is very thorough — which you would expect from one of the most trusted and respected small business resources.

    “The thing I like best about this free business plan template is the fact that it lets you go back in and edit as needed, so you don’t have to have all of the information in front of you the first time you set out to tackle the task. Creating a well thought-out business plan requires research and planning, so the edit option comes in very handy. The end result is a very professional looking business plan.” ~ John Fitch, Founder, The Fitch Law Firm

    You don’t want to rush your business plan — take time to perform proper research, and then go back to edit and complete each section when you are ready. You can access the SBA business plan template here.

    2. Slideshop Business Pitch template

    Business Plan Templates Slideshop Business Pitch

    “Send me your pitch.” Ahhh … four magic words entrepreneurs everywhere long to hear.

    This beautifully designed Business Pitch template, vetted by savvy investors who’ve said YES and NO to thousands of pitch offers, will increase your chances of investors asking to see your pitch.

    Telling the story of your opportunity from problem / solution to testimonials and financial requirements, the business pitch presentation has 19 easy-to-edit slides, along with pro designer tips for working with the financial tables and other graphics.

    Get prospective investors, board members, business partners and clients excited, engaged and invested by honing in on the problem right away and then following up with your unique solution, and the story of your unique differentiation and position in the market.

    The Business Pitch deck includes slides that allow you to quickly and visually:

    • Outline the problem and your proposed solution
    • Share facts and figures about your target market
    • Describe your product
    • Outline your business model
    • Illustrate the competitive landscape and your place in it
    • Propose a timeline and product roadmap
    • Introduce your team
    • Detail financial requirements

    Use the deck as a standalone pitch by sending as a pdf, or as a support tool as you share your opportunity live, in the office or on the road.

    3. Slideshop Visionary Pitch template

    Business Plan Templates Slideshop Visionary Pitch

    The dynamic Visionary Pitch deck is designed to communicate big business ideas — the whys and hows of a new business model.

    You’ll find slides for:

    • Mission statement/vision
    • Market overview
    • Hero quotes
    • Trends focus and important stat callouts
    • Growth chart
    • Target audience versus current audience
    • Competitive analysis
    • Version comparison
    • General notes and takeaways
    • Upcoming priorities
    • Team overview
    • Thank you/contact info

    This 21-slide template helps you define and present your market, your competition, and the future roadmap. The deck visually supports the pitch story you’ve worked so hard to craft.

    Related: How to write a mission statement you’ll be proud to share

    4. Rocket Lawyer state-specific templates

    Best Business Plan Templates Rocket Lawyer

    Do you know what to include in a business plan, especially when it comes to your specific state? If not, don’t worry. Rocket Lawyer has created a standout the best business plan templates, which walks you through the entire process of building a business plan that meets the financing requirements in the state where you are seeking funding.

    “Many new business owners aren’t aware of the lending requirements as they pertain to the state in which they will be based out of. The online tool from Rocket Lawyer is very helpful, especially for those that need a business plan specifically for securing funding.” ~ Xavier Morales, Founder, Secure Your Trademark

    If you plan on approaching lenders to fund your business, there is nothing worse than going in unprepared.

    By presenting a potential lender with a business plan that meets your state requirements, you show that you have done your research — and this shows the financial institution that you are serious. You can select your state and start building your business plan using Rocket Lawyer’s template here.

    Related: Collection of resources for funding a business

    5. SCORE startup business plan template

    What To Include In A Business Plan Score

    As one of the leading nonprofit organization devoted to helping business owners succeed, SCORE has created one of the best business plan templates because it is in-depth and customizable. It’s available in PDF or Microsoft Word format here.

    “There are a lot of free business plan templates available online, but very few are as well structured as the offering from SCORE. There are 150 questions to answer, all designed to help you create the best business plan for your specific situation. I highly recommend this template, especially if it’s your first time writing a business plan.” ~ Stefan Gleason, President, Money Metals Exchange

    SCORE also provides a resource they refer to as Refining the Plan, which is designed to assist first-timers writing an effective business plan.

    6. Microsoft business plan templates

    Best Business Plan Templates Microsoft

    Most of the best business plan templates available online create a very plain business plan in Word or PDF format. While they have all the important information, they tend to be lacking visually. Microsoft has a library of pre-created business plans in PowerPoint format that you can access here.

