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  • How to Choose a Domain For Your Real Estate Website

    Thursday, March 23, 2017 by
    Real Estate Domain Names Owning a domain name is very similar to owning a piece of property. The location of the property often dictates the price, just as a specific domain name can drive up its value. Both are becoming increasingly scarce as more people, and more purchases begin to consume the available stock. Perhaps most importantly is the similarity from a business perspective: the easier it is to find, the more customers you're going to have. With literally millions of domains clamoring for attention online, securing the right name has never been more important. In this article we're going to cover strategies for developing your name, in addition to explaining common web-related terms, plus some of the frequently-made mistakes to avoid.   HostGator WordPress Hosting  

    The Basics

    As a Realtor you're already responsible for understanding an entirely separate language specific to your profession. Internet technology is no different, here are some of the basic terms to get acquainted with: Domain Name - The basis for this whole article, your domain name is your address online separated into two parts, i.e. hostgator.com:
    • Part one is the name you will get to choose if available (hostgator).
    • Part two is the wording after the dot, called the TLD or “Top Level Domain,” (.com).
    TLD - Everyone whose been on the internet has seen the .com, .org, or even .net domain extensions, but many don't realize .realtor and .realestate are now available due to over saturation of the more common TLDs. Intuitively people are shown to use the .com extension by habit, so if you can, it’s a good idea to start with .com, and then consider purchasing other extensions which can be rerouted to your main site.  

    Buying the Domain

    In order to officially own a domain name you must go through an accredited registrar. This process gives you exclusive rights to the name, while also letting everyone else know it's off limits for a specified amount of time based on how long you register for (Usually 1-2 years at a time).  

    The Top Considerations For Choosing The Domain Name

    Now that you have the basics understood, it's time to select your domain name. As an asset to your business' success it's important to separate what appeals to you, and focus on what works.  

    1. Focus On The Local Search

    As we mentioned earlier, location is one of the primary aspects to the real estate game. Your domain name is no exception. When people use a search engine to find home listings it's almost always done by typing in the location first, down to the specific area. Your domain name should include the city or region your listings are being posted in. This is good for prospective clients to find you, and it's great for your SEO.  

    2. Your Domain Shouldn't Be Your Name 

    Even though your domain name will be registered under your name, it's not usually beneficial to have your full name in your primary URL. Instead, try buying a domain name with your full name, and certain key words like real estate, realtor, the region you service, and then link it back to your official domain. Most names cost $10 or less and so owning the ones pertinent to your names and services will only stand to increase your overall visibility.  

    3. Shorter URLs Are The Way To Go 

    How many business domains can you remember off the top of your head? Of those, I bet they're relatively short and specific. While many think “NewYorksBestRealtyCompanyPeriod.com” may produce great results in the search engines, sadly longer URLs are less likely to be found. A great way to shorten URLs is to use the abbreviation of your location, i.e. sfrealty.com, opposed to having someone type out San Francisco.  

    4. Make Sure Your Name Is Easy To Spell

    For instances when you're giving out the URL of your website verbally, it's extra important that your name can be understood by everyone you tell it to. Complicated names and foreign words can be miscommunicated easily, leading to lost clientele. The best way to determine if your potential domain name can be understood verbally is to call a few friends and ask them to try and spell it out. Also, try avoiding any double-lettering as it can be easy to trick the eye. (www.denverrealestate.realtor)  

    5. Be Descriptive With Your Niche 

    As a Real Estate agent you know there is a tremendous difference between selling a 1-bedroom condo, and a luxury custom home in a gated community. Your potential clients will also know the difference and will want to click on a domain specifying their market. If you work in the luxury home market in San Luis Obispo, ideally you would want to own SLOLuxuryHomes.com, over SanLuisObispoRealEsate.com. Clearly there has been many companies that have made successful brands without specifying location and niche – Google, Samsung, Ebay – however, running a successful Real Estate business starts local with smart marketing integration.  

    Finding the Right Name for You

    While you might already have the perfect name in mind, it’s never a bad idea to take your intuition one step further and do keyword research to see what people are looking for. We suggest using the services provided by Moz.com, specifically the Keyword Explorer. Here you will be able to search a city and initial key term, like realty. Moz will then provide hundreds of related searches based on what people are looking for and how often. Do you have experience purchasing a realty domain? Tell us about it in the comments below!
  • No Target’s Too Small for eCommerce Fraud. Protect Your Business!

