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Business Consultant in Tampa Florida and nearby

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    Considering a career in real estate? Your timing couldn’t be better. Median home prices were up almost 2.5% by the middle of 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors®. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial mindset and an eye for beauty, learning how to start a real estate business of your own could be a wise investment.

    And you’re in the right place to do just that.

    This ultimate guide to getting started in real estate will cover everything you need to hit the ground running and to create a long-term plan for success.

    How to start a real estate business in 10 steps

    From initial planning to launch to ongoing development, plus the tools and techniques that will help you achieve your long-term goals, here are the 10 steps we’re going to cover to help you get started in the real estate industry:

    1. Do your pre-planning.
    2. Find a mentor.
    3. Choose an entry point.
    4. Brand yourself.
    5. Build a website.
    6. Create a content strategy.
    7. Gather stats and testimonials.
    8. Create a financing plan.
    9. Invest in tech.
    10. Keep learning.

    Then we’ll cover some tips for success and pitfalls to avoid.

    But first …

    Why consider a real estate business?

    There are so many types of businesses you can open, so why consider a real estate business?

    Real estate businesses offer the opportunity for diversification.

    From sales to investment and affiliated services like title companies to niche markets, you’ll find a variety of ways to get started in the world of real estate.

    Real estate businesses offer a chance for high-potential upside with low cost.

    It is possible to start your career in real estate with relatively low overhead and to work your way up in the industry, even without an extensive background.

    Real estate is an industry that gives you a variety of ways to respond to market conditions.

    Unlike retail, where a product can become obsolete overnight, or food and hospitality, where one bad review can sink you, real estate professionals can ride the waves of market ups and downs by adjusting their marketing or their company’s focus.

    So, without further ado, here are 10 key steps to consider if you are interested in how to get started in real estate.

    Home With Sale Sign Represent Getting Started In Real Estate

    1. Do your pre-planning

    Before diving head-first into real estate or any type of venture, it’s vital to plan for success.

    Create a business plan

    Among your first steps should be doing some market research and creating a business plan.

    It is important to understand both where you stand financially and where you need to be to successfully launch your business.

    You’ll also need to focus on how you will sustain yourself personally over the life of your business. One of the main reasons businesses fail is that the owner does not have sufficient income to sustain him or herself during the early years.

    Research licensing requirements

    Pre-planning for a career in real estate may also involve a number of legal and educational hurdles, starting with earning a real estate license. And because many states require you to hold a real estate agent’s sales license for a number of years before you can hold a broker’s license, if you plan to supervise your brokerage transactions, you might need to start your education early.

    Alternatively, you can hire a real estate broker and hand off supervision of the day-to-day transactional aspects of the business.

    In this case, you will need to ensure you are hiring a highly qualified broker who is able to juggle the responsibilities of supervising multiple agents and transactions. You will also need to consider how you will effectively supervise your managing broker, especially if you don’t have deep industry knowledge.

    Take care of legal issues

    Finally, there will be a number of legal aspects involved in launching your business.

    For example, you may need to file for a business license with your state or local authorities. And you’ll need to determine how to designate your firm as a business entity, whether as an LLC, S-Corp or C-Corp. These are questions to explore with both your legal advisor and your financial advisor, to understand how they affect you and your own personal financial and legal liability.

    If you are thinking of going into business with a partner, you will also need to delineate in writing how you will share responsibilities, costs, profits and losses within the business.

    You will need to create a partnership agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both partners, including exit strategies should one or both of you decide to leave the business at some point.

    Related: The best business plan templates and what to include in your own

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    2. Find a mentor

    One of the most important things you can do as you create your company is to find a mentor who can provide advice, guidance and connections as you launch.

    A great mentor can make the difference between success and failure, since they will be able to help you see ahead and avoid costly and potentially destructive mistakes.

    In addition, your mentor will know a variety of people in the real estate business and will be able to provide connections you will need at an early stage. He or she may be able to introduce you to some of the professionals who can help during pre-planning, including financial and legal advisors and consultants and strategists.

    Moreover, a good mentor will be there for you over the long haul, allowing you to seek out help and advice when needed to face challenges that will inevitably crop up. Because they have been where you are, they know how to handle everything from managing difficult employees to problem clients, and from market downturns to tax strategies.

    One proven way you can optimize the power of mentorship is with an informal “board of directors” or “kitchen cabinet.”

    This would involve connecting with and seeking advice from a variety of people, each of whom serves a separate function. You might consider this your accountability mastermind group.

    For instance, you might know a real estate professional, a social media influencer, a financial advisor and a marketing guru. Seeking advice from all of them collectively at times — or from each of them individually at other times — will help you gain greater wisdom and perspective.

    Related: Finding a mentor — Where to look and what to look for

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    3. Choose an entry point

    Blue Door Represents Entry Point When Starting Real Estate Business

    Once you have a sense of the type of business you want to start and the preparation and resources you need to start it, you’ll need to choose an entry point into the market.

    Perhaps you’ll want to start out as a real estate sales agent and build your way up to running your own brokerage business. Perhaps you have the financing to move directly into an ownership position. Perhaps you’ll finance a growing business through real estate investment.

    You might want to enter the market in a narrow niche and expand your service offerings.

    This is often a good way to gain expertise and to make a name for yourself, as you align yourself with a specific client base or a specific type of transaction. Later, you can use this base as the foundation for growth and take on additional responsibilities and develop different types of client services.

    Remember, there are a variety of entry points to choose from. Maybe you want to start with small starter homes and work your way up to luxury estates. You might want to work with a narrow niche, like military families or first-time homebuyers, and move into a more general brokerage model.

    You could also get into real estate investing in a small way — through wholesaling for instance — then start flipping properties and eventually build a long-term investment portfolio.

    It’s important to remember that your business will grow over time.

     

    Patience is your friend in this regard, as it allows you to ride out short-term ups and downs and consider the long-term impact of your decisions.

    In addition, taking a long view of your business enables you to learn as you go and to tweak your business plan in response to market realities that will reveal themselves over time.

    Related: How to start a real estate investment company

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    4. Brand yourself

    One of the most effective and rewarding elements of starting your own business is the opportunity it provides to brand yourself and your company. Branding is more than just the appearance of your letterhead or the type of font you use, though it encompasses both.

    Branding is all about the message you want to convey to the public, to clients and to colleagues, and the ways that you communicate that message consistently over time.

    Your theme / tagline

    The first thing to consider when developing your brand is your central theme or motto.

    Choose a phrase or slogan that speaks to your most deeply held beliefs about yourself and your business.

     

    You may or may not choose to use this motto on your marketing materials, but it is good to define it for yourself and for the others in your company, as it will provide guidance for the branding elements you consider.

    Your name

    Will you be using your own name, a separate business name or a combination of both for your real estate brand? As you work through your options, be sure to check the availability of the corresponding domain name.

    Go ahead, give it a try:

    Your domain name will serve as the digital address for your website (more on that below), as well as the anchor for your professional email address, so it’s important to secure the right domain early in the process of starting a real estate business.

    Related: Collection of resources for naming a business

    Branding assets

    You will want a logo, a color scheme, a font, and an overall “look” for your company and its marketing materials.

    

    As you develop your brand identity, create a brand guide to record all of these elements and easily communicate them to employees and to the content creators you may work with on occasion.

    Consider how other artistic elements can help you create a sense of your brand.

    There may be a particular feeling that you associate with your business — tranquility, comfort, excitement — that can be evoked in your branding. Look at photos. Listen to music. Try to connect with an abstract sense of your brand identity then communicate it in concrete ways.

    Face of your brand

    Finally, consider who will be the face of your brand.

    If you are that face, make sure you have good headshots that make people want to work with you. You will want a number of different types of headshots in different settings — some in a studio, some outside, some formal and some casual. (Here are some Photoshop touch-up pointers for your headshots.)

    You can use these in different places and at different times to communicate your company’s message in a more personal way.

    Related: Collection of resources for building a brand 

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    5. Build a website

    Start A Real Estate Business GoDaddy Website Builder Sample Template
    GoDaddy Website Builder offers many professionally designed real estate templates that you can customize in a flash.

    At one time, building a website required tremendous time, effort and a highly specialized knowledge base. Now, however, technology has advanced to create website builders anyone can use to get a beautifully designed website up and running in a short time.

    Consider your goals for your website

    It’s important to have specific goals for your real estate website in mind before you begin the actual creation process. Some things to consider include:

    • Do you want it to give extensive information about you and your company or do you want it to be a smaller platform that drives traffic to you, like a landing page?
    • Do you want to host other content, like blogs or vlogs?
    • Do you want to integrate IDX home search for potential clients?
    • Do you want to capture email addresses and phone numbers from site visitors — or require that information in order to allow access to some parts of the site?

    All of these will make a difference in the way your site should be laid out and will function.

    Brand your website

    When you are building your website, make sure it conveys the feelings and emotions you identified in your branding process.

    Use the colors, fonts, logo and headshots you selected and produced. You might also look for royalty-free, high resolution photography to better convey your brand’s identity. Visitors don’t want to look at a wall of text — photos and images help keep them engaged.

    Related: How to use a stock photo 8 different ways

    Consider analytics when you are choosing a website provider

    You will need access to ongoing statistical analysis of your website’s visitors, performance and other metrics. These will help you understand when people are using your site, what they are using it for, how long they are staying, and who they are.

    This information, in turn, will help you tweak the site in order to keep improving those numbers.

    Be sure to explore the many options available from a platform like GoDaddy’s Website Builder for more ideas on design, function and growth.

    Related: How to plan a website 

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    6. Create a content strategy

    Where do you go for information about a new store or restaurant in your town? Where do you research hotels for an upcoming trip? How do you learn about the reputation of a local professional or service provider?

    Websites, social media, blogs and videos are essential to providing the types of information we use every day.

    They will be just as essential in helping you communicate with potential clients and customers.

    Develop yourself as a thought leader

    To effectively communicate with your potential audience, you will need to make yourself something of an influencer in your space.

    Fortunately, real estate is one area in which content strategies have been slow to develop, due in part to the older business models still used by many agents, and to the fact that the industry is made up of older agents in general. In fact, a recent study found that only 11 percent of agents have a blog.

    So good news: There’s a lot of digital space for you to fill.

    Create and showcase valuable content on a blog

    Create core content — like a blog, vlog or podcast — to share your expertise with clients and potential clients in your market and beyond.

    Remember, in real estate there are many opportunities to share referrals with professionals in other markets, so don’t limit yourself to just your local market when creating and promoting your content.

    Related: How to start a blog

    Get active on social media

    Maintain an active and effective social media strategy to promote your own content and drive traffic to it.

    You don’t have to be on all of the social media platforms — choose one or two and add new content consistently. Be sure and use beautiful images, videos and other visual elements to make your posts more exciting.

    Related: How to increase Instagram engagement for your real estate company

    Use your website as your home for great content

    Finally, house your content on your beautifully designed website, creating a hub of information for potential clients seeking your expertise.

    Use your website to then drive site visitors to your social media or video channels, and vice versa. In doing so, you create a virtual cycle of content and promotion that keeps people involved with the ideas and expertise you’re sharing.

    Related: Attract house hunters with these real estate blog ideas

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    7. Gather stats and testimonials

    Starting early on, make it a habit to ask for follow up ratings, and testimonials from satisfied clients you work with.

    Keep track of statistics for your transactions, including the number of days on market (DOM) for homes you sell. Compare these statistics to the market average in your area and look for the ways your company is beating other service providers in the area.

    Use the statistics and testimonials you gather throughout your marketing materials and content platforms.

    Add a testimonials page to your website

    Include testimonials from happy clients regularly in social media posts. Create infographics of your positive statistics and share them on social media as well.

    You can even incorporate a particularly impressive stat in your overall marketing messaging in order to communicate your expertise.

    This type of content is more convincing for many potential clients than anything you say about yourself, because it represents an objective assessment of your company and the service you provide.

    That can go a long way in helping you win new clients and impress potential colleagues and referral partners.

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

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    8. Create a financing plan

    How To Start A Real Estate Business Hundred Dollar Bills
    As you grow, you will need additional financing to help you reach some of your larger, long-term goals. Work with a financial planner or a mentor to strategize financing for some of your bigger projects.

    One of the big advantages of a career in real estate is the opportunity it provides for you to combine facilities requirements with investment opportunities.

    For example, if you need a new office, you may want to purchase a home or other space to house your company rather than renting from someone else. Thus, you not only get the office space you need, you also add to your own investment portfolio.

    Purchase a duplex, triplex or quad and rent out the other units to other businesses or to affiliated business partners for even more return on investment (ROI).

    This type of long-term thinking about your infrastructure needs can help you use equity-building and appreciation as part of your business’s financial planning.

    Related: 10 small business funding options — from angel investments to traditional loans

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    9. Invest in tech

    Technology is the cornerstone of many real estate companies’ plans in the current market.

    Indeed, some real estate companies have re-styled themselves as tech companies. This is because the technology that runs large property search portals, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and even the blockchain technology that is becoming such a cutting-edge part of real estate transactions provides extensive opportunities for innovation and differentiation.

    Whether you develop your own proprietary technology or use existing systems, a solid plan for incorporating technology into your real estate business is essential for serving clients and recruiting talented agents to work in your company.

    Transaction coordination systems, client communication, and many other elements of your day-to-day business operations are dependent on access to the latest technology.

    Moreover, you’ll need to ensure you integrate excellent business management platforms to track expenses and revenue and to handle all the tasks necessary to effectively and profitably run a business.

    Keeping an eye on the bottom line every day is essential for growth and helps you be as responsive as possible to market shifts.

    Many real estate businesses are developing their own in-house tech in order to ensure that it is fully customized for the way they and their employees like to work.

    If you decide to go this route, make sure that you have a good reason for doing so and a reasonable idea of what a successful outcome looks like. You might then consider whether licensing your proprietary technology to other companies is a move to consider, or whether you want to keep it exclusive to your company.

    Related: How to choose the best real estate management system

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    10. Keep learning

    How To Start A Real Estate Business African American Man Reading

    One of the best things about a career in real estate is that there’s always something new to learn.

    Master one niche and grow into another

    From the day you first explore how to start a real estate business to the day when you expand that business into a larger entity, you’ll be gaining new knowledge and insight with each transaction and client interaction.

    If you become an expert in one niche, there are dozens of others to take on.

     

    If you become a great listing agent, you can then aim to learn more about buyers. If you’re an exceptional broker, you will probably want to expand into investment as a way to build long-term wealth and a hedge against market adjustments.

    Take advantage of continuing education

    In addition, the real estate industry offers a variety of ways to learn the business. Certifications and designations abound, and can help you increase your knowledge and develop competencies that will make you more marketable to potential clients.

    Almost every association offers a variety of classes to improve your skills.

    There are a number of private conferences and conventions each year where you can hear the latest industry thinking and listen to accomplished speakers talk strategy.

    Should you decide that you want to get a higher level of expertise, you might pursue additional education at a local or online college. You can take classes in the financial side of your business — accounting, finance or bookkeeping — or improve your outreach skills with classes in marketing, communications and public relations.

    You might also want to learn more about the legal and contractual elements of real estate transactions, or pursue an MBA for a broad understanding of business.

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    Tips for success when starting a real estate business

    Real estate is a highly competitive industry — use these tips to gain an edge.

    Communication is key

    Whether you’re communicating with clients throughout their transaction or with your staff each day, you need to become an effective and consistent communicator. Cultivate the ability to communicate equally effectively in writing and in person for maximum efficiency.

    Related: 5 effective communication tips for leaders

    Understand and discuss the impact of your work life on your home life

    You will be far more effective in your career if you and your spouse or partner are happy at home.

    If your spouse becomes part of the business, make sure your work together is not taking a toll on your life at home. If your spouse is not part of the business, ensure you are spending adequate time with your family so that resentments don’t grow.

    Related: Clear your calendar for family time

    Learn how to better manage stress

    Building a business is an exciting adventure, but it can also be stressful.

    It is essential to find ways to manage your stress and keep yourself moving forward effectively. Meditation, counseling and exercise are all good ways to ensure you stay on an even keel and maintain your emotional balance.

    Related: How to deal with business stress (while improving profits) 

    Stay motivated

    Find an aspect of the real estate industry that gets you excited to get up and get to work each day.

    If you don’t love sales, focus more on the investment side. You may find that buy and holds don’t get your juices flowing, but fix and flips definitely do.

    The beauty of a career in real estate is that it offers you so many different ways to create and build a business, so you’re sure to find an area of the industry to love.

    Related: Find your purpose and outsource the rest 

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    Pitfalls to avoid

    Like in any industry, you’ll want to avoid some common mistakes in the real estate field.

    Avoid the temptation to do things on a handshake or with a verbal agreement

    You will no doubt meet people who you like and trust, and you’ll want to do business with them. There may even be a temptation to represent a client without an agreement, or you may want to enter into an investment with a colleague, knowing he or she will contribute in some way at some point down the road.

    In reality, plans change and people can disappoint you when they fail to live up to their part of an informal pact.

    Put everything in writing and no one will be in any doubt what their expectations and responsibilities are.

    Keep your emotions in check

    Be careful to preserve positive relationships with colleagues, employees and mentors.

    A momentary disagreement can cause you to say things you regret. An opportunity to do a lucrative deal can cause you to act in ways that are out of character. A temporary feeling of betrayal can lead to unduly actions that have long-term consequences.

    Be careful to act with integrity in all that you do and, if in doubt, take a night to “sleep on it” before shooting off an angry email or making a snappish comment.

    You never know when you might need that relationship again.

    The mentor who helped and promoted you can also undermine you. The employee who works for you today could become a successful rival down the road.

    You will rarely regret what you didn’t say or the angry action you didn’t take; you may regret lashing out on impulse.

    Don’t overextend yourself

    Be careful of leaving yourself overextended with no exit strategy.

    There will be times when an investment opportunity comes along that seems like a sure thing. Other times, it will be a totally necessary upgrade to the office.

    It may be tempting to overextend yourself financially, believing that profitability will result in time to get you back on a solid financial footing.

    It is important to remember that things can change quickly in the real estate industry.

     

    Hot markets can suddenly cool, financing can fall through, and people can fail to do today what they said they would do yesterday.

    If you’ve gone too far out on a limb without a plan B, you could find yourself needing rescue. Always make a provisional plan just in case things don’t work out the way you thought they would.

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    Have a plan to start a real estate business? Time to get to work!

    Hopefully this guide has helped you think through how to get started in real estate and begin the business of your dreams.

    You’ve started doing some research and planning, put together some experienced advisors, and created a vision of what you want to achieve. Now it’s time to move forward.

    Every day, take positive steps to put your action plan into place.

     

    Whether you research, strategize, work on a vision board, or implement goal-setting strategies, make some forward motion to learn, promote and grow your business.

    The people who never get off the ground are the ones who rest on their laurels, thinking that it is enough to pass the licensure test or finalize the LLC and the world will beat a path to their door. In reality, knowing how to start a real estate business and actually building one are two different things, and the latter requires constant effort and forward momentum.

    Sound hard? It is. But the rewards are fabulous.

    This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Cate Barker and Antonio Coleman.

    The post How to start a real estate business in 10 steps appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Starting a new career in web design is an exciting (and, let’s be honest, highly lucrative) prospect, but the prospect of actually starting to learn web design in 2019 can be intimidating.

    The amount of information and options for learning web design are overwhelming. It’s difficult to know whose knowledge you can trust. Add to that the fact that most information is geared towards more advanced designers and developers, so impostor syndrome and feeling like a fraud is a very real problem when you’re just starting out.

    But you don’t need to learn every bleeding-edge technology or get a degree in computer science to kick-start your web design career in 2019. You can learn the skills and gain the experience you need in only a few short months, regardless of your background or budget.

    This guide covers everything you need to know—the essential skills you should learn (in the correct order); the top tutorials, courses, and boot camps to learn quickly (as well as options for learning at your own pace); how to gain hands-on experience on real projects; how to use those projects to build a strong portfolio of work. We even offer suggestions on how to find your first web design client or job.

    6 steps to learning web design in 2019

    The guide is divided into six main sections:

    Click the section that’s most relevant to you to jump straight to that section. Or if you’re new to web design and you want to learn the basics, read on to find out how to get started as a web designer!

    Getting started: The basics of web design and development

    Web design in 2019 is a massive field—one that includes many different skills, disciplines, tools, and programs. But at its core, the fundamentals of web design remain the same for everyone.

    What is web design?

    Web design is the process of creating websites on the internet. Different areas of web design include graphic design, user experience design, scripting and coding, content writing, web server and network security configuration, information design, and search engine optimization.

    Web design can range from creating a static website with plain text, images, and links all the way up to complex web applications, content management systems, application programming interfaces (or APIs), and social networking services.

    The difference between a web designer and a web developer

    You might have also noticed there are different roles in the world of web design—web designers, web developers, and full-stack developers. There’s a lot of overlap among them—it’s often confusing to understand who’s responsible for what.

    The difference between a web designer and a web developer.
    The difference between a web designer and a web developer. Image via ComputerCareers

    Web designers manage the parts of websites you see and interact within your browser, usually called the front-end or client-side. They’re responsible for the appearance, layout, and often the content on a website—things like colors, fonts, images, navigation, and copy are all part of the web designer’s domain. Front-end designers working on interactive web applications also take care of presenting and updating data as it changes in real time.

    In contrast, web developers deal with all the parts of a website “under the hood.” Web developers usually take care of the coding and business logic that makes up the back-end (or server-side) of a website—things like writing code to fetch and display data, write code to communicate with other web services or databases, or manage dynamic content within a site or web app.

    Of course, some web designers are also web developers. They manage every aspect of a website and are referred to as “full-stack” developers. If you enjoy both front-end and back-end development, being a full-stack developer can make you more marketable. Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey reports that about 50% of respondents identify as full-stack developers.

    Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey reports that the majority of developers are full-stack.
    Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey reports that the majority of developers are full-stack. Image via Stack Overflow

    Choosing the career path for you

    As you progress throughout your own career, you’ll likely end up preferring either web design or development. Specializing in either front-end design or back-end development can make you more marketable to employers or clients—both options are equally in-demand, and both can make for an exciting and lucrative career.

    Right now, though, don’t worry too much about choosing one over the other. In the real world, you’ll find both fields require you to have at least some functional knowledge of the other field. The most successful web designers understand how to make the most of the technical limitations of the back-end, and the best web developers keep an artistic vision in mind when designing data structures. You can always specialize in particular areas once you gain experience and skills.

    Web design 101: The key skills you should learn first

    When you’re just starting out, get comfortable with a few key skills for both front-end design and back-end development. A basic understanding of essential web design skills will serve you well in your web design career and make you more appealing to clients and employers.

    Let’s take a look at the key skills you’ll need to master to become a web designer.

    The basics: HTML, CSS , JavaScript, and version control

    The first thing you should learn is how to code and style a basic website—and for this, you’ll need to get to know both HTML and CSS. HTML and CSS are markup languages that designers use to create the parts of a web page and their visual styles. They’re the basic building blocks behind every website—web browsers use the HTML and CSS code to determine what users see when they browse a website.

    HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the coding language used to describe the content on a web page and how it’s structured—think headings, bullet points, and hyperlinks.

    Walking hand-in-hand with HTML is CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is the code that represents how the contents of a web page should be styled and laid out. By changing the CSS code for a web page, you can control which fonts are used, change colors and images, and lay out page content for maximum impact.

    The three basic web programming languages are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
    The three basic web programming languages are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Image via R-Craft

    Finally, we have JavaScript—a programming language used to dynamically control the content on a web page. JavaScript lets you make sites interactive—web apps, interactive maps, scrolling images, and dynamic video are all powered by JavaScript. JavaScript is a massive programming language with near-limitless potential, but beginner developers should focus on learning the basics—things like syntax, how variables work, conditional statements, and functions.

    Last but certainly not least, both front-end designers and back-end developers should get to know version control systems. Version control systems let you track changes to code, enabling multiple people to work on code at the same time without fear of messing up anyone else’s changes. The most popular version control system these days is Git—the vast majority of coding bootcamps and online courses use Git, so it’s the best place for new developers to start.

    Front-end web design skills: Responsive design, frameworks, and libraries

    Having a working grasp of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is enough to get you started in the field of web design. Move beyond the basics, though, and you’ll have to choose to develop either front-end or back-end skills.

    Mastering front-end web design requires a blend of coding skills and design-savvy. Most new front-end designers start by diving deep into CSS and learning more complex selectors and advanced layout techniques. You’ll also learn to love collaborative design tools like Figma for creating stunning designs.

    One concept you’ll get to know quite well is responsive design, meaning dynamic layouts that adjust to look great on any screen size, from big-screen TVs to smartphones. Sites use media queries to control the “breakpoints”—the different screen resolutions at which the user’s browser should switch to a different layout and set of styles. With mobile devices accounting for nearly half of web traffic in 2019, responsive design is an essential skill for any web designer.

    Responsive design lets the same design adjust to multiple screen sizes.
    Responsive design lets the same design adjust to multiple screen sizes. Image via Verve Search

    Another problem you’ll soon encounter is the sheer amount of time it takes to code all these styles by hand. The style sheets for any given website can often exceed the length of the website code itself. To speed things up, front-end designers use two techniques: they use pre-packaged frameworks to get a head start and CSS preprocessors to minimize the code they need to write.

    Front-end frameworks such as Bootstrap come pre-packaged with styles and code examples for commonly used design elements like navbars, checkout flows, and pricing tables. Since the code is well-tested and documented, frameworks can make creating new designs much faster.

