If you’ve ever taken the time to sit down and figure out where all of your money goes, you may find yourself cringing at some of those unnecessary expenses. The truth is that all businesses have a bit of “extra” at first, things that need to be shaved down to a minimum. Creating a budget is the best way to ensure every penny your business earns is going to the right place.
If you want to know how to create a simple business budget, follow the steps below:
Many people will tell you to figure out how much you’re earning first, but we like to calculate expenses first. That way, we can ensure our income is covering our expenses.
First off, the fixed costs, things like:
Government and bank fees
Rent or mortgage
These costs will remain the same from month to month, so they’re the foundation of your budget.
Next, figure out your added expenses, the ones that tend to change from month to month. This includes:
Even if you don’t expect these expenses to occur every month, it’s a good idea to factor them into the budget. It’s much easier to set aside $100 per month for your annual business trip than try to scrounge up $1,000 when the time comes. Always set aside money in advance of the expenses, and you’ll never be caught flat-footed.
Now it’s time to determine your business income. You need to not only look at the income of your product or services, but you need to examine things like:
Additional income from secondary jobs
All of these things will help you to figure out how much of the previous two elements you can cover easily, and how much you’re missing to be “in the black”.
There are always going to be “one time” expenses:
New furniture for the office
Special software to improve productivity
Equipment upgrades or replacements
These expenses are no less important, but nearly impossible to predict. It’s vital that you set aside a monthly sum for these expenses. That way, when they do crop up, you’ve got the money to cover it.
Your budget doesn’t have to remain the same from year to year. In fact, given the changes in the economy, it’s important for you to adjust your budget on a regular basis. Examine your budget for pockets of money that are sitting dormant and could be put to better use, or for expenses you’re not quite covering properly. Adjust your budget regularly to keep up with the changes in your company as well.
What’s the point of having a website if no one sees it?
Website traffic is what will make your website “work”. You’ve invested all that time and effort into setting up a website, so it’s time to get eyes on your content. It’s the only way that you can turn a profit—via direct purchases from your webstore or generating leads for your offline business. So how can you get more traffic to your website? Here are five simple ways to increase your website traffic:
SEO is complex and difficult to understand, but it’s worth the effort to learn! Using SEO correctly can get your website ranked highly on Google’s search engine lists, which will send “organic” (not paid) traffic to your website. That’s the most desirable type of traffic, as it means people are actually interested in what you have to say/offer. By optimizing the content of every page on your site, you increase the chance of getting that priceless organic traffic.
This is one that could go downhill fast! Ads—on social media sites, Google, etc.—can increase the visibility of your website. However, if your website isn’t designed correctly (with good landing page copy, a clear call to action, a good incentive, etc.), visitors will simply click away. You can spend a fortune on advertising without ever seeing a penny of ROI. You have to be smart with your advertising, and stay on top of the performance of every ad. It’s the only way to be sure you’re not throwing money down the drain.
Social media is one of the best ways to get eyes on your content. Your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts can all be used to funnel visitors to your website. However, you have to learn to use each platform correctly (Twitter is micro-content, Facebook is short-form content, and Pinterest is all visual) if you want to succeed.
Will people click on a headline like “Find out what makes X problem work”? Probably not. But they’re much more likely to click on “The Secret Way to Deal with X”, something with an eye-catching headline. Make those headlines intriguing, and the people who see your headlines will be much more likely to click through to your website to read the content.
This is actually two different things: you guest posting content on other blogs, and allowing others to guest post content on your blog. Both will increase the visibility of your website, and can be an effective way to tap into your network of friends and colleagues.
Follow this advice, and you can see a spike in your website traffic in no time!
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and all the others can provide you with excellent options for reaching potential clients. However, with so many other companies and individuals trying to do the same thing, your company’s message can get lost in the crowd.
If you’re trying to figure out which social media platform is the best for your business, here are the most important ones to consider:
Facebook is still the leading social media platform, but it’s become more of an advertising platform than a way to organically reach new people. However, it’s very useful to use to build customer loyalty, and you can establish yourself as an authority by sharing interesting, informational, and relevant content. On Facebook, short videos are the most effective, followed by images. People want to learn about other people on Facebook, so you need to make your brand as personable as possible.
YouTube is all about the interesting and new, but presented in video format. The beauty of YouTube is that anyone can start a channel and upload videos at any time. The bad news is that there is so much competition that it can be hard to get noticed. However, creating videos for YouTube can give you content to post to your other social media accounts.
