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Tag Archives: web designers

Is it worth having a website for my business?

websiteIn my networking adventures and other travels in the world of small business, I come across quite a few people who don’t have a website. To be honest, I’m a bit shocked when this happens. Unless you’ve got a constant set of clients, with new ones on the horizon to fill in any gaps if you lose one, then you’ll want to be findable.

When you think about getting the roof done, or finding a cleaner, or sourcing flowers for an event, or buying a product, where do you look?

Online.

Even if you look for a tradesperson on a Yellow Pages style website, I bet you like to have a URL to click through to, to look at their details. Right?

If you don’t have a website, even a single page with your name / company name and information about yourself, then what will people find when they search for you?

How do people search for companies, products or services?

People come to my website in one of four ways:

  • They search for my name
  • They search for my company name
  • They search for something that I do
  • They search for the answer to a question (“is it en route or on route?” “How do I repeat the header row of a Word document on every page?”)

This is what would happen if I didn’t have a website:

  • If they search for my name, they’ll find my Twitter or Facebook feed, or photos of me socially, or mention of me on forums. All fine, but they’d probably rather find either my Facebook or my company information in one place
  • If they search for my company name, they will find my Facebook or Twitter feed, however, those mention and feed back to my website, as they’re not enough in themselves to maintain interest and get me business
  • If they search for something that I do, they’ll find someone else’s website and if they’re looking for someone to do that work, they’ll hire that someone else
  • If they search for an answer to a question, someone else will answer it, and if they’re looking for someone to work for them, they’ll hire that someone else

This is what happens because I have a website:

  • If they search for my name, they’ll find my website and my other feeds, which all link together. They’ll find out what I do and if they want to talk about work, they can contact me
  • If they search for my company name, they’ll find my website, find out what I do, and possibly hire me, getting in touch via my contact form
  • If they search for something that I do, they’ll find my website, find out that I do that, find references from people who I’ve done that for before, and possibly hire me – getting in touch via my contact form
  • If they search for an answer to a question, if I can answer it, they’ll find out that I know what I’m talking about, and note me for later or sign up to receive emails when I post, and might hire me in time, or ask me a question or engage with my blog

The bare minimum

As a bare minimum, you should have a page somewhere that includes …

  • Your name
  • Your company name (if it’s different)
  • A list of your services or products – make sure that you mention all of the forms of the things you do on that page (so I would include transcriber, transcription services, editor, editing, etc.)
  • References from satisfied customers
  • A way to get in touch with you – a contact form, a phone number (most people like to see this), an email address
  • Professionally produced text – by which I really mean have someone check it for typos and spelling mistakes. Those will seriously undermine your reputation and send people running from your services – whatever they are

It’s a good idea to have your company name in the url for your website, but personally I don’t hold it against small companies if they have the word blogspot or wordpress in their URL – you don’t need to pay extra to have that if you don’t want to.

You can use a Facebook page as your company web page, however I would hesitate to ONLY use something that changes so often and is as unpredictable as Facebook. A company Facebook page is better than nothing, however!

Optional extras

You can add these extras if you want and if they add value. If you find that you’re getting a steady stream of enquiries via your simple website, and they turn into paying customers, then only add these items if you can see a clear value in doing so, rather than doing it out of vanity or because someone’s persuaded you to buy their service.

  • A URL that’s just your company name – you will have to pay for this, probably renewing annually
  • A professionally designed website – there are so many “themes” on offer that look as good as professional websites.
  • A blog – this is GREAT for driving people to your website and setting you up as an expert in your field. If you only do one of these things, write a simple blog
  • Someone to write web text and blog posts for you
  • Search Engine Optimisation – a professional can ensure that you’re showing up in the search engines etc. But shop around – this can be expensive and there are lots of things you can do to SEO your site on your own (just have a little search engine search and see what you can find)
  • A shopping cart and catalogue – very useful if you’re producing craft items or any tangibles – but you can sign up to services like Etsy and eBay which will do this for you

The big caveat

It’s really important to have a web presence so that people can find you.

It’s really important to be super-vigilant, because unscrupulous companies prey on small businesses’ lack of expertise in this area.

  • Always ask around fellow small business owners or someone whose website you admire and see who they use
  • If someone offers to make you top of the search engine results, ask what other sites they’ve worked on (always ask for references anyway) and do a search for yourself
  • If someone offers to revolutionise your website and make you a millionaire overnight, they’re probably over-selling. Ask for references
  • If someone offers to build your website make sure – no, MAKE SURE – that you will be able to edit and update the text and pictures on that website whenever you want to. Never hand over the full ownership of your site to another person such that you can’t update it yourself.

