I started blogging in 2008 when I was still a college student. During the time I was taught to target a broader audience that can easily relate to the topic that I’m writing about. These audience were considered the ‘paying’ audience as they tend to buy stuff online and even if you’re not selling anything, these people will theoretically make you more money if you have ads on your site.
This is a guest post by Charlie Brown.
Any sensible entrepreneur wants to squeeze a dollar out a dime because after all, you are out there to make money, right? You need to be able to get the best quality of products and services for your business at the lowest possible price in order to make any kind of profit.
While that is good business sense, it can sometimes be taken too far. There are areas where quality can be compromised because of cost (not recommended but understood) and there are other areas where you money should not be an object. One of these areas is web design.
Your website, in fact, every one of your web pages is the face of your business to the world. Potential investors and clients will get a feel for who you are and what you are about from how your website looks and functions, and of course the content it has. So you really must put your best foot forward here and spend as much as you can on good quality web design.
There are certain irreducible minimums when it comes to the elements on your website and these are the things that you should concentrate on when requesting for web development. That way, you don’t go over budget but still get great quality work done.
The first thing you need to do is ensure that your website has good hosting. You do not need to be on a server that has anything less than 99% uptime. In addition, the company should have great technical support and customer service to help you navigate around technical issues efficiently. Make sure to compare prices here as well and ask around for a recommendation before you settle on one. Your web designer should also have some ideas on a good hosting site.
Next is to have a beautiful home page. This is the face of your business and should be made to look perfect for your kind of business and target demographic. Your home page’s design and function will go a long way in building your reputation for professionalism, relevance, excellence and a host of other factors, so make it count. The same level of quality should be reflected on the rest of the web pages as well.
You should ensure that your website is user-friendly. This refers both to you and to your visitors. It should be designed in an organized manner and be easy to navigate so that the visitors can be led through the site to the product or service desired and eventually make a decision on it. Don’t make it cluttered or complicated; just clear and simple. You should also be able to make necessary changes and updates without calling your web developer all the time so ask for a good content management system with your website.
It is also important to have a clear call to action on all your pages. Make sure each page directs the visitors to doing something regarding what they have just read and seen. This simple function will ensure that your website is successful and that your business will also be successful.
About the Author
There are few things that people look for in a good website and once you have them, you will be well on your way to success without breaking the bank. For more information on how you can get an affordable website design for your brand or business, visit our site by clicking on the link.
I started taking pictures back in 2007 when I was in my early college days and like most people, I only used a point-and-shoot digital camera to take photos. Back then, I would store the photos on my hard drive and then upload it on Friendster. Technology has evolved and from Friendster, I started uploading them to Multiply, then Facebook and then now Instagram.
Looking back I realized that not much has changed really. At least for me, the change was mostly on the sites I’m uploading pictures to. And I find that normal because these photos are majorly tied to the “in” social network which has changed quite a bit in the last 5-7 years. What changed on my end is my interest in the subject of photography. No I didn’t own a lot of cameras during the period but I became more obsessed with taking better photos and investing on better equipment.
What usually happens is I would take pictures using my entry level Sony Nex 6 camera. I would make sure I take good pictures (note I’m still a novice in this area though) and then once it’s done I would store it on my hard drive but then upload either on my personal Facebook page or Instagram. As we all know, both of those services decrease the overall quality of the pictures. But still who cares? I have my original source on my hard drive right?
Well, not until now. I realized that I need to take a look at a service where I can upload my best shots. Maybe not really just the best ones but every photos that I’d like. A major requirement for the service is that it would not (majorly) alter the photos and eventually decrease the quality.
No I’m not building some kind of a image portfolio here but it’s my personal desire to have a place online where I or my friends can look at photos that I took and hopefully those aren’t too bad for them to feel bad. And so that is why I started searching for the services.
I actually have a Flickr account and this is where I realized that I have been taking photos for quite some time now. I like the service a lot but it functions as a social network itself which can be a problem. That might take away the focus of me just uploading photos to finding friends, commenting on their photos, browsing other people’s pictures and etc. That’s not a big problem though.
I haven’t used Flickr in years but I remember that you can’t really use the service to upload pictures continuously as they have a limit for free accounts. They also compress your photos (not as bad as Facebook though) and that would only go away if you fork out some money and pay for a subscription.
