How Brand Reputation Will Make or Break Your Business

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Much of your marketing efforts go toward increasing your reach and growing a loyal audience. How your audience feels about you depends on more than offering a quality product or service. As you grow your business, whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or work with others, your brand reputation can make or break your brand.

Reviews, Word of Mouth, and Gossip

Make

When a potential customer sees positive reviews and recommendations, they’re more comfortable exchanging their money for your product or service. That’s a no-brainer. How many times do you catch yourself on the fence about buying something and go to the reviews section? No matter how great your marketing copy is, people trust other people who can vouch for the fantastic quality of the product or speedy service.

Break

Obviously, this can work against you if your reviews aren’t very flattering. It never feels good to get a bad review, but look past the hurt to see if there are ways you can improve the customer experience and mend your brand reputation.

Whatever you do, don’t try to bury the complaints. You can’t stop people from talking about your brand, so your job is to make that talk as positive as possible. Otherwise, you can have customers on the verge of making a purchase cancel their order because a friend or relative warned them.

Note: Do Not Feed The Trolls

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who take a small inconvenience as an excuse to get nasty. If it’s an issue outside of your control–like the shipping delays caused by COVID-19 or severe weather–remain calm, understanding, and polite.

But if you address the issue and a person continues to send messages or post comments clearly looking for a fight, stop responding and block them if necessary. Blocking is a last resort, however.

Affiliates and Collaborators 

Make

Let’s say you’re just starting your business. Your product/service is awesome, but you struggle to broaden your customer base. You seek the advice of another professional and enter into an affiliation contract with another business or influencer. Their brand reputation is stellar, so their audience trusts the recommendation and starts buying from you. Congratulations on growing your business!

Break

Now, what if the entity you partner with suffers a massive blow to its brand reputation? Your shared customer base will abandon you both. The risk is the same if you’re the bigger brand helping to grow a smaller business’s reach and you’re the one that messes up. Your contracted endorsement means you are linked by association. If you want any chance at saving your business, you have to meet the issue head-on.

Brand Reputation Handled by Experts

Make

If navigating your brand reputation feels too complicated, consider outsourcing the work. You can focus more on your products and services while the agency ensures your visitors click here when and where you want, boosting your visibility and sales.

Break

Like you, the people working for a digital marketing agency can make mistakes and bad choices. It can happen when you just start working together or even years into a business relationship. Keep in mind that if the mistake is big enough that you sever the contract, you’ll be the one left salvaging your brand reputation. At least until you can hire a replacement.


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Five compelling reasons an SEO plan is important

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If you want a thriving website, your search engine optimization must be on point. It paves the way for all the customers you want to reach to find your business. With good management and a solid SEO plan, you can bring as much organic traffic to your site as possible. 

When you search any keyword in Google, SEO determines which results come up first. If you want your site on the first page of search results, you need a decent SEO plan. If the idea of managing your strategy yourself is overwhelming, you can outsource the work and get help from groups like SunCity Advising. But if you’re still on the fence about how much of your time this deserves, here are five compelling reasons SEO is important for your business.

Good SEO=More Traffic

The most basic function of SEO is to get your content included in the search results for relevant keywords. Relevance is key here. Incorporating high-value keywords that have nothing to do with your brand or content can get you flagged as spam. As a result, your website will be penalized with a lower search ranking.

People are more likely to click on first-page results for simple reasons. “Top” results are usually more trustworthy because they’re popular. They don’t want to have to dig through 10 pages. This is why putting a strong SEO plan to work for you is essential to getting more traffic. And more traffic means more business for you!

Earn more money

Whether you run a mid-to-large-scale business or just a side hustle, earning more money is probably one of your goals. By investing in your SEO strategy, whether by learning to do it yourself or hiring an expert, you can earn great money from it.

More traffic means more potential buyers of your products or services. With more satisfied customers, you can get more positive reviews and word-of-mouth advertising. All of that cycles back into bringing more potential customers to your business.

Reduce bounce rate

When checking out your site’s analytics, have you looked into your bounce rate? How many visitors are leaving shortly after visiting your site without making a purchase or taking any other action?

You want to stop people from leaving things in the basket online and leaving your website. You want first-time visitors to turn into loyal customers. With good use of SEO on each page, you can guide visitors to click through to view more site content relevant to their initial search. This is key to not letting your increase in site traffic lead to an increase in the bounce rate.

Streamline website navigation

When SEO works internally—that is, when you have keywords on one page linking to another page on your site relevant to that keyword—you make it easy for your visitors to find more information.

Just scroll back up to the section on earning more money. The “earn great money” link sends you to one of my other posts on how to get more customers to visit your site. That’s an example of using an SEO keyphrase (“earn great money”) to encourage you to click through my site and view more of my content before you leave.

