How to Successfully Market Yourself as a Freelancer

With social media evolving so fast and with the internet changing in the rate it does, it is practically a business suicide not to have some kind of marketing strategy prepared for your business. However, without a steady paycheck and with the constant pursuit for new clients, dealing with the issue of marketing may seem difficult. Marketing yourself as a freelancer may be a bit tricky, but if you focus, plan and organize ahead, you will soon realize just how far a good marketing strategy can take you.

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Create a Strong Online Presence

You cannot simply wait for people to find and hire you. You need to get out there and expand your reach. There is an abundance of industry-specific forums, blogs, and other communities which are great for developing your marketing skills and growing your freelancing network. Engage in social media and try to leave comments on different blogs, or answer questions on forums. Be helpful and and do not spam the users. When you engage with the community in such a way, you help build credibility for yourself and consequently expand your reach.

Do not Neglect the Social Media

Use social media platforms to build a public profile for yourself. Potential clients and employers will have much better chances of hiring you if you are present and active on social media. Having a detailed LinkedIn profile can significantly boost your client rates; using Facebook or Twitter for self-promotion can help you distinguish yourself from others and build a serious freelancing business. Make sure you are out there if you really want to expand your business and market yourself properly.

Build a Team of Freelancers

Try connecting with other freelancers as often as you can. This may not seem important from the marketing aspect of your work, but as far as networking goes, it really is. When you are engaged with numerous freelancers, the number of potential opportunities skyrockets. With strong connections with freelancers in different areas of expertise, you can take numerous projects and expand your client base significantly.

Focus on Referrals and Outsourcing

Referring clients to other freelancers is an amazing practice, and it both helps create a connection between freelancers and helps them expand their businesses. You can even get freelancers to outsource a project for your client through you and vice versa, so you can understand how a strong freelancing team can be very important when it comes to promoting yourself and your skills.

Incorporate Modern Web Design

If you do not have a website in the today’s market, it is as if you don not exist. This is especially the case for freelancers. But simply having a website does not necessarily mean that you are on track to become extremely successful. You must understand your focus group and you must address their needs. In order to do this in the best possible way you need to incorporate great web design.

Mix Marketing With Web Design

When it comes to web design, it can make or break your business. Good web design can really help you step up your marketing game. Whether you’re a genius web designer or someone who doesn’t know anything about it, there are some simple guidelines that you should follow. Keep your website simple, use responsive web design, test everything meticulously and ask for feedback from everyone. These tips have proven to be extremely efficient when it comes to marketing aspects of your website.

Think About Growth Opportunities

Think about the services you provide as a freelancer and think about the clients you have already worked with. Think about what they would like to see, and consider how that fits in your idea of a website. Do some research and check out what other freelancers from your branch of work are doing. With platforms like WordPress and with the power of Google you can soon understand how the world of web design works, or you can always consult a professional and still achieve what you’ve wanted all along – a better way to market yourself.

Put the Thoughts Into Action

Expanding the business is hard, and finding the best marketing strategies may seem like a nightmare, but all you really need is a bit of time and patience. Focus on building your online presence, and try to engage with others as often as you can. Think of the ways how you want to build your career, whether as a successful individual freelancer or as a member of a freelancing team of experts. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your skills, but do it professionally.

How to Choose Your Domain Name for Maximum SEO

Choosing the right domain name is the first and arguably crucial step when launching a website. Your domain name is the flagship of your business, and apart from it serving as a window into your venture, it also needs to be optimized for search engines. Keeping up with the times is important, and those who don’t evolve and adapt to these new trends suffer a huge loss in traffic. So, here are a few guidelines on how to pick the right domain name for your website in order to maximize its SEO.

Keyword Domains

In order to come up with the optimal domain name, you need to take a few things into consideration. First, if you don’t already have a recognizable brand name that can be used as your domain name, you have two options. Either you make a brand name from scratch and then use that as your domain name, or you use some keyword relevant to your business as the domain name. If you opt for the first suggestion, then you need to work on spreading brand awareness over the internet. If you chose the latter, it’s a bit more complex. In the past, keywords were the main thing when it came to domain name SEO, and it’s easy to understand why. Imagine someone looking to buy some healthy food. In the case that you named your domain healthyfoods.com, when this person types ‘healthy foods’ into their Google search bar, it will probably be the first thing to pop up. Nowadays, things are a bit different. In 2012, Google updated its search algorithm, and as a result, keyword domains were no longer the best option. Namely, Google is now more interested in the quality of the content on your website than the keyword in the domain’s name. You can still go for keyword domains if you feel like you don’t have a specific brand name you can use, just make sure that you utilize tools like Google Keyword Planner if you want to find the optimal keyword for your website.

