graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

20 Lessons The Avengers Can Teach You About Design by Lana Lozovaya

Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently the talk of the town, so let’s talk about this famous super-team. There are six distinct characters, each with their own well-established franchise, and each with a unique color scheme, personality, and overall “feel.” And most interestingly, each of them has a few lessons to teach us.

Let’s start with…

3 Lessons from Hulk

Keep it Simple

Hulk’s deal is pretty straightforward: he smashes stuff. Sometimes the solution to a complicated problem can be that simple. So, before you pile a ton of bells and whistles onto a project, make sure there isn’t a simpler solution you’re overlooking.

Design can Speak Louder than Words

Hulk is not famous for his communication abilities, yet everything about him tells his story. His massive stature and muscle make it plain what his powers are. His torn clothing lets you know that he transformed from a normal man, and since green has long been the designated color of radioactivity in fiction, his skin tone immediately clues you in to how he did it.

When you need to convey a large amount of information in a short time, is there any way you can do the same?

IMAGE: collider.com

Practice Self-Discipline

Despite how Hulk is the one who gets all the attention, Bruce Banner is an even more important member of the team. He’s the one who can listen to reason and cooperate with people. Resist the urge to go wild. If you make a habit of self-control, you’ll become the best asset to any team.

3 Lessons from Iron Man

Be innovative and fearless

Designers often have to play multiple roles and there’s always something new we can learn to take ourselves to the next level. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of what you can do, or of what your work can be. Get to it.

IMAGE: thesmashable.com

Don’t be Boring

Is Tony Stark rough? Yes. Difficult? Absolutely. A jerk? Admittedly. But you could never accuse him of being boring. In fact, as one of the few self-made superheroes, you could argue that his unwillingness to accept mediocrity is the very source of his powers. Show your fun side from time to time.

Cherish your Online Reputation

Tony is a charismatic philanthropist and he’s always on the news. Grow your influence, build trust, collect testimonials and let your online presence reflect your level of expertise.

3 Lessons from Thor

Be Consistent

Thor’s been doing what he does for a few thousand years now. Being a literal god (and having a talent for fighting) has ensured that he’ll remain good at his job indefinitely into the future. Consistency is one of the most crucial UX principles, so keep it in mind even when working on the most extravagant projects.

IMAGE: squarespace.com

Tame your Ego

Some clients might want a bigger logo. Feel free to stand up and fight for your beliefs, but don’t let your ego endanger the project. Thor sees humanity as small and petty at first, but the other Avengers eventually succeed in bringing him down to Earth and making him appreciate those who don’t necessarily have the same talents as him.

Play by the Rules

Like it or not, there are certain rules and best practices that have to be obeyed. They will help you save a lot of time and effort and get more loyal customers and friendly colleagues.

3 Lessons from Captain America

Adapt to Changes

The design world is one of constant change, where often, just a few years can make a radical difference in the landscape and what tools are used. Many designers who don’t make an effort to keep up with certain changes can end up feeling like they just woke up from a 70-year cryogenic sleep.

IMAGE: wallpaperhi.com

Talk Values

The cap’s a good, reliable man who fights for good, reliable values. Think of how that can be applied in your own life. What do you truly believe in? What additional value can you bring through your work?

Be Patient

Your time will come. Patience is specially required of anyone joining the industry. That rough first year of freelancing can often seem hopeless. You’ll face rejection and the sense that you’ll never get where you want to go. But know that with some determination, everything is possible.

3 Lessons from Black Widow

Use Attractive Visuals

While Black Widow’s look certainly is powerful tool in her arsenal. In design, visual appeal isn’t everything, but it’s definitely an important factor. You have to be careful though and don’t get so caught up in your projects’ raw functionality.

IMAGE: screenrant.com

Know What Rules can be Broken

Black Widow is famously pragmatic and almost amoral, formerly having been a villain in some of the comics, but these days, she employs that pragmatism for good. Think about some rules like that in your own field. What are some design conventions that might be better off broken in pursuit of your goal?

Be Agile and Fast

And think several steps ahead. In the lightning-speed world of web design, it’s important to catch up on all the latest tech news and trends, as well as design apps and sites that can easily adapt to change and be modified anytime. Not to mention plain old loading time considerations. Try making your sites as fast and adaptable as possible.

2 Lessons from Hawkeye

Be Accurate

Remember that the devil is in the details. High precision in estimations and pixel-perfect product are marks of professionalism. Your clients might not always notice, but this is where one of designer’s superpowers is hidden.

IMAGE: craveonline.com

Know your Advantage and Polish it

Clint Barton is neither a wealthy inventor, nor Norse god, nor radiation victim. He built his talent on extreme willpower and practice. What’s your specialty? What are some related fields you can study in order to further leverage what you’re already good at?

3 More from All the Avengers

Tell your story

Storytelling is a powerful and important communication and connection tool. Good stories keep your users engaged, inspired and keen to learn more.

Every Challenge is Different

Every client requires a different approach. This is the most fun of our world. Sometimes, you need new hardware, sometimes – a new attitude.

Never Give Up

This might sound a cliché, but this is a good reminder for any creative professional. The Avengers worked hard and fought through bad times, conflicts, and intense self-doubt. They had to learn how to be decisive under pressure, but there always was one thing that kept them going. An unshakeable belief that this is what they have to do, just because they know it’s good, and that they’ll end up making something worthwhile in the end.

Although a bunch of nicely aligned layers in Photoshop might not equate to saving the world, the drive to constantly create and innovate, just for the sake of it, is heroic in and of itself. So keep fighting the good fight.

Editor’s note: This is written for Hongkiat.com by Lana Lozovaya. Lana is the content strategist and social media manager at PSD2HTML®, the leading PSD to HTML and web development company.

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Adopting a Video Content Strategy For Your Business

Just as businesses are catching on to trends in content marketing, with-it content publishers are upping the ante. If you’re still going about content marketing the same ol’ way–posting blogs, retweeting those blogs and participating in the occasional guest post–it’s time to redefine your strategy.

Adopting a Video Content Strategy For Your Business

Adapted from an article at ReelSEO.com. Click here to view the original.

Video content is the freshest way to gain the best kind of exposure for your business, and engaging in video content marketing is not quite as scary as it seems. There are just a few steps you need to take and a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of video content marketing for your business.

Before you review the steps to follow in creating a worthwhile video, it’s important to understand why you should be video marketing in the first place, and what exactly the public is looking for. Generally speaking, “know thy audience” is the most important factor to any marketing campaign, and this is particularly true in video marketing!

The whole point of creating a video to market your business is to get that video shared across social media platforms. That’s just about all you’re after. For this reason, your main objective should be to create a highly compelling video that holds viewers’ attention and makes them think they’re viewing something more meaningful, entertaining or interesting than an advertisement. That being said, let’s make this clear now: DO NOT, by any means, make your video content resemble an ad. Doing so will crush its potential to be shared socially. Unless, of course, you can top the genius of Kmart’s Ship My Pants.

There are a few simple qualities the public looks for in a video in order to compel them to engage in social sharing, keeping one or more of these qualities in mind will increase your video’s chances of being shared at a higher rate:

Funny (much like “ship my pants”)
Adorable (think kittens, bunnies, puppies, babies)
Sexy (sex sells: resorting to half-naked men or women might be cheap–but it works)
Emotional (a heartfelt story or tear-jerking moment)
Narrative (people love a good story. Telling one in a short video can be really effective)
Random (randomness is endearing, and these days people can’t get enough of it)
Inciting (shocking viewers will get you the attention you’re after. Think controversial)
Uplifting (people are always looking for inspiration, and once they get it they’re likely to pass it along)

Alright, so now that you know the elements the public wants to see in an online video, you’ve got to figure out how to produce a video of your own. If you’re just starting out, aim to produce a short video that strongly makes use of one or more of the social sharing characteristics mentioned above.

Have a Plan

First, you need a plan: develop your story, and have a beginning, middle and end to your video. Take a professional approach–or your video will not get very far–create a story board, engage in preproduction, and HIRE PROFESSIONALS!

For a quality video, you need a quality team of professionals. Do your research and hire a great film crew or animation team. If your video is going to have a spokesperson or voiceover, get a professional with an engaging demeanor or a voice that demands attention. Also, make sure the final product has been edited by a team of experts for a clean, professional approach.

Don’t forget about music! Don’t use cheap sample audio clips, they won’t get you much respect and they’ll make your video seem low-grade. Get some original music created by an expert so your video really stands out in its own right.

Distribute Well

Once you’ve produced a high-quality video, you need to pick the right outlets for distribution. Of course you must make use of all the social media outlets possible, especially Facebook, Twitter, and at least one or two blogs. Also, make sure to put your own video on your business website, that’s a given!

Next, you need to look into YouTube (and you’ll probably need to do that before you can post a link to Twitter). YouTube is great because it’s free, and it gives your video the most chance of going viral because everyone uses it. It’s also by far the least expensive paid advertising medium out there (as of the posting date of this post).

The only bad thing about YouTube is it’s sometimes looked down on because it’s not professional or business related. So now you’ve got to find a well-respected business or industry-centered site that will showcase your video to executives and people in your field. There are many options out there and you’ve got to pick what’s best for your specific content (but you can start with something like Xavy, for example).

Boost Views

Just like your business website, you need to put a little SEO work into your video to encourage viewing. This means you should:

Tag the video with keywords
Incorporate metadata with a good description
Pick appropriate thumbnails
Build links across the Internet that direct back to your video
Use a video sitemap
You’ve got to maximize your video hits and SEO is really the best way to do this. Just make sure not to overdo it or try to be sneaky in any way. Don’t overuse keywords, and stay true to your content.

Fortify Your Hard Work

Finally, keep in mind a purpose and a timely occasion for your video to really underpin its importance. Your video content can be quirky and random, but the video’s release should have a point to make: Plan to launch your video leading up to the unveiling of a new product or service to create industry buzz. Perhaps include a press release with your video’s launch or a transcript of the video to send to executives in your industry.

Also, don’t take the one-and-done approach. Aim to produce a video every month or every couple of months depending on your business and budget. The more videos you have, the more you can improve on your strategy and the more attention you’ll gain for your company and exposure for your business, and engaging in video content marketing is not quite as scary as it seems. There are just a few steps you need to take and a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of video content marketing for your business.

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

The New Rules of Branding Your Business Online

Mastering branding online takes a lot more than a cool logo and catchy slogan. Experts play by a fresh new set of rules.

adaIt’s no longer enough to have a sleek website, social-media presence, and consistent brand aesthetic online. The new rules of branding your business on the Web have a lot less to do with presentation, and a lot more to do with interaction. In order to bring you up to speed, Inc.com has compiled nine of the most innovative and ingenious tips from articles, guides, and interviews in Inc. and Inc.com over the past year. These are the new rules of branding online.

1. Don’t just start the conversation.
Be an integral and evolving part of it. “Social media has one very important perspective to share with brand management—the conversation. Like branding, social media is all about the conversation and building effective relationships. They are perfectly suited to one another,” says Ed Roach, founder of The Brand Experts, a brand management consultancy in West Leamington, Ontario, the author of The Reluctant Salesperson, a free e-book available at http://www.thebrandingexperts.ca. The rules for brand messaging through new media versus traditional channels haven’t changed, but “the game sure got better and more interesting,” says Roach. It’s not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you must participate in the conversation by making regular posts and replying to direct messages from your customers. Ron Smith, president and founder of S&A’s Cherokee, a public relations and marketing firm in Cary, North Carolina, agrees, adding that you’ll want to stay on top of what people are saying about you and your brand online. “Monitoring social media is a must for all companies. Social media has shortened the time frame for company responses to complaints or accusations. These days, companies need to acknowledge any issues and control the messaging in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days,” says Smith. Read more.

2. Either keep your personal brand out of it…
So you have 10,000 Twitter followers. Does it matter to your customers? Tim Ferriss, the entrepreneur behind the sports nutritional supplements company BrainQUICKEN and author of The 4-Hour Workweek, told Inc.com contributor John Warrillow: “Unless you’re in one of a handful of businesses like public speaking, I think managing and growing a personal brand can be a huge distraction for company founders. I see all of these entrepreneurs trying to collect Twitter followers, and it reminds me of a matador waving a red flag in front of a bull. In this case, the founders are the bull. The bullfighter moves the flag away, and the bull comes up with nothing but air. Steve Jobs has a personal brand, but it is Apple’s product design that makes it such a valuable company. He isn’t jumping on Foursquare to develop his ‘personal brand.'” Read more.

