You have a Facebook business page. Do you still need a website in 2018?
Seems like a great idea, doesn't? Facebook is free to use. A Facebook business page is much easier to maintain and update than a website. You're probably thinking, "A business website — who needs one?"
Before you decide to ditch your website, let's take a look at the facts.
I Choose Social!
A 2017 survey conducted by the Local Search Association (LSA) asked small and medium business owners what their media of choice would be if they could only choose one. Social media came out on top by a wide margin.
But, is social media alone the best way to find new prospects, engage visitors and encourage return customers? Hmmm....?
What Do the Numbers Say?
The LSA Digital Consumer Study examined consumer behavior in 12 U.S. cities. The study found that 63 percent of consumers still use websites to find and contact businesses. That percentage is, in fact, higher than the 60 percent from the year before.
Another telling fact — a business website performs much better in organic searches than social media pages do. In other words, having a website increases a company's chance of showing up naturally in search engine listings and placing higher without paying for advertising boosts.
No Website, No Trust
Who are you? That's what prospects want to know. According to research done by both the LSA and the Real Yellow Pages (YP), if your business doesn't have a website, prospects go elsewhere. No website, no confidence, no trust.
Consumer perception about your reputation and credibility relies on whether or not you have a website as well how it professional it looks. Your website is your online storefront - if you don't have one it's goodbye Nelly.
Clearly, a website is still a critical tool when it comes to reaching out to new prospects, engaging current customers and keeping those customers coming back for more. But wait, there's more!
OK, I Need a Website. Now What?
If your business doesn't have a website or has one that hasn't had a revamp in some time, you have to know that today's websites are different. Websites used to be complex creatures with page after page of data. You had to put everything out there. Not anymore.
So what does a business website in these days of mobile devices and time constraints look like? Check back for Part II coming soon.
It's not the flying that's tough, it's getting to the plane in the first place
I recently flew back to Utah to see people I care about but haven't seen in a very long time. Flying is something I don't do often. The last time I flew anywhere was from Duluth, Minnesota, to Chicago. That was long after 9/11. Strict security measures were in place then so I wasn't a total newbie this time around.
But what I discovered is the security gauntlet is different depending on where you are. Duluth seemed an utter madhouse at the time, although, part of that was my fault. It was my first time through the "taking my shoes off" security routine. O'Hare, on the other hand, seemed to have things streamlined and I breezed through on the way back.
Just So You Know...
This time, I discovered a couple of things about getting through security. First, breakfast bars are suspect. I am not sure why but the breakfast bars I had in a bag with other snack food items caused a lot of scrutiny in both airports. They let me keep my bars. At least I wouldn't starve.
And another thing — don't wear any type of shoulder padding when you fly. I didn't even know there was slight padding in the top I wore coming home. But, my shoulders set off an alarm. A simple shoulder pat, much like a parent does to a child, by the TSA agent cleared me. I had nightmares of strip searches before that shoulder pat, though.
You, Your Bread Maker & Airport Security
Did you know you can take a bread machine through security? That's one of the many odd items that are on the approved "What can I bring?" list. I really like my bread machine but I didn't feel the need to take it with me to Salt Lake. But, that's just me.
You can't bring bowling pins through the checkpoint, but boxing gloves are OK. And, your tortilla press? Bring it on. Leave the paint thinner at home, though. It's not allowed in either carry-on or checked baggage.
Let's face it, TSA agents have a tough job. Massive numbers of people come through those lines and lives depend on agents catching dangerous items. A salute to those hard-working folks. And, they're job's not all tedious. In fact, people have tried to bring awfully strange items through security. Like these...
Of course, I knew better than to take anything even remotely resembling the above list of "what were they thinking" objects. I didn't think about the shoulder pads, though. Live and learn.
Why taking a vacation is good for you
It's true! Taking a vacation is good for your health and state of mind. Why am I bringing this up now? Could it be that I am going on vacation and I don't want you to wonder about why I haven't posted on my blog for a while? You got it.
But, seriously, getting away from the stress of work and routine is good for us. And it's all very scientific. Here's why:
How, How, How?
I know what you're thinking — you're thinking "I can't possibly get away. They need me!" I am not telling you to drop everything, hop on a plane and leave your co-workers and team members holding the bag. You gotta have a plan.