Twitter is the place for people to share breaking news, instant feedback, short-form content, quick updates, promotions, contests, and viral content. Using hashtags (your own and popular ones) will allow you to engage with people around the world. It’s a highly effective online publicity platform, but it’s not as effective at promoting customer interaction.
With Pinterest, it’s all about the visuals. Pinterest users will share beautiful images, many of which are linked to products. Pinterest is like an online scrapbook where people showcase products and display the “essence” of their brands through visual creations and “inspiration boards”. To use Pinterest, you need to have someone who can create beautiful branded images. Integrating a call to action into your Pins will increase customer reactions. Best of all, you can micro-target your promotions and campaigns.
Google+ is a Facebook wannabe, one that encourages building an audience and brand loyalty. However, the beauty of Google+ is that it’s not as over-used as Facebook, and it can do wonders for your Google SEO ranking. Posting content to Google+ can be a good way to reach a whole audience of people who never use their Facebook accounts.
You need to use each social media platform the way it was designed to be used if you want to see results!
Social media can be a highly valuable tool for your company if used right, or a giant time-waster if not. Knowing how to use social media correctly can make all the difference! Here are a few tips to help you maximize your social media use:
Twitter is used for VERY short-form content, Instagram is all about visually appealing images, and YouTube is for engaging long-form content. When posting to social media platforms, make sure you’re posting content that suits the audience.
Never jump into a campaign without a plan. Sit down and create a comprehensive social media marketing plan before the campaign begins. It can help you increase your chances for success, as well as prepare you to analyze the good/bad of your plan.
The truly effective way to reach more people is to engage with them. Always be ready to reply to comments, thank people for participating, and listen to what people have to say. The more you engage, the better!
You’ve come up with a social media plan, but you have to be ready to adjust or flex as needed. The only way to know if it’s needed is to monitor your efforts. That means tracking/analyzing your social media progress to determine if it’s having the desired results. Change as the situation merits!
Twitter and Facebook both have automation options, and you can find tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to help you schedule content ahead of time. Automation can help to streamline the process!
Target your audience – Know who your audience is, and make sure your posts reach them! The narrower your audience, the greater the chance that you’ll reach the right people with your content.
Don’t spend time posting across all platforms if only a few platforms yield the results you want. Make sure your efforts are concentrated on the social media channels that work best for you.
Used right, hashtags can be a great way to track your engagement. Used incorrectly, they can clutter up your content and annoy people.
Part of the social media plan should be to draft a calendar that helps you to keep track of everything you are posting and when.
It’s worth spending a bit of money on advertising via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media channels. The ad money will often yield a higher ROI than with Google AdWords marketing!
Marketing is so much more than just creating social media posts and paying for advertising space. It comes down to a plan that will help you to reach your audience as effectively as possible, and with the best possible ROI. You have to approach it with the right mentality, which means:
Each campaign you run should fit into the overall plan for marketing your business. With a master plan, it will be much easier to draw up the blueprints for smaller, individual campaigns and keep them all relevant to each other.
Is the goal of your campaign to drive people to your website, increase clickthroughs, or generate revenue via sales? Having an objective will help you to know whether or not your campaigns succeeded.
Having metrics and parameters. You have to measure your results in order to determine whether or not they’re effective. That means establishing metrics and parameters for “success” or “failure”.
Everyone has to operate within a budget! A small measure of success is being able to get the desired results without going over-budget.
A lot of market research should go into your overall marketing plan. Once you understand your audience, it’s easier to know how to reach them with the right marketing campaigns.
You can’t post the same content to Facebook as you post to Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube. All of your marketing campaigns should be tailored to the platform you are using.
You need materials that will do what you want them to: convert viewers into customers. That means putting a lot of thought into the copy you write, the images you use, and the message you’re trying to communicate. Refine the materials until you’re certain they do what you want them to.
You need to have tools to measure the results of your marketing efforts. This means tracking clicks, page views, conversions, sign-ups, and all of the other metrics you’ve established. Going back over the results of your marketing campaign will help you to learn from your mistakes and successes. You’ll be able to make the next one better!
It’s not easy to run a successful campaign, even if you’ve dedicated your life to marketing. But the tips above can help you to prepare yourself and your marketing campaign for a greater chance of success.
There was a time that “local SEO”—optimizing your content according to a specific location, using keywords such as “drycleaners Los Angeles” or “dentist Miami”—was perceived as something done exclusively by bricks-and-mortars retailers. After all, using local SEO narrowed the audience to only people in that specific location.
