Managing Your Small Business’ IT Correctly

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Running a small business will see you get involved with all sorts of different areas you may be relatively unfamiliar with. Now, nowadays, we’re almost all familiar with tech to a certain level. However, our limits tend to reach to knowing how to operate tech that’s essential to our professional position and purely on the basis that the tech is working as we should. If you’re a copywriter, you’ll probably have a good grip on word processing software, grammar checking software and publishing software. If you’re a graphic designer, you’ll understand Adobe Creative Suite and how to use Photoshop. If you’re working in finance, you’ll know the systems that ensure employees are paid properly. However, when you run a business it can be difficult to keep on top of all the software your company relies on and you may not know how to rectify issues should your tech stop working. But not to worry. Here are a couple of solutions that can help you manage your small business’ IT correctly.

Reach Out to IT Solutions

The first port of call for faulty tech and software should be an IT solutions agency. You probably don’t want to have a full time, permanently contracted IT solutions sector in your small business. This wouldn’t be cost effective. However, there are alternative options out there. You can outsource to a third party who you can contact as and when you have problems. They’ll be able to identify problems and put wrongs to rights in next to no time – minimising the amount of downtime you experience with IT problems and getting you back on the right track as soon as possible. You can read more here.

Fixing Hardware Faults

Many of us will ignore problems with our tech’s hardware as long as the tech is still working itself. We might ignore a crack in the screen, a broken button on the keyboard, or issues with a mouse or trackpad. As long as we can work around the issue, we often will. But this is so illogical. The issue won’t rectify itself and you don’t want to procrastinate and push the problem off until the point where you can’t work around it. Have hardware faults repaired by a professional immediately. Alternatively, if you have insurance, you should be able to claim repairs on this!

Keeping Up to Date with Software Updates and Upgrades

Software updates and upgrades are two different things, but both are pretty important. Updates are when you can get the latest version of the software you already have. Updates are generally free – you just have to take the time out to install them. Upgrades are when new software comes out that you need to purchase. Generally speaking, updates and upgrades are worth your time and effort. They’ll make sure you have the best software possible to do the best job possible.

These are just a few things you should consider and focus on when it comes to managing your small business’ IT effectively. Incorporate them into your working routine! You’ll really benefit from them!

Data Never Sleeps Infographic

I’ve previously blogged about what happens in an Internet minute. This is a recent update, which shows how the most poular apps are changing and traffic is still increasing!

Data Never Sleeps Infographic

I want to thank Alex for today’s submission, provided by Opening Roof Specialists!

How To Get More Traffic – Bottle Cap Challenge Example

There are countless ways to generate traffic to your blog(s). One of them is to jump on the bandwagon of a viral challenge like the Bottle Cap Challenge. Sydney squash coach Aaron Frankcomb and I just posted our squash version of it on my Mindset Of A Champion blog.

Go have a look and see how it’s done!

As I have covered here religiously, every 1% makes a difference.

SEO is important. Keep the conversation fresh and interesting is always a challenge (pun intended).

This one blog post has been leveraged many times, to tell several different stories and reinforces our preeminence as high perfomance squash coaches across many channels.

The Growing Cybersecurity Threat To Your Business (And What To Do About It)

Cybersecurity has long been an essential consideration for business managers and owners. But the nature of those threats has evolved considerably over the last decade or so. We’ve seen a fundamental shift in the incentives facing hackers, making it far more lucrative to develop techniques which can breach digital security.

So what’s going on? In the past, the majority of hackers were mean-spirited people who just wanted to cause chaos for the sake of it. Cybercriminals would develop nasty programs, mainly malware, that would sit on company computers and cause problems. Typical attacks would slow down business networks and computers, annoying workers. The most devastating attacks would erase entire hard drives and make the system inaccessible for days. It was all generally pretty unpleasant.

But there’s been a change. It’s not just about maliciously attacking company IT infrastructure for no reason anymore; it’s about getting hold of their valuable data and either selling it or holding it to ransom. This change has made the act of hacking far more lucrative. Criminals who can get hold of company data can potentially extract significant sums of money, making cybersecurity a growing issue. Ransomware attacks grew by more than 46 percent in 2017.

The following infographic shows the skills that your company needs to counter the threat of cybersecurity. It details the dangers that you face and the capabilities that your organization needs to counter them. It also includes essential information about training in case you haven’t yet developed the skills to counter emerging threats.


Infographic by University of Alabama Birmingham

Would You Know What A Connected Vehicle Is? Automotive Future Thinking

We live in an era where we are constantly connected in some way. Thanks to the use of smartphone devices we can stay in touch with people via messaging, phone calls or even video and imagery. A connected vehicle is following the same line of thought. When this sort of productivity level is placed into the automotive sector, it enables us to be far more connected not just with each other, but with our vehicles. But what is a connected vehicle? What is it really all about? These questions are answered below and can hopefully explain some of the principles and logic behind it.

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What is a connected vehicle?

The first question we all want to know is what exactly is a connected vehicle? Put in its simplest terms a connected vehicle is something that uses mobile internet technology to control key functions remotely via any sort of device such as a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, or even a smart watch. Many manufacturers will have their own version of a connected vehicle, and some will offer more specifics and technology than others. But the principle remains the same. It enables you to stay connected. Some manufacturers will enable you to switch the car on remotely for up to fifteen minutes before you need to get in it. Some will read text messages received on your phone and enable you to verbally reply back. But essentially, not only does it carry out key functions, but it can also enable you to remain in touch with your vehicle at any one time.

How will things change?

When it comes to manufacturing, there will be a few different changes as each manufacturer will have their own connections with it. Things will be considered when it comes to manufacturing and automotive logistics will change because of these enhancements. Connected vehicles could also help to reduce insurance premiums, as you have far more control of the day to day activity of your vehicle, and even the status. Thanks to enhanced GPS tracking, if anything was to happen to the vehicle, the chances of recovery are far greater.

The online world is having an effect

Everything is digitally based these days. We go shopping online for food and clothing, we look at reviews online before heading anywhere or even making some of the bigger purchases. A connected vehicle could essentially enhance your digital works by being turned into a 4G hotspot. Connecting the car not only means that you have your smart device connected, but for things like your diary where you may have already inputted things such as address details, means your vehicle, ahead of time, could actually programme a route for you that avoids traffic and gets you there in time for your appointment or meeting.