    Thursday, March 23, 2017 by
    ecommerce fraud If you run a small online business, you may assume e-commerce fraud only happens to big, high-profile online retailers. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Professional fraudsters, assisted by computer botnets, target businesses of all sizes for card-not-present fraud. CNP fraud costs businesses $1.92 billion each year, but that number is rising fast. By 2018, CNP fraud losses are projected to reach $6 billion. Small businesses are especially at risk because they often don't have the resources to build in-house fraud prevention teams or the surplus cash to recover from fraud attacks. Here's what you need to know to protect your business.  

    Why Criminals Target Small Merchants for Fraud

    Criminals target small businesses for fraud and theft because it's usually easy. Some business owners don't realize e-commerce fraud is a pervasive problem. Others assume it only happens to major retailers. Even when a small business has some fraud protection, it's usually not as robust or comprehensive as the multi-layered systems large retailers use. There are three common ways fraudsters hit small businesses:  

    1. Card testing

    When a fraudster gets a list of stolen card numbers, it may not come with the billing zip codes and 3-digit Card Verification Values that most checkout platforms require. To figure out these pieces of information, fraudsters test different zip codes and CVVs on poorly protected merchant sites. If there are no limits on the number of times a shopper can enter different values for the zip code and CVV when placing an order, the fraudster (or a bot set up by the fraudster) can keep trying different numbers until a transaction goes through.  

    2. Reselling

    Reselling stolen merchandise is the ultimate goal of most fraudsters. Once they match a stolen card number with the right CVV and zip code, they buy as much merchandise as they can and get it delivered as quickly as possible. (Fraudsters love rush shipping because it often gets their stolen purchases in their hands before the merchant or card company discovers the fraud.)  

    3. Sharing information

    After fraudsters discover your shop is an easy target, they may share your information with other thieves. That can lead to a spike in fraudulent orders that seriously damages your business.  

    How CNP Fraud Hurts Online Businesses

    There are at least four ways e-commerce fraud can undo the work you've put into your business.  

    1. Chargebacks

    Chargebacks happen when customers call their card company to dispute a purchase on their account. This process is meant to protect consumers from unscrupulous sellers, but today, about 30% of chargbacks are “friendly fraud,” which means customers know they're committing fraud when they make the chargeback request. Unless you can present meticulous records to your payment processor on a short deadline, you'll likely end up losing your chargeback appeals. That means losing the sale revenue, the merchandise, the shipping costs, and paying a fee of up to $100 per charged-back transaction.  

    2. False declines

    A flood of chargebacks, or the fear of them, sometimes drives merchants to block whole categories of customers or falsely decline valid orders based on machine-screening flags. Obviously, this can reduce your revenue, too, if you're throwing good orders out with the bad. In fact, false declines cost US merchants an estimated $118 billion per year, much more than actual fraud losses. More importantly, declining valid orders can cost you long-term customer relationships as many customers will never return to a shop that declines their order.  

    3. Rising rates

    Merchants must do something, though, because too many chargebacks can raise the cost of their payment processing. Card companies and banks monitor each merchant's chargeback ratio, the number of chargebacks compared to total transactions. Once your chargeback ratio reaches a certain level (which can vary by industry), you'll pay more to process your payments, and you run the risk of losing your account.  

    4. Account cancellation

    If your chargeback ratio rises too high, your bank may cancel your merchant account, sometimes with little notice. If that happens, your business name goes on the industry MATCH list for 5 years. That can make it difficult or impossible to open a new merchant account during that time. Recommended WordPress Hosting  

    Options for CNP Fraud Prevention

    To prevent these scenarios, there are steps small business owners can take. Manually screening every order can be effective for some types of business, like luxury retailers, but it can be a challenge to keep up with the latest fraud methods and fraud control lists, to say nothing of the time involved. Some businesses geo-block entire countries or regions, but this undoes one of the great benefits of e-commerce: being able to reach customers worldwide. Small business owners often find it's more time- and cost-effective to outsource their fraud prevention program to experts. If you decide to go this route, there are a few things to look for. A good service will provide:
    • Real-time protection that can scale quickly to accommodate sales peaks and spikes in fraud attempts, so you're fully protected even during the pre-holiday rush.
    • Telephone follow-up with customers to verify transactions before any declines. This helps strengthen customer relationships and reduce false declines.
    • Continuously evolving protection methods to keep up with fraudsters' constant changes in approach.
    • International fraud prevention knowledge so your business can accept valid transactions from abroad.
    • A guarantee that any fraudulent chargebacks won’t cost your business a thing.
    Together, these elements protect your business from losses, chargeback ratio difficulties, and the long-term fallout from false declines.  