With the right SEO strategy and the right keywords, you can build your brand into an authority in your niche. You don’t need shady tricks to convince people to buy from you – just a good SEO strategy!


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7 Apps to Support Mental Health

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Looking after your mental health is vital, but it’s not always easy. When we feel stressed, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To support your mental health, there are many digital tools available.

Rootd 

Rootd is an app designed for people who experience anxiety and panic attacks. The app includes several useful features including a breathing tool, anxiety tips, a panic button, and mental health lessons. The key features of Rootd include:

  • Anxiety lessons: Learn about anxiety and the root cause of panic attacks.
  • The Breathr: Use breathing exercises specially designed to reduce anxiety.
  • Progress page: Use the journal to track your progress in overcoming your symptoms.

Smiling Mind

The Smiling Mind app is a free tool for mindfulness created by psychologists and educators. The app includes programs to help users cope with challenges, problems, and stress. There are plenty of benefits of using a mindfulness program, including:

  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Focus on the present and appreciate the moment
  • Develop a more positive mindset
  • Improve meditation skills
  • Learn how to relax and sleep better
  • Exercises to deal with negative thoughts

Grief Support Network

This app is a social network to support and connect people who are grieving. The creators of the app understand that grief is different for everyone, which is why the app has plenty of different features. Users can use the chat feature to speak to fellow ‘Grief Angels’ close by. There are also meetups where people can access community support in person. There’s a ‘calming sounds’ feature, helping users to relax, unwind, and meditate.

Many grieving people also have to arrange a funeral, which can be particularly difficult. Organizing a funeral can be stressful whether it’s choosing memorial rocks for cemeteries or planning funeral speeches. Using the Grief Support Network app, people can make new connections and feel less alone.

Think Up

The Think Up app is a positive affirmation tool. Affirmations are positive statements or phrases we repeat to shift our focus to positivity and manifesting our desires into reality. The Think Up team believes ‘our mindset and thoughts have an enormous impact on self-esteem, health, prosperity, and happiness.’ The tool has plenty of positive affirmations to choose from, or you can create affirmations of your own. There are many themes to choose from such as self-esteem, relationships, reducing stress, beating depression, and more. You can speak your affirmations out loud or write them down in a journal.

Happify 

Happify is a tool designed to help you feel more happy and content. The app includes games and activities to cope with challenges, stress, and negative thoughts. All of the exercises on the Happify app were developed by scientists and experts in psychology.

According to the app creators, ‘96% of people who use Happify regularly report feeling better about their lives in 2 months.’ You can choose from plenty of different programs such as:

  • Improving your stress coping strategies
  • Progressing with your career
  • Overcoming negative feelings
  • Learning about mindfulness
  • Plenty of mental health tips

My Life Meditation App

Meditation is an excellent way to improve your mental health. The app includes different meditation themes and programs. Whether you’re having trouble sleeping, concentrating, or you’re feeling stressed, this tool has lots of useful exercises:

  • Personalized meditations tailored to you
  • Suitable for both novices and experts
  • Breathing exercises to ease anxiety
  • Mediations in different languages
  • Exercises for mindfulness

Reflectly

Reflectly is a journaling app for processing memories, difficult emotions, goals, and more. Studies show that journaling can help to improve mental health. There are lots more benefits of journaling such as:

  • Relaxation
  • Brainstorm solutions to issues
  • Work through difficult emotions without fear of judgement
  • Set goals for self-improvement

Remember, these apps are not a substitute for therapy or prescription medication. If you have a diagnosed mental health condition, it’s important to see your doctor for support. There are plenty of other exercises that are useful to reduce stress and anxiety. Try practices like yoga and being amongst nature. With the right tools, it’s easy to make more health-conscious choices.

NOTE: No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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Pull In More Customers With These Top Tips

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If you have a business without customers, your “business” is really just an expensive hobby. Getting custom is the hardest element of starting a business. Aside from the raw business idea, everything is geared toward getting customers to part with their hard-earned cash. Each industry or platform has different methods to pull in more customers, and beyond that, each business owner might conduct their own approach.

It’s about finding ways that work for you.

Payment Methods

Accepting a wide array of payment methods is a brilliant way to be accessible to more customers. If you only accept cash, for example, you’re alienating a large number of customers who’d like to pay by a card or other means.

This applies even if you operate online. There are many developing payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies, that you can incorporate. If you sell high-ticket items, you might consider letting people pay monthly or in installments. Increasing the number of payment methods you accept is a quick hit way to more custom. Just don’t forget to tell everyone about it.

Increase Product Offerings

The more products you have, the more customers you might appeal to. However, you need to ensure you offer products that complement each other. Products that pair well together are more likely to be purchased together by people who want a “complete” package. To get more customers, and to get people looking at your products, you can use discounted product giveaways or great coupon code offerings.