Finally, a connected vehicle can be a great safety feature for the driver. The clever onboard system could help to alert you of any potential dangers or even help avoid them entirely by breaking for you. But, if the worst was to happen, some manufacturers have programmed vehicles to alert the local services to offer aid as soon as possible. Essentially, this action alone could be the difference between life and death. Pretty spectacular, wouldn’t you agree?

Ready To Build An App? Here Are Some Steps To Consider

Most businesses want an app. But not because they know what to do with one. But just because it sounds pretty cool to say ‘we have an app.’ But that can change if you put in some of the groundwork in order to firm up the idea and turn it into something achievable. If you have never built an app before it can be daunting. But, you could opt to work with a team like https://iot.intellectsoft.net/custom-android-firmware-development-services and know you’re in good hands.

In general, these are some of the things you should do before you call in the big guns.

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Goals & Problem Solving

Almost all products are designed and come to life because they are the means of solving a problem. The vacuum was a quicker way to sweep, and now all homes have one. Whatsapp was a free form of group communication – now it is an app on most phones. In both cases, they solved a problem for the consumer – but just very different kinds.

Depending on what your business is (or will be) you have the option to market your app to the public, or for B2B. Think carefully about the issues that face both markets and when doing your research, be sure that there is nothing like it already. If there is, and it is a successful app, consider that the company you have to do better than.

Sketches

Sit down with some paper and begin to visualize what your app will look like to the user. This will take a few goes before you get something that you think will work. Get as much feedback as you can. It is an excellent idea to download some similar apps and make a note of what you do and don’t like. This will give you a great feel for how the user experience will be. When you are working with a company to build your app, you will get some excellent guidance as to what layout gets the most use.

Research

You’re going to need to know what people enjoy using and how they will use the app. If you are creating something with minimal options, then you need to make sure that each of them is easy to access – the primary function of the app should be apparent. Quick tips:

  • Test other apps in the same market

  • Find some design inspiration – but careful, it’s not too close.

  • See what the technical aspects of the application will be – are they achievable?

  • How can you market and monetize it?

It is always worth remembering that very few ideas are ‘new,’ it’s more like old ideas are built on and improved over time.

Test, Test, and Test Again

When the app is being built, there will be many bugs and kinks that need to be ironed out before it is rolled out. Call in friends, family, and people who build apps (if you know any) to give you honest feedback about how it performed.

The goal here is to cement your ideas and get the app to the market – but don’t aim for an overnight release. Instead, aim for a high functioning release.

Niche Work! Identifying That Important Gap In The Market

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It’s something we hear constantly in business, that we have to identify a niche. But is this easier said than done? Ultimately, when we are working at getting our product out there, we need to establish this niche in the first place. When there’s a gap in the market, this will make us stand the test of time, and give us a better chance of keeping afloat in an oversaturated market place. But what are the key components to identifying a business niche, as well as acquiring relevant knowledge?

What Are Your Needs?

It’s important to establish this first. It’s better for you to work towards your interests and passions, especially during that all-important planning stage because if you work in an industry that you don’t care about, you will inevitably lose heart and give up. Yes, businesses will test your abilities in other ways, but ultimately, you need that underlying passion to keep you going. It is a simple thing, and while you don’t necessarily need to find something that’s a perfect fit for you, if you have the passion this will provide emotional stability during times of trouble.

Researching The Niche

Sometimes we have to undertake more research than necessary. But if we end up going towards our passions, this will naturally spur us on to find an appropriate entryway. It is important that we research the niche, but also research the competition, not just by using the right tools, but delving deeper in. If you are working towards developing something new in a specific market, something that hasn’t been done before, you might be quite surprised to see that everything has been done before. But what you can do is have a new and exciting twist on an already popular product while ensuring that the competition out there is sticking to their own niche. A topic as leftfield as growing microgreens may seem like it’s not been covered before, but websites like https://microgreensfarmer.com/ have shown that it can be a profitable area. Research the niche, research around it, but also check if it’s a viable approach.

Is It Profitable?

Testing the viability of the project can be done in numerous ways, from market research, to A/B testing. You can have a look on https://blog.hubspot.com/ to really dig deep into this aspect, but be sure that when you choose a niche that there is a chance of it being profitable. You could set up a landing page for pre-sales of product that you are developing, and this can give you a good idea as to the viability. But don’t take this as gospel. Sometimes the marketing needs slight tweaks to ensure that it’s getting to its audience appropriately.

In a basic sense, we’ve all got to find our own niche. But acquiring relevant knowledge is easier said than done. This is why it is important for you to go with your gut instinct. You can test the viability of a product further down the line, but if you’re not able to deduce your own thoughts and feelings towards a specific product, it’s not just the money you will lose, but it could be your enthusiasm for running a business in general.

Great Ways Technology Can Help A Business

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Technology is something which is essential for businesses and people alike. We use technology  every single day to help us make life that little bit easier and this can be a huge benefit for us and everyone else around us too. Today we are looking specifically at business and how we can increase the wealth we aim from our business by using technology every step of the way.

Manage mobile devices for compliance

If you have a really large team of people to manage as a business it can be difficult to keep track of your workers. This is why mobile device management for all company owned devices can be a great thing for you to use. When to comes to real-time visibility into device inventory and behaviour of your employees as they use their phones at work, it can be good to track them and ensure that they are using their phone responsibly.

Use wearable products

Although it might not seem like an Apple Watch or another wearable device like a Fitbit will be much use to you, it can be surprising how good it is. A watch or wearable device allows you to see notifications quicker and respond to things on the go. It will also be handy to have on you when in a meeting if you don’t want your phone to disturb a conversation.

Use Twitter to steal customers

One of the best resources that any business can use online is social media. Social media is a powerhouse of marketing and it is a wonderful way to worm your way into your customers’ thoughts and feelings. To ensure that you are able to gain a good reputation online you can use social media sites such as twitter to get in touch with customers and build positive relationships with them. By doing this you will be able to steal customers from other brands simply by being friendly and showing that you can connect with them in a more tangible way.

Stay up to date with trends

If you are looking for the best way to grab the attention of your audience and tell them in, you need to know how to do that by looking for trends. Let’s say for a company such as Alpha Zone who offer forex trading courses: this is a niche market and can be hard to market for, however when we look at finance and business trends we see that people want flexible careers and entrepreneurship. Marketing a course as being a pathway to financial freedom is a smart way to approach this.

