Category: Blog

Business Refresh!

Summer is flying by, and with all the craziness of trying to squeeze in trips to the pool with the kids, hiking, running, camping, vacations and all the other “summer” stuff, it is easy to let your business basics slide. Here are a 4 ideas to help give you that kick in the butt you might need to keep your business running and looking it’s best, with a business refresh!

 

Update your website!

Take a look at your site from a customer’s standpoint, or better yet, have a friend visit your site and ask them what stands out to them, or what they think should be tweaked. Here are a few common things to look for to give your website a business refresh:

Images – are your images seasonal, make sure there isn’t any snow in your homepage photos! Have you updated your own photo on your about us page? We all know you looked better 10 years ago, but does the picture even still look like you? ūüôā
Contact Info – Is everything current? Did you move buildings and forget to update the address? Did you add a new employee and forget to list them on your contact page?
Sales – Do you still have information about your St Patrick’s day sale on your site? Take it down! If it isn’t pertinent to right now, it shouldn’t be on your home page.
Links – Do all your links work? Did you remove a page or document and forget to update the links that pointed to it?
Products –¬†Are all of your new and hot products listed front and center on your website?
Testimonials –¬†Have you added any new customer reviews to your site? It is always a good idea to show all the lovely things others are saying about you where everyone can see it. ūüôā
Updates – There have been a lot of security breaches and therefore related updates to website services that you need to stay on top of. I have personally had 2 brute force attacks this summer on websites I manage, that because I was on top of the security settings and updates, was able to stop them in their tracks. So do your updates, and PLEASE backup your website regularly!

Refresh your storefront!

Do you have weeds growing up next to your building? Is your paint peeling? Now is a great time, ya know cause there isn’t any snow on the ground, to make those easy fixes to your store!

Another place to look is in your store! When is the last time you dusted? Trust me, people notice that stuff. Are your displays falling apart? Or do you just need to rearrange your products for the season, to draw attention to your seasonal products?

Are your displays falling apart? Or do you just need to rearrange your products for the season, to draw attention to your seasonal products? Do it! If you have customers that come in regularly, they often stick to their routine of grabbing the same items¬†or walking straight up to your service counter. Try placing those must-have items right next to your register, or having some racks near the entrance that you swap out with new products regularly. There is a reason that Walmart has that display of fresh flowers or Smore’s ingredients right in the isle.

Do you have large windows in your store? Those are prime real estate for graphics! Put fun images that people see outside your store to draw them in! It will help reduce the glare inside the store from that hot summer sun, and bring people in from outside! You can create some FUN graphics to fill an entire window fairly inexpensively.

Giving your store a business refresh could be just what you needed!

Spice up your Social Media

Are you doing some of the aforementioned summer activities and aren’t in the store or office as much? Get your customers interacting with you on social media! Host a giveaway, get people liking and sharing your top-selling and newest products on their pages! Have a photo contest encouraging customers to post photos of themselves using your products!

Social media is a great way to give your business a breath of fresh air!

Celebrate your team

Want to really enjoy the summer? Try taking your employees or team on a retreat to recharge EVERYONE’S batteries! Rent a cabin for the weekend and encourage everyone to come, maybe even bring their families for some much-needed bonding!

 

Make sure to enjoy every minute of summer, but don’t forget about your business in the meantime. Take a few minutes to do these business refresh tips and get your business looking fab, then sneak out early to go enjoy the summer. ūüôā

The Newsletter Challenge

Have you ever wanted to create a newsletter and email it to your customers? Have you ever tried to create an opt-in on your website to collect email addresses? Do you want a professional newsletter that you can send to your customers that you can create yourself?

¬†ÔĀÜ Join my free Newsletter Challenge and learn how to:

  • Setup MailChimp
  • Add an opt-in on your website to collect email address with the Bloom plugin
  • Learn how to set up MailChimp to automatically send an email or to deliver your freebies to your new list subscribers
  • Learn to create an outline for your newsletter (with a free outline download), what types of content to include on your newsletter and where to find your content.
  • Learn how to layout & send your newsletter in MailChimp
  • Learn how to create custom newsletter headers & graphics, free with Canva
  • Get access to a great Facebook group to help support all your business marketing needs

By signing up below, I will send you an email immediately to get you started on Day 1, setting up your Mail Chimp Account. You can follow along with the easy step by step video to learn how to set up your account. Then tomorrow I will send you the Day 2 video to walk you through how to add the Bloom opt-in plugin to your WordPress website, to start collecting those email addresses. As a bonus, tomorrow, I’ll even show you how to use MailChimp to send out your freebies to your new subscribers! Then on day’s 3 & 4, I will send you the videos to start planning and finding content for your Newsletter, and lay it all out with MailChimp.