This might not be tenable in the long term. In the short term, it can increase reviews for your new products and generate word of mouth. Not to mention your brand as a whole will get some good publicity. If you’re stuck with what to offer, consider asking your customers what they’d like to see in your store. It can give you some ideas and it also shows you care about your customers.

Upgrade Your Web Content

One of the best ways to pull in new customers is to increase your website traffic. You can do this by focusing on SEO. Work on your blog and write articles that target what people want to know in your industry. Think about what customers search for and try to answer their questions. You can use this as an opportunity to pull them into a sales funnel.

Writing isn’t easy. If it’s something you haven’t got time for, consider hiring a writer to do it for you. You can also spend some time looking into your sales pages to try and rewrite them. The same goes for your product pages that may have gotten a little stagnant over the years.


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How to Take Amazing Photos with Your Phone Camera

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Your phone camera packs a lot of punch. Even though they’re still far off from the quality of DSLRs, they can make some great images. Some phone cameras can even shoot in 4K, and such high-quality pictures take up a lot of space.

Because of that, the latest iPhones switched from the standard JPG file format to HEIC. To learn what HEIC is, visit https://macpaw.com/how-to/what-is-heic-file.

No matter what brand of phone you have or the operating system you use, these tips will take your phone photography to a whole new level.

Know your phone camera capabilities

The first step to taking fantastic shots with your phone: find out what your camera is capable of. Once you know this, you can comfortably experiment with the auto mode. Check out how it focuses and how it responds to light exposure.

If you want more control or the auto settings just aren’t working in a situation, switch to manual mode. You can adjust the same settings as you can with a DSLR, including shutter speed, ISO, focus depth, and white balance. Once you get some practice in, you can take incredible photos with your smartphone.

Lighting: Natural, Outdoor, Indirect

The best pictures are taken outside and in natural light. A majority of smartphones fall short when it comes to taking indoor photos. Their small sensors limit the amount of light they can process.

Once you have your natural light, position your subject to be in indirect light. This will help the contrast in your image be more balanced.

Stick to HDR

HDR is a common feature in smartphone cameras. It stands for High Dynamic Range. This mode combines detail from the light and dark areas to give a more balanced exposure. This prevents the sun from looking too bright or the ground too dark in an image. It is excellent for outdoor landscape photography.

Don’t use digital zoom

Images are best captured at a certain distance, and that is why there is the zoom option. But there are two types of zoom; optical and digital. Digital zoom often produces a poor shot as the resolution of the image is reduced. Optical zoom should be your go-to as it does not affect the quality of the picture.

Make use of gridlines

Gridlines serve two roles when it comes to taking pictures, but they are often ignored. First, they make it easier to judge visual weight and balance. Second, they make it easy to use the rule thirds.

The rule of thirds is a design composition term that refers to placing your subject in a manner that makes it more aesthetic. When you activate the gridlines, your screen is divided into nine equal parts (like you’re about to play tic-tac-toe). Usually, you want your subject on the lines.

Take multiple shots

Like DSLRs, your camera phone should have an option to take multiple or burst shots. This is great for people who like to take sequence shots. So you can quickly shoot 20 pictures in succession to follow a movement of the subject. Aside from this, taking multiple photos means that you can take your time to select the best ones.


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5 Tips to Elevate Your Marketing to the Next Level

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Powerful marketing solutions are key to achieving successfully achieving your business goals. When looking to improve your strategy, see if you can incorporate any of these 5 tactics.

1. Interactive marketing 

Interactive marketing is a great way to engage your audience, gather data, and generate leads. Several tools are available to help you create engaging materials:

  • Survey Monkey: This is a great tool for building surveys, quizzes, and tests. Additionally, there are plenty of other handy features: net promoter score, custom branding, and multiple design themes.
  • Content Tools: With the help of this tool, you can create infographics, maps, quizzes, and more.

2. Virtual marketing events

According to Bizzaboo, ‘90% of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward.’ Putting on virtual events is a fantastic way to market your business. With the help of virtual events, businesses can reach large audiences across the world. As a bonus, virtual events tend to see high participation rates for comparatively low costs. 

Virtual events don’t require extensive planning. However, it’s important to think about how you will engage your attendees. Audience members tend to find it harder to focus when they are watching a screen for a long time.

3. User-generated content

Surprisingly, not all your marketing content needs to come from you. Some successful strategies incorporate content made by web users as opposed to your brand. If your customers create videos or images of themselves using your product, that is great material to share with other potential customers.

There are plenty of advantages to this strategy:

  • Cheap to produce
  • Authentic content
  • Unique and engaging
  • Expands your reach and drives leads

4. Specialised support

There’s no cookie-cutter marketing campaign that will suit every business. If you want to create the best marketing campaign, it’s important to get specialist support.

