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I Decided to Review Shopify in 2021 after years of hating it…

So Shopify has been ramping up their advertising like crazy in the last 6 months. More of my clients and potential clients are asking about Shopify. On top of that Pinterest has been leading me to Shopify websites a lot lately. I’m obsessed with Virgo or Medusa medallion gold jewelry and where can you find items like that? Strangely, on a bunch of Shopify websites that have just launched. So it prompted me to take another look. Surely if a website wants to sell me a $1K necklace they’re website must be working for them.

So after years of hating the Shopify platform, I decided to re-look it and test it again – here we go…

Themes/Templates

I was really hopeful while tested but was disappointed that their default themes are pretty basic and boring. So I went ahead and purchased a $59 Shopify Theme from ThemeForest and liked its more unique elements.

Pros: There are a ton of more purchasable themes available in recent years to make your website look nice.

Cons: These themes are still very cookie-cutter and I can still tell when I’m on a Shopify website as the design elements have to say somewhat the same on the platform.

 

Ease of Use

While ease of use doesn’t really apply to me, the platform is still very straightforward for the non-tech-savvy or non-creative. Does that mean when you DIY your website it will look pretty? Probably Not.

Pros: Anyone can use the platform with ease.

Cons: If you want to create a unique-looking website, this is not the platform for you.

 

Support

Customer Support for Shopify used to be down-right awful a few years ago…

Pros: However in 2021 their customer support has improved greatly!

Cons: None! They were fantastic this time around!

 

Creating Content

Buckle Up!

Pros: Zip.

Cons: To start, blog posts, as well as regular pages, have a URL structure that does not lend itself to proper SEO. Shopify uses sub-directories for all your additional content besides your products, so when you really want your website to found on Google, good luck.

And although Shopify does come with a blog feature, creating pages that are not eCommerce related are next to impossible…

Cost

Shopify prices have gone up in recent years. Expect to pay $26-266 a month in Shopify fees. Which does not include a lot of features you need to run your website.

Additional plans: The Lite plan to sell on social media can also be purchased for about $9 a month. Shopify also offers an enterprise plan (Plus) for gigantic online stores – it’s not cheap as it starts at $2.000 a month.

Pros: Shopify promises that monthly fees won’t be increasing any time soon.

They’ve also added a new Pinterest plugin for Shopify that helps you market on Pinterest automatically. This is why I was seeing so many posts for Shopify store products lately.

Cons: Their hosting and CMS is expensive compared to any other options out there to run your website.

You should also expect that Shopify will take 2% (on the Basic Plan) of all your sales and the credit card processing apps they accept will also be taking 2.9% + $0.30 of every transaction as well. Not uncommon, but still.

If you want a professional-looking website at all, expect to pay an additional $59-$199 for a Shopify theme that you will have to upload to your Shopify site.

Want fun marketing or shipping features on your website? These plugins cost extra. Which adds up quickly.

 

Selling Products

And of course! Last but not least! The whole reason why Shopify exists in the first place: to sell products online! A little background on Shopify now. Back in 2006, a German youngster living in Canada decided to sell snowboards online. He created his own eCommerce solution and soon realized others could also use it. Fast forward to 2021 and they are worth $63 billion worth of sales and subscriptions AND GROWING as they market to online entrepreneurs EVERYWHERE.

Pros: Many people love that their eCommerce solutions are all in one place with Shopify.

Cons: Shopify is still scoring low ratings and reviews as an eCommerce platform compared to WordPress/WooCommerce, Squarespace, and BigCommerce.

I still get a flurry of people who need to pivot away from Shopify as their SEO is non-existent leading their sales to be invisible. I almost always recommend going to WordPress and hiring a professional to create a website and train you on using it.

I was hoping Shopify would be worth it after a hiatis from testing the platform. And of course, there are situations where Shopify might be okay for your business. But do your research before you put all your eCommerce eggs in that basket.

As always if you need a unique website developed Unglitch.io would love to create for you!

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Free Q1 Content Calendar

Download here.

Use this content calendar for Instagram + Facebook cross posting during your Q1 months and watch how engagement on your pages grows!