Measure engagement

Google Analytics is a tool which every company should take advantage of as much as they can. If you want to help your customers and make sure that they come back to you, you want to know that you are providing them with content they want to engage with. Measuring engagement on your individual blog posts and content will show you which posts are more popular and therefore which kind of content is the best for you to create. This will increase engagement over time and will allow you to win the hearts of your audience.

Introduce yourself

A website is a key tool for any business who is looking to leave their mark online and it is important for you to introduce yourself and give some back story to your business. People like to deal with people and it is important that you give them this chance right from the start. Introduce who you are and why you built this business and this will create an instant connect with people which is great to use. Make sure that you also think about giving some personal touches to make that connection feel real.

Make a blog

A blog is a handy tool to make for any business and it will allow you to create helpful content which will not only increase the reach of your website, but will also bring a host of new customers to your door. By making content people want to read, they will visit your website more often and they are more likely to end up buying from you.

Use video to engage

Video platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are great for you to use as a business and it will allow you to create some amazing content which will excite your audience and make them want to work with you further. It is important as a business that you are able to engage and wow your audience and video can be a great way to do this. You can use your own mobile phone or an SLR camera to make videos and share them online to bring people in.

Create newsletters

Tools such as mail chimp can make your life so much easier as a business and it will allow you to make some amazing online content to pull in your readers and to promote all of your different products and services. For example you can create a newsletter which is aimed at new customers with welcome deals, or you can create one for loyal customers which includes things such as special exclusive deals and content. One of the things which is good about email marketing is that it is low cost and it is super easy. You can connect and share your latest news with people in no time at all and it can make all the difference for you.

Keep track of data

When you have a large client list to deal with it is important that you keep track of every piece of data and make sure that they are all in one easy to reach place. A CRM system is a handy form of software which will allow you to keep track of your data easily and it will allow you to ensure that every customer is kept happy and in contact with consistently. Consistently contacting your customers can make a huge difference to your sales.

A Step By Step Facebook Group Guide For Businesses

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Facebook is a social media tool which is the latest in the world and the most widely used by people in their everyday lives. For a small business, if you want to market to people in the real world it can be a good idea for you to make a Facebook page for people to follow and engage with. As well as a page, a group can be a great way to engage with people on a more personal level and there are lots of ways you can do this. Today we are going to take a look at how you can make a Facebook group step by step for your small business.

1. Add Group

On the home page of Facebook, you will see a tab which says Add Group. This is the first thing you need to click when making your own community on the social channel.

2. Create Group

Click create group and you will be take to page which gives you some options on how to make your group, what type of group you are and more information.

3. Name Your Group

The hardest part of making a Facebook group is trying to decide what to name your facebook group. If you are a company or brand this should be relatively simple and you can name your group after this, but if you want something more personal, you’ll need to think of a catchy name which people will want to engage with. Make sure it is easy to search and it is a memorable name so people will find it.

4. Add Members

Before you finish creating your group you’ll be asked to add at least member to the group. It is probably easier if you add yourself or someone you know in this stage and then you can start adding more members once you are done making the group.

5. Choose Privacy

Do you want an open group for any customer to join? Or would you prefer a closed group where people have to apply to be part of your team? This depends on the aim of your group and you need to make sure you choose what is right for you.

6. Add Rules

Next, you will need to add rules to the page just in case there are certain regulations for what people can post. For example if it is a student forum where people can share advice, you can make sure that no foul language is used and no one shares cheats or test sheets with other students. Rules help to clarify the value of the group and what you want to achieve.

7. Add Your Cover Image

Now it’s time to slap your creative stamp on the group with a cover image. The image should be 1640 x 856 pixels for your group and you want to make something which is pleasing to the eye but also which gets to the point. Take a look at some similar pages to you and see what sort of cover images they use.

4 Issues Holding Your Website Back

It’s all good and well having a business website, but if it’s not doing all for your company as it could be, then it’s time to make a few changes. Having a small corner of the web for your business is only the start; it’s what you do with it that’ll determine the success. While problems can be wide-ranging, many fall into the same old categories. Below, we take a look at four of the common problems that small businesses have with their website. If your site is suffering from any of them, it’s time to make a few changes!

Source: Pexels.com

A Secondary Concern

Social media is important, there’s no getting around it. However, your presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram should not be your top priority when it comes to the online world. All too often, companies put the bulk of their energy into getting as many followers as they can, coming up with share-worthy posts, and so on. In actual fact, it’s your website that should be getting most of your attention. Your social media channels are not your end goal; they’re tools to push people to your website, which is what really counts.

Too Complicated

It’s common to look at the most advanced, well-designed websites out there, and then try to follow their lead when it comes to your own company’s site. You’ll have a flashy introduction, plenty of headers, and page after page after page. But like they always say: bigger is not always better! And if you’re a small business, then building a hyper-advanced website will do more harm than good. Instead, keep things simple. It’s not so much about how big it is, but just making sure that it’s the right size (if you’ve got a million products, then a million pages is fine, for instance). You don’t need to do more than what’s necessary!

Trust Issues

There is, understandably, a fair amount of skepticism in the online world about the trustworthiness of websites. People are more willing to doubt the legitimacy of a website than they were in the past. As such, if you’re giving a visitor any excuse to question how trustworthy you are, then you’ll be holding your site back. A site that’s down, for instance, is a red flag for a new visitor. To ensure this doesn’t happen, look at working with a company that can manage small business network; they’ll help to keep your website up and running at all times. Another way to win trust is to simply list as much contact information as you can, and to include testimonials from previous customers.

Lack of Insight

Your website generates a lot of data. The question is, are you using it in the correct way? It’s worth taking a look — it’ll show you what works, what doesn’t, where your visitors are coming from, and so on. All of these things can do wonders when it comes to pushing your website forward. You effectively have all the answers already — you just need to look.

5 Ways To Increase Your Reach

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When it comes to being a business owner, one of the hardest things you will have to do is increase your visibility and reach. In the grand scheme of things, gaining visibility is one of the most important aspects of your business as, without it, you wouldn’t be able to grow your customer base. In order for people to buy your products or invest in your services, you need them to first be able to see you. With that in mind, here are 5 ways to increase your reach as a business:

  • Use Paid Social Media Ads To Reach A Targeted Audience

One of the best ways to reach an audience that is completely targeted is to use paid social media advertisements. Pay Per Click advertising allows you to set the demographics that you want your advertisements to be shown to, allowing you to specifically reach your target audience. Although it can cost quite a bit to do, this one of the best ways to ensure you are being seen by the right people at the right time.

