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  • How Using Freelance Workers Can Take Your Business To The Next Level

    Thursday, June 4, 2015 by
    Freelancing Our nation is seeing a drastically different workforce than that of our parents and those working prior to the advent of online communication. According to an article put out by the Wall Street Journal surveying the freelance demographic, more than one third of the United States (34%) now falls within the freelance category of employment. While it's true there have always been independent entrepreneurs, and sole-proprietors offering independent contracts, never before have we seen such an exodus towards working from the comfort of our homes. This could include anyone from stay-at-home parents, those who are in between jobs, or those who are making a full time living right from their laptops. From the human resources perspective there can be many advantages to hiring a freelancer to fulfill certain tasks within your company. You won't have to pay them for sick time, or vacations, and will simply pay them at an hourly rate based on the job specifications you have set forth. On the other side of things, there can also be problems associated with hiring someone with no investment in your business. That's why we've come up with a modern toolkit for informing you on what kind of freelancers are out there, and how to go about employing them to your advantage.  

    The 5 Types of Freelancers For Small Business

    When it comes to hiring a freelancer, these five categories tend to come in the most handy when looking for someone who can contribute remotely.
      1. The Virtual Assistant - Let's face it, sometimes the most valuable asset we can add to our team is the ability to cut out logistic tasks and free up some time. A VA can schedule appointments, manage the projects of your other freelancers, and apply for things like grants. Having this person manage these recurring tasks can really allow you to focus on what your passionate about with the business. 2. The Social Media Marketer - Not everyone wants to get involved with social media, or spend the time online studying posts, but in this day in age it's nearly impossible to make a killing without putting yourself where the people are looking. Having someone handle your marketing will save you all the anxiety of forgetting to post, and having to deal with all the new trends if you're truly not interested. 3. The Copywriter - Copywriters are the word smiths that ensure your audience is receiving your message fluently and effectively. Their strength in writing can assist you from anything to website content, grant applications, building an audience, or writing a proposal for your next project. Copywriters are in an overabundance so make sure to check their quality and work history prior to committing. 4. Web Designer/Programmer - The best part about this freelancer is their profession requires them to stay updated on the constant improvements and trends happening in the world of internet pioneering. Your specialty probably isn't web design, and so in order for you to create a viable and engaging website it's usually best to have this type of freelance consultant to produce the results that will deliver the best ROI. 5. The Designer - Just as web design can be very disciplined and challenging, artistic design usually comes from years of practice and experience. Branding your business is no trivial task, either, and bringing in someone who can add professionalism to your logos, pamphlets and even marketing posts will greatly improved how your company is perceived. What's also great is that a lot of software goes into digital design these days, so when considering hiring a graphic designer remember you're also not having to pay for the tools necessary to do it yourself.
    While these are some of the most common five, many other free lance occupations include: Accountants, Videographers, Photographers, IT Consultants, PR Experts, and Productivity Coaches. We strongly suggest interviewing their credentials thoroughly as freelancers have a reputation of moving on, or not turning in work in a reasonable amount of time. Here are some great resources for finding freelancers locally, or finding the best of who's out there:   Always negotiate for the best wage, take your time during the application process, and never be afraid to tell someone you're ready to move in another direction.
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  • Equipping Your Business With Google+

    Thursday, March 19, 2015 by
    Google+ Benefits For Your Business I may be the first blogger to admit it, but I didn't use Google+ very frequently as my preferred Social Media outlet. Having Facebook, Twitter, and several other mediums for connection felt like enough, right? But when you consider Google+ has only been around for three years, 1 Billion enabled accounts is quite the accomplishment. Like any new and similar service, people are slow to adopt something they already have. What everyone has been missing, including myself, is the unique and powerful features Google+ possesses that many other networks cannot compare with. Even if you're not on Google+ socially, your business will greatly benefit from all the integral features Google+ provides. Here's a few reasons to ignite your interest:  