Ready to get started? Join the challenge today!

Check your email!


Ôā°¬† ¬†HAVE QUESTIONS ON THE CHALLENGE, OR JUST NEED A PLACE TO BOUNCE MARKETING IDEAS AROUND?

Join the SW Small Bussiness Marketing Facebook Forum (it’s 100% free) and get the support you need, access to our fantastic Facebook community and networking opportunities with other like-minded small business owners!

Click here to join the discussion!

Overcoming Your Blogging Fears

We all have those feelings of doubt in life don’t we? Am I doing this right? What will they think of this? What if I fail? I have been working more with¬†bloggers recently, and I wrote my frist ever guest post for my fellow Midwestern Entrepreneur, Krista Rae.

Krista, helps female creatives elevate their biz, increase conversions, and boost engagement through crafting strategic blogs.

I loved writing this post about overcoming your blogging fears, and relating my experiences to bloggers.

Click here to read the full article!

4 Easy Ways to Market Your Small Business

I am often asked; “What is the best way to get my business noticed?” “How should I be advertising?” “What else should I be doing?” In this digital age many businesses are focusing on Facebook and online marketing, and for good reason, but there are many tried and true methods out there that we shouldn’t forget about. Here are 4 easy ways to market your small business- a few of my favorite methods to help your business be more awesome.

1. Your website
Your website should be easy to navigate, be easy to find what you do, how to get in touch with you & just be awesome! Here is a brief checklist:
  • What’s your site’s purpose?
  • Do you have quality content?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is it search engine¬†optimized¬†(SEO)?
  • Did you link your Social Media sites to your website? and vise versa?
  • Can it be read easily on a mobile device?

2. Stay in touch with your customers
One of the easiest and most overlooked suggestion I have is staying in touch with your current customers! They already know and love your work so make sure to stay front of mind with them. Whether it’s face to face, a quick email, or a more formal newsletter or e-newsletter – just keep in touch, and let them know of any new or different services you offer.

3. Verify your listing on Google
Google LocalCreating a Google My Business (Google Local) page is a way of verifying on Google maps where your business physically is located. This can be verified by anyone at the business. Google will send a pin number, via snail mail, to your business address. Then you just need to enter that pin on your new Google account.
Benefits of a Google + account include more chances to appear within Google local searchers (like the photo on the right), you can connect your Google+ profile to your Google+ Local listing, and you are able to gain reviews from your customers that will then show up as star ratings in your search results.
4. Send snail mail!
I have to admit, the mail I receive in my mailbox probably gets more attention that the mail in my inbox. If you have something important to share, sending out a postcard or lumpy mailer (an envelope with something big inside so it feels lumpy, and intrigues the recipient enough to open it) is a great way to get attention and attract new customers.
A great way to send mail without having a mailing list is to use the USPS Every Door Direct Mail service. You select the town and the routes you want your mailer delivered to, you can even select business, residential or both! Want to know the best part? It cost less than the price of a stamp to send! EDDM PostcardAs of today, the current cost is $0.183/per piece. Here is an example of an EDDM postcard I recently sent out.
You don’t always have to think outside of the box, as long as you know who your target customer is, and how to reach them!
Let me know how some of these techniques have worked for you below in the comments.

¬† Ôāܬ†Join the community!

Finally, a place to bounce marketing ideas around, and ask questions!
Join SW Small Bussiness Marketing Facebook Forum (it’s 100% free) and get the support you need, access to our fantastic Facebook community and networking opportunities with other like-minded small town, small business owners!


Adding A Facebook Feed on Your Website

Adding Facebook feed to website

Have you noticed businesses that have their Facebook feed embedded directly on their website? Did you think that Facebook had discontinued that feature? Well, they did! But this year they released a new and improved way of adding a Facebook feed to your WordPress website. Facebook calls it a page plugin now, and it’s even easier for your customers to follow you on Facebook, without ever leaving your website.

