Blogging for Small Business 

By Steve Hoag

blogging for small business

The small business world is an exciting one. There are tons of directions you can take your marketing, you have the flexibility to do so, but not necessarily the funds. Blogging is an excellent cost-effective marketing tool that is becoming more and more popular. This marketing approach allows you to generate dynamic content to share with your audience that helps build traffic to your website. If you think the idea of blogging appears daunting, fear not! It is very easy to do, and there are plenty of tips and tricks out there to help you along the way. Here are a few:

Create a realistic, manageable schedule

Blogging is only as time consuming as you make it out to be. If you don’t have the time to blog much, try and create one article a week. It should only take a few hours to research and write. The time needed for this will also drop the more you blog as you get it down to a science. You should never force yourself to blog when it comes at the expense of something that is potentially more profitable for your company. Also, realize that building a following by blogging does take time, so by creating an article a week you will help lay the groundwork for more exposure in the future. People will be impressed by the depth of your content database, as well as your dedication to blogging. A good schedule will help to keep your business top of mind among consumers, and put you at the forefront of options when they are ready to buy.

Create and keep an idea file

There are many excuses thrown out there as to why it’s hard to blog. One of the more common ones is that ‘there isn’t enough to write about.’ A great way around this is to keep an idea file, where you place article ideas every time one comes to mind. You can also try researching trends or best practices in your target industry since other people will probably have already written about them. Compiling a list of ideas and sources to pull writing inspiration from will help smooth out the learning curve.

Make it shareable

The entire point of blogs is to get people to share your content. Putting social media links to share articles is an absolute must. Promote your articles on your social media accounts as well to maximize exposure. If you give people the option of sharing content they will do so. Email campaigns for users who subscribe to your blog are also great for keeping your company top of mind.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:34:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging SMB social media social media marketing

How To Increase Your Web Design Firm's Efficiency 

By Steve Hoag

three ways to increase your web design firm's efficiency

Web design is a profession that has a lot of moving parts, and requires excellent planning and communication to order to succeed. It’s important to be on the same page as your customer while at the same time being aware of your incremental costs as projects take more time than estimated.  .

Efficiency is increased by streamlining all the different processes within your business. Faster processes means quicker turnaround times and increased revenue. Here are three ways to increase your efficiency:

Outsource Web Development

Outsourcing web development is one of the best ways to increase efficiency. Not only do you avoid the development work, but you’ll be able to take on more projects at once because of the additional help. Also, outsourcing development work can lower costs as there are foreign development firms that have very low prices. Another benefit of partnering with a development company is that you can reduce the amount of time searching for clients. Many development firms have their own leads and are looking for designers to do some work for them. Outsourcing can be a definite win-win for all parties involved. Just be sure to do your research before engaging in a partnership!

Utilize Client Questionnaires and Templates

An important part of design is developing the ability to understand exactly what your client wants and letting them know what deliverables to expect. Using client questionnaires is an easy way to break down the scope of the project and the client’s vision. It’s important to cover all the bases with the questionnaire so that  both you and your client are on the same page. It is also important to have a proposal template where you describe in full detail all the deliverables and timelines the client can expect to receive.  . Confusion on either side will lower overall efficiency by requiring more handholding and communication.

Create price/cost estimating system.

Arguably one of the most important factors in improving efficiency is managing costs and prices. Develop a system where you can quickly estimate projects time. This can be as simple as charging a flat amount per page. It’s also important to make sure that your hard costs are covered. Having a system like this will help to respond quickly and avoid losing any potential sales.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, November 11, 2013 6:09:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website

Five Pillars of Enterprise Website Design 

By Steve Hoag

enterprise website design

An enterprise website is one of the most important pieces of any company’s marketing strategy. It’s important to invest enough time and money into your website to make sure it’s implemented well. There are five areas you should focus on to make sure your website design is executed properly.  Check them out:

Focus on the fundamentals.

What are the fundamentals? There are a lot of answers out there, but for us it’s delivering a clear message throughout the website. Your message needs to be clear and consistent across content, navigation, visuals etc.

Make sure you can appeal to multiple audiences.

As an enterprise you will have a variety of different audiences looking at your site. You need to make sure your website can cater to every potential customer/partner type. Keep your website’s overall feel in line with what your target segment is looking for. Ensure that your approach can appeal to a wider audience. Don't focus on a small niche that doesn’t reflect your entire customer base. One good way of doing this is by using different tabs for your different audiences. For instance, on our Fast Track website we have small business, designers, and enterprise tabs.