    CSS preprocessors like Sass make writing style sheets much faster and more intuitive. Instead of copying and pasting similar code entries multiple times, Sass allows you to write one set of styles in a markup language similar to CSS called SCSS. Those styles can be reused as many times as you need. You can also nest styles inside one another, potentially eliminating hundreds of duplicated lines of code.

    An example showing SCSS code and the resulting output CSS code.
    An example showing SCSS code and the resulting output CSS code. Image via ZURB

    Since web browsers don’t understand SCSS code directly, though, you need to parse it into vanilla CSS using a build tool like Grunt or webpack. Build tools also come in handy for combining multiple CSS files into one (helping keep your code organized), compressing (or minifying) code to improve download speeds, and even automatically deploying code to a remote web server.

    Finally, you’ll learn to love JavaScript frameworks and libraries. JavaScript frameworks are working structures of JavaScript code you can include in your own site to speed up development. Popular JavaScript frameworks in 2019 include Vue, React, and Angular. If you’re new to front-end design, Vue is a great place to start learning.

    In contrast, a JavaScript library is a set of standalone components you can take and plug into your own designs, adding additional functionality to the code you already have. The most popular JavaScript library is jQuery, which includes over 300 functions you can use.

    On top of all the coding, you’ll need to make sure your designs are beautiful and easy-to-use—and you’ll often find yourself working alongside other designers. While web designers in the past might have used Photoshop to design layouts, most designers these days use purpose-driven tools like Figma or InVision to create designs and mockups. Figma’s a great tool for new designers to start on since they offer a free account without many restrictions.

    Back-end web development skills: Coding, content management, and databases

    Back-end web development involves a lot of coding. Websites have used dozens of different programming languages, but a few of the most popular include Python, Java, PHP, and Ruby.

    Some of the most popular back-end programming languages.
    Some of the most popular back-end programming languages. Image via Stack Overflow

    Each of these programming languages has its own pros and cons, but the best place to start is to pick one and begin learning it and experimenting with it. You don’t have to learn all of them—many fundamental programming concepts (like looping, for example) carry across almost every language. Choose a language that’s in-demand (if in doubt, start from the top of the chart above) and one that you enjoy learning.

    Back-end developers also often set up content management systems, or CMS. WordPress, for example, has come a long way since its launch in 2003—it now powers 34% of all the websites on the internet. Learning WordPress is a great way to grasp the fundamentals of back-end development. You’ll learn about functions and variables, classes, code structure and scope, and much more. You’ll also gain valuable debugging skills and get comfortable with the command line, two essential skills for any back-end designer.

    The best way to start learning WordPress is through hands-on experience. GoDaddy Pro can help get your first WordPress site up and running in only a few minutes.

    GoDaddy Pro makes it easy to get started learning WordPress management.
    GoDaddy Pro makes it easy to get started learning WordPress management.

    As a back-end web developer, you’ll also work closely with databases that store all the information behind websites in neatly organized and labeled rows and columns, kind of like an Excel spreadsheet. Once you understand the basics, it’s easy to get started. The most popular database system is SQL, or Structured Query Language—most websites (including every WordPress site) use SQL through a software tool called MySQL. So start by learning the basics of SQL.

    The best resources for beginners to learn web design

    Now you have a handle on which skills you should focus on to become a web designer, it’s time to start learning those skills. Of course, you don’t have to go back to school (unless you want to, of course!)—there are plenty of options for learning at your own pace at a fraction of the cost of a college degree.

    Online courses

    Online courses are a great way for beginners to learn web design. While many of the best courses do cost money, they provide great value for what you pay, and you can learn from home at your own pace. The main downside of online courses? There’s nobody but you holding yourself accountable, and it’s difficult to ask questions of someone with experience. In workshops and boot camps (which we’ll explain in a minute), your instructors and colleagues will keep you motivated and moving forward.

    Options for online courses on web design include the following:

    Web design books

    Even with all the other mediums you could use to learn web design, there’s still nothing quite like curling up with a book. Authors spend years refining their knowledge, collecting best practices, examples, and tutorials and distilling them into a format you can absorb in a short amount of time from the comfort of your own couch.

    When you’re just starting out, you won’t know what interests you yet, so read everything you can. Get started with our list of recommended books for web designers and these free programming books on GitHub.

    Blogs for web designers

    Over the years, designers have published hundreds of great blog posts covering every web design topic imaginable. If you’re looking for information on a specific topic, Google is your friend—the best place to start is by searching for that topic and seeing what comes up.

    A List Apart is one of our essential web design blogs for beginner designers.
    A List Apart is one of our essential web design blogs for beginner designers. Image via A List Apart

    The key is to search for the exact term you’re looking for and to know which of the hundreds of sources you can trust. Here are a few suggestions on the best web design blogs to help you cut through the noise.

    College courses

    College can be a great option for beginner web designers to learn the ropes. Having a degree and professional accreditation can help convince employers to hire you and increase your starting salary or freelance rate. The downside, though, is that college courses can cost a lot more than many of the other options for learning web design and take a lot more time.

    Contact your local universities, colleges, and community colleges to learn which courses and degrees in web design they offer.

    Workshops and boot camps

    If you’re looking to get your web design career rolling fast, boot camps and live workshops are the best options. While many boot camps do cost a lot, they also provide a ton of value. In-person instruction means you’ll learn quickly—a complete course can take six months or less. You’ll also gain industry connections through your instructors to help you find a job and support from your peers as you learn.

    Web design boot camps are a great way to kick-start your web design career.
    Web design boot camps are a great way to kick-start your web design career. Image via Eva PenzeyMoog on Medium

    The downside? Boot camps are challenging and are only valuable if you’re ready to commit. The only way to speed up the learning process is through hard work—but if you want to switch careers quickly, boot camps can be a great option.

    Below are popular options for web design boot camps:

    Do it yourself

    Last but not least, you can always forge your own path and learn web design on your own. Going at your own pace has its benefits: You can learn from home while you continue working, and learning materials are cheap or often free. Of course, the lack of accountability can hold back some prospective web designers, and having to define your own learning structure can make progress difficult for some. If you go down this path, try to find a mentor: someone experienced in web design who can answer questions and help you stay accountable.

    Here are some options for learning web design on your own:

    How to gain hands-on web design experience and build your portfolio

    No matter how you choose to learn web design, you’ll need to gain some hands-on experience before applying for jobs or pitching clients. While the process of finding projects and pitching your still-limited expertise might feel intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few great options for beginner web designers to gain experience and build their portfolios.

    Participate in online coding communities

    Online coding communities are one of the best ways for budding web designers to contribute to projects and gain experience. You can use open platforms like GitHub to contribute to open-source projects or simply fork (or copy) existing projects on CodePen and mess with them on your own until you understand how they work.

    Codewars makes learning web design fun.
    Codewars makes learning web design fun. Image via Codewars

    Some platforms, like HackerRank, help you actively improve your coding skills and find a job. Others, like Stack Overflow, let you join a community of coders, answer (and find answers to) questions, and share knowledge. Finally, platforms like Codewars turn learning into a game, letting developers compete on real code challenges while having fun.

    Redesign an existing site or web app

    Improving an existing website or app and adding your own signature flair is a great way to build your portfolio and show off how you approach design work.

    Start paying attention to websites you love and noting what makes them so appealing to you—look for elements like typography, layout, imagery, navigation, and color. How can you replicate those elements in your own design or riff off them to create entirely new designs? What would you improve and why?

    Use the Web Inspector or Developer Tools (sometimes called DevTools) in your browser to look at the HTML and CSS code behind anything interesting you come across, and search Google for anything that doesn’t look familiar. You can also play with the HTML and CSS code in the Web Inspector to make quick changes to a website or use tools like Mod&Dot to save and share edits.

    Use your browser’s development tools to learn web design.
    Use your browser’s development tools to learn web design. Image via Google

    Put everything together in a case study showing the changes you’d make. Include a detailed case study explaining your design approach, why you made each decision, and what the outcome or improvement should be from your new design. Case studies like this will automatically put you ahead of 90% of other beginner web designers.

    Accept small freelance projects

    There’s nothing better than paying clients to motivate you to learn. Even as a beginner web designer, you should try taking on a handful of small freelance projects as side jobs to gain experience and learn if freelancing is right for you.

    Tap your network and complete some small, paid jobs for friends and family, or take on unpaid work for non-profits or other clients to find clients. Just make sure you use the experience you gain to create case studies for future prospects and ask all clients for testimonials to include in your portfolio and referrals.

    Build your own playground

    Every new web designer should start a blog or website of their own to experiment and learn. Hosting platforms like GoDaddy Pro make it incredibly easy to get started with your own site, and it’s a great way to show off your experience (and have fun learning) without the pressure to perform.

    David Kadavy, author of Design for Hackers, recommends starting your own blog. “Having a personal project, such as a blog, gives you a place where you can try new things, and your boss won’t fire you if you mess up.”

    Reach out to your network for feedback on your design, and share them on social media and on portfolio sites like Dribbble or Behance. Don’t be afraid of looking like a beginner; everyone started at the same place! Listen to the feedback you collect, both positive and negative, and you’ll quickly learn how to improve your designs.

    Consider whether freelance work or employment fits you

    Now you have some experience and projects under your belt, it’s time to choose a path. New web designers have two main options: working for clients as a freelance web designer or working for an established company.

    According to Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents identify as being employed full-time, with around 10% listing themselves as freelancers or independent contractors. Both have their pros and cons, and you need to make your decision based on what you want to get out of your web design career.

    Nearly 3/4 web developers are employed full-time.
    Nearly 3/4 web developers are employed full-time. Image via Stack Overflow

    Remember, too, there’s no fixed path. If you try freelancing and discover it isn’t for you, you can always find an in-house position with an established company. Web design skills are always in high demand!

    Become an in-house web designer

    The most common career option for new web designers is full-time employment. In-house web designers usually work as part of a design team, working either on marketing sites like landing pages and content management systems or designing web apps for startups.

    Working for an established company brings a consistent and reliable income (most web designers and developers are paid quite well), as well as benefits like health insurance and paid time off. You’ll also be working alongside an experienced team of designers and developers with plenty of opportunities to learn.

    If there’s one main downside to full-time employment, it’s that you’re working on someone else’s projects, so there won’t be as much variety in the work.

    Become a freelance web designer

    Instead of working for a single employer, freelance web designers work directly for clients. One week, you might be working on designing a new blog for a client, and the next, you might be helping another improve conversions on their ecommerce site.

    Going out on your own as a full-time freelance web designer can be a highly lucrative path, but it’s also a path fraught with extra difficulties. Yes, you’ll find clients who pay more, and you’ll be able to work when and where you want. But you need to weigh how important flexibility is to you against the lack of a consistent income, benefits, and paid time off, not to mention all the extra work that comes with marketing your services.

    Our recommendation: Start by experimenting with your own projects

    Our recommendation? Start with your own project, where you are your first customer, and then consider moving in-house or going freelance.

    Once you have some experience and some projects under your belt, it’ll be a lot easier to find employers or freelance clients willing to hire you—plus, you can always transition slowly from full-time to freelance without the financial pressure of making the leap before you’re ready.

    Where to find web design jobs

    Whether you’re going freelance or searching for an in-house position, you’ll eventually begin the search for your first job. Finding your first client or getting hired for that dream job might seem like a pipe dream right now, but once you have a grasp of the basics of web design and have a little experience under your belt, it won’t be difficult to find work and start growing your career.

    There are many ways to find your first web design job—let’s look at a few of the most popular.

    Search general job boards

    Most general job board sites like Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn will let you filter by “web design” to find relevant jobs. If you’re freelancing, you can also check freelancing sites like Upwork or Freelancer to find clients looking for web designers.

    Start by looking for entry-level roles, but don’t be intimidated by jobs asking for a minimum of a few years’ experience. Use your portfolio to show your progress and skills, promote yourself as a proactive and fast learner, and you might find yourself with plenty of interviews, despite those experience requirements.

    Search dedicated design and development job boards

    In addition to general job boards, there are also plenty of popular job boards dedicated to design and development roles. Companies often avoid the more general job boards in favor of more technology-focused options, so these boards can be a great place to find jobs that might not be listed on the bigger sites.

    Below are some of the best web design and development job boards:

    Tap your network

    Another great place to start your search is by tapping your existing network. Reach out to friends and family, current and past colleagues and workmates, and anyone else you can think of. Let them know you’re seeking out web design positions, and ask if they know anyone they could introduce you to.

    You can also try expanding your network by visiting meetups and other local networking opportunities. Events aimed at other web designers and developers (for employees), as well as events aimed at prospective clients (for freelancers) can be great ways to build new connections and uncover job opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed.

    Check social media

    Last but not least, don’t forget the power of social media. If you’ve been sharing updates on your projects and what you’re learning, you’re likely already catching the attention of prospective clients and employers. Don’t be afraid to mention that you’re looking for work, and ask for shares, retweets, or recommendations from others in your network. You can also use LinkedIn to search for jobs or Twitter to search for hashtags and posts advertising jobs that match your interests.

    Start learning web design today

    Starting a new career as a web designer in 2019 can be an exciting and intimidating prospect. After all, there are so many web designers already out there with more experience than you.

    Don’t be afraid. Every single one of those designers and developers once stood exactly where you are right now. Yes, a career in web design takes hard work, perseverance, and maybe even a little bit of luck, but we know you can do it.

    Now get out there, and start learning!

     

    Header photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash

    The post Learn web design in 2019: Everything you need to know appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This post was originally published on June 10, 2016, and was updated on Sept. 22, 2017, Nov. 20, 2018, and Sept. 11, 2019. 

    You’ve registered the perfect domain name for your website. Your product list is coming together and your website looks great. Then, bam. A new contact from the local chamber of commerce asks you over breakfast finger foods if your website will be secured with an SSL certificate.

    You remember hearing that Google’s Chrome browser will display a “Not Secure” warning next to the website in the address bar if the site is not secured by an SSL certificate. But wait, what is SSL? Does my website really need an SSL certificate? Do I need to know how SSL works?

    Not to worry. Because you’ve read this, you can skip choking on a sausage link or asking someone to pass the muffins to buy time to do a quick web search before answering.

    Here’s what you need to know about SSL certificates for your website.

    Related: Tools to Secure a Website 

    What is SSL?

    First things first — what is SSL, exactly? “SSL” is short for Secure Sockets Layer. In simpler terms, it’s how website owners communicate with customers that they can browse, buy products or services, and share information safely with you online.

    Without getting overly technical, adding an SSL creates a safe connection for those kinds of activities.

    Think of an SSL certificate as a giant windshield for when you drive on the information super-highway.

    You wouldn’t head out on your local freeway — especially at night in a rural area — without something between you and all the bugs. In much the same way, an SSL certificate protects your site — and its visitors — from many digital bugs, worms and other nasty web creatures.

    Before quickly dismissing your site as “too small to be a target,” bear in mind that most interceptions are done electronically without a human deciding who is attacked.

    No site is too small to get hacked.

     

    In fact, research shows that half of all cyber attacks target small businesses.

    A web creepy crawly doesn’t care how big you are or what you do for a living. They have one goal, and that is to find vulnerabilities. Once discovered, its dirty work begins.

    Related: SSL security — Why it matters and how to add HTTPS to your website

    What does an SSL certificate do?

    If you’re ever wondered how SSL works, look no further.

    An SSL certificate works to create an encrypted connection between your visitor’s browser and the server.

    A secure session is established via a “handshake” process, one that involves a back-and-forth between the web browser and the web server, and it occurs behind the scenes — all without interrupting the shopping or browsing experience.

    An SSL works to protect valuable information passed between the two parties.

    How SSL Works Example
    Photo: Christiaan Colen via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

    Does your website really need an SSL certificate?

    As mentioned above, Google began rolling out Chrome 68 in July 2018, marking a website as “Not Secure” if it is not protected with an SSL certificate. It’s all a part of making the global web more secure. However, it is even more important if you collect data or accept payments.

    Related: Do you need SSL encryption if you don’t sell anything on your website?

    Accept payment securely

    What Is SSL Cards

    Do you plan to accept major credit cards online? You’ll likely need a merchant account, and most of them will require you to use an SSL certificate. Some web hosting companies, including GoDaddy, have terms of service requiring websites to be secured with an SSL before accepting credit cards. Besides, would you really want to put your customers at risk of having their credit card information stolen while shopping on your site?

    It’s not exactly a great way to attract repeat business.

    Some online store and shopping cart programs, including GoDaddy’s Online Store, come with a built-in secure payment system. In these cases, a third party handles the credit cards or provides another method of paying online. If this applies, it’s possible that your small business might not need the added protection of an SSL for your checkout page.

    There are other reasons, however, to add an SSL.

    Protect password logins

    A major reason you might want to add an SSL certificate to your website is if any of your pages are password protected. This includes WordPress or Joomla! or other database-driven sites with a login page for the administrator.

    Membership sites with multiple logins also create more opportunities for black-hat hackers to attack.

    Remember, anything that needs to be secure online needs to operate under the safety net of an SSL certificate.

    The web is filled with bots lurking around seeking poorly protected password pages to provide them access to your website. You don’t want to log on only to find your pages have been defaced or deleted.

    Related: 10 best practices for creating and securing stronger passwords 

    Secure all web forms

    Not everyone collects money online. Some websites collect information. These could be leads for potential home buyers. Or questionnaires about your client’s employment history. Or anything. If you are collecting even the most basic information such as name, address, phone number and email address, chances are your clients would not want that information leaked.

    Without an SSL certificate, some types of form mail can be intercepted. Some code is more reliable than others. Do you want to take chances that yours is susceptible to hacking?

    Probably not.

    This is why securing your online forms with an SSL certificate is also a must.

     

    You wouldn’t do business with someone who skipped this step. Don’t give anyone this as a reason not to do business with you.

    Related: Web form security best practices for property managers

    More information and resources on SSL certificates

    Now that you’ve learned what is SSL and how SSL works, you can move on to picking one for your website. Depending on the type of site or sites you run, you could potentially need a different type of SSL certificate.

    GoDaddy SSL Certificates Chart
    GoDaddy makes it easy for you to choose the right kind of SSL certificate for your website.

    Learn about the four types of SSL certificates available:

    Related: Choose the best SSL certificate for your business website and WordPress SSL Certificate options.

    Once you’ve determined which option is the best fit for you, attach it to your website and enjoy the benefits.

    What to learn even more about SSL certificates? Here are more great articles from the GoDaddy team of writers:

    The post Does your website need an SSL certificate? appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This article was originally published on Aug. 5, 2015, and was updated on Dec. 3, 2018, and Sept. 11, 2019.

    Buying and selling domain names is an exciting adventure that for some seems to conjure up images of finding hidden pirate treasure or guessing the winning combination on the next Powerball. Stories abound of domains that were purchased for $8 dollars 15 years ago being sold today for millions. Of course, that leads the more adventurous of us to wonder, “How can I do that?”

    Well, the ocean is big. Your likelihood of cashing in on the motherlode is low, and you’re liable to waste a lot of time and money chasing after the wrong ships. You need a map or some other advantage to guide you toward that elusive booty.

    These five tried-and-true tips for buying and selling domain names for a profit can navigate you to becoming an expert.

    Related: The top 25 most expensive domain names

    5 tips for buying and selling domain names for profit

    Here are some tips to get you pointed in the right direction when trying to buy or sell a domain name for profit:

    1. Narrow your focus.
    2. Find names that offer real value.
    3. Check domain availability.
    4. Evaluate the price.
    5. Get your domains front and center.

    Let’s dig into each of these tips.

    1. Narrow your focus

    Hands Pointing On A Map
    There are millions of domains already registered by someone and endless combinations of available domains to register — especially when you consider the hundreds of new domain name extensions like .app and .club.

    If you plan on buying a domain to resell it, start by narrowing your focus.

     

    What do you know about already that can make this easier?

    • Do you know about pets? Trying getting a .dog or .pet domain name.
    • Are you in car or home sales? Consider getting a .car or .realestate domain extension.
    • Is your profession in education or healthcare? Check out .education and .doctor options.

    Think about some of the spaces you are most familiar with and start your domain name search based on the related keywords.

    It is much easier to sell a domain you know would be valuable to someone in a particular industry.

    You can check the strength of a keyword by using tools like Google Trends and Keyword Planner.

    What not to do

    Here’s what you DON’T want to do: Target prospective buyers based on their perceived economic status, without any insight into the industry you’re targeting. “Lawyers seem to do well,” you think, “maybe I should start selling names to them.” So you rush out and buy a bunch of domain names you think would appeal to the law firms you’ve identified as potential buyers.

    Without knowledge of the space, you may not know that the American Bar Association and other industry-specific organizations set rules that govern some aspects of legal advertising. You’re not going to strike gold selling names your target buyers can’t use.

    Understand your audience, and the sales will eventually follow.

     

    You can keep a domain for 10 years and still sell at a considerable profit. While you are waiting for it to sell you can monetize the domain and throw in some SEO, which in turn can justify the cost to the buyer.

    Most domains end up paying for themselves so your portfolio won’t really cost you any money out of pocket.

    Remember to focus on the areas you know well and you will be much more successful than buying and selling domains you think would benefit someone in an industry you know little about.

    Related: How to buy a domain that someone else owns

    2. Find names that offer real value

    Think of ways that the domains you buy would be a valuable asset to the buyer.

    Picture someone who would benefit from buying the domain in a space you are very familiar with. If this was you and someone was trying to sell you this name, would it be beneficial for you to own? Be honest. If so, why? If not, why?

    Use those answers to refine your search for names.

    Let’s play this out with a real example. Say you’re familiar with the real estate market in Tempe, Arizona, and you have the opportunity to purchase tempeapartments.com for $200. This might be a good deal. Tempe has a lot of rental property; it’s a competitive market; and there’s ample turnover in the apartment space because the city is home to a major university. Ask yourself:

    • How much does one month of rent profit a landlord, property manager or other prospective domain buyer? How about a year’s worth of rental profit?
    • Would you buy this name if you were in the space? If so, why?
    • What kind of domains are landlords, property managers, etc., using?
    • How much do they spend on advertising?
    • How much would this domain help them to sound authoritative in their space?

    If you can answer these questions with confidence and know this niche well, you probably already have an idea of who to contact and how to make a compelling case for how this domain could help their business grow.

    Related: Should you buy a premium domain name for your business?

    3. Check domain availability

    Now that you have narrowed down what names you should probably be buying, how do you find them?

    First, check to see if the names are available to purchase as new registrations.

    Check your domains

    If the names are taken (as many probably will be), head over to the aftermarket to buy from people who already own the names or who let them expire because they no longer plan on using them.

    A great place to look is GoDaddy Auctions.

    GoDaddy Auctions Homepage

    Use the advanced search option to quickly hone in on the type of names you are interested in. You can narrow the results by price, top-level domain (i.e, .com, .net, .org, .club, etc.), keyword, and many more filters.

    Using this feature will help you quickly sort through the millions of domains on the aftermarket and find the domain names that best fit your end goals.

    Related: How to buy a domain name

    4. Evaluate the price

    Once you have a name in mind, how do you know if the price is fair?

    I like to use namebio.com to compare the domain I’m thinking about buying with similar domains that have sold. You can enter the keyword and also use some advanced search features to see a list of names similar to yours, what they actually sold for, and when they sold.

    You can also research current domain sales on venues like GoDaddy Auctions and Afternic.

    Afternic Website For Buying And Selling DomainsFinally, Ron Jackson issues a weekly report on DN Journal that covers the top public sales of the week. You can use all these resources to help you price your domains correctly.

    For a buyer, if you see a domain that you HAVE TO HAVE, snap it up as fast as you can. That might mean making an offer rather than waiting for the auction to end (if that is an option from the seller). You may be able to avoid a bidding war and still get it for a price within your budget.

    For a seller, stay firm on a price but also open your auction up for offers above a certain price. Also look for businesses with a similar domain or businesses that would like to acquire your domain because it reflects their branding.

    Finding opportunities to sell .com domains are considerable when you offer them to the holders of the .org, .net or .info.

    Patience and persistence are key when buying and selling domain names.

     

    Editor’s note: Price your domains with confidence. With GoDaddy Domain Name Value & Appraisal, you can get the most accurate and comprehensive domain pricing estimates available. We use an exclusive algorithm that relies on both machine learning and real market sales data to estimate domain values. Best of all? It’s free.

    5. Get your domains front and center

    There are many venues to get your domains out in front of the buying public. You want to consider a few things:

    Is the venue trusted and well known?

    It’s important to feel confident that you will get paid and that the buyer will get the domain name they paid for.

    Pick a place that has good ratings with recognized bodies such as the Better Business Bureau or licensing from a trusted government source.

    This will make it easier for the buyer to pull the trigger on the domain purchase as well knowing they can trust the brand that is selling the domain.

    A trusted brand is vital when selling a domain.

    Is the distribution network strong?

    The potential to get your domain name in front of the right buyer is vital.

    Listing in a distribution network such as Afternic can get your domain name in front of millions of potential buyers each month. Afternic is owned by GoDaddy and it will automatically list it with GoDaddy as well as over 100 other companies such as Network Solutions or Register.com.

    Do you know people who could benefit from the domain name? Why not reach out to them and see if they have any interest in using the domain? If you are working in an area of the domain space you are familiar with, you should be able to convey the value proposition of your domain name for the potential buyer.

    Keep it short and only approach people you know and think would be interested in the domain for their business.

    You do not want to start sending spam emails. You want to have conversations with people you know would appreciate the ability to own the domain.

    Letting a great name you purchased at a fair price to make a profit sit in your account, instead of getting it in front of the right buyer, is like finally finding that pirate treasure map but framing it to admire in your living room instead of following it to the booty.