Now to do this you need a wee bit of code to add to your website, but Facebook gives you everything you need, so don’t fret! You can get this code by going here¬†on the Facebook For Developers page. ¬†On this page¬†enter the URL of the Facebook page you would like to embed on your website.

Facebook Feed Options

Select if you want to show the header image, or cover photo, if you want your pages friends faces to be visible (I usually uncheck that option, I think it gets too cluttered looking with all those faces), then make sure the adapt plugin to container box is checked. That ensures where ever you put it on your website the box will fit the space provided.

My favorite new feature that Facebook added with this plugin are the tabs. You can specify if you want your Facebook events tab to be visible on your website plugin, or even allow people to submit Facebook messages directly on your website!

Facebook plugin optionsTo do this in the tabs field, after timeline, add the tabs you would like to show, separated by commas.

Once you have all your options selected, you will see a preview of what your plugin will look like on your website.

FAcebook feed options for website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it looks¬†correct, go ahead and click on ‘Get Code’.

plugincode

A new box will pop up showing you the code to enter on your website.

Enter the lower box code on your website directly where you want the plugin to appear. In a sidebar or footer widget, or directly on a page. Just make sure when you paste in the code you are on the Text or HTML tab, not the visual tab on your page.

HTMLfield

 

Once you save the code to place your plugin, and saved your page, the next step is the trickiest. On your WordPress dashboard go to Appearance > Editor, and click on Theme Header on the right.

Preferably you are using a child theme, so this page will be mostly blank. Below the last line paste in the top box of code you received from Facebook, and click update File.

Facebook Feed OptionsNow go back to the page you added the plugin to, and check out your handy work!
You are now a pro at adding a Facebook feed to your website! Great job!

 

*Disclaimer: I am by no means an HTML expert. This is just what I have learned by adding the Facebook plugin to my websites, and customer website I have created. Different WordPress themes, and plugins can react differently when you edit the header.php on your website. I recommend backing up your website before making any changes in the Editor. If you are not comfortable editing your website this way, contact your web developer or drop me a line today!

 

Marketing Tips to Maximize Your Profits Over the Holidays

The holidays are right around the corner, literally- Thanksgiving & Black Friday are next week! As a business owner you know that you need to have your marketing department running on all cylinders, to have a profitable holiday season. Here are 9 marketing tips to maximize your profits over the holidays.

  1. Create limited-time offers to encourage customers to buy now or before the end of the year.
  2. What do you have that the bigger stores don’t have? Highlight what makes your company awesome in your marketing materials. Do you have great customer service? Awesome quality products? Years of experience? Highlight what is important to your customers! And say Thank you to them for a great year in the process!
  3. Use holiday posters and flyers to reinforce your marketing campaign, especially in those high-traffic (think standing in line on black friday or ) areas.
  4. Use giant floor stickers to direct customers to your most profitable in-store product displays. Arrows, stars, feet or even horse hooves! What ever fits your theme or holiday item!
  5. Try direct-mail postcards with holiday coupons to get customers to your website or store. Make sure to include an espiration date, so they have to be used before the end of the year!
  6. Introduce holiday only incentives, such as an extra give away item with a larger purchase or prize drawing entry with every purchase or set dollar amount spent.
  7. Have a special daily, weekly or monthly offer to encourage daily and ongoing sales. Pair like items as Buy 1 Get 1 Free specials, or better yet pair a common item with a lesser common item to incease product awareness and sales.
  8. Feature your upcoming holiday specials on your social media accounts (use these free holiday downloads to spruce up your Facebook page as well) and reinforce the reasons why it’s better to buy from you than your competitors.
  9. Make sure all of your holiday marketing is measurable so you can track your return on investment and plan for an even more profitable campaign next year.

Promotional Mug¬†ÔÉī Branded Merchandise

Need a promotional give-a-way for your employees or customers? I can help! Mugs, shirts/polos, note pads, captain/bag chairs, pens- pretty much anything you can think of!

Drop me a line today!

Do I need domain privacy?

Domain privacy

Are you ready to buy your first domain address for your new website, but don’t know if you need the domain privacy offered by your website hosting company? I say yes, it’s totally worth the piece of mind for less than $10/year!domain privacy

When I first started building websites, I didn’t purchase the domain privacy that was offered. There is nothing wrong with that, it isn’t needed, but after countless spam emails and calls asking me if I needed help creating a website for my new domain- I definitely recommend it now.