If you haven’t got a website, and you haven’t got a steady stream of new and regular customers giving you a good income stream, I really do suggest that you get a website!

Read more here about growing your business, have a look at my advice on blogging and social media, read about how to set up a WordPress blog and website (starting with this post) and read about my own business journey in my book, Going It Alone At 40.

Related posts

WordPress 2 – adding pages to create a website

 
9 Comments

Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Blogging, Business, New skills, Social media

 

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What can Libro do for you?

What can Libro do for you?

Here’s a handy list of everything that Libro can do for you, to make your life that bit easier and make your words work better …

Libro is all about making your words work, whether the words themselves need tweaking (editing what you’ve written, proofreading and polishing before publication), or writing (from your notes or a chat with you), or changing in terms of location (localisation from US to UK English or vice versa), or changing in terms of medium (turning handwritten notes or a taped interview into a typed document).

Follow the links for more information, but here’s a summary:

Editing  – making sure your words, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and even your plots and non-fiction books don’t contain gaping holes.  Checking marketing content (leaflets, websites … ), blog posts, letters, reports …

Proofreading – checking that what you’re about to publish in print or online looks right and works as the document you expect it to be – checking page numbering, headers and footers, website links, etc.

(and for the difference between editing and proofreading, see here)

Copy writing – writing text for your book, downloadable e-book or leaflet, brochure, website, letter, press release, advertorial, advertisement, etc. from your notes or a conversation with you.  I can add in SEO keywords to build your presence in the search engines with text that potential clients will want to read, too.  I work with web designers, too – writing content for the websites they design.

Localisation – adjusting your copy to match UK or US English standards – not just the spellings but sentence structures, word usage, etc.

Transcription – saving you hours of time typing up dictations, interviews, meetings; why not produce a transcript of your webinar or training session to offer to your clients as an added extra?

Copy typing – bundles of notes and no inclination to type them up? Scan them in, send them to me and I’ll produce a nice, tidy, grammatically correct and properly spelled document.

I also offer all of these services as an add-on for virtual assistants, meaning they can offer a wider service without having to have all the skills themselves.

Contact me via email or via my contact form.

 

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Saturday freelance chat – Matthew Marron

Welcome to another Freelancer chat!  Today we’re talking to Matthew Marron.  I met Matt via the 4N networking site forums and was impressed by the fact that he’s a student who’s already carving out a great career as a freelancer.  Although I did type up the odd thesis when I was a student, I would never have dared to try to go it alone and be completely self-employed, so I really admire anyone who’s trying to do that.  Matt’s website is here – and let’s now learn more about how he took the plunge and decided to go it alone.  I do like his answer to “What do you wish someone had told you before you started”!

What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

My business is called Matthew Marron Graphic Design and I first started freelancing around 3 years ago.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I was still at college and just didn’t seem to be learning enough, and I realised I was at the age where I could start to be taken seriously by clients.  My work was well above the standard needed, so it made sense to start earning a bit of experience and portfolio work as well as a bit of money!

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

Graphic Design is my passion; it’s as simple as that. I live and breathe it and have a lot of inspiration boiling inside of me!

Had you run your own business before?

Nah – I’d messed about with bits of freelancing throughout High School but I was entirely self taught in Photoshop back then and working at 72dpi, which meant everything I did looked terrible when printed.

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?

It was just gradual, I do it alongside my University degree which helps me pay for living costs, and this in turn will set me up for going full-time after graduating next year.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

Where the tree of clients is planted, and directions on how to get to it!

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

Plan my time better and don’t let £30 jobs have lots of amendments!

What do you wish you’d done differently?

Same as the above really; I was a bit too nice and a bit too cheap at first. I was getting lots of cheap work but the amendments meant that I was spending a lot more time than planned on what were supposed to be 1 hour jobs!

What are you glad you did?

Started in the first place.  Graphic Design is a hard game to get started in and I think too many people just assume they won’t be able to get work if they start up on their own.

What’s your top business tip?

Go for it!  It applies to everyone, but especially students who have a lot of spare time. If they’re good at what they do, they have nothing to lose, and the experience is priceless.

How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

I only really try to get work during the holidays, which works really well for me, as I get a lot of work when I’m off uni and then I get a steady stream of work during term time on the back of that.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

Full-time! Huddersfield University has a business start-up scheme which helps with office space and free phones, and this, combined with the connections I have steadily built up, will hopefully help me land on my feet.