But maybe it has changed and I’ll just have to take a closer look at the service again.
Photobucket is an equally popular service however I kind of view them more as a casual image uploading site as oppose to something that has a more personal feel to it like Flickr. Nonetheless, Photobucket seems to be as good as Flickr but it has its own limitations for a free account.
I’m personally not too high on Photobucket for some biased reasons but I know I’ll take a look of this service again and see where it fits.
Picasa is a popular photo sharing service owned by Google. Doing a quick look at it, it seems they have their own share of features that are not available on other platforms. I read that they accept more file formats (including RAW) and they are of course very much integrated to other Google services.
I should take a look at Picasa because I’m pretty much a Google person like most people. I use a lot of Google services but I’m not sure I have any use for the Picasa integration at all (what? integrate to G+? meh!).
The website of this service strikes me as a a photo and card printing service rather than an photo sharing site but it seems like the latter part is a very good service on its own.
Shutterfly doesn’t have any limitations for uploading pictures and unlike others, they actually store the images in full resolutions and uncompressed. Like other services, they also offer some basic photo editing tools and integration to social networks. And of course, they have this tied neatly to their printing services in case you want to get a hard copy of your photos.
I haven’t reached the point yet where I’m nit-picky with the features that a service comes with so I think I would do fine with all the services I found above. However, I can’t really use all of them and upload to each every time as that would be very silly. It’s also worth-noting that me picking a service doesn’t change the fact that I would still upload photos on Facebook and Instagram since both are services that I heavily use for other purposes.
Overall, I would say Flickr has an advantage as I’m already an existing user there. Unless Flickr has a deal-breaker kind of limitation on their service, then it would be tough for other services to win me unless of course they offer something that is so good that I’m willing to switch and start over from scratch. But who knows?
I’d like to hear your thoughts here. Feel free to suggest other services as well. 🙂
This is a guest post by Amanda Green.
To ad or not to ad, right? For most website owners, that is the question. If you’ve got a highly visible website with a regularly-updating blog, you probably know that your increased web presence brings hundreds if not thousands of visitors to your site every day. (Even more, if you’re using SEO properly.)
So you’re well aware that adding advertising to your site can turn those pageviews into cash, but you’re probably hesitant to pull the advertising trigger. You’re a designer, after all. You like clean lines and unified themes. The last thing you want is one of those scammy “Take 6 inches off your belly with one weird trick” ads cluttering up your right sidebar.
Luckily, there are a few tried-and-tested ways to gain ad revenue without having to add weight-loss scams or dancing mortgage men to your beautiful, carefully-crafted website. If you’re averaging more than 100 pageviews per day, you’re leaving money on the table unless you implement one of these options.
Google AdWords are those tiny ads that appear on the sides and bottoms of webpages. They’re visually discreet but can earn you a large chunk of money if you have a regular following. Unlike the other solutions in this article, there’s very little you get to choose about Google AdWords; you get to decide where the ad is placed on your site, but Google does all the rest. You barely notice the ads are there until you get an email from Google with the subject line “You’ve Been Issued a Payment.”
AdWords uses suggestive advertising, so if you write about using Photoshop to create a logo, it’s likely to generate an ad for a Photoshop tutorial. This is good for your readers, because they are able to read your blog and then find relevant information by clicking on the AdWords links.
Like most aspects of advertising and SEO, Google AdWords changes its algorithms regularly. This means you need to stay up-to-date by following people like Rich Gorman, the SEO and advertising guru who regularly reports on new AdWords developments. That way you can continue to write posts that generate the best suggestive AdWords, which in turn earns you the most clicks and the most money.
The Amazon affiliate program works in two ways. First, it pays you every time someone buys a product by clicking through a recommendation on your site. Second, it pays you every time someone clicks through a recommendation, doesn’t buy the recommended product, but buys something else instead.
The easiest and cleanest way to use the Amazon affiliate program is by including Amazon affiliate hyperlinks in your blog posts. Write a post about how much you love Edward Tufte’s book series, and then hyperlink every time you mention a specific Tufte book. Readers click on the links and are taken to Amazon’s page to buy the Tufte books immediately. Whether they buy their own copy of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information or they buy something else, you get paid.