Love the content calendar, but still don’t have time in your months to create graphics, post, or engage with people on social media. I got you! Learn more about my Social Media Management packages here.

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12 Things to Look for When Hiring a Social Media Manager

Thinking about hiring a social media manager or agency? Congrats!! Outsourcing your social media to a professional is a big step in growing your business long-term. 

There are SO many social media freelancers/agencies out there – so how do you choose the right one for your business? Here are some of my tips and questions to ask when considering working with a social media expert.  

  1. Look at the agency’s or freelancer’s social media accounts. Do they do a good job maintaining and connecting on their own social media?
    No? Run!
  2. Are they up-to-date with the ever-changing world of social media? Check out my recent blog post about 3 New Instagram Features You Need to Know about in 2021.
  3. How often will they post? I usually advise posting a minimum of 5 times per week on both Instagram and Facebook (more for Twitter + Pinterest if you choose that option on my social media packages). Anything less and you probably won’t be able to see much growth.
  4. Do they plan? Certain events in the news or trends can change a monthly content calendar — but it’s imperative that your SMM expert have a content calendar. Your SMM expert needs to be open to their clients wanting to promote something that day and shift the content calendar accordingly.
  5. Is your SMM manager a graphic designer as well? Or at least have access to a graphic designer… Unique, original graphics for your post is a must. If your SMM manager is using apps like Canva your posts will not look unique.
  6. How often to communicate do you expect to communicate with them? How do you want to communicate with them? Asking these questions prior to starting an agency or manager can prevent issues down the road. If you’re wanting to communicate every day via text, and they’re expecting 2x a week via email, you might want to look elsewhere. 
  7. Will they handle community management (replying to comments & DMs & engaging with other accounts? Some clients prefer to handle this in house. Especially if you are a service-based business and need to chat directly with customers to schedule them or answer questions. If you’re comfortable with them handling it, be sure to provide them with an FAQ list so they can quickly address customer concerns. 
  8. Have they worked with similar brands in your industry? Typically, some experience with your industry is preferred, but it is not necessary. 
  9. Are they managing your social media for at least 1 month? Anything less WILL NOT WORK. If you hire someone to just do a week’s worth of social media managing and marketing — you’re wasting your money.
  10. How will you be charged? There are three main pricing models I’ve seen: hourly, flat fee, and a percentage of sales. There are pros and cons to each, so make sure you choose what’s best for your business. If you anticipate requesting a lot of edits and changes, hourly might not be the way to go. If you’re killing it in sales already without the social media agency, maybe don’t consider the sales choice. I charge a flat rate to avoid any of these issues.
  11. Do they have any testimonials from past clients? If they don’t, this is a huge red flag! Ask them about the similar brands they’ve managed – like what you see? That’s a good sign!
  12. Where are they based? The great part about social media is that they can essentially be located anywhere. However, it is typically beneficial for your time zone to be the same (or similar!) for communication purposes. Also, if they are doing any photography for you, it might be best to keep this done locally as shipping fees can get expensive.

Be sure to do your research when reaching out to social media agencies and freelancers and then ask them any of these questions if you couldn’t get them answered prior to reaching out.

And if you’re looking for a one-woman social media maven? I’d love to work with your brand. Let’s chat!

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2020/2021 Bra Donations

So I’ve now decided each year I’m going to do this! It started last year!
While I was living in the U.P. (Upper Pennisula of Michigan) I collected almost 300 bras for the Baraba Gundlach Women’s Shelter and they were all donated out within an hour and a half!

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So from here on out each year, I’ll do the same thing for another women’s shelter. This year I’m collecting new or gently used bras for The Women’s Community, Inc in Wausau!

Reach WSAW-TV article here.

Though it may seem like a temporary inconvenience to us, a significant number of women are without bras on a daily basis. Your bras are there for you when you need them. They help you feel confident in your little black dress, support you through every yoga pose, and keep you comfortable during long workdays. But when those bras have outlived their usefulness for you, pass on the favor by donating them to women in need. Last year I collected over 300 gently-used bras in Calumet, MI where . was based out of for their local women’s shelter. THIS YEAR! I’ll be collecting bras to donate to The Womens Community, Inc. in Wausau, WI since I’ve moved back to Wausau. Let’s get over 500! Bras are more than just an everyday essential; they also provide women with dignity and protection. Your clean gently used or new bras will be distributed to women who could use them in our area! Follow . to get updates on participating businesses who will be drop-off locations for your donations — otherwise, DM me to schedule a drop-off in person!