  • In Fact, Just Use Social Media Altogether

Speaking of social media, it is one of the best ways to reach new people. With so many people now using at least one social media platform, you can’t afford to not be using it. Whilst it may take some time to get used to and even more time when it comes to committing to posting, the benefits it can bring to your business are incredible. If you manage to create a strong strategy, you could see your sales improve ten-fold. For a guide to creating a social media strategy, you can visit this site here.

  • Create Video Content That People Will See And Share

Another great way to be noticed as a business is to create video content. As one of the most viewed forms of media when it comes to social platforms, this one of the best ways to ensure your brand is being seen. If you create something that you know people will want to share, chances are it will be a widespread video that is shared by hundreds of people. For a guide to creating viral videos, you can visit this site here.

  • Consider Public Directories And Listings

If you are unsure on social media and you don’t think it’s for you, you may want to consider listing your business or yourself in a public directory. As a common method of finding contact information for people, this is a great way to ensure potential clients can get in touch with you. As a great example, you can visit the Aubrey Ferrao page here.

  • Use Offline Marketing Techniques To Reach Those That Are Not Tech Savvy

If you are trying to reach an audience that may not be considered tech-savvy, it may be best to use offline marketing techniques. Whether that means featuring on national TV or buying ad space in magazines, the more money you put into your marketing efforts the better.

Are you looking to increase your reach as a business? What changes can you make to ensure you are being seen by all the right people?

3 Rules for a Great Website

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Whether your website is a space to share ideas and projects or simply a way to drive business through your conversion funnel, there are 3 rules you must always follow. These rules will help you to design your website but they will also form the foundation for refinement over the years.

So what are the rules?

The first rule of any website is that it must provide a great user experience that your audience will love. User Experience or UX is a term that you must be familiar with by now but you may not be so sure about what it means for your business. In basic terms, anyone should be able to navigate and use your website intuitively for a seamless journey from information gathering to making a purchase. This is what UX and excellent website design is all about.

The second rule is that your website must be recognizable. This means that your branding needs to be obvious and your content needs to read as though your business is doing all the talking. When your visitors arrive at your website, there should be no doubt as to where they are.

The final rule is that you must focus on SEO and continuously refine your website to make sure that you are keeping up with the internet giant, Google. Their algorithm changes almost twice a day! While you might not want to update your website that often (and you probably shouldn’t!), this does show that you need to stay on the ball and think carefully about your website and potential improvements.

Let’s take a look at what you can do.

User Experience

The user experience is the main thing that will make the difference between a customer who bounces straight off the page and the customer who looks at a wide range of pages and then makes a purchase. User experience should be at the heart of your website design, from an inviting home page to a satisfactory menu system and quick links between pages. The more you can do to make your site intuitive, the more likely users are to stay. And the longer a user stays on your site, the more time you have to persuade them to buy.

One underestimated area of user experience is load speed. Optimizing your load speed must be a top priority for business because however wonderful your page is, people are unlikely to wait long enough to see it if it takes more than a few seconds. But reducing the time it takes isn’t just about your visitors, Google also likes speedy loading sites and this is a huge ranking factor.

Your conversion funnel is usually the point of your website. Even if your website is just there to get people to email you to ask a question, it needs to point users in the right direction and show them the path you want them to take. One thing that most websites fail to do is give people enough opportunities to convert throughout the funnel. While one person might need more information, another might want to click through and buy immediately. Putting buttons throughout your site to fast-track people to conversion and using follow-up remarketing tactics will give you as many chances as possible to improve user experience and improve your conversion rate at the same time.

Recognizable Branding

Creating a recognizable brand identity is a key part of business and something you need to spend a significant amount of time on. This isn’t just a case of creating a logo and a color palette, you also need to think about the tone of voice you use, what sort of pictures will complement your site and even how your site is laid out. Your branding is the starting point for your business; it should engage your target audience, build their trust and influence your choice of suitable marketing strategies.

Storytelling is one of the main purposes of any brand. You need to tell your customers what you are about, how you can improve their lives and why you are different to your competition. Crafting a compelling brand story is one of the best things you can do to build your brand and your website is the perfect place to do it.

The look of your brand is the equivalent of a first impression so do pay attention to the colors, images and layout you choose. A sense of space is really important – even on the internet! – so do consider how much blank space you leave on each page too.

SEO

SEO comes into almost every blog about marketing, websites, business, social media and entrepreneurship. Google’s algorithm has literally changed the way businesses approach the world and if it isn’t on your radar now, you desperately need to upgrade your tech terminology and join the rest of us in 2019!

Analytics software is abundant and easy to come by but it is still one of the types of software businesses don’t consider using. You should. And, if you still need persuading, you will be glad to know that Google Analytics is free and easy to use. It will give you all the information you need to work out what your strategy should be and which areas of your website are letting you down.

One big area here is content. While you should definitely focus on making everything you produce easy to access and understand for your target audience, you must also consider Google’s needs. This SEO checklist is quite useful for beginners who want to optimize their site but if you really aren’t sure what you are doing, hiring an SEO specialist is often money well spent!

Making a great website is a long process and you should be critical about how your website works in order to continue refining it. Take your time and do research what your competitors are doing. It’s not cheating to steal a couple of ideas as long as you make them your own. Just remember, the user always comes first.

Considering Starting An SEO Agency? Challenges & Solutions

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For many prospective entrepreneurs, starting an SEO agency seems to be the most natural choice. SEO is an industry that has seen almost exponential growth, which has in turn led to more and more people – either as part of their standard job, or when working on their own website or blog – learning how to make the most of SEO and drive incredible results. With that prior experience, and a marketplace that seems destined for bright things, starting an SEO agency can seem like a no brainer.