Every time you register a domain name, the details of that domain registration (name, physical address, email and phone number)must be published in a publicly accessible database called Whois. Private domain registration helps protect your privacy, kind of like having an unlisted phone number. When you select private domain registration for your domain name, your registrar will replace your contact information with its own in the WHOIS database.

I now recommend domain privacy to all of my customers to protect their privacy and to protect them from unwanted solicitation.

Peace of mind is well worth the $5-$9/year that it usually costs to hide your personal information from total strangers.

Picking Your Colors

adobe color picker

A lot of people come to me, they have a logo¬†but need a website created. Often times logos don’t include a lot of colors, and many new businesses haven’t established their brand enough to have a palette of colors ready for me to create their new website. This is where picking your colors comes in! I strongly encourage you to have a brand board, think tank, color chart- whatever you want to call it put together but if that isn’t an option for you, using the Adobe Color Wheel is a great alternative in a pinch.picking your colorsI highly recommend using the Triad Color Rule. Usually 3 colors on a website (main color-headers, menus, a secondary color-titles & accents, and a third pop color for links etc).

I would start with your main logo color if you have one, and see where that takes you! I entered my main pink color in the photo above and played around a bit to find 2 accents that I liked. I chose the teal on the far right, and the yellow for my website.

Once you pick your colors you can see at the bottom of the screen it gives you the RGB & Hex color information. Write those codes down! So now next time your graphic artist asks you for those you know what to tell them!RGB Color

Picking your colorsThe Monchromatic color rule is useful if you need help picking out to like colors. Perhaps for a tone on tone look.

The Complimentary Color Rule is also great, if you just want to use 2 colors, or 4 colors- 2 of which are similar shades of the same color.

I hope this was helpful! I get asked a lot about colors, and what colors looks good together. The Adobe ComplimentaryColor Wheel is a great tool for anyone looking to pick colors for their next project.

Let me know in the comments below if this is helpful, or if you have another color tool you like to use!

Please share this post with anyone you think might find it useful! Sharing is caring!

 

Website Editing Tips & Tricks

Wordpress editing

There are a few tricks I have to look up every time I edit my website. They are so basic, yet I always have to double check myself! I thought I would compile a list of website editing tips & tricks, along with some HTML code that might help you when setting up and editing your WordPress website too.

Symbols

One of the most common shortcuts I use when building websites is needing to insert the Registered Trademark symbol-¬ģ, Copywrite symbol-¬© or needing a bullet point to separate information in a list- ‚ÄĘ They are very easy to type out, or you can just copy and paste them, but I always forget the shortcode for them! Here they are, all in one convenient location!

Alt Codes

Email addresses 

Adding hyperlinks to email addresses is a slick way to add your email without listing the whole address. You can simply write eMail Me Here! and hide your complete address in the HTML code! Sometimes you can highlight the text you want to be a hyperlink, and then click on the link icon in your toolbar, but that isn’t always an option. When it isn’t simply input the HTML code below, and insert your details in place of the blue text.

Code: ¬†<a href=mailto:[email protected]“>eMail Me Here!</a>

Output:  eMail Me Here!

Links

Another great trick I recently learned is how to make links, SUPER easily. When you are typing your information out, and you want to make a word a link, simply highlight the words you want to link, go find your link, copy it (Ctrl + C), then go back to your highlighted text and hit paste (Ctrl + V)- BAM! Instant link!

Inserting Images

Usually, you can just click on add media to insert a photo, but what about when you are editing a widget, or an area that doesn’t have the editing toolbar? That is when this HTML code comes in handy!

Just replace the blue text with your information. First open your Worpress Media library, and find the image you want to use- copy the File URL, then insert that after <img src=”

image hyperlink

Edit the Alt tag, to be something relavant that someone might search Google for your post, and adjust the height and width as needed.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<body>

<p>
<img src=”http://simplewolfmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/websiteediting-e1451588167840.png” alt=”Website Editing Tips” width=”350” height=”250” border=”0″>
</p>

</body>
</html>

Want your image to also be a link? Just add the a href code too!

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<body>

<p>
<a href=”http://simplewolfmedia.com/contact-us/“> ¬† ¬† <—- Insert your link address here!
<img src=”http://simplewolfmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/websiteediting-e1451588167840.png” alt=”Website Editing Tips” width=”350” height=”250” border=”0″>
</a> ¬† ¬†<—-Don’t forget to close it!
</p>

</body>
</html>

Now your images are all set!