    Resources to learn more

    There is always a learning curve in buying domains with the purpose of reselling them. Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions to those who went before you, participate in forums such as namepros.com, keep abreast of industry trends via resources like domaining.com, and reach out to the Afternic and GoDaddy Aftermarket support teams.

    Read this guide

    Andrew Alleman of Domain Name Wire created a thorough guide, Get Started Selling Your Domains: How to list your domains for sale through GoDaddy. It is well worth the read when you’re learning how to buy and sell domains.

    Attend a conference

    Attending a domaining conference will really ramp up your knowledge quickly. You’ll meet a lot of other professionals who are in the industry. You can also see firsthand the tools and services available to you from various vendors in the space.

    The biggest industry event of the year, NamesCon, happens each January and is currently held in Las Vegas. For more information on the event, go to Namescon.com.

    All of these things will help you to be a smarter investor and make the most of your time and money.

     

    Buying and selling domain names is a skill in which you can become proficient. With these five tried-and-true tips, you will soon be on your way to making profits in the domain name world.

    This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Andy McIlwain.

    The post 5 tried-and-true tips for buying and selling domain names for profit appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    I remember being told early on in my career that my resume was not something that would get me a job. Rather it was a tool that should be designed to get me an interview where I could sell myself. Similarly, an investor presentation, or pitch deck, is not something that is going to close a funding round.

    A pitch deck is, however, a critical tool that successful entrepreneurs use to gain interest in their concept or company.

    If leveraged correctly, an investor presentation should open the door to more serious investment conversations.

    Think of it as your first opportunity to tell your story, show you’re a rock star, and have something to leave behind so potential investors remember you and your company.

    This means your pitch deck needs to be powerful and generate interest, but it does not need to cover every topic or point that may eventually need to be covered to get to a yes. It’s tough to figure out what to include and even tougher to figure out what to leave out.

    At SlideShop, we build a lot of seed funding pitch decks and I’ve come to see building them as both an art and a science. Certain things are expected and just have to be included — financials and a clearly defined ideal customer profile, for example — but how you approach telling your story and building excitement should be unique, personal and compelling.

    You need to tell investors why they should bet on you.

     

    Investors see lots of pitches, and a quality presentation that expresses why this idea — and why you — deserve funding could ensure you get that second meeting.

    Dollar Bills in Ground Represent Seed Funding

    Related: Resources for funding a business

    How to start building your pitch deck

    I know from personal experience that building out an investor presentation is stressful. You spend a disproportionate amount of time building, and what took you 20 hours to create can fail in a matter of two seconds.

    But remember, you’re not going to get it right the first time, no matter how much time you spend on it.

    You will always be iterating and evolving your pitch deck based on what you learn.

    And you may even have multiple versions, one that you use more as a presentation and one that can stand on its own. (Hint: version control is important. Be sure you know what version of your presentation you sent to each potential investor.)

    One of the hardest parts of building your investor presentation is just getting started.

    Write titles for each slide

    To ensure I get started quickly, and to be sure I have a compelling storyline, I usually start by writing the titles for each slide.

    I literally create a new presentation in PowerPoint and just use the default template to enter the titles.

    It helps me think through the order of my story and how the pieces will fit together, and it creates a solid foundation on which to build. It also helps me think through what should not be in the story and what I need to edit out.

    Make notes for each slide

    Once I have my titles worked out, I then make notes in the body of the presentation detailing what should be on each slide.

    This may seem overly simplistic, but it’s a critical step.

     

    One of the biggest issues with pitch decks is that they are often cluttered with too much information and data or topics that are not relevant to share during an initial meeting.

    As soon as you start working on charts and graphs and sentence structure, you’ll forget about your story. So, make sure it’s baked in and mapped out so you end up with something that takes your potential investor on the journey you want them on.

    What goes in my investor presentation?

    Pitch Deck Typing On Laptop

    While there is no such thing as a standard pitch deck or investor presentation, there are some common elements people use and that investors expect to see. Here are a few examples to help you get started, but don’t let this list limit you or squash what makes you and your story unique.

    Details about the leadership team

    This is your chance to introduce yourself, other key members of your team, and sell the potential investor on why you are the right team for this venture.

    A company/concept overview

    This section is not just about laying out facts. It’s about painting a picture of what they will be investing in and telling them why they should.

    Market size

    This section is critical for demonstrating the quality of the investment. If you’re not sure what to include here, do a bit of research and search on terms like TAM (total addressable market), SAM (serviceable addressable market), and SOM (share of market). There’s a lot of information available to help you figure out your market size.

    Competitive analysis

    Who else is in this space or solving the same problem? What is it you will do better than anyone else and why does the market care about it?

    Revenue model

    This is where you outline how you will make money.

    Revenue projections and key metrics

    You’ll want to include three to five years of revenue projections to help investors understand the size of the business. Your industry may also have key performance metrics that they’ll want to see.

    9 pitch deck do’s and don’ts

    As you work on your investor presentation, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind.

    1. Take your time in the presentation to explain the “why”

    Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to just one slide. You’ve likely been thinking about your idea or your company for a long time, but the potential investor has not been on the ride with you and needs you to bring them up to speed.

    2. Provide evidence

    Use proof points. You may have a great idea, but you’ll need to demonstrate its viability either with external data or internal proof (perhaps a pilot program).

    3. Make sure every slide conveys the key points without clutter

    Your ability to self-edit and only include relevant information will make or break your deck.

    4. Balance your use of text and visuals

    The design of each slide should aid the key points you are trying to make.

    5. Include high-level financials and key metrics

    You want to demonstrate that this is a financially interesting opportunity for the investor, but don’t go into too much detail as it will distract from your ability to tell your story. If an investor is interested, they will request more detailed pro-forma financials.

    6. Make sure you’ve clearly fleshed out who your ideal customer is and what problem you are solving for them

    If you need a resource to help you create your ideal customer profile, SlideShop has a free template to get you started.

     7. Don’t make your presentation too long

    A good pitch deck is often only 14 to 16 slides. If you’re going over 20, it’s time to really check yourself.

    8. Don’t use too many visuals

    They will distract from your message and key points. Be purposeful about their use. Brand and style are important, but less is often more.

    9. Don’t visually complicate what you want to convey

    One common mistake I see people make that helps to illustrate this point is the use of 3D charts. They take a simple chart that has a powerful message and apply the 3D option or dramatic shadow to it. Instantly something that was clear and easy to understand becomes overly complicated and difficult to read.

    Related: 10 PowerPoint tips to create presentations with punch

    Next steps

    Your pitch deck is the key tool for early investor presentations. It helps you create the necessary excitement to enter into more advanced investor discussions. Your presentation should tell a clear, compelling story and have the necessary details. But it should also be brief and contain only what’s necessary for the initial pitch.

    We included an outline above, but if you’re still looking for some inspiration, you can also download a free seed funding template to help you get going.

    Best of luck with your pitch — and with bringing your concept to life!

    The post What to include in a PowerPoint pitch deck for investors appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This article was originally published on Sept. 13, 2018. It was updated on Sept. 16, 2019.

    As we sip our lemonade at the end of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, you would think it’s an odd time to be contemplating snow and the holiday shopping. But as a small business owner, it is the perfect time to start planning for the 2019 end-of-year holiday shopping season.

    Why is that, you ask?

    It’s because your customers are already preparing. Sure, you have your staple group of last-minute shoppers, but they still need to be engaged and enticed to buy your products or services when it comes to that one time of year when consumers dig a little deeper and spend a lot more — holiday shopping season.

    There are trends in purchase behavior that change year after year and being prepared can mean the difference between decent profits and a banner year. Local retailers need every edge they can muster to compete for their slice of holiday ham.

    To be profitable these days, you need to be easily found by practicing SEO strategies that align well with your business. You also need to think about what to present your prospective customers with once they find you online.

    5 things you must do now to prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping season

    With all of the above in mind, take a look at these five suggestions for how you can be preparing now for the 2019 holiday shopping season:

    1. Make sure you’re mobile-friendly.

    2. Use local SEO.

    3. Prepare ads and specials.

    4. Capture traffic and leads.

    5. Spruce up the holiday shopping experience.

    Let’s take a look at each tactic in more detail so you aren’t left out in the cold when this season’s holiday shoppers are ready to buy.

    1. Make sure you’re mobile-friendly

    No matter what season it is, people are finding they have less and less time to sit at their desktop. We are almost always on the go, and that has us making use of our mobile devices more than ever.

    We can do nearly all of the things we do at home while we’re on the move. We can pay our bills, sign up for yoga classes, make reservations at our favorite restaurant, and we can also shop for that perfect gift. The world has gone mobile, and if you aren’t thinking along those lines, it is time to start.

    To be relevant in today’s marketplace, you have got to be mobile-friendly.

     

    Using iPhone for Mobile Search
    iamSherise on Unsplash

    More than half of the searches made on Google are done via mobile devices. Google, of course, knows this and has adapted their algorithms accordingly. These developments mean that you need a website that upholds a mobile-first philosophy when it comes to design. Not only should your site look great on the latest smartphone, but be responsive to a host of mobile devices, including tablets.

    Related: Google’s mobile-first index — How you can prepare your website

    Make it easy to buy on your mobile website

    A good mobile website understands that your customer wants instant gratification for holiday shopping. Things like your point-of-purchase and search options need to be on the surface — not buried under a menu button. Although leads are important, you don’t want a signup or register form getting in the way of a purchase.

    Perhaps allow mobile purchases to be made with a guest account and ask for only the critical information.

    So remember, the easier it is to navigate your mobile site, the longer the user will spend considering a purchase and even then, it really isn’t a long time at all. Be mobile-friendly.

    GoDaddy Websites + Marketing Screenshot
    GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing Ecommerce design tools ensure that your store looks amazing and works flawlessly on every device, from smartphones to laptops.

    2. Use local SEO to boost holiday shopping

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is an enormous part of marketing online today. It is also something that is in a near-constant state of change. One strategy that may have been relevant as little as six months ago could be rendered obscure by today’s best practices. There is also a distinction between SEO and local SEO tactics.

    Local SEO is the art and science of ranking well in local search results.

     

    If you recall, half of Google searches are on mobile. So, does it surprise you that half of Google searches are for local products and services? Brands today are leveraging location data to target their customers. If you aren’t practicing local SEO already, you really should.

    Related: An eCommerce beginner’s local SEO guide

    Quick-start tips for local SEO

    For starters, make sure you’re signed up with Google My Business. It’s free, and it puts your name, address and phone number on Google Maps. This listing has a multitude of benefits like letting people know your hours of operation and directions to your store.

    Amplify your brand and engage your audience with Posts on Google. This handy tool allows you to post updates about deals, promotions or events you might be putting forward for holiday shopping. This information then appears directly on the SERP, which means you are communicating with your customers before they have even reached your website.

    Lastly, make sure that all of your business information, no matter where you enter it, is consistent. A tool like GoDaddy’s Local Business Listings can help you manage all of your online business listings from one place. You don’t want to confuse Google or your potential customers.

    Related: Checklist — 5 ways to get more local customers

    3. Prepare ads and specials

    Holiday Shopping Sale
    Photo: Thomas8047 on Visual Hunt

    There is nothing like a little advertising to bring in the masses — and their holiday shopping dollars. Your ad strategy should be digital of course, but a campaign with a scope that extends to the storefront and further outdoors has the potential to drive your message home.

    Think of it this way: A prospect comes across a local bus shelter with an ad showing your holiday shopping campaign. Now, what do you think happens next? They do a search on their mobile device, of course. It is there that they find the same ad with the same creative on the bus board and instantly make the connection.

    In the mind of the consumer, this continuity is a sales driver because the breadth of the campaign is associated with credibility and brand awareness.

    Your holiday shopping promotions need to be instant and straightforward. Remember, this is a hectic time of year, and the average shopper is looking for something that is easily acquired so they can check that gift off their list. Try not to involve things like physical coupons. Instead, use promo codes that can be entered online for instant value.

    Related: Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads

    4. Capture traffic and leads

    Lead capture is the next logical step in a good marketing strategy for holiday shopping. The holiday shopping season is an excellent opportunity to see how well your ad or promotion tactics perform because you already know there will be an increase in spending over a set period.

    The task now is to set those campaigns in motion at the right time while making sure that you have the right lead and traffic measures in place.

     

    Make sure you are promoting it in the proper social channels, like Facebook, Instagram and possibly Twitter.

    Having your website optimized for SEO is also essential.

    For big promotions like your holiday shopping campaign, you could have a lead capture landing page to capture client details. Offer a discount in exchange for a person’s email address. Even if a lead does not end up making a purchase over the season, you will still have their email address to market directly to them at a later date.

    Related: Best form builders for gathering contact info

    5. Spruce up the holiday shopping experience

    It’s a festive time of year. Why not go the extra mile and present your customers with a reason to get into the holiday spirit in your retail space— whether that’s an online store or brick-and-mortar shop, or both.

    Use some marketing dollars to change your packaging, decorate your storefront — or hire some extra promotional staff to draw in more foot traffic.

    The atmosphere of your space creates a vibe that affects the holiday shopping mood of your customers.

     

    Sentimentality fits in this time of year. Use it to your advantage.

    So, pour yourself an ice-cold lemonade and start making a list and checking it twice for some great ideas to prepare for the year’s biggest shopping season.

    The post 5 things you must do now to prepare for the holiday shopping season appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This post was originally published on Oct. 11, 2018, and was updated on Sept. 17, 2019.

    If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, you should have one major priority when it comes to your online presence — showing up in local business searches. It doesn’t matter if someone in Dallas, Texas finds your business online if you’re located in Tampa, Florida.

    You need the people who live, work and spend time near your physical business location to be able to search and find your business.

    The rest of this post will explain how you can make changes to start showing up in local business searches.

    8 ways to start showing up in local business searches

    The search placements listed below can be broken down into two categories, paid and organic. Both the Google Guaranteed listings and paid ads are placements your brand can get by paying to appear there.

    On the other hand, organic search results and top Google My Business placements are acquired by catering to Google’s SEO best practices. Google chooses these results by considering:

    • Relevance
    • Distance
    • Prominence

    While you can’t necessarily control distance, you can optimize your web presence to be more relevant and prominent. Here are eight ways to do it.

      1. Create a Google My Business page.
      2. Optimize your Google My Business page.
      3. Add your business to relevant business directories.
      4. Include your business address on your website.
      5. Make sure your NAP is accurate across the entire web.
      6. Optimize your home page’s meta title and description.
      7. Make sure all other SEO elements are in place.
      8. Consider launching paid ads or Google Guaranteed placements.

    But first, let’s define what a local business search is.

    What are local business searches?

    Google’s algorithms are designed to give people the most useful and relevant results possible. Just as you don’t want your Tampa business to show up in search results in Dallas, Google doesn’t want a Dallas searcher to see results for businesses in Tampa. So, Google has designed it’s search algorithm to show local results to searchers based on their location.

    These results show in multiple ways.

    Organic search results

    Organic search results are unpaid listings that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) because the website has strong SEO.

    Local Business Searches Organic

    Paid search results

    Paid search results are listings that appear on SERPs as a paid advertisement through search engine marketing.

    Local Business Searches Paid

    Related: What’s the difference between Amazon advertising and paid ads on Google and Facebook?

    Google My Business results

    Google My Business results are featured, rich search results that highlight businesses that have Google My Business pages.

    Local Business Searches Google My Business

    Editor’s note: Did you know that GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing allows users to create and manage their GMB listings at no extra charge and without complicated add-ons? It’s true.

    Google Guaranteed listings

    Google Guaranteed listings are results featured on SERPs that are a part of the paid Google Guarantee program.

    Local Business Searches Guaranteed

    If you want your business to start showing up in local searches, you need to appear in one or more of these placements.

    So, how do you do it?

    1. Create a Google My Business page

    The first step in showing up in local searches is creating your Google My Business Page. This, of course, will improve your chances of showing up as a top Google My Business search result. (You must have a verified Google My Business page to show in these results.) It will also help you build your online presence and increase your chances of showing in organic search results.

    Related: How to promote your restaurant on Google My Business

    2. Optimize your Google My Business page

    It’s not enough to simply set up your Google My Business page to start showing up in local business searches. To improve the chances that your business will show in the top spots, you need to optimize and regularly update your business page.

        • Add photos and makes posts from your page.
        • Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your page.
        • Continue to add FAQs to your Google page.

    Related: Generate reviews: 8 ways to get more product reviews

    3. Add your business to relevant business directories

    Google My Business isn’t the only local business listing you should create for your brand.

    Create multiple accounts for your company across other business directories that are both local and national.

     

    Each listing sends signals to Google telling it that your business is credible and therefore, worth showing as a top search result.

    Create business profiles on:

        • Facebook
        • Yelp
        • Angie’s List
        • Yellowpages
        • City Search
        • Foursquare
        • Any industry-relevant directories

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

    4. Include your business address on your website

    Another way to get Google to help your brand start showing up in local business searches is by sending clear signals about where your business is located.

    Clearly show your business’s physical address on your website by adding it to your footer and on the contact page. If you have more than one location, create a page with the address for each location. This doesn’t mean you should load up your footer or website with every name of a city or neighborhood within a 50-mile radius of your business. That dated practice can actually do more harm than good.

    You can take this one step further and add structure data or local business schema to your website that includes your address.

    5. Make sure your NAP is accurate across the entire web

    As you set up directory accounts and business addresses on your website, it’s extremely important to make sure that the information is consistent and accurate. This information is referred to as your NAP.

        • Name
        • Address
        • Phone Number

    Don’t use different variations of your business name or include your suite number on some listings but not others.

    Keep this information as consistent as possible to increase the chances of your website showing in local business searches.

    Related: An eCommerce beginner’s local SEO guide

    6. Optimize your home page’s meta title and description

    A meta title and description are lines of code that are added to the backend of your website. You use meta tags to tell search engines more about a webpage. You also use them to tease the pages to searchers as this is the information they see when they view your website in local business searches.

    Local Business Searches Optimize

    Optimize both the meta title and description on your home page to target keywords for your business and the city where you are located.

    7. Make sure all other SEO elements are in place

    While there are unique tactics to help your website improve its local SEO, you can’t forget about the other SEO elements. Having strong on-site, off-site, and technical SEO is key to getting your brand to show up in local business searches. So focus on creating search-friendly on-site content, getting links back to your site, and meeting technical SEO requirements to improve your local search rankings.

    8. Consider launching paid ads or Google Guaranteed placements

    All of the other tips in this round-up are designed to help you appear more prominently in organic search results and Google My Business placements. But, you don’t have to rely on these methods.

    If you’re struggling to boost your organic local search visibility, consider launching paid Google ads or joining the Google Guaranteed program to get your business closer to the top of local SERPs.

    Related: The local business guide to using AdWords

    Show up in local business searches and attract more customers

    Showing up in local searches should be a top priority if you have a location-based business that relies on bringing in nearby customers. Use these tips to start optimizing your online presence and showing up when interested local customers conduct searches related to your business.

    Related: 5 ways to get more local customers

    The post 8 quick tips for showing up in local business searches appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This post was originally published on Nov. 12, 2018, and was updated on Sept. 17, 2019.

    To be in business is to put one’s self out there for all to see. Your business is more than just a store or blip on a map. It is a part of the community, and when marketing your local business is done right, your customers will regard your business as more than just a place to spend their money.

    It becomes a place of trust. 

     

    That might seem a touch sentimental, but you can’t deny that there is something about local businesses and their customers that is lost in today’s world of online shopping and mobile devices. Or is there?

    Can you extend the bond you have with your local customers to global customers in the digital space? Is it possible to draw more local business by embracing a digital marketing strategy?

    The answer to those questions is a gigantic “YES.” Here are some tips on marketing your local business globally.

    Marketing your local business in the Google universe

    How does one describe Google? It has been a household name for many years, it has become a worldwide brand with just as much recognition to consumers as it has to businesses, and it is the most visited website in the entire world.

    Google has transcended its own category several times over. No other company, including the likes of Microsoft and Apple, has the reach that Google has into our lives.

    This influence is mostly due in part to the original technology offered by the software giant: their search engine. If you have ever heard someone use the term “Google it,” you understand why there is really only one way to search the web. Over the past 20 years, Google has become one of the most valued platforms for business in use today. With both software and hardware in service to the public, it has revolutionized the way companies use the web to market to their customers.

    Related: Beginner’s SEO guide — Search engine optimization for small business websites

    Green and red vintage tool boxes
    Photo: Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash

    A Google toolbox

    The offering of Google apps and services is substantial. Most of which are free to use. For most of the web, it is about rankings and SEO. When it comes to promoting your business locally, some distinctions make SEO a little different. Let’s start with four of the tools you will use.

    Related: How to make data-driven decisions using Google marketing tools

    Google My Business

    For marketing your local businesses, Google My Business is a godsend. It is a digital tool and service that is tied to your location. You must first claim your profile for your location. After you have entered all your data — the most important being your name, address and phone number — a set of powerful tools opens up.

    Searching for your business name on Google.com now displays a lot more information that helps people find you locally.

     

    Your position on Google maps is displayed along with a link to directions, photos of your store that you have uploaded, hours of operation and even an interface to make appointments if this is what your business offers. If there was one Google tool that should be at the top of the list for local business, it is Google My Business.

    Market Local Business GoCentral GMB Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing easily enables you to create and manage your Google My Business listings at no extra charge and without complicated add-ons.

    Google Analytics

    Google Analytics is a free tool that allows businesses to understand their website traffic and other relevant data.

    This tool is a crystal ball that tells you not only who is visiting your website, but from where and how long they stayed.

     

    In fact, there are far too many things that Google Analytics tracks to list them all here. Every link in your website can be tracked for CTR or “Click Through Rate.” You can then see insights like traffic spikes from sales promotions and landing pages. You can also track full conversions on your website if you offer eCommerce to your customers as a means to buy products directly on your website. Most importantly, you can see what traffic on your site is local from mobile devices.

    Related: How to set up Google Analytics funnels

    Google Ads

    Google Ads has changed over the years but is still part of an essential suite of tools at your disposal to increase rankings for your local business. People who are on mobile devices close by and are searching for your business have a very high buying intent. Appearing high on those search engine results pages (SERPs) could lead to waves of new business.

    By combining this with SEO, you will have a definite advantage over competitors when targeting shoppers who are looking for products like yours in the area where they live.

    There are even more features on the menu for local paid search that Google has started offering, which could also boost your rankings for local searches by mobile devices.

    Related: The local business guide to using AdWords

    Marketing Local Business Adwords
    Photo: Google Ads

    Google Search Console

    Google Search Console is what was once called Webmaster Tools. It allows users to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites. You can submit things like your sitemap to check for errors or broken links. You can also see what keyword searches on Google led to the site being favorably listed in the SERPs as well as the click-through rates of such listings among a host of other dashboard statistics.

    Paired with Google Analytics, it will be like having X-ray vision into your online presence.

    Related: How to integrate Google Search Console with your WordPress site

    Building reviews for marketing your local business

    The trend in marketing for 2019 is that consumers are responding less to advertising and relying more on trusted sources to influence their purchase behavior. The way to take advantage of this is to start building and managing your online reviews.

    You can achieve this in several places, but the idea is that through unsolicited testimonials, Facebook comments, comments on your blog and industry-relevant websites, you will establish credibility for your products, and by extension, your brand.

    People love touting good experiences they have with brands more than they do negative ones.

    These rave reviewers are referred to as brand advocates, and they are the people who sing your praises in your own backyard, which makes building reviews marketing gold for local businesses.

    Related: 5 ways to encourage your customers to leave reviews

    Community involvement

    Marketing your local business also requires some old-fashioned handshaking.

    Getting involved in your community is a vital part of promoting your business in your town or city.

     

    These are opportunities where you can do something in return for the good people who have come to your place of business and purchased your product. The wisdom in this is that by having a real presence in your community, people get to know who you are and what you are all about while making a difference in your neighborhood.

    You can get involved in any way, and this could be anything from sponsoring a local kids’ baseball team to putting on charitable fundraising events. You can also participate in activities that are put on for charity like running in a marathon for breast cancer research as an ambassador of your business.

    Related: 6 local business strategies to make stronger community connections

    Use these tips and tools to market your local business

    You’ve never had so many tools and services at your fingertips to help market your local business and engage customers in your area. From the Google Universe to being involved in your community, there are many opportunities to connect with consumers close by on every level. Start your own local marketing campaigns and see for yourself.

    The post Proven tactics for marketing your local business appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    This post was originally published on June 19, 2018, and was updated on Sept. 17, 2019.

    When you own a local business, it can be fun and rewarding. But as the saying goes, two heads are better than one. A beneficial way to help market a local business is through a strategic collaboration with someone who’s interested in the same goals. Partnering up can increase revenue and extend the client base — and this kind of local strategic partnership can prove to be a cost-effective relationship that will help both brands grow through cross-promotion.

    Sound good? Read on for some helpful tips to market a local business through strategic collaboration.

    How to market a local business through strategic collaboration

    Take these three basic steps to market your local business by partnering up:

    1. Find the perfect match.

    2. Join a strategic collaboration organization.

    3. Create a marketing plan.

    Let’s dive into the details, shall we?

    1. Find the perfect match

    A strategic collaboration between two local businesses needs to be thoughtful, reasonable and, most importantly, the right fit. If you own a local wedding photography business, consider teaming up with a local florist or local wedding planner. If you own a real estate business, team up with a local furniture company.

    The two local businesses should ultimately complement one another.