    Virtually Everyone Uses Google's Products

    Whether it's Gmail, Maps, Play, Drive, YouTube or just an old fashioned web search, we're all on Google to one degree or another. Having one account makes it possible to utilize all these amazing services, and before you know it Google+ may just become as popular as Facebook. As of 2014 Google+ boasted 359 million active users, a number that has increased at a rate of 33% annually. What's more, is that everything you post integrates with every other Google platform under one identity. For example, if you post a video to YouTube (The 2nd Largest search engine in the world) users will be able to click on your profile taking them directly to your G+ account. Here, many marketing wizards have begun creating engaging/brand oriented videos that make it incredibly easy to steer potential customers back to a page equipped with all of your contact info and a link to your website. Having someone add your business page to their circles will begin to optimize your Google+ page, thus increasing your visibility performed for local searches.  

    Deeper Brand Engagement With Google+ Hangouts and Communities

    One of the best techniques for securing loyal customers involves getting to know them on a personal level. In Hangouts your business can get in touch with anyone in the world by hosting a meeting using video chat. Most commonly, pioneers of the customer/business relationship have hosted live video conferences to allow customers to contribute feedback and work towards providing a better service in the future. Using Google+ communities is also a great way to stimulate conversations over shared interests associated with your brand or service. Personally, I actively engage with my followers who are interested in learning photography techniques, and simultaneously receive feedback on more of what they'd like to see. Giving your time to a customer extends a bond that will help when they choose to recommend a service to a friend.  

    We Are Talking About Google Here, After All

    Google isn't just a search engine anymore, it's practically a way of life. We're communicating, sharing and building businesses through it's services, most of which are offered to us free of charge. But because they're still a business, it's easy to see why they provide incentives for partaking in a their social medium instead of others. These incentives only serve to help your business, and you'd be extremely wise to start taking advantage of them.  
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  • Pinterest Adopts the Use of Promotional Ads

    Thursday, March 5, 2015 by
    pinterest With over half a million businesses on Pinterest, the Social Media platform is becoming a lot more than just recipes and fashion photos. It's time to prepare yourself to start seeing even more ads now that Pinterest unleashed new tools for businesses back in June. The “do-it-yourself Promoted Pins” feature will allow businesses of any size to promote their pins on a cost-per-click basis in order to reach more people and get more visits back to their homepage. Pinterest has been testing this program since early May with big brands like Old Navy, Target and Shutterfly, and is offering a sign up for any business to try it when they're ready to get started.  

    Competing Against Facebook and Twitter, Subtly

    By adopting the same principles as Facebook's ad promotions and Twitter's promoted Tweets, Pinterest's Promoted Pins have been touted as “changing the game one pin at a time.” What's different about their advertisements is that they won't appear any different than the other posts that interest you. If, for instance, you're browsing new cocktail recipes you won't see an ad for JcPenny's, instead you'll see pins from companies that deal in mixology or interesting cocktail glasses. Many have reported this as a noticeable benefit simply because the ads won't be pestering potential customers by appearing in random categories. Pinterest is already such a product-and-image driven environment that users have been embracing brands long before any advertising was thrown into the mix.  

    Building Off Rich Pins

    Back in June we talked about standing out on Pinterest with Rich Pins, a change in eCommerce that shared pricing information and availability. Rich Pins also came with analytics and options to receive pricing alerts. Promoted Pins will only add to these features, with promises that pins will appear first in search results and category feeds on both the web and in mobile apps. If you aren't on Pinterest already sharing your products, the time has never been better to join. Currently only select businesses are receiving the option to promote but getting started now will prepare you when the time comes.  

    Your Pinterest Board and Planning Your Pins

    While the notion of the promoted pins blending in with the rest is great from an advertisement perspective, the pins you're choosing to designate as promotional should do anything but. Aim to make the promotional pins to be taller than those around them and really draw the viewer in. Customers have always found you on your own Pinterest boards and promoted pins will be no different. Some of the most compelling reasons for businesses to start using Pinterest include:
    • It's a great place to promote a contest
    • As most users are visually inclined, it's a great platform to optimize your brand's image
    • You're allowed to comment and interact with potential customers
    • Built in SEO benefits with hashtags and keywords
    • Integration of other Social Media sites

    So What's So Promising?