Current Drop Off Locations:
LIFT – Rib Mountain
Verve Salon – Schofield
7 Oaks Bodywork and Massage, LLC – Merrill

Email me for personal drop-offs!

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3 New Instagram Features You Need to Know About in 2021

Working in an ever-changing industry can be a lot to keep up with sometimes, especially after a year like 2020. No shame, homie! I totally get it and are here to provide you with a few new features you should start taking advantage of if you haven’t already.

Keyword Seach

I always emphasize the importance of being strategic with your name and username on Instagram because they were previously the only fields that the platform considered in search queries. Well, drum roll, please… Instagram has now enabled keyword search! Users can now search a phrase and results will include posts featuring those keywords. FINALLY! This will shift discoverability on the platform and the emphasis will move slightly away from hashtags and more onto SEO in captions.

Now I know what you’re thinking! I just got a hold of hashtags! Now this! This is why during this changeover it’s going to be important to bone up on SEO, if you do not have the time…find an SEO expert. Pssst…

Instagram Guides

Consider Instagram Guides as comparable to a mini blog post (like this one!). They were created as “a way to more easily discover recommendations, tips and other content from your favorite creators.” Each Guide features curated posts paired with commentary and tips. Soon you can check out my first-ever Instagram Guide here, where I’ll re-purpose one of my older blog posts (p.s. idea for your first guides). Remember that a major goal of social media is to provide value to an audience and Guides are a perfect way to do just that!

Reels

Reels can be used to grow an account and boy did I find out! I used Reels with a client of mine and she gained over 3,000 followers in only one month on Instagram as a result of their exposure and reach from the Reels alone. Think of Reels as Instagram’s version of TikTok. You essentially share short videos paired with existing audio. For a physical example, you can check out some great example Reels here. They’re so much fun to make AND show results! I would 10/10 recommend giving them a try!

I hope this blog post was helpful for you in discovering a few new features to incorporate into your Instagram strategy! For more social media tips, follow me on the ‘Gram.

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ShoutOut DFW Interview | Dallas Forth Worth Web Designer

Read full interview here.

We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacquelyn Tolksdorf and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jacquelyn, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the greatest career choices a person can make. No. Let me explain…

Read on…

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How to Create Sales and Have a Rush of Orders in 24 Hours!

Are you a Restaurant owner?
Are you a boutique owner?
Do you own a spa?


KEEP READING!

During this pandemic which shall not be named, a good portion of small-business owners have had to pivot and think outside of the box they are usually in to hustle to stay afloat. Are you grabbing at straws to get sales in right now?

More of us are online right now and ya know what…willing to shop!
How do you target more of us to bring in sales!

Good Question!

The Answer: Give me something to buy anytime, any day… I might buy it if I really really need it… Give me something that I HAVE TO BUY NOW because it will not be available tomorrow. Try a FLASH SALE!

Let’s break it down for these 3 industries.

Are you a Restaurant owner?

Or bar that serves food!

How do you create a rush of support from your local community while giving them something unique to line up to buy from you?

Try a “flash sale” of something that is one your specialties. Is your establishment great at making pizzas? Don’t have a good website?
That’s fine. Facebook will be your friend here (along with other industries).

This post went viral within their small community during Covid-19, but your community is still willing to support you as we all get back on our feet and open up our doors as well. Yes, they did boost their post (which I don’t usually recommend (ask me why. I dare you!), but in this instance, it helped

First off, let people know that during those scary times your business struggled. You need your communities help still and because of this you’ve created a great deal (limited time offer)!

If you do pizzas, do pizza kits. If you’re a burger joint, do burger kits. Taco Kits!. Pasta Kits! Skies the limit if you have to-go containers on-site.