     

    According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, business owners should keep the following considerations in mind when forging strategic collaborations:

    Understand and communicate competitive advantages

    You’ll want to align and being able to communicate mutually beneficial goals and objectives. What advantages will partnering up offer for both local businesses?

    Do your due diligence

    Don’t skimp when it comes to evaluating prospective strategic partners. Look at the other business’s philosophy and culture as well as its overall capabilities and reputation in the marketplace.

    Be open to various partnership options

    Alliances can take many forms — a small business with a large business, a minority-owned business with non-minority owned company, a women-owned business with a male-owned company, etc.

    And there’s nothing wrong with forming a local strategic partnership with a business that share your company’s socioeconomic characteristics. Again, do your due diligence.

    Related: Networking for women: 7 ways to work your network for leads and clients

    Get it in writing

    It’s just good business practice to formalize your partnership with a written agreement. Include joint goals and objectives, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, a communication plan and periodic re-evaluation of the arrangement.

    Consult the pros

    You’re probably not a legal or accounting expert — so find someone who is to consult on your joint venture agreement.

    Have an exit strategy

    Sometimes things don’t work out. Come up with a clear exit strategy for terminating the alliance if necessary.

    2. Join a strategic collaboration organization

    If a local business ever needs additional resources for strategic collaboration, a beneficial membership is through The Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, an organization that provides tools and resources, education and professional development, and a community for networking to alliance professionals at every stage of business collaboration.

    Market a Local Business ASAP
    Photo: The Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals

    3. Create a marketing plan

    To market a local business via strategic collaboration, both participants must come together to discuss the five W’s and one H: who, what, when, where, why and how.

    These are the building blocks of a marketing plan that can serve as the road map to the results you want.

    Put yourself in the shoes of your target customer and ask the following:

    • Who is the target demographic for this product?
    • What would the consumer’s perception and feelings be about the product?
    • When is this product being introduced?
    • Where will both local businesses be promoting this product?
    • Why are these local businesses teaming up to promote this product?
    • How will the product benefit the customer?

    It’s also important to address the big four marketing P’s — price, product, promotion and placement — when you partner up to market a local business:

    Price

    Make sure that the product is priced fairly for the customer. It might even be worthwhile to offer a special introductory price to entice more prospects to try your products or services.

    For example, when Salesforce and Google teamed up in the fall of 2017, Google offered Salesforce customers company-wide G-Suite licenses at no additional cost for up to one year. Salesforce benefited with the Google Cloud Platform for a global expansion of the company’s infrastructure. Win-win.

    Market a Local Business Salesforce Google
    Photo: Salesforce

    Product

    Ask how your product/service will benefit the customer. It’s important for partnering businesses to offer high-quality products or services that offer a unique selling proposition.

    For instance, Uber once partnered with Pandora and Spotify Premium to give customers the ultimate groovy ride experience with just the touch of a button — adding value to the ride experience.

    Market a Local Business Pandora Spotify
    Photo: Mashable

    Promotion

    Explore a multi-channel strategy to market a local business. Explore promoting your local partnership on each business’s social media platforms, websites, blogs, email marketing campaigns and, if the budget allows, paid media ads. For example:

    • Announcing in a joint press release the strategic collaboration to consumers
      and placing the press release in the newsroom section on both websites and through media distribution.
    • Appearing as a guest on the other local business’s social media platform and discussing how excited you are to be collaborating with the other business and what services you’re both offering.
    • Executing a social media contest, like a photo contest featuring the target products or services, complete with dedicated hashtags.
    • Offering rewards. For example, when the Seattle Seahawks teamed up with Starbucks for the 2017-2018 football season, they wanted to give their fans something special to support the local team. So when Seahawks fans bought a cup of Starbucks coffee, they were rewarded with limited-edition cup sleeves autographed by eight different players.

    Learn more about starting a customer reward program.

    Market a Local Business Seahawks Starbucks
    Photo: Seattle Seahawks on Facebook

    Don’t forget to measure your social media success by using tools such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite.

    Placement

    Place the product strategically on all promotional platforms.

    For example, when announcing the collaboration on both websites, put a news header near the top of the page so that consumers can click and read about it — like when McDonald’s announced its collaboration with Disney to help improve the nutritional standards of Happy Meal menus.

    On social media outlets Facebook and Twitter, use the cover photo to announce the strategic collaboration, followed by a post.

    Market a Local Business Disney Mcdonalds
    Photo: McDonald’s Corporation

    Have plan, will execute

    When you market a local business via strategic collaboration, do not forget to have plans A, B, C and D. Having a back-up plan in case something falls through with the collaboration is crucial to success and protects the business.

    Build trust for a long-lasting collaboration.

     

    Trust should start on day one of collaborating with another local business with the same goal: making it a win-win situation for both companies. Honesty, integrity, putting in an equal amount of time and professionalism can benefit both businesses for the long haul.

    The post How to market a local business through strategic collaboration appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    What’s the No. 1 challenge small business owners face in managing their online activities? Knowing the right steps to take online to grow their business. ~ GoDaddy Small Business Owner Survey November 2018

    Creating an awesome website is a key online strategy for any small business owner. But the reality is, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. If your goals include building a brand, attracting new customers, and ultimately growing your business, it’s going to take more than just a website.

    What about social media? Email marketing? SEO?

    When you’re getting a business off the ground, finding the time, confidence and resources to figure out these marketing tactics can be difficult.

    GoDaddy Websites + Marketing has you covered.
    GoDaddy Websites Marketing Danielle Smith Sounbag Mobile Screenshot at Sewing Machine
    Photo: Danielle Smith, SOUN Bag

    At GoDaddy, we’re committed to delivering tools and services that are not only easy to use — they also help you achieve your goals. Our new Websites + Marketing solution integrates websites, marketing and eCommerce tools with the guidance needed to achieve success.

    Introducing GoDaddy Websites + Marketing

     GoDaddy Websites Marketing Logo Black Background

    GoDaddy Websites + Marketing is an all-in-one solution that empowers every idea, business, side hustle or nonprofit cause to claim their place online and look great in all of the places that matter.

    Websites + Marketing is more than just a website builder — it’s your guide to better business results.

     

    How do we know that? It’s powered by GoDaddy InSight™, an intelligent learning system fueled by data from millions of websites.

    Within 12 months, customers using Websites + Marketing saw an average increase of 18% in business revenue.*

    Are you a master baker looking to get your cupcake shop up and running? A dog walker looking to grow your dog-parent rolodex? An ayurvedic professional looking to sell your products online?

    Whatever the case — if you have an idea that needs roots, Websites + Marketing has the tools you need to manage and grow your online presence.

    All the tools you need in one beautiful packageGoDaddy Websites Plus Marketing Infographic

    We know that small business owners do what they do for a reason — they’re passionate about their craft. Spending time and energy trying to navigate the ins and outs of getting a business online is probably not at the top of the list.

    We put in the time and research to explore this pain point: What are the biggest obstacles that entrepreneurs face trying to grow using online activities?

    The answer was loud and clear: What are the right steps to take, and how do I even know what’s working?

    And we solve that problem with GoDaddy Websites + Marketing.

    Manage it all in one place

    Websites + Marketing is designed to help you create and manage a website — plus more.

    Build a professional looking website in under an hour and easily set up your business on other top sites like Facebook, Google and Yelp.

    Use built-in tools like search engine optimization and email marketing to easily reach and engage customers.

    Whether you sell physical goods, digital goods or services, you can easily add an online store and allow customers to book appointments online 24/7.

    With 100-plus modern, designer-made templates tailored by industry, you can easily get the look you want.

    GoDaddy Websites Marketing Templates

    Effortlessly see your website across 20-plus designs that vary in layout, font styles and colors. Instantly apply changes in a few clicks.

    GoDaddy Websites Marketing Customize ThemeWebsites + Marketing was built with your busy schedule in mind, so you can create, manage and update your entire site from your phone or tablet.

    Get smart, data-driven advice with GoDaddy InSight™

    GoDaddy InSight™ is a smart learning system that provides data and guidance based on your business industry and goals.

    We recognize that not every business has the same goals. A restaurant is focused on filling their tables, an accountant may be focused on attracting local business, and a sporting goods shop could be looking to expand into online sales.

    InSight’s algorithms create a custom Action Plan tailored to your business.

    It’s a guide to direct your efforts so you’re spending time on the tasks that will have the most impact on your business.

     

    How do you know it’s working? We also provide a custom InSight Score using performance data like website traffic, social media activity and online sales — benchmarking your business to others in your industry and region, with a similar online tenure.

    See data across your website, social media, online reviews, online store and appointment bookings all in one dashboard. Easily monitor new reviews from Google, Yelp and Facebook and get reminders to respond.

    Be everywhere online that matters

    Improve your search engine ranking through search engine optimization so more people can find you.

    Where your site ranks in search results can have a huge impact on your business.

     

    GoDaddy Websites + Marketing automatically reviews your site and optimizes it for search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

    Within nine months, websites using GoDaddy SEO saw their Google traffic increase 2.5 times as compared to GoDaddy websites without it.

    You can also attract more customers by listing your business name, address and phone number, hours and website on Google and Yelp. Your listing will appear when people are searching on Google Search and Maps and on Yelp.

    Save time and update an existing Facebook Page or create a new one using the information and photos from your website. We’ll suggest ideas to post on your Facebook Page to engage with customers. Even post products directly from your online store to drive more sales.

    You can also connect to Instagram to easily monitor your account activity.

    Engage your customers with a built-in email marketing tool that integrates with your website and automatically create eye-catching emails with a consistent look and feel to reinforce your brand. Add a “subscribe now” section to your website to grow your email list and send emails to your customers to stay connected.

    Find new customers wherever they shop, and deliver the same exceptional service. Our Online Store lets you quickly list your products on the largest marketplaces, sync your inventory across sales channels, and manage all of your orders from the same dashboard.

    GoDaddy Online Store Mobile

    Get a single dashboard to monitor your customers and launch targeted marketing campaigns.

    Sync your marketing across email, Facebook and Google with the click of a button.

     

    Track purchase history, and create unique customer lists for promotions, product announcements or loyalty programs. Create “Members Only” content, send appointment reminders, or customize automatic messages like welcome emails and order confirmations.

    Get help 24/7 from GoDaddy Guides

    Our award-winning customer support representatives are always ready to help you bring your idea online. If inspiration strikes at 2 a.m., we’re here. Call or connect with us online anytime.

    A brilliant site is just the beginning. Take your idea further with Websites + Marketing for free today.

    * Based on a survey of 1,042 small businesses using Websites + Marketing conducted in March 2019 who stated an average increase of 18% within a year as a result of using the product.

    The post Introducing GoDaddy Websites + Marketing appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    You inspire us every day. Your ideas. Your passion. Your determination. We are committed to serving you and that means listening to your feedback. We’re evolving and improving to keep up with your needs. Here are some of the changes we’ve been making based on your feedback.

    We’re getting you answers when and where you want them

    GoDaddy Help How-To Videos
    GoDaddy’s new How-To videos walk you through answers to your most-asked questions.

    New-and-improved Online Help Center

    Our new Online Help Site gets you answers fast. It’s easier to find what you’re looking for and we’ve revised Help articles to ensure they are up to date and easy to understand.

    How-To video series

    New, easy-to-understand How-To Videos walk you through answers to your most-asked questions.

    GoDaddy Guide EricGo-to Guides

    We introduced a new quality standard for GoDaddy Guides to help ensure customer satisfaction on every call.

    We’re making our products better

    GoDaddy Websites Marketing Site on Laptop

    More flexible website builder

    You told us you needed a more flexible website builder, so we added new designer-templates, customizable themes, online appointment booking, sync with Amazon, eBay and Etsy and more.

    Easier-to-use products

    You said our products were frustrating to use. We improved them, implementing changes that increase network performance speed, streamline the SSL setup process that makes your website safe for customers, and reduce the number of steps to set up your Professional Email.

    Clear next steps

    You asked, “What do I do now?” so we added recommended next steps in our emails, products and on our website to help guide you along the way.

    We’re working to earn your trust and respect

    Female GoDaddy Employee
    GoDaddy champions women in technology, reporting diversity and salary data.

    New GoDaddy Trust Center

    We take your privacy seriously. The new GoDaddy Trust Center showcases our principles and policies for protecting your privacy and safeguarding your data.

    Masking your contact info from spammers

    To reduce third-party spam, we’re automatically hiding your email address and phone number in the domain registration WHOIS database. (It’s like the DMV for domain names.)

    Family-friendly ads

    We’re creating ads your mother would approve of.

    Championing women in tech

    We’re a champion for women in technology, reporting diversity and salary data, and ensuring we’re transparent and publicly accountable.

    We’re walking the walk

    Starting in 2019, employee bonuses, including our CEO, are tied to how likely customers are to recommend GoDaddy.

    Stay tuned and stay in touch — we’re just getting started. Keep sharing your feedback to let us know how we can improve. Your voice fuels our dedication to improving the GoDaddy customer experience.

    The post Your voice matters — and helps make GoDaddy better appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Regardless of your niche, industry or sector, email is one of the most powerful marketing channels available to today’s business owners, with an ROI of $44 for every $1 spent. Ultimately, however, your email marketing success depends on how it’s done. When it comes to squeezing the most juice from your email marketing efforts, embracing the power of email automation is essential.

    This guide will walk you through the basics of email automation and show you how to automate your email marketing. We’ll cover:

    Ready to get started? Let’s go!

    Related: Guide to getting started with a marketing automation system

    What is email automation?

    Email automation offers a viable means of accelerating the success of your business, driving engagement, boosting your brand awareness, and expanding your bottom line in the process.

    At its core, email automation empowers marketers or business owners with the ability to send scheduled or action-triggered emails to their target subscribers with relevant information, content, offers and information.

    Email automation can increase email open rates and click-through rates. Plus, its intuitive nature means busy entrepreneurs can enjoy the results of email marketing efforts while gaining more time to take on other essential business activities.

    A real win-win situation.

    According to statistics from Epsilon Email Institute, “automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than ‘business as usual’ marketing messages.”

    Studies like this attest to the unrivaled power of learning how to automate email marketing.

    Let’s take a deep dive into how you can harness the power of email marketing automation to build campaigns that get real results in five simple steps.

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    5 steps to automate email marketing

    Now that you understand what email automation is and why it’s beneficial to your business, how can you make it happen?

    This essential, five-step guide explains how to implement email automation in a practical sense, covering the following key topics:

    1. Understanding your audience.
    2. Planning your goals and strategy.
    3. Choosing email automation software.
    4. Welcoming new subscribers.
    5. Offering enticing email autoresponders.

    By the end, you’ll be able to use email automation and all it has to offer to make your enterprise a more powerful, more productive, more profitable business machine.

    Ready? Let’s begin

    1. Understand your audience

    Avatars Illustrate Audience Segmentation for Email Automation
    Let’s start with the basics. Before you start worrying about fancy, high-tech email solutions, it’s crucial to have a crystal-clear understanding of the audience whose attention you’ll be trying to snag.

    Establishing your target audience is incredibly important to success as it will allow you to direct your email marketing efforts and create content that resonates with consumers based on their specific needs, goals and pain points.

    Put simply: If you don’t know who you’re selling to how can you sell anything at all?

    The answer? Well, you can’t. Not really.

    With this in mind, let’s look at how you can understand your audience on a deeper, more meaningful level and boost your email automation success.

    Start segmenting your customers

    Professional marketers know how important it is to present leads with the right offers at the right time. Which is why understanding your audience is essential to catching them during the perfect stage in their buyer journey.

    When it comes to email marketing, if you’re concerned with conversions, blasting a deal or offer to thousands of potential customers hoping that some of them will find it intriguing will not cut the mustard.

    To get results you need to focus your campaign on the people who are most likely to convert into sales.

    This means cooking up a solid customer segmentation strategy.

     

    Tactics for segmenting your email list can vary and depend on what data is available to you. It’s possible to use things like your subscribers’ age, gender and location to create high-converting email offers.

    Let’s take a look at the most effective strategies to help you get started with segmenting lists and increasing conversions.

    Related: Using customer segments to build lasting relationships

    Orange Slices Represent Customer Segments

    Segment by location

    Segmenting your email list by where people live is a great way to target a specific group. The strategy is especially effective when location plays a big role in the consumer’s purchasing decision.

    For example, if a business is holding a special event at one of its brick-and-mortar locations, it makes sense to target your email to people who live close enough to the business to be able to attend. If you’re holding the event in Florida, it doesn’t make sense to target people who live in California. You can end up annoying the people who live too far away from the event to attend it.

    You also might segment email subscribers by location when sending time-based emails.

    If you send emails worldwide, you don’t want to send them all at once. If you do, some people may end up getting your email at an inappropriate time, and they’re very unlikely to open it. If you take time zones into consideration, you can send out email blasts when they are the most likely to be read.

    Segment by gender

    It’s no secret that men and women have different shopping habits, and you can leverage these differences when you segment your email list by gender.

    If you have a range of products that cater to either men or women, then segmenting email blasts by gender makes a lot of sense.

    This strategy also works for gender-neutral offers. Many people use it because men and women tend to respond differently to colors, words and images, so when you segment by gender, you can send an email that connects with their desires, and this leads to a boost in conversion rates.

    Segment by age

    People of all ages check email regularly, but depending on their age group, they are very likely to respond to emails differently. A 22-year-old recent grad is going to react differently than an 80-year-old grandmother.

    If you segment your emails accordingly, you can target consumers who are more likely to buy your products.

    Segment unresponsive leads

    Prospects don’t respond to offers for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up on them.

    Cold leads have value and it’s very possible that leads of this nature weren’t in the position to buy anything at the time.

    If you stay in touch, it’s possible to catch these people when they actually decide to buy something.

    Segment unresponsive leads so you can slowly drip them offers and helpful emails that you think might interest them. This consistent contact keeps you on their mind, and it makes them more likely to buy from you when they find themselves needing a product or service.

    Email marketing segmentation takes a little time to master, but once you get it, you can send out more tailored emails. Your conversion rates will increase as people become more responsive to the relevant emails that you send them.

    Once you’ve segmented your audience, you’ll be able to dig even deeper and build profiles on your archetypal customers — these are called buyer personas.

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    Build buyer personas

    A buyer persona is a fictitious character you create to represent a particular segment of your general customer base. In doing so, you gain a deeper understanding of what drives different segments of your audience to buy from you.

    As with most things, the more effort you put into building a buyer persona, the more value it will yield

    The strongest and most effective buyer personas are those focused on market research, consumer insights and your own objective observations from your day-to-day commercial activities.

    Email Automation Sample Buyer Persona
    To build the perfect buyer personas, it’s essential to ask the right questions. To help steer you in the right direction, here’s a guide to the top 20 questions to consider when developing buyer personas for your marketing activities.

    Now that you understand your audience, it’s time to move onto the next phase of the operation — planning your email marketing goals and strategy.

    Related: What information should you include in your buyer persona customer profile?

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    2. Plan your email marketing goals and strategy

    Armed with a newfound understanding of your audience, you’ll be able to develop email marketing campaigns and strategies that will help you grow your audience and make the best possible use of your email automation software.

    To achieve such a feat, it’s important to:

    • Ask the right questions to define your marketing goals.
    • Understand how to use iterative marketing to enhance your campaigns.

    Questions to help define your email marketing goals

    Before you dive headfirst into email marketing, sinking deep into the realms of email automation, you need to define your goals. These four questions will help you kickstart that process.

    What do I want my audience to do?

    Once you’ve gained a deeper understanding of your audience, consider the email marketing-driven actions you want them to take.

    For instance:

    • Are you trying to increase sales?
    • Do you want more people to attend your events?
    • Are you hoping to increase brand awareness?
    • Maybe get more website hits?
    • Do you want readers to download a whitepaper or click on a certain piece of content?

    As business owners, we tend to focus on the bottom line. And yes, for some companies, the goal might be an immediate uptick in sales. Then again, that might not always be your goal.

    Perhaps you want to see a rise in sales in a year. To lead prospects to the sale, you may want to use email marketing to raise awareness of your brand. Whatever your primary aim, your written goals should reflect this.

    How will I measure my results?

    Analytics Reports Illustrate Measuring Email Automation ResultsWithout measurement, you won’t know if you’ve met your goals.

    For instance, if your goal is sales, reporting on open rates won’t help you monitor your email marketing success. But if your goal is awareness, open rates could be a good measurement tool.

    What if you’re trying to encourage content downloads? Then, you’ll want to track clicks within your email — as well as where those prospects go next. Here, unique landing pages (e.g. mydomain.com/whitepaper1) and phone numbers can help enormously.

    Related: How to make data-driven decisions using Google marketing tools

    What is my expected timeframe?

    For your marketing goals to be meaningful, you need a deadline.

    If you’ve ever tried to lose weight (10 pounds, right? It’s always 10 pounds), then you know the value of a deadline.

    Email marketing is no different (except you can eat all the cupcakes you want). A realistic time horizon can help you set realistic goals and smartly assess your progress.

    What resources can I devote to email marketing?

    As you set your email marketing goals, remember that they should correlate to your email marketing or email automation budget.

    Depending on the size of your company and what your email marketing initiatives are trying to achieve, the amount of time and resources you dedicate to your efforts will vary. Take every factor into consideration when developing your strategy and you’ll get the mix just right.

    Now that you know what to consider to get your campaign off the ground, let’s move to the second phase of the email marketing strategy development process.

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    Iterative marketing with email

    Whether you work in product development, marketing, retail or any other field, repetition often leads to superior results. With this in mind, let’s talk iterative marketing (or repetitive marketing, as some call it).

    So, what does it mean to practice iterative marketing with email?

    Email marketing can be iterative on two levels:

    1. You can do several rounds of edits on any given email.
    2. You can keep challenging yourself to improve your overall email marketing strategy and execution.

    Honing the individual email newsletter

    Let’s talk about iterative marketing with email on a “micro-level.” You want to create a new drip campaign (a series of autoresponders) to welcome new subscribers.

    Do you:

    Go with your gut instincts on what people want to hear from you. Put on some good tunes and crank out a series of three emails. Cue them up and wait for the magic to begin.

    Or:

    Revisit your current business goals. Think critically about what you want your new subscribers to learn, feel and do. Outline a series of emails. Share what you have with a business partner or mentor. Incorporate their feedback. Start over if you need to. Share version No. 2. Continue to tweak the content, design and links. Cue up your emails for a trial run. Check your stats or data after one week, two weeks or a month — whatever makes sense given your drip-campaign schedule. How many people open your emails? How often do they click your links? Is your drip campaign serving the intended purpose? If not, it’s time to iterate some more.

    The first approach will certainly save you time, but if this is your email marketing modus operandi, you may well be selling yourself short.

    The second option — iterative and evolving — will take more time and care but will almost certainly be more effective.

    Now, many people find repetition frustrating. And it can be incredibly irritating to work really hard just to get lukewarm — or downright critical — feedback. But guess what?

    All feedback is valuable, even if you disagree with it.

     

    Because it will prompt you to try new things, push yourself further and make every email you build more effective.

    Constant email marketing improvement through qualitative and quantitative feedback

    So, it’s clear how to iterate on the “micro-level:” Rework the current email newsletter until it’s gorgeous, compelling and worthy of infinite clicks.

    But to get the most out of your ongoing email marketing efforts, you also need to gather data, ask smart questions of that data, and set new goals.

    If you don’t like your click-through rates, then try something different with your design the next time. But don’t change everything at once, or you won’t be able to assess what worked (or didn’t work).

    Using interactive marketing to shape your email marketing goals and strategies stands a far better chance of resonating with your audience on a more personal level — which in today’s world, is the aim of the game.

    Now, onto the next stage of the email automation success process: Choosing the right email automation software.

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    3. Choose your email automation software

    In the digital age, email automation software is the cornerstone of a successful campaign or strategy.

    Now that you know who you’re aiming your efforts toward and considered the key elements of a successful email marketing campaign, it’s time to think about choosing the best email automation tools to help you execute.

    Email automation tools can make the difference between losing out on potential profits and closing leads quicker than you thought possible — so getting your decision right is paramount.

    What to look for in email automation software

    To help steer you toward email automation enlightenment, here are the key attributes you should look for in email automation software:

    Flexibility

    Depending on the size of your venture, your personal commercial targets and your industry niche, you will need a plan that’s tailored to the success of your business. That said, the best email automation providers will offer a choice of price plans to best suit your email marketing strategy.

    Usability

    Any piece of email automation software worth its salt will be intuitive, easy to learn, and include functionality such as customizable templates and drag-and-drop email composers to make the entire process simple.

    Integration

    Most robust email marketing tools will integrate with other platforms including your website and social media pages to help you generate the most engagement from your campaigns and with the least amount of fuss.

    Service and data

    Not only will a good email automation provider offer an exemplary level of client support but it will also offer access to comprehensive, easy-to-digest reports allowing you to measure the success of your campaigns.

    Optimization

    If an email automation tool doesn’t optimize your emails and communications for the mobile experience, then you should avoid it at all costs. Moreover, solid email marketing software also helps remove bad email address and redundant subscribers automatically.

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    The best email automation tools

    Tools on Workbench Represent Email Automation ToolsNow that you know what to look for in potential software, let’s compare the best email automation tools out there right now. This is a quick-fire list designed to inspire the selection process — so dig further if you’re curious about any of these offerings:

    Related: 10 email automation tools for online business success

    The GoDaddy Email Marketing software solution ticks all of the above boxes and is available in three price plans: Beginner (to get your email marketing efforts off the ground); Up & Running (the most popular option for budding online businesses) and Pro (for more experienced marketers with growing mailing lists).