    Back in April, the data tracking blog, Shareaholic, dubbed Pinterest as the reigning queen of social referrals. Since December it has seen a growth in traffic of 48% and is second only to Facebook in terms of steering Social referrals. In three years of operating there have been 30 billion items pinned and 750 million boards created. Even what once was a heavily female dominated user base has now shifted from over 80% females, to 68.2% female and 31.8% men. It's become very clear Pinterest has established itself as one of the top marketing tools, and in no time businesses small and large will be benefiting from the use of Promoted Pins. When do you plan on starting?
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  • Converting to a Paperless Office: Your Strategy for Getting Started

    Tuesday, March 3, 2015 by
    Converting to a Paperless Office As I write this I'm making several observations on the disheveled desk in front of me: unopened bank statements, old and useless receipts, and worst of all offers from credit cards I'm never going to apply for. I'm not unorganized, I just have a lot of paper coming my way, still. The trend over the last decade has steadily pushed towards cutting paper from our overhead and trying to reduce the carbon footprint every business accounts for. According to Matt Peterson of eFilecabinet, by switching from paper to electronic documents you can lower your overhead by 30 to 40 percent. If you're truly ready to make the transition into digitizing documents here's how to get started and keep it that way.  

    Everyone Has To Buy In

    For so long paper has been an integral part of how an office functions and communicates. Faxing, copying, and mailing were and still are routine tasks executed by employees that may not yet know about the alternative ways businesses are operating. In order to make paperless a reality your entire staff will have to adapt to the gradual transition into a permanent way of doing business. It won't be easy. Many people have a strong affection for holding a physical document in their hand. The same is true for those who prefer to read a book, rather than reading their laptop screen. These people will have to learn new routines their comfortable with, some may even have to become skilled at software requiring weeks or months of professional training. But the challenges are worth it. Worth it for your company's overhead, and worth it for the critical threats our environment is facing. The key to getting everyone to buy in is patience.  

    Where To Start

    Start easy with recurring mail - The easiest place to start is where we already have simple options in place. Most banks have realized the advantages of not having to send out statements to those who are set up with online banking. Go ahead and start the transition by stopping the statements, letters and bills you could be receiving through your e-mail. Most can be done with the push of a button! What's great is most of these letters are coming from places that already store and backup your data online as well. Emphasize document management - This is more than just having enough disc space. Managing files requires a layout and the ability to search for individual documents in order for the operation to run smoothly. We recommend choosing a file organization software with the ability to index and search by keywords. Get into the scanning rhythm - Most offices have the initial challenge of turning all of their physical files into digital ones, this will be the majority of the work in the transition. Also, start indexing all new files and emails as they come in the door. Once a document is scanned and you're set up with a secure backup shred the documents! One of the best feelings in this process will be the satisfaction of having space freed up in the office where all the file cabinets once existed. Secure multiple backups - One backup typically won't be enough of a guarantee when it comes to irreplaceable documents and records. Using two, one hard drive and one cloud storage service, should cover all your bases. There are several companies worth comparing for all your storage needs.  

    The Best Apps To Assist In The Paperless Process

    It turns out scanning and storing aren't the only avenues for making your paperless venture successful. Third party app developers have also chipped in to streamline file sharing and storage. Here are some of our favorites:
    • Dropbox- Free up to 18GB with referrals, Dropbox is quickly becoming the most preferred file sharing platform out there. Access from anywhere with the new smartphone and tablet application.
    • Evernote- Store documents, photos, receipts and almost anything else you can think of. It's customizable Interface lets you organize and find files in a way that will work for you.
    • SignMyPad- Available for iOS and Android. Allwos you to sign and date PDF documents which can then save right to Dropbox.
    • MyFax- If you deal with clients who still use fax machines, MyFax's mobile app allows you to send and receive fax from your smart phone and email account through a 'MyFax' number.
    • Square- One of the hottest trends in stores looking to cut back on receipt paper is getting on board with Square. You can easily send receipts to a customers via e-mail or text message.
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  • What You Need To Know About Spanish SEO

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015 by
    Spanish SEO The good news within this article is that you won't need to learn anything new about SEO. The techniques we use to perform basic search engine optimization do not change across languages. However, translating an entire website into another language does require a lot more than just an English to Spanish dictionary. With more than 37 million people speaking Spanish in the United States alone, it's hard to ignore the potential within such a rapidly growing market. If your business has not considered opening its reach across cultural demographics, perhaps it's time.  