Branded Domains

Today, these domains are greatly preferred by search engines. Not only that, but they have unique names that are a lot easier to remember than keywords. This is why Amazon uses Amazon.com for its domain name and not OnlineShopping.com. The brand is more important than the keyword. Moreover, it is extremely recognizable, which will in turn have much lower bounce rates as people will know exactly what to expect on that website. For example, people searching for Adidas shoes won’t go to Nike.com, right? Apart from being more memorable, branded domain names have clearer backlinks and longer retention times than keyword domains. The main downside of this method is that it takes a lot of time and effort to create a new brand from scratch. You’ll need to do some aggressive marketing on social media and the like to spread your brand awareness enough, so that people can actually recognize your brand. Just make sure that you buy domain name with your brand’s name in it before starting this marketing campaign, unless you want to risk someone else snatching it right under your nose.

Things to Avoid

Now, bear in mind that there are a few things you should avoid at all costs. Using hyphens, for one, is ill advised, as people often forget about them and then go to the wrong site when they don’t type them out. Another downside of hyphens is that they make your site look spammy, as fake sites are notorious for their use of hyphens. They use hyphens to mimic famous domain names like, for example, face-book.com to generate more traffic on their website. Obviously, you don’t want to be associated with them. Similarly, don’t use low-quality TLD’s, which are .biz, .info, .ws and .name. Such extensions are generally shunned by the online community as they too are used by scammers most of the time. Likewise, having a local extension, such as .uk, will rank your website highly in the UK, but not the rest of the world, so using .com is better in both cases. Finally, keeping your domain name under fifteen characters will make it easier for people to remember it and thus reduce the likelihood of typos, as well as making it more SEO friendly overall.

To sum up, if you are choosing between a keyword domain name and a branded domain name, the latter is probably the better option. Moreover, make sure to avoid using hyphens and low-quality extensions in your domain name to disassociate your website from scammers, and use a short memorable name instead.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

Google Says Freshen Up Your Content

While there are – probably – dozens and dozens of ways in which Google likes to rank the content on your website, none of them has become more emphasized than “freshness”. So, in order to get straight into it and not beat around the proverbial bush any longer, here are some of the most important ways in which the god-that-is-Google tends to determine how fresh your content is.

Date Of Inception

Every single web page is going to be valued based on its inception date, something that holds less and less value as time goes on. Just so you know, the inception date is the time when Google first becomes aware of this new content, which tends to happen when the crawlers first detect it on your website or when Google finds a link to this content.

A Matter Of Updating

This is something that has gotten a little bit more attention over recent months. Instead of just rating your content on when it was first uploaded, Google also ranks your content on how regularly it is updated. Content that gets tweaked regularly has more value than content that never changes. Let’s say you go back through your content and change a sentence. Whoop-di-do. However, if you drastically change the main body then you will be having a much bigger impact on this freshness thing.

Frequency Of Changes

Ask those in well-respected SEO services, and they will tell you another huge proponent in the hunt for a better rating is the frequency in which your content gets updates because that is what will keep the Googlebots coming back to crawl your website. Let’s use some examples. Let’s say you have a blog that gets updated once a week as a means to keep your customers in the loop with what you are up to. Okay, that’s once a week something new gets added. Compare that to a major newspaper where their entire body of content gets altered daily and you see which one is more valuable to Google.

New Pages, Please

Another great way to improve the freshness of your website is to create new pages. This is something that a blog manages to do better than anything else because you are not only creating new pages regularly, you are also adding pages that are high in original content. That’s epic. That’s going to get you a freshness score to be super-proud of. You don’t need to go mad on this front, but a new page every so often will have a big impact.

Linking Plays A Lovely Role

Just so you know, the freshness-o-meter is not restricted to your page’s only. It also has a lot to do with the external links that you are using. These tend to wield a lot of power when it comes to measuring freshness. That is why you should always include a cocktail of internal links, outbound links and, if possible, links on external websites that link back to you. Google loves link-building because it makes you look relevant or, to keep with the word we have been using, fresh.