However, the truth is that local SEO is important even to online retailers. Why is that?
Well, simple: your customers live in cities, right? If you can target your content according to that specific city, it’s easier to give them what they need.
Let’s take, for example, an online clothes retailer. The retailer sells both winter and summer clothes. To hit the winter-wear audience in the Northern United States, they can use local SEO for New England, Chicago, Seattle, and so on. But people living in the Southern United States will start wearing summer clothes long before their northern counterparts do, so a local SEO campaign targeting Phoenix, Miami, Los Angeles, and Houston will enable the clothes retailer to start selling summer clothes before the sale of winter clothes ends.
Google loves local businesses, and actually does more to promote them than global or national businesses. The search engine is designed to bring up local results first, especially if the keyword searched includes the location. A search for “laundromat in Glendale” will usually bring up the Glendale-specific locations, and farther down the list will be the retailers that belong to larger chains. It’s Google’s way of promoting local business and delivering the best tailored results.
Google also tries to give the most specific results according to the person searching. Your Google history will give the search engine information on the sort of information you’re looking for, according to your location and other data. If there is a business that offers what you’re looking for in the place you want it, Google is going to make sure you see it.
Proximity-based searches are more common with mobile commerce as well. Look at Uber, the app that searches for the closest vehicle to your desired location. Or Tinder, which tries to find matches nearest to you. Local SEO will be important for mobile searches as well, as Google has tried to make the searches as location-specific as possible.
Local SEO is no longer useful just for brick-and-mortar retailers. Even online retailers should endeavor to include local SEO when and where relevant. It may lead to much better engagement and reach in the specific cities where you want to find your target demographic.
The word “brand” is usually used to refer to a company or line of products, but it actually goes beyond that. A company’s brand is the perception people have of that company. For example, thanks to Apple’s branding efforts, we all know that Apple products are sleek, cutting edge, and innovative (even if they don’t always live up to the hype) or that Nike is the brand for athletes (even if other brands have better products).
Your personal brand is the world’s perception of who you are. Building a personal brand is the best way to influence the people around you: employers, coworkers, employees, customers, supplies, even your competitors. By creating a personal brand, you control the narrative and help people perceive you the way YOU want them to.
What is the most important aspect of who you are and what you do? What is the “mantra” that drives your product or service? Think about what matters most to you, and that is the heart and soul of your brand.
Tugging on someone’s heartstrings is the best way to get them on your side. You need to think about how you make your product/service/persona to make people feel, and how you want them to perceive you. The emotional appeal of your brand is what will set you apart.
What is it that you are offering to people? What do you have that makes you unique from others? Why do you stand out from the crowd? This goes beyond just the skills, products, or services you have to offer, but it includes your personality, character, and passions.
How would you describe yourself? Are you an artist, a leader, a strategist, or a team player? What words can you use to endear yourself to others emotionally? Think about the things about you that appeal most to others, and use that in your creation of your personal brand. Be a “passionate creator” or a “willing assistant” or an “enthusiastic leader”.
Your personal brand should be distilled to one or two simple concepts. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, but find your niche and make it work. Narrow the scope of your brand to a simple concept that everyone can relate to. The simpler the idea of you and your brand, the more easily people will be able to relate to it.
In the end, your personal brand is how the world will perceive you. It’s best if you can control the narrative and help people to see you the RIGHT way.
The internet is one of your best and most cost-effective tools for marketing. However, to use it right, you need to understand the mentality of the average web user. For most people, it’s all about finding the most appealing, concise, and easily accessible information and solutions to their problems. The vast majority of the younger web users prefer images and videos to written content. If you’re trying to reach that younger audience, you need to use video marketing!
Video marketing is effective for the simple reason that EVERYONE loves well-made, clever, and interesting videos. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, videos are worth far, far more. You can deliver a powerful, engaging, funny, clever, or interesting message in a matter of seconds using video. You can also tell a story to entice web surfers to click on your link and see what more you have to say. Well-made videos can stop any casual web surfer in their tracks, perhaps even long enough to get them interested in your product or service.
Video marketing is also effective because it’s entertaining. Go to YouTube, and you’ll find HUNDREDS of videos on every topic under the sun. Many of them are created to make you laugh, cry, think, and be interested in something new. Videos present important information in an entertaining way. People love to be entertained, and it can make learning a whole lot more enjoyable. You can teach useful things through the medium of entertainment.