3. …or dive in and make all the headlines you can.
Appearing in the media as a source of expertise can go a long way toward building your brand, Inc.’s April Joyner reports. To gain press, identify media outlets that are most applicable to your particular areas of expertise and send them targeted pitches. If you want to be a talking head on radio or television, it also helps to give producers a preview of your personality by referring them to video clips on your site. As with print, the Web has also democratized the world of radio. Through venues such as BlogTalkRadio, anyone can host her or his own broadcasts—or find a show on which to appear. After you have honed an area of expertise, you will find that there are plenty of opportunities to take your message on the road. Becoming active in professional organizations and attending conferences offer valuable opportunities for networking. As you become more familiar within a certain field, more and more people will call on you to share your expertise. Making an appearance as a vendor at an event can also offer long-term personal branding benefits. Read more.

4. Don’t favor edge over consistency.
Chris Russo had a healthy business. The only thing holding it back, he thought, was its name. Three years after its launch in 2006, Fantasy Sports Ventures’s revenue was increasing 40 percent to 50 percent a year, a pace that surprised even Russo. But by the fall of 2009, he was uneasy. Despite the heady growth, Russo felt the company’s brand positioning was pigeonholing the business and would soon limit further expansion. “Fantasy Sports Ventures was not a long-term, sustainable, public-facing brand,” Ed O’Hara, of the branding firm SME, says. “It felt more like a holding company and was too heavily weighted on the fantasy side.” O’Hara and Russo tossed around lots of edgy names, like Fanarchy, Fantology, and Gutcheck, but weren’t sure. Rebranding was on the table, but the company didn’t want to alienate its huge readership and large fan base. The solution? When the company acquired another brand, The Big Lead, and was integrating it into the existing portfolio of sites, Russo realized he struck gold. The name was consistent with the sites’ goals, as well as its existing image.  Read more.

5. Be persistent in finding and targeting your niche.
ada2Even if you’re entering a flooded marketplace—and online is certainly a very crowded forum—you always have a chance to make your brand and company stand out. People used to think water was all the same; now stores carry half-a-dozen brands or more. “Marketers struggle with differentiation because they give up too soon,” says Derrick Daye, managing partner of The Blake Project. “They think that this can’t be differentiated, it can’t be unique.” Experts say the constantly shifting marketplace creates the need to be creative with your approach. The toothpaste market is one that professionals cite as a constantly changing product selection that requires vigilance on the part of brand managers. Additives like baking soda, breath freshener, or whitening strips are now taken for granted. Read more.

6. Excel at telling your customers “About Us.”
You may not be paying much attention to your About Us page, but visitors to your site are, writes Chana Garcia. And considering that your About Us page is where the world first clicks to learn about your company and the services you offer, it deserves a little more consideration and a lot more respect. Sure, you need to include all the basics. But a few simple tactics can make your About Us page a more exciting read and your company come across as more accessible, says Lorrie Thomas, aka The Marketing Therapist, a marketing strategist, educator, writer, web marketing expert and speaker. Avoid writing a soliloquy (too much text can be a turnoff) and focus on connecting with your site visitors. Thomas asked her employees to write their own bios for her company’s About Us page. Her only mandate was that in addition to providing a snapshot of their professional history, they include personal information, such as hobbies or their favorite activities. Some even set up links to their blogs and personal websites. This might also be a good place to include e-mail addresses for your staff. Readily available contact information shows customers that you want to hear from them and that you have nothing to hide. Read more.

7. Fully integrate social media into your site.
You’ll not only look savvy, but increase your connectivity, and gain traffic to you site from elsewhere. You don’t necessarily need to put out the next viral marketing video or hire an expensive marketing agency (although both would probably help) to achieve a high rate of traffic. All you need is a bit of elbow grease, a few tricks up your sleeve, and a commitment to making your site a quality destination for visitors. Add Facebook Like buttons, have a dynamic blog section, utilize SEO, and build your site heavy with links, for starters. More tips can be found in our guide to “How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website.” Read more.

8. Monitor your brand’s reputation, and be ready to respond.
Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp have become essential components of many companies’ online marketing strategies, but there are countless other sites on which customers rant and rave about their experiences. A question or complaint left unanswered on any of them has the potential to tarnish a company’s brand and scare away prospective customers. That’s why companies like Beachbody are using new tools to monitor what’s been said about them online. The most basic services, like Google Alerts, allow users to select keywords to track and to receive e-mail updates whenever they appear on the Web. Others, like Social Mention and HootSuite, specifically scour profiles on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace for relevant comments. Nate Bagley, a social media expert at Mindshare Technologies, a Salt Lake City company that makes software that helps companies keep track of customer feedback, uses Google Alerts and Social Mention to keep track of references to his company, as well as news on its clients, competitors, and the industry at large. “It’s a good way to gather business intelligence,” he says. Some of these services, including Radian6 and Viralheat, detect whether a post is positive, negative, or neutral, so businesses can easily determine which mentions require the most attention. Those features have allowed companies to maintain greater control of their brands. Read more.

9. Showcase your best work.
In this new environment, a sturdy brand is all about trust and relationships. With that goal in mind, there’s no better way to build both than by posting testimonials or listing big-name clients you’ve partnered with. That will lend your business a good amount of credibility. You might consider incorporating your clients’ logos somewhere on your page as an added visual element. Mentioning awards and recognitions your company received, as well as community service work, green initiatives, and interesting facts, will also make your business more appealing. Additionally, timelines, company history, and major milestones are attention-grabbing.

Why not try these out and see for yourselves. You can always come back for more.

For more tips, you can visit http://www.inc.com/

graphic designing, web designing

43 Experts Share Their Top Tips To Grow Your Online Presence

How To Stand Out Online

As bloggers, we want and in some cases need more eye balls on our content.

But it’s not always so easy.

And there’s a lot of bad advice around that could hurt your chances.

You need insights from the experts.

Today I have a real treat for you.

I have assembled a group of incredible blogging, marketing and social media experts with the aim of giving a single piece of advice that could make a huge difference to your online presence.

And, ultimately help you stand out and get more eyeballs on your content.

The big question:

If you could give one piece of advice to bloggers that would help them grow their online presence or just stand out online, what would it be?
The experts that took part:

Click on the experts name to read their answer.

Aaron Lee, Adrienne Smith, Ashley Faulkes, Brian Dean, Bonnie Andrews.
Caleb Storkey, Charissa Moore, Chris Garrett, Christian Karasiewicz, Cyrus Shepard.
Danny Iny, Danny Wong, Denise Wakeman, Devesh Sharma.
Eric Enge.
Gini Dietrich, Glen Long.
Ian Cleary, Iman Jalali.
Jeff Bullas, John Lee Dumas, John Paul Aguiar, Jon Morrow.
Kathryn Aragon, Kevin Muldoon.
Larry Kim, Laurie Hurley, Lisa Irby, Lyuba Ellingson.
Martin Shervington, Michael JubaMike Allton.
Neil Patel, Niall Devitt.
Pauline Cabrera, Peg Fitzpatrick.
Ron Sela, Ryan Hanley.
Ted Rubin, Timo Kiander.
Vincent Ng.
Wade Harman, Walter Blake Knoblock.

Expert tips to grow your online presence

Note: all responses are published in the order they were received:

Caleb Storkey – CalebStorkey.com

Caleb StorkeyFind your unique voice and be at peace with it. What do you get passionate about, what does your audience want and how can you make that passion contagious with your audience? With so many voices sharing great content, the one thing that people will never be able to trump you on, is you… being the incredible you that you are.

With all your insecurities, doubts, fears, dreams, hopes, aspirations, strategies and insights! Let your unique voice capture your listeners heart, serve their needs and add tangible value to their lives…. and they’ll always keep coming back for more.

Brian Dean – Backlinko

Brian DeanONLY publish case studies. Literally don’t publish anything that’s not a case study in some way. The fact is, unless you’re a huge name like Gary Vaynerchuk, no one cares what you think. But they DO care about how you can help them.

One of the best ways to show people that you can help them is to publish case studies. But I’ve come to realize — after analyzing what content did best on my blog — that there’s really no reason NOT to publish a case study every single time. After all, if you have advice that’s helpful, you shouldn’t have a problem publishing a case study to go along with it.

Big name bloggers like Pat Flynn came out of nowhere by ditching “here’s my take on X” content and focusing on case study content. It works.

Charissa Moore – House of Bliss

Charissa MooreConnect with the emotions of your audience. If you can speak to what they’re feeling now, as well as how they want to feel, you’ll create a relationship with them they’ll never forget.

Neil Patel – Quick Sprout

Neil PatelIt would be to guest post.

A lot of bloggers try to build their brand and presence through their own blog, but why not leverage the traffic of large blogs?

For example, it is rare that your blog will ever get more traffic than sites like Forbes, so in addition to posting on your blog, look to guest post on authoritative sites.

Don’t do it for the backlinks, do it for the branding.

Danny Wong – Shareaholic

Danny WongAlign yourself with other ambitious and influential bloggers. My career as a blogger has spanned nearly 5 years, and during that time, I’ve been published on The Huffington Post, The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur, and ReadWrite.

When you ally with more-established bloggers and many up-and-coming writers, you’ll quickly recognize the power of collaboration and networking.

Keeping bloggers in your niche in-the-know about your work means you’ll always be top-of-mind with them whenever noteworthy opportunities come up. I have many writers to thank for helping me grow my career; three worth mentioning are Shane Snow of Contently who gave me the confidence to work with my first paying client, and Ritika Puri and Brian Honigman who frequently refer quality clients and projects my way.

Admittedly, it hasn’t been that much of an uphill battle to build a name for myself. And that all came organically after developing critical relationships with writers who loved my work after I showed it to them.

Kathryn Aragon – Crazy Egg and KathrynAragon.com

Kathryn AragonIf you’re just starting out as a blogger and want to get noticed quickly, you need to make yourself visible every day. To make this happen, you’re going to have to include a variety of tactics, which could, at first, feel overwhelming. The secret is to make it a natural part of your day and to think of it as supporting one goal: visibility.

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Spend 20 to 30 minutes a day curating articles that relate to your area of expertise. Use a tool like Buffer or HootSuite to schedule them over the next day or so in Twitter.
  • Get involved in some groups on LinkedIn and/or Google+. Spend a half hour or so each week engaging with these groups. Focus on helping others, not promoting yourself.
  • Write guest blog posts for leading blogs in your industry. Set a goal of publishing at least one guest post per month.
  • Don’t forget your own website. When people see you online, they’ll come to check you out. Make sure your site looks professional and shows off your skills. And make sure it’s optimized for search.
  • At least once a week, post a valuable piece of content to your own blog. Then share it on all your social channels.

One final tip: A great way to get your name on people’s radar is to write an interview post like this one.

You’ll quickly expand your network and develop relationship with recognized experts.

Bonnie Andrews – Hobby To Hot

Bonnie AndrewsYou are running the show – not your blog. You wear the pants. You’re in the driver’s seat.

So often I see bloggers who are letting their blogs take over, like the blog is some kind of living, breathing life form that’s controlling them.

They feel stressed. They feel frustrated. They feel overwhelmed and they feel like a master to their blog instead of their blog being a servant in their online/blogging business. It’s unreal how often bloggers want to give up, even when they’re onto something great. So in short, don’t give up and don’t let your blog become your master.

Keep it in a real perspective and think straight. This is you. This is your business and no one can take it away from you or make you fail outside of your permission.

Here are 5 more tips you’ll probably be interested in reading about too: 5 Simple Ways to Rock Your Blog and Have a Life Too.

Christian Karasiewicz – ChristianKOnline.com

Christian KIf I could give one piece of advice to bloggers that would help them grow their online presence it would be to leverage their social media channels. 

A lot of bloggers I work with think that once they have written their blog post, that’s it.

If you are a blogger and you want to grow your online presence, you need to be sure you also promote your blog post after you hit publish.

You can do this a number of ways:

  • Share your post with fans on social networks you are on
  • Promote your blog post in communities such as Triberr
  • Notify your email list
  • Include links in your email signature
  • If it is work related, post links within your companies Intranet for employees to learn about

By taking this extra step, you can leverage your connections to get the word out about your latest blog post.

It is also important to remember to include links to your social media channels where you want readers to connect with you at. This way once they read your content, if they want to connect, you have made it easy for them to.

By promoting your blog post, not only can you increase your views, but build awareness on your knowledge on a particular topic and grow your online presence.