Work with a marketing agency with expertise in your industry. Whether it’s marketing for vegan brands or law firms, you need a campaign that suits your needs. A top agency will be able to help establish your marketing goals and outline how to achieve them.

5 . Social commerce

According to Stackla, ‘60% of people discover new products on Instagram.’ Social commerce offers consumers a full shopping experience through social media, from selecting items to secure payments. There are several benefits of social commerce:

  • Grow online audiences
  • Increase user engagement
  • Offer a fast and convenient shopping experience
  • Better search engine rankings
  • Gaining analytics from social media

With a fantastic marketing campaign, you’ll create a successful business.


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Don’t Let the Void Destroy Success and Other Good Feels

For the last few months, I’ve taken a step back from my digital presence. Most of my blog posts have been contributed content–things I would write if I had the energy and headspace, but am content editing into my own voice and making a little money on the side. If I’m posting anywhere, it’s on Instagram. And it’s pictures of flowers and cats.

But the unseen work has been on The Thieves of Traska. I’ve written over 50,000 words in the last three months, which is a personal record.

It used to feel weird to say I’m still working on it… six years later. But the nice thing about stepping back from the social void is there’s less pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled whenever I see someone announcing they’ve signed with an agent or just got their publishing deal. I will retweet the hell out of your good news.

And die a little inside, wondering why I’m even on Twitter right now when I should write instead. So I stopped checking my notifications. I stayed focused and got a lot of good work done.

But 50,000 words is a hard thing to celebrate when your brain is tangled up in imposter syndrome and “fake it til you make it” mentality. Because I feel like I’m faking it every step of the way, and anything that feels like I’ve made it is a lie.

Other writers read a bad book and wonder how it got published. Seriously, how many people had to give this flaming dumpster a green light?! They think, “Well, if this can get published, then I have nothing to worry about! I’m a much better writer than this!”

For me, right after that thought comes another: “But what if I AM that terrible writer? Are people lying to spare my feelings? Do I subconsciously seek out yes-people to surround myself with lies?!”

Ridiculous, right? I laugh, too.

But it’s not unusual. In fact, imagine how surprised I was when casually watching Cars 3 of all things and this scene hit:

It’s okay if you cry. I cry, too.

I didn’t start thinking that way overnight. When I got to my college writing classes, I felt like the world’s biggest jerk. So many of my classmates were relatively new to a craft I’d been studying since I was 12. I went into every critique looking for feedback from specific people I felt were near or above my level. Honestly, their feedback was the most valuable.

But after graduation, it was always other people who got recognition. Over little things, like having the department alumni website update where you’re working. Despite occasional emails and personal connections with the people in charge, my name has never been included. And it’s never been because of where I worked; other people working at the same places before and after me had their names and jobs not just posted but UPDATED whenever it changed.

When your achievements are swept under the rug by the only people and institutions you want recognition from, it’s gutting. And having to be your own biggest cheerleader is exhausting.

Even trying to hype my own manuscript is a pain. I worry about overselling a disappointment. If I make the main character too cool, does she become a Mary Sue? If she fails too many times, does it just become boring despair-porn?

The cool thing, though, is that sometimes I can find the mute button to shut up The Void. Then I can listen to my critique partners and actually believe all the nice things they say (maybe if they said it in a mean way…?).

For those who wonder how my actual writing is going, it’s awesome. Really. I might even start talking about it again in between posts on digital marketing. But the important thing is that things are happening. And I’m excited. Even if The Void is being loud.

Hopefully there will be more to share with you all soon.


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5 Ways to Make Your Business a Success Online

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Unlike the old days when you had to save up to open a storefront, you can now run a business online from the comfort of your home. Although it seems easier to run your business online, it requires a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice. The following ways can help you achieve success online.

Protect your brand reputation

Being interconnected is a blessing and a curse. When many people associate with your business, it becomes more profitable. That said, one mistake can tank your brand. It’s so important to create a strong brand and brand aesthetic too. From your message to the design and vehicle wraps & lettering, you need to get in the mind of your audience. But that’s not all.

Use the right tools, like Google Alerts and social media management platforms, to track mentions of your brand and practice social listening. Building a brand strategy guide helps anyone posting on behalf of your brand uses the right voice and posts appropriate content. Be prompt about dealing with customer complaints. Remain calm even–if the other party is wrong.

Adopt digital and technological trends

Technology evolves daily. With an online presence, you’ll see social media and digital marketing trends change faster than you’d think. Make it a regular item on your to-do list to check the latest trends to ensure you have cutting-edge branding and online marketing.

Create a business website that is user-friendly and optimized. This way, customers can find your business with a few easy clicks on search engine results. Expand your strategy to include other marketing avenues that generate long-term results, like direct mail marketing and social media marketing through engaging content and influencers.