Make something that doesn’t force people to sit 6 feet apart awkwardly, but still enjoy your delicious food. The kit idea will also take some pressure off you to slow takeout orders down to keep them warm for customers.

This model of selling works because we as a species panic a bit when we’re on a time crunch and can’t resist something like this.

Take flash sales for boutiques…

Are you a boutique owner?

Have you been on Facebook lately? Stores that do not have an online shop are finding a way to really boost sales even before Covid.

Flash sales bring in excitement, eagerness to purchase now instead of waiting to back out of shopping online. Forget window shopping, they buy now! But if you haven’t seen these flash sales or don’t know how to execute one? Let me tell you how.

Say you are a floral boutique.

Give your Facebook followers a few hours heads up that you are hosting a flash sale on your page. Hop on a Facebook Live video or post pictures of say 10 house plants or floral arrangements with the price and some info. Tell them to comment “Sold 1” if they are the first to want it and then message them after the flash sale to take their CC# or arrange a pickup or delivery and take cash. Should more than one person want that 1 item, have them comment “Sold 2”, “Sold 3” and so-on in the comments of that photo so if a sale doesn’t go through or if the first person changes their mind you go onto the next interested buyer.

Plan accordingly for this. If you do this at Midnight on a Monday you’ll hear crickets. Do this between 2-4pm in your timezone or 7-8pm in your timezone when people aren’t at work, eating dinner, etc, and ONLINE!

Now keep in mind this really works well if you’ve already built up a following from your community to your Facebook page. If you haven’t start addressing some issues Facebook page. Are you posting engaging content? Are you making sure not to offend ANYONE online? Are you asking your clients for reviews or questions about your products? Are you reaching the right people? If you don’t know the best investment is a Social Media Manager. Even just for one month to lead by example and show you how much more a good Facebook page can really help your biz!

Psssst…I’ve added SMM to my services list! Ask me more!

Now don’t think I forgot about you spa owner!

Do you own a spa?

Say you don’t sell products at your spa. Only services. And right now, ain’t no-one really want to be touched too much so you are hurting for business!

I got you!

We all need a little pampering right now. No one is okay after this pandemic mentally. I don’t care what you say…

We need to de-stress. Start telling your Facebook followers just that!

But here’s is the tough part. You can’t do a flash sale and if you want to sell products online don’t just rush into that. The problem is when you need customers and sales now; It’s easy to make panic decisions.

Think of 1 service your offer.

Think of your price and cost margins and pick one service that during this time you can discount. I know what you’re thinking. I’m already not making money so why should I make less. During this time…less is better than nothing at all.

I have a client who does lash extensions for $200 a session usually. You sip your favorite beverage at her (sterile) studio, binge watch a few of your favorite tv shows together while she applies lashes to you! I’m not going to say her cost margins per client, but she was able to offer 10 sessions at 50% off.

Within a few days of posting this discount she got:
– 5 Long-time Clients to Schedule a Session
– 3 NEW Clients to Schedule (their first) Session
– Over 28 Messages from Never-Before-Seen Clients asking to know more

So her $0 that was coming in May turned into $800. And now in June, she has a bunch of bookings at her full-price!

I know things are tough right now! If anyone has any questions feel free to email me and I’d be happy to give my free advice!

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The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2020: Let’s Explode Your Traffic Organically!

Welcome to this SEO for a beginner; a step-by-step guide. Search engine optimization or SEO is like a magic word. You’ve heard about it, sort of know what it is about, understand that it is crucial in content marketing. Search engine optimization or SEO is “the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine“. Basically, it is the improvement of unpaid results and direct traffic to your website. 

Truth is, search engine optimization is a lot of research, time, and work. SEO for beginners or for experts requires dedication and looking for information right and left. The goal remains the same for you and your business: increasing organic traffic, improving unpaid results, ranking higher in Google search. That’s what optimizing your blog posts for SEO does. And it can be quite confusing when you are a beginner at search engine optimization or just created your website. However, with this SEO for beginners guide, I will show you how to optimize your blog posts for SEO and ensure they rank higher in Google search!