Amazon also creates clickable icons you can embed either in blog posts or on your sidebars. Each icon shows the image of a specific product, and it is possible to create a carousel of icons under the header “Tools I Use” or “What I’m Reading.” These are great ways to gain additional revenue without covering your website in garish ads. (They’re also a great way to answer the question “what tools do you use,” because I get that question all the time.)
Suppose you’re the type of designer who doesn’t want ordinary ads. Suppose you want artistic ads, created by design artists just like you. That’s where Project Wonderful comes in. Created by Ryan North, the man behind Dinosaur Comics, Machine of Death and other uber-projects, Project Wonderful allows artists to design their own ads and bid to place them on other sites.
You get to choose the size of the ad, the placement of the ad, and the types of ads you will accept. Maybe you only want web developers to advertise on your site. Maybe you’re fine with webcomics or musicians advertising on your site. Whatever you choose, you’re guaranteed to get a striking, well-designed, often quirky ad that reflects your own commitment to artistic work and creative thinking.
Use these three ideas to get some non-scammy advertising on your site and start earning more money. The next time you ask “to ad or not to ad,” you’ll know the right answer.
This is a guest post by Amanda Green.
In the days of the internet and social media, word of mouth advertising has altered a bit. This doesn’t mean it is dead just because it has changed shapes. In fact the opposite is true. Personally, I think it is stronger than ever. There aren’t any statistics to prove this, or at least I haven’t found any. But I am one to pay attention to marketing and the strategies that businesses take and the success each approach offers.
Think about your Facebook or Twitter feeds. How many times do you come across a post that shares a deal or a new item that was recently purchased? Well, my friend, that is word of mouth. Better yet, how often do you see one of your “friends or followers” ranting about a product that just irked them when they tried it? I see it at least a few times a day and between work and play, I don’t spend as much time on social media as most.
Just a few weeks ago I updated my profile picture on Facebook. This new picture wound up with 117 likes and 70 plus comments. I was impressed, thought I must have really looked good. But the truth is that picture was taken by an aspiring photographer. She is a good friend and needs to build her online portfolio. Always one to help I sat through the awkward session and let her snap away.
Through my picture she gained recognition and booked a wedding and a few pregnancy sessions from people that would have never known about her otherwise. This too is a type of word of mouth advertising in our current world.
Giving away free gifts is another twist on word of mouth. No it’s not simply saying, “I love such and such company and I think you should love them too.” But if you are forcing people to share information essentially it falls into the same category.
Another story that comes to mind happened a few months back when I was looking into renting new office space. I was given a pen by a lady who worked in one of the buildings. I love pens. It is maybe somewhat of an obsession. As a writer, I soak in the moments I get to take it back to my roots and put pen to paper. So for me this was the perfect way for me to not only remember them but to talk about them to my friends later.
Today I am working in that space, and while the pen isn’t the sole reason for that… it was definitely a selling point. They made me remember them and now I have an item that I use regularly and has been the start of many conversations.
If you don’t have branded office items that will start random conversations you may want to change that. InkHead is where we purchased our customized pens, apparel, and electronic accessories and they had everything we wanted plus some. All of which came without breaking the bank.
Marketing comes in many forms, but without doing the little things that cause people to talk about you randomly, you will not find the amount of success you are really looking for. Even bad publicity is still publicity. While you are always aiming for positive feedback, just be thankful when people are talking about you.
This is a guest post by Amanda Green.
Marketing your blog effectively is not rocket science if you know what you’re doing. While there are many different things that you need to do to get your blog’s marketing right, the first key thing to focus on is building a strong foundation. In the article below we discuss a few tips to help you build this very foundation to market and grow your blog.
1. Brand Your Blog
In order to stand out of from the other bloggers and to look “different”, you should customize the overall appearance of your blog with a logo along with a unique blog design. Just the way you’d use a branded conference app to reach out to your target audience at a convention or trade show and be unique in yourself, branding your blog will help you connect with your visitors in spite of the competition.
Make sure you use unique images/colors on your blog. Also, the theme and the colors should be consistent throughout the blog. The aim here is to create a unique brand that your readers will feel familiar or at home with over time. The more you focus on the branding of your blog, the better it is.