What’s Slowing You Down?

Did you know a slow website is not only annoying for your customers, it can also negatively¬†affect your SEO! We don’t want that! So to figure out what is slowing down your WordPress website install Plugin Performance Profiler. You can just go to your WordPress dashboard, and search for it under add new plugin. No need to download from that link- that was just for your information. ūüôā

P3This screenshot shows you how easy it is to see which plugins are the slowest, so you can find replacements, or just deactivate when not in use.

I would definitely deactivate the P3 Plugin when your not using it, as it is a pretty big resource hog itself!

 

Ready to edit your WordPress website like a pro now I bet! I hope you learned something useful!

Make sure to let me know of any super handy tricks that you use below in the comments! And share this with anyone you think might find it handy as well!

Say NO! to free web hosting sites

free web hosting

Are you thinking of creating your own website, but not sure where to start? Many people think they can start off with a free web hosting site and then move over to a hosted website once they get their business established.

I want to strongly discourage you from doing that.

Credibility: When someone tells me they want to use free web hosting, I often question how serious they are about their business.

Costs: First of all most “free” sites are not free. If you want a custom domain (aka www.yourcompanyname.com), you need to pay for it, otherwise, it will be www.freesite.yourcompanyname.com. ¬†If this is a side business, and not your main money maker, having a free site could work, but there are risks. (I’ll explain them in a moment) But, if this is your main business you want to look legit right? Well having a website and custom email address does just that. The average domain costs about $10-$25/year, and an average hosting plan costs less than $10/month. Web hosting is very cheap these days, so skip that latte or lunch out, and invest in your own business!

Here is a great chart from websiteexpertbuilders.com, comparing the different “free” sites. As you can see they all end up costing you monthly, if you want a custom domain. And if you do find a deal for a free domain, make sure you know what you are buying. They are often free for the first year, but the renewal the next year might be way more than just paying for a domain from the start.

Free website comparison

SEO: Another reason to skip the free sites is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Did you know search engines give more credibility to paid domain names? Plus, if you are going to spend time adding content to your site, and trying to drive customers there, it pays to have your own domain. Otherwise, what happens when you are ready to make the move to a paid host? You lose all that traffic and the credibility you built up online because now you have a new domain/website to promote. PLUS who wants to recreate your entire site a year or two down the road? It can be a huge pain, and as your business grows, you are only going to get busier!

Who has time to rebuild their website? Not you!
You’re too busy running a successful business!

Ownership rights: Oh, and did I mention if you don’t pay for your own domain and hosting that you don’t actually own your site? You are just renting it! Which means one day you could go looking for your website, and it’s gone! (I told you earlier there were risks!) This could be because the free company is no longer in business, or something went wrong.

Lack of support: If something does happen to your site, you might be able to recover your free site, but often help and support on the free websites is hard to get or non-existant.

Advertising: I want to warn you about are the ads on those free sites. Often free web hosting sites include a bunch of banners and pop-ups, that you have no control over. That is how the free sites make their money.

If you were browsing the internet and stumbled upon a website that had good information, maybe you are even interested in buying a product from them, but you notice the web address is www.freesite.com/myperonsalblog/aol/oldschool/4587emk.html, and there are suspicious pop-up ads and banner ads on their site- what is your reaction? Now if you find this same site with great information, and their address is www.awesometrustworthycompany.com- would you have a different reaction?

Flexibility:¬†Free websites like Wix & Weebly have limitations and lack flexibility. Your website will be limited to what templates the free web hosting company has to offer. Often you can not change the look and feel a great deal, and can’t add interactive features like plugins, shopping carts, forums or chat functions.

These web platforms do have their place. They are very easy for people who are building a hobby site, something that doesn’t need to be indexed by google. I recommend Weebly’s education platform for teachers to create their own classroom websites. I actually created a how-to video here for the teachers I work with to use.

Reliability & Up time:¬†Free web hosting sites are not always known for their speed, uptime, and availability. Free hosting is only ok for hobby sites, testing purposes or for those people who don’t mind if their site is unavailable for a day or two at a time. But if you own a legitimate business and want to grow, I highly recommend the investment upfront to do it right, right from the start.

If I haven’t talked you out of a free web hosting site yet, at least buy your own domain. That way no matter where your business goes or how it grows, you own that, and can take it with you.