    With an abundance of email marketing automation tools available, it has never been simpler to customize an email automation workflow that empowers you to stay connected with your customers, keep your leads and prospects engaged, and even re-engage with people that have gone a little cold.

    Consider your email marketing budget, goals and campaign requirements and you’ll find a tool that’s just right for you and your business.

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    4. Welcome new subscribers

    Welcome Mat Illustrates Welcoming Email Subscribers
    Once you’ve taken ample time to understand your audience, plan a creative strategy, and select the right tool to help you automate your email marketing, it’s time to make a long-lasting impact by welcoming new subscribers to your mailing list.

    Consumers’ first impressions of your brand can impact whether they commit to investing in your products or services.

    One of the most effective ways of getting things off to a flying start with a new prospect is by creating engaging email campaigns.

    Remember, a mediocre welcome email can cause as much damage to your brand as it can to your subscribe rates. So, getting it right is essential.

    Here we’re going to look at various ways you can welcome new subscribers to your brand, exploring a mix of inspiring real-world examples as well as automated email response strategies and delving deeper into ways to automate email marketing.

    Not every campaign will leave your readers on the edge of their seats, but here are proven ways to create a great welcome drip campaign.

    Offer real value

    Telling new readers once more how awesome your service is, is all well and good. But, they already know that: your subscribers have already agreed to get mailings and updates from you, after all.

    So, offer them information, tips or insights that they can’t find on your website.

    If you can, offer them a welcome email-only discount on a great product. Whatever it is, make it count — and yes, make it worth forwarding.

    Related: How to use discounts and coupons to increase eCommerce revenue

    Leverage intimacy with humor and emotion

    Your email subscribers are your inner circle. They represent a fraction of your total visitors and of everyone who knows about you via social media.

    Your welcome email campaign should make them feel they signed up for something special.

     

    It starts with valuable information, but it’s also a matter of tone.

    If your website is somewhat buttoned-down, your emails can be a little more informal. No need to go crazy with this, but you’re writing to your friends. You’re addressing people who already believe in you and your product. So connect. Tell a joke, share a personal anecdote, include a fun customer success story.

    Do not be afraid to change your tone of voice with these customers.

    Be brief and focused

    Brevity is the soul of email.

    Keep each email focused around a single message.

     

    Your readers have many other emails overfilling their inboxes. Make yours worth reading by offering real value while being quick and easy to digest.

    Keep each email in your welcome email campaign focused around a single message, and try to keep the word count as low as you can — it’s the key to keeping your readers engaged.

    Note: Blasting your subscribers’ inboxes mercilessly, without even a morsel of strategic thought or quality content, is your fastest route to an unsubscribe action, spam complaint or, worst of all, a poor opinion of your brand.

    So, getting your welcome campaigns just right is essential. To help steer the success of your campaign from start to finish, here are two end-to-end welcome strategies that you might leverage to your advantage.

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    Creating a Welcome series email marketing campaign

    Imagine you just subscribed to the email list of a brand you admire. What do you expect to happen next? Well, this is a brand’s opportunity to make a good first impression with a subscriber.

    A welcome series is a powerful way to set expectations for your email marketing campaigns while educating subscribers about the brand’s values and personality.

    Consider a progression of two or three emails that supply subscribers with some or all of the following information:

    • What type of content can they expect in your emails?
    • How often should they expect to receive your emails?
    • What are the benefits of being a subscriber?
    • Can they interact with your brand on other channels? Which ones?
    • What does your brand stand for? What are its values?
    • What is your brand’s story?
    • What action(s) should they take?

    Always remember: Try to keep each email focused on a single core message — you don’t want to overwhelm subscribers with too much content at once. Hold fire on overly promotional content, taking a moment to create emotional connections with subscribers.

    That said, offering an incentive to sign up for your email list — such as 15% off a first purchase or free shipping — is a valuable way to grow your subscriber list and boost your bottom line.

    Once you’ve successfully embraced your customers with a welcome series, prompted them to take action and closed a sale, create a tailored repurchase series to encourage repeat customers.

    Creating a Repurchase series email marketing campaign

    Your repurchase series aims to provide subscribers with product or service recommendations based on their previous purchases.

    It can move down a couple of possible routes:

    Cross-sell: Recommend a product in a different category than the product originally purchased by your prospect. For example, if they bought a T-shirt you might recommend a matching pair of shorts or sweatshirt from the same brand.

    Upsell: Recommend a product in a higher price tier than the originally purchased product. If your subscriber snagged a new suit jacket, you could recommend a classy watch to complement the ensemble.

    If you can create relevant, personalized product recommendations, you stand a far better chance at driving repeat purchases and, in turn, boosting your retail sales. Magic.

    Related: Upselling and cross-selling techniques for online stores

    Now that you understand the key elements of a successful email-based welcome campaign, it’s time to learn how to automate your email marketing on a deeper, more practical level.

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    5. Offer enticing email autoresponders

    Fist Bump Represents Effective Email AutoresponderOnce all of the cogs in your email marketing wheel are in place, it’s important that you put your automation strategies into play.

    If you do this effectively, you will help to boost your overall productivity, reduce your workload, and ultimately help drive the kind of engagement that will propel your business to exciting new heights.

    Fortunately, it’s never been easier to automate key parts of your email marketing strategy and make sure you’re sending the right message to the right people at just the right time.

    This next section of our guide will help you to place your email marketing efforts on autopilot — or more specifically, catapult your success with a customer-grabbing email autoresponder campaign.

    Let’s get started with a quick-fire definition: Autoresponders are emails are sent to subscribers automatically, based on certain predetermined criteria.

    For instance, you can set autoresponder emails to go out to new subscribers on a periodic basis. Once your email autoresponders are up and running, you can enjoy the benefits of email marketing, using up significantly less time in the process.

    How to create an effective autoresponder email campaign

    Here are the four key elements of any successful email autoresponder campaign.

    1. Choose your platform

    If you haven’t already, you’ll need to choose a suitable email marketing platform. You can always refer back to step three in our guide.

    Once you’ve settled on a solution, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with its features and functionality. Keep in mind that each marketing platform uses different terminology.

    2. Decide on your goals and strategy

    Next up —nail down your goals and strategy. What is the end result you’d like to achieve with your email autoresponder campaign, and what methods will you use to reach your destination.

    Why? Well, because having solid goals and a predetermined strategy can help anchor your decision-making, and will serve as a guide when you begin to draft your email series.

    Each scenario is unique, but there are a few typical goals you might want to pursue, including:

    • Orienting new users via a welcome sequence of emails.
    • Attracting new subscribers and customers.
    • Creating an automated sales funnel.

    Which of these objectives speaks to you? Chances are, you’ll pick more than one.

    Once you understand your primary goals, the strategy you use to get there will depend heavily on your own needs, industry and budget. But throughout, remember that maintaining consistent branding is key across the board.

    3. Plan and draft your email chain

    Planning out the emails you will send is just as vital as having a solid overall strategy for your email autoresponder email campaign.

    A robust plan provides a roadmap and can help anchor your decisions just as it does when you’re setting goals.

    It’s possible to become overwhelmed at this point, given the potential complexity and the fact that it depends so much on your business’s particular needs. But, following a few key steps will help you work your way through this task in no time:

    • Take a piece of paper (or whatever writing medium you prefer) and note your goal and strategy at the top.
    • Decide on an initial number of emails you’ll send and their frequency (e.g. once every two days).
    • Start to fill in the slots with general email topics without worrying about creating a killer headline yet — just a rough idea will do. Here you should think about the reader’s journey as they move through the emails in a logical sense.
    • Refine your topics and frequency, relating back to your goals and strategy as needed.

    Now, for the final step.

    4. Ensure your content is optimized for conversions

    Of course, planning is all for naught unless your content can entice and convert your readers. In an email marketing context, we’re simply talking about successfully engaging and encouraging the reader to make a sale.

    Quality content is vital for any business with a message to promote, regardless of your specific niche.

     

    By offering personable, engaging value-driven content, you can potentially build a loyal, dedicated customer base that will be more willing to open their wallets. What’s more, inspiring content will provide you with an air of professionalism and brand authority.

    All these elements contribute to the real aim of any email marketing campaign: increasing your click-through rates and sales revenue.

    Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just focus on these key aspects when crafting your email copy:

    • Ensure your subject lines are optimized.
    • Don’t over-promote your products.
    • Optimize your delivery times.
    • Make sure your design is mobile-friendly.

    Clear yet concise copy focused on your readers’ personal needs will likely be enough to meet your goals, so when you’re crafting your copy, think of your audience — and use your words wisely.

    You understand the key elements of creating an enticing autoresponder campaign. Now let’s look at some general strategies to help give your efforts more direction.

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    7 automated email response strategies

    Whether you sell products, services, information — or even hope — you can use these automated email response strategies to connect with your audience on an even deeper level.

    1. Send a year of inspirational quotes

    This is a fun one. A year’s worth of lovely thoughts — sent daily (or weekly, or whenever) — is a fantastic way to inspire people and remain top-of-mind.

    2. Follow up after appointments or purchases

    After an appointment, add your client to your “post-appointment or post-purchase” list and send them a follow-up autoresponder. It could be a thank-you note, a reminder to schedule their next appointment or an incentive to buy another product. Whatever works for your business.

    3. Share rewards and incentives

    Encourage people to subscribe to your email list by offering a downloadable reward like a song, an eGuide or a piece of writing. Commonly used by musicians and authors, the offer goes a little something like this: “Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free download!”

    Once the subscriber joins your email list, deliver the reward via autoresponder. A solid strategy.

    4. Serialize your eBook

    If you’ve created an eBook or whitepaper, serializing your eBook via email is a great way to turn readers into subscribers (and subscribers into buyers). Send them a chapter a week with autoresponders!

    5. Ask for online reviews

    Your customers love you, right? But it isn’t always easy to ask for reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. A savvy way to handle this is to send a sweet thank-you note after they purchase something — and include links to the important review sites.

    6. Instill a sense of urgency about trial periods

    This works wonderfully for both services and products. Set up a series of autoresponders to remind your customers that their trial period’s clock is ticking away. Educate your customers on the features they might have missed while also creating a sense of urgency.

    7. Send a thank-you email on customers’ anniversaries

    This one’s fairly obvious but certainly worth mentioning. Set an autoresponder to send a thank-you note after one month or one year. Reminding your customers that you appreciate them is an effective approach, indeed.

    Fired up and ready to go? Let’s round out this guide with some practical tips for a successful email automation strategy.

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    Practical tips for successful email automation

    Now that you know how to automate your email marketing and you’re brimming with content-fuelled inspiration, you’ll be well on your way to commercial glory.

    Here are some practical bonus tips that will help you get even further ahead of the pack.

    Start with a strong hook

    Believe it or not, marketing has a lot to do with the human psyche. When you’re crafting your emails, you have to keep in mind what draws our attention and causes us to actually open one of the thousands of emails we receive. What makes that particular automated (or drip-based) promotional campaign more appealing than others?

    Sometimes it’s a simple, “I was going to that store anyway and need a coupon,” but most of the time your emails are going to have to work a little harder to capture recipients’ ultra-divided attention.

    Ceating a successful hook boils down to five key principles:

    • Creating a personal connection
    • Offering exclusivity
    • Generating reciprocity by offering gifts and rewards
    • Encouraging social proof
    • Leveraging reverse psychology.

    Related: Apply these 3 psychology principles to boost sales

    Inspire email recipients to act

    A clear and concise call-to-action should anchor every email campaign.

    The nature of the human brain and what makes us tick comes into play here, too. You don’t need to be pushy; it’s all about piquing interest in a potential customer benefit so email recipients want to click or call or email to follow through on your promise.

    • Shave hundreds from your tax payment!
    • Save a pet today!
    • Start learning now!

    Use your call-to-action to let email recipients know what’s in it for them, especially on an emotional level, so they’ll take that next step.

    Create content that looks and feels good

    In our content-driven digital age persuasive copywriting is the cornerstone of any successful email marketing campaign, hands down.

    If you know how to tell stories and use words that inspire, entertain and prompt action, you’ll watch your click-through — and conversion rates — soar.

    To help fill your automated emails with the kind of content that will result in consistent success, here are three copywriting tips to consider:

    Grab attention with the most popular word in the English language

    The most popular word in the English language is “me.”

    It’s not our fault. It’s an evolutionary survival mechanism, or as psychologist Susan M. Weinschenk puts it in her book, Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click: “It is a fact of nature that if you want to get and hold the attention of humans, and if you want to get them to take action, you need to engage the old brain.”

    So, if you want to connect with the old brain, the first step is to use the most popular word in the English language: me. Just don’t forget that when writing in the third person, “me” becomes “you.”

    Use storytelling to charm, amaze and dumbfound

    There is something universal and compelling about storytelling. We like stories because they give shape to an otherwise seemingly random existence — and storytelling gets results.

    So, how do you use storytelling techniques in email marketing?

    Signal that you are telling a story. Think about when someone walks into the office and says, “Man, you won’t believe what happened to me at the supermarket yesterday …” What happens? Your coworkers put down their mobile phones and coffee cups and sit up and listen.

    Withhold information. In one email, you could try: “What if we told you that there is a way to offer your customers ancillary products and services that will actually improve their overall travel experience? Well, there is a way, and I’ll tell you what it is a little bit later, but first …”

    Be specific. Details enrich your story and give it credibility. “The dog ruined the woman’s dress when it jumped on her” is generic. “The muddy border collie ruined Julie’s crisp, pink prom dress when it jumped on her” paints a picture and brings your story to life.

    Include well-crafted stories in your email copy because they will engage your readers.

    Write like a human being

    No matter how closely you follow the above tips, it won’t work if your email sounds like it was manufactured in some form of corporate, direct-mail machine.

    An email is not a whitepaper or an annual report. It is relatively informal and conversational by nature.

    That doesn’t mean you don’t want it to sound professional and business-like. Yet, even the most formal documents can assume a conversational tone.

    These three copywriting tips will help make sure your email automation activities are worthwhile — so use these tips for reference whenever you feel a little lost.

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    Conclusion and next steps

    Now that you know all you need to know about email automation — and more — the ball is in your court.

    Remember: Your email marketing campaigns are only as effective as the content within them, so understanding your audience and their needs is paramount.

    But, to accelerate your creative campaign efforts, email automation software is a must. Without it, you will fall behind your competitors quicker than you think.

    To take your email marketing to a whole new dimension and enjoy the level of commercial success that you deserve, embrace the power of GoDaddy’s Email Marketing platform today.

    Best of luck, email automation warrior!

    This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Stephanie Conner, Natalie Cullings, Dean Levitt, Ben Jacobson, Tom Ewer, Eddie Gear, Maxym Martineau, Rachel LaCour Nieson, Tom Rankin, Oren Shafir, Emma Wilhelm and Erez Zukerman.

    The post Email automation 101 — 5 steps to automate email marketing appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    It seems that the holidays are starting sooner every year doesn’t it? The reality is that almost half of all marketers will start their holiday campaigns before Halloween. The time to start your holiday eCommerce planning is now.

    As the holidays approach, activity starts accelerating and we get more pressed for time with the stress that goes along with it. Make your life a little easier by preparing and planning for the upcoming holiday eCommerce season in advance.

    The more you can get in place, created and planned for in advance the better!

     

    The holiday season is where many retailers make a chunk of their sales. In fact, U.S. retail spending is projected to increase 3.7% from 2018 to more than $1 trillion in 2019. Having a plan in place can provide you the opportunity to acquire your share of that pie.

    Guide to holiday eCommerce planning

    In this article we are going to cover all the things you can do now to help to increase customer retention and hopefully sales — while making your life easier in the process.

    1. Set up your promotional calendar.
    2. Map out promotional codes and bundles.
    3. Prepare email messaging.
    4. Check inventory.
    5. Plan holiday website content.
    6. Plan social media, blog and newsletter content.
    7. Review and update policies and procedures.
    8. Prepare special offers for current customers.
    9. Create holiday graphics and imagery.
    10. Review PPC campaigns.
    11. Test website security and performance.

    Tackle these issues, plan accordingly, and you’ll have a more profitable and productive holiday eCommerce season.

    1. Set up your promotional calendar

    I use Google calendar to note everything I need to do and when. And I color code it so at a glance I am able to know what my months, weeks and days ahead are going to entail.

    You can create a separate calendar for “holiday eCommerce planning” to segregate that information from your other business activities.

    It is super easy to use and you can accommodate your own style and schedule.

    First, let’s look at last year’s top 10 online sales dates that you can plan your promotions around. I’m also going to share with you 2018’s sales numbers. That’s called potential!

    Gold Gift Package Illustrates Holiday Sales1. Cyber Monday (November 26) 2018 was the largest in history at $7.87 billion
    2. Black Friday (November 23): $6.22 billion
    3. Thanksgiving (November 22): $3.68 billion
    4. November 25: $3.39 billion
    5. November 24: $3.05 billion
    6. November 27: $2.97 billion
    7. Green Monday (December 10): $2.87 billion
    8. December 11: $2.55 billion
    9. December 17: $2.52 billion
    10. December 9: $2.41 billion

    Special note: Don’t forget Dec. 26 in your holiday eCommerce planning. You can have a special post-holiday sale or clear out holiday items you don’t want to keep on the shelves. Appeal to the many gift card recipients out there looking for deals!

    If you had a holiday eCommerce plan from last year, do a quick review of your statistical data to see if there is any correlation to the above dates. Put that data to use for this year’s planning efforts.

    Related: Holiday marketing checklist

    2. Map out promotional codes and bundles

    Map out all your promotional codes. When do they start, end? What are the minimums and number of uses per customer? Also note your promo codes on your content calendar so you can announce your sales on your blog and social channels.

    Create catchy promotional codes that are easy to remember.

     

    Your codes could be for specific dates (BFBlowOut), available inventory (400Left) or close-out deals (LastChance) that you want to offer.

    Investigate how you can create bundles between similar products. Bundling provides a great up-sell opportunity that customers cannot resist!

    3. Prepare email messaging

    Have all your holiday-related email communications, newsletters and auto-responders set up and ready to go for you to implement when the time comes. Create templates for responding to common questions so you can reply quickly and easily.

    By being able to respond promptly and professionally, you have the ability to strike while the iron (interest) is hot and hopefully convert for an order.

    Related: 6 holiday email campaign tactics to compete in crowded inboxes

    4. Check inventory

    Holiday eCommerce Planning Woman Sitting In WarehouseWhen the topic of inventory is brought up, many assume products. While you most definitely want to make sure you have more than enough product to sell, inventory applies to many other things as well. Such as:

    • Packaging materials: Envelopes, boxes, cushioning, labels, tape
    • Promotional materials: Inserts, business cards, discount cards
    • Gift processing materials: Gift boxes, tissue, special cards, ribbons

    By having all of the above in-house well in advance, you won’t have to worry about scrambling to get these items in time for your holiday shipping season.

    Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing Ecommerce solution includes all the tools you need for a successful holiday online shopping and shipping season — including multiple shipping options, built-in SSL certificate, integrated email marketing and more.

    5. Plan holiday website content

    This effort is potentially the most time-consuming. Most customers shop around not only for the best deals but for products from trusted sellers.

    By creating holiday-specific content, you build your exposure, expertise and trust factor with those who are considering spending some of their holiday dollars with you.

    Some holiday content ideas:

    • Holiday gift guides: Your most popular products and why, stocking stuffers, last-minute gifts.
    • How-tos: How to use your products to make lives easier, more productive, more enjoyable.
    • Comparisons: Compare your various products to each other or even those of your competitors.
    • Customer review compilations: Tell stories that include your satisfied customers and how your products impacted their lives. Storytelling allows you to connect with customer experiences while reflecting on how your products can enhance their lives.
    • Coming soon landing pages: These pages have a countdown timer that tells visitors to sign-up to be notified of your incredible sale or offer to build anticipation (and your mailing list).

    Related: 11 steps to get your online store ready for holiday sales

    6. Plan social media, blog and newsletter content

    Having an editorial calendar is a time-saver. Once you have all your posts ready to go it is just a matter of copying and pasting with the appropriate image(s).

    Various services can help you schedule your social media notices in advance. If you are on WordPress you can schedule posts and there are plugins that will then auto-post to social accounts as well.

    While auto-posting does save time, you still have to schedule time to interact with responses and comments your content will generate. Rapid and courteous responses, even though you are crunched for time, are what your customers expect and appreciate.

    Once all your promotional social media posts are created, schedule them to post multiple times to gain traction. Investigate what works best on each platform. Better yet, look to your own accounts to see when you get the most activity.

    Holiday Cupcakes Represent Blog Content Idea
    Offer special treats for the holiday season? Create blog, social media and newsletter content that whets customers’ appetites for your products.

    Use your blog to bring up topics you know are of concern or interest to your target market at this time of year. Write meaty posts that are 1,500 to 2,000 words in length and offer solutions and tips that address their concerns or needs in a way that works best for them.

    Nothing is less impressive than “corporate-y” generic blah-blah-blah that can be found on any website.

     

    Being more intimate with first-person copy that allows you to talk to that one person on the other side of the screen will draw them in for the sale.

    Review your site’s statistical data keeping a keen eye for any new patterns in search or traffic on your site. See what is most popular and focus on those products to start. Look for any new inbound links for possible partnership opportunities you can nurture during the holiday season.

    Related: 9 social media holiday content ideas

    7. Review and update policies and procedures

    Do a quick run-through of your policy information and make sure it is prominently displayed on your website.

    You want to note any holiday eCommerce specific time frames and procedures so that they are front and center for potential customers.

    This includes:

    • Special holiday business and customer service hours
    • Drop-dead order dates to guarantee in time for holiday delivery. (20% of shoppers will not start their holiday shopping until the beginning of December!)
    • Drop-dead shipping modes to get items on time. For example, state when First Class will no longer be possible noting when customers need to upgrade to Priority or Expedited shipping to receive in time.
    • Create a Holiday Order & Shipping FAQ that covers all the questions customers will have so they know what is possible and what to expect.

    Related: Returns and refunds policy template for online shopping sites

    8. Prepare special offers for current customers

    Those who have purchased from you before are more likely to do so again. They are waiting to hear from you to give them an excuse to return and purchase your products for others. Not to mention that when customers are shopping for those on their list, they also treat themselves (A Treat Yourself Sale!).

    Special discounts, free shipping, points or perks for those who already have accounts with your website is a way to show that you appreciate their business.

     

    An “Exclusive Member Only Sale” makes customers feel appreciated.

    Put together a special pre-promo promo just for established customers letting them know they are getting early notice or access as your way of showing you value their business. Who can resist that type of sale?

    9. Create holiday graphics and imagery

    Holiday eCommerce Planning Dog Dressed As Reindeer

    Little touches create a holiday mood. Here are some ideas:

    • “Holidize” your website, logo, header graphics.
    • Create holiday-themed product graphics by integrating bows or gift package images.
    • Promotional graphics: Display discount percentages – 50% OFF! Note if there is free shipping. Use terms like “Limited Time Offer,” “One Day Only” and “While Supplies Last.” This approach helps to create FOMO (fear of missing out) to cajole customers to buy now.

    When integrating text in your images, make sure it is large enough to be easily readable at a glance. Not only for your website but for mobile devices and on your social media sites.

    This is a visual medium and having eye-catching creative promotional graphics will increase your click-throughs. Then, by organizing your graphics by date or campaign you can easily tap into them as your promotional and editorial calendar dates arise.

    Related: How to decorate your eCommerce shop for the winter holidays

    10. Review PPC campaigns

    Reviewing last year’s PPC campaigns can provide a window into planning for this year’s budget. When it comes to PPC campaigns, increasing your bids and budgets as the time to shop diminishes allows you to take advantage of last minute impulse buyers.

    Typically this time frame— December 14-24 — is when your remarketing efforts will be more effective.

    Successful PPC campaigns require a ton of testing and tuning. Hopefully, you’ve been doing that throughout the year to find out what works for your products.

    Related: 8 tips to get strong returns on PPC advertising spend

    11. Test website security and performance

    Security considerations are very important to building your trust factor with potential customers.

    Make sure that you have SSL (HTTPS) installed so that all data transmitted between your site and your customer’s browser is encrypted.

    While most of you likely have this in place, I see sites every day without SSL so it is worth a mention.

    Other considerations:

    • Run a website performance and speed check to make sure that everything is running as best and as fast as possible. Then make the necessary changes and modifications to get your site to load within two to three seconds. Zippy sites also attain better search rankings.
    • Make sure that your website is completely up to date (themes, plugins, extensions, WordPress, PHP, etc.) to take advantage of all available performance improvements and security hardening.
    • Go through your checkout process to make sure it is simple, intuitive and that everything is working as it should.
    • Review how your site displays and operates on mobile devices as well (revenue on mobile devices was around 40% last year).

    Next, you’ll want to do a quick check of your hosting package against last year’s activity. Then add a dash of anticipated increases based on growth since then for this year’s holiday season.

    Do you have enough resources in your package or should you upgrade in advance? Ask your host what would happen if you exceeded your package resources so you can be proactive and plan accordingly.

    Get your holiday eCommerce planning in shape

    By having a plan to cover all these topics, you’ll know what you need to implement and when. This will allow you to run your business efficiently while making the most of this important time of year. That’s called ROI!

    The post 11 ways to get a head start on holiday eCommerce planning appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Getting started in the world of freelance web development is not an easy task. In addition to solid technical knowledge, you’re on the hook to constantly keep up with the latest tools and methods, as well as to persuade prospective clients that you have the necessary skills and abilities to deliver the results they demand. Fortunately, a part-time side hustle as a freelance web developer can provide an excellent opportunity to gradually get some experience before making a full-time commitment.