Keep tabs on your competition

While you may think your business is the first to satisfy a particular need, it’s uncommon to be the only provider in any niche. To run a successful online business, start by researching the competition. After that, determine if there’s a need for your products/services. Learn others’ strategies to stay ahead in the game.

Remember: pay attention to the simple things. Not surprisingly, things like how their websites and social media pages look and how they talk to customers play a big role.

Build trust and loyalty

The only way to survive online: earn your audience’s trust and loyalty.

Unfortunatley, quality services and products aren’t enough to encourage your customers to prefer you over your competition. Nowadays, consumers prefer engaging with small businesses. People want a personal connection before they commit time and money.

Analyze useful data

There’s a lot you can tell from data about how well or poorly your business is performing online. Use platforms such as Google Analytics to determine whether the right people are searching for your business. On social media, avoid working with data that won’t boost your business profit margin, such as the number of followers and likes.

Bottom line for success online

Competition for online businesses is fierce. To achieve success, equip yourself with the right information, cutting-edge strategies, and tools.

Maintain a good reputation online, adopt technological and digital trends, and analyze data for success. Engage with customers online and make use of social media influencers to reach your target market.


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Are Your Ads Properly Targeted or Too General?

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A properly targeted advertisement is one key thing to bring repeat business to your brand or company. What makes a targeted ad special? Basically, it uses specially crafted text and imagery to appeal to a hypothetical person–an avatar composed of your audience’s demographics and interests–instead of a general audience. Tailoring your ads to your target customers makes them feel understood and valued as an individual, which can turn them into a customer for life.

And that’s what more small businesses need in the digital age

Putting together a targeted ad takes hard work and a little trial and error. Until you get the hang of things, it can feel like a waste of time and money.

But with a little practice and perseverance, you can make your ads work smarter. Once you know what you’re doing, where you want to go, and who you want to bring in, you’ll reap the rewards of your hard work. To start, here are some questions you should ask about your current digital ad campaigns.

Are You Getting a Reasonable Bang for Your Buck?

Expensive doesn’t always mean effective. Your targeted ads should make a return on your spent time and resources. Are people actually making it through the sales funnel to make a purchase? Or, if you’re trying to get more newsletter subscribers, are you meeting your benchmark goals?

You can test this out now on your most recent marketing campaign using this how-to calculate ROAS guide. Learning how an advertising mistake skews your numbers is a big part of building a successful ad campaign

Have You Targeted the Right People, or Everyone?

Contacting as many potential customers as possible seems like a good idea–at first. Cast a wide net to trawl up as many fish as possible! Nothing could go wrong, right?

Wrong. Trying to appeal to too broad an audience dampens your message. Creating a targeted ad with absolutely everyone in mind is much harder than shaping it around your typical or ideal customer. 

To start, cut things down and focus on some main demographics:

  • Age group
  • Gender identity
  • Physical location
  • Lifestyle interests
  • Income range

Once you’ve locked these down, move into more complex targeting. Get some practice in, cast a smaller net, then move outward. 

How Do Customers Move Through Your Website?

Finally, when you do snag a customer, how do they behave on your website? You should be able to see this in your analytics. What do users click on? How many visitors click on the same thing? Look for patterns to inform your strategy.

Answering these questions will help you discover how your customers think through making purchases. You’ll learn what they want to see before checkout. In turn, you can pinpoint and refine the ads that brought people to you in the first place.

By learning how to effectively guide your audience on that journey through targeted ads, you’ll you achieve the success and results you want a lot sooner than if you keep trying to reach everyone the same way.


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Master Your Next New Social Media Platform

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When it comes to branding and online advertising, there’s no denying the power of social media. However, the best social media platform for your business might not be the one you know best. Before you start experimenting with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., take a few minutes to get to know your platforms.

Learn social media platform basics

One rookie mistake of social media: assuming you should copy content from one social media channel to another one. However, that can do more harm than good.

For starters, some of your audience will follow you on multiple platforms. If there’s no difference between what they see on Facebook and Twitter, why should they follow and engage with you on both?

Secondly, your content should be shaped by the platform’s strengths. Consider each platform’s restrictions, user interfaces, and engagement methods.

Learn what to post on each social media channel. If it’s a good fit to be adapted for another platform, make those platform-specific tweaks that will make your content work smarter.

Troubleshoot platform issues yourself

Getting used to a new social media account takes time. Sometimes your content strategy works fine, but technical issues hinder your efforts. Before contacting the support team, try to solve the issue yourself.

Oftentimes, others have had the same issues before. A quick online search, such as for answers to common IG support issues, can sometimes help get you unstuck faster than waiting for a response from support staff.

Learn what works

You should get to know how successful marketing campaigns work on each platform you’re interested in using. Browsing and engagement habits vary from platform to platform. Look at recent examples of successful Facebook marketing campaigns and apply some pattern recognition to see what trends you can apply to your own posts.

