Categories: Thoughts

I think we’ve all had our moments starring at a blinking cursor. They aren’t pretty.

Inspiration rarely comes on-demand; the key to a successful newsletter or blog writing session is to prepare.

Environment

Does your work space inspire you or does it distract? A change of scenery might be just what you need. Try working somewhere other than your office, perhaps a room in your house. Or a coffee shop after peak hours. Writing in a different environment can help you get a new perspective and keep you focused. (Personally, I like to find a bookstore in a town or city I’ve never been to)

Topics

While you do want to keep your topics relevant, writing about something you are passionate about will come much more naturally and freely. Instead of trying to picture a whole article or outline, make a simple list of things that you are excited about or that anger you. You’ll find something that you know and have a lot to say about that will be of use to your readers to know about as well.

“The Judgement Free Zone”

Don’t judge your first work. Simply write. You can critique and edit later. Your goal is to get your ideas on paper; the trouble with getting them out is often that we try to organize them in our head. Being an entrepreneur is enough of a balancing act. Give yourself a break and write freely.

Writing Retreat

Setting aside a longer period of time, such as a day or weekend, can be a great opportunity to write several articles at once. Having a cleared space of time that is dedicated to writing will help get your mind off other business tasks, enabling you to be entirely focused and without your usual time constraints. You can even work off your topic list and write as many of them as you can. Again, this is free writing, not editing time.

So for a less hectic and stressful blog or newsletter writing experience try:

  • Changing up your space.
  • Making a list of your “Hot-Button” topics.
  • Free writing and not editing.
  • Giving yourself an extended and dedicated writing day.

Happy Writing!

Categories: News

Well not that broad, but if you could ask us any one question about your website or how to use the internet to promote your business, what would it be?

  • What to write on your website?
  • How to make a good “opt-in”?
  • How to use video?

As we mentioned previously, we are putting the finishing touches on the Visibility Credibility Profit Boost, the 2 day virtual event for the busy small business owner who is fed up with wasting time, energy and money trying to figure out how to grow their business successfully online, and we want your input because this is all about you and your business.

You will have the opportunity to ask our guest speakers what you really want to know, and to accommodate as many questions as possible, we are asking you submit them in advance via email.

More details to come, but be sure to mark your calendars for November 8th and November 10th between 12pm – 3pm EST.

Also, with the growth we have experienced in this year we will be moving our email providers over the next 4 – 6 weeks. You will receive more details about what to do to ensure that you continue to receive helpful tips and tricks for your website and online marketing.

No full article this week but here are some thoughts we’re bouncing around:

  • Blog & Newsletter Topics: Long term prep to break the mad dash-to-meet-your-deadline cycle.
  • Where Art Thou Twitter Followers: What to say to be heard through all those tweets.

Email your interests or post on Facebook with what you really want to hear most.

 

Categories: News

So while there’s no excuse for AWOL, we do have some changes to announce.

On a personal note, Craftwerks New Media Inc is now a married team! Thank you to everyone who took a moment to send us a congratulatory note, we appreciate you.

On to business, we are excited to tell you that we will be hosting a telesummit via live streaming video to answer many of the questions that we receive from you. The Visibility Credibility Profit Boost is for the busy small business owner who is fed up with spending time, energy and money trying to figure out how to grow their business successfully online. In this two day event we be hosting guest speakers who will share with you what you really need to know and you’ll leave with a clear plan on what to do next to Boost your visibility, credibility and profit online.

More details to come, but be sure to mark your calendars for November 8th and November 10th between 12pm – 3pm EST.

Also, with the growth we have experienced in this year we will be moving our email providers over the next 4 – 6 weeks. You will receive more details about what to do to ensure that you continue to receive helpful tips and tricks for your website and online marketing.

Thanks for your patience through these changes and we hope you will be joining us on November 8th and 10th for the business altering Visibility Credibility Profit Boost!

Categories: Thoughts

Be Prepared
This past weekend Hurricane Irene disturbed our house and our business. Personally, we were more prepared for our business then we were for our house. Our basement flooded and every flashlight had dead batteries. Business prep, however, we were fully armed.