    How to become a freelance web developer — A comprehensive guide

    This guide will cover everything you need to know if you’re considering taking the leap into freelance web development, including:

    Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

    Benefits of being a freelance web developer

    For web developers and designers willing to hustle, there are many benefits to going the freelance route.

    Flexibility in when and how you do the work — or not

    As a freelancer, you set the rules regarding working hours, and who you’re willing to work with.

    Whether you’re an early bird who rises with the sun, or a night owl who’d rather work efficiently when everyone else is sleeping, freelancing can be a great solution for you.

    Bonus: You can work remotely — whether from home, your local coffee shop or your beach vacation.

    If a potential client or volunteer project demands unreasonable hours or deliverables, you’re well within your rights to politely decline, then move on to find work that fits your requirements and expectations.

    Freelance Web Developer Working Remotely
    Photo: Anton Shuvalov on Unsplash

    Opportunity for more interesting projects

    In the freelance world, there is no shortage of variety — in terms of both clients and projects.

    Every project brings with it the chance to learn new technical skills, to increase understanding of a particular market space, or just to practice your interpersonal skills dealing with clients.

    Over the years I’ve loved gaining conversational knowledge about many new topics. Twenty years ago, I had no idea someone could make money as a professional organizer or mobile dog groomer. There are even folks who clean up the yards of foreclosed houses.

    I’ve learned about soapmaking, theatre auditions, specialty quilting and more. In turn, being knowledgeable about a variety of subjects has led to new opportunities.

    High demand for the work, boosted by a shortage of qualified workers

    Web-related skills are in demand in just about every industry, with a predicted shortage of web developers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the web development field is expected to grow by 15% by 2026.

    A side hustle doing some part-time web development work as a freelancer may give you a head start in building a resume to fill one of these jobs.

    The chance to make good money

    With the right mix of skills and projects, you’ve got a real opportunity to make good money. Although the amount you can expect to make as a freelance web developer or designer will vary based upon factors like your experience level and the amount of time you commit to your freelance business, the average web developer salary in the U.S. is about $75,000.

    By developing yourself into a subject matter expert, you’ll see additional opportunities pop up — via casual conversation in a store or at the post office and formal referrals from other folks who’ve experienced your good work.

    Becoming known as a problem solver opens the door to more opportunities.

     

    Of course, you’ll also be competing with freelance web developers in other areas of the world who may be willing to do the same job at a lower price. Since price should not be the only decision-making factor, you’ll benefit from that problem-solver reputation, as well as other proactive and responsive behaviors.

    Related: Becoming a full-time freelancer — 3 tips for web developers

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    Considerations before committing to freelance work

    Man Working on Laptop on Sofa Illustrates Freelance Considerations
    Photo: Ali Yahya on Unsplash

    Does freelance life sound attractive? You bet it does!

    However, it’s a great idea to ease into it with part-time side projects while still employed full-time doing other work.

    Freelancing can be challenging, and it takes a number of considerations before making an all-out commitment.

    The reality of financial constraints

    Freelancing income can arrive at unpredictable times, with income varying month-to-month, based on the projects you take on and what they demand.

    One of the biggest struggles in the move to freelancing is the income flow.

     

    This is a non-issue while you’re still doing pro bono portfolio-building work. But as soon as you’re relying on income, the stress that comes with waiting on payment can potentially ruin your freelance experience.

    Questions to keep in mind:

    • How much steady income do you require? Consider paying rent, kids’ tuition, settling any extra debt you’ve acquired, and the basic costs of survival: food, utilities, entertainment, etc. Figure out exactly how much money you need to live and what your freelance hourly rate must be.
    • Can you amass three to six months’ of savings to cover living expenses, before depending solely on freelance income?
    • Can you put enough aside in savings to eventually fund growth and expansion of your business?
    • Will the uncertainty of unpredictable income cause too much stress or anxiety?
    • Do you have alternate ways to cover the benefits of your full-time job, such as health insurance? If you have concerns over health issues or a young growing family, it may be better to stay with your current job and continue web development as a long-term side hustle for fun, career growth and extra income.

    Related: 8 freelance financial mistakes that many new solopreneurs make

    The inevitability of handling the business side

    Running a business has its own challenges.

    There’s a lot to remember, so much to organize, and responsibilities far beyond creating the product. You can find help (accountants, billing software, etc.), but you will still have non-project work on your end.

    So you must ask yourself: Can you handle the business side, and are you willing to do so?

    Nothing can ruin a future faster than running a business poorly.

     

    The highest risks might be legal issues, which can occur at any stage of the game. Poorly handled taxes can result in audits and large bills.

    And it all comes down to you: you’re the decision-maker and the budget-approver. In addition, you’re the marketing department, IT tech support, and the one who stocks the office supplies shelf.

    Related: Do you have what it takes to be your own boss?

    The demand for organizational skills and self-discipline

    Freelancers may feel frequent pressure, trying to finish the current project while simultaneously working on the next, and investing in business development for the future. And with a part-time side venture, of course, your current job should take precedence.

    Balancing work, clients and personal life will be challenging, so it helps to build a supportive community of family and friends willing to work with you, with flexibility and understanding.

    Freelancing takes significant self discipline to avoid distraction. Hold yourself accountable, stay motivated and seize opportunities.

    Freelancing takes significant self-discipline to avoid distraction. It’s time to hold yourself accountable, stay motivated, and take advantage of every opportunity … all while avoiding the temptation to check Facebook or open the fridge door every 20 minutes.

    Related: 11 tips to meet deadlines in your freelance business

    The challenge of identifying and completing portfolio-building work

    Until you can provide a convincing portfolio and at least a few clients who are willing to recommend you, you won’t make much money — if any at all.

    Therefore, it’s a reasonable approach to gradually ease your way into the industry, rather than dive head-long into full-time work.

    A gradual professional path could start with some personal projects, including volunteering for social, cultural, political, public service and other organizations or causes, plus a handful of side jobs.

    In the beginning, focus on free work to build your portfolio by identifying those who can benefit from your efforts:

    • Do you know any local small businesses that don’t yet have an online presence?
    • Are you volunteering for any local nonprofit organizations or community causes whose websites may be ineffective (or nonexistent)?
    • Do you have expertise in a particular market that doesn’t necessarily focus on their online presence?

    My very first pro bono websites included my children’s elementary school (the first in a district of more than 40 schools to have a website), a nonprofit where I was on the board of directors, and my father-in-law’s manufacturing business (and in those days, machine shops were not usually found online). And all were identified because I saw the need and volunteered.

    If you frequent some regular local businesses, one approach might be to review their websites, and then the next time you’re in there, offer a suggestion. Say “I was wondering if I could make a suggestion to improve your website?” Of course, offer it for free, but see where it leads, and if they take you up on your idea, there may be more work to follow.

    Related: 20 examples of inspiring web design portfolios

    Being comfortable with putting yourself out there to land work

    Let’s get one thing straight: if people don’t know you exist, they won’t hire you, buy from you, learn from you, or refer business to you.

    Keeping that in mind, you need to cultivate a world where as many people as possible know, like and trust you. They need to know what you do, who you serve, the results you’re capable of helping others achieve and why you’re different than the competition.

    Treat networking as an investment in your brand awareness.

     

    When the day comes to level up your web design or development side hustle and turn it into a full-time business, you’ll have a strong, established network of supporters, ready to help elevate you to the next level through referrals.

    Put these things on your networking to-do list:

    • Find local networking groups your ideal client attends.
    • Join local web design and development networking groups.
    • Check out the local Chamber of Commerce.
    • Join online networking groups.
    • Join regional or national networking organizations with seminars, conferences and workshops.
    • Attend networking events regularly and begin building quality relationships.
    • Spread the word that you’re available, by contacting family, friends and anyone else who just might have a contact for you.

    I find the Chamber of Commerce or neighborhood business organizations to be great because members are all legitimate business owners, although they may charge a membership fee.

    Volunteer or join a committee, and remember to follow up with the folks you meet. If you’re using a newsletter to build your marketing network, ask if you can add them to your list. Some Chamber groups invite members to give presentations so that could be another opportunity for you.

    Try to work your side hustle into any conversation.

     

    If you meet someone new and get into a conversation, ask them what they do. Let them talk first, and eventually, they will ask what you do. And there’s your golden opportunity to say “I’m working full-time, but have this side hustle going where I’m building websites, as that’s where my passion lies.”

    Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations wherever you are: in a waiting room, gym or coffee shop. I’ve received job referrals from people I met in those venues, thanks to my willingness to spark a conversation.

    Related: How to attract customers when you’re just getting started

    Staying current in an ever-changing field

    Stay competitive by making an up-front commitment to personal development and ongoing education, whether formal classes, online tutorials, attending conferences, or working toward additional certifications.

    Without ongoing effort to push and accelerate your learning, you’ll be left behind by other more motivated freelancers anxious to find work.

    Your goal is to avoid becoming outdated as a developer while continually expanding your knowledge (and therefore your client base).

    Additional learning opportunities include reading newsletters, publications and blogs, and attending WordCamp or similar events.

    How To Become A Freelance Web Developer Typing Code

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    Do you have what it takes to be a successful freelance web developer?

    No single path is right for everyone.

    While freelancing offers more choices, it also comes with more responsibilities. There are many tasks and demands you never see when you’re working for someone else.

    Consider who you are, as well as your current needs and goals, before deciding if you want to take on the challenges of freelancing.

    Skill alone isn’t enough to create a successful business, but if you’re willing and able to take on these new responsibilities, you’ll have the opportunity to shape your own future.

    Do you have the technical chops, and a plan to continue learning?

    Web development projects require knowledge of more than one programming language. The more technologies and languages you know, the more jobs you’ll be ready to accept.

    To prioritize, start with languages that are both versatile and in-demand and continue building your experience with more technologies over time.

    If you’re already employed full-time in a web-related profession, perhaps you’ve become bored, need more of a challenge, or are just looking for ways to build new skills on your terms. There are many online resources available.

    Consider improving your skills in any of the following areas:

    • The basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript
    • Intermediate and advanced WordPress
    • The basics of user experience (UX) and user interface design
    • SQL and PHP
    • Search engine optimization
    • Responsive design

    Related: 20 web design books recommended by the pros

    Do you have the right tools in place?

    In addition to a capable workhorse computer, you’ll eventually want to have the following:

    • A printer
    • Office supplies
    • Reliable internet
    • Software such as Adobe Creative Suite
    • Software to track financials
    • A backup work location in case your power or internet service is out

    You might not have all of the tools available immediately to start freelance jobs and that’s OK — but before moving to full-time work, you’ll need a plan to get them (and a backup plan) in place until they are.

    Related: 90 essential tools for WordPress web designers and developers

    Do you have the soft skills to deal with a variety of situations and personalities?

    Being poorly organized is a sure way to ruin your freelancing gig. Both you and clients will end up angry and frustrated, and clients can feel cheated because projects aren’t delivered as promised.

    If you aren’t diligent about invoices, payments won’t come your way. Without organization, you end up working all the time to make up for the distractions that have crowded into your day.

    If all you want to do is create, then freelancing may not be for you, because client interactions are crucial to your success.

    Make no mistake, clients can sometimes be a hassle. They have wants. They have needs. They often require hand-holding and speak a language all their own. And you’re the boss, so there’s no one else to manage them.

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

    Can you rely on related experience to help in connecting with clients?

    It sounds attractive to take on side hustle gigs fresh out of college, while getting up to speed on your first full-time job.

    However, you’ll do much better at this if you already have some real experience in business or an organization (whether a club, nonprofit or professional organization).

    The experience of working for someone else, making and meeting commitments, and learning to work with all sorts of people will make a huge difference in your success — and involvement in these groups may lead to referrals.

    Can you identify your unique selling proposition?

    Your unique selling proposition, or USP, helps you stand out from the crowd, establish yourself as the solution of choice, and gain trust and respect.

    Even as a newbie, you need to be able to articulate why you’re a good choice.

     

    What is it that you provide that puts you ahead of other freelancers looking for side work? Is it technical skills or knowledge? Delivery speed and/or quality? Your customer service skills?

    Even as a newbie in the freelance world, you need to be able to articulate why you’re a good choice. You need to communicate to your target audience what you stand for, what sets you apart, and what makes you the best option.

    Have you scoped out the competition?

    Woman Looking Through Binoculars Represents Scoping Out CompetitionCompetition is a fact of life in the freelancing realm.

    There will always be folks out there who do what you do, possibly at an equal level of capability. They may charge more (or less), they may have more (or less) experience, and they may have a larger (or smaller) network.

    But whatever they have, it’s important to know how you compare.

    That means constantly keeping your eye on the others in your area who are doing what you want to do. Find out what they charge, how they get work, who’s featured in their portfolio.

    If you’re focusing on local work, you really need to know who all of the other local players are.

    There’s probably enough work to go around, but you want to nab the best projects when possible. So much of it may be happenstance, in terms of meeting the right person, or someone you know meeting someone who needs work done.

    You want to figure out how you can immediately differentiate yourself. Your goal is to deliver work of better quality and performance than what the other folks are selling.

    Related: How to find inspiration from your competitors (without stealing their ideas)

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    The contractor-client relationship

    The relationship between the freelancer and their client is a delicate balance.

    On the one hand, you want them to feel like “the customer is always right.” On the other hand, they are counting on you to provide knowledge, training and expertise that they don’t have — and should recognize and acknowledge that they don’t have.

    You need to school your clients gently, without making them feel inadequate or stupid.

    You’d like to clearly articulate expectations so that no one is surprised, offended or defensive.

    Related: How to set expectations with your clients

    Secret weapon No. 1: Reliability

    If you’re serious about making money as a freelance web designer, treat your business, yourself and your customers with respect by providing excellent service and getting back to them in a timely manner. Customers deserve someone who can promptly answer emails, deliver work on time, and lead them through a productive experience. You can be that someone by treating your freelance gig as a real business from the beginning.

    Secret weapon No. 2: Communication

    In today’s crazy world entrenched in a multitude of communication channels — phone, email, texting, instant messaging and more — effective interaction skills are often overlooked.

    Exceptional communication skills serve everyone, no matter their profession, and no matter what type of clients they support. My approach to providing excellent customer service depends on a trio of communication principles:

    • Speak with precision
    • Listen with forgiveness
    • Ask with intention

    Even with the best intentions, schedules change, delays appear, project scope creeps. If something unforeseen prevents you from meeting a commitment, communicate why to keep everyone in the loop.

    Related: Communicating with clients — 5 tactics for success

    Additional resources for working with clients

    Working with clients as a freelance web developer or designer is an art and skill that you will refine over time. These resources can help you be more successful:

    Web Designer Working With Client
    Photo: Kobu Agency on Unsplash

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    The roadmap to establishing your side hustle

    When you’ve determined that you’ve got what it takes to become a freelance web developer or web designer, it’s time to outline your to-do items to make it happen.

    Have a plan

    Even if this is a part-time gig, you want to have a plan in place for an eventual transition to making it a full-time freelancing position. You want a business plan that will:

    • Define your business vision and identity.
    • Set financial goals and targets.
    • Estimate expected expenses and income.
    • Define your ideal clients.

    You don’t need to start from scratch; here are five great business plan templates.

    Make sure you’ve got a solid plan that will generate enough income to maintain your desired lifestyle, while building a cushion. Living hand-to-mouth for any extended period of time will get old really fast.

    Lay the groundwork with systems and processes

    While you still have your traditional job paying your bills, set aside time to create systems and processes for everything you can in your web development or design business.

    This includes scheduling meetings and appointments, as well as doing the work, and spending time on marketing and sales.

    Systems and processes reduce stress, improve productivity, and increase profitability.

     

    There are many software options available to help streamline, simplify and automate parts of your business. Eventually, you’ll want to have software for:

    • Accounting and invoicing
    • Project management
    • Email marketing
    • Time tracking
    • Web design and development

    But be careful — don’t get too caught up in unnecessary expenses too early in your new venture. Remember, making money — enough to cover all of your bills and income — is just as much about controlling expenses as it is about making sales.

    Deal with the legal formalities

    Even for a side hustle, it makes sense to have a separate business name and entity. While you’re working for free, this may not seem important, but the minute you have paying clients, you’ll want to have it covered.

    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.

    You’ll also want to check your city government website to determine local requirements for business licensing, permits and fictitious name or DBA (“Doing Business As”) registration.

    Get familiar with the basics of taxes for freelancers.

    If you’ve come this far, taking the above steps to protect your company, have your clients sign a contract for work.

    Contracts can protect you from liability, scope creep, refusal to pay and more.

     

    Lawyers can also help you create a boilerplate contract. Ask around your community, or even an online community you trust, to find a lawyer who understands development contracts. All the same reasons for getting a tax preparer or LLC lawyer apply.

    Related: How to create a web design contract

    Establish a financial system

    Man Holding Piggybank Illustrates Financial ManagementIf you use your personal bank account with your business then the line between personal and business finances gets blurred, and you could easily lose any tax advantage or legal protection a formal business entity provides. So before you jump into paid work, check with your current bank, but also shop around, comparing fees and perks.

    A business bank account can:

    • Allow you to have a debit or credit card just for business.
    • Help make tax preparation much simpler.
    • Provide perks and rewards to make your bills smaller.
    • Protect your personal finances if your business “identity” gets stolen (and vice versa).

    Set up a payroll system with your new business bank account.

    There are services that can help with this, or you can do it manually. This means taxes will be taken out properly, just like having a “real” job.

    Since your goal is to have the business generate more money than you need to be paid each month, your business bank account becomes the place to build up a reserve.

    Need a new laptop? Anxious to attend a conference? Have your business pay for it, for a greater tax advantage. Remember, business taxes are different.

    Related: Tax tips for your side hustle

    Craft a brand that can be found

    Getting your name out there may not sound like as much fun as working on actual websites, but it’s a make-or-break activity.

    If potential clients don’t know who you are, they won’t be asking for work.

    We’ve already talked about showcasing your work, sharing expertise, finding ways to connect with like-minded folks, and building your network, one contact at a time. The more you’re visible, the more people you’ll talk to.

    Whether you’re using your own name or a business name, just get your personal brand out there:

    • Acquire the right domain name.
    • Snag relevant social media handles, and start posting — but keep in mind: quality over quantity!
    • Create online tutorials that can be shared on YouTube or elsewhere.
    • Think about Quora, which can also help foster relationships with others.
    • Offer short, free presentations at local venues, such as your public library or networking groups.

    As a freelancer, while you may believe you’re selling a particular service, you’re actually selling yourself, and the experience of working with you to get that particular service delivered.

    There are other freelance web developers out there — the key is differentiating your service from theirs, but delivering a superior experience.

    Related: 5 steps to build a personal brand

    Find your audience

    Don’t try to be all things to all people.

    Finding a target audience and focusing your skills will enhance your productivity, improve your skills in a relevant way, and help you be known as an expert in a specific market space. That means making tough decisions early on:

    • Are there platforms you’d rather not work on?
    • Are there specific types of projects or websites you’d rather not go after?
    • Are you looking to stay local with your clients, or are you willing to do long-distance work, with people you’ll probably never meet in person?

    It’s great if you’re known around town as “that gal who builds websites.” But it’s even better to be known as “that easy-to-work-with expert problem-solver who builds websites.”

    It’s easier to advertise your services if you can highlight your expertise or approach in a particular area, hopefully one without much competition.

    Once you’ve figured out your target audience, you’ll want to answer these questions:

    • What is this audience’s most significant challenge?
    • What problems are they trying to solve?
    • What problems are causing them the most pain?
    • What are their business goals?
    • Where do they get their information when in search of answers?
    • What are they reading or listening to?

    Related: What information should you include in your buyer persona customer profile?

    Identify preferred solutions you can recommend to clients

    Establish yourself as a reliable resource by having a ready set of tools you can recommend to clients, starting with:

    • Domain registration
    • Website hosting
    • Email
    • Web security solutions such as SSLs

    Team up with a vendor providing a variety of options in each category, with strong 24/7 technical support.

    Established web professionals have their favorite vendors, and expertise on their offerings leads to improved productivity.

    As someone new to the field, a great tech support resource is the ace up your sleeve when you come up against something you can’t handle.

    Editor’s note: Check out GoDaddy Pro for a wealth of free tools to help you manage your clients and websites.

    Build a strong web developer portfolio

    We’ve already discussed the fact that an online portfolio showcasing your work is a requirement for getting more work. Potential clients want proof that you’ve done this before, that your work is appealing to them, and that you’re someone to be trusted.

    Keep in mind, you’re under no obligation to disclose how much (or whether) you were paid for the work. You’ll be judged solely based on the quality of your work.

    For more complex projects, consider creating case studies that briefly explain your process and the results. If you have a blog, you’ll be able to discuss innovative aspects of highlighted projects.

    Make the most of your free work. It’s good for business, and you can avoid frustration by only choosing initial projects that you enjoy, for organizations or groups you support.

    And of course, always request testimonials from those for whom you are volunteering — most will happily provide them.

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

    Get over your fear of asking for money

    While building your portfolio via free work, you can avoid uncomfortable conversations about money, but you can’t work for free forever. That means learning how to develop an estimate, write a proposal, and negotiate a fee.

    In the beginning, you may regret low estimates that leave money on the table. Conversely, you’ll occasionally fear that a high estimate will drive potential clients away.

    View rejection as an opportunity to practice negotiating.

     

    After you have enough experience, your work has value, and you deserve compensation. Finding ideal pricing that treats both you and your client fairly will be an iterative exercise.

    Related: Managing client expectations so you get paid on time

    Create a sales and marketing strategy

    Once you’ve got some portfolio work under your belt, you’re ready to move on to paying side jobs.

    By establishing a small professional network, building up a convincing portfolio, acquiring a few complementary testimonials and a solid knowledge of the industry, you’re ready to go when paying work opportunities appear.

    Possible avenues to paying work include networking, attending meetings, WordCamps or local conferences, and joining freelancing sites such as Upwork, Freelancer and 99designs.

    Related: How to turn contacts into referral sources and lead generating machines

    Envision a transition strategy

    Once you’ve secured a few paying jobs and can gauge how much time you’re able to commit to this work, you can think about leaving your day job to pursue more freelance work.

    While you don’t want to quit your day job before your freelance work can provide a living, you also don’t want to wait too long — risking burnout or having to turn away freelance opportunities due to bandwidth constraints.

    Leaving your primary job before going full-time freelancer is not without its risks, and will depend on your personal circumstances, support system and finances.

    Don’t decide the “right time” based only on how much money you’ll immediately make.

     

    Once you’re not working an outside job, you’ll have more time to work on your business, building a path to increased income.

    Related: How to tell you’re ready to start your own business

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    Tips for survival along the way

    Embarking on a freelance career takes guts — but the rewards can be well worth the risk. Keep these tips in mind on your entrepreneurial journey.

    Be intentional in crafting a vision

    Set realistic goals and stick to them. With so many options in the web industry, you want to focus on a subset of all possible work.

    You want to have an overall understanding of the industry, your chosen client base and what type of work they need.

    Once you know where you want to focus, check out the work of others in your chosen specialty area.

    You won’t have a problem staying motivated because you’re thrilled with your new endeavor.

    Then again, it’s tough to stay positive, especially if you are not clear on your “why.” Why are you serving your customers? Why do you want to be a freelance web designer? Have your goals in mind and on paper.

    Remember your top three reasons for taking on work

    In the early days, before taking on any project, ask yourself whether it provides at least one of these benefits:

    • Gaining experience
    • Making contacts and expanding your network
    • Obtaining references, testimonials and recommendations

    Even if you’re not making any money on the project, building up a stockpile of experience, contacts, and references puts in place the necessary elements to eventually convince someone you’re worth paying.

    But whenever possible, avoid side jobs that won’t serve you in the long term.

    A fragmented or chaotic portfolio might signal that you’re not really an expert on anything in particular, that you’re not sure of what you want, or unclear on your future direction.

    The job boards can be an excellent venue for initially accumulating experience or paying immediate bills, but they’re not an optimal long-term strategy, so avoid the mistake of depending on them for too much or too long.

    Be brave and take risks

    You’re going to have to get tough, take some risks, and push yourself possibly further than you’ve ever gone before. That’s OK, but be pragmatic. Estimate conservatively on proposed schedules, so that you have a cushion if you need more time to resolve sticky problems.

    You’re going to run into problems you can’t solve. But take heart, almost any problem you set out to solve has been encountered somewhere by someone else.

    Discussions and resolutions are probably documented online — whether in a professional forum, on an expert’s blog, or in a Facebook group. And if you can’t find an answer, jump in to pose the question yourself, as another group member might see it and respond.

    Invest in tools that help you stay organized

    Keep track of what you need to do, and what you’ve done, and then figure out a way to communicate that information to clients.

    • 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 design, launch, testing, approval, tracking, reporting and bookkeeping.

    In the beginning, even if you’re doing pro bono work for experience, you’ll want to write a proposal so you both know what you’re agreeing to build. A contract probably seems like overkill for unpaid projects, but you’ll want that in place when you’re ready to get paid for your work.

    Related: 8 great productivity tools for web designers and developers

    Don’t go it alone

    Two Women Working Together at Laptop

    As a freelancer, you won’t have to be employed by someone else in order to surround yourself with experts.

    If you’ve chosen to specialize in one platform, seek out the communities and groups supporting it.

    In essence, while you might be physically working alone, you’ll be part of a virtual team — ready to offer wisdom, share their perspective, boost your confidence, answer questions, or just commiserate.

    While planning your eventual exit from the corporate life and your current full-time job, you’ll want to surround yourself with people who are also working through that process, or who have already completed their own transition from the fledgling side-hustle to being a full-time freelancer with their own web development business.