    Why Outsourcing Works

    Outsourcing your fraud protection lets you focus on building your business, helps you build stronger customer relationships, reduces false declines, and protects your business from chargeback fees, higher processing rates, and account closure. That way the payoff for your hard work goes to you and your employees, not to fraudsters.
  • How To Create The Perfect Landing Page For Your Website

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by
    Create landing page Converting cold traffic into warm leads and eventual customers can be quite the difficult process. After all, cold visitors don’t know what your website is about, and aren’t familiar with anything you’re doing. One of the best methods to transform this traffic into new subscribers is through the power of a landing page. However, not just any landing page will do. You need a landing page that’s properly optimized to address the concerns of your audience in such a way they literally can’t wait to hand over their email address. A good landing page can be the difference between a visitor clicking away from your website, or sticking around to see what you have to say. No pressure, right? Marketers and advertisers have spent quite a bit of time breaking down and analyzing what makes for a perfect landing page. In this post we’ll cover what a landing page is, landing page best practices, and mistakes to avoid.  

    What Is A Landing Page?

    A landing page, sometimes known as a “lead capture page,” is a page on your website that has a form and exists only to capture a visitor’s information through that form. That’s it in a nutshell. A landing page is a marketing tool designed to prompt a certain action or result. It’s called a landing page because visitors “land” on it from another traffic source on the internet, whether that’s a social media post, guest blog, or banner ad. Landing pages serve to educate your customers and turn them from window-shoppers to potentially paying customers. You can tell you’re on a good landing page if:
    1. The page has a single focus
    2. It has a streamlined look, and is missing other typical website elements like a search bar or navigation
    3. You feel compelled to take action by completing a lead form
    In some ways, landing pages are arguably the single most vital component of your online marketing efforts. Since they’re designed to prompt a specific action or result, if you drive a stream of traffic to a targeted landing page, you can improve your chances of converting that traffic into leads. So, how do you go about creating a killer landing page?  

    First, You Truly Need a Compelling Offer

    Today’s web users are more inundated with information than ever before. They’re also bombarded with popups and dozens of requests to enter their email information. Because of this people have become more defensive over exactly who they allow into their inboxes. In other words, people aren’t going to fill out your form, no matter how fantastic your landing page is, unless they want what you’re selling. A great way to persuade people about how fantastic your service or product is is by creating a downloadable opt-in offer your visitors can’t refuse. Your opt-in offer should speak to a deep need, or underlying problem they haven’t been able to solve. This way you can collect their contact information for sales follow up, and they feel good because they got a free gift. HostGator Website Builder  

    5 Must-Have Landing Page Elements

    Once you’ve solidified your offer your visitors can’t wait to get their hands on you’re going to build a page around that offer. Below we highlight some of the must-have elements you’ll want to feature on your page.  

    1. Use Attention-Grabbing, Concise Headlines

    Your headline is the first thing your visitors will notice, so you have to make it count. Much has been said about creating the perfect headline. Remember that headlines should be concise, and answer the question “What’s in it for me?” Create some emotional tension so the visitor will continue to read to the bottom of the page. Copyblogger covers this topic quite well in their popular post entitled How to Write Headlines That Work. It’s a good idea to split test your own headlines to see which ones perform best for you. Just a few tweaks to a website headline can make a huge difference in the page’s performance.  

    2. Build Trust with Social Proof

    The anonymity of the internet makes trust a bit hard to come by. However, people and organizations have created ways to establish trust, including guarantee seals, third party verifications (Verisign, Better Business Bureau, etc.), reviews, and testimonials. According to a recent study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, 92% of respondents said that they have more confidence in user-generated information found online than they do in information from a salesperson or other source. As such, testimonials from past clients and customers are a very powerful tool for building your landing page’s trust. Other powerful forms of social proof include:
    • Endorsements or quotes from other well-respected business owners in your niche or city
    • Your social media follower counts (if the number is high enough)
    • Press coverage
     