Libro of course wishes Matt the best of luck with his future endeavours! You can find the Matthew Marron website at www.matthewmarron.co.uk and contact him via email info@matthewmarron.co.uk, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mmarrondesign or on Twitter: @matthewmarron

Click here for more freelancer chat.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2011 in Business, New skills, Small Business Chat

 

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Outsourcing for fun and profit (2)

Welcome to the second in my two-part series about outsourcing.  In Part One we learned about the different tasks you could consider outsourcing to an outside company or individual.  Now we’re going to look at how to work out if it’s worth outsourcing.

There are three reasons why you might choose to outsource a task:

  • You’re so busy, you don’t have time to perform the task effectively, or at all
  • The task is not one of your specialities (OK: you’re not very good at it)
  • It’s more costly in terms of time and income to do the job yourself than to pay someone else to do it

Let’s look at these in turn.

You’re too busy to do the task yourself

Your company’s doing so well that you’re flooded with orders and work, you’re making those widgets till they’re coming out of your ears … but your filing system’s a mess.  Call someone in to sort out what you don’t have time to do.  You’ll profit in terms of having good systems that can be run easily, and not wasting time sorting through a mess to find a vital piece of paperwork.  Or you’re a journalist with too many deadlines and you haven’t got time to transcribe all your tapes – send them off to someone else!

You’re not very good at the task

Maybe you’re great at making widgets but you clam up on the phone when you’re making sales calls to get more clients.  Or you create beautiful websites but panic when a client asks you to write or check content for them.  Or you work with your hands, add up invoices in your head, but need to create some leaflets and are not sure of your spelling.  This is when calling in an expert in their field will help you concentrate on building your expertise – and income – in your own field, and make sure you’re representing yourself as well as you can.

It would actually cost MORE to do it yourself

Remember that method of justifying buying an expensive coat by breaking it down into cost per wear (price of coat divided by number of times you’ll wear it.  Now it costs 50p – hooray!)?  Well this works a bit like that.  Say I have a very simple tax return to do and it only takes half an hour.  Say I charge my clients £20 per hour.  Doing my tax return will cost me £10 in terms of lost potential revenue for that half hour (and I know it’s so simple that an accountant wouldn’t be able to get my tax any lower).  I doubt I’ll be able to get an accountant to do this for £10.  So it’s not worth me outsourcing it.  But if I had a big complicated business, with VAT and all sorts of deductions, and it took me 10 hours to battle through it, then that £200 in lost potential revenue (plus any tax savings I’m missing by not being an expert) could probably pay for an accountant to do it properly.  Similarly, if it’s going to take you 10 hours to type up a 1 hour interview tape that I could do for you for £45, it’s worth outsourcing to me and saving time and money.

In summary: if it’s more expensive to do it yourself, or you don’t have the time or skills to do it, consider outsourcing!

Libro offers copyediting, copy writing, proof-reading, transcription and typing services to other small businesses, individuals and corporations. Click on the links to find out more!

 

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Outsourcing for fun and profit

Today I’m going to talk about outsourcing.  Did you know that you can save your own time and money by outsourcing some of the everyday tasks of your business or even your work life if you’re employed by somebody else?  Maybe it’s not something you’ve thought about before, so I’m going to run through some ideas.  I’ll also tell you in another post how to tell if it’s worth outsourcing something or not.

Tasks you can outsource

The main point of outsourcing is to get someone else to do tasks which you’re either not so good at, or which actually cost more for you to do yourself than paying someone else to do them.  We’ll look at how to decide on the cost factors next time, but for now let’s look at the tasks you can outsource …