The truth is that the assessment above is likely to be accurate. However, if you are amongst the number of prospective entrepreneurs who have thought starting an SEO agency might be the perfect choice for your business aspirations, it’s important to take a rounded view of the idea. While starting an SEO agency has undeniable upsides, it also has its challenges – some of which can be significant. Below, we’ve outlined a few of the most common issues you may experience, along with a few ideas as to how they may be resolved…

Problem #1: Experienced competition

SEO is still a relatively young industry, but it’s far from a new industry – the most experienced agencies have been in existence for 10 or even 15 years in some cases. If you are launching a new SEO agency, this inevitably means that you’ll be fighting for your place – and most importantly, for clients – alongside genuine giants of the SEO world.

Even more worryingly, the major SEO agencies will already have built strong relationships with valuable national (or even international) clients that you would ideally want to attract to your agency. Given that your more-established competitors already have a strong reputation in the field, and have worked with, and are delivering results for, major clients for many years, it incredibly difficult to persuade those clients to move to your agency. As a result, you may feel that you are struggling to find the volume of business you need in order to generate sustainable profits.

Solution: Focus on appealing to those new to SEO

A time may come when you can focus on capturing major, established clients, but in the initial phase of your business, it may be best to market predominantly to companies who are not currently particularly dedicated to SEO. Start by focusing on companies in your local area, then checking to see how their online presence is doing – if they appear to be lacking, you can cold-pitch, extol the virtues of SEO, and hope to be hired. Working with smaller companies may not be as profitable as landing a major client, but it gives you a chance to build your reputation to a point where high-value, national, or international clients may come to you rather than the other way around.

Problem #2: Constantly-changing working practices

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SEO is in a constant state of flux; what constitutes good practice today can, with a simple change of Google’s algorithm, be rendered useless tomorrow. There was once a time when stuffing keywords into a footer bar would be sufficient to rise through the rankings; in 2019, such a move would be completely fruitless – and there are countless other examples of the same effect.

If you start an SEO agency, you have a responsibility to your clients when it comes to keeping on top of the latest news, changes, and developments within the industry – which is often far easier said than done. After all, you’ll spend much of your time actually focusing on your business, so keeping track of a world as changeable as SEO will place a huge demand on your day; or worse still, there’s a risk that missing a big development could greatly impact your work, and thus impede your ability to deliver results for your clients.

Solution: Use every tool at your disposal to stay up to date

Thankfully, there are a variety of tools available that can help ensure you keep up to date with the latest changes in the world of SEO without placing a huge time burden on your day. One option is to try a dedicated SEO news Alexa skill; if this sounds like a choice that might suit you, you can learn more about Agency skill here if you wish. Alternatively – or in addition – you could limit how you access SEO news. Rather than visiting a number of SEO blogs, or following discussions on social media, you could simply sign up for a dedicated SEO newsletter; newsletters focus on the most important information and present it in an easily-digestible form, so you can be sure you won’t miss anything crucial without the need to constantly check industry blogs for updates.

Problem #3: Competition in more ways than one

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Let’s say that rather than starting an SEO agency, you were to open a garden center. Obviously, you’d want your garden center to rank well on search engines, so you’d employ a few tried and tested SEO practices in order to do so. Given that you’d most likely be competing against other garden center owners – many of whom may have little to no SEO experience – you’d likely find that you could rise through the rankings and enjoy an influx of business as a result.

However, if you open an SEO agency, you’re competing against SEO professionals for ranking positions. SEO pros know the ins and outs of ranking well; they’ll know all the keywords to target; all the tricks of the trade that you know – and as a result, you may find that you struggle to achieve ranking positions that are genuinely capable of drawing traffic to your business.

Solution: Use PPC, and experiment with non-digital marketing

Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to the above issue; it’s a quirk of the industry, and SEO agencies will be more able to compete ferociously against one another. The most obvious solution is to use PPC campaigns and increase your bid amounts to a point that you see results; a somewhat inelegant – not to mention expensive – solution, but it should provide a good startpoint that you can then build on as your business grows and appearing in organic search results becomes more viable. Alternatively, you could also consider non-digital marketing options – flyers and direct mail, for example, still have a role to play in the modern business world, and could help you to capture attention from companies who are not actively seeking a new SEO agency, but could be tempted if they receive an attractive mailshot.

Problem #4: Misleading competition

The growth of SEO has led to more and more people becoming interested in SEO, and understanding that there is money to be made by selling SEO services. While the vast majority of people who choose to start their own agency or provide freelance SEO assistance are legitimate, with a genuine desire to help their clients, a small minority will – inevitably – be less concerned about helping their clients, and more concerned about cashing in on a booming sector.

While you don’t need to worry too much about this type of competition in some regards – anyone working in SEO without an ability to deliver results is unlikely to retain their clients – you do need to worry about the way that these companies market their services. There are countless “SEO agencies” or “SEO consultants” online, all of whom will promise the earth, including #1 Google Rank in less than a month, in order to try to attract clients. As a legitimate SEO agency, you’ll know you can’t promise such fantastical results, but that doesn’t mean that your prospective clients will understand that – and they may overlook your business in favor of agencies that do promise outstanding results instead.

Solution: Address the issue directly

The only way to deal with this issue is to be direct, both in your advertising and, particularly, on your own website content. You can simply state that you know some companies may promise incredible results, but that such results are unrealistic; explain that SEO takes time; that no genuine SEO expert would ever guarantee a #1 ranking position on Google; even include a few reasons why this may be the case. You can then move onto explaining what you can do, highlighting your credentials and experience, and outlining that you will do all you can to achieve realistic results for your clients. Admittedly, some prospective clients may still decide to go with the clients that are promising the earth, but most will appreciate your honesty and be keen to find out more.

In conclusion

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If you have experience with SEO and want to open your own agency, then the size of the market and the high demand for skilled SEO experts will likely help to ensure that this choice proves to be a positive one – though there may be the occasional hiccup along the way. However, by following the solutions above, you should be able to take the major challenges you will face in your stride, and be able to ensure your business is able to thrive long into the future.

6 Pieces Of Business Software You Should Be Using (But Probably Aren’t)

Technology moves fast and businesses need to keep up if they’re going to stay relevant. There are so many pieces of business software out there that you can use to streamline your operations, save money, and make your employees more efficient. But it’s easy to get stuck in old habits and carry on using the same software that you’ve been using for years, without adopting anything new. Even the business owners that do understand the importance of updating software regularly sometimes get it wrong because they fall victim to a good sales pitch and end up spending money on software that doesn’t really do anything for their company.

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If you haven’t updated your business software for a while and you don’t really know where to start, these are the pieces of software that you should be using right now.