    3. Feature Relatable Videos and Images

    Pictures, slideshows, and video that are relevant to your landing page are good for driving user engagement. There is actually some psychology behind this. When it comes to pictures, our minds are wired for processing visual images. In fact about 50% of the human brain is involved in visual processing. Just think of all the pictures you see every day whether it be via social media, billboard ads, blogs, or magazine spreads. Video is a great communication tool because we’re designed to connect with other humans. The sound of a human voice, facial expressions, and body language all convey a message better than written words alone. When creating a video you don’t have to make a Hollywood production, but a short clip introducing your products or services can establish a sense of familiarity and put a visitor at ease. Recent research has continually shown that pages with video tend to convert higher than those who don’t. Think about it this way. When a visitor lands on your website for the first time they have no idea who you are, so a video will allow them to connect in a deeper way. Add video to your WordPress site with one of these plugins.  

    4. Have a Clear Call-to-Action

    Your call-to-action is equally as important as the headline. It’s what’s going to make the visitor input their email into the signup box. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it should be very clear. A call-to-action can take on different forms, including a purchase of your product, an email subscription or webinar registration, an incentive such as a free ebook, or a free trial. Think of it as explicit instructions telling your visitor what to do next. Don’t be afraid to spell it out for them. Vague call-to-actions will only leave your reader feeling confused, unsure of what to do next. If people make it to the bottom of your website then you need a call-to-action that inspires them to take action. Most calls-to-action are displayed as buttons, so you’ll want this button to stand out, and be clear and action-oriented. If your page does include a video, then include the box directly below the video, with a reference to the location of the signup box in the video. If you don’t have video, or you have a longer landing page, then consider adding the signup box to multiple locations throughout the page.  

    5. Organize the Page for Maximum Impact

    Landing pages require a different design than the rest of your website. You want to grab your visitor’s attention as soon as they land on the page and keep them focused on your message and the offer you’re making. Place the most important elements of your page, such as your headline or opt-in form, above-the fold where the user doesn’t have to scroll down to see. Get rid of navigation bars, visual clutter, and anything else distracting. Your goal is to lead the reader from having a problem to seeing your offer as the solution.  Write tight copy that’s clear and persuasive and write in the second person. Take a look at our standard cloud hosting product page versus a landing page for a conference we recently sponsored. You'll notice that we've removed the navigation, simplified it to a single CTA button, and placed Snappy so he is facing toward the CTA.Cloud hosting landing page HostGator offer landing page  

    Avoid These Landing Page Mistakes!

    Congratulations! Now you’ve set up a landing page. That’s it, right? Not quite. Now it’s time to double-check your work. Read through the list below to confirm you’re not making any of these common, but critical, mistakes with your landing page.  

    1. Confusing the visitor

    Landing pages should have one purpose. If your landing page has more than one objective, off-page links, presents too many choices, or doesn’t match the traffic source, you’re in trouble.  

    2. Cluttered, unfocused design

    Effective landing pages have only one objective—get the reader to take a specific action—and every word and element on the page should support that one action. Anything else on the page is a distraction.  

    3. Weak copy

    Just having a landing page isn’t enough to get you the conversion rate you want. Compelling copy is the “secret sauce” that persuades people to take action. You need a benefit-rich headline that makes the reader a promise and connects with them emotionally. Your compelling lead entices them to keep reading as you emphasize your value proposition. And through it all you should be speaking your customer’s language.  

    4. Too much focus on you

    Nobody cares about you, your company, or your product or service. They do care how you can help them. Your landing page copy should be all about helping the reader solve their problem.  

    5. No clear call to action

    Can your visitors easily identify the call to action? If your landing page doesn’t tell your visitor exactly what you want them to do next, they won’t do anything. That means you’re leaving money on the table.  

    6. No credibility

    You only have 2 to 3 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention and confirm that they’re in the right place. It doesn’t matter whether you’re asking people to give you their email address or part with their hard-earned cash, if they don’t trust you it’s going to be tough to seal the deal.  

    7. Using more than one column

    There’s plenty of research showing that centered, single-column landing pages generally convert best. The 1-column format tends to look cleaner, have more white space, increase reading comprehension, and keep readers engaged with the message.  

    8. Inconsistent branding

    Your headline and other landing page elements should relate to the ad copy that drove the click. In other words, the page should be relevant to your ad text and keyword, and match the look, feel, and tone of the original ad or email.  