SEO For Beginners: How To Optimize Your Blog Posts For SEO

1. Install the Yoast SEO Plugin

Yoast SEO is a free plugin that all bloggers or businesses should install upon starting their activity. The basic plugin is free and offers great guidelines on how to write SEO optimized blog posts. Once you have uploaded the Yoast SEO, start writing a new post and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find the Yoast SEO tab.

The plugin mostly offers a checklist of things to do to ensure your blog post is optimized for search engine optimization The plugin will list “problems” and “good results”. The problems are essential things you can improve on to make your blog post…SEO-friendly. Keep in mind that it is just a check-list acting as guidelines. Of course, writing a blog post that is optimized for SEO goes beyond ticking all the boxes but it offers a great introduction to SEO for beginners.

2. Decide on a topic

This may go without saying. When picking a topic, you will have to make choices. The SEO best practice is to pick a topic that is already popular to ensure that your audience already exists. That’s how you can guarantee traffic to your website. However, sometimes you may want to write about a topic that is not as popular and whose audience is much smaller. And that is fine. After all, your blog is your creative space.

Some topics are indeed more niche than others and not the type of search that people type in everyday. However, if it is a topic you are really keen on writing on, go for it. Even though the audience will be much smaller, chances are the competition will  be too, so you will rank higher more easily. Ideally, you want to pick keywords with a medium to high search volume and a low to medium competition.

You may pick the topic of your article based on many things and ideas: what you like, something you are experiencing, a question you have been asked, etc. Once you have chosen your topic, you may do research around that topic to find keywords to optimize your blog post for SEO. This will be stage 3 of this little SEO for beginners guide.

3. Find related keywords

You have chosen the topic of your article and now you want to type it down. If you want to increase the chances of your content being picked-up by search engines, it needs to be SEO-optimized and keywords rich. The first step is to do a keyword search. You can find keywords ideas using different online free softwares such as Google Keywords Planner, Ubersuggest, or Wordstream.

When you type in your topic in the search bar, they will each suggest short-tail and long-tail keywords and keyphrases that you can use in your blog post. Each will come with the search volume, which is an indication of popularity. Even though it is great to have a very popular keyword as it shows that people are looking for that particular keyword, it also means that your content will compete with a lot of other content on the same topic and may not get seen.

Just like you would pick different hashtags with different popularity on Instagram, you will  pick related keywords and keyphrases with different search volumes. The audience might be smaller but you will increase your chances of ranking high in the search result. Furthermore, sometimes,  changing the order of the word in the keyphrase might totally change the probability of ranking higher. That is where search intent come into place.

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. What would you type in Google? You may make the same research a few times using the same keywords but in a different order. And that may make the difference. Which is why it good to come up with synonyms and related keyphrases as well.

4. Use keywords across your blog post

You have your topic, then your main keyword and you have found synonyms and related phrases. Now, the Google algorithm needs to understand what the content is about and that those keywords are its pillar. The best way to ensure that is to use keywords across your blog post. Yoast SEO will tell you in real-time how many occurrences of your keywords, synonyms or related phrases there are in the copy.

The plugin will also let you know whether the keywords are evenly spread out in the copy or if you have big chunks of text lacking them. As a matter of fact, the recurrence of your keywords, synonyms and related phrases are very important as they send a signal to Google on what the text is about. The algorithm is also smart and will detect synonyms and related phrases, which will allow your text to rank for more keywords, or at least more variations of the same topic.

5. Format your post for SEO

Title tags

The Google algorithm likes structure and adding titles to the copy will help break down the content. The title tag (or H1) goes at the top of the blog post. It is the title that shows on your blog and at the top of the tab. The H2 heading usually announces the main topic of the content and the lower subheading help to break the content in smaller sections. Make sure your heading are keywords rich.

Paragraph length

The Search engine optimization best practice wants paragraphs with 150 words maximum. The length of paragraph has no impact on SEO. However, it has an impact of the readability of the content for Google. Google likes paragraphs that are shorter because they help break down the content and because they are easier to read. Nobody likes to read massive chunks of texts.

Readability

The readability of your content impacts SEO because in its quest to show results to search requests, Google wants to display the best most useful easiest to use results. However, if a text is hard to read according to the algorithm standards, chances are people will not want to read it. That is why Yoast SEO also has a tab for readability and lists things that can be improved on. This can especially hard for technical writers or those who want to appear knowledgeable in their industry. Just try to remember you readers aren’t you or as knowledgable so it’s best to keep your content at a grade level lower than 8th grade. Learn about this rule called the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

Avoid using the passive voice too much. Make sure you use the active voice and that your sentences are shorts. Better have more shorter sentences and break down the text rather than 20 words and over sentences that are long to read and that Google does not like. Google likes structure, hence use transition words to help the algorithm understand where the content is going.

6. Curate your snippet preview

The snippet allows you to preview what your page or post will look like in Google’s search results. It has a mobile and desktop view and shows elements like the slug, title and meta description.

The SEO title

The SEO title is the first thing people see in the search results for your posts and pages. In many cases, it is the only thing people will see so it needs to draw the eye.

The SEO title is the title that you will see in the Google’s search results. It is not the title tag nor H1. Even though search engine optimization title and title tags should be similar, they can be a variation from each other, especially to fit SEO purposes. Make sure your SEO title includes your keywords and that it reflects the topic of the content.

The meta-dada description

The meta-description is the second most important item in the snippet and it is just below the SEO title. The meta-description is a quick concise description of your content. In one sentence, you sum up what the piece of copy is about. When you perform a search, Google will look for the particular keyword in the content and highlight it in the meta-description. If your meta description doesn’t contain the keyword searched for, it’ll grab a “random” snippet from the page that does.  

It should accurately describe the main content of the post or page, include the focus keyphrase, and entice people to click on your result. If you want to avoid repetition, you can also play with synonyms or related keywords in your meta description. When a search is performed, Google will highlight the focus keyword on the meta-description, showing to the person that they can find an answer to their question there.

The permalink & slug

The URL is the link that you will use to reach the content. It is the address. The slug is part of the URL that you can optimize for SEO and change to reflect the topic of the content.  The slug should be kept short but include a focus keyword to tell Google what the link is about. Including the keyphrase will help Google and users to identify the topic of your post or page.

7. Optimize your images for SEO

Images are essential to content creation. They bring the article to life and can contribute to SEO. Let’s also be honest, with social media today, it is good imagery that are all the rage. There are a few things you can do to help optimize your images for SEO and contribute to improving the overall performance of your website.

First of all, pick images that are relevant to your content. Make sure they are JPEG and compress them before uploading them to the website. Reduce the size of the image wherever possible. Speed is essential to good SEO and quite often images slow a website down. You can add a title and caption to your images. People look at images first and scan them to get a better idea of the content. Always add alt text and to use keywords, so that it can be found in Google image.

8. Internal linking

Internal links are hyperlinks that point to pages on the same domain. It help Google find, index and understand all of the pages on your site. Internal links can also help to send page authority to important pages. In short: internal linking is key for any site that wants higher rankings in Google. 

Internal linking is also great to improve blog visit duration, traffic to your website and decrease bounce rate. If you link blog posts between them, you may encourage a visitor to click on another post and spend more time on your blog.

When linking internally as part of SEO, pay attention to the anchor text your are using. The anchor text is the visible, clickable text in an HTML hyperlink. Although using an exact match anchor text to the page you are liking to will not hurt you, it is better to mix anchor text to avoid looking spammy. Do not use the same anchor text for two different pages and make sure that the anchor text you are using is relevant to the page you are internally linking it into.

9. Social media promotion

Social media links help SEO. Indeed, Google uses links shared on Facebook and Twitter as a ranking signal. Social media links do not count individually but there is still a correlation with search ranking. If you create good content, people will like and share it, thus linking to it and boosting its ranking. Correlation.

Social media isn’t a direct Google ranking factor, it is one of the best ways to promote content and be found online. Which is, ultimately, what SEO is all about. Furthermore, social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. And people are just as likely to click on a social media as on a website. Social media are search engines too (Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter) and people may find you through a hashtag or a targeted search.

Social media can still help you boost your SEO since it create awareness, allows for link building and is great for promotion.

We reached the end of this SEO for beginners guide where I give you all the you need to optimize your blog posts for SEO and improve it’s ranking in Google search. How you optimize your blog post for SEO is a process that never ends as Google changes all the time and factors affecting ranking change too. SEO requires constant work and attention but it is worth it when it helps your business.

What are your top SEO for beginners tips? Is Search engine optimization a focus on your content marketing strategy? How do you optimize your blog posts for SEO? Any other tips for us?

Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.

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keweenaw-relief

Resources for Keweenaw Businesses during COVID-19

The $1200 stimulus package to individual is great, but small businesses (under 500 employees) need a ton of more support during this time.

Let’s go over some resources small businesses in the Keweenaw can look into to make it through this huge economy pause.


Small Business Administration (SBA) Resources

Paycheck Protection Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will guarantee loans with terms of up to 10 years and interest rates of up to 4% to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Businesses can qualify for loans of up to $10 million, and the loans will be provided by lenders including banks and credit unions. Eligible businesses can get loan deferment for six months to a year, and the loan may be forgiven if the businesses maintains its payroll for eight weeks at employees’ normal salary levels. This is a great resource for businesses who are on the fence of laying off employees or paying them their average wages while their business is closed due to government rule.

Here is the direct link going over how to fill out the Paycheck Protection Loan application. Right now https://www.sba.gov is telling people to go into a bank to fill this out. Umm…most banks are closed. Soon (estimate: April 3rd — you should be able to apply and fill out online). I will keep you updated on this post when the real application becomes available.

Disaster Loans

As part of its disaster assistance program, the SBA is providing working capital loans to small businesses and nonprofits affected by the coronavirus. These loans carry an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. Loan repayment terms vary by applicant, up to a maximum of 30 years. The stimulus updated the program so that sole proprietors and businesses with fewer than 500 employees qualify, and applicants don’t need to provide a personal guarantee on loans under $200,000. Payments can also be deferred for up to four years!

Read more about this loan here.

Disaster Assistance

Even if your business is denied a loan, you can still access this grant, which can be used to provide employee sick leave, maintain payroll or meet other needs like paying rent.

Apply here.

Michigan Small Business Relief Program

The State of Michigan will provide both grants and loans to small businesses affected by COVID-19 starting on or around April 1. Grants will be available in amounts of up to $10,000 to help cover working capital. Loans will be available in amounts from $50,000 to $200,000 at interest rates of 0.25%.

Who’s eligible: Companies with 50 employees or fewer can qualify for grants, while loans are targeted at companies with 100 employees or fewer that can’t get credit elsewhere. In both cases, businesses must show income loss.

How to apply: Applications aren’t yet available but check Michigan Economic Development Corporation for updates.

All in all – we’re in this together.
If as a business you don’t have a website there are a few things you can do to sell your merchandise, gift cards, etc online. You can see a sneak peek how to sell products on Facebook here or email me for the full instructions on how to do so — I’m offering free knowledge during this crazy time so we can all survive as entrepreneurs!

new-era-unglitch.io

What’s stopping you from having a professional website?

Ok, you may already have a website and think it’s pretty nifty. But there are some things to consider before you decide if it’s time to upgrade to a website that works better for your business.

#1. There is an Undeniable Shift in the World

A crazy change has happened over the decades. I was lucky enough (or not lucky enough) to see the last big change in marketing. Unfortunately, since trends of marketing your brand have pivoted so rapidly recently — many businesses have not adopted the change and are failing.

I just read that 52% of Fortune 500 businesses have closed since the rapid shift in the 2000’s and now.

The brands that are embracing the new era is flourishing!

In the 70’s (the height of marketing) was just like how you would expect it to be if you’ve seen shows like Mad Men. “Ad-Men” were a thing. Cheesy advertising was a thing. Customers flocked to stores with even the simplest of marketing: Buy this product and you’ll be who you want to be. In the 1990’s services got the same treatment. Get this service and be a better version of yourself. This led to ditching marketing products and services altogether and asking what customers need today in the 2000’s.

So what’s the big difference today?

Now, brands have to ditch all of that. We as a society don’t want products or services anymore. We want relationships. I have a theory about how technology is causing the hunger for human contact, but let’s not get down that rabbit hole today.