Chatbots

Everybody knows that good customer service is essential in all businesses and in the past, the way to achieve that was through good training and, most importantly, a well staffed customer service team. Having a lot of employees in your customer service department means that nobody is waiting on hold for ages or sitting there for days waiting for a response to their email. All customers get a quick reply and a swift resolution so they’re happy. The only downside to that is the cost. Paying all of those salaries and renting an office space large enough to house that customer service department is incredibly expensive, but luckily, there is some great business software out there that can help you to get the best of both worlds.

Chatbots are pieces of software which imitate a human being fairly convincingly, in fact, you’ve probably seen them already on various sites when you enter and a small chat window pops up asking if you have any queries. 9 times out of 10, that will be a chatbot rather than a real person. They can answer a lot of the basic queries that customers might have which is so valuable because a lot of customer service staff spend the majority of their time dealing with the same issues over and over. But a chatbot can take on that workload, which means you only need to employ people to deal with the more complex issues, so you can massively cut down on the number of customer service staff you need to pay without compromising on customer experience.

Legal Management Software

Your legal department is such an important branch of your business because they’re the ones that make sure that you aren’t going to get yourself involved in a lawsuit and if you do, they’ll help you to deal with it effectively. They also handle any contracts that you may have with vendors and suppliers and they’ll also ensure that you’re complying with any government regulations that apply to your business. Without them, you could easily land yourself in a lot of legal trouble and probably end up with huge fines that would force you to close the business for good. The problem is, the legal documentation that they have to deal with is extensive and incredibly complicated, which means that they’re not always the most efficient department in your business. But if you invest in case matter management software that allows them to easily collect all contracts and supporting documents, as well as email correspondence relating to each separate organization in one place, it makes life so much easier for them. If there is a contract dispute with your shipping company, for example, they can easily bring up the contracts and any emails that you sent back and forth when you were agreeing on the terms, instead of spending a lot of time trawling through endless amounts of paperwork trying to find the relevant bits.

Analytics Software

Social media marketing should be an integral part of all marketing strategies, but a lot of businesses still don’t really know how to do it effectively. The key to successful online marketing is using analytics software properly. When you’re running a campaign, it’s important that you know who it’s reaching, whether it’s connecting well with them, and exactly how much website traffic it’s bringing you. It’s not enough to just launch a campaign and then track sales in the following months to see if it’s effective. You need to know exactly why it’s working so you can continue getting it right in the future and if it isn’t working, you need to know where you’re going wrong. Good analytics software will give you in depth information about the customers that are visiting your site and clicking your ads so you know which demographics are responding well to your marketing efforts and which aren’t. You can then adapt your future marketing efforts accordingly for maximum reach.

Social Media Scheduling

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Using analytics is vital if your social media marketing efforts are going to pay off, but you also need to consider the amount of time that you’re investing in it. There is so much noise on social media and if you’re only posting every now and again, your posts will get lost in amongst everything else and nobody will ever see them. That’s why you should be posting every day and preferably multiple times a day. The issue with that is the amount of manpower it takes up. If you’ve got people that are spending their entire day posting on social media and not working on other areas of marketing, that’s not an effective use of their time. That’s where social media scheduling tools come in, they’re one of the best business automation tools that there is and if you’re not using them already, you should be.

You can set up all of your posts at the beginning of the week and then set a schedule for when you want them to go live. That means you only need to spend a short amount of time at the beginning of the week setting up your social media profiles and then your marketing team can work on other projects for the rest of the week. A lot of the social media scheduling tools also give you good analytics so you can measure the reach and engagement that you’re getting on posts and see which ones aren’t really landing very well.

Document Sharing

The way that people work is changing rapidly and more businesses are moving toward remote workers and flexible schedules. More people than ever are working outside of the office which is great because people tend to be more productive when they can work to their own schedule and do things in their own way. It also means that work isn’t confined to normal business hours, so you can offer a 24/7 service to your customers. However, if you’re going to take advantage of this new style of working, you need to implement software that will help your employees. Document sharing is the most important piece of software that you need because employees will need access to certain information when they’re outside of the office. They’re also great when people are collaborating on projects because they can pass things back and forth easily and work together on documents in real time, even if they’re not in the office.

VPN

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Virtual private networks (VPN) have become very popular as people become more concerned about their online safety. If you’re sending sensitive documents over email or using a document sharing service, you’ll need a good VPN to protect you so you don’t lose any of that data.

A lot of businesses have fallen behind the times and they’re not using these pieces of software. If you aren’t either, you need to update your software right away.

Boost The Traffic To Your Business With 4 Easy Steps

If you are looking for ways to boost the amount of traffic you are seeing on your website, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to be looking at four of the ways that you can do this while keeping it simple, yet effective. We have come up with some simple solutions for those of you who are struggling to find the traffic that your site needs. If you are interested in finding out more about this, then keep reading down below!

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Professional Website Design

The first thing that we are going to talk about is getting a professional web design. A lot of companies justify not doing this by looking at the cost alone without seeing the bigger picture. When you invest in professional web design, you are getting much more than a custom website. You are ensuring that your site is easy to use, that everything you need conveying is front and center on the page and most of all that your users have a pleasant experience when using your website. Yes, the cost can be a little pricey, but you need to think of it as an investment into the future of your business, rather than a one-off payment now.

When you use a professional website design agency, you will find that there are so many benefits that you won’t have thought of. One of these is that if you use a template, your site is going to look the same as others in your industry. People want to see something a little different, not just the same thing over and over. If you choose a professional web design, your company will come across as more professional also, boosting the number of people who will come to your business.

Think Outside The Box

You can’t just think like everyone else on the market, you also need to do something different. For example, if you are already using Google ads, then why not consider using Enterprise automation for Google ads to enhance the experience? The same goes for things such as Facebook ads and anything else that you have running in the background. We don’t mean that these methods are not contributing to your overall traffic number, but they are running more in the background than the foreground when it comes to it.

You need to be able to show your customers exactly who you are and what you can do for them. If you don’t, then they will go and find a company who will, and you are going to lose them forever.

Use Offline Marketing Methods

Just because you are trying to boost traffic to your site, this doesn’t mean that you should forget about the offline marketing methods that you are employing as well. These can be just as effective at getting people to your website, especially if you give them something to remember. What we mean by this is that you should consider using promotional merchandise in order to get people to your site. The name will stick in their head after a quick pitch from one of your employees, and then after that whenever they look at the item, you gave them curiosity will spark. This is one of the best methods that you can use, and it reaches a wide variety of people which is likely what your business needs.