Do the work every day

To really make your social media work for your brand, it needs to be part of your regular working hours. Check out social media management tools that can take care of scheduling posts for you, giving you more time to focus on content creation. Just make sure your tools are suited to the platforms you’re most active on.

At the end of the day, preparation will save you time on your road to success. Don’t hit publish on any posts until you understand how your social media platform works.


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Develop Without Distraction: 3 Ways to Beat Blogger Procrastination

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Those who have achieved long-term success in blogging will tell you that it didn’t happen overnight. Being a successful blogger or writer is not about doing it for long enough, but it’s about winning the battle against yourself. One of the biggest battles every writer encounters is procrastination.

When you find yourself being distracted by the littlest thing, it stops you from doing something you really want to do. Next thing you know, it’s the end of the day and you’re nowhere near meeting your goal. We all get distracted from time to time. These tips will help you beat distraction and keep it from becoming procrastination.

Change Your Location 

If you struggle to focus when surrounded by the same four walls, a change of scenery can do wonders. If you work from home, sometimes those everyday problems become a reason to not do anything else. Maybe you think you need to take care of these things before you can sit down and focus.

But you don’t have to leave your house. All you need is to find somewhere quiet and set yourself a word count or a time limit. If you’re still struggling, then check to see if any of those home problems are contributing. For example, if problems with your utilities are keeping you from feeling comfortable and productive, you can contact a 24 hour AC service specialist or electrician.

Home repairs should be resolved, but you don’t have to check everything off that to-do list before you can start writing. 

Try a Different Method of Writing 

Maybe your struggle is you think that you just need to sit down and start typing. But that blank page, with all its possibilities and no hints, is intimidating. So you turn to the internet for inspiration… and procrastination. It might be easier to get started if you had some kind of structure in place.

Some writers find anchors on the page to help keep them going. If you don’t know what you’re going to write about, this might mean you need to observe more.

You might also change how you approach writing. Start your writing session with time blocked out for research. Try dictation software to reel off your thoughts and tidy them up later. In your drafting stages, you need to get it right; you need to get it written! 

Deadlines are the Enemy of Procrastination

Faced with a deadline, many of us will get all our procrastination out of the way early before buckling down to meet that deadline. The more you practice with deadlines, the better you’ll get at just getting straight to work when you need to.

But we writers tend to take liberties with the idea. If you struggle with a big deadline, especially if it’s a few days away, try a smaller one. Set the timer for 30 minutes and then write as quickly as you can without any research, purely to hit a word count.

The thing to remember is that when we are struggling to write, we need to dive in. If in doubt, stop thinking.


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5 Vital Benefits of Hiring an Expert Consultant

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Businesses, both large and small, question whether to hire a consultant. Individuals in senior management positions sometimes feel that hiring a consultant indicates incompetence. However, this mentality is counterproductive.

The following are some reasons why you should consider hiring consultants for your business regardless of its size.

A Consultant Offers an Outsider’s Perspective

Senior managers and business owners invest significant resources, time, and energy in their companies. A fresh pair of eyes can pick up issues others in the company are too close to see. For example, a family-run business may find it hard to speak honestly and openly about the company’s issues.

Hiring an objective and neutral consultant may solve these problems. The consultant will outline the problems without reprisal fears. For instance, you may seek help on how to get the best web designers.

Gain Outside Market Knowledge

Since the consultant usually spends their time with businesses operating in the same industry, they should have a concrete perspective of other companies’ activities. They’ll know what it would take to reach their levels and gain a competitive advantage.

For example, a consultant may point out that your company needs a better communication strategy to gain an advantage over your competitors.

Have More Time to Strategize

It is challenging for managers to have adequate time to develop effective strategies and plans due to their tight schedules and other duties. Taking time to seek consultants can seem luxurious and beyond what the business can afford, particularly during the initial planning stages for a project that may not even begin.  

Unfortunately, several worthy ideas and projects fail to get traction due to lack of time. However, suppose you choose to hire a consultant to weigh different options and present data, and research various benefits and costs. In that case, managers can focus on their management goals as the consultant helps the business tackle its objectives.

Accomplish Short-Term Goals

It may be challenging for employees to implement short-term goals and objectives. If you add extra duties to an employee, they may be too inexperienced or unfit for the task.

Hiring an experienced consultant and giving them the resources needed saves time and money to retrain employees, prioritize and organize their schedules, and execute their plans.

Leverage New Skills

One of the consultant’s main roles is to keep up with current business trends and strategies. When these skills are applied, business managers and owners normally request an in-depth explanation of how the consultants used the techniques and strategies to make their conclusions. These skills can then be taught to the rest of the team, ensuring long-term success.

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Should You Hire a Consultant?