If I could give one piece of advice to bloggers that would help them stand out online it would be to network with other bloggers (and write awesome content). 

One of the fastest ways to stand out online is to write content people want to read. But how do you do that if you have a limited audience? That’s where networking comes into play.

By networking, not only can you get your content in front or more people, but if you network with the right people, you can gain more exposure just by having them mention you or share your content within their network of friends, fans and business associates.

One of the best ways to do this is to guest blog for other sites. Some ways to do this are to use the contact form on a site you want to guest post for or to engage with them via their social media channels.

By doing this, you can open doors and also demonstrate to people who are not familiar with your work that you are a subject matter expert on a particular topic.

In doing this, you can not only get your name out there but stand out more in a crowded online world.

John Paul Aguiar – JohnPaulAguiar.com

John Paul AguiarI would say it comes down to two things.

First, have a blog design that stands out and is different. If you visit enough blogs, they all start to look the same, same themes, same colors, it’s boring.

Instead, use a design and color scheme that no one has, whether they like it or not, they will remember it.

Second, I would say “write your content”. That means, write original stuff, write stuff no one is writing and in a way no one else is writing it.

Curation is a big thing online now and I see many bloggers doing it, to me I think it’s a BIG mistake. Referencing someone or something in a post is fine, but full curation isn’t good.

How can YOU stand out when you are mainly sharing OTHER peoples stuff?

Write content in a way that ONLY you can write, once you do that it will be very easy for you to get noticed and grow your presence online.

Chris Garrett – ChrisG.com

Chris GarrettGet to know the intersection of:

  1. How you can help
  2. What people need/want
  3. What people find difficult to get help with
  4. How your approach is unique and better

If you can find something you can help with, that is in demand, and is under-served, then you will not just stand out but you will make a significant contribution to other people’s lives.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not mean find something where there is no competition! I mean get to know your specific target audience so you can help them the best. Let them connect with you, let your personality and voice come through. Use the benefit of your own experience while teaching. It’s about them, but use what makes you “you” to reach them.

To give you an example, I am learning about the world of fiction writing from Sean Platt and Johnny Truant, even though there is a lot of information out there for aspiring authors. I feel they “get me” in regards my specific needs.

Unlike other people who are giving storytelling advice, they are normal people who have discovered some effective systems, but they also have personality. They teach their readers to work hard, while they also demonstrably work very hard, and they tell their audience very clearly that “build it and they will come” is a mission bound to fail.

So they meet a need, in their own unique way, with their tried and tested systems. Not everyone will resonate with them, and that is a good thing.

Ted Rubin – TedRubin.com

Ted RubinA good way to start to develop an audience is to comment on more established blogs in your niche—but only when you can add something meaningful to the conversation.

Most blogging platforms will let you identify your website when you’re commenting. If someone finds your comment of value, they will often click through to your site to find out more.

The trick here is not to get promotional (such as adding a self-serving link to your articles in the comment) or saying something meaningless, such as “great post!” Look at it as a way to add value to the blogger’s post without stepping on toes.

Perhaps you could pose another question or offer a different spin on the topic. Make it a regular practice to seek out blogs to comment on.

I also like to comment often on industry blogs because they are widely read and many will see what you have to say, some even rate you as a commenter.

Always keep this in mind… To me it is really simple, if you want to “stand out” in the social space, do what most others are not doing… actually be SOCIAL when using Social Media :-) #RonR #H2H.

Glen Long – Boost Blog Traffic

Glen LongI think clarity is hugely important for bloggers.

And for me there are two types: clarity of purpose and clarity of execution.

Clarity of purpose means knowing exactly who you’re targeting with your blog, how you’re helping them and why your blog is different to all the other blogs out there. Too many bloggers don’t know the answers to these basic questions and as a result they find it hard to stand out from the crowd.

Clarity of execution means bringing this purpose to life with your blog so that new visitors know within seconds whether or not it’s relevant to them, their needs and concerns. That clarity extends to your blog design, your tagline, your about page, your headlines – everything must resonate with your core purpose.

And you must learn to write clearly too. You can’t spread great ideas if you can’t successfully plant the seed in someone else’s head (a topic I write about here).

Standing out means that others are easily able to bring you and your blog into clear focus. And without clarity of purpose and execution you’ll remain a blur in the background forever.

Timo Kiander – Productive Superdad

Timo KianderFor me the single biggest difference has been guest posting.

It’s all about creating relationships with others, showing your expertise and becoming an authority in your niche.

When you have done some guest posting (also on bigger blogs), it makes it easier to launch your own product later on.

This (creating products) will grow your audience and your authority even further.

Ian Cleary – Razor Social

Ian ClearyBe different than every other blogger out there.  You can be different by picking a niche that no one else writes content on or deliver the content in a different way than someone else.  My entire focus on my blog is social media tools.

Although many people write about tools there was no one site that focussed only on tools.  This helps your blog grow a lot quicker.  If you don’t stand out from the crowd it will a steeper hill you have to climb.

Jon Morrow – Boost Blog Traffic

Jon MorrowMake your blog about your audience, not about you.

It’s easy to find yourself thinking about what YOU want to say, what feels right to YOU, and what you want the blog to do for YOU, but here’s the thing:

You don’t matter. If you want to be successful, you have to set your ego aside and focus entirely on building what your audience needs and wants.

It’s harder than it sounds. To help you get started, try this simple exercise:

Write an entire blog post without using the word “I.” You can’t cheat by writing things like “One might think…” either. Instead, relate every single point you have to make to the audience. Make yourself invisible.

Once you master the art of invisibility, you can start injecting your own colorful personality back into your posts. In the beginning though, make yourself as transparent as glass.

Ashley Faulkes – Mad Lemmings

Ashley FaulkesGetting attention as a blogger today is tougher than a doorman at a London pub. That is to say, extremely tough and also quite a challenge.

I have used a few techniques to help expand my reach and get myself known since I started blogging, and I am quickly going to share some of my secrets with you.

One of the first things I did was to write something that included a lot of influencers in it. This is a trick that a lot of people will probably mention in this post, so I will move on to my next idea.

Another great idea is to stand out from the crowd by branding yourself. In fact, quite recently I had a great podcast discussion with John Paul Agiuar on this very topic. He is a smart guy, so it is worth a listen.

So what exactly do I mean by branding yourself?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Find a unique color scheme and a font or two, and a logo of course, that suit your brand.
  • Use these on all of your images for social media and blog posts.
  • Use the same image of you (or your logo) on all your social media accounts, email, gravitar etc .
  • Also add your blog URL to all images and videos on social media.

If you want some great role models for this kind of thing (apart from myself of course) check out Rebekah Radice, Dustin Stout and Robert Ryan. These guys are doing a great job of personal branding online.

Although this may seem like something that will not get you very far, remember that not many people are doing this, or doing this well. But if branding works for Coke, Nike and McDonalds, then it is certainly worth giving it a go!

A final note: If you need some help making awesome images to promote your brand, Adam has recently made a list of great tools to use in this post (I personally recommend Canva).

Start thinking seriously about your brand today and stand out from the crowd.

Laurie Hurley – Social Media Help On Call

Laurie HurleyIn order to build your presence online and stand out from all the other noise, be sure you are consistently delivering great content every single time you blog.

Addressing your clients’ needs, worries, and problems, while infusing a bit of your own personality is the perfect mixture for a stellar blog.

Join a blogging group on LinkedIn or Google Plus so your blogs are seen by others and shared and commented on for increased exposure.

Most importantly, tell a story – draw your readers in, don’t just list five tips for this or that; boring and it’s probably been done before.

Martin Shervington – Plus Your Business

Martin ShervingtonGet started on Google+!

Really, it will renew your blogging experience.

Not only does the content you create get indexed by Google, but the community on Google+ will actual enable your content to be amplified and help it surface as Search results.

You can create mini opt in lists of dedicated readers using Google circles, and email them with your latest posts.

You will also have incredible conversations, get new ideas and the more you give, the more your future will be shaped by the network you form.

Trust me, it will transform your online life as a blogger.

Jeff Bullas – JeffBullas.com

Jeff BullasIt isn’t just one thing, otherwise you won’t stand out. You need to do at least two things!

First create the best content you can that adds value to your readers lives and business. Then you need to build and optimize online distribution networks for your content including email, social and search.

Eric Enge – Stone Temple Consulting

Eric EngeSeek extreme differentiation.

“Me-too” content is not going to cut it.

If you search on this query in Google: intitle:”how to make french toast” you get more than 30,000 results in Google.  That means that there are more than 30,000 web pages with “how to make French toast” in the title tag.

Google does not need any more such articles. Neither do the audiences you are trying to reach on social media or the web at large.

Eric Enge French Toast Example

Find ways to create fantastic new content.

If you need to cover a me-too like topic, find a way to bring a new spin to it, add some new humor to it, share it on a new platform, or address one specific vertical aspect of it in a way that others have not done before.

Differentiation is critical to survival … and thriving on line.

Wade Harman – WadeHarman.com

Wade HarmanOne thing that I would always recommend to people is to start searching for like-minded people right away.

Build your tribe by connecting yourself to people that are in your target market.

You cannot make it to the top by yourself; it’s the people around you that will help you get there, and you helping them.

This is not an individual quest for victory its locking arms with the people you have made relationships with and helping each other succeed.

You can do this by helping promote other people’s posts and events, retweeting and re-sharing.  People remember that.  People also remember someone who extends kindness and helpfulness without expecting anything in return.

Do what you can to be a servant so you can eventually be served yourself.

Danny Iny – Firepole Marketing

Danny InyThere are a lot of different things that bloggers can do to stand out online – but the first and most important one is to focus on one niche.

When you dilute your message by writing about different subjects in different areas, your reader’s don’t know what to think. This is okay later on after you’ve built a reputation and have strong relationships with your readership and the broader community – but in the beginning people need to know what to expect from you, and by narrowly focusing on one specific niche you can build yourself into a position of authority much more quickly.

Pick something you’re good at, that interests you, and that you have good reason to believe will interest a lot of other people as well.

Cyrus Shepard – Moz

Cyrus ShepardI have two pieces of advice to bloggers to help them grow their presence and stand out online.

1. The first would be to create something unique and useful that no one in their space has done before. For example, I am a bicyclist and although there are bicycling route sites aplenty online, they are confusing and hard to navigate, so I might create the Most Amazing Bicycle Routes in Seattle and rank them by difficulty, elevation, length, popularity, etc. It’s usually not very hard to find something to create that’s better than everything else out there – the hard part is actually putting in the work to make it.

2. Getting involved with other bloggers, being social, is an essential part of the equation. Bloggers and people who comment on your blog are people themselves who like to engage, and these are the very same people you want to promote your work. If you are a finance blogger, help out other finance bloggers! Leave comments, link to their posts, say hi to them at conferences.

Blogging is a lot like real life, except when you do it right you can connect with people in the world even when you are sleeping.

Pauline Cabrera – Twelve Skip

Pauline CabreraMy biggest piece of advice is don’t be generic. Don’t just become a “me too” blog. You need to stand out in order to get noticed. Here’s how:

  • Build a blog with a memorable design. Choose your style and colors, and be consistent with it.
  • Be creative with your content formatting but make sure they’re easy on the eyes.
  • Use unique and captivating images. If you use stock photos, at least make an effort to spruce them up.
  • Be passionate about your subject. Be specific. Be personal. Share examples, your experiences or your own story.
  • Offer something fresh. Don’t just post what everyone else is posting.

Create a great impact and make people say, “Oh, I have to bookmark this blog!”

Adrienne Smith – AdrienneSmith.net

Adrienne SmithMy best piece of advice that has worked extremely well for me is to leave genuine, thoughtful and helpful comments on other people’s posts.

Trust me when I say they’ll notice you.

I know people say this all the time to not get in a hurry and leave short comments but to actually take the time to read their posts and leave a very well thought out comment. They give that advice for a reason.

It’s the best way to get noticed by others and then of course be sure to share their posts on the social media sites. I’ve had more people approach me because they have read my comments and were very impressed that I really took the time to leave good ones on every post I visit.

I still believe commenting is a great way to build relationships with other bloggers and I’ve had a lot of success with that.

Niall Devitt – Tweak Your Biz

Niall DevittThat’s a great question – however I don’t believe there are any silver bullets.

For me, it all comes down to being consistent, growing your online presence takes time, patience and lots of hard work. Figure out your niche, create and promote great content, identify influencers and build your network. Learn and repeat.