Turn Your Online Business Into A Fortress

The internet has made it possible for so many people to build businesses from their own home; it saves them on paying rent for a premises, it makes it cheaper for them to advertise their products and services, and it gives them a wider customer base to buy their products. Unfortunately, no one really considers that online businesses have a few vulnerabilities that aren’t usually seen in physical stores. Whether you’re conducting your business part-time, or you depend on it as your sole source of income, here are a few vulnerabilities that could affect your business, and how you can protect it like a fortress.

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Cyber safety

Since 2016, there has been an increase in reports of online businesses being targeted and held to ransom by cyber-criminals. Experts are warning that small businesses are fast becoming their favorite target because most of them are woefully unprepared for hacks to their online domain. Don’t make your business a weak target for cyber-criminals – this is your livelihood, so protect it like a fortress. Invest in antivirus and encryption software that automatically updates to patch vulnerable spots in your security, blocks spam, and detects spyware. Companies that sell this type of software include McAfee, Norton, AVG and Avira. Cyber criminals also look for exploits in WordPress and popular plugins, so it’s vital you keep them up to date if you’re using this to host your website.

Get insurance

Depending on the kind of service you offer, you might want to consider professional indemnity insurance; this will protect you if a client accuses you of providing  inadequate advice, services or designs that resulted in a financial loss. You can get professional indemnity insurance to cover both defence costs and any liability found owing in the event of a claim up to the limit of indemnity. There are different kinds of insurance for different services, so make sure you do your research to ensure you’re properly covered.

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Secure payments

If you’re selling something online, enabling mobile payments such as PayPal can increase your sales by allowing more impulsive purchases. You’ll also receive prompt payments rather than dealing with a billing or invoicing system. A good merchant service provider can sort you out with an online payment system for your eCommerce store. But more importantly, they can help you set up secure payments. The minute your customers enter their card details into your system, they are vulnerable to cyber attacks. You need excellent encryption software and top of the line credit card security to keep these details safe from cyber thieves. No one will use your store again if they’re worried about their details being stolen.

Reputation

The best kind of protection you can provide for your business is building up a solid reputation. Establish yourself as a reliable salesperson, a provider of good quality products, and someone who responds well to customer feedback. Customers are usually very trusting of online businesses, but once they hear of any hacking incidents or lawsuits, they are less likely to return.

Starting Up A Business? It’s Simple With These Tips

Dealing within your business may come as second nature to you, but for someone starting out, it can all seem too daunting. How can you start a business? Where do you begin to fathom the challenges ahead? There are, however, some basic principals that you can overcome. Getting a grip on the main fundamentals create the perfect grounding to create your business. I thought I would share these simple tips to help you if you find yourself just starting out.

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Business plans are essential

Having a business plan is an essential part of starting up a business. It gives you the focus and clarity to know exactly what steps and actions you need to take. However, many overlook this part of the process and possibly don’t spend as much time on it as they should do. But, not only does a business plan guide you, it can also help if you are looking to gain an investor’s interest further down the line. Or even if you are hoping to raise funds from the start. Which brings me onto my next point.

Consider the financial side of things

The financial side of things is one huge hurdle to overcome at the beginning of starting up a business. You have the initial finance you need to bring a product to market or launch a company or service online. But you may also find that you struggle with cash flow when you begin to start trading. This is when websites like https://smallbusinessloans.co could help you out. You need to be able to keep a business moving forward and the financial aspect can be one of the downfalls of a new start up. So plan ahead.

Social media can be your huge advantage

Social media management and promotion is a buzz with businesses taking different approaches and strategies of how they advertise their business online. And why not? After all, it is so diverse and with a big audience you really can take advantage of social media from an advertising and marketing side of things. A decent understanding of how you can utilise these platforms will be vital to your success, websites like http://www.dummies.com could help you out.

Think of your branding and website

The branding and your website are two key facts for your business and is something that needs you time, your attention and your focus. Everything is digital these days and mostly people will head online to find the right website for their needs. However, if they do happen to stumble across your website but the branding isn’t on point then you could potentially lose that customer or client. A digital marketing agency could help with logos and branding along with web development. Lastly, you will also want to ensure that your website can be seen through the mass of websites offered in search engines. This is when search engine optimisation and the use of keywords could help improve your chances of ranking better. Thankfully, there are plenty of tutorials online to help you make a start on this yourself.