Sometimes, an outside perspective is needed for a business to develop new strategies and plans. Although senior managers can easily execute the ideas, adding extra knowledge can make a significant change. Therefore, you should always consider hiring a consultant for your business to enhance its growth and development.


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5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Webinar

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Your opportunities to connect with your audience extend beyond your website, a professional blog, and social media. Research indicates that 60% of marketers use webinars as a cost-effective content marketing tool. Hosting a webinar can help generate leads, increase brand awareness and understanding of your products and services. Additionally, it builds trust, offering you a great platform to build lasting professional relationships.

Before broadcasting your first webinar, have a look at these five practical tips for success.

Choose a respected webinar platform

Reliable webinar platforms make it easy for people to register and offer multiple ways for individuals to connect, such as via a computer or smartphone app. Also, bear in mind that several webinar platforms feature ads during webinars with a limited number of attendees. If you’re not expecting a big turnout right away, be aware of how this can frustrate your attendees and prevent them from recommending your content.

Select the right day and time

When to schedule your webinar can affect participant turnout. The best day and time for you is largely based on your target audience. However, some studies suggest Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days. People typically fill their schedules on Mondays and Fridays, making them less ideal.

Fortunately, online resources like Google Analytics can help you schedule around your audience’s time zone. For example, if your highest traffic comes from the west coast of the US, you wouldn’t want to start your webinar at 9 a.m. EST.

Use reliable equipment

One thing that can hugely affect your webinar success is your microphone. While you can use the microphone built into your computer, consider an upgrade if it’s in your budget and you plan to use it frequently. Have a backup on standby and additional batteries if your gadgets need them.

Despite the considerable number of mobile apps available to contain your scripts and content, keep backups old school. Either print out or hand-write copies to avoid missing a thing.

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Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Choose the right topic to interest your audience

Focus on particular topics relevant to your brand and audience. An in-depth presentation is more useful than one covering a broad subject. Whether you’re presenting on a product, service, or an industry trend, ensure to add more value to your participants, communicate clearly, and offer actionable tips and recommendations.

Always remember to offer visually appealing images and introduce one topic per slide to keep your audience engaged all through the session. If you’re inviting a keynote speaker, confirm they’re resourced enough to handle a topic. The goal is to offer more insights rather than doubts.

If you’re struggling with your content, remember:

Practice until you’re a webinar pro

Until the day you go live, practice your webinar several times. Go over your presentation to guarantee your tools are functioning properly and close any needless apps that may cause your PC to run slowly on the day. This will minimize potential problems, build your confidence, and ensure you deliver a webinar for the right reasons.

Webinar presentation checklist

Although some hiccups are bound to happen, everything will be fine as long as you’re well-prepared. Here’s a bonus checklist to help guarantee your webinar goes smoothly without any major interruption:

  • Do a practice run (include your guest speakers if their schedule permits)
  • Promote early, ideally a week in advance
  • Run a speed test to ensure you have a stable internet connection that won’t lag
  • Add the presenter’s bio and headshot on the registration page
  • Test and optimize the webinar landing page and email invitations  

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4 Proven Principles of Branding Greatness

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In an age where most businesses implement the click-and-mortar approach involving a physical and online presence, branding has never been more vital. To stay relevant in your niche, you have to build a strong presence that not only aligns with your audience’s needs but also provides unquestionable credibility

With these branding techniques, you can restructure your image with incremental changes. No matter where you are in your brand’s journey, there will always be room for improvement.

Importance of Quality Branding

Understanding the value of branding is the foundation of complete control of your organization. Beyond looks, branding does a lot for your business:

  • Makes your business recognizable and generates referrals
  • Provides a sense of direction and motivation (for you and your staff, if your business is big enough to have one)
  • Manages public expectations of your business
  • Facilitates business growth
  • Gives you a competitive edge
  • Informs marketing strategies

Building Blocks of Branding Greatness

1. Refine Your Brand Strategy

The first secret of achieving anything is a solid strategy. Brand optimization is no different. A reliable digital marketing strategy is the key to improving your search ranking. 

What strategies you should implement entirely depends on your business needs. Trial and error will tell you what’s worth your time and will help you meet your goals. Whatever works best for you, go for it.

While it may seem a daunting task, especially if you’re the only one working for your brand, there is good news. You don’t have to do everything at the same time. You can do a little at a time, prioritizing customer needs and scheduling everything. The idea is to test new ideas to find proven methods, then repeat what works.

It may take time before you see the results you want. Just remember this isn’t a game of instant gratification. Small, effective strides over time will help you accomplish critical goals. 

2. Cultivate Quality Content

It’s common knowledge that social media platforms have become the primary form of contact. Knowing how to handle the good and bad interactions on social media can make or break your business.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right overnight. Even prominent brands only succeeded over time through consistent effort.