    In addition to seeking out established communities, consider starting your own. Some options to ponder:

    A WordPress meetup involves people with a shared interest in WordPress getting together on a regular basis (usually once a month) to talk shop. There may be unstructured get-togethers, or scheduled workshops, presentations, hackathons or social events.

    WordCamps are community-organized conferences that are centered around how to best use the WordPress platform. These events are organized by volunteers, and funded and attended by the local WordPress community based on a set of guidelines found on WordCamp.org.

    A Mastermind group is a group of like-minded people traveling similar paths that provide peer-to-peer mentoring and support. Each member benefits from the collective intelligence of the group and gains feedback, input, advice and fresh perspectives from group members to solve problems, address challenges, and achieve goals.

    Facebook Groups can be a great way to start and nurture a business, as well as a way to meet, share with, and learn from others in a similar work situation. My favorites include WordPress, SEO, & Internet Questions and Advanced WordPress.

    No matter your level of expertise, feedback can be useful — and these communities can help provide it.

    In addition, participating in online communities can be a great way to build up your professional network.

    Related: Types of communities for support, guidance and growth

    Don’t be afraid to say “no”

    While it’s reasonable to do some jobs pro bono or at a discount to build up your portfolio, it needs to feel right to you — and saying “no” is completely within your discretion.

    You must value your business, and in turn yourself as a freelance web designer, and feel good about your projects. If you don’t, you might resent your customer and not provide your best work.

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    Conclusion and next steps

    Even with all of this advice about taking the plunge and starting your freelance web development or design side hustle, you might have doubts.

    The beauty of the side hustle approach is that you get time to figure out what’s working for you, to adjust your plans and goals, and to learn as you go.

    Be sure to review all that’s covered here and spend time digging into the linked articles for more information.

    To recap the main points:

    • Review the considerations before committing to freelance work —make sure you’re ready to sign up for all of the side tasks that go with the actual work.
    • Evaluate whether you have what it takes to be successful in this new venture, then make a plan to acquire the tools, skills and resources you still need.
    • Understand the ins and outs of the client-contractor relationships.
    • Set up your roadmap to establishing a side hustle that will be primed for success from the start — everything from work environment to legal and administrative issues, from identifying your USP and crafting your brand to building a strong portfolio of sample work.
    • Review survival tips that will help you keep your eyes on the prize, and stick with it for the long term.

    Starting with the advice outlined here, you’re ready to begin your journey to becoming a freelance web developer. And once you’re on that path, be sure to continually revisit your long- and short-term plans, reflect on your goals, and adjust as needed.

    Yes, at times you’ll stumble over challenges, encounter clients who are difficult (or impossible) to work with and feel like your work is not being appreciated. These are the facts of life for anyone starting their side hustle.

    But the rewards come in the satisfaction of work well done, appreciation from satisfied clients, and the knowledge that you’re doing this on your own. Take the first step by making a commitment in this direction and the rewards will come your way!

    This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Anna Monus, Jennifer Bourn, Jennifer Dunn, Cate DeRosia, Topher Derosia and Jo Guerra.

    The post How to become a freelance web developer appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    It might not seem like it, but two-step verification (aka two-factor authentication) is already a common aspect of our lives. For example, if you used your debit card today and entered your PIN, then you used two-step verification.

    But, beyond adding a layer of security to financial transactions, it has many other uses as well, including a wide application across the digital aspect of our lives.

    Below you’ll learn about two-step verification in depth, understand why it’s important, and finally figure out how to set it up across your various accounts, including right here at GoDaddy.

    What is two-step verification?

    Two-step verification is a widespread security protocol. It’s so common that most applications and services already have it baked into their settings.

    Two-step verification goes by many names, including two-step authentication and two-factor authentication. But, whatever you see it being called, the process remains the same.

    Essentially, it’s a process that requires two methods of proving your identity before you can log in to an account.

    Now, there is a slight difference between the technical definition of two-step verification and two-factor verification.

    With two-factor authentication, there are two different factors at play. You have your password and a secondary factor, like your phone or your fingerprint. With two-step verification, you only have a single factor, like your password, followed by a set of security questions.

    However, these terms are used interchangeably and often refer to the same thing.

    How two-step verification works

    The process can be applied widely, but one of the primary forms of verification includes SMS verification. Let’s say you log in to your bank account website, and then a four-digit PIN is sent to your phone via text message. Once you receive the code, you enter it and can proceed with logging into your account.

    The additional layer of security two-step verification provides means that a hacker or other nefarious individual needs to steal your password and your phone. They might even need to know your phone’s passcode.

    With SMS-based two-step verification, the password you receive only has a short time frame where it functions as well. Whenever you need to log in, you’ll receive a new code. This might seem tedious, but an extra few seconds can mean the difference between a secure and compromised account.

    Beyond SMS two-step authentication, there are a few additional methods of identity verification, including:

    • Biometrics: This includes face, fingerprint, retina or voice recognition.
    • Hardware: This is specific hardware, like a USB, designed with two-factor authentication in mind.
    • Application: This is a particular application that generates a unique code across multiple different logins.

    We’ll dive deeper into the different applications available below.

    Why is two-step verification used?

    Two Step Verification Chain And KeyboardIt can be challenging to verify that people are who they say they are across the online space. Given the fact that nearly 60 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2018, you can see why protecting your accounts is so important.

    There are no bulletproof security protocols, but instead security best practices you can follow to elevate your levels of account protection.

    For example, think about how you’d go about protecting your home. You can install an alarm-based security system, use cameras, add sensor-based lights around your home, and even get a large dog with a loud bark. All of these measures mean that your home is more secure, but it doesn’t guarantee that no one will ever try to break in.

    The same goes for your online accounts.

    When you have two-factor authentication enabled, it makes your accounts less attractive targets for hackers.

     

    Plus, if your account does get targeted, it’ll be that much more challenging to break in.

    Who should use two-step authentication?

    Anyone interested in improving the levels of security across their online accounts should enable two-step verification.

    It’s a process that’ll add a few minutes to your day (at the very most), and it’ll help protect your accounts from being hacked, and your identity from being compromised — a small price to pay for improved security.

    This is especially true for accounts that have access to any personal financial information, like your bank, Amazon and even your GoDaddy account. Imagine the hassle of someone accessing your hosting or domains, and transferring them over to their name.

    Different two-step verification methods available

    There are many options, depending on the service you’re using. But here are the most commonly used approaches:

    1. SMS Text Message. You’ll receive a four to six-digit code via text, which you must enter to access your account.
    2. An Authenticator App. You use an app like Google Authenticator or Authy, which manages your security codes for you.
    3. A Hardware Security Key. You insert a physical hardware key into your computer, like Yubikey, which verifies your identity.

    Using two-step verification with your GoDaddy account

    Luckily, enabling two-step verification on your GoDaddy account is pretty simple.

    All you have to do is follow the steps below:

    1. Log in to your GoDaddy account, and navigate to your Account Settings.
    2. Then, select Login & PIN.
    3. Select 2-Step verification, then click Add Verification.
    4. Now, you’ll choose the verification method you prefer, whether that’s SMS code or an authenticator app. You can choose to enable two-step verification during every login, or only during high-risk transactions like changing your password, PIN or username.
    5. If you went with the phone number, then you’ll need to enter your phone number and enter the code you receive via text. If you chose the authenticator app option, then install the app, scan the barcode, and enter the authentication code.
    6. Once you’re done, click Continue and you’re all set.

    If you get stuck, or have any questions, then consult this two-step verification tutorial as you work through the steps.

    Using two-step verification across the Web

    Nearly every platform and service across the internet will have two-factor authentication enabled.

    You simply have to turn it on within the settings.

     

    Here’s a quick breakdown of how to turn on two-factor authentication on some of today’s most popular platforms.

    Related: Setting up two-factor authentication for WordPress

    Enable two-factor authentication on Twitter

    Two Step Verification Twitter On MobileHere’s how to enable two-factor authentication on Twitter:

    1. Navigate to your Twitter account and click your profile icon. Then, on the dropdown menu click on Settings and privacy.
    2. Then, click on the Account tab. Under the Security section click the Set up login verification button.
    3. On the pop-up box, click the Start button.
    4. Then, you’ll need to verify your Twitter password.
    5. Next, enter your phone number, and click Send Code. This is the number where you’ll receive your SMS verification code to login.
    6. Enter the code you received on the next screen, then click Submit.
    7. You’ve now activated SMS two-factor authentication on your account.

    You can learn more on Twitter about how to activate login authentication.

    Enable two-factor authentication on Facebook

    Follow these steps to enable two-factor authentication on Facebook:

    1. Open your Facebook account, click on the drop-down arrow in the top right corner and go to Settings.
    2. On the left-hand menu click on Security and Login.
    3. Then, scroll down and look for a section called Two-Factor Authentication, then click on Use two-factor authentication.
    4. On the next page click Get Started.
    5. Here you can choose between an authentication app and using a text message. Select your preferred option, then click Next.
    6. If you chose the text message route, then you’ll receive the verification code on your phone.
    7. Input the code and if it’s correct, two-factor authentication is now enabled on your account.

    Facebook offers a detailed help resource for users who have questions setting up two-factor authentication.

    Enable two-factor authentication on Gmail

    Here’s how to enable two-factor authentication if you have a Gmail account:

    1. Open your Gmail account, and click on your avatar and select Google Account.
    2. On the next screen select the Security option.
    3. Next, find the Signing in to Google section and click 2-Step Verification.
    4. Then, on the next screen select Get Started and enter your password when prompted.
    5. Get your phone ready for this step. Enter your phone number and select Text message, then click Next. If you have a connected Google device, like a Pixel phone, you will also need to select the Google prompt.
    6. On the next screen you’ll enter your verification code and click Next.
    7. If the code matches up, then click Turn On and you’ve successfully enabled two-step verification.

    Google has a helpful resource on properly setting up two-step verification for users who run into any issues.

    Enable two-factor authentication on Amazon

    Finally, consider enabling two-factor authentication to protect your Amazon account.

    1. Fire up Amazon.com and click on Account & Lists, then Your Account.
    2. Next, navigate to Settings, and click on Login & Security, then enter your password when prompted.
    3. At the bottom of the screen look for Two-Step Verification Settings, then click Edit.
    4. On the next screen you’ll see a quick explanation of how two-step verification works, then click Get Started.
    5. On the next page you can enter your phone number, then click Send OTP.
    6. You’ll be asked to enter your code on the same screen.
    7. Next, you can add a backup number, so you can still access your account if you get locked out.
    8. Now, whenever you login to your Amazon account you’ll get a verification number via text.

    If you run into any problems activating two-step verification on Amazon, then check out this helpful resource.

    Pros of two-step verification

    Two-step verification is a great way to enhance security across your online accounts. Here’s a quick look at some of its biggest advantages:

    1. An easy-to-implement security protocol

    Two-factor authentication is built into most services. Usually, all you have to do is turn it on within the program or application settings. Once it’s enabled, it’ll become a routine part of the login process for you or your team.

    2. It’s inexpensive

    As far as security is concerned, it’s a free solution to your security woes. If you upgrade to the hardware authentication level, then you’ll have to pay for the device, but otherwise, there usually aren’t any costs involved.

    3. Protects your sensitive accounts

    Finally, it’s a downright simple way to protect your accounts. Like we highlighted above, it isn’t foolproof. But, it is a big step that’ll help keep your information free from hackers and other prying eyes.

    Cons of two-step verification

    However, two-step verification isn’t perfect. Here are some of the main drawbacks of two-step verification. But as you’ll see they’re pretty negligible.

    1. Slower login time

    It won’t add that much time to the login process, but for some users, this might be a minor annoyance. However, using an authentication app or physical hardware can speed up the process.

    2. Not 100% secure

    No security solution is 100%. Beyond two-factor authentication, there are additional procedures you’ll want to have in place to secure your account, starting with a strong password.

    3. Might be integration issues

    SMS authentication is pretty standard and should work smoothly with most apps and services. But if you prefer the physical hardware or authentication app approach, then you might run into some compatibility issues.

    Closing thoughts

    Your password might not be as secure as you think. But even with a secure password, your accounts are still at risk.

    When your account is hacked, all of your information is at risk. So why take the chance, especially when two-step verification is so simple to implement?

    With two-step verification enabled whenever you enter your password you’ll be asked for an additional verification step (depending on the route you chose). Once you complete this, you can log in securely and access your account.

    Still, there are additional steps you can take to protect your online accounts even further, like:

    Looking for more ways to keep your accounts secure? Check out all things security from GoDaddy. They have you covered with SSL certificates, website backup and more.

    This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Todd Redfoot and Lorraine Akemann.

    The post What is two-step verification? appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Editor’s note: This is a guest post from our friends at Bench. Prefer to DIY? Try GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping. Find more articles on dealing with finances in our Funding a Business collection.

    ***

    If you’re like most business owners, dealing with accounting tasks doesn’t exactly spark joy.

    Here’s how you can take accounting off your to-do list and find more time to focus on your business—through the life-changing magic of outsourcing.

    Accounting: All the moving parts

    When we talk about accounting, what we’re really talking about is three interlinked processes: Bookkeeping, accounting, and tax planning.

    • Bookkeeping tracks all your day-to-day transactions—money entering and leaving your business. It also categorizes those transactions, so you can see how you’re spending money, and how you’re making it.
    • Accounting takes information from your bookkeeping, crunches the numbers, and shows you the big picture. Financial reports like income statements and balance sheets show you how much money you’re earning, and how much you have to work with.
    • Tax planning involves looking at your bookkeeping and accounting figures, and using that info to save as much as possible on your taxes.

    These three areas often overlap. For instance, your bookkeeper might prepare financial reports for you, and your accountant may help with your tax planning.

    [ Related: Accounting 101 for entrepreneurs ]

    Why outsource your accounting?

    Small businesses often hire some kind of outside help to manage their accounting tasks. There are a few reasons why.

    Accounting eats up time

    There’s no way around it. Even if your spreadsheets are true works of art, DIY accounting will cut into time you could otherwise spend helping your business grow.

    Accounting is high stakes

    Make a mistake on your tax return, and you could get fined by the IRS—or even trigger an audit. Miscalculate your income for the month, and you could find yourself coming up short on cash when it’s time to pay vendors. Accounting is high stakes, and small errors can have big consequences.

    Good accounting takes expertise

    Even if you spend sleepless nights poring over textbooks, you won’t have the expertise of a professional bookkeeper, accountant, or tax planner. That’s because they have experience—they’ve worked with many businesses, and understand first-hand the mistakes to avoid. When your accounting is outsourced, you have experts fighting on your side.

    How to outsource your bookkeeping

    When you outsource your bookkeeping, a hired professional tracks money entering and leaving your business and categorizes it for you. That information can be used by an accountant to create financial statements.

    There are two main options for outsourcing your bookkeeping: Hiring a local bookkeeper, or hiring an online bookkeeping service like Bench.

    Hiring a local bookkeeper

    Cost: $20 to $50 per hour, usually with a $100–150 monthly minimum.

    Best for: Small to medium sized business owners who want to meet their bookkeeper face to face, or who work with a lot of paper records like receipts.

    How it works:

    When you hire a local bookkeeper, they’re either a freelancer, or a firm.

    A freelancer works on their own. Their clients usually include a number of businesses. Many freelance bookkeepers will specialize in a certain industry—like restaurants.

    A firm is a company that employs many bookkeepers. A large firm will serve any business, regardless of industry.

    One of the best ways to find a local bookkeeper that serves your needs is to ask other business owners in your area. This is especially true if you’re looking for a freelancer specializing in your industry.

     

    Pros and cons of hiring a local bookkeeper

    Pros Cons
    • In-person interaction. You can meet with a local bookkeeper face-to-face. They may also be able to make visits to your office to collect hard copies of financial records.
    • Industry specialization. You may be able to find a local bookkeeper who specializes in your industry.
    • Price. Local bookkeepers are typically more expensive than online solutions like Bench.
    • Variable monthly costs. Since they charge by the hour, months when your bookkeeper needs to do more work—such as leading up to tax time—could cost you more.
    • Manual transaction recording. Your bookkeeper may need you to hand-submit your bank statements and other documents, so they can enter transactions on the books.

     

    Using Bench

    Cost: Starting at $119 per month, flat rate

    Best for: Small to medium sized business owners who use online banking and credit cards, and are comfortable working online with their bookkeeper.

    How it works:

    When you sign on with Bench, you get a dedicated team of remote bookkeepers who do all of your bookkeeping for you. You can login in Bench any time and see all of your transactions, and financial reports show you how your business is performing.

    To communicate with your team, you message them through the Bench app. The mobile version of the app lets you manage your bookkeeping on the go.

    Your business accounts are linked to Bench, so each new transaction is automatically imported. Then, your team categorizes it for you.

     

    Pros and cons of using Bench

    Pros Cons
    • Automatically imported transactions. Since your business accounts are linked to Bench, you typically won’t need to submit financial records by hand.
    • Financial reports. Your Bench team prepares income statements and balance sheets, the same financial reports provided by an accountant.
    • Easy tax filing. Every year, Bench gives you a year-end tax package, which includes all the info you or your accountant need to file taxes.
    • Computer use. If you’re uncomfortable using computers, or keep a lot of paper records, then Bench isn’t a great fit for you.
    • Cash basis. Bench only uses cash basis accounting. If you use accrual basis, Bench will not work with your business. If you aren’t sure which type of accounting you use, Bench  can help you figure it out.

     

    How to outsource your accounting

    An accountant takes all of the info recorded and categorized by your bookkeeper, then produces financial reports that show you how your business is performing.

    They can also advise you on financial decisions—such as taking out loans, bringing on employees, or expanding your business. And they can file your taxes for you, doing their best to save you money on your tax return.

    Hiring a local accountant

    Cost: An accountant will typically charge $150–$400 per hour, depending on their level of experience.

    Best for: Businesses dealing with a lot of paper financial records, or business owners who want to meet with their accountant face to face.

    How it works: 

    Like bookkeepers, accountants either work on their own as freelancers, or as a part of accounting firms. In fact, often bookkeepers and accountants will work together in one firm.

    The way you work with your accountant will depend on your business. You may deliver your bookkeeping info to them on a monthly or quarterly basis, or all at once at the end of the year, before tax time.

    Even if you use a bookkeeping service like Bench, which offers many of the same services as an accountant—like creating financial reports, and helping you track cash flow—you still benefit from hiring one. When you have an accountant working for you, you’ve got someone reliable you can turn to for financial advice.

    Pros and cons of hiring a local accountant

    Pros Cons
    • Face-to-face interaction. You can meet with your accountant at your office or theirs, making it easy to share paper financial records.
    • Adaptable to your tech skills. If you’re unfamiliar with online banking or accounting software, you should be able to find an accountant who can work with you on your level.
    • Price. Local accountants typically cost more than online services.
    • Communication. You’ll likely be communicating with a local accountant by email or phone. You may find it difficult to get in touch if your accountant is on vacation, or during tax season when they’re working with many other clients.
    • Limited options. Depending on the size of your community, you may have trouble finding accountants who specialize in businesses like your own—for instance, online stores or tech startups.

     

    Hiring an online accountant

    Cost: According to Upwork, the cost of hiring an online accountant on their platform starts at $20–$35 per hour.

    Best for: Business owners already comfortable with handling financial tasks online.

    How it works:

    To hire an accountant online, you can go one of two routes.

    Large, national accounting firms often offer online versions of their in-person services. However, their services may be limited compared to face-to-face. And you may need to become acquainted with their online platform in order to use them.

    The other option is to hire a freelancer on a platform like Upwork. An online freelancer is much like a local freelance accountant, but they may charge less than your local options. Also, because Upwork is global, you have many accountants to choose from—meaning you may have an easier time finding an accountant who specializes in your industry.

    Pros and cons of hiring an online accountant

    Pros Cons
      • Less paper. Since you’ll be dealing with 100% digital financial records when you have an online accountant, you’ll avoid many of the pitfalls of paper records. And if you’re already using lots of printed documents, this could be the motivation you need to fully go paperless.
      • Zero travel time. There’s no need to visit your accountant’s office, or vice versa. You can handle meetings by videoconferencing or VoIP.
    • The tech barrier. If you’re unfamiliar with handling basic financial tasks for your business, dealing with an online accountant may be overwhelming.
    • Too many to choose from. With so many accountants to choose from on platforms like Upwork, you may find it hard to narrow down the list and pick just one.
    • Quality control. Particularly if you’re using a platform like Upwork, there are plenty of freelance accountants to choose from. Their levels experience vary widely—so it may take trial and error to find one who suits your business.

     

    Outsourcing tax planning

    Often, an accountant—especially a certified public accountant (CPA)—can help you plan your tax deductions. But in case your accountant isn’t up to the task, or if you’d like an especially in-depth look at all your tax options, tax planners are here to help.

    While it costs money to hire a tax planner, you often save money in the long run because of the tax deductions you’re able to write off.

    Hiring a local tax planner

    Cost: According to the CPA Practice Advisor, it costs on average $273 to hire a tax planner to itemize your deductions at both the state and the federal level.

    Best for: Business owners who want to meet face to face with their planner, or ones who keep mostly paper records.

    How it works:

    Your tax planner may work as a solo freelancer, or as an employee at a local accounting firm. You bring all your bookkeeping and accounting info to them, and they help you file for as many tax deductions as possible. In some cases, that means itemizing every deduction. In other cases, that means opting for a generalized deduction.

    Hiring a tax planner will cost more depending on the state of your business records. The more time your tax planner needs to spend working for you, the more they’ll charge. If your bookkeeping is disorganized and you’ve got a shoebox of paper receipts that need to be sorted, be prepared to pay more.

    Pros and cons of hiring a local tax planner

    Pros Cons
    • Paper records. If you have a lot of paper receipts or other hard copies of financial records, an in-person tax planner is the best individual to help you sort them out.
    • Referrals. If you know other business owners working in the same industry as yourself, you may find it easier to  pick a tax planner in your community than to search for one online.
    • Price. Partly due to limited choices in your community, you may find it hard to hire a local tax planner who can offer rates as low as those of online freelancers.
    • Limited choice in terms of industry. As with hiring a local accountant, it may be difficult to find a tax planner in your community who specializes in your industry.
    • Limited choice in terms of certification. There are different levels of certification for tax planners. If your community is small, you may have trouble hiring a local tax planner certified at the level you’re looking for.

     

    Hiring an online tax planner

    Cost: Starting at around $30 per hour on Upwork, with total price according to scale

    Best for: Business owners already familiar with managing finances online, or businesses in small communities where there are slim pickings for tax planners.

    How it works:

    Hiring a freelance tax planner on a platform like Upwork is similar to hiring an accountant in the same way. In fact, your accountant may offer tax planning services—or vice versa.

    Once you’ve hired a planner, you deliver your financial records to them, and they help you through the process of planning how you’ll file your taxes in order to save the most amount of money possible.

    As with a local tax planner, the total amount you pay will be based on how long it takes your tax planner to do their job. That means it’s smart to bring them organized financial records.

    Pros and cons of hiring an online tax planner

    Pros Cons
    • Plenty of choice. With so many online tax planners to choose from, it shouldn’t be hard to find one experienced in working with businesses in your industry. And if you’re based in a small community and there aren’t many tax planners to choose from, looking online can broaden your horizons.
    • Paperless planning. Similar to working with online bookkeepers like Bench, or online accountants, working with an online tax planner is paper-free, meaning less hassle overall.
    • Fewer people to hire. If you already plan to hire an online accountant, it makes sense to find one who handles tax planning too. Fewer professionals to deal with means less work for you.
    • No paper records. Dealing with a tax planner online is difficult if most of your expenses are recorded as paper receipts.
    • Non-negotiable screen time. If you’re inexperienced handling finances online, or you just want to spend more time away from your computer, an online tax planner may not be the best choice for you.

     

    Outsourcing your tax filing

    The final step of outsourcing your accounting is to have your taxes taken care of. This is  something that your bookkeeper or CPA might offer as an additional service.

    If you’re outsourcing your books to Bench they can file your taxes after completing your year end financial package. So your bookkeeping and taxes are outsourced by the same team who takes care of your books throughout the year.

    The first step to outsourcing your accounting is to hire a bookkeeper. Try Bench, and get one month’s worth of free bookkeeping.

    The post How to outsource accounting & save your time appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    How often do you go back and update your business plan?

    Most, if not all, businesses are encouraged to draft a business plan when they decide to establish a startup.

    A business plan acts as the foundation for which a company is built.

     

    When you draft a business plan, you’re creating a document that allows you to evaluate the feasibility of the business from an objective standpoint and establish a common vision for the company as a whole.

    Related: The best business plan templates

    A look inside traditional business plans and lean startup plans

    The plan might be a thick document, by way of a traditional business plan. A traditional business plan is often 30 to 40 pages long. Inside are the details, as much as one can predict, of the next three to five years in business.

    Or, you might choose a much more simplified business plan. Some entrepreneurs draft lean startup plans. These plans are often no more than a page long and summarize the bare bones of the business.

    Plenty of articles exist with tips for how to draft a business plan. There are even articles that advise how to write and/or design certain portions of a business plan, like a market analysis or tables and graphs for financial projections. Most of these articles tend to end with a disclaimer on how entrepreneurs are always able to go back and revise their business plans.

    However, the details on how to do that are a little fuzzy. Where does one begin to update a business plan? Do you update certain sections, or the plan as a whole?

    The best way to revise a business plan might be to go back to each section and review it knowing what you know now.

    Let’s take a look at how this is done for traditional business plans and lean startup plans.