From what I’ve seen, many give up before they get there, while a few stick at it long enough to ultimately learn how to really stand out.

Aaron Lee – Post Planner

Aaron LeeOne of the most important pieces of advice I can give someone about growing their online presence or simply stand out is to choose a niche or topic that they simply LOVE and is timeless. They should treat blogging like a serious business instead of a ‘money magnet’.

Many times, people start a blog because it’s a ‘good market’ and while building the blog, they feel burned out because they simply don’t have the passion and the drive to write for that topic.

Blogging is a career and if you want to stand out, it has to be something that you love writing and love to share. That is how you can truly stand out and most important be yourself.

Gini Dietrich – Spin Sucks

Gini DietrichThere is a big debate about shutting down blog comments. Copyblogger did it. Mitch Joel did it. Jay Baer is considering it. The common thing, you’ll notice, is they are all well-established bloggers with lots of readers and subscribers.

When you begin, though, no one knows about you, which makes a community extremely important. Not only will a community read and share your content, they’ll help you grow your network. To do that, you want to respond to people when they do comment on your blog. You want to find other bloggers with like-minded content and go comment on and share their content. Write guest posts for blogs that have a similar audience to the one you want to grow.

All of these things take time, resources, and a little elbow grease. But building a community will be one of the most important things you do to grow your online presence. You’ll obtain new social media followers, you’ll discover new thinking, and you’ll grow your readers and subscribers.

Ron Sela – PageWiz and RonSela.com

Ron SelaIn order to stand out online, having a constant presence on it is a must. And the perfect way to start-off your journey to success is by building friendships with individuals who love writing as much as you do: bloggers.

Identifying and outreaching prominent bloggers in their niche, and regularly posting comments on their websites, can help you out tremendously. After a while of them constantly reading your comments and you analyzing the type of content they usually post, you can reach out to those bloggers and show them your content and invite them to post it in their online channels.

Bloggers are great influencers that every writer should try to obtain. Once they read your work and like it, you’ll more than likely be contacted often by them to write more blog content, which will be of great benefit for you. Once you have that constant Internet presence, you’ll stand-out and make a name for yourself!

Don’t ever forget about your friends once you start working with well-known individuals, as your pals will always be the ones by your side not matter what (even if you write a mediocre article). They’ll always support you and assist you in spreading your message!

Lisa Irby – 2CreateAWebsite.com

Lisa IrbyBe authentic, and not just with your triumphs, your failures too.

People just want to know there’s a human behind the site.

The more transparent you are, the more your audience will connect with you.  The Web is not just about websites with content, but the personality of the people connected to them.

Peg FitzpatrickPegFitzpatrick.com

Peg FitzpatrickI think many bloggers hit publish and wait for traffic to magically appear. This isn’t going to happen.

You need to actively promote your content via social networks and being active on social media. Social media + blogging + working hard = the “magic” to blog traffic.

Denise Wakeman – Adventures In Visibility

Denise WakemanTo accelerate visibility for your blog, start a Hangout on Air show around the topic of your business blog.

Doing a live video show is the fastest way to get seen, be heard, build trust and connect with your ideal blog readers.

Focus on your primary topic and invite guest experts who complement your expertise.

You will set yourself apart fast by adding a playlist of your videos on YouTube and repurposing the audio on a site like SoundCloud and iTunes. Always include a call to action for your audience to subscribe to get blog updates at the beginning and end of your show.

Mike Allton – The Social Media Hat

Mike AlltonMy single best advice to new bloggers who want to succeed would be to become regular readers of as many other bloggers in their space as they can, and look for opportunities to create genuine relationships with those writers.

These are the people whom you can learn from, who will be providing valuable information that you can then share to your own growing follower base, and whom it will mean the world to you when they notice you and begin to share some of your content out to their followers.

Michael Juba – EZ Solution

Michael JubaIf I could only give one piece of advice to a blogger trying to go big and get out there it would be to make something freaking awesome that answers a question in your industry, or that people in your niche are searching for.

This gives you trust and authority and they will surely follow you the next time they are looking for information in your industry.

For example, we work with a client who sells arcade games. Not the biggest player out there, just a local guy with a few hundred arcade systems. The other week we created an animated gifographic on the evolution of arcade games and it went pretty big on the first day I put it out there.

It got on the home page of Wired and Make Use Of, among a bunch of gaming sites. So now all of these gamers that had no idea who M&P was now know who they are. Here’s the post on Wired.

Lyuba Ellingson – DefinitiveGuideToPR.com

Lyuba EllingsonDevelop relationships online with people who are already famous with your target demographic but don’t do what you do.

Offer them something very helpful like guest content on a topic their audience is interested in and you are an expert on.

Make sure to provide a lot of value. Go above and beyond. Once the guest post goes live, be sure to thank your new acquaintance for the opportunity and express interest in doing more.

There is no better and quicker way to stand out online than to be promoted with someone with influence.

Walter Blake Knoblock – WalterBlakeKnoblock.com

Walter Blake KnoblockI’ve got over 100k followers, most of them on twitter, and I think a large reason for that is engagement, but everybody says that and, of course, if you engage with your followers and say smart stuff it will work. But, beyond that, I make sure that whenever I do something noteworthy, speaking at a college, publishing a new book, etc…, I put out the word to everybody I know.

A good PR list is gold.

Vincent Ng – MCNG Marketing

Vincent NgYou can find some great success in growing your online presence and blog with Pinterest when you create an amazing feature visual with a great headline in it, similar to a magazine cover.

By producing featured visuals that are beautiful and “pinnable” on your blog you can receive hundreds, and even thousands of more shares. But you have to create something that pinners on Pinterest can pin.

The main challenge that some blogs don’t incorporate a Pin it button on their website to help encourage the spread of their blog content on Pinterest, even though it may have a great feature visual. Pinterest isn’t just a visual tool for sharing, many marketers and bloggers also use it as a book marking tool so that they can reference and read the material later on.

I wrote a piece about how to search optimize your pins on Pinterest. People find it on my blog, and then pin it and then later on, other people repin it, and somehow it resurfaces again on another pinner’s account weeks later.

The interesting thing is that a pin has a half-life that’s thousands of times longer than a Facebook status or tweet, according to Venturebeat.

By being able to put a pin it button, and create an amazing visual that’s relevant to my specific audience, which is marketers and small businesses, my pin that promotes Pinterest search optimization has been repinned over 450 times.

This is the power of Pinterest for helping you grow your online presence.

Iman Jalali – ImanJalali.com

Iman JalaliGet involved. Join conversations, start conversations.

Growing your online presence requires you to not only put out great content, but to also connect and engage post publish. Joining the community establishes influence and credibility, key to growing your online presence.

John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur On Fire

John Lee DumasBeing a Podcaster, I figured I would give you an audio response…enjoy :-)

 

00:00
00:00

 

Link to Vocaroo: http://vocaroo.com/

Larry Kim – WordStream

Larry KimTry enlisting the help of other influential folks.

There’s a few ways to do this. For example, you can take an interest in their content by commenting and reposting the content that they share, and even try meeting them in real life at industry conferences.

Another approach is to create amazing content that will get the attention of influencers, since they’re always on the lookout for awesome stuff to share with their audiences.

Devesh Sharma – WP Kube

Devesh SharmaConnect with other bloggers in your niche.

If you want to grow your online presence, than you need to start building connections with other bloggers in your niche. This is how I built relationship with Adam Connell; I first dropped him an email and asked if he could link to one of my blog posts in his next weekly roundup. He not only linked to my post but also did a few guest posts.

Since then he has featured me on his blog quite a few times (Thanks Adam).

Ryan Hanley – RyanHanley.com

Ryan HanleyThe trick to growing your audience online is actually counterintuitive from what you might expect.

The commonly slung around tricks, tactics and strategies which prey on the law of large numbers are yielding lower and lower returns.

Today’s Connected Generation consumer wants a human relationship with the brands they do business with and relationships start with trust.

My one piece of advice to bloggers looking to grow their online presence is value the trust built between you and your audience above all else.

No matter what industry, topic, niche blog about, focus on authenticity, transparency and honesty.

All of which lead to trust.

Kevin Muldoon – KevinMuldoon.com

Kevin MuldoonThis may come across as being a little cheesy, but I think the best advice I can give to any aspiring blogger is to Be Yourself.

I see many bloggers saying something is amazing just to get an affiliate commission, whether they have used it or not. I also see many people simply mimicking others because they feel that it will get them readers.

If you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, be yourself. If you do not like something, say so. If you love something even when everyone else hates it, do not be afraid to say you love it and explain why.

At the end of the day, you want to have a unique voice and not follow the herd in order to be accepted. Some people will love you for it, some people will hate you for it, though at least you will be unique.

Blogging is something you should be passionate about. That is why I encourage all bloggers to speak up and share their opinion rather than conforming to the opinions of others because they feel they should.

Over to you

I’d like to say a huge thank you for all of the experts above that took the time to take part.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. For more visit; http://www.bloggingwizard.com

Do you have any insights of your own to share?

 

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

6 Online Marketing Strategy Questions You MUST Answer

Are you finally getting around to planning out your online marketing strategy for the year? Or are you trying to re-strategize your existing online marketing plan? Before you do either you need to make sure you have answers to some very important questions.

In this article we are going to cover 6 online marketing strategy questions that you MUST answer before spending any time or money marketing your business online.

Online Marketing Strategy Questions

Why You Need an Online Marketing Strategy in the First Place

From our experience, very few businesses actually have an online marketing strategy in place. Some common reasons why usually include the following:

Common Responses

If you, or your boss, are guilty of using any of these excuses, then it’s important for us to clearly communicate how detrimental this could be to the success of your marketing efforts.

7 Reasons Why You Really Need a Strategy

  1. Lack of direction will lead to wasted time and money
  2. You will miss the best opportunities by not knowing what to focus on
  3. It’ll be easier for existing and startup competitors with solid strategies to take market share from you
  4. You won’t know your online audience clearly enough to market to them effectively
  5. Your resources won’t be able to work in concert to produce the best results
  6. Important strategies and tactics will take a back seat to other business priorities
  7. You won’t know what to optimize or when to optimize to produce the best ROI

These probably sound pretty familiar if your business has still not put together an online marketing strategy. Hopefully the impact has not been too bad and you’re able to recover and get started with a strategy now.

For those that are, we’re going to help…or at least try to help. Let’s start by getting you to answer some extremely important questions.


Know the Answers to these Online Marketing Strategy Questions

Online Marketing Strategy Pie Chart

Before you think about starting an online marketing campaign, before you try to put together a marketing plan and before you ever consider calling a company or online marketing professional to help you, you MUST know the answers to the following 6 questions.

 

QUESTION #1: What is Your Brand’s Story?

This question, as simple as it sounds, is one that produces the most “What do you mean?” responses. If you don’t smirk with nostalgia or feel a sense of passion in your stomach when asked this question, then there’s no way your online marketing is going to communicate your story effectively. Even worse, there’s no way your audience will understand it, connect with it or believe in it.

Zappos Story

Having a story makes your brand more human and something that people can connect with.

An example of a company that has a great story, and does an even better job of communicating it to its customers, is Zappos. The Zappos story is one that most entrepreneurs are familiar with, but more importantly, it’s one that many of Zappos’ customers have bought into.

Need help answering this?
 Sit down, think about how and when you first started and also why you do what you do. Once you have this either written down, recorded or videotaped, then dedicate at least one page of your website to your story. Share your brand’s story with your employees, prospects and customers by promoting this content instead of hiding it deep in your “About” section.

 

QUESTION #2: Who is Your Audience and Where Do They Spend Time Online?

Perhaps it’s more common than we think, but we are continuously amazed by the lack of knowledge that many companies have about their audience. The two very basic business questions of “Who is your audience?” and “Where do they spend time online?” get reactions and responses as if we were asking someone to explain quantum physics to us in detail.

Virgin Mobile Quote

You’ve got to know who your audience is and where they spend their time online. Throwing marketing out onto the web without knowing who it’s aimed at or where it will perform the best is equivalent to printing a bunch of flyers and posting them in some arbitrary location.

You’ll have a hard time seeing a company like Virgin Mobile just throw out random content all over the web. Instead they focus on delivering content to specific audiences where those people spend their time online.

Need help answering this?
Start by creating buyer personas that are segmented by demographics, needs and behavior. Even though these personas are just fictional representations of your ideal customers, they are typically based off real data and educated speculation that can help you really find and target the people most important to your business.