Schedule your time off well in advance. Make sure everyone who needs to know is informed. Train someone for specific tasks if necessary. Prioritize your obligations and finish whatever needs to be finished before you leave. You can do this!
But, whatever you do, don't plan to work during vacation. A quick check of emails and availability if there's an emergency is one thing. But telling yourself "I'll just work on this project a little" is not a vacation. You won't reap the benefits you would if you let everything go and just have fun.
OK, hope everyone has a great couple of weeks. And while you're at it, start planning your next vacation now. Or else.
Can you and your blog can live happily ever after?
Yes, you can. But how? If you or someone on your team has the time and skills — including how to effectively incorporate SEO and write authoritative yet engaging content — to concentrate on blog posts each week, go for it. If not, hire a writer.
Where You Gonna Look?
What I am going to tell you here is not what you'll read in most "find the right blog writer" lists. Not that I think the lists are wrong, mind you. Most of the suggestions are, in my opinion, a complete waste of time.
Here are my handy-dandy "finding a blog writer" dos and don'ts:
Who You Gonna Call?
You have a shortlist. It's decision time.
You don't have to choose a writer who's an expert in your field. You do need to choose one who knows how to conduct research, utilize reputable sources, asks questions and requests supporting material from you.
Look for a writer who's interested in getting to know you, your business, your products and services. And look for a writer who wants to know who your customers and prospects are. If he or she doesn't ask about your business or doesn't have time to learn, find another writer.
The blog writer you choose has to be capable of capturing your voice and speaking to your target audience. Choose someone you feel comfortable working and communicating with. It's a partnership. You have to get along.
And one last tip — don't sign any type of long-term contract. You don't want to be stuck with a writer who doesn't work out. Pay by the project or piece, particularly in the beginning.
The Takeaway: You and your blog can live happily ever after. You just have to find the right counselor, er, I mean writer.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
* I reserve the right to refuse sample requests for illegal activities or about subjects of which I otherwise deem objectionable.
Ready to break up with your blog? There's still hope...
There it sits, staring you in the face. You know you have to do something about it. Few things affect your bottom line as much. That little ol' blog of yours has the potential to grow your business in a whole lot of ways. It brings in more traffic, increases engagement, attracts new prospects and adds lots of indexed pages in Google.
But, oh, the pain! You run a small business. You don't have time or the people-power to blog as often as you need to. Or, maybe you do, but you don't have the word-power. Or, maybe you do, but you don't know how to write for online viewers who generally have an attention span shorter than a goldfish.
So, you sit there and wonder how to salvage the relationship. Is a divorce on the horizon? Or, can you and your blog come to an understanding and live happily ever after? There is hope.
To Blog or Not to Blog — That is the Question
"Do I even need a blog?" you ask. The answer could be no. If you're a small local business with a devoted following, you may not need to reach out to new customers. A following on Facebook may be all that's required.
But if your business is a B2B, sells products online, provides internet related services or you have plans to expand beyond your local region, a blog is a cost-effective marketing tool that has the potential to drastically improve your online standing and boost ROI. And that's nothing to sneeze at.
To Write or Not to Write — That is the Next Question
So, you now that you know you need a blog, do you write it yourself or outsource the task? Great question. There are pros and cons whichever way you go.
There ya go — it's settled. You'll do it yourself, right? Well, take a look at the cons before you decide.
So what can you do? Should you write your own blog posts even if you don't have the know-how? Should you spend a little money and outsource your blog? Or maybe you'll just chuck it all and say bye-bye blog?
We'll figure it out in Part II — Coming Soon.
Run your freelance or small business like a champ with these awesome tools.
Yes, I said free! Of course, many of the programs here also have paid options. Even the paid options tend to be low-cost and as your business grows you can choose to upgrade.
But money for marketing, project management, social media planning and staff scheduling is hard to come by for most freelancers and small business owners. The problem is that planning, productivity and scheduling programs keep a business on track and mistakes to a minimum. What's a poor small business owner to do?
These seven free options are perfect for both freelancers and small businesses. Each free plan offers a host of features to not only run a business smoothly, but make tasks like social media marketing and customer engagement quick and easy.
One word of caution about some of these — several offer free paid plan trials for a number of days or weeks. If you want to try the paid plan, great. If you like it and it's affordable, keep it. But if free is your goal, don't forget to fall back to the free plan before the trial ends to avoid charges.