Utilize advanced design solutions.

Your website design needs to be able to seamlessly bring together the different components of an enterprise website. You need to ensure your e-commerce storefront, database/content management systems, and other systems synergize with each other.  A clean, unique, and consistent approach that adeptly reflects your brand is important. Also, keep up with the latest advancements and trends in enterprise design approaches. For instance, if your website isn’t responsively designed yet, by all means invest in that!

Focus on maximizing search engine visibility.

Search engines are king on the Internet today. Every enterprise website design needs to be built search engine friendly. Organic search is one of the best ways to get your company in front of your target audience. Invest early in a search engine friendly design to eliminate headaches down the road.

Treat your website like a showcase.

Think of your website as a showcase for all the great things your enterprise provides. Focus on how to bring your value proposition and products to life. Doing this will help to create a website that is vibrant, dynamic, and a sales asset for your company.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, November 7, 2013 8:20:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SEO web design web development web trends website

Four Reasons Why Custom Websites Can Mean More Business Success 

By Steve Hoag

custom website promote business success

A custom website is essentially a must-have today. The benefits it provides for businesses are profound when the website is properly designed/developed. So how does a custom website promote business success? Read on!

Unique brand presence

Arguably the most important advantage of a custom website is that it provides a unique brand presence for any company. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s website looking exactly like yours. Custom websites allow you to leverage unique layouts, color schemes, and branding that can truly transform consumer perception.

Websites are the new brick and mortar storefront

Company websites are steadily becoming the first interaction consumers have with businesses. Long gone are the days that prospective customers had to travel to a shop to take a look at your wares. Nowadays all they need is an internet connection to decide to buy or not. That is why it is important to create a great first impression. Custom websites blow everything else out of the water when it comes to impressing customers online because of the endless design possibilities they offer.

Scalable solutions

Depending on the type of content management system you use, a custom website can offer a long term solution that is hard to match. A scalable solution brings a ton of benefits to businesses. For instance, you won’t need to invest in a new option as your website needs grow. Adding more features and pages is simple as long as the solution you pick has enough flexibility. By investing in a scalable custom website you free up more money in the long term to use in other areas.

Custom functionality

Another awesome benefit of a custom website is that you can add custom features and modules to support core business functions and your online presence. Having options like implementing custom e-commerce store fronts, blogs, forms etc, can catapult your online presence to a whole new level. Your chances of wowing a customer are much higher when you have a custom website that leverages the newest technologies and features.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:11:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website

Increasing Revenue: Increasing Design Agency Productivity By Outsourcing 

By Sherry Kinavey

Outsourcing web development

Outsourcing web development or web management is great - as long as you’ve taken the time to understand the vendor. There are some horror stories out there, and a lot of those experiences begin with not enough research beforehand. As with any important business decision, doing your homework is critical to success. With the right company, outsourcing has the potential of being enormously profitable. Here’s how:

Outsourcing can be cheaper.

The average salary of a web developer in the U.S. is about $64k. The average salary in India is $9.2K, and even lower at $4.2K in the Philippines.  Partnering with domestic developers can really slim down your profit margins.

Why pay someone hundreds more per project when a developer from another country with comparable skills can save you some serious money? Even doing the work yourself can take a lot of time. And, everyone knows that time is money.

Let the professionals handle the development issues while you get valuable advice.

Web development can be bothersome for designers. Outsourced web development removes all these headaches. I’m not saying you don’t know your way around coding, but why not focus on what you love rather than what you potentially dislike? By using an expert, technical issues can be resolved quickly. And, your development team is usually willing to provide valuable project advice.

Outsourcing can also let you take on more projects.  We all know that more projects means more money.

You'll have access to a larger talent pool.

By not restricting yourself to talent that you can find locally, you open yourself up to more business. Believe it or not, some of the most technically proficient people live abroad and because the cost and standard of living in those areas are different than here, many are able to work for less.

Outsourcing also gives you access to expertise.

What do you do when you have a strict time constraints and there isn’t enough time to do all the work yourself? Well, outsource of course. 

Why?  Outsourcing can give you immediate access to industry best practices in very short order.

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Posted by Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:18:00 PM Categories: B2B web design web development website
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