Use Social Media

Finally, you need to be using social media. If you are not, then you are missing out on potentially the biggest boost of traffic that you could have. Make sure that your company has a page on every relevant social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Once you have done this, you can start posting pictures, videos and blog posts all with the aim of getting people over to your site. Run competitions, giveaways and everything like this with the end goal of getting people to go to your site and sign up for your service.

Social media is probably one of the easiest things that you can do by way of marketing your business and driving traffic to your site. Missing out on this is going to be a killer to your business.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now know some of the ways that you can go about boosting traffic to your website. Good luck, and we know that once you have followed these steps, you are going to see an increase in traffic real soon!

Making An Impact In Healthcare Online

If you operate a doctor’s office, a dental practice or other kind of healthcare-based service, you’re probably already aware of the difficulties of establishing an effective online presence. Most of the articles and advice you’ll find are related to eCommerce or other service ventures, whose aims and objectives can be very different from your own.

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This doesn’t mean you can’t use this advice to your advantage. Whether you want to raise awareness of your work, attract new patients or improve communications, there are some amazing things you can do to boost your online presence. Take a look at some of the following tips to help you make an impact in healthcare online.

Build a website that people want to visit

In the rush to have a web presence, any kind of web presence, many websites in the healthcare sector have remained basic and bland. It’s understandable, as the majority of practices wouldn’t have a dedicated web manager or content producer to keep things up to date.

However, if you’re serious about making an impact online, you need to invest in your website. It should be an interesting, attractive destination that works well and speedily. You can see examples of effective hospital and healthcare websites to see the types of things that work and have succeeded in establishing a great online presence.

Create informative and engaging content

To ensure a successful online presence, you need to create some engaging content. Why should people care about you and what you do? You need to sell the things that set you apart to help generate an interest. Through your website and social media accounts, you can create content that people want to interact with or that resonates with them.

Explore different ways of creating engaging content for your social channels and website to help build up a following that can help you to reach your goals.

Do some research

If you’re new to having an online presence, or you’ve not been very active, it’s a good idea to do some research. You can research the activities of other similar organizations and businesses to help you identify trends, what’s current and the sorts of content you should be focusing on. This can help inspire you to set a direction for your online activity and work out what you want to achieve.

Put effort behind your promotions

To drive traffic to your website, and hopefully encourage people to take action once they’re there – you’re going to need to promote it. You can create your own marketing strategy to help you do this, either through social media, paid promotion and other methods that can help you to increase your page views.

You also have the option of bringing in outside help, especially if you lack any marketing or digital personnel. Experts Patient Prism have excellent insights into growing dental practices, and there’s a lot to be learnt from people who specialize in these areas.

Another factor to consider is to spend money on promoting your business. Even the smallest of budgets can be stretched widely using advertising platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, allowing you to target people in your locality and reach the right audience. If you want to experience business growth, it’s worth putting some money behind your marketing to help you achieve better results.

Stay up to date

Establishing a good website and social platforms to promote it is a significant step forward for your business, but now you need to keep it up. By creating some targets and goals for yourselves, you’ll have something to work towards and the basis if an ongoing online strategy.

Some social media tips for small business owners can be very useful to help you keep up. From using scheduling tools to banking your content, there are shortcuts and time-savers that will make it easier for your business to maintain its online presence and continue to grow. Providing members of your team with some additional responsibilities over your digital content can help with their professional development, while also giving them the chance to explore and learn new skills outside of their current role and responsibilities.

Whatever the aims of your online presence, it’s important to form a strategy and find ways of enhancing it. The internet is a great tool for communicating and sharing ideas, so why not be a part of it? A small investment into your online presence could generate some amazing results and help your business or organization get seen by a larger number of people.

Are You Making It Too Easy For Cyber Criminals To Access Your Business Data?

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If there is one thing that every single company needs to focus on these days, no matter which industry they operate in, it has to be cybersecurity. The majority of businesses now handle a lot of private and sensitive data, most of which has come directly from their customers, and suffering a security breach could put them in a lot of hot water. Their reputation could end up in tatters and hardly anyone will want to deal with you again.

In order to improve your company’s cybersecurity, you need to make sure that you aren’t making it too easy for cyber criminals to access your business data. Here are the common pitfalls that some businesses fall into.

Your Network Wasn’t Secure Enough In The First Place

When you set up a new computer network, usually upon the launch of a new company, you need to make sure that it is set up as securely as possible. This will give you a good foundation for your cybersecurity. It’s worth getting in touch with an IT firm, such as F1 Networks who can help you set up the network and secure it right from day one. Most of these kinds of firms will also offer ongoing cybersecurity support if you ever need it.

You Don’t Update Your Antivirus Software

One of the best things you can do to secure your computer network is to install some antivirus software. This should block any viruses that try to attack your network and computers. However, you can’t just install this and then forget about it; it’s important that you keep your software regularly up to date. This will ensure that it is using the latest forms of encryption and other security resources to protect your computer. Viruses are always developing and becoming a lot more sophisticated and it’s really important that you do all that you can to stay one step ahead.

Employees Haven’t Received Sufficient Training

If your employees aren’t too sure how to use certain computer programs or software, they could very quickly put your company at risk of a data breach. The best way around this is to offer all of your workers plenty of training in tech and IT. It’s also important that you brief them in up-to-date cybersecurity processes as well, so that they aren’t making themselves a risk. Ideally, you need to offer them this kind of training at least once every six months to ensure that their knowledge never slips.

Password Management Isn’t Up To Scratch

There are lots of businesses who are guilty of creating public passwords for their whole team of employees and storing them in public. This isn’t a good idea as they could quickly fall into the hands of the wrong person. Make sure you improve your password management so that only authorized people have access to your network and the sensitive data held within.

As long as you don’t make any of these mistakes, you shouldn’t have to worry about cyber criminals getting hold of your data.

The Future Of Business Security: 5 Predictions

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Business security is constantly evolving to match new threats. Here are five predictions as to what the future of business security could look like.