    How to update your business plan — the traditional kind

    We thought we’d start first with the longer, slightly more intimidating plan. Traditional business plans contain the following sections:

    • Executive summary
    • Business description, concept and strategy
    • Industry analysis
    • Market analysis
    • Organization and management
    • Financial projections
    • Financing request (side note: often included when a business seeks funding from investors)
    • Appendix

    Read on to learn more about updating traditional business plans

    Executive summary

    An executive summary serves as the business plan synopsis. It gives the reader further insight into who you are, what your business offers or does and its industry, the location of your business, and its start date.

    Additionally, this section covers why customers will choose to pick your offerings and how the business will make money.

    Updating the business plan summary is fairly painless, especially since this part is only meant to be two pages in length. Revise accordingly if there have been any significant changes within your business.

    If you have launched a new product that is a runaway bestseller, include more information about that product and its launch date. Did you relocate to a new city or state? Add that bit of information in too, along with its date.

    Business description, concept and strategy

    This section further examines your offerings. It details what makes your products and/or services unique, how they work, and where the idea came from. It also sets a projected timeline for your business goals.

    Much like revising the executive summary, you can detail any new, popular offerings in your business here.

    Take a moment to review the projected timeline again.

     

    Did you reach all of your goals on time, or find that it took a little longer to get there than anticipated? Make a note of this update in your business plan. Make a note if you have not yet reached any goals, and create a secondary timeline that better suits the needs of the business.

    Update Business Plan Writing In Notebook

    Industry analysis

    This section covers your brand’s competition. Review it again. You might find you’ve discovered other similar businesses in your field over time. Add them to this section and detail more about their offerings and company background.

    Market analysis

    Every business must understand who makes up its target audience.

    Demographics are often shifting, so it’s a great idea to go back to this section and see how your audience has changed over time.

    Even if your customer base has remained the same, you may want your company on the radar of a new demographic like Generation Z — those born in the mid-1990s and first decade of the 2000s.

    The best way to revise this part of a business plan is to add any new sections that cover the target audience(s) you wish to reach next.

    Just like you did with previous target markets, have a thorough understanding of the demographic and the manner in which your business will attract, capture and retain a new audience.

    Related: Why a target audience matters (and how to find yours)

    Organization and management

    Who are the staff members currently employed by the business?

    This section outlines each member of the organization, detailing their backgrounds and core responsibilities. It’s pretty easy to edit this part of a business plan — you can practically stand up in an office and do it with a head count.

    If any members of management have left since you last worked on your business plan, state their final date or year employed with the business. If you have hired new individuals, detail who was hired, their role, and their previous work background before they joined the organization.

    There is no need to update this business plan section if everyone maintains the same roles and responsibilities.

    Related: Build your team — from hiring the best in-house talent to outsourcing

    Financial projections

    This might be the most revised portion of any business plan.

    The financial projections are where you outline the cash flow of your business.

     

    This section often includes tables that further detail the financial future of the company. These might include but are not limited to a look at projected profits and losses, an expenses budget, sales forecast and break-even analysis.

    Try not to get stressed out when re-evaluating financial projections.

    It’s perfectly OK for your business to earn its revenue gradually and maintain a steady, growing cash flow rather than realize instant overnight success.

    However, if finances look a bit questionable — and you have been in business for a few years now — it might be time to consult with an accountant for professional help. I personally cannot provide financial advice. But you could meet with an accountant who will help you understand where your money is going and where you might cut costs.

    Related: 5 key sections to include in your business plan’s financial projections

    Update Business Plan Couple Holding Piggy Bank

    Financing request

    A financing request requires little to no revision if you have already received funding from investors. This is, essentially, your request for capital from investors to run the company.

    If you have already received it, simply update the section to ensure it accurately reflects where the money was spent and the manner in which it was spent. If not, you might want to review the funding request one more time. Is it enough, or do you need more/less money?

    Appendix

    This is basically the kitchen sink of a business plan. A little bit of everything leftover from the business is tossed in here, from letters of incorporation to trademark registrations.

    Did you forgot to add in an additional document, like a partnership agreement? Put it here and note in the appendix the date you added this any other miscellaneous paperwork.

    How to update your business plan — the lean startup

    Now that we’ve tackled the in-depth approach to updating business plans, let’s examine how to make revisions to startup plans. You’ll find the following sections inside a lean startup plan:

    • Value proposition
    • Key partnerships, resources, and activities
    • Customer segments, channels and relationships
    • Revenue streams

    Let’s take a closer look at each element.

    Value proposition

    This is a clear, articulate statement that sums up the value your business brings to its respective market. Take a moment to review your value proposition again, and ask these questions.

    • Has enough time gone by that you found your business has strayed away from its value proposition?
    • Are you still on track with the values and beliefs you had from the offset?
    • Do you find your company has moved in another direction that embraces slightly different sets of values?

    Whatever the case, it’s important to make any necessary changes to reflect where you are and where you plan to move forward next.

    Key partnerships, resources and activities

    Update Business Plan Partners Shaking Hands

    Maybe you have all of the same partners who were with you when you started your business. However, it’s much more likely that you have one or two of the same business partners, but have accumulated new ones over time.

    This is great news for the business, as it shows signs of innovation and growth.

     

    Be sure that when editing this section, you include the dates and information about any and all current and past partnerships your business has had with other companies. If any specific strategies or activities have been proven to create value with your audience, make a note of that as well.

    Customer segments, channels and relationships

    This is the lean startup plan’s equivalent of a traditional business plan’s market analysis. It identifies who makes up your audience, how you can reach them and the avenues your business will use to build a lasting relationship together.

    During your revisions, you might decide to include additional sections on other audiences and demographics you wish to reach. If you have noticed there is a specific channel that has allowed you to best engage with customers, make a note of it.

    For example, you might have had success with using platforms like Facebook to engage with customers, provide assistance and create a memorable customer experience. You might make a note of this in your revised business plan, including screenshots of satisfactory exchanges and detailing certain specifics (such as remembering little details about the customer, following their social media accounts, and choosing not to use canned responses when corresponding together to establish better transparency) in your strategies for building great customer relationships.

    Editor’s note: If you need extra help building great customer relationships, GoDaddy Social can help! Our social pros will help manage your social channels to engage with your customers.

    Revenue streams

    In a lean startup plan, your revenue streams are basically the ways the business is able to make money.

    You won’t need to do much editing if these streams have remained the same. However, if your business has introduced new streams into its revenue, such as subscription fees or advertising, it’s a good idea to include more information.

    Which streams did you include? When were they initiated? How successful have they been to date? Do you find there are too many, or too few, revenue streams for your business?

    Related: How to create additional revenue streams

    Why do I need to update my business plan?

    Updating a business plan is not a fast process. It does take a bit of time and energy to complete. I

    n some cases, you might find yourself doing some research in order to make the edits. You might not fully remember the work history of a former management member, for example, and need to revisit their resume for that information.

    However, it is all time well spent — and actually a great return on investment for your company.

    Every document associated with your business, from minutes to annual reports, should be as up-to-date and accurate as possible.

    The same goes for a business plan. It might be a little time consuming depending on your business plan’s format, but once you’re done you’ll be excited for what you have left yet to achieve.

    You might even find revisiting the plan to be an enjoyable trip down memory lane, as you recall your initial vision for starting a business and marvel at the milestones achieved along the way.

    Remember that if you need any extra help, don’t be afraid to ask a legal professional for a bit of added guidance.

    The post How to re-evaluate and update your business plan appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Having worked in publishing for the past two decades, I’ve seen how profoundly this business has changed. Back in the good ol’ days, writers used to focus solely on writing their books, and then the publisher would take over the book marketing and selling. Ah, yes, those were the days when writers simply wrote.

    The digital world of publishing has altered everything about this industry.

     

    When it comes to being an author, it is about so much more than writing books.

    “You’re building a career, not just selling books.” That’s how literary agents Laura Zats and Erik Hane sum it up in one of their recent episodes (June 18, 2019) of Print Run, one of my favorite podcasts about writing and the book publishing industry.

    According to Laura and Erik, writing careers don’t just happen around selling books anymore.

    Authors today are running their own businesses. In addition to writing and marketing their books, authors today are editing, teaching, writing essays, contracting for serial work, collaborating with other writers and more.

    That’s not all. Readers in today’s world want to get to know authors up close. They want to know about writers’ lives outside of books and their writing processes. Readers want contact and connection with their favorite authors.

    When it comes to book release day, authors need to have a handle on online and social media strategies for book marketing.

    That’s why I reached out to seven authors I know in person and/or have followed online for years to glean their tips and tricks.

    Meet the authors

    These authors write for a range of audiences, from adults and teens to middle schoolers and young children. They are all published with mainstream houses and I consider them to be book marketing rock stars.

    Bree Barton

    Book Marketing Bree Barton Author Book Cover
    Bree Barton is the author of “Heart of Thorns” and “Tears of Frost.

    Julie Buxbaum

    Book Marketing Julie Buxbaum Author Book Cover
    Julie Buxbaum is the author of “Tell Me Three Things,” “What to Say Next” and “Hope and other Punchlines.”

    Kelly deVos

     Book Marketing Kelly deVos Author Book Cove
    Kelly deVos is the author of “Fat Girl on a Plane” and “Day Zero.”

    Saadia Faruqi

    Book Marketing Saadia Faruqi Author Book Cover
    Saadia Faruqi is the author of “Yasmin,” a children’s series.

    Mary Ann Marlowe

    Book Marketing Mary Ann Marlowe Author Book Cover
    Mary Ann Marlowe is the author of “Some Kind of Magic,” “A Crazy Kind of Love,” and “Dating by the Book.”

    Mae Respicio

     Book Marketing Mae Respicio Author Book Cover
    Mae Respicio is the author of “The House That Lou Built.”

    K.A. Reynolds

    Book Marketing K.A. Reynolds Author Book Cover
    K.A. Reynolds is the author of “The Land of Yesterday” and “The Spinner of Dreams.”

    Read on to learn more about their marketing tips.

    7 book marketing tips from successful authors

    Here are some the book marketing tips these authors have learned over the years:

    1. You need a website.
    2. Embrace social media.
    3. Be yourself online.
    4. Take readers on a virtual book tour.
    5. Present online giveaways.
    6. Stay in touch with email newsletters.
    7. Connect with independent bookstores.

    Let’s get started!

    1. You need a website

    “I’ve been the proud owner of a GoDaddy domain for 10-plus years,” says Bree Barton, an author who describes herself as “Wordy. Nerdy. A little absurdy.” Her stunning website features her 2018 debut trilogy, “Heart of Thorns,” and its forthcoming sequel, “Tears of Frost.”

    When you land on Bree’s site, you immediately get a sense of her style and her sense of humor. You grasp her brand within minutes, and you also learn more about her writing career in addition to books.

    Yes, a website is a must-have for every author. Every author website needs:

    • A bio
    • A headshot
    • Links to buy your book
    • Book reviews and blurbs
    • Schedule of appearances
    • A contact page
    • Links to social media

    Related: 12 things every author website needs 

    2. Embrace social media

    “I love social media,” says Julie Buxbaum, the New York Times best-selling author of “Tell Me Three Things,” “What to Say Next” and her latest, “Hope and other Punchlines.”

    “I love Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as a way to get the word out about my books, but it’s also an organic way to feel connected to the writing and reading communities.”

    Instagram seems to be a favorite book marketing tool for successful authors.

    “Personally, I’ve found Instagram to be one of the most effective tools in helping to spread the word,” says Kelly deVos, author of “Fat Girl on a Plane” (named one of the “50 Best Summer Reads of All Time” by Reader’s Digest magazine) and the forthcoming “Day Zero.”

    Instagram is also a way to be “an active and engaged member of the writing community,” Kelly adds. “Some of my best marketing opportunities have come from writers who, over the years, have become valued friends. If you can, join writing organizations, like the Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) for example, go to conferences, or attend book talks and signings in your area.”

    “If you love a book, give it a shout out on your social media.”

    Bree, who writes from Los Angeles, says that Instagram also allows her a way to connect and collaborate with other authors. “I get to feature other artists making and doing cool things in the world. I’ve also really enjoyed using Insta stories to post candid, authentic content, everything from hikes with my silly dog to my ongoing journey through depression.”

    Related: 3 ways to use Instagram for digital storytelling

    3. Be yourself online

    “I think being active on social media when I’m not trying to sell a book helps” when it comes to getting the word out about her novels, adds Julie Buxbaum a Los Angeles-based writer who describes herself on Twitter as having a “resting ask me for directions face.”

    “So, when I do have to do that uncomfortable self-promo, people understand that’s only a small percentage of the content I’m providing.”

    Julie recently announced the deal for her newest novel, “The Side Door,” about a college admissions scandal, forthcoming in 2020.

    “Be online frequently, but not only to promote your books,” agrees Saadia Faruqi, author of the children’s series “Yasmin” and a forthcoming (2021) nonfiction collective biography to celebrate Muslim visionaries.

    “Connect with readers, librarians, booksellers and other authors, and share their content with a big heart.”

    Related: How to create a social media content calendar, then post engaging content

    4. Take readers on a virtual book tour

    Unless you’re a best-selling author with a publicity department behind you, you probably won’t be taking off on an international book tour with the champagne pouring.

    That’s why your website can take readers with you on a personal book tour.

     

    “Leading up to my debut, I tried to share bits and pieces of my writing process and my book — and a little more info about ‘Actual Person Me’ vs. ‘Author Me’,” says Mae Respicio, author of “The House That Lou Built,” which received the APALA (Asian Pacific American Library Association) 2019 Honor Award in Children’s Literature.

    “I think it’s a great way to get readers excited about your book, and helps make the idea of an ‘author’ less abstract because you’re getting to know the real live person behind the book.”

    5. Present online giveaways

    K.A. Reynolds, author of the 2018 fantasy novel “The Land of Yesterday,” hosts giveaways online as if readers were in person to win.

    “Running giveaways on social media are my most productive, successful and favorite marketing tool, which is perfect for me, as I REALLY love giving fun things away,” says K.A., who was born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada, and now lives in “the wilds of Maine.”

    “This not only grows my followers but gets my book and cover before as many eyes as possible, which is the best one can hope for when trying to sell books,” says K.A. “This also drives people to pre-order, to add your book on Goodreads, and read the blurb/s while they’re there — all of which drives people to tell other people about your book!”

    For K.A.’s novel “The Spinner of Dreams,” she gave away bookmarks, stickers, pins and mailable postcards featuring select book art from the interior of the book.

    “Who doesn’t love book swag?”

    “Bookmarks are also a great talking point when it comes to connecting with your local indies and libraries. Take a stack in. Give them to the librarian and bookseller to hand out to readers. This gets your name and book out, too.”

    6. Stay in touch with email newsletters

    “I try to send a newsletter out at least once per quarter with information about what I’m reading and working on,” says Kelly, who lives in who lives in Gilbert, Arizona, and is a GoDaddy customer.

    “I’ve used GoDaddy in the past in my marketing career and have always been really impressed by their technical support. For writers, I know GoDaddy has been working hard to do great things with WordPress, which is what I use for my author website,” Kelly says.

    Newsletters are a great way to promote your work without spending a lot of money.

    “As soon as you can, start attracting newsletter subscribers so you can target promotion without spending money on ads,” says Mary Ann Marlowe, romance author of “Some Kind of Magic,” “A Crazy Kind of Love,” and “Dating by the Book,” who writes from central Virginia. “You can do this even before you have a book out by including content such as writing advice, book reviews, or giveaways, such as an eBook of a friend’s novel or a small gift certificate.”

    Bree puts a lot of time and energy into her creative newsletters. “Those monthly letters have created a forum for some of the writing I’m most proud of. So don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing to promote your book. Be honest, be real, and do the stuff that sets your soul on fire.”

    Using a mix of email marketing and social media is also a great way to get the word out about your books.

     

    “I do have newsletters that people can sign up for on my website,” says Saadia, who writes from Houston, Texas, has been featured in Oprah magazine. She describes herself as a “Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist.”

    “But my premier ways of getting news out about my upcoming books are Twitter and Instagram,” Saadia says. “I love these two platforms and am very active on both of them. They allow me to be creative in promoting my work and also connecting with my readers.”

    A newsletter can also include where readers might purchase your book.

    Related: Beginner’s email marketing guide for small businesses

    7. Connect with independent bookstores

    “I will say that I’m a huge supporter of independent bookstores,” says Mae, who’s based in the San Francisco Bay Area. “They’re all about relationship building — with authors and with readers. I love that, and I try to support indies whenever I can. In fact my local indie has a link where you can buy my books directly from them; this allows me to personalize the book before it’s shipped out. How cool is that?”

    Supporting small businesses is important to these authors.

     

    “I’m thrilled if readers purchase my books anywhere (or take them out of the library),” says Julie. “But I particularly love when people support their local independent bookstores.

    Bonus tips and advice

    When I asked writers for their best advice to a debut author who’s getting ready to spread the word about her forthcoming book, I loved all the answers.

    “Before your debut comes out it’s easy to stress, thinking, ‘I need to do All The Things,’ but for most people (myself included) that’s not realistic,” says Mae, whose second novel “Any Day With You” is forthcoming in May 2020. “My best advice is do what feels right or enjoyable for you and the rest… give yourself permission to skip!”

    Some authors did skip some advice and were better for it.

    “My advice is to find the path that feels truest to you,” adds Bree.

    “I was told that as a debut author—especially a young adult author—I had to be on Twitter. I was on it for about two years and it just about killed me. Twitter felt like a daily (and devastating) punch to my soul,” Bree says. “I deactivated in 2017 and I’ve never looked back. Later that year, I made my first Instagram account, and it’s been an infinitely better match for the kind of aesthetic content I love to post: fan art by my amazing readers, cover art by my amazing cover designer, and my own pictures in nine-tile groups. IG feels collaborative in a way that excites me.”

    Editor’s note: Looking for marketing tools to grow your fanbase? GoDaddy has a variety of marketing tools to help you — from SEO to email marketing, we have you covered.

    The post 7 successful authors share their best book marketing tips appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a chief administrative officer. Get a quick view of the requirements and details about degree programs, job duties, and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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    Realtors and real estate professionals can use Twitter get in front of more potential clients. With the right strategy, Twitter can help real estate pros spread the word about their brand, start conversations with potential clients and build relationships in their local communities and beyond. 

    How real estate professionals can use Twitter

    Twitter users are on the platform to get information and news, join conversations and connect. Real estate professionals can use Twitter to interact with those users, get new clients and spread the word about their listings to get more potential buyers and sellers. 

    The first step to using Twitter successfully to get new clients is to set up a compelling profile.

    1. Set up a great profile

    Step 1) Set up a profile with an easy-to-remember username (a.k.a. @handle).

    Step 2) Upload a beautiful profile photo of you and your team and a cover photo of your local area or something that represents your business.

    Step 3) Create a concise, informative bio and add a link to your website.

    Step 4) Invite friends and family to follow you.

    Step 5) Follow people and businesses in your area. 

    Step 6) Get tweeting!

    2. Tweet original content

    It’s important to use Twitter to tell your story and get Twitter users excited about what you offer as a realtor or real estate professional.

    Create a content calendar and consider using a scheduling service to set up your tweets for the week/month. You’ll want to tweet 2-3 times a day and mix up the kinds of things you’re tweeting. 

    Not sure what to tweet about? That’s what we’re here for! Here are some great content ideas real estate professionals can use on Twitter to attract new clients.

    Share information about your open houses and new listings. When you have an open house or a new listing that you want to advertise, use Twitter to spread the word and get potential buyers interested! Use local hashtags like #NorthernVirginia or #varealestate to reach new eyes. That way, anyone searching for open houses on Twitter will see your tweet and will be likely to stop by to view your properties.

    And, you can take your content up a notch by creating custom graphics for each of your open houses and new listings. 

    Thank you @CurbedLA! Everyone should come check out this charmer, we'll be Open from 2-4P this Sat. & Sun. from 2-4P! https://t.co/fVCzfkQ2O8

    — Tracy Do | Compass (@tracydorealtor) August 9, 2019

     

    Post photos of your properties that are sold and under contract. By posting photos of the properties that you have sold or that are under contract, you’re celebrating with your audience and sharing the kinds of properties that you are able to sell with your expertise and knowledge.

    As you show off additions to your portfolio, it builds trust with your audience and creates content that can be shared with their friends and followers.

    Share educational information and home tips. Sharing educational information on Twitter is the best way to show off your expertise with your audience. You can share tips from your own blog or from any outlets that are sharing information your audience might find valuable. Answer questions you hear from clients every day.

    • What should they know going into the home buying or selling process?
    • What should they look out for in a home inspection?
    • What are some DIY home improvement tips?
    • What’s the best time of year to garden or re-landscape? 

    Share relevant news or facts about your industry. Your followers want to know more about the real estate market in general as they consider buying or selling a property. Let them know what’s happening in their surrounding area. Follow the real estate sections of your local newspapers, retweet and tag them. Let your audience know about up-and-coming neighborhoods, new restaurants or activities, properties on the market, etc. Find out information about loans, property taxes and mortgage rates. If you think you can help educate your audience more, tweet it out! 

    Mortgage rates tumble to 10-month low https://t.co/kUlJHIYJe8

    — Dana Bambace (@BambaceDana) February 8, 2019

     

    Post client-centric content. The more your followers see your current clients, the more they can see themselves working with you. At the closing table, ask your clients if you can take a photo with them. Or, ask new homeowners you represent to take a photo in front of their new home and tag you on social media. That way, you can share that user-generated content on your Twitter feed with pride. 

    Share local content. People want to know that you love the area you live in.

    If you show that you love your neighborhood, city or town, then potential clients will be more likely to trust your knowledge of the area.

    You can share things to do this weekend in your city, activities happening that month in your town, etc. to get people connected with you and know that you are connected to your local area. 

    There's never a dull moment in Colorado! What's on your to-do this weekend?https://t.co/q4T9suQVto#ThingsToDoInColorado #Colorado

    — Atlas Real Estate (@AtlasRealEstate) September 6, 2019

     

    Share personal content. In addition to these content ideas, real estate professionals can use Twitter to attract new clients through tweets that show off their personal brand. 

    Personal, genuine content will build trust with your audience. When clients are considering working with a new realtor, they want to know that they’ll be working with a real person.

    Your followers want to see authentic shots from your daily life. Incorporate photos you take while doing property tours, what you do on the weekends in the city you love and how you enjoy the area you serve with your own family.

    Toasting to the wonderful #summermarket we’ve had! 🥂 We love working together and absolutely love working with our amazing clients! 💕#sothebys pic.twitter.com/b0Lymog34Z

    — The Barker Team SIR (@thebarkerteam1) September 9, 2019

     

    Home-searchers want to work with someone they can trust, someone who has a true investment in their clients and someone with a wealth of knowledge and a love for the area they live in. The more you let your audience in, the more you’ll feel familiar to them. They’ll be more willing to let their guards down and trust you with this very important and personal process in their lives.

    3. Retweet other users

    When you retweet other Twitter users, they will get a notification that you shared their content. This is a great way to start building community on the platform and building up your follower base. And, adding retweets to your Twitter routine only serves to make your feed look more interesting and varied. 

    Real estate professionals can use these kinds of retweets to liven up their feeds.

    Retweet:

    • Information about your local area
    • News about the market or local economy
    • Openings of new restaurants, bars and venues in neighborhoods you serve.
      • (Follow foodie outlets like Eater and Thrillist in your city!)
    • Home decor, gardening, landscaping, staging and DIY real estate tips.
      • (Research great home magazines and follow them on Twitter so you can share their content!)
    • Real estate news from newspapers and news outlets in your community
    • Articles that are relevant to your voice, vibe and brand.
      • (If you love cooking, share recipes! If you’re a new mom, share great parenting articles. All of it will help give clients an insight into your personality and your life.) 

    It’s also a good idea to quote tweet. When you hit the retweet button, there’s an option for you to add a comment to the tweet you are sharing. This is your chance to add your own voice into the mix. Here, you can share commentary about the original post, tag a friend, tag a client or local business, add a hashtag or give more context for why you’re sharing this content on your page. 

    Using both retweets and quote tweets will add interesting elements to your feed and let your followers know that your actively sharing content on Twitter.  

    Note: You can also like tweets by tapping the heart icon on tweets that you enjoy or find interesting. It’s an easy way to let that user know that you’re paying attention to their content and appreciate that they shared it! Plus, your followers will get to see the things you enjoy reading on Twitter.

    4. Use hashtags effectively

    Do some research on local, city and county hashtags and real estate hashtags to find out what people are searching for. Then, use those hashtags in your tweets to get them in front of more people. 

    Be charmed by this classic Bungalow in the heart of #Atlanta, represented by agent @ChrissieKallio. @Dwell takes you inside this #GrantPark home with serious curb appeal. https://t.co/xZmEKaUibz pic.twitter.com/P2Y9qlHqz7

    — Compass (@Compass) August 29, 2019

     

    Sending out a tweet about an open house or new listing with appropriate #local hashtags gives you the opportunity to reach more people who are looking for properties in that neighborhood.

    Related: How to hashtag on Instagram and Twitter

    By getting your content in front of new eyes on Twitter with hashtags, you can increase the number of potential buyers who might come to your properties. Even if they’re not interested in the property you posted, they might follow you to stay up-to-date on future listings. 

    You can see how real estate professionals can use Twitter to deepen their ties to the community and drive new business. 

    Engage your customers like never before with GoDaddy Social. We help businesses elevate their online presence on the platforms that matter most. Get started with us here.

    The post 4 ways real estate professionals can use Twitter appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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