    9. Ineffective use of images

    This is where lots of marketers drop the ball. They take the easy way out and use clip art. They have uncaptioned images that have nothing to do with the objective of the page, or their images aren’t clickable.  

    10. Not optimizing the buttons

    If the buttons on your landing page don’t look like buttons or they say “submit” or “send”, you could have a problem. A Hubspot researcher studied more than 40,000 landing pages and discovered that landing pages with submit buttons labeled “submit” had lower conversion rates than those with more engaging button text.  

    11. No sense of urgency

    If your visitor is on the fence and your landing page doesn’t give them a reason to act NOW… they usually won’t. Are you giving them a reason to take action? Try limiting the availability of your offer, or including a countdown timer on the page.  

    12. Not testing

    The first time you build your landing page you’re going to be guessing based upon past interactions with clients, and your own intuition. There’s always room for improvement and absolutely no way to know what to improve unless you test. Split-testing, or “A/B testing,” is an easy way to compare the results of tweaks to your landing page like a new call to action or a different headline. When you’re testing make sure to only isolate and test a single element at time. It may take longer this way, but it’s the only way to ensure you know what is and isn’t working.    

    Conclusion

    Building a great landing page is neither a mystery nor rocket science, but it does require some planning ahead. Start planning for your next successful landing page by following the recommendations outlined in this article.
  • Are You Cut Out to Be an Entrepreneur?

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by
    should i be an entrepreneur quiz For many people in the United States, entrepreneurship is the dream. The freedom that comes with owning your own business and working on your own terms is enticing. Many want it, but few take the steps of actually achieving it. Entrepreneurship is hard. The freedom and rewards that come with being a successful entrepreneur come coupled with great risk. Before you ever get to the point of making a profit, or even achieving financial security, you’ll face many days of hard work at least, or moments of outright failure at worst. Before you go down the path of entrepreneurship, you should really consider if it’s right for you. If you realize too late that you’re not really cut out for it, the consequences can be serious. Here are a few of the prerequisites that make it more likely you’ll succeed. Recommended WordPress Hosting  

    7 Traits Entrepreneurs Need

    While some things can be learned, some of what makes an entrepreneur lies in your character. Do you have these seven traits?  

    1. Resilience

    Many successful entrepreneurs fail before they succeed. Discussions about the value of failure are so common in the business world as to be cliché. The people who reach the point of running a sustainable business are frequently those who keep going and try again after the first business they start fails (or even the second or third).  

    2. Passion

    This goes along with the resilience. In order to keep going in the face of failure – which can and will be emotionally devastating – you have to be passionate about entrepreneurship and passionate about the business you’re building. To put in the hours and take on the risk, you really have to care.  

    3. Courage

    To take the steps necessary to branch out on your own, you have to possess a certain comfort taking risks. You could lose everything and have to start from scratch. Are you prepared to tackle the unknown?  

    entrepreneurial4. Vision

    You could have everything else in this post down, but if the business idea you have isn’t something people care about or are interested in, you won’t get too far. Every business starts with an idea for something people need or can benefit from.  

    5. Adaptability

    Life’s uncertain for everyone, but when you’re hitching your fate to a new business, you’re embracing more uncertainty than most. If you can depend on one thing in entrepreneurship, it’s how unpredictable running a business is. You have to be willing to adapt to whatever life throws your way in order to keep going.  

    6. Confidence

    It may sound cheesy, but it’s true: in order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to believe you can. Without confidence, you’re unlikely to ever take the first step, much less every hard step that follows. If you’re certain you have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed though, your odds of getting there immediately shoot up.  

    7. Humility

    Confidence matters, but only as long as it doesn’t reach the point of arrogance. No matter how smart and skilled you are, you’re still going to need help from other people who know more. The entrepreneurs that get the best results learn how to recognize their limits and ask for help from early on.  

    7 Skills Entrepreneurs Need

    Running any business requires possessing (and using) a good mix of skills. Some of these you can learn to get better at as you go, but you’ll definitely fare better if you work to gain them before you get started.  

    1. Research skills

    You don’t know everything you need to know to run a successful business. That means you need to get to work learning more. Even when it comes to needs you can hire for, you want to know enough about what you need to make a smart hiring decision. So get ready to do some serious sitting, searching, and reading.  