The better your content and outreach methods are, the more visible you become, and the higher your chances of establishing brand loyalty. Engaging users and offering expert insights will make people look up to your brand. That gives you a fighting chance against the sharks in your industry. 

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3. Polish Web Design to Optimize User Experience

Established brand websites create a personalized user experience. Before anyone can get to your amazing content, visually enticing designs make the first impression. Close to 80% of customers judge your credibility based on the web design alone. Gaining attention is the first step, but maintaining that attention is a daunting task.  

Whether you already have a website or are getting ready to build one, this always applies. It’s important to ask yourself if the site design is geared towards always championing your brand. Your website design plays a crucial role in determining how both customers and competitors perceive your brand. A good, mobile-friendly design generates leads, complements your SEO strategy, and enforces trust

After making your content as accessible and user-friendly as possible (either on your own or by hiring a web designer), continue monitoring user experience. As your customers’ needs evolve, your site will have to evolve to keep pace.   

4. Tailor-Make Products and Services

Eventually, as your numbers grow, you should associate your brand with products and services that best describe you. Customizing content gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers on a personal level. But how do you know what to customize and how? By listening to your audience and watching your competition. Surprisingly, it really is that easy.

The point is to not just copy what’s popular. Use trending topics to inspire new ideas and products as unique as your brand.

Thankfully, it’s never too late to add a dash of fresh ideas to your brand. Just think: What personalized services or custom designs can you offer?

Key Points to Remember

As you can see, it takes a lot of work to restructure and optimize your blog. But with willpower and the right resources, you can do everything right to ensure your brand’s success:

  • Content quality is the one thing that determines the level of interaction: Make it count.
  • Strategy and design combine into a consistent brand structure.
  • Gradual and practical steps every day build a habit of brand excellence.

Even the best brands started somewhere. With a little discipline and patience, you can get there. And, in the long run, you will be able to sustain the reputation of your brand.

Even if you choose to hire a WordPress SEO company you should be aware that not even the best SEO strategy can make up for a bad website design that does not perform well on mobile. The majority of the views on your website are likely to come from mobile devices as people are now browsing on the go more than ever.


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Facebook: Is it good for your business?

Please note: This is a contributed post. View full disclosure policy.

According to recent statistics, Facebook has a user base of 1.69 billion people. This is a figure that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially for small business owners. With such a large amount of people using this social media platform, the marketing potential is huge.

But here’s the thing about Facebook. While it can be good for business, there are downsides, too. So it’s important to thoroughly consider whether the platform will serve your marketing goals.

Keep in mind this post discusses the merits of using a Facebook page or group for business, not a personal profile.

Facebook: The Positives

An Excellent Marketing Tool

When it comes to digital marketing, Facebook possibly offers the largest opportunity to cultivate your audience. It is easy and free to set up a Facebook page, and business owners can easily post news about their business. Facebook ads also drastically increase your content’s reach, so people beyond your usual network of followers can receive news of the business in question.

Facebook = More Money

Due to the marketing potential attached to Facebook, there is obviously the chance to make more money. And as can be seen in this post on monetizing your social media, there are other ways to increase income. Products and merchandise can be directly sold from your Facebook page and associated groups, and online courses and member subscriptions can equate to more financial revenue, too.

Great For Customer Support

Customers can easily get in touch with the business owner on Facebook. This means no waiting around on the other end of a phone, and there is no need to talk to a chatbot, either. Provided the business owner (or your team) responds in a timely manner, the customer will be satisfied. 

Funnel Traffic To Your Website

Beyond including a link to your business’ website in the about section of a Facebook page or group, you can also direct people to your website from ads and posts. A product image can capture a potential customer’s eye and prompt them to check out the rest of your selection. Someone can also be enticed by positive comments from satisfied customers.

Facebook downsides illustrative graphic

Facebook: The Negatives

Ads Can Be Expensive

Companies spend an average of $200 to $800 a month on Facebook ads. This can be cost-effective, but only if people click on those ads and become actual customers. If they don’t, it could amount to a waste of money. That might be a significant risk for a small business owner with a limited budget. Things can be improved with better targeting, however, but you might need to outsource their digital marketing for worthwhile results. Outsourcing can be expensive, but it also brings in outside expertise and extra hands to help you manage the workload.

Posts Can Backfire

What happens when an employee or representative of your brand posts something that creates a huge negative response? It could damage the brand’s reputation. And what happens when a grieved customer posts something nasty?

It can be a nightmare for small business owners to navigate. Rules need to be put in place surrounding social media use for employees. And you need a system in place to handle bad responses on social media.

Is Facebook Good For Business?

Ultimately yes, but not without a few caveats. Not every business has a Facebook presence. The decision of whether bringing your business onto the platform will be beneficial for you will depend on your own research and analysis.


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