Best of all, video marketing is available to anyone. You don’t have to be an internet marketing genius to use video marketing. All you have to do is know how to make a good video. That may mean hiring a video expert to help you create something informational, engaging, and entertaining. Once you have the video, you can post it to your website, blog, social media accounts, and even a YouTube channel. If the video is well-made and engaging, it has a much better chance of being shared around.
Videos tend to “go viral” (being shared all over the internet) much more often than written articles. Viral videos can get millions of views in a very short amount of time. If you’re the one who created the video, all those viewers will link the video to your company/business. The viral nature of the video means thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people around the world will find out about you and what you have to offer.
The truth is that video marketing is one of the most effective tools in your arsenal. If you want to reach the widest audience possible, it’s worth investing in making videos that entertain, educate, and engage in a clever, interesting, and animated way!
Have you ever heard the expression “Content is king?” It’s one that has become very popular in the last decade, especially with the drastic shift in advertising and marketing caused by social media and the internet.
Once, your best means of reaching people was via billboards, TV ads, radio spots, and newspaper ads. Now, the most time and cost-effective methods of marketing is using the internet (social media, company website, etc.).
The internet is designed to be an information superhighway, where people can access anything they want in a matter of seconds. Search engines provide relevant results for millions of searches every day. Guess what those results are? 9 times out of 10, they’re articles, blog posts, and content posted on websites.
If you want to get people to visit your website and find out more about your business, you MUST create content that is relevant, valuable, and consistent. Content allows you to establish yourself as an authority, which increases the likelihood people will seek you out for answers and help. Regular content posting also keeps you in the forefront of potential customers’ minds. If they keep seeing your content when they’re looking for advice or help with a problem, they’ll end up thinking of you when they need your business.
Content marketing is important for customers, as it’s a “soft sell” tactic. By delivering consistent value through your articles, blog posts, and other content, you slowly convince customers to take advantage of your product or service. In this modern day and age, most people prefer the soft sell than the in-your-face “Buy or try my product/service!”
Content marketing also matters to search engines. When people do a search for a problem or question related to your business’ product or service, you want your content to be as highly ranked as possible. The higher the ranking, the greater the chance of a search engine user clicking on your website and reading the article or post. Content allows you to take advantage of people’s desire for more information and knowledge, yet still entice them into buying your product or trying your service.
Content marketing also allows you to build a relationship with your customer. You provide them with daily or weekly solutions and answers to their problems and questions, and that endears them to you. That positive association in their mind will make them think of you next time they need your product or service. Once again, it’s about the “soft sell”.
The internet can be a highly useful tool to promote your business, but you have to learn how to do it right. Providing regular content is the key to being a smart internet marketer!
Social media has changed the marketing game forever! Where marketing and advertising once involved spending millions of dollars on physical ads (newspapers, magazines, etc.), now you can spend far less and make your ad visible across the world courtesy of social media. Social media is a cost-effective solution that allows you to reach the people YOU want to reach.
If you’re considering marketing via social media, it’s a good idea to consider Facebook. Here are a few reasons why Facebook offers the most effective option for your company’s marketing strategy:
Facebook Ads can be sent to as broad or narrow an audience as you want. Facebook has access to a wealth of personal information on each person, including location, age, sex, work history, social circles, marital status, likes, dislikes, and the list goes on. Facebook allows you to set dozens of filters to ensure that your ad ONLY reaches the people it’s intended for.
Facebook advertisements tend to be far more cost-effective than Google Ads. The cost per click through is about the same as Google Ads, but people are more likely to perceive Facebook ads positively. After all, they’re on social media to relax, so they associate the things they see on social media more positively. You’d be amazed by how many impressions a mere $5 to $50 per day can get your advertisement!
Advertising on Google or even physical ads are intended to put your product in front of the right people. However, Facebook ads allow you to connect with your customer base. The interactivity features are built into the social media platform, and people are encouraged to share, like, and comment. You’ll find that Facebook offers better engagement with clients, suppliers, fans, and customers. It’s a way to build a following rather than just have people buy your products.
With billboard ads, you have no idea how many people you reach. Google Ads provide you with detailed metrics on your performance, but Facebook delivers real-time analytics to help you track and improve the reach of each advertisement you run. You can make adjustments to the ad while they’re running, or learn from each ad to improve the next one. For marketers who want to stay on top of the game, Facebook is the detailed tool of choice.
Facebook knows it’s one of the best marketing platforms, so it will continue to make changes to their platform that encourages paid marketing over free. However, if you can learn to use Facebook effectively, you’ll find that spending even a small amount on the ads and marketing options is a great way to reach a broader audience and get your message across efficiently.