    2. Planning

    Businesses only come to fruition when the person starting them has a plan. You not only have to plan the steps you need to take to get your business running successfully, you also need to be able to follow through on those steps. People who run businesses have to be good at both planning and executing.  

    entrepreneur people management3. Good at managing people

    No good entrepreneur can be an island. Businesses are made up with people and, even before you get to the point of hiring a full staff, you’ll need the help of other people. Good managers are respectful of the people working for them and pay attention to their strengths.  

    4. Ability to delegate

    You can’t do everything. One of the most important skills every entrepreneur should have is recognizing what you can’t do and be willing to let someone else take it on. Trusting someone else with an important part of running your business can be hard, particularly if you see the business as your baby, but it’s crucial.  

    5. Skill at selling

    You know your idea is great, but can you convince other people of its worth? Being able to make a persuasive pitch is a big part of getting anywhere in business. Whether you’re talking to investors or courting new customers, you need to be able to sell what you’re doing.  

    6. Skill for recognizing talent

    In addition to managing people well, you have to be good at finding the right people. When you hire the right people your business will run smoothly.  

    7. Communication skills

    Effective communication is necessary for every task you take on in running a business. You need to be able to communicate with your investors, your employees, contractors you work with, your customers, and the press – just to name a few. You can have the most amazing ideas, but if you can’t communicate them to make other people see their value too, you won’t accomplish much.  

    3 Resources Entrepreneurs Need

    The entrepreneur who came from nothing and earned millions is a story we’ve all heard a hundred times. But no entrepreneur can really start with nothing. The hard truth, is that you do need more than a good idea to start a business. You need access to these three things.   Entrepreneur capital

    1. Capital

    Depending on the type of business you’re going into, you may not need all that much capital, but even if you’re starting a one-person business offering services, you’d still need enough money for a website and business cards. If you don’t have the capital needed to start your business, then you’ll need the ability to raise it from somewhere. That could be investors, loans, family members, or a Kickstarter campaign. You’ve probably got more options today for raising money than entrepreneurs have at any other point in history. Work out what you need and figure out how you’re going to go about getting it.  

    2. Necessary tech

    In today’s economy, running pretty much any type of business will require technology and some types of businesses will need to invest in a lot of it. At the very least, you’ll need a computer with a few types of basic software, like a word processor and access to accounting software. Chances are, you’ll need a number of other technology products besides, like web hosting, a project management software, or a shared calendaring system. Your needs will be particular to your business model, but you should expect to need some technology in order to be successful in your efforts.  

    3. Good people

    You’d have a hard time trying to find a successful entrepreneur that doesn’t attribute their success to the help of the people around them. That certainly includes employees, but even before you get to the point of hiring people, you’ll likely find you need to lean on and learn from a number of other people in your life. Seek out business mentors. Develop and show your appreciation for your friends and family, since they’ll be your support network. A lot of the work of building a business will be on your shoulders as an entrepreneur, but you can’t expect to do it all alone. Do you have, or can you get, all of these things? If so, then you just might be cut out to be an entrepreneur.
  • 35 Cheap or Free Web Design Resources

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by
    web design freebies As a small business owner, you have a lot of needs and priorities to balance. When you have to make room in your schedule and budget for things like content marketing, SEO, social media, and mobile marketing – it can be easy to let web design fall off the priority list. But design matters. 94% of people say bad design will keep them from trusting a website. And adding visuals to your content leads to more shares, clicks, and links than sticking with only text. You can’t let design slide. Here are a number of cheap or free resources that can help you do more with less when it comes to your web design, depending on your goals.  

    Find Web Designers

    Some web design tasks you can manage on your own, but others are worth hiring a professional for. Your logo and website are the main faces of your company. They need to look good and show you’re trustworthy. These sites can help you find the right designer for your project on a budget you can handle.     1. 99designs 99designs lets you submit details on what you’re looking for and provide some input on the styles you like. For a set rate, you’ll get designs submitted by a number of different designers based on the information you’ve provided. You can provide feedback on the ones you like best to receive updated versions, and pick your favorite of all the final designs submitted. Since the website has a network of designers they work with, you don’t have to do the work of searching for and vetting one yourself, and you get to choose from a variety of options. 99designs resource 2. Upwork Upwork is a website that makes it easy for you to search for freelance designers (and other types of freelancers) and quickly see a snapshot of their rates and experience. Unlike 99designs, you’ll work closely with one designer on the project, who you can choose based on the reviews, rate, and profile you browse on the website.   3. Freelancer Freelancer gives you a choice between two options. You can either post a project with details on what you need and a set budget, then choose your designer based on the bids submitted; or you can run a contest like you would on 99designs for a set rate and choose the design you like best. Either way, the site helps connect you with their network of freelancers in order to affordably get the design work you need. Freelancer design resource  