 

QUESTION #3: What KPIs are Most Important to Your Business?

If there was one question that gets more “I have no idea” responses this would be it. As much as we’d like to think that every business should know what online marketing KPIs (key performance indicators) to set and track we understand that working with this information can be a task in and of itself.  Even if you don’t have experience setting up or tracking your company’s KPIs there is still somewhere you can start.

KPI definition

Establishing metrics and benchmarks are not only critical elements of your online marketing strategy, but they are also essential for keeping everyone in your company on track, in sync and motivated.

For example, knowing that each 10% increase in organic search traffic produces $100,000 in more revenue helps your team to lay out a strong, consistent SEO strategy that everyone can play a role in (e.g. producing content).

Need help answering this?
 To determine which KPIs to work off of you must first know what your business goals are (e.g. Increase gross sales by 15% in Q2). Working backwards from here you can use your website analytics to determine what channels produce the most revenue and how customers got to those channels in the first place. Just remember to choose your KPIs wisely as the wrong metrics can distract you and prevent you from actually growing your business.

 

QUESTION #4: What is Your Content Strategy?

You can argue and resist the need for a content strategy as much you like, but the fact is that if you don’t have one in place then you can expect to get lapped by your competitors that do. Content is not just something you hire a freelance writer to whip up for you one time and then hope to get results from it. Instead, it is a foundational component of your marketing that will dictate the effectiveness of your entire marketing strategy.

Coca-Cola Content Marketing

Content tells your story, educates your audience, services your customers, builds your authority and makes your website worth visiting. A business without a content strategy is one without a voice. If your audience can’t hear you, then they sure as won’t buy from you.

For these reasons, even some of the most successful companies dedicate most of their marketing resources to their content strategies. Take Coca-Cola for example – a huge company with the resources available to do any marketing they want. Where have they focused these resources? That’s right…in content marketing.

Need help answering this?
  A solid process for developing a content strategy goes a little something like this: (1) brainstorm content ideas, (2) filter the ideas by effectiveness, reach potential and relevancy, (3) research everything surrounding that content, (4) create the content remembering that it doesn’t have to just be written articles and (5) promote the content once it’s published.

 

QUESTION #5: Why and How Would Someone Share Your Content or Talk About Your Company?

Making content an integral part of your online marketing strategy is a step in the right direction, but not the only one. In order for your content to really perform it must be promoted – by you and your audience. This process of creating quality content and spreading it across the web is known as content marketing and it’s something that needs to be the backbone of your online marketing strategy.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

When creating content for your audience you need to really think about why someone would share it and also how easy it is for them to do so. Often times you need to do more than just have quality content. You need to promote it yourself and sometimes even incentivize others to share it as well.

One company that does this incredibly well is Nike, specifically with their #MakeItCount campaign. Nike does an amazing job of using content that motivates its consumers to participate, and thus, help to spread the campaign for them.

Need help answering this?
  You don’t need millions of dollars like Nike to pull off a successful content marketing strategy. Instead focus on creating content that is helpful to your audience, but also unique. Maybe do a video instead of an article if everyone else in your space has only done articles. To get people to share your content think about running a social media contest that challenges your audience to compete with each other while spreading your content.

 

QUESTION #6: What Resources Do You Have Available?

You may be thinking “All of this seems great, but we don’t have the resources to do any of this.” This common response is usually one that comes from frustration, but also from not really understanding what is actually involved in a successful online marketing strategy or knowing what resources you actually have.

As mentioned above, you don’t need to be Nike to pull off successful campaigns. Start by either educating yourself on what online marketing entails or work with an agency that can assist you while educating you along the way. Next step is to know what you have to work with.

Some of the best marketing campaigns didn’t come from huge companies with large teams and fat wallets. As a matter of fact, some of the most viral marketing campaigns have come from small businesses that used their creativity, existing resources and a little help from professionals to spread their business across the web.

Take Dollar Shave Club for example, who spent just $4500 to create one of the most successful business video campaigns in the past few years. If you aren’t familiar with this bootstrapped company video, then you owe it to yourself to watch it.

Need help answering this?
  Ideally you’d want to have the following resources on your team to create an ongoing, effective online marketing strategy; writer, designer, developer, social media / outreach person, data analyst. Since most small to medium sized businesses (and even some large businesses) don’t have all of these resources, then you need to look for help where you’re lacking. If you have a great writer, but no technical resources, then find an agency to work with. If you have a technical team, but no one to write / create content, then hire a writer or, again, work with an agency that has a reputable content team.

 


Knowing is Half the Battle

Knowing is Half the Battle

Yes, we did use a quote from GI Joe to headline this section….don’t pretend like you didn’t smirk.

Seriously though, just knowing the answers to the six questions above can mean the difference between wasting thousands of dollars on directionless marketing or getting a great ROI from highly targeted, creative campaigns.

Answering the questions can be difficult for a lot of businesses, especially ones without any type of experience with online marketing, but sometimes just the process of trying to answer them can be more enlightening than you would have thought.

Your business needs to be online and it needs to have a well planned online marketing strategy that is built for producing tangible results….not just vanity metrics like organic rankings. Take the time to educate yourself or build your team up with people that have experience planning and implementing successful strategies.

As always, we would love to help; whether it is just assisting with planning your strategy, implementing it or both. If you’re finally ready to get your online marketing strategy going this year, then think about the six questions above and get in touch with us to get something going.

Ready to create and implement an effective online marketing strategy?


Images courtesy of Zappos, Coca-Cola and VisualizeUs

For more, visit : http://www.imforza.com

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

50+ Awesome Logo Design Resources Online

graphic designing, web designing

How To Price Your Services: A Guide For Web Designers by Kevin Muldoon

How To Price Your Services: A Guide For Web Designers

Pricing your design services is a dilemma that all web designers face. It can be very difficult to put a monetary value on your time and your experience. Whether you like this aspect of designing or not, it is something you need to do if you are a freelancer or if you operate a web design company.

Unfortunately, pricing your services is not an exact science. You need to consider a lot of factors in order to price a project correctly. And you may find that you need to price different projects in a different way so that you are compensated fairly.

In this article, I would like speak about the factors you should consider when pricing your web design services.

Hourly or Fixed

Design projects are normally charged as a fixed price or on an hourly basis. It is important to understand the pros and cons of each pricing structure.

Clients generally prefer to pay a fixed price for design work so that they know in advance the full cost of a project. The benefit of this is that both parties know up front what the cost will be i.e. a client wants a design and will pay you X amount of money.

For designers, charging on an hourly basis may be a more practical solution as it ensures you do not lose out financially if the project takes longer.

Consider a website design that you expect will take 20 hours to complete. Before you take on the project, you could quote the client a fee of $1,000 or an hourly fee of $50 per hour. If you charge a fixed price and manage to complete the website within ten hours, you have effectively earned an additional ten hours of income. But what if the project takes longer than expected? What if the website took 25 hours, 30 hours, or even 40 hours to complete? You could end up spending double the time you had expected for no additional earnings.

As you gain more experience in freelancing, you will have a better understanding of what is involved in a project. Therefore, if you are positive that you will not face any problems with a design, it may be worth charging the client a fixed price. However, things do not always go to plan and it is difficult to see the challenges that a particular design may present. That is why charging per hour is favored by many designers. A good alternative is to charge a fixed price for a project and then charge more if it takes more than an agreed number of hours to complete.

Even if you favor charging by the hour, you may be faced with the decision on whether it is worth taking on a project on a fixed price basis (e.g. a project advertised on a freelancing website or because a client wants to know the final cost up front). Be sure to evaluate each project and know the pros and cons of each charging option before you agree terms with the client.

Determine the Market Rate

Knowing the market rate for design work will help you price your own services effectively. You can do this by checking the rates of competitors on their website and through freelance marketplaces.

Understand the market that you will be targeting:

  • Will you be offering your services locally or internationally?
  • Are you targeting small businesses or large companies?
  • Will you be taking on smaller jobs (e.g. logos, banners) or bigger projects (e.g. complete websites)?

Compare like with like to ensure that you have a realistic estimate of the market rate of your services.

Evaluate Your Own Skill Level

If you can put your ego to one side, it is worthwhile evaluating the quality of your services against competitors. This will help you determine whether you can charge more than the market rate.

  • Do you have more experience than your competitors?
  • Can you offer something that others cannot e.g. technical or design experience?
  • Do you have a good reputation within your market?

Being aware of your own skill level will allow you to price your rates accordingly and justify these rates to clients.

Drafting the Initial Design

Are You in Demand?

If you just starting out, you may have to drop your rates initially in order to build up a portfolio. This will help you secure projects you may have lost due to your recent entry into the market.

As demand for your services grows, you will be in a position to increase your rates. Turning down clients because you have too much work on your hands is a sure sign that you are in demand and probably not charging clients enough. So don’t be afraid to increase your rates if you have a lot of enquiries about work.

Identify Your Own Costs

Be aware of your business costs when you are pricing your services. On a project to project basis, you should incorporate the cost of any stock images or templates you need to purchase for the project. You should include any costs of hiring another developer or designer to help you with any problems you may face too.

Also take into account ongoing freelancing costs such as marketing expenses, telephone calls, insurance, and any traveling expenses that are involved visiting the client. The important thing to remember is that any expenses you incur will eat into your profits. Therefore, they should be incorporated into your pricing structure from the start.

Sign A Contract

It is in your interests, and your clients interests, to sign a contract before you work together. Your contract should detail:

  • The estimated time to complete the project and what happens if the project takes longer to complete
  • How many revisions are included with your initial draft
  • Whether you will be working set days per week and whether you have any holidays planned
  • How payment will be made
  • What happens if the client changes their mind and wants to change the design
  • What conditions need to be met to cancel the project early
  • Whether the client be charged an additional fee if the project requires more work than expected
  • Whether the client can pay an additional fee to make their project priority and finish the design sooner
  • The amount of support, if any, that is provided after the design has been completed

It is not enough to have your terms and conditions agreed verbally with the client. You should sign a contract so that the law is on your side. At the very least, you need to make it clear on your website what happens in certain situations and have the client agree to those terms through an online declaration form. This will avoid unnecessary problems arising in the future.

Terms and Conditions

After Sales Support

Providing support to clients can be a big drain on time. If you are going to provide after sales support to your clients, you should agree with them beforehand how much support is provided free of charge after you have delivered the final design. For example, you may include two hours of email support after delivering a website design to help explain how important functions work. Beyond that, you could offer additional support at a set rate.

A good way to earn extra money in the future is to set up a contract for two or three days of maintenance work and support every month on an ongoing basis (perhaps under a retainer). If a few clients sign up to this, you can easily increase your passive income.

Discounts for Loyal Customers

It sometimes pays to be a little flexible with your pricing, particularly when it comes to offering discounts to loyal customers.

  • Will you offer a discount for placing more than one order?
  • Will you offer a discount if the project is larger and contracts you to a longer period of time?
  • Will you offer a discount to returning clients?
  • Will you offer a small referral fee or discount to a client if they refer you new business?

While you should not get into the habit of dropping your rates, you should give consideration to offering discounts to good customers. Remember the 80/20 rule. 20% of your customers will bring in 80% of your income; therefore it pays to give preferential rates to your best clients.

Negotiation Skills

Jeff Gardner wrote a great article for Smashing Magazine five years ago in which he spoke about the Quality-Price-Ratio in Web Design.

The quality of a design and the monetary cost of producing or procuring that design have absolutely no relationship whatsoever.

Jeff noted that, from a client’s point of view, a design will fall into one of four categories:

  • Bad design that’s expensive
  • Bad design that’s cheap
  • Good design that’s expensive
  • Good design that’s cheap

This illustrates that both the quality of your designs, and the price of your services, are subjective. Your branding and your confidence in your own abilities will therefore be a big factor on how you sell yourself to clients.

Ultimately, it comes down to how well you can negotiate a price and sell yourself to the client. Do not be afraid to walk away if a client is not willing to meet your demands, as you may have to turn down a higher paying client later because you have agreed to work at a lower rate.

Accepting Payment

It is common for designers to accept as much as 50% of the final price as a deposit. Some designers deliver the final work on delivery of the final payment, while others charge clients in stages. For example, the first payment before the initial draft, another payment after the next draft, final payment upon completion etc. Paying in stages reduces the risk for both you and your clients.

Another important thing you need to consider is the method of payment. Before you do anything, discuss with the client how you will be paid. You should be aware of the costs involved in accepting payment through a service such as PayPal, and the corresponding risk of a client making a complaint through a payment service about non-delivery. This is why many designers accept payment by check or direct bank transfer instead.