Here are seven of the best free tools, at least free on the date of this post, you can start using right now:
A tasty platter of great resources for your small business
What happens when your sick kitty keeps you up all night, you hear a loud bang from a blown transformer at 3:30 a.m. and the power goes out, you can hardly keep your eyes open but you still have to write a blog post? You hand out a platter of awesome small business resources.
Whether you already have a small business or a great idea and need help to get started, you'll find what you're looking for here.
Don't forget to look for organizations at the local level. Look for small business owner groups, the local Chamber of Commerce and city, town or county organizations. These groups offer invaluable information sharing, networking and partnership opportunities.
Have you found any small business resources I didn't list? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Or, did they really dig up a mummified, three-fingered alien in Peru?
You get up, grab a cup of coffee and head online to catch up on what happened overnight. You look at Facebook and gasp. After you stop coughing from the coffee you just inhaled, you think, "This is terrible! A napping morgue employee was cremated by mistake! I have to share this one!" And you do. But guess what? It's not true.
The incredibly detailed story of the ill-fated morgue employee was the brainchild of fake "news" site WNDR. And it was believed and shared by millions.
Sharing a fake story like this one is probably harmless, but that's not always the case. A false meme that's been around for years came across my Facebook feed again this week.
The graphical chart entitled "Think Before You Donate" depicts several charities, including Goodwill, UNICEF, The United Way, March of Dimes and the American Red Cross as not worthy of donations. The graphic cites erroneous CEO salaries and other false information to support its creator's view.
Not only is a chart like this inaccurate, if believed it does harm to the very people the charity serves by reducing donations. So how can you figure out how to spot real from fake?
What Has Facebook Done?
Facebook recently made some mighty big changes. And those changes have impacted businesses in a not-so-good way. In an effort to make the platform more relevant for individual users, founder Mark Zuckerberg changed Facebook's news feed algorithm to prioritize "friends, family and groups" with less emphasis on branding, businesses and media.
What does that mean for businesses that use Facebook? It's already had an impact. Businesses have already seen a sharp decline in viral posts. Publishers are not gaining the referral traffic they used to. Engagement levels dropped. What a disaster!
Before you go off crying in your beer, you have to realize all is not lost. In fact, in the overall scheme of things, the Facebook changes are a boon for business. Here's why.
It's Not a Surprise
One thing about online marketing hasn't changed. Businesses that spend time building a strong reputation by publishing authoritative, original content consistently gain links and shares over time.
Authoritative evergreen content containing research and references is still king. If you've been publishing content all along, wonderful! If not, you'd better start.
Spelling It Out
If all this talk about algorithms and evergreen content makes your head spin that's OK. Here's what you need to do — blog. You probably already have a blog, but have you published anything on it lately? If yes, what type of content did you publish? If you have no blog, fix that right now. A blog is the most cost-effective tool you can use to publish high-quality content.
But, Your Content...
Why Old English Insults Were Better
Let's face it, modern English insults are boring. Our language lost the imaginative flair that made Old World insults so deliciously insulting a long time ago! Think about it — isn't calling someone an "elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog" so much more satisfying than calling said person a pig? (Disclaimer: I actually love pigs. No hard feelings.)
Old English insults are delightfully descriptive word concoctions that conjure up all kinds of bizarre pictures in the mind. Shakespeare was a master at the art of the insult and Old British dialects are full of them as well. Here's a look at some of best old English insults from written records and, of course, the Bard.
You Crooked-Nosed Knave You
A much better insult than "ridiculous" and "low-class," isn't it? This insult was immortalized when it became the subject of a defamation lawsuit in 1555. A man named Warneford had the audacity to call John Bridges a "crooked-nosed knave" in public. Appalled at the blow to his character, Bridges took the only legal avenue available — he sued. Sadly, the ruling was not recorded. We'll never know if John Bridges' nose was really as crooked as Warneford claimed.
You're Not a Slave, But You Are a Churl!
It turns out you didn't have to be a slave to fall victim to upper class disdain in jolly Old England. You could be a "churl" instead. Churl derives from the word "ceorl" which literally means an individual whose standing is a tiny step above a slave. So a little better than a slave, but not much.