Entrepreneurship is not a 9 to 5.
Anticipating power outages and not wanting to fall behind on our project schedule, we worked through the weekend around the clock until we permanently lost power. We’re customer-service oriented folk and that means doing whatever it takes to not let acts of nature interfere with our clients’ experience with us.

Weather the Storm
Our leaky basement walls had some sharp words flying at them, but having done all we could for our house and business, there was nothing to do but weather the storm when the worst hit. Storms are a repeating occurrence in the business life cycle and show up in different ways. Sometimes its the economy, sometimes it’s the time of year if you have a season business. But if you have a solid foundation and a plan you can refer back to, you can weather any storm that comes your way.

 

Categories: Thoughts

The good thing is that while your website can’t talk to you, it can talk with Google Analytics. And it has a lot to say.

Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google to track important information about your website. If you check your website analytics regularly, you can identify changes you might need to make to your website, or where you are promoting it.

Traffic Sources: Google Analytics can tell how people are getting to your website by indicating if typed your name directly into the browser, if another website referred them and which ones including different search engines.  If the largest traffic source is your direct url, then the people visiting your website are people you’ve given your card to or had some kind of direct contact with already.

If you are getting traffic from search engines than you can track if people are searching you by name or by specific keywords and even see which ones. This helps you determine if you want to run an Adwords or other pay-per-click campaign and which terms will be the best value for you.

Visitors: This is an extensive section of Google Analytics because you can track what countries your visitors are in, what browsers they use, if they are on mobile devices, how often they visit, and how long they stay on your website.

You can use this information to ensure your website is cross browser friendly, make sure you have a mobile friendly version of your site. Knowing how long your visitors are staying also gives you insight into the effectiveness of your website and whether it can hold their interest.

Content: So you know where you visitors are coming from, how they are viewing your page and with the Content tracking, you learn where on your website they go, how long they stay on each page and what pages they leave your website one.

If you were wondering does a specific page interest your visitors, all you have to do is check the statistics on that page. If the visit rate is low, look at the content on that page and compare it with a page that has high visits or a long visit time on. What did you do differently?

Google Analytics is a powerful tool to help you continuously improve your website; oh, and it’s still free so go check it out!

Categories: Thoughts

I got an email from my dad the other day saying how impressed he was with my website except that there was no contact us page and the link on the services page didn’t work, “which could be kinda annoying.”

That’s right, my dad picked up not only an error, but also called me out on not having a contact us page. (If your wondering why he was even on the website, he says he was looking for my fax number.)

We’re a web development and design company and you’re probably thinking how could we have forgotten the contact us page? The truth is: we didn’t. We deliberately left it out because we agreed we didn’t have time to finish the tweaks with the current client work load we have. We agreed we would “sacrifice” the finishing touches for now and try to get away with including our contact info in the side bar on every page.

Guess what! We made another common error and this is something we warn people about doing too! We put a box with the title “Find Us” in the side bar menu with our phone number and email. My dad didn’t notice it and I’m realizing no one else may be either.

Here’s why: No one is looking to “find us”, they are looking to “contact us.”

Should you get creative with your design, absolutely! With your menu or titles? Maybe not so much. People have expectations of websites, like where the menu is located or how to find contact information. If you get a little too quirky, your potential clients might miss your message or critical information.

With that said, an official Contact Us page will be coming to Craftwerks.com within 1 week. Scouts honor.

 

 

Categories: Thoughts

Is your website fresh?

One of my younger brothers in college recently said this in a conversation,”When you’re fresh, you look younger.” (Thankfully, he wasn’t referring to me personally.) But it struck me that he’s right. When we keep up with our appearance with clean, in style clothing or a recent haircut, we look current, modern or maybe even trendy.

The same applies to your website. Out-of-date design style, much like 80’s clothes, gives us that “blast from the past” feeling. But when people are shopping around for a product or someone to hire, they are not looking for someone who does it the old way. They are looking for current, cutting edge products and services.

So is your website fresh? Here are some things to check for:

1. Is the copy-write information current with the right year? All too often we come across a website where the copywrite says 2008 or even earlier. That leads a potential client to believe you may not even be in business anymore.

2. Is your contact information still the same? Be sure to update it when you changes phone numbers or emails.

3. Is your website’s design current? Web design evolves significantly approximately every 2-3 years. You should update your design when you notice a major shift in style in other websites.