How to Build an #eCommerce Store from Scratch

Many businesses have decided to invest in an e-commerce solution in the last few years. It undoubtedly provides easier management and has lower costs, but it’s also not something to be taken lightly. Just like with launching any store, you will have to do certain things and make decisions to create a reliable and respectable business. It takes time and patience of course, but also great research skills and the ability to process data to your advantage to create a brand the customers will trust. You also want to achieve success and be profitable in order to get a return on your investment and expand your business and grow.

I have put together some advice for you to consider that will help you plan your eCommerce venture and prepare you for success. You can use this information to create your own online store instead of selling on Amazon or eBay. In this way you will become a business in your own right and gain respect as a brand. So take a look at our list and good luck with your future business project.

1.    Decide on a product or service

It’s all about the product today. Since competition is fierce in some fields and it can even be ruthless, you must choose a product that fits with your capabilities. You may think you know what you want, but never make that decision quickly or without taking data into consideration. Research the market and see how the most popular brands are doing in respect to sales and quality. Also, the best way to know how not to make mistakes is by observing them and learning from their aftermath. Check out the lists and examples of the worst product launches and recommendations for how to avoid these pitfalls.

2.    Make a plan

Never do any important projects, or anything at all, without a plan. It’s the crucial element of every life-changing situation and can help you make better decisions. Start with a comprehensive plan including the idea you had in mind, and then break it up into micro plans reach each milestone. When it comes to planning, being as detailed as possible, no matter how silly it may sound, is always the best approach. A sound and carefully drafted plan will help you evaluate your methods and ideas as well as prepare you for future challenges.

3.    Development of your product

There are two ways to go here: make your own or source the products. In the end, you will have to sell them both through your e-commerce store, but the investment may be bigger or smaller depending on the development process of the product. You can acquire your product in four ways: making, manufacturing, wholesaling and drop shipping. It’s crucial to decide the best approach for your business as your e-commerce store depends on it. Sometimes the most obvious direction is not the wisest one and can make it harder for you to establish yourself. So, make sure you know how to obtain your product, the pros and cons of the method and then start building your business from there.

4.    Don’t underestimate your competition

One part of your research will require you look up all the businesses which can be considered competition. This includes online stores as well as product manufacturers and their marketing ideas, especially if you make your own product. Never underestimate even the smallest ones because as a fledgling business you can review their moves and assess their strategy, and even predict where it will take them. This ability to predict the potential direction in which your competition is heading is what will help you be prepared to match and outsmart their actions. The most valuable advice we can give you is to never look down on others in the same business as you but to observe them analytically and objectively so you can come to emotionless and logical conclusions.

5.    Create your e-commerce portal

Since e-commerce means you’ll be selling the product online, the one thing you can’t do without is a website. There are free options and you can try doing it all by yourself, but that can prove to be riskier and can have a negative impact on your business. There are various experts today like WebDel Web Developers who can help you choose the right domain name and perform quality SEO, so that you can count on your customers finding you easily and having no trouble ordering and paying for the product. This will be a cost-effective decision and will provide you with a secure and reliable solution for your business.

6.    Marketing your store

Although you may think that SEO will do it all for you, there are still some things you must do to have a successful marketing campaign and one of them is your behaviour and contact with your customers. Because your communication will be impersonal, you have to create a positive relationship as though they have physically visited your store and used your services. This can be achieved with a timely response to their requests and questions, as well as with appropriate language and a respectable manner of addressing. Word of mouth is still a powerful tool, especially today when every opinion can find its audience on the social networks and other tools for expressing thoughts and reviews.

All in all

This all seems like a lot to take in and, for a moment there, you may feel the urge to give up on your idea, but there are no easy ways to be successful in business even if it’s something you love. Every beginning will make you doubt yourself and the certainty of the realisation of your plans, but persistence and unrelenting determination are the foundations of every successful business venture.

Guest Author, Neil, is a digital marketing enthusiast, DIY hobbyist and a beginner at the blogging scene. His home is the whole world because he travels a lot. While you are reading this he is probably somewhere other than where he was yesterday.