    “You don’t have to go overboard with an over-the-top design, but it’s very important to at the very least incorporate your company’s branding into your business plan. This little extra effort can go a long way, giving you a much more professional presentatioN.” ~ Michael Washburn, President, High Purity Northwest Inc

    Starting with a blank PowerPoint slide can be very difficult, especially for those who don’t have a design background. (Here’s a great roundup of tips for creating presentations with PowerPoint.) The business plan templates offered by Microsoft allow you to begin with eye-appealing layouts that can be customized to match your brand.

    Editor’s note: Get PowerPoint and other proven Microsoft Office products with Microsoft Office 365 from GoDaddy. Plans are simple to set up and include GoDaddy’s award-winning 24/7 support.

    7. Slideshop Business Strategy presentation deck

    This Business Strategy presentation template could be a cornerstone for all business leaders. This deck will help you clearly present on the following:

    • Project timelines
    • Data visualization
    • Project checklists
    • Business models
    • Strategies
    • Payments
    • Security
    • Revenue

    This presentation template also includes Designer Pro Tips that will help you add a new photo to the background and customize chart data for better visualization. You’ll also get two slides with supplemental charts.

    Related: Dream It — 33 tips to move you from idea to action

    8. LawDepot free business plan builder

    Best Business Plan Templates LawDepot

    As Andrew Hedreen of Strasser Woodenworks explains:

    “A lot of business plan templates aren’t thorough enough to satisfy the questions investors and lenders will have. LawDepot offers a template that dives into marketing, SWOT (the internal strengths and weaknesses of your organizational structure), product/service research and competitive analysis. These are all necessary components that not all free templates cover.”

    The user experience sets the LawDepot business plan template apart from the best business plan templates, with simple input fields and a nice preview option that lets you watch the progress.

    There are also several industries to select from as a base, giving you a template that is specifically tailored to your needs.

    In order to download the business plan created, you will have to sign up for a trial subscription, but that can be cancelled if you don’t plan on using the service.

    The best business plan templates show you what to include

    Creating a plan from scratch can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t 100-percent sure what to include in a business plan. Fortunately, the best templates make it easy by giving you structure and guidance, indicating what information should go where.

    But just for quick reference, your business plan should include:

    • Your business concept. Tell everyone what you’re about, why you’re in business and how you’re going to succeed.
    • Your products or service. This is your chance to outline what makes your company special. How will you differ from the competition? What pain points do your products/services solve for?
    • Your overarching strategy. It’s great to identify what you want to do, but it’s vital to note how you’re going to accomplish it. What key personnel will be involved? What’s your go-to market strategy? Who are you going to target? What actionable goals do you have in mind?
    • Financial information. Every business needs funding. Don’t forget to incorporate the all-important dollar amounts.

    Avoid unnecessary stress, and check out the best business plan templates provided above. One of them is sure to satisfy your needs and help you create an effective business plan.

    The post 8 best business plan templates (and what to include in your own) appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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  • 07/23/19--06:30: What is a value proposition?
  • Your value proposition is one of the most important elements in marketing your business. What is a value proposition? It helps your customers and clients understand why they should do business with you and sets you apart from your competitors.

    Your value proposition can also be the difference between closing a sale and losing one.

    But what exactly is a value proposition, and more importantly, how do you write a good one? In this article, I’ll give you the value proposition definition, explain why it matters, share tips on how to write one for your business, and show you value proposition examples that will win customers.

    What is a value proposition?

    A value proposition is a statement that introduces a brand to consumers and explains what the company stands for, how it operates, and why they should do business with that particular company.

    A value proposition encompasses the value that a brand intends to deliver to customers and clients when they purchase the brand’s product or sign up for services.

    Your value proposition should convey three things:

    • It tells your customers and clients why they should choose to do business with you instead of your competitors.
    • It explains how your product or services solves a problem your customers or clients are facing.
    • It defines your company’s tangible and specific benefits.
    The most important thing to remember about your value proposition is that it needs to be created with your customers and clients in mind.

     

    When deciding what is the best value proposition for your company, keep it friendly and jargon-free, so your customers and clients can easily tell how doing business with you will benefit their lives. Go back to the value proposition definition above if you feel stuck.