To get a better understanding of how other designers charge clients, I recommend reading this fantastic series of articles by David Airey from 2008. A total of 60 designers share the method they use to charge clients and why they chose that particular method. It is a great insight into how other designers operate.

It may be tempting to do some work for a client before payment has been made, though it is better to wait until you have been sent the initial payment before you do anything. If not, you run the risk of doing design work for a client that does not pay up.

Final Thoughts

Pricing your services is a necessary part of working as a designer. If you take all pricing factors into consideration, you should price your services correctly. Though remember that pricing your services is not an exact science, so you need to accept the fact that you may sometimes under price your services. With experience, this becomes less of an issue.

While you may need to drop your prices a little at the start to encourage clients to try a designer with few past clients, be aware that pricing your services too low might attract tire kickers that waste all your time.

We are proud of the fact that web designers from around the world use Elegant Themes designs to create websites for their clients. Therefore, we want you to get a good price for the work you do by taking into consideration all the factors raised in this article.

Do you have any pricing advice to share with fellow designers? If so, please share your tips in the comment area below .

For more tips, visit: http://www.elegantthemes.com/blog

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Top Twenty Businesses For 2015

Get-Rich-2015. Follow your dream. We have the top twenty businesses for you to start now!

You don’t need to have a lot of money or experience to start your own business. You need to have passion and drive. You need to be detailed oriented with a dedicated follow-through. Are you ready?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration anyone can start a business and succeed if they have a good idea, a good target market and leadership ability. Do you have what it takes to launch your very own private gold mine? There is something for everyone in our top twenty businesses.

Over the past several years, one of the most important contributions psychology has made to the field of business has been in determining the key traits of acknowledged leaders. Tests have been used to determine what characteristics are most commonly noted among successful leaders. This list of characteristics can be used for developmental purposes to help managers gain insight and develop their leadership skills. You can use it to rate your chances of being a great leader.

Raymond Cattell, a pioneer in the field of personality assessment, developed the Leadership Potential equation in 1954. This equation, which was based on a study of military leaders, is used today to determine the traits that characterize an effective leader. The traits of an effective leader include the following:

• Emotional stability: Leaders must be able to tolerate frustration and stress.

• Dominance: Leaders are often competitive, and enjoy overcoming obstacles.

• Enthusiasm: Leaders are usually seen as active, expressive and energetic. They are often very optimistic and open to change.

• Conscientiousness: Leaders are often dominated by a sense of duty and tend to be very exacting in character.

• Social boldness: Leaders tend to be spontaneous risk-takers. They are usually socially aggressive and generally
thick-skinned.

• Self-assurance: Self-confidence and resiliency are common traits among leaders. They tend to be free of guilt and have little or no need for approval.

• Intuitiveness: Rapid changes in the world today, combined with information overload result in an inability to know everything. In other words,
reasoning and logic will not get you through all situations.

• Compulsiveness: Leaders are controlled and very precise in social interactions.

• Empathy: Being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes is a key trait. Without empathy, you can’t build trust.

• Charisma: People usually perceive leaders as larger than life. Charisma plays a large part in this perception. Leaders who have charisma are able to arouse strong emotions in their employees by defining a vision that unites and captivates them.

Leaders are rarely (if ever) born. Circumstances and persistence are major components in the developmental process of any leader, so if your goal is to become a leader, work on developing those areas of your personality that you feel are not up to par.
Top Twenty Businesses

What Business Should You Start?

To be successful, you must launch a venture that you will love. If you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life. And if you enjoy operating your business, every day will be an exciting adventure. There is something for everyone in our top twenty businesses.

Thanks to our global world there is no category of business that is off-limits to you. Purchase a business opportunity, buy a franchise, launch an independently owned company from your home or outside facility. Consider taking on a partner if you lack certain talents or skills that they can provide.

Start the business you dream about! We’ve put together fifteen amazing business categories that will be hot in 2015 and into the future. We present the top twenty businesses you should consider starting now. There is something for every interest and budget. See what will work in your community. Is there a market for this business in your area? How will you reach your target customers? Do you require special permits? Conduct your own due diligence research to see if one of our top twenty businesses is viable for you.

■ FOOD

Food businesses are hot and you don’t have to be a five star chef to get into the food industry. There are plenty of ways to get started with a food business of your own! Food definitely deserves a place on our list of top twenty businesses.

If you make a food product, sell it! Bottle that sauce, offer your custom cakes for sale or create fabulous dinners in your client’s home as a personal chef. Make sure you investigate the rules and regulations involving selling food products that you make at home. In some states you will need a Food Handler’s License. It is similar to taking a permit test to get a driver’s license.

Call the county clerk’s office in your area and see what the regulations are and you can find them online at your state’s website.

You might also have to have your home kitchen inspected by the Health Department.

You can also sell food from an established business that already has a Food Handler’s License. You can purchase sandwiches from a local food shop or deli, for example, and then resell them for a

profit at industrial parks, sport fields, etc. See if you need a permit to sell food in a public space. Again, the county clerk can answer these questions for you.

You can also bake bread for a local restaurant or catering company, bottle your salad dressing or pasta sauce and sell it at local crafts fairs and food markets. Check out the laws and print up a label of ingredients for your sauce and dressing. Go online conduct your own due diligence research to check out the requirements in your state.

If you want to tie in with a proven leader and sell their food products consider Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices & Push Carts. Their fun and colorful, crowd pleasing carts, fit in most minivans or SUVs. The push carts require no electricity or dry ice.

Your first order placed with Little Jimmy’s will include more than 6000 servings of their Italian Ice that includes no fat, no dairy, no cholesterol, and no high fructose corn syrup.

You don’t need any experience to launch this business and you can run it on weekends, part-time or full-time. Sell at fairs, crafts shows, flea markets, wherever people gather.

The startup cost is less than $4300 and you can learn more about by visiting http://www.ITALIANICE.net or call 800-763-4348.

L’il Orbits is another food company that offers a business opportunity program. The company offers donut making machines and accessories. Anyone who has walked a street fair or crafts shows, etc., has probably been lured to the booth of a L’il Donuts vendor by the aroma of fresh baked donuts.

According to the company, “Our mini-donut and pancake & crepe machines are proven money-makers, made in America and now operated profitably in over 100 countries around the globe. For more information on joining the Lil’ Orbits family of operators worldwide, click on the links above.

“Fresh, Hot Mini-Donuts have always been a popular food item at carnivals, festivals, fairs and many other outdoor seasonal events. Our customers often tell us how much fun it is to hear their customers reminisce about eating mini-donuts when they were kids.

“The Lil’ Orbits Uni-matic II pancake & crepe machine can help you add new, easy-to-prepare items to your current menu, and also improve product consistency. The Uni-Matic will cook anything you can cook on a griddle, without oil or grease.

“In addition to seasonal, outdoor events, there are hundreds of other places where our popular automated equipment can be very profitable. Here are just a few examples of where a well-placed mini-donut or pancake & crepe machine can help you become your own boss or expand your current business: coffee shops, bakeries, mall kiosks, storefronts (indoor or outdoor), sports arenas, food courts, entertainment complexes, high school sports, fundraising and much much more!”

To learn more about how you can start a business with help from L’il Orbits, visit http://www.lilorbits.com and read about their history, business startup info and more. You can also call 800-228-8305 to contact the company.

■ DETAILING

Our obsession and love for our vehicles seems to have no signs of slowing down. Our automobiles and trucks are treated with kid gloves. Many car buyers spend in the high five figures for a vehicle and want them cared for by someone who can see to every detail.

You can start your own car detailing business and expand to include trucks, RV’s, boats, planes, scooter and motorcycles. A must for any list of top twenty businesses to consider now.

There are books on how to detail for sale on amazon.com and there are videos on YouTube that show the finer points of detailing a vehicle. You can do it on your own. Visit an auto store and take a look at the products.

If you don’t want to be completely on your own, consider buying a kit. The Detail King company sells business opportunity packages priced from $1595 to $20,495. Visit their website at http://www.detailking.com to see their six different auto detailing startup kits.

Paint Bull offers a business opportunity package that will help you become a mobile automotive repair technician. You’ll offer: paint repair, paintless dent repair, interior repair, headlight restoration and rim repair. The company is based in Saginaw, Michigan and their website is http://www.paintbullbusiness.com. You can also call them at 800-800-5725.

Do an online search and see what you can learn about the business and the industry.

■ LANDSCAPING

We all love to get home, kick back and relax. But who has the time to cater to the lawn, prune the shrubs, handle the weeding, organize the seeding and fertilizing schedule, order the mulch and put it down, and a host of other chores that caring for our landscaping and yard entails.

You can start a lucrative small business in your community taking care of these tasks. We know of a woman who was let go from her firm in Chicago, and starting with a single small gas powered lawnmower and a minivan, launched what is now a six-figure landscaping empire.

She printed up a flyer and left it everywhere: on cars, hanging on community bulletins boards, at any local establishment that would let her leave it for the taking. She placed a small ad in her local paper and offered a discount to “new customers.” Gradually, she built up her enterprise to the point where she just booked the jobs and sat back and collected the fees.

You can choose to specialize in a particular type of landscaping business –such as weed pulling-or you can run the gamut and offer it all. The choice is up to you, Boss.

By the way, weeds are a large problem for many landscapers who hire out the task to “Weeds Only” type landscape companies. You can start a “Weeds Only” business and never have to work to get jobs. Just contact the existing landscapers in your community and let them know when you are available to begin work.

Contact PLANET: Professional Landcare Network to learn more about the landscaping profession. This group represents more than 100,000 landscapers. For more info visit http://www.landcarenetwork.org/PLANET.

■ PARTY SERVICES

Businesses that cater to parties always seem to do well no matter what shape the economy is in and there are plenty of options to consider in the party services business category.

Have you been told you make a great host? Consider starting a party planning enterprise. The Event Planners Association is a great website to investigate for ideas and options. Visit http://eventplannersassociation.com/ to see their information on a wide variety of events.

If you love cocktails and even like to invent your own, why not become a freelance bartender? You can attend one of the many bartending schools located throughout the United States. Just search for Bartending Schools online and see what is available in your region. Some bartending schools offer “intensive study” so you can get your certificate of completion right away. Going to a bartending school is not a requirement to launch your own freelance bartending service, but it could help you establish credibility and make it easier to take on gigs as a bartender for a local caterer.

Other small business possibilities include: photographer, florist, dish and glass rental, chair and table rental, tents and DJ. If you are an excellent cake maker consider starting your own custom cake business.

You can also run a fun photo booth. Mojo Photo Booth offers The Original Portable Photo Booth that has been a hit at many weddings, parties and events. The booth packages begin at $3995 and take only 15 minutes to set up. They fit in any passenger car and can be run by one person. You can even purchase the booth and then rent it out to wedding planners and other party planning or catering operations. The company website can help you learn more. Visit http://www.mojophotobooth.com or call 888-484-MOJO (6656).

■ KIDS

Small businesses that cater to kids are hot moneymakers. Parents don’t have enough hours in the day to take care of every programmed event for their children. Music lessons, sports activities, after school clubs, dance class, planning birthday parties, schools and tutoring are just a few options. Parents need help.

A number of stay-at-home Moms have launched day care centers in their homes figuring if they are home taking care of their own kids, why not get paid to watch and care for a few more. You’ll need supplies ranging from diapers and food to play things. You’ll need liability insurance and a waiver form for parents to sign. You might even need help and have to hire a few assistants to help you. Check with your local country clerk’s office to see if any special permits are required in your region of the country.

If you excelled at a subject in school or can play an instrument, consider giving classes or lessons. If you teach to a group, you’ll make more money in one hour than if you offer individual instruction.

Tutor in the child’s home to save on dressing up your own facility. Less liability, too, with this option.

If you enjoy kids but don’t want to be involved in a business working directly with them, consider starting your own Friendly Songs small business. You offer personalized music and gifts. You sell singing stuffed animals to your customers and CDs that have customized names for the children. This is a business opportunity dealer program and the company will help you get started. Visit http://www.FriendlySongs.com or call 803-485-1544 to learn more.

■ WEBSITE SALES

If you are online you can see how many sales are generated by websites. You can launch your own website and sell a product that you’ve created or sell a product that you purchase wholesale from another company. Selling online today is the equivalent of a modern day mail order venture. More than 191 million shoppers in the U.S. buy goods online. More than 87% of the world’s population has shopped online. This is a global market for your products.