    Make Your Own Designs

    If your marketing budget is small, then hiring a professional designer for all your web design needs will get expensive fast. Luckily, you’ve got a few free tools that can help you manage simpler design tasks on your own.   4. Canva Canva is one of the most popular design tools out there for a reason - well, a couple of reasons actually. First, it’s free. Second, it’s easy. You can make use of a number of free templates, fonts, and stock photographs to create your own images, and browse more of each that you can buy for a small fee. Canva free online image maker   5. Be Funky Be Funky’s graphic design tool also includes templates, fonts, backgrounds, and shapes you can use to create original images. Like Canva, it’s free and fairly intuitive for any non-designer to figure out. Be Funky graphic design online tool   6. Snappa Like your other two options, Snappa makes creating graphics for your content easy with templates, photos, and graphics. They make it especially easy to choose the right image size for the right social platform and let you schedule social shares within the tool itself.  

    Find Images

    There are a lot of places you can find photos for free online, so we’ll keep the commentary in this section brief and let you get to browsing.   7. Flickr Creative Commons A huge database of photos made available by their authors. Pay close attention to the licenses of the photos you find though; some allow you to use the image in any way you see fit, but only if credit is given. Other artists choose the option “No Derivative Works” – meaning that others can copy, distribute and display only exact copies of the work.   8. Unsplash  Free high-resolution photos   9. Gratisography More free high-res pics, many with a fun sense of humor   10. PicJumbo Free photos, some with a business focus   11. Kaboompics More free photos   12. Fancy Crave  Free images, including some “unique textures” that can make good backgrounds in Canva, Be Funky, and Snappa   13. Splitshire More free photos   14. Pixabay You guessed it, even more free photos   15. Pexels And finally, another site that lets you search free photos As much as possible, you should strive to use original photography since it just works better. But when you simply don’t have the time, you can make use of the photos on these sites as a starting point to create custom images for your website and content.  

    Edit Images

    To make the images you find useful for your purposes, you’ll need a good editor. These three options should take care of most your editing needs.   16. PicMonkey PicMonkey’s a free tool that lets you add fonts, effects, and do some minor touch ups to the photos you use. If you want to make a stock photo you found more uniquely your own, or make an original photo you took better, you should be able to do it within PicMonkey.   17. BeFunky We already mentioned BeFunky’s graphic design tool, but they also offer a handy photo editor. You can do most of the things that expensive photo editing software lets you do, like changing the brightness, increasing saturation, and sharpening contrasts.   18. PlaceIt PlaceIt provides a unique service that’s especially useful in the modern age of photo editing. It lets you drop an image onto a screen pictured in a stock photo. In other words, if you’d like an image of a computer screen with your website showing on it, you can drop a screen shot of your website into one of their images of a computer and you’ll have it. PlaceIt online photo editor  

    Color Tools

    Color is a crucial part of design, but determining good color combinations that work doesn’t come naturally to everyone. These resources can help.   19. Adobe Color CC We all know how to talk about primary colors well enough, but when it comes to choosing and discussing particular shades and color schemes, language often isn’t enough. In Adobe Color CC, you can use the tool’s color wheel to find colors you like and create, save, and share color schemes you want to use. The tool will help you out by providing suggestions based on options like “complementary” and “analogous,” and the Explore feature gives you popular color combinations to start with.   Adobe online color wheel   20. Design Seeds If you’d rather find a color scheme that works without having to do the work of creating it yourself, the Design Seeds site is full of suggestions. You can find plenty by browsing the website, or buy one of their color almanacs for $4.99. Design Seeds online color scheme generator   21. Pictaculous Pictaculous is a handy little tool to help you figure out what colors would work best alongside an image you’re already planning to use. If you find it challenging to design around an existing image, Pictaculous can help you make sure all the colors you choose complement the image and work well together.  