4. Is the content on your website up to date? It’s important that the information your website gives out isn’t years old, reflecting ideas or policies no longer practiced.

Remember to review your website regularly for information that might need to be edited. It’s also a good practice to follow other businesses in your industry to track any significant shifts in practices or advertising.

Categories: Thoughts

Today is going to be a wee bit different.

As I was searching the web(looking for inspiration of course), I asked Rick what I should write about and he said “The stock market.”

Now I had to laugh because I think we are all going a little bit looney over it. The NY Post even went so far on Wednesday as to compare the Dow Jones to a “Hooker’s drawers.” I think you get the picture.

With all the gossip and media reports we are left to wonder what really to believe. Here’s the best advice I can give you:

Ignore the hype.

In your business at least. Don’t go rushing to drop your prices. Don’t assume people’s money has evaporated.

Here’s a great tip I got from my mentor recently:

“Their[potential client] objection, is your objection.”

I think we can agree that the most common objection is money and what’s going on in the US and Global economy right now is another crutch for this objection.

You cannot confidently handle a money objection if you are uncomfortable, worried or avoiding making a decision in your own business because of money.

Take a moment to reflect on decisions that are on the table for you and practice walking yourself through your own objections. Get comfortable.

Once you get in your own head, understand your own objections and work out the strategy to overcome them, you can now draw some parallels to what your potential clients may be feeling and thinking.

So go kick your own objections to the curb and bring a new dose of confidence into your sales conversations!

Stop by our Facebook page and share your thoughts!

Categories: Thoughts

No, I’m not talking about a dating. (Although you could draw many parallels between dating and engaging in social media for your business…)

I want to draw attention to other online resources to connect with your ideal client. Facebook is probably the most  recognized social media website; but there are other “seas” and there are even smaller more concentrated “ponds.”

Depending on your business and industry, Foursquare, Twitter, Tumblr or Myspace could be additional resources. However, I like to go deep in the trenches where only my target audience is. In this environment there is a higher density of people who might resonate with my message and are more likely to be more interactive with me.

For example, I run a regional professional women’s networking group. You bet I’m active on Facebook and Twitter, but  I know I will definitely find women who may be interested in my group on online forums for professional women and work at home moms.

We both know there are millions of people online. To find your people, you have to think outside of the box AND you have to think like them. Whomever it is that your business serves, put yourself in their head and think:

“Where can I find the answer to a problem I’m having?”

“Where can I talk to other people who might share the same problem?”

When you can identify the pains and needs of your target audience, you can think clearly about where they might go, whether it’s on social media or on a specialized forum.

The next step is easy… show up. Go where you’ve identified them to be, make connections, build relationships, offer helpful content and integrate them into your marketing channels.

Categories: Thoughts

Smokey the Bear is the mascot for forest fire prevention on public service messages. Smokey’s message focuses how to prevent fires, not how to put them out.

Social media is a proactive arena. You should be proactive in engaging  others, sharing your message and providing valuable content.

A mistake that  companies often make is only utilizing social media to respond to negative comments or press. The problem with this is they come out of the woodwork when their name is on the line and disappear afterwards.

Can you imagine for a moment? Picture a twitter profile for a “A-mart, LLC”. Their profile says they sell wonderful widgets for wonderful prices. Their tweet history says 9 tweets with the post dates ranging from January 2010 – June 2011. Each tweet appears to be a response to unsatisfied customer.

Are you turned off just thinking about it? Aside from the assumption that their product is junk, we’re lead to believe they just don’t care and are out of touch with their market.  Negative feedback doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s a great learning experience for the company and an opportunity to fix the situation and maybe even turn the dissatisfied customer into a raving fan.

Now imagine that same “A-mart, LLC” profile again, but this time with a balance of real conversations with individuals, updates on their products and valuable content related to their industry. We’d be inclined to believe this was a company that genuinely cared about the product they provide and the experience that their customers have. We’d be more likely to think they were experts in their fields.

So think like Smokey when you are on social media. Your social media efforts are both proactive for your business and preventive of uncontrollable negative attention.

 

Pop over to our Facebook Page to share your social media experiences!