There are plenty of “drop and drag” affordable websites that offers easy to use tools to create a website in less than an hour. Yola.com, weebly.com , squarespace.com or 1and1Internet.com are just a few examples of web hosting companies with tools that you can master.

What types of products interest you? If you are a biker, sell a new type of bike lock, seat or helmet. Get involved with products you love and make your small business interesting and fun.

If you are a musician, sells music books or tools to fix guitars. You can even tie in with MusiciansFriends.com and become an affiliate. You place ads on your website for their products and if a visitor to your site goes to MusiciansFriends and buys it, you receive a percentage of the profits.

Amazon.com has a similar affiliate program that you can investigate.

You can visit the alibaba.com website to view products that you can purchase from overseas and China. You should be cautious of making transactions with companies that have not been referred to you or that have a poor rating online. Google the company first and check out any complaints or negative reports. Do your homework before you purchase anything and avoid being ripped off later.

You can even start a business building websites for the almost 88% of small business owners that don’t currently have them. Investigate the website hosting services, learn the tools, build one of your own to promote your business and start selling to local entrepreneurs.

■ CLEANING SERVICES

Cleaning services come in all shapes and sizes from the sole proprietor who is out there cleaning store windows to the mega-franchise owner who operates a dozen residential and commercial cleaning businesses. There is plenty of room for opportunity with a cleaning business.

You can start your own residential and commercial cleaning service by tying in with a franchisor and using their system of doing business, or purchase supplies, place ads, build a website homepage to give your business recognition online and start shopping for customers.

You can also start a variety of other cleaning businesses.

The Master’s Touch, for example, offers a complete turnkey system so you can launch your own hard surface cleaning company. This is not a franchise. There are no royalty payments. Financing is available for qualified candidates.

Training for The Master’s Touch program is comprehensive. According to the company, “Training is one of the most important elements when starting a new business, so we’ve put together a comprehensive training program designed to properly equip you for success. You’ll learn it all.

“The first day you will experience the tools first hand on a live job followed by a tour of our facility and classroom training where you learn the variety of surfaces you can clean with The Master’s Touch tools.

“On day two we’ll dive into the equipment training. This is where you will learn how to operate and maintain the equipment that power your tools.

“Now, generating sales is key the growth of your business so we’ll spend the third and fourth day with an emphasis on sales, marketing, and ongoing support.

“And Friday is graduation day, an experience that you’ll always remember as you officially become a small business owner.”

Visit tmtopportunity.com to learn more or call 866-932-5353 for more information about the opportunity.

Rotovac offers a startup carpet cleaning package for $2995. Many carpet cleaning businesses just use the old manual scrub wand method because it has been around for over 40 years. Using a manual wand requires a great deal of physical labor and only cleans from two directions, often producing only mediocre results. The manual wand is old technology and gives you nothing new or different to market to your customers.

The Rotovac company has patented special Rotary Vacuum Heads that can deep clean the carpet from all directions. The tools do all the work.

The company also offers a package to clean tile and grout and we all know what a chore that can be. Their tile and grout-cleaning package is $3995. You can book residential and/or commercial clients.

Contact the company by phone at 888-768-6822 or visit their website http://www.rotovac.com for more information on how you can start this type of cleaning venture.

You can start a cleaning business cleaning out foreclosed properties. The Cleanout Foreclosures Guide is $249. The startup manual comes with a CD, business forms and professional marketing materials. You can run this business on weekends, evenings, part-time or full-time. The author, JT Stewart shares his insight. Stewart has ten years of experience in this field. Call the company at 800-685-9670 or visit their website at CleanoutForeclosures.com to get more info or to order the startup package.

The legendary VonSchrader company has been in business for 79 years and that carries a lot of weight to consumers. You can tie-in with VonSchrader to purchase their systems that include a carpet cleaning package and an upholstery package.

The company offers free training and a money-back guarantee. They also provide free sales and marketing service and support when you become a VonSchrader associate. The company offers Green Seal Certified cleaning products, a how-to business manual and support material. A comprehensive instruction book and DVD is included.

For more information call the company at 800-626-6916 or visit http://www.VonSchrader.com for information on how to get started.

Another disagreeable necessity for homeowners and apartment owners is blind cleaning. You can launch a blind cleaning business that also includes the cleaning, repair and installing of shades and shutters as well with help from LetsCleanBlinds. The company suggests that entrepreneurs can earn about $2000 a week with this business—and that’s just working for less than five hours a day, Monday to Friday.

LetsCleanBlinds suggests the business is ideal for part-time or full-time launch and offers good repeat business. Visit their website LetsCleanBlinds.com or call 770-616-1964 to learn how you can make money cleaning blinds for homeowners, commercial businesses, restaurants and more.

Hygienitech Systems offers a business opportunity turnkey package that will help you start your own mattress, upholstery cleaning and sanitizing service. You’ll receive free training, marketing assistance and help with advertising. You can learn more about the cleaning business by visiting the company website http://www.hygienitech.com or call 561-381-4202/888-999-9030. You can also send an email to the sales department: sales@hygienitech.com for information.

Another cleaning venture you might want to consider is the cleaning of barbeque grills. We offer information on a unique cleaning business called The BBQ Cleaner The BBQ Cleaner in the BACKYARD BONANZA section of this feature.

■ JUNK HAULER

If you own a truck, you have the basic tool you need to launch your own junk hauling service. Many people don’t have a truck or van to take their discarded items to the local dump or recycling facility.

Small business owners also make up your target audience. They could have recyclables that need to be carted away along with old chairs, filing cabinets and equipment.

Brian Scudamore started the 1-800-GOT-JUNK company back in 1989 and today it is the world’s largest junk removal company. Visit their website to see what they do and how they do it: http://www.1800gotjunk.com. You can start a high-profit business based on junk!

■ PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

If you live in any area that attracts a lot of absentee property owners you can launch your own property management venture. Your assignments will be to drop in, check on and take care of properties while the owners are away.

There are a lot of tasks to consider: pool care, leaf raking, and maintenance of the house. You can also offer to restock the refrigerator and fill cars with gas.

You’ll be the one around to work with the local contractor while the property owner is off site, help with any deliveries and, in general, check on things while the owner is away.

Once you develop a couple of clients and receive positive word of mouth, you can start building a good and lucrative client base.

■ MAIL ORDER

You can make money by selling goods through the mail or from your website and it has never been easier to get started. There are plenty of exciting options for even the first-time entrepreneur with no experience. You can sell your goods to a global audience. The first thing you need to find is a product to sell on your site or from your mail order ad.

A good source for your startup is “How To Become A Mail Order Millionaire,” by Fred Broitman. Fred Broitman is a well-known mail order authority and principal at Sunman Direct, Chicago’s largest independently owned Direct Response Advertising Agency.

Broitman’s book is a comprehensive
manual to help you start, run and manage your own mail order business using the Internet. You’ll learn about how to find a great product to sell, how to create winning ads and how to establish your online presence and maximize search engine optimization that will drive customers to your website.

The mail order manual is available via mail order and at select conventions. For a limited time only you can buy the guide for $29.95 plus $3.50 for first class postage and handling. Send a check or money order in the amount of $33.45 to Superior Press, 333 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601. To learn more You can also visit http://www.becomeamailordermillionaire.com.

■ PERSONALIZED PRODUCTS

Start your own business making high profits on goods that are personalized. You can work with everything from candy wrappers and personalized water bottles to key rings, badges, signs and even customized songs for children.

You can sell these items from your own with a website or by placing a mail order ad. You can also sell from a space in another person’s store. This is called “piggybacking.” You can establish a booth at a crafts fair or flea market. Rent a kiosk in a mall during the busy holiday season (if you don’t have the funds to rent the booth all year long.)

If your products are targeted to a particular market—weddings—for example, contact caterers in your area and show them your product line. See if they would offer their clients what you have to sell and give them a commission on the sales. If you have personalized labels to put on candy or water bottles for a wedding party or other event, the caterer might want to include this in their “party package.”

Children are a large market for personalized books, stuffed animals and musical CDs.

The promotional products industry is a $20 billion industry and growing every year. Here are a few companies that can help you get started with your own personalized products business right in your home:

Promotional advertising specialties are a good way for small businesses to generate goodwill among their clients. You can tie in with the Kaeser & Blair company to offer hundreds of items ranging from travel coffee mugs and backpacks to awards, caps and shirts. The program costs just $85 to become a dealer and this fee is refunded when you begin to sell products and reach certain goals. The sky is the limit on sales. You can earn anywhere from $100 to $10,000 a week. It is all up to you and how entrepreneurial you want to be. Contact the company to receive a free Kaeser & Blair prospectus package. Call 800-642-0790 or visit http://www.kaeser-blair.com to get started.

Occasionography offers a fun and moneymaking business opportunity that will have you taking orders to personalize a wide variety of products from candy bars and mints to water bottles and much more. If you own a computer you can generate these fun labels yourself and then place them on the appropriate products. The company suggests they are great for weddings, graduations, fundraising events, showers, new baby announcements, birthdays, family reunions, small businesses and more.

Work on this business part-time or full-time. To receive more information on how to make money creating labels and wrappers for products, visit Occasionography.com and you can learn everything you need to know. The phone is 800-306-3552.

Personal Touch Products can help you launch your own business selling personalized products with names and surnames for just $249. You don’t need expensive equipment, just your computer. The company will provide you with software to create gifts for every event ranging from First and Last Name Keepsakes and Gifts, to Coat of Arms, Personalized Poetry Gifts, Popular Bible Verse Gifts and Family Tree Gifts. Visit the website at http://www.personaltouchproducts.com/bizopp to learn more or call the company at 909-596-1166 and they will answer any questions you have about the business.

Badge a Minit is a proven leader in the field of personalized products. They offer a startup kit for only $29.95 that can enable you to create button for every occasion or event. The buttons can be used for fundraising events, community celebrations, anniversaries, small business giveaways, birthday parties and other special acknowledgements, schools, sports teams, crafts parties and much more. The company has been in business since 1971 and is ready to help you start your own business. Visit http://www.badgeaminit.com or call 800-223-4103 to learn more.

We featured contact information on Friendly Songs in our section on KIDS. Visit http://www.FriendlySongs.com to learn about their custom music for children.

■ SPORTS

A major activity around the world is sports! If we are not playing sports, we are watching and wearing the logo items of our favorite teams in our communities and schools as well as pro teams.

SportsLife Enterprises can help you establish your own small business selling sporting goods and promotional items to local schools, corporations, clubs, special events, small businesses and more. You can offer screen printed or embroidered pieces ranging from hats and sweatshirts to ref’s shirts and custom uniforms.

If you love sports, this is a fun business to start. The company is celebrating their 23rd year in business in 2015, so you can work and learn from this proven leader. The startup costs are low. There is something available for every sport including football, basketball, soccer, softball and baseball.

Begin the dialog by contacting their website at http://www.sportslife.com or by calling the headquarters at 800-909-5433. Make this the year you start your dream business venture.

Pro Star Athletics is another company that can help you get started selling sporting goods, caps and jackets, team uniforms, licensed gifts, licensed apparel and much more. The sports they cover include football, volleyball, hockey, baseball, basketball, softball, soccer and more. You can sell the custom team products to local sports groups, clubs, community teams, small businesses who sponsor local events and more. Visit http://www.Prostarathletics.net to learn more about Pro Star or call the company at 866-390-7732 and start making money doing something you love.

■ HANDYMAN

There are plenty of jobs for the handyman thanks to a building boom that has larger carpentry services turning down the “little” jobs. If you have experience swinging a hammer or performing tasks such as deck repair and building, fixing minor leaks and changing faucets, putting up fences and power washing homes, you have the potential to launch your own handyman service.

Check out the competition in your area. Is there room for another handyman enterprise? What are their rates? Do they charge by the project or by the hour? What will you charge your customers?

Call your insurance company and learn about liability insurance and getting bonded. This means that you will be covered by insurance should any damage occur on the property where you are working.

Call your county clerk’s office and determine if you need any special licenses or permits to operate in your county.

Develop a flier and a website with photos of some of the projects you’ve undertaken. You can start with your own home improvement projects or those that you’ve performed for your friends, family and neighbors. Get business cards, place an ad in your local newspaper.

Contact franchises such as Mr. Handyman by visiting their website
http://www.mrhandyman.com and House Doctors at http://www.housedoctors.com as well as Handyman Connection at http://www.handymanconnection.com. To learn more about franchising, visit the International Franchise Association website http://www.franchise.org to investigate the concept.