Cloud reliance

Many companies are now starting to embrace the cloud as a form of backup, but it’s possible that in the future all files will be stored remotely and backed up on multiple cloud servers. Local hard-drives are too small and too easily prone to damage and physical burglary that it makes sense for companies to abandon these forms of storage entirely as they become less reliable in the future. Mike Smith, founder of AeroComInc, even goes so far as to suggest on Future of Everything that we won’t have desktops at all – simply a monitor, keyboard, mouse and thin client for keeping it all together.

Biometric passwords

Traditional passwords could be a thing of the past. Biometric technology is already gaining traction and is thought to be the future of identification access. This technology involves using parts of the body for identification such as fingerprint scanning or facial recognition. A company called Bionym has even been developing wearable bracelets that can detect a wearer’s identity via their heartbeat. Once perfected, hackers won’t stand a chance of gaining access via these forms of identification.

More automation

There’s currently a growing shortage of skilled cyber professionals, but as Sophie Jdouri suggests at Barclay Simpson this may not be too much of a concern for the companies of tomorrow. Already, businesses are investing in cybersecurity automation. This involves using artificial intelligence that can react to cyberthreats and come up with its own solutions without the help of a cyber expert. Of course, there are ways in which hackers may still be able to outwit robots (perhaps by using robots against robots), but on the whole it could lead to reduced crime for most average business whilst saving these companies money and resources.

Smart technology integration

Security is already being merged with smart technology. There are burglar alarms as produced by companies like ADT that can send email alerts to your phone every time the alarm is triggered and deactivated so that you can monitor its activity when not in the office. Such smart systems can even be linked up with CCTV allowing you to watch security surveillance on your phone. This technology can allow businesses to keep an eye on their work premises from any location in the world and react speedily to an attempted break in – it could become the norm for all companies to implement this technology in the future.

Drone security guards

Drones are already being used for business purposes, helping to take aerial photographs and monitor crop health. They’re also starting to gain popularity as a method of security – companies like Dronevolt have already produced drones that can act as flying security guards. This could allow fast reaction to criminal behaviour as well as the ability to take aerial video footage of intruders, whilst also save guards from having to do physical patrols.

Resources All Pro Bloggers Need

When you finally take the plunge and turn your hobby blog into a full-time career, you will notice that working as a professional blogger is a completely different kettle of fish than doing it in your spare time. Your blog will instantly become a business, and it is imperative that you treat it as such. That means you are going to have to think carefully about your budget as you will need plenty of capital to now invest in your blog so that you can take it to the next level. But all that money isn’t going to be the only thing that will help you handle your blog as a new business. You also need plenty of resources as well.

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There are many different resources and sources of support that all companies will need to ensure that they can trade as smoothly as possible. However, bloggers might need slightly different tools than your traditional corporate company, as you will be operating so differently.

Here are a few examples of the types of useful resources that all pro bloggers need.

A Reliable Hosting Service

First of all, you need to make sure that you are using a reliable hosting service. This is the platform that you use to publish your website with. Most people tend to go with WordPress or Squarespace. These kinds of hosting services will give you the chance to design your blog so it looks exactly how you want it. You should also be able to monetize the site quite easily, as bost hosting services will give you the chance to add an ecommerce platform. When you are trying to decide which hosting service to go for, try to find one that offers unbeatable security so that you don’t have to worry about losing any sensitive data in a data breach.

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An Online Editor

Once your blog becomes a business, you will need to be a lot stricter with your publishing schedule. You will need to regularly post new blog posts and other kinds of content so that your readers don’t get bored and start following a different blogger. This can mean that you have a lot to do each and every day. In fact, you might have so much to do that you have hardly any time to reread your posts and check them for errors. Of course, this isn’t going to be good for you as it means that posts are a lot more likely to be uploaded with errors in them. So, you might want to start using an online editor like Grammarly. You simply copy and paste your whole editor into Grammarly, and it flags any spelling or grammar errors that you need to correct.

A Transcription Service

These days, more and more bloggers are interviewing subjects to write blog posts about them. Lots of professional bloggers find that these interview-style posts really appeal to their audience, especially if they chat to people who are relevant to their readership. There’s just one problem with carrying out interviews – transcribing everything that was said afterwards can take up a lot of your time! Thankfully, though, you can always use a service like Take Note to do the transcribing for you. You’ll also find a lot of freelancers who can take care of your transcription needs for you. Then you can spend more time writing up a great post about the interview once you have the completed transcription.

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A Way To Hire Freelancers

Once you start running your own blogging business, you might find that there is just too much for you to do on your own every day. If you do try to take on everything that needs to be done then you might end up working extremely long days and edging closer to burning out. Obviously, that isn’t very good at all! There’s one way around it, though – you just need to start outsourcing some tasks to other freelancers. For example, you might want to hire a couple of writers to help you keep up to date with your publishing schedule. It’s also a good idea to hire some freelancers who have some expertise in business areas that you aren’t too familiar with. An accountant will come in very handy when it’s time to file your annual tax return, and you might want to look for a marketing expert to help you boost your blog’s reach.

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A Professional Network

Lots of bloggers make friends with other bloggers, both in their local area and online. Once you start to take your blog seriously, you can start to call this network of other bloggers your professional network. These are the people who will know exactly the kinds of issues and problems that you will face on a regular business as a full-time blogger. So, they will be by far the best people to reach out to when you need some guidance or advice. If you don’t know any other bloggers at the minute, it’s worth doing a Google search to see who else is covering the same kinds of topic as you in the blogosphere. Why not send them a quick message to reach out and introduce yourself?

A Source Of Stock Photos

You will need to make your blog posts as bright and inviting as possible, and that is possible with plenty of photography. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to hire an expensive photographer. As long as you know a top-quality website for stock photos, then you will be able to find plenty of great photos that you can use free of charge.

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An Email Marketing Service

Every good blogger knows that they need to encourage loyal readers and new followers to keep on returning to their website. One way is to set up an email marketing newsletter. Your followers will be able to sign up and you can then send out emails to notify them about any new posts that you publish. Many bloggers find that these kinds of emails help them to increase their readership too.

Good luck with the new blogging business!

How To Blur The Background on Skype Calls

Microsoft just introduced a cool new feature to Skype this week that believe it or not allows you to blur your background in video chats so  people don’t see your messy home or office behind you during a video call.

For now, it works only on desktops but not on smartphones. It’s an optional feature, so you don’t need to use it, but click here to see what it looks like and how to turn it on.