    Avoid any hyperbolic language, such as “the best email marketing software in the world.” Statements like those tend to cause suspicion and skepticism, rather than invoke curiosity about your product. You’ll get the hang of it when we go over some value proposition examples in a bit.

    Confusing value propositions with other messaging

    Now that we’ve covered what a value proposition is, it’s worth explaining what a value proposition is not. Many business owners confuse the value proposition with their tagline or their positioning statement. These are important, but they are secondary.

    Your value proposition is your primary message to the marketplace.

     

    Your tagline and your positioning statement will flow from your value proposition, which is one of the reasons why you have to nail down your value proposition first.

    Why a great value proposition is critical

    When done right, your value proposition shapes your marketing and positioning messaging and is critical for your business success. There are several benefits to defining a great value proposition:

    • Your customers and clients can easily understand what you have to offer. With a clear value proposition, they will immediately be able to tell if your products or services are what they were looking for.
    • It differentiates you from your competitors and tells potential clients and customers how and why your product or service is better or different than competitors.
    • It helps you attract the right customers and clients while dissuading customers and clients who aren’t a good fit for your offering. In other words, a great value proposition will help you attract high-quality leads who are ready to invest in your offer.
    • A great value proposition helps you close more sales as your audience can quickly and easily recognize the benefits you offer and see how buying your products or signing up for your service will improve their lives.

    Related: Find your unique selling proposition to build a website that really works

    What makes a great value proposition and how to create one

    Now that you know what a great value proposition is and why it matters, let’s take a look at what the value proposition should consist of, and go over tips that will help you write a winning value proposition for your business and website.

    Editor’s note: With GoDaddy Website Builder, you can create your website in under an hour. So get started on your website today, and share your value proposition with the world.

    Elements of a value proposition

    The value proposition is usually a block of text that consists of a headline, a subhead or a paragraph, and a short list of key benefits along with an accompanying visual. Let’s take a look at each of those elements below.

    Headline

    The headline should be the most prominent element of your value proposition. It should explain the end benefit of your offer in one short sentence or phrase.

    The headline should incite curiosity and make potential customers interested in reading the rest of your value proposition.

    You want to prompt them to scroll down the page to learn more about you.

    A subhead or short paragraph

    Once you nail down your headline, use a subhead or a short paragraph to elaborate and provide more detail. Explain what you do or what you offer, who the intended audience is, and why your offer should matter.

    List of benefits

    If you feel you need to provide more detail, you can include two to three main benefits in a bullet point list.

    Visual

    Lastly, tie all of the elements above together with a visual that showcases your product or represents your services in a compelling graphic or image.

    Related: How to use Canva to create branded images in less than an hour

    How to craft a winning value proposition

    Here are a few tips that will help you come up with a winning value proposition for your business.

    Know your audience

    The most important tip about crafting a winning value proposition is knowing your audience or, in other words, defining your ideal customer persona, also known as a buyer persona. Understanding what your target audience wants, the problems they face, and how they behave is key to knowing which benefits to focus on and how to explain the value that your product or service brings to the table.

    Identify benefits and values

    Once you have a deep understanding of your audience, you need to identify the benefits of your product that will resonate with them. Make a list of all the benefits that your product offers and ensure they align with your ideal client persona. Then, link those benefits to the value your product or service brings to the table.

    You need to be able to tell how your product or service will help your audience, how it will improve their life, and what results will they be able to see after they purchase your product or decide to sign up for your service.

    Related: Create it — Building your presence, brand and product

    Know your competition

    Keep in mind that you also have to be familiar with your competition and what they offer. Knowing this allows you to fill the gap in the market by identifying what their offer is missing and to understand how you can make your product different from theirs.

    Related: How to find inspiration from your competitors (without stealing their ideas)

    Find the difference

    When you’ve familiarized yourself with your competition, you’re clear on your product benefits and you know how it helps your audience, it’s time to find the difference that will set you apart. This could be a feature that your competition doesn’t offer, using a different type of material, or delivering your service faster than the competition.

    Related: How to create and test a minimum viable product

    Aim for simplicity

    The last tip is to keep your value proposition simple.

    Your value proposition should be crafted with your audience in mind, which means potential customers need to be able to understand it within seconds of landing on your website.