  • Accounting and bookkeeping – this is a classic.  If you have a very simple business model, like I do – no car, no additional premises, not VAT registered, sole trader, only one person working for the business – then you can get away with doing your own accounts.  But if you’ve got anything more complicated going on, it’s well worth using a bookkeeper or fully-fledged accountant to keep things under control.  A bookkeeper will be able to keep track of your profits and spending, record your receipts, etc., and an accountant can advise you on how best to minimise your tax burden.  Some companies will even set up your business for you in the first place!
  • Human resources and staffing – it can be worth using a recruitment firm to handle selecting and taking on new staff for you.  And then they can advise on any HR issues – sick pay, maternity pay, dismissals, grievances … and there are companies who will handle your payroll for you, too.
  • Sales and marketing – maybe you’re great at what you do, but you’re not so good at those sales calls and marketing techniques.  Calling in a specialist telemarketing, sales or PR and marketing expert can be well worth the money you spend on them in terms of the return you get from all those extra customers they bring in for you.
  • Telephone answering – there are many companies out there who will provide different levels of phone answering for you, from offering voice mailboxes to answering the phone as if they are working for your company themselves.  This means you can advertise a landline number and have it diverted to your mobile, or have someone answer it when you’re busy, or when you want to switch off for the evening.
  • Secretarial services – Virtual Administrators and Secretaries can provide remote or in-office solutions for you.  If you need an admin assistant but don’t need one full-time and are worried about the costs of employing people, use a VA to either come in and sort out your office systems or provide support for you offsite.
  • Transcription, copy typing, etc. – If you’re not a trained secretary or a fast touch-typist, it’s often well worth your while to use someone outside your business to do your typing.  I can get through a transcription in three times the length of a tape (i.e. it’ll take me 3 hours to type up 1 hour of transcription).  That might seem a long time – but I type fast and use special software.  Try typing a few minutes of tape and see how long it takes you … then outsource away!  I recently did some transcription work for an academic studying how students reacted to their courses, so this definitely works for the employed as well as the self-employed.  It’s the same with copy typing – paying someone else to type up those scribbled conference notes or handwritten novel will usually get it done far more quickly than you could do yourself.
  • Additional services you’d like to offer through your business – speaking from experience, I offer copy writing and proof-reading via web designers who are expert at designing websites but would prefer to concentrate on design and functionality and outsource providing or checking the content to me, and all of my services via VAs who use me to mop up overflow work and additional services they don’t offer personally.  In both these cases, the outsourcer can concentrate on doing what they do best, while offering a fuller service to their own clients.

Points to remember

A couple of points to remember here:

  • Choosing a partner – word of mouth can be vital here.  Ask other small businesses what they do and who they use.  Have a look at the company’s references – I make sure I maintain a page of up to date references from users of all parts of my service, and whoever you look at using should have something similar to show you.  Make sure they’re up to date and, if possible, have some details like names and information on the work undertaken (I keep most of my clients’ surnames off my references page but can provide some more detailed testimonials if required).
  • Confidentiality – a reputable company will always keep your business confidential anyway.  I never mind signing a confidentiality agreement if that’s what makes my client feel more secure – and it’s a question worth asking when you’re selecting someone to outsource to.
  • Contracts – always make sure you have a signed terms and conditions document so you both know what to expect from one another.  I have a standard one I use with web designers, for example, and another standard one for people who are part of a particular franchise I work with a lot.  Just makes everything plain and simple for all to see.
  • Extending the service you’re getting – if the person you’re outsourcing to doesn’t seem to offer a service you’re interested in, just ask.  They’re likely to know someone they can recommend, or they might outsource it themselves! I work with some VAs offering additional services like writing and typing – so it’s worth asking your trusted company before going off and searching again.

In Part 2, we’ll look at how to work out if it’s financially worth outsourcing …

Libro offers copyediting, copy writing, proof-reading, transcription and typing services to other small businesses, individuals and corporations.  Click on the links to find out more!

 

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Virtual Assistant or Website Designer? I can help!

If you’re a busy Virtual Assistant (VA) you know that there are some jobs you need to give that personal touch … but others that are more routine and can be outsourced.  If you’re designing websites, often the design and functionality is your forté and you could outsource the copy writing, either because it frees up some of your time, or because it’s not your speciality.

I provide all sorts of services, from copy writing through to copyediting, proofreading, transcription and copy typing.  Here are some ideas for projects I could help you with.

For VAs:

  • I can take routine copy typing or audio typing off your hands
  • I can pick up overflow work when you’re really busy
  • Maybe you prefer not to work weekends but have a valued customer who needs a rush job completing – I work weekends and can let you know availability very quickly
  • I can help you offer services like copy writing or copyediting/proofreading which are outside your usual skillset, allowing you to offer an all-round service to your clients

For website designers:

  • I can write new copy for your clients, based on existing websites and marketing materials or from going through a questionnaire with them
  • I can polish ideas your clients already have into coherent and useful web content
  • I can proofread the final website (including checking links)
  • I can insert keywords into the web content in a natural way to help with the SEO

I don’t need to contact your clients direct; I’m happy to work through you.  And my standard agreement means there’s no worry about me “poaching” your customers – I’m more than happy to work with you long term to satisfy your clients’ needs.  You won’t be employing me, simply outsourcing some of your work; I’ll invoice you an agreed amount per hour and you can invoice your clients whatever you want to!

Talk to me today about outsourcing some of that routine work and getting on with the things that you do best, and that differentiate you from other VAs and web designers.

Have a look at what a copyeditor and proofreader does; see references from my satisfied clients.

Contact me via email or via my contact form.

 

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