    Reasons Why You Should Consider It

    Adding content in Spanish is no trivial task, but the returns may be entirely worth the extra investment. As Latin America rapidly expands, experts estimate there will be 329.1 million internet users in Central and South America by the end of 2014. A user base that exceeds the entire population of the United States by 12 million people (U.S. Population 317 Million, 2014 consensus). What's more, Latin America has also been shown to have the most loyal and engaged users on Social Networks with 94.1% of all internet users being on one or more networks. The major problem most marketers are missing in their SEO campaigns is that they're not providing engaging content for viewers residing in the Latin demographic. The two primary reasons for having your content available in Spanish, are:
    1. You're opening property/location in a Spanish speaking country/region
    2. You're service/product could benefit from potentially reaching over 350 million Spanish speaking Internet users worldwide.
    For most competitive entrepreneurs, reason number two speaks volumes. The problem is that many have attempted to optimize in Spanish without understanding the regions and key wording necessary to rank for terms searched in the Native language.  

    How To Avoid Common Mistakes

    The basis for running any SEO campaign is determining how your business will appear in the search engines. What many companies have failed to realize is that using a conversion software to duplicate content will not suffice.   Translations and Dialects Many English speakers have taken Spanish classes in school, where we learned the proper context and rarely spoke in the way natives communicate on a daily basis. Just like English, slang and informal variances in the Spanish language will not be easy to make parallel translations for the keywords you want to rank in. As an example, think of the common differences in simple English nouns; many people who want to drink a Pepsi on the West Coast would refer to it as 'soda', while citizens of Nebraska would probably call it 'pop'. It's these little variations that will make all the difference when selecting keywords you want to rank for. What's especially challenging is trying to throw a net over a continent (Latin America) with so many individual countries and cultures.   Regional Planning While extensive research as an individual is always a possibility, many SEO companies have begun to include Spanish specialists into their branches in order to effectively reach the most viewers with one keyword search. For instance, if you're running a custom wedding cake shop and you had two different users (Argentinian, Peruvian) search for wedding cake in Spanish: one would read 'torta de bodas', while the other might say 'pastel de bodas'. Which one would you choose and why? Often times we don't know, while a specialist on the other hand could construct a marketing plan based on your location, demographic statistics, and what keywords are being seen most often that aren't overly competitive. If you're cake shop is right in the middle of a well known Argentinian immigrant community, 'pastel de boda' may be right for you. Catch the drift?   Bilingual Considerations Spanglish is a beautiful term, and something very accurate when it comes to the depiction of searches performed in two languages. Let's say your primary consideration for consolidating your marketing strategy is to only target the Hispanic population of the West coast. Would it surprise you to know that Google receives high volumes of searches performed with keywords in two languages? 80% of all Spanish language searches performed on Google in the US are done in the English interface, suggesting a strong bilingual presence. Things like: 'Scholarships locales en San Diego' (Local scholarships in San Diego), 'restaurants circa de la playa' (restaurants close to the beach); even simple things like 'Hispanic Radio online'

    A great resource for testing your content is to use, which can simultaneously pair keywords in two different languages and find relevant web pages, powered by Google of course.


    How To Get Started

    While we strive to provide the best information on how to be a self-sufficient marketing guru, sometimes it can be even more beneficial knowing when to consult a Professional. Step one, determine how your business could infiltrate the Spanish market of consumers. Step two, get in touch with an agency specializing in Spanish SEO. Get quotes and ask to see case studies of proven success, you want results not promises.

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