    Avoid fluff and industry jargon and opt for language your ideal client avatar is likely to use.

    10 terrific value proposition examples

    We’ve covered a lot in this guide so far. Now it’s time to see value propositions in action. Below, I’ve gathered 10 great value propositions from well-known brands. I’ve also listed what makes their particular value proposition so strong.

    1. Asana — Make more time for the work that matters most

    Asana makes it easy to understand what you’ll gain by signing up for the app — more time to tackle the most important tasks in your business or life. The paragraph below then goes on to explain what it is, who it’s for, and why it matters. And the graphic shows you exactly how the product works.

    What Is A Value Proposition Asana

    2. YNAB — Gain total control of your money

    It’s no secret that finances and budgeting can be the cause of major anxiety. YNAB promises to put you in control of your money and goes to deliver the main benefits: You’ll stop living paycheck to paycheck, save money, and get out of debt. Who doesn’t want that?

    What Is A Value Proposition YNAB

    3. Zapier — Connect your apps and automate workflows

    As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate, not to mention you’re juggling multiple apps and tools to try to get things done. Zapier’s value proposition statement speaks clearly to this problem and outlines exactly how it helps you save time so you can focus on important tasks instead of jumping from one app to another.

    What Is A Value Proposition Zapier

    4. Sumo — The easiest way to turn your visitors into eCommerce customers

    Sumo definitely triggers your curiosity with a strong headline in their value proposition. They go on to explain how you can turn visitors into eCommerce customers with their shortcuts and provide a list of benefits and differentiating factors. What’s more, it implies that competitor products are more difficult to use, making their product more attractive.

    What Is A Value Proposition Sumo

    5. LastPass — Simplify your life

    In today’s day and age, we all have dozens, if not hundreds, of passwords to remember. Keeping track of all those passwords is tedious and time-consuming. LastPass offers a clear benefit and result with their value proposition statement. When you sign up for LastPass, your life becomes simpler and you only have to remember one password.

    What Is A Value Proposition LastPass

    6. CrazyEgg — Make your website better. Instantly.

    No matter how good your website is, there is always a way to make it better. Whether better means more sales or more subscribers, this value proposition triggers every business owner’s nagging fear that his or her site is not all it could be. CrazyEgg capitalizes on that with a bold statement that promises immediate results and explains why you should sign up for the platform.

    What Is A Value Proposition CrazyEgg

    7. Slack — Imagine what you’ll accomplish together

    Though the headline doesn’t make it crystal clear what Slack does or is, it certainly piques the visitor’s interest. Not reading further is impossible, and that’s where you learn what the true benefit of Slack is, how it helps your team and why you should use it.

    What Is A Value Proposition Slack

    8. Unbounce — Convert more leads and sales from your ad spend

    If you want to see the best return on investment for your ads, you need a landing page that will deliver results. Unbounce makes a promise that their software will help you build not only landing pages but also sticky bars and website popups that convert those leads and visitors into customers. It’s succinct, clear and to the point.

    What Is A Value Proposition Unbounce

    9. Interact Quiz Maker — Make a quiz to generate leads for your business

    Interact’s value proposition clearly outlines why you should use the app. It then elaborates further by explaining what it is and who it’s for. This is a great example of a value proposition done right that hits home on all fronts.

    What Is A Value Proposition Interact

    10. LeadPages — Turn clicks into customers

    LeadPages doesn’t beat around the bush. Their promise is clear — they will help you turn clicks into customers and the value proposition statement goes on to explain what LeadPages is, what you can use it for, and who it was built for.

    What Is A Value Proposition Leadpage

    Where to include your value proposition

    Once you’ve crafted your value proposition statement, it’s ready for prominent placement on your website.

    Ideally, your value proposition should be placed in the header area of your site, so it’s the first thing visitors see when they land on your website.

    Aside from your website, you can also include your value proposition in your social media profiles as a header image or in your bio. Your value proposition statement can also be included in your flyers or other marketing materials, and in advertising campaigns that help create brand awareness.

    Final words

    Now that you’ve defined your value proposition statement, it’s time to share it with the world.

    The best way to do that is to show off your products and services with a beautiful website.

    The post What is a value proposition? appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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