8 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Business Website Hosting

When choosing a web hosting provider, you should carefully evaluate your options before making a final decision. This isn’t always easy, as there’s plenty of jargon to deal with, which can make it hard to determine whether you’re actually getting a good deal for the price you’ll be paying.

The good news is that with just a little bit of information, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls when comparing hosting providers. Here are some of the top mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not Paying Attention to Hidden Charges

Sometimes, there will be additional charges associated with a hosting service that aren’t always clear from the start. These can include VAT and setup costs, as well as domain transfer fees charged if you want to transfer your domain away to another registrar.

Bandwidth charges are another common hidden charge. Some hosting providers limit the amount of data your website can transfer in a month and charge you extra for any overage. Bandwidth limitations can be a problem if your website grows in popularity and starts receiving a lot more visitors, as you may end up having to pay a high amount for the transferred data.

Choosing a Hosting Service With a Lengthy Contract

Many web hosting providers give big discounts if you pay for several years of service when you sign up. Some may even require that you pay for at least one year of service in advance. Even though this can save you money over paying for a monthly subscription, it’s not really a good idea.

When you first get started with a hosting company, you don’t know what type of experience you’ll have with them in the future. If ever you’re dissatisfied with the service and want to switch providers, it might be difficult for you to get back any amount you’ve paid in advance.

Not Considering Technical Support

Selecting a hosting company that has top-notch technical support is crucial, especially if this is the first time you’re using a web host and running your own website. No matter how good your hosting company is, there is a high chance that you’ll run into some type of problem at one point and will require their assistance. When you need help, using a hosting company with a support department that is easy to reach and answers your questions quickly will make all the difference.

A hosting service that provides around the clock support by different methods, such as phone, email and live chat may cost a bit more than a similar service with less support. But if you have a question about one of your hosting plan’s features or something isn’t quite working right, you’ll quickly see the value of a hosting service which provides high-quality support to all of its customers.

Relying on Reviews Made by Affiliates

The best way to find out whether a hosting company actually provides good value for the money is to read some hosting reviews. The problem is that not all reviews are neutral and unbiased. If you come across a website that just reviews a few hosts, with all reviews being overly positive and having a link to the purchase page of the web host, it’s certainly a site operated by an affiliate that receives commissions for every new customer they refer to a host.

When reading hosting reviews, it’s a better idea to consult several different websites. This will give you a more unbiased look at various hosting companies, helping you understand what their strong and weak points are.

Choosing a Provider Solely Based on Price

It’s not a good idea to assume that all hosting services are the same and just choose the provider with the least expensive options. Also, the highest priced hosts aren’t necessarily the best either, as some providers sell basic hosting services at highly inflated prices. A better approach to choosing a host is to think about what your needs are and then compare various hosting plans from different providers, as well as read independent reviews to get an idea about the quality of each company.

Paying Additional Fees For Products and Services You Don’t Really Need

Many hosting companies try to “upsell” during the checkout process. Be careful to review each page before clicking on the “continue” button so that you don’t buy any products or services that you don’t really need.

Many of the products offered during the upsell phase are hyped up by the web host as being worth hundreds of dollars, but are actually of little value. For example, some hosting firms charge inflated costs for website templates or directory submission services that you can easily find for free elsewhere.

Not Thinking about Scalability

One of the troubles of starting a new website is that it’s difficult to know how much your site will grow in the future. While your current hosting package may meet your needs for now, this may not be the case a few months down the road. For this reason, it’s very important to select a hosting provider that offers a variety of services and makes it easy to upgrade if you need to.

Using the Same Company For Web Hosting and Domain Registration

It’s common for domain registrars to also provide hosting services, but their packages are often overpriced and offer only basic hosting features. Many hosting providers also make it a huge selling point to offer a free domain name when you sign up for their service. However, this isn’t a huge benefit, as domain names are quite inexpensive and you can easily buy one independently.

Another point to consider is that having your domain and hosting offered by the same company can make it harder to switch to a different provider in the future if your needs change or you’re not satisfied with the service.

Selecting a hosting provider for your business website is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. To increase the chances of selecting a web host that is right for you and avoiding problems, you should do your research beforehand to avoid making mistakes that could prove costly down the road.

Guest Author, Josh McAllister, is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister