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  • How Starting an Online Business Now Can Help You Retire Better

    Tuesday, August 29, 2017 by
    retire early with online business

    Want a Better Retirement? Start an Online Business

    A comfortable retirement at age 65 used to be a standard part of the American dream, but these days, many adults keep working well past that age. Others—about 20% -- say they never expect to retire. Why the change in expectations? Retirement's expensive, and some people are afraid it will be dull, too. Part-time work and self-employment offer a middle path that can give you post-retirement income, something to do, and more freedom to control your schedule. Even if you're not ready to quit your day job any time soon, starting an online business on the side now can help you transition to retirement when you're ready.  

    Why work past retirement age?

    More Americans seniors (age 65 and older) are working now than at any point since 2000, according to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center. Nineteen percent of this age group works full- or part-time, and over-65s are the only age group with rising employment rates. more older workers working past retirement Experts say the trend is due to the fact that retirement—especially healthcare—is increasingly expensive, especially as average life expectancies grow. There are emotional reasons for working, too. Some workers enjoy their jobs and don't want to give up careers they've spend years building. Extroverts may shudder at the idea of giving up the workplace relationships they've developed, while introverts may stress out at the thought of having to establish new social connections after retirement. And plenty of people have kicked around the idea of changing careers or moving to a dream destination if they could afford to do so.  

    Working past retirement with an online business

    An online business can help older workers – and younger ones, too – meet these goals. Whether you want to retire altogether from your current career, keep working half-time, or pack up and work from Central America or Thailand, an online business may be a way to achieve your goals while still earning money.   An online business can provide a low-overhead way to earn income Starting an online business isn't free, but it does spare you some major expenses like commercial rent and commuting costs. This post covers the must-haves for starting an online business so you can price your options and build a budget. If you're not close to retirement age yet, that just means you have more time to research, plan, and save for your online business.   An online business can help you change careers or shift gears Maybe you're an accountant who's always dreamed of running a screen-printing business. Maybe you're an advertising account manager who would rather consult one-on-one with your own clients. Or maybe you're one of the many Americans who's gradually aging out of a physically demanding job like housekeeping, landscaping or construction. The New York Times reported in 2016 that some older blue-collar workers are switching gears to become mentors in their fields, switching to desk jobs, or becoming their own bosses. By developing an online business model for a new career or consulting role, you can make the transition more easily when you're ready. HostGator Website Builder An online business can help you stay busy and engaged If the idea of staying home with your tech and your online store sounds like heaven, you already understand one benefit of owning an online business. But online business ownership isn't just for loners. There's a huge and always-growing list of local, regional, and national events that cater to or include online business owners so you can network and pick up new professional skills. The Small Business Administration has a national calendar of in-person and online events for business owners that you can search by location and date. Many of these events are free or inexpensive and provide information new and experienced owners can use. Some of the topics on offer as of this writing are Quickbooks instruction, accessing capital for your business, guerilla marketing techniques, and business plan development. If you thrive on big, high-energy events and have the time and budget to attend them, Inc. has a great list of some of the most popular options for small business owners. Your state or city may hold annual business expos, and just about every town has a business group that meets regularly for networking lunches and social time. Online retailers can extend their reach into the community by vending at fairs and other special events. Vending can be a great way to connect with shoppers who want to see and touch the merchandise before they buy or who want to get to know your story and learn about your process. And your online shop is a great way to promote these live events.   An online business gives you the option to live anywhere Especially if your business provides creative services (writing, web design) or professional advice (consulting), you're free to work from just about any place that offers reliable electricity and internet access. Some people go full digital nomad and travel from place to place while running their business, as Heather Wilde did while she helped to found Evernote from a sailboat and an RV. Others take their online business with them when they move to a retirement destination that's more affordable than the US. Latin America is an especially popular destination for working retirees, thanks to the comparatively low cost of living in most locations, access to good health care, the number of English-speaking expat communities, and shared time zones with clients based in the US.  

    Figuring out your online business path

    Starting an online business costs less up front than starting a brick-and-mortar business, but it requires the same kind of careful planning and preparation. Here are more tools to help you move forward: Take the time to work through your business plan and startup steps carefully so you can have your online business up and running the way you want when you're ready to retire from full-time work. And when you're ready to set up your online business website, we can help you get started.
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  • Sell Online? What You Need to Know About Holiday Shipping Surcharges

    Monday, August 21, 2017 by
    Holiday Shipping Charges for online retailers

    How Holiday Shipping Surcharges Can Impact Your Sales

    UPS has announced it will tack on extra fees for shipments sent out during the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well as the week before Christmas to help cover the costs of meeting high demand. Analysts say the UPS holiday shipping surcharges—ranging from 27 cents to $2.99 for standard packages, depending on the shipping speed and date--will to hit small-to-medium online retailers hardest. Here's what you need to know about the new charges and how your business can stay competitive this holiday season. Dedicated Server

    Why is UPS raising its holiday shipping rates?

      The holiday gift delivery season is an exceptionally busy time for shippers, with an average of 30 million packages a day moving via UPS during the 2016 holidays, according to Reuters. Besides huge volume, the combination of inflexible holiday deadlines and winter weather can snarl even the most carefully crafted logistics. To handle package volume and to meet retailer and customer expectations, shippers have to hire thousands of seasonal employees, operate and fuel more trucks, run more flights, and cover all those costs. Hence the holiday surcharges, which some writers have compared to surge pricing charged by ride-share services when demand is high.

    How might the UPS move affect small online sellers?

      Higher shipping costs during the holiday season may put smaller sellers at a competitive disadvantage. Amazon, Walmart and other major e-retailers can afford to cover the holiday surcharges, but most small businesses can't—at least not without taking a disproportionate hit to their profit margins. Chain retailers that offer buy-online-pick-up-in-store can avoid the surcharges altogether on those orders, because UPS is only adding the surcharges to residential deliveries. If you're thinking of simply passing on the extra shipping costs to your customers, think again. Nearly 90 percent of online shoppers say free shipping is the incentive they value most. If you can't offer a great deal on shipping, your holiday shoppers will likely move on to the next retailer. That's why it's critical that you figure out your pricing, shipping, marketing, and cost-control plans for the holiday shopping season now.  

    What do the surcharges mean for your holiday pricing and shipping?

      Now is a good time to review your store's shipping options, but keep in mind that surcharges for holiday shipping may not be limited to UPS. Although FedEx hasn't announced a holiday price hike as of this writing, the Wall Street Journal has reported that some analysts expect the company to make a similar move. On the other hand, if you find a better deal with another carrier that won't tack on a holiday sales surcharge, enjoy the advantage that comes with being a nimble small business – many large retailers are already locked into their shipping plans for November and December. If switching carriers isn't an option for you, consider adjusting your pricing ahead of the holidays to recoup all or part of the surcharges. You may wonder why customers would accept a slightly higher price instead paying a shipping fee. It's because of psychology. As Tom Popomaronis writes at Forbes, free shipping is “about the perception of saving money, feeling like you snagged a deal.” We want free shipping, even though we all know the cost is baked into the item price. So bake it in if you can do so without hurting your competitiveness.  

    What do shipping surcharges mean for your holiday marketing?

      The situation isn't all bad for smaller online sellers. Your business has some advantages, especially the ability to develop strong relationships with individual customers and pivot quickly to explore new holiday marketing approaches right now. Here are some options to consider. Focus on excellent service and individual attention to customers, especially repeat buyers and those who have sent holiday gifts from your shop in the past. Do you offer gift wrap, e-gift cards, or a yearly gift reminder service? Now's the time to consider adding them. Promote holiday deals ahead of Black Friday or from December 2 – 17 to work around shipping surcharges. Work on your upsell strategy to make each order more profitable. Does your shop have a “you may also like” widget on your product and cart pages? Now's the time to look into adding one. Explain your shipping policies clearly on your site. Whether you decide to absorb holiday shipping surcharges or pass them on to your customers, it's a good idea to let customers know what they can expect and why so they can make an informed decision.  

    Other holiday shipping tips

      Kenny Kline at the Huffington Post put together a helpful list of shipping tips for e-commerce sellers that can help you cut costs year-round. They include:
    • Pack orders with size, weight, and item protection in mind. The smaller and lighter your packages, the less you'll pay. Just make sure that the items you ship are fully protected.
    • Look for freebies. A friend of mine who owns a thriving online vintage jewelry business regularly puts out calls on social media for leftover bubble wrap and boxes. Her network gets to recycle their packing materials and she gets free supplies – win-win.
    • Skip the carriers' package insurance and go with a third-party insurance provider. In some cases, making this switch can make up for holiday shipping surcharges. For example, Shipsurance offers rates that are 44 to 97% lower than UPS and FedEx, who charge as much as $2.70 for a package worth up to $100. At 44% off, that's a savings of $1.18 of $2.70 carrier-provided insurance.
    What does your holiday shipping plan look like now? Let us know in the comments!
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  • Best Podcasts for Online Entrepreneurs

    Monday, August 14, 2017 by
    Best Podcasts for Online Entrepreneurs

    20 Podcasts Every Internet Entrepreneur Should Be Listening To

    It’s back-to-school time and, while you might be past the years of sitting in front of a teacher in class, you’re never too old to keep learning. A good entrepreneur never gets complacent with how much they know now; there’s always more you can learn to do better. But entrepreneurs are strapped for time. How are you supposed to find time for learning when you’re busy day in and day out running your business? The obvious answer these days is podcasts, which allow you to multitask. You can listen and learn while you’re checking other items off your to-do list. So the next time you spend an hour on the treadmill or in traffic, give one of these helpful podcasts for online entrepreneurs a try.  

    startup podcast1. StartUp

    Started by a public radio veteran that branched out into starting his own business., StartUp provides the perfect podcast combination of radio talent and entrepreneurial experience. Alex Blumberg, former host of Planet Money and his co-host Lisa Chow, share stories of the challenges of running a business and cover topics relevant to many entrepreneurs, like pitching investors.  

    eofire podcast2. Entrepreneur on Fire

    Entrepreneur on Fire is an interview podcast. John Lee Dumas interviews a new entrepreneur every day to provide listeners insights and advice that come from a wide variety of experiences.  

    dorm room tycoon podcast3. Dorm Room Tycoon

    Another interview podcast, Dorm Room Tycoon is focused on startups specifically. Owners of startups talk about lessons they’ve learned along the way and first principles.  

    denise griffitts podcast4. Your Partner in Success Radio

    Your Partner in Success is another interview podcast, this one hosted by Denise Griffitts. She talks to entrepreneurs about any stories, tips, and advice they have for listeners.  

    social pros podcast5. Social Pros

    Social media has become a big part of running a business successfully. Jay Baer and Adam Brown provide real-world examples and behind-the-scenes stories of businesses doing social media successfully.  

    internet-business-mastery6. Internet Business Mastery

    The Internet Business Mastery podcast is devoted to the subject of how to make money online. Episodes provide actionable tips for starting and running online businesses successfully.  

    mixergy podcast7. Mixergy

    The Mixergy podcast is devoted to startup stories that help listeners “learn from proven entrepreneurs.” They’ve had over 1,000 interviews with startup founders about their successes, their failures, and the knowledge they’ve gained along the way.  

    brown ambition podcast8. Brown Ambition

    While things are changing little by little, entrepreneurship is still largely white and male. Brown Ambition helps provide knowledge and inspiration to business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs that don’t fit the traditional mold. The podcast is hosted by Mandi Woodruff and Tiffany Aliche and covers a range of topics related to finance and business.  

    accelerate your business growth podcast9. Accelerate Your Business Growth

    The Accelerate Your Business Growth podcast is a twice monthly show that provides advice and tips to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.  

    this old marketing podcast10. This Old Marketing

    This Old Marketing covers all things content marketing, including trends and news to be aware of and historical examples of content marketing done well. Hosted by the Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, it’s one of the most informative podcasts on a topic all online business owners should be learning about.  

    introvert entrepreneur podcast11. Introvert Entrepreneur

    Introverts frequently encounter business advice that doesn’t quite match their skills and personality. The Introvert Entrepreneur podcast with Beth Buelow seeks to correct that with a whole show devoted to business advice for introverts.  

    femtrepreneur12. The Femtrepreneur Show

    For budding infopreneurs looking for more knowledge and inspiration, the Femtrepreneur show focuses on how to design and sell online courses. Hosts Mariah Coz and Megan Minns have experience in both the creative and technical sides of online course development and provide plenty of useful information to entrepreneurs looking to take that route.  

    hbr ideacast13. HBR Ideacast

    The Harvard Business Review is one of the most important and useful publications for people in the business world. The HBR Ideacast brings that same level of quality to the audio format.  The podcast covers topics ranging from business tech, hiring best practices, productivity tips and anything else that might be useful to business owners.  

    smart passive income podcast14. Smart Passive Income

    If you want to build a business that keeps making money whether or not you’re actively working, then the Smart Passive Income podcast can help you figure out the right products and strategy to make it happen.  

    profit power pursuit podcast15. Profit. Power. Pursuit.

    Host Tara Gentile interviews the owners of creative businesses for the Profit.Power.Pursuit podcast. By talking with artists, designers, and photographers that have managed to create a business around their creative skills, the podcast provides useful information for creatives struggling to figure out how to turn their passion into profit.  

    100mba podcast16. The $100 MBA

    Getting an MBA from a university is extremely expensive and time consuming, but you can get some of the same types of lessons from the $100 MBA podcast for free. The podcast answers an array of questions related to running a business and helps fill in a lot of the practical information entrepreneurs need to get a business off the ground.  

    entrepreneurs radio show podcast17. The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show

    It’s right there in the name: this podcast is all about and for entrepreneurs. The host Travis Lane Jenkins is a serial entrepreneur who talks to other successful entrepreneurs in order to provide listeners with advice on an array of topics related to running a business.  

    Side-Hustle-Show podcast18. Side Hustle Show

    The Side Hustle Show is devoted to covering various ways entrepreneurs can and have made some extra cash. Each show focuses on the stories and experiences of a new entrepreneur who shares what lessons they’ve learned that could be helpful to other entrepreneurs.  

    beyond the to do list podcast19. Beyond the To Do List

    Entrepreneurs are often big idea people, but to go from having ideas to executing them requires an entirely different skill set. Beyond the To Do List covers tips and tricks for getting things done. If you’re great with ideas but struggle with execution, this is a good podcast to check out.  

    ambitious entrepreneur podcast20. Ambitious Entrepreneur Show

    Annemarie Cross hosts the Ambitious Entrepreneur Show, which tackles a wide range of topics important to entrepreneurs, from cybersecurity to negotiating to social media and beyond. The episodes provide general knowledge that many new entrepreneurs are likely to benefit from.   With podcasts, you have no excuses. You can listen on the go without cutting into your work time and gain some new knowledge to help you run your business better.
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  • 20 Best Books for Online Entrepreneurs

    Monday, August 14, 2017 by
    best books for online entrepeneurs

    Best Books for Online Entrepreneurs

    Kids are heading back to school and people have learning on the mind.  Adults may not have classes of their own to return to, but it’s a good time for us to start thinking about how to improve our own learning. Any good entrepreneur knows that you never reach the point of knowing too much. To keep your brain fresh and your business acumen sharp, check out some of these books for online entrepreneurs.  

    1. The Lean Startup, by Eric Reis

    lean startupThe Lean Startup has been influential in changing the way many people think about running a business. The book aims to help entrepreneurs make better, faster business decisions by embracing experimentation and valuing creativity and customer feedback more in decision making. The book has inspired many entrepreneurs and even launched a movement and community of people that meet around the world. It could change the way you do business too.    

    2. Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell

    outliersMalcolm Gladwell has made a career out of looking at popular subjects in a unique way fueled by research. His book Outliers puts that approach to the subject of what makes people successful. If you want to understand how some of the most successful people in the world got where they are, Gladwell’s book can provide some insight.    

    3. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

    lean inWhile Sandberg’s book is focused more on advice for businesswomen in general rather than entrepreneurs specifically, many of her recommendations can be helpful for women who run businesses now, or hope to start one. The book can also be a good education for male entrepreneurs who want to understand what their female employees face and create a more inclusive work environment.    

    4. The E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, by Michael Gerber

    the e-myth revisitedIn this updated followup to his 1988 book on the same subject, Gerber tackles some of the myths that make people think they know what they’re doing in business when they’re really on the path to failure. He walks readers through the actual steps that entrepreneurs should plan on taking to succeed in business.    

    5. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

    gritPsychologist Angela Duckworth provides her analysis of what it takes to succeed in the book Grit. She lays out the case that ultimately talent and smarts aren’t as important to how well you do in business as perseverance and passion. Give the book a look to see how you can put her research to use in your own life.

     

    6. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini

    influenceYet another book focusing on the role psychology can play in business success, Cialdini’s Influence has been extremely influential in the marketing industry over the past few decades. The book can help you understand how to reach and gain customers better, as well as providing concepts that could make you a better manager of the people who work for you.    

    7. Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss

    tools of titansFerriss interviewed nearly 200 successful people in a variety of industries in order to put together this tome that collects a wide range of tips and techniques to improve business success, productivity, and life.    

    8. The Psychology of Selling, by Brian Tracy

    psychology of sellingSalesmen aren’t the only ones who need to understand how to craft a successful sales pitch. Business owners have to know how to sell their business idea to potential investors, customers, and employees. The Psychology of Selling can give you a firmer grasp on how to successfully convince people the value of your business and products.    

    9. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout

    positioningIt’s common knowledge by now that we live in a world oversaturated with information and advertisements. The only way for brands to reach customers is to figure out a way to cut through the noise. Positioning seeks to help brands figure out how to do that by crafting clear positioning for your business and products that helps you stand out.    

    10. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, by Arianna Huffington

    thriveThe title may be a mouthful, but the concept behind Huffington’s book is one that may bring more simplicity to your life. She tackles the subject of work-life balance and how to make self-care and well being a part of your definition of success. We all work better when we’re happy and fulfilled. Huffington makes the case for giving those values the same priority as money and recognition.    

    11. Deep Work, by Cal Newport

    deep workWe’re all besieged by distractions every day. It’s getting harder and harder to stay productive throughout the entire workday without frequent forays into social media, blogs, or other sources of online distraction. Deep Work argues that one of the most important skills for success is one that many people are losing touch with: the ability to focus. The book will help you figure out how to regain your ability to tune out distractions and focus on the main tasks you need to complete.    

    12. The Power of Broke, by Daymond John

    power of brokeIt’s easy to feel like all your business problems would be solved if you simply had more money. The Power of Broke argues otherwise. Based on personal experience, John shares his view that starting out with almost nothing can actually be an asset that forces you to get creative and strategic. If you’re struggling with feeling like you don’t have enough capital to take where business where you want it to go, this book could be the inspiration you need.    

    13. The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom, by Carrie Wilkerson

    barefoot executiveBeing an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean spending long, stressful days at an office. You can approach it as a way to be your own boss and run things on your own terms. Wilkerson’s book provides suggestions on how to make a more low-key, low-stress version of entrepreneurship a reality.    

    14. The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs, Hal Elrod and Cameron Herold

    miracle morningThe Miracle Morning provides tips for ways to start your day that will make you more energized and productive once you dive into work. If you’re not convinced a few new morning habits can make much of a difference, five minutes reading reviews of this book may change your mind. People praise the book for improving in their energy levels and success for each day in tangible ways.    

    15. Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products, by Nir Eyal

    hookedMost of these books are about how to run a business effectively, but one of the biggest factors in the success of a business is its product. Hooked looks at what’s behind the kind of products that people just can’t get enough of and provides an analysis of what you can do to create that kind of product yourself.    

    16. What If It Does Work Out? By Susie Moore

    what if it does work outMoore’s motivational book aims to take the power out of the question that keeps many entrepreneurs from moving forward on their ideas: what if it doesn’t work out? The book takes a stab at the fear of failure that could be keeping you back.    

    17. The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

    the hard thingA lot of books about entrepreneurship focus on the inspirational side of things – insisting that you can do it, you just have to put the work in. This book gives a hard look to the aspects of entrepreneurship that are hard for reasons that go beyond being a lot of work. If you want some guidance on some of the difficult decisions you may have to face as an entrepreneur and how to handle them, this is a good book to check out.    

    18. The Personal MBA, by Josh Kaufman

    personal mbaMBA programs are expensive and, Kaufman argues, not worth it. This book lays out fundamentals you need to know and some tips on how to learn the rest in practice. Instead of spending years in school and tens of thousands of dollars, this book can cover the most important basics for you.    

    19. The Entrepreneur Mind, by Kevin Johnson

    entrepreneur mindA big part of how successful you’ll be as an entrepreneur is the kind of mindset you bring into each day of work. The Entrepreneur Mind provides many of the lessons entrepreneurs need to learn to be able to approach various tasks and problems in their business with the right mindset to do well.    

    20. The 10 Laws of Enduring Success, Maria Bartiromo

    10 laws of enduring successBartiromo has talked to a number of successful people over the years. Her book is based on the lessons and insights gleaned from those many interviews. The book speaks to not only how people achieve success, but how they maintain it once they’ve reached it.     No matter where you are in your entrepreneur’s journey, the lessons others have learned have something to teach you. Take some time this back-to-school season to give yourself a little bit of schooling. You may be able to bring something new and useful to your business as a result of it.
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  • How to Get Reviews for Your Solopreneur Business

    Monday, July 31, 2017 by
    solopreneurs reviews testimonials Working as a solopreneur can be extremely rewarding, but only if you can consistently find enough work to keep your business afloat. Luckily, every client gets you one step closer to ongoing sustainability in your freelance business, and not just because of the money you’ll make from that one client or project. The number one resource solopreneurs have for getting new customers is usually their current or former customers. 84% of high-earning soloprenuers list word of mouth as a top source for getting new work. The solopreneurs who turn their solo businesses into successful ventures do it, at least in part, by utilizing current clients to help them find new clients. You don’t have too much power over what your clients will say to their friends and colleagues on their own time, but you can use the power of word of mouth through online reviews and testimonials on your own website. Getting clients to provide reviews and testimonials doesn’t have to be hard, but it can feel a little awkward at first. Here are a few steps you can take to help increase the number of testimonials and reviews you have to help you promote your solopreneur business. HostGator Website Builder  

    1. Include a link to review sites in your email signature. 

    Any website you’re on that includes a review section is an opportunity for you to get more feedback and reviews from customers. So promote them. Add a link to the site in your email signature with a note asking recipients to give you a review. That way, every person you correspond with will learn the site exists and see a CTA to go give you a review every time you interact over email. This is a fairly passive form of asking for a review or testimonial, so if you’re trying to work up to being more comfortable soliciting testimonials, it’s a good place to start.Ask freelance clients to review you via email  

    2. Include links to review sites on your website as well. 

    This is really the same idea as number one. Add links and a note encouraging visitors to review you on these review sites. This way, potential customers trying to decide whether or not to hire you can see what others have thought of you, and current customers know where to add their review once they have some experience working with you.  

    3. Provide a survey after projects.

    Client survey for freelance service businessAt some point, you need to graduate from the more passive methods described in steps one and two and start being more direct in soliciting feedback. Sending a quick survey over to your clients after a project’s complete or once you’ve been working with them for a certain amount of time can accomplish two things at once:
    • It gives you a chance to collect customer feedback that you can use to improve your services.
    • You can use open-ended questions as a way to collect potential testimonials.
    If you include a question about how satisfied the client is with your services and they say something positive, that tells you that they’re a good person to follow up with to see if they’ll provide a testimonial for your website. If they write a glowing sentence or two in the space provided in the survey, then all you have to do is confirm that they’re ok with you publishing it. You can use either Instant Survey or Survey Monkey to create and send surveys for free. Make sure you keep your customer surveys short, so people are more likely to actually do them – you should be able to get good information from a survey that takes less than 10 minutes.  

    4. Keep an eye out for positive comments on social media. 

    Sometimes people turn to social media to voice their opinions of a business they’ve worked with. If you’re not making a point to pay attention to what people are saying about your work on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, you may be missing out on some great comments that could make website testimonials. Go beyond just checking your mentions now and then and start practicing a wider scale of social listening. That way, if you encounter criticism, you have the chance to step in and work to make things right. And when you encounter compliments, you can ask the client about turning them into a testimonial for your website.  

    5. When you receive positive feedback, ask for permission to repurpose it as a testimonial.

    You know how now and then a client will send you an email saying something kind and complimentary about your work? It might not happen all the time, but it sure feels nice when it does. Instead of simply enjoying that nice feeling and sending back a “thanks,” next time go a step further and ask if they’d be ok with you using what they’ve said as a testimonial on your website. There’s a very high likelihood in a situation like this that they’ll say yes, since they’ve already made it clear they like you and have taken the time to write something to that effect.  

    6. If you’re just starting out, ask non-client contacts to provide you relevant testimonials. 

    If everything on this list sounds completely out of reach because you’re still in that early stage of looking for your very first clients, that’s ok - you can use testimonials from other people in your life. If you’re a writer that has helped friends or an organization you volunteer for with your writing skills, they can be your early testimonials. If you’re a graphic designer that learned your skill in school, the professors who know your work well can serve as your first testimonials. If you’re branching out from full-time employment to freelancing, your former employer could make a great testimonial. Make sure you only ask people who know your work. You want the testimonials to be genuine and accurate. But don’t feel disheartened about turning to other people who know your skills and work ethic to start, you can build up your testimonials from actual clients as you go.  

    7. Just ask!  

    A lot of these come down to the same thing, but you don’t always need the types of starting prompts described in the steps above to collect testimonials. Any time you’ve done work for a client you’re proud of, it’s ok to simply send an email asking if they’d be willing to write a few words about their experience with you for the website. It doesn’t take them long, and if they’re satisfied with your work, many clients will be happy to do it. And you’ll be able to add the honest opinion of a third-party to your website, which immediately makes a stronger persuasive case to most visitors than anything you can say about your own work will. Soliciting customer testimonials may be a bit awkward and require you to work up some courage, but the end results are worth it.
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