2. Don’t Make Your Visitors Think
Keep your blog clean and simple. Make the navigation easy to understand and have a sitemap included to guide new/old readers around the blog. For example, there are different types of plugins available (both paid and free) that let you customize and organize your blog posts along with links to any related content. The overall look and feel of your blog should be straightforward. Don’t have too many bells and whistles that confuse your visitors.The less they think when moving through your the blog, the higher are the chances that they will return for more.
3. Post on a Regular Basis
If you look around you’ll find that most of the reputed blogs post regularly. This gives them enough content to connect with the existing and as well as new readers. Marketing a blog becomes difficult when the posting frequency is inconsistent. People that read blogs are always looking for fresh ideas and unique tips. By giving real and consistent value to your readers, they will perceive your blog higher than the other blogs that don’t give such value. Although this isn’t the only step when branding your blog, it is indeed an important one.
4. Create Top Notch Content
How will you market a product that isn’t of good quality? Your blog is a product in itself and in order to market this product, you have to infuse value into it by writing and publishing great content. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there but only a few succeed because they work on providing unique content that gets shared all over the web. Yes it takes real effort to create good blog content, but the effort that you put into doing it will pay off when your readers read and spread the word about it.
Even if one of your blog posts goes viral, it can result in thousands of free visitors and hundreds of targeted subscribers. So the more time (or money) that you invest into creating better blog content, the easier it will be for you to market the blog.
This is a guest post by Reuben Dickison.
It is a Catch-22. Polls consistently find that people choose email as their preferred method of being contacted and updated. The same polls find that the highest source of irritation to online consumers is spam. This brings up the obvious question of –
What is the difference between Email and Spam?
Much like beauty – it is in the eye of the beholder. If it is of interest to the person, even if it is pure direct advertising, it is a welcome email. If the person receiving the email is not interested, it does not matter what the message is – they will consider it spam. This is the biggest factor in deciding how to use email to increase traffic to your blog or website.
When implementing email marketing campaigns more is not better. If you have something genuinely useful to say and it is timely it will probably be well received. It is a reasonable presumption that if a person visited your site, registered, and provided an email address then they have some interest in your site or products. This does not mean they all want a daily update on your site.
The purpose of your email updates or newsletter is very simple but often overlooked. It should be to drive traffic back to your website. I subscribe to one blog that I follow quite closely. I get a newsletter once a week (which is too often for most in my opinion). It contains the complete article of new posts. While I find it interesting it does in fact mean I have not actually visited the website in months as I have no need to. This is drastically reducing the value of any advertising they use to support the blog.
To run an effective email system there are some basic steps.
- You need to have email addresses. To collect email addresses you must actively solicit them. A call to action to register and to subscribe to newsletters must be highly visible.
- The emails or newsletters sent out must be for the purpose of directing traffic to the website. Highlight the most popular posts and pages in the email with a link to go to the complete post. Use your web analytics to determine the most popular.
- The more tailored the message the more effective it will be. If the reader can choose categories they are interested in then their emails should focus on those categories.
- It should not look like a cloned email every time. Aside from your logo, change up the look and format frequently to encourage them to actual read it as opposed to opening then immediately moving to trash or spam as “the same as always”.
There are numerous free plugins to use to set up email and newsletter campaigns for either specific or ongoing use. The better ones require more set-up and include an email verification (click here to confirm subscription type email) system.
If you want to grow your website or business through the use of purchased or shared email lists then always use an alternative email account to do the mass unsolicited mailings. This will prevent your primary site email from being tagged as a spammer account by the major email servers.
Hiring professional services sometimes makes sense, particularly if there is an e-commerce portion to your website. Whether it is to simply purchase a list or to conduct a full marketing campaign check to make sure that you have access to the account the emails get sent from. If you purchase 5000 emails in a list and 2000 of them are bounced as undeliverable you need to know that and be able get refunded or new to replace them.
Reuben Dickison is semi-retired freelance writer and blogger currently living in the United States. He is writing for email marketing services from emailergo.com. He holds degrees in Marketing and Public Administration with past jobs including consumer financial management, general manager of a multi-million dollar retail business, and private business management training and consulting.