    Fonts, Icons, and More

    A graphic designer’s toolkit is filled with lots of little building blocks that help to fill in every design. This includes fonts, icons, textures, shapes, buttons, banners, and more. Like a seasoned designer, you can start keeping a folder of building blocks you like to make any future images you work on easier and better. These websites should give you plenty to start with.   22. Web Designer Depot Web Designer Depot releases freebies regularly. Browse their site to find fonts, icons, mock-up packs, and more.   23. Font Combinations Like Pictalicious does for colors, Canva’s Font Combinations tool (formerly called Type Genius) will help you find fonts that look good together. Canva Font Combinations online fonts   24. Google Fonts Google does it again. Their font tool makes over 800 fonts available to people and businesses, and all of them are free for you to take and use on your own website. Browse to your heart’s content and save any fonts you like for future use. Google Fonts   25. WhatTheFont When you see a font you like on another website and haven’t the slightest idea where to start looking for it, WhatTheFont’s got you. Submit a screen shot and get your answer so you know where to start your search.   26. Premium Pixels Find handcrafted micro icons, textures, brushes, iPhone chat bubbles, textures and more. Unlike many free web design collections, these can be used for both personal and commercial use.   27. BittBox BittBox offers design tutorials, along with vectors, high-resolution Photoshop brushes and textures. Look for posts in the series Freebie Fridays and Free Texture Tuesdays for fun giveaways, featuring everything from weathered wood designs to grunge splatter brushes. These freebies are yours to use as tools during the design process – even if you’re planning to sell your creations. Just be aware that users can’t redistribute or post them for download in their original state.   28. Open Source Web Design Download and share your own free web design templates at Open Source Web Design. If you’re not sure where to start, look through the OSWD’s collection of Favorite Designers or share an idea through their Suggestion tab. There’s plenty of great stuff to be found.   29. Best PSD Freebies Best PSD Freebies offers icons, sliders, buttons, banners, ribbons, web themes, Photoshop files and more. The site has earned its bragging rights with over 4 million downloads to date and no signs of slowing down.   30. Icon Finder Hunting down just the right icon can be a taxing and time-consuming chore. Save yourself some time and head to Icon Finder and do a quick search for anything from “mobile icon” to “social media icon” and find a comprehensive list. Not all icons are free, but clicking on the “Free” tab will help narrow down your results significantly. Icon Finder online design marketplace   31. Pixeden Download free design templates, tab bar icons, iPhone mock-ups, effects and other web sources at Pixeden. The site was designed as a one-stop shop for developers and designers in need of free elements to get their projects in gear. A premium membership grants you access to support services and the ability to make further modifications to their design elements in your projects.   32. Da Font Where would your content be without a good font? Da Font hosts an archive of free downloadable fonts organized by style, author, popularity or alphabetically. There’s not much you won’t find here. The site’s font collection is vast, ranging from groovy to “foreign look” and plenty of scripts.  

    Learn More About Web Design

    Even seasoned web designers know they should constantly be working to learn more. If you’re a small business owner trying to do some web design without an extensive background – you’ll need all the help you can get. These resources can help you learn the basics, and sometimes even beyond the basics.   33. Smashing Magazine Smashing Magazine is an online publication for design pros that covers all the most important topics that every designer (and design wannabe) should know. From coding, to responsive design, to typography to UX – Smashing Magazine covers it all. In addition to the information provided, it also offers a freebie category that includes free WordPress themes, icon sets and templates for mobile projects. Best of all, Smashing Magazine’s target audience is designers, meaning that all the freebies that are up for grabs have been chosen with a discerning eye.   34. CreativeBloq CreativeBloq is another online magazine devoted to design. They collect design news and examples that can provide inspiration and help you stay on top of trends in web design.   35. Code Avengers If you want to be able to do as much of your own web design work as you can, Code Avengers’ courses will help you learn how the backend of the design process works. They’re free up to a point, and you can purchase unlimited access for $29 a month. Be warned: their courses all require a pretty big time commitment, so for many busy entrepreneurs, hiring a design professional will be the more efficient route. But if you’re prepared to learn, the resources are there to teach you.   With so many freebies readily available for use, there’s really no excuse to neglect your web design. But there’s also no shame in asking for help and tapping a professional to usher in the next stage of your design strategy. That step might mean a complete design overhaul or a simple logo update to better align with your brand and overall messaging. Remember, there’s no magic formula to web design. Start by integrating a few key elements, from icons to a new web template, to refine your site’s style and usability. Keep making adjustments until you find the right combination for your growing online presence.  

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