■ BACKYARD BONANZA

Start your own business catering to homeowners’ love of their backyards. You can start one or all of these ventures.

Mirage Waterless Grass is looking for entrepreneurs who want to own their own dealership marketing and installing Mirage Waterless Grass products. The company has created a synthetic grass that is a moneysaving, eco-friendly alternative to natural grass. It doesn’t have to be cut, fertilized, watered, seeded or mowed.

The product is ideal for both commercial and residential applications. You can run this business on a part-time or full-time basis. Visit http://www.WGDealer.com to learn more about the business opportunity. The overhead is low and it costs about $2450 to get started.

The company also has opportunities available to install Putting Greens. Visit http://www.MirageGreens.com to learn more about that business startup opportunity.

Barbeque Cleaning is a hot business to start. We all love to barbeque but who likes to clean the grill? You come in and offer the service with your BBQ cleaning opportunity program from The BBQ Cleaner. The company offers a proven tested business system for cleaning barbeque grills.

You purchase the system, the kit and a complete operations manual that will teach you how to clean and repair BBQ grills. Contact The BBQ Cleaner by visiting their website http://www.thebbqcleaner.com or call the company at 888-296-8368 to learn more.

Another company that offers a business opportunity program cleaning barbeques is BBQ Renew. The company wants you to cash-in on all of those dirty gas BBQ grills out there. They offer a gas grill cleaning and restoration business opportunity that include equipment, tools and supplies, along with marketing materials. Visit their website http://www.bbqrenew.com, or send an email to info@bbqrenew.com to learn more.

Set Up & Install Outdoor TVs with help from Mirage Vision who has packaged their knowledge on outdoor LED/LCD TV systems into a business opportunity package. Backyard entertainment is booming and the company wants you to capitalize on the home cocooning trend.

You can learn to install the outdoor, waterproof TV systems and make a profit on every one you sell and install. Plenty of designs and options available.

Market this business to homeowners, bar and restaurant owners, hotels and resorts, sports bars, cafes with outdoor terraces, tail gate parties, campers, fisherman and anyone else who loves to hang out and relax in the great outdoors. Call 702-533-8899 or visit http://www.TheOutdoorTVStore.com to find out how you can start this business in your region.

■ HOME INVENTORY

There have been an increasing amount of natural disasters ranging from floods and wildfires to hurricanes, tornadoes and windstorms. Many homeowners do not have adequate protection in the form of a proper listing of their belongings such as household goods, jewelry, artwork, musical instruments, computer equipment, and more.

This is where you come in: you can establish your own small business taking care of the job of creating an inventory listing of all items in the home or apartment. You can start and run this business as a mobile entrepreneur with your laptop computer and a camera/video camera/smartphone.

Develop marketing tools such as a website, brochure, business cards and place an ad in your local newspaper.

Visit the homes or apartments of your clients and make a list of their items. Photograph and/or video the contents of the home. Present your client with a written list and a CD/DVD of the home tour.

Small business owners will also want to be your clients.

You can start your own or purchase the business opportunity program from Home Journal Business. Their startup kit contains everything you need to launch and run this business from forms and marketing ideas to software. To learn more about the opportunity they offer to entrepreneurs visit www. homejournalbusiness.com

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

8 Reasons Why Who You Are Affects Your Business

In the past few years, the word entrepreneurship has become a buzzword rivaling others like synergy or globalization. Emerging from a slumping economy, our country’s best and brightest thinkers have gotten the itch to start their own businesses.

According to DocStoc, there are over 28 million small businesses in America as of 2013. In that same report, an estimated 543,000 new small businesses get started each month. Additionally, over half of the working population now works for small businesses.

With all of this innovation, its easy to get caught up in the excitement of the brilliant new ideas and creative solutions produced by the flux of these startups. But what about the people behind the businesses? Who are the folks that are bringing these ideas to the market and what are their stories? What collaborations and coalitions among individuals make entrepreneurship possible?

The answers to these questions might be easily brushed aside by the outside observer, concerned more about the bottom line than leadership and team dynamics. But anyone who has started their own business likely sees things differently. Indeed, the vault of quotes from top business execs and CEOs about how companies are only as good as their people is vast and exhaustive. If its true that the people who make up businesses are the magic, why is it that many of these companies leave their employees feeling like they can’t be their authentic selves?

A study conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation shows that many people of color say they need to, “compromise their authenticity” in order to fit in at their company. Andres Tapia, author of The Inclusion Paradox, notes that companies have done a great job of achieving compositional diversity within their organizations but struggle when it comes to developing a “corporate culture where all employees feel included, respected, comfortable, and able to do their best work.”

Who we are matters and in order to reach our potential in business we have to embrace conversations about identity to best serve ourselves, the people we work with, and our clients.

Here are eight reasons why who you are affects your business:

1. You are your product. No matter how innovative or earth-shattering your idea is, people won’t care to listen to it if they don’t know your story. The best sales people don’t sell products, they sell themselves. The life experiences you’ve had significantly impact your product and the way you run your business. If clients know the person behind the idea, they will have a more profound understanding of why the idea is important and why they should invest in it.

2. The more you understand yourself, the more effective you’ll be. On performance reviews it is often referred to as self-awareness. Those who have a developed understanding of their own strengths, areas for growth, vulnerabilities, and insecurities are better able to navigate challenges and be effective through adversity. Taking some time to explore your own identity as an entrepreneur will help you to better understand your business and your product. It will also allow you to more authentically and confidently communicate your ideas to potential clients.

3. The business world isn’t fair. The sad reality is that our society has been set up to benefit some groups of people and marginalize others. Whether it is racial privilege for white folks or gender discrimination toward women, the systemic structures of privilege and oppression affect us all. Regardless of whether your business does anything to change these structures, it is impacted by them. This might mean that men have a better chance of advancing business than women or that people of color will face obstacles that their White counterparts do not experience. A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce indicates that minorities are less likely to get loans, more likely to be denied credit, and pay higher interest rates. The more conscious we are of these inequities that influence business, the more likely we’ll be to navigate them effectively.

4. Your competitors care about identity and diversity. Every industry has niche markets that businesses aim their advertising efforts toward. Market research is one of the most important strategies for a successful startup. Good companies know the different types of people interested in their product and how best to appeal to those demographics. Ignoring these differences and assuming that the market is colorblind could mean that your competitors are getting the leg up in attracting a prime market for your business.

5. The market is more global than ever before. With e-commerce and the flattening of the world, business today is more global than ever before. This means that companies are learning to navigate cultural boundaries, like language, tradition, and custom, in totally new ways. And understanding globalization doesn’t just apply to big international corporations, it affects small startups right here on Main Street. The U.S. is growing increasingly more diverse everyday and successful companies that know how these changes impact their business will thrive.

6. Effective businesses leverage difference. Every good business knows how to utilize its different resources. Each person working in your company brings a vast portfolio of strengths to the table. Not talking about those differences, whether they be specialized training, personality types, or cultural perspectives, means that you have useful skills and talents going to waste. Too often companies focus on diversity in terms of numbers and filling quotas, instead of going a step further and actually capitalizing on the differences among their employees. Different ideas and perspectives only serve to make a product better and more appealing to a broader audience. Smart entrepreneurs seek out feedback and input from diverse perspectives in order to improve their business and see things they couldn’t otherwise.

7. Retaining good people means understanding who they are. Good companies do more than just hire diverse employees, they know how to keep them engaged. Employees who are fully engaged in their companies are 50% more likely to exceed expectations than their non-engaged counterparts. Companies who engage their employees outperform companies who don’t in terms of retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth – by a lot! That being said, it makes smart business sense to go the extra mile and provide the resources necessary to keep members of your team engaged in the business. This means taking the time to learn about who they are and what is important to them.

8. Understanding identity and diversity can make or break your image. A company’s success depends largely on the way it is seen by the public. Social media and the internet has significantly impacted the way businesses think about their image, specifically around issues of diversity and discrimination. Incidents of bias that would have flown under the radar a few years ago can cripple a company’s reputation overnight. Companies are being held to a higher standard and this accountability is leading to better businesses that care about issues of diversity and inclusion. Instead of hoping to avoid embarrassing instances of bias, smart entrepreneurs look to understand diversity and the ways it improves their business.

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Looking Ahead in 2015 – Making Resolutions and Goals That Stick

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015 – doesn’t it look nice and shiny? That’s because it’s a new year – with plenty of opportunities for you to make the most of whatever it is you want to do… and there can be the problem, right?

You want to make goals and resolutions, but every year you do this… and every year, those goals and resolutions just don’t stick. Here’s a couple of reason’s why that might be the case:

  • Your resolutions lack accountability
  • Your resolutions focus on a weakness
  • Your goals lack measurable outcomes
  • You don’t put any real thought into what you want to achieve
  • You can’t really be bothered, so you just go with the same ones you had from last year

Sorry if that seems a little in ya face, but if you’re honest with yourself, I’m probably right. This was me last year, so I don’t get off lightly either!

So how do you make your goals and resolutions stick? I’m glad you asked…

How to Make Goals and Resolutions ‘Stick’

1. Figure out your focus:

It all starts with focus. We are constantly distracted in our daily lives, which makes it difficult to remember where you’re heading and what you’re trying to achieve. And it doesn’t take long to veer off course and end up moving in a direction that wasn’t even on your radar.

So to combat distractions, you need to focus on what you’re looking to achieve this year and into the future.

Mark Joyner, CEO of Simpleology, suggests setting only three major goals – a short term, medium term and long-term goal. Then he suggests further that when you set your daily to-do lists, that you review these goals to make sure your to-do’s are moving you toward those goals.

In my previous post, I talked about my goals for this year. I have 7 areas that I focus on and then mini goals within those. My to-do list is then created and linked to the main ‘focus’ area it pertains to. I use Todoist as my to-do list, but Simplelogy is also a good option.

Find the tool that works for you and then set yourself up for success by reviewing your main goals and linking them to your daily actions and tasks.

2. Make resolutions that focus on your strengths:

While it might make sense to make resolutions to improve an area you feel you’re weak in, this can actually set you up for failure right from the get-go.

If you want your resolutions to stick, look at focusing and harnessing your strengths. Ask the question, “Am I trying to change a weakness or am I playing to my strengths?” This is from author of “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” Marcus Buckingham.

Focus on strengths

If you choose to focus on and increase your strengths, you’ll feel more passionate and engaged about what you’re doing, which leads to an increased inclination to follow the resolution through.

So for me, one of my resolutions is to remove sugar from my diet. This is a difficult resolution for me because I have a massive sweet tooth. It also means I’m not super passionate about really doing it. I know that sugar is bad for me, but my willpower is zero when it comes to eliminating it from my diet.

So a better resolution for me would be to focus on eating better foods and reducing my sugar intake rather than trying to eliminate sugar from my diet – which if I’m really honest with myself, ain’t gonna happen!

Don’t focus on or try and change your weaknesses, focus instead on your strengths, which will ultimately balance out those weaknesses anyway.

3. Look for the obstacles:

Making goals and resolutions isn’t easy and sticking to them is even harder. If it was easy, you wouldn’t need to make a big deal about setting them in the first place, right?

Part of making your goals and resolutions stick is in being aware of potential obstacles ahead of time so that you can plan around them.

So how do you anticipate the obstacles and plan for them?

Set up rewards for sticking to your goals and resolutions, particularly if you’re a bit of a procrastinator (like me!).

Make them big rewards too, and not rewards that could potentially undo your hard work… like take my resolution of eating healthier foods – my reward should NOT be to spend a day eating a bunch of sugary crap. Instead, a better reward would be a day at the spa or a massage.

Put baits in place to keep you interested and focused on achieving those goals and resolutions.

Identify the obstacles ahead of time and plan how to deal with them and then just deal with them. Reward yourself when you do and hey presto, those goals and resolutions have ‘stu

By following these three key steps you’ll ensure that this year, your goals and resolutions will actually stick.

But there’s one other key ingredient… can you guess what it is?

YOU!

That’s right, you still have to take responsibility, take action and follow through. All the above steps do is help you set yourself up for success – you still have to actually do the steps, right?!

What are your goals and resolutions for 2015? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll hold you accountable!

Do you have your own ‘trick’ for making your goals stick? I’d love to hear about that too – you know the drill, leave it in the comments below…

-See more at: http://www.outsourcedfreelancingsuccess.com