You can see this is what you do on a daily basis. What are the videos you like to watch on YouTube? What shows do you watch? What podcasts to you listen to? I guarantee you whatever your interests are all of these are an insight into people just hanging out (reality tv shows, comedians bullshitting with each other, experts hanging out talking shop, etc).

When you follow someone on Facebook (be it a brand or personality) you want to see them. You want to know what their life is like and how they can make yours better or easier.

Because my career grew up in an era where ad agencies were still using tactics to reach clients and customers on how they can help you, I really struggled with social media focused, vlogging, “show them yourself” style we have now. To be honest I still struggle. I hate going live. Can’t I just Skype my client for them to see me? I don’t want to show you pictures of me or my life to grow my business. But without a doubt, if I don’t do more of that — I will fail… And so will you.

Your website is no different. It’s apart of what markets you and it’s the last step usually before someone decides to “buy”. Is your content not unique? Is your design un-inspired or cookie-cutter? Yes? Well…then your brand will come off as out-of-date and not worthy.

#2. Who are the Losers of this Marketing Change?

This is a scary time to watch as a B2B business. There is a “mass extinction” of businesses lately. Billion-dollar companies are dying who are not hiring a good team to market their story. They possibly don’t want to tell their story even as it’s probably about just making money.

Small businesses, the mom-and-pops of our local communities are failing. For the same reasons! They might have a great story to tell, but don’t have the time to tell it or just don’t see the value in even technologies that were popular 20 years ago. Hiring someone to do this for them seems too expensive and not worth the risk. I hear this often where I live (small community towns that are very focused on the history of their area — not the future). Every time I meet someone and we eventually chat about their business I hear them negatively talk about a website, a re-branding, marketing, creating a social media presence, SEO, etc… I watch a year later as they shut their door after decades in business. This is by far the worst part of my job. Watching someone fail.

#3. Who’s “Winning”?

Do you know who is rapidly doing better in the industry? Startups! In the 1990’s to 2000’s.

Now if you are over 40, please don’t hate me for this. The main reason startups are doing so well and getting over the first-year-hell hump is because the majority of those who launch a brand, are…(get ready for a swear word) Millenials…dun dun dun!

This is because they have already either grown-up or became adults in the era where the change has happened and to them, it’s a no-brainer to have a great website, be active on social media, and build a relationship with more people. They are also now the main customer base of any brand.

That being said I can’t not mention why this is such a surprise: Millenial startup success. I mentioned the first-year-hell hump. Anyone who has owned a business knows all to well that Year One is something out of a horror movie. It’s an uphill battle with you pulling the wagon by your teeth. The downside of both Millenial startups is that we now live in an era that doesn’t want to work a 9-5 job for the next 40 years. Some of us want to own the business to be our own boss or because (brace yourself) some of us just don’t want to work. See a problem with that last one. Working for yourself is harder, more stressful, but when you hustle — so worth it!

So sometimes it shocking that some of those darn Millenials seem to have a bead on the branding and marketing to-do’s. The truth is, the ones that do are focused on success. If you’ve owned a business for a few decades the picture of success might have changed. Are you still learning about ways to succeed?

Another thing.

#4. Let’s Talk About DIY’ers

Whether you’re a Millenial or not, you can still find the value in an online presence as we chatted about above. But of course, we all have different budgets. With drag-and-drop builders like Wix and Weebly it’s an easy step to try to tackle your website on your own. You pick a template, you add your logo, your services or products and boom! A website! For just the cost of hosting!

Great! Right? Hmm…

Let’s compare! Take a look at a Wix site:

wix-template-for-florists

This is the suggested template you see when you type in “florist” in the template search. It works, but… It’s a cookie-cutter look. Un-inspiring. This does not prompt the DIY’er to add a personal touch.

Let’s peak at another way to do a website:

More personal right? Unique! This website was not DIY’ed by the owner. They hired a professional agency, freelancer, or professional to create this design, develop the code, and add SEO so that they can be found online in their local community!

But of course, it’s very appealing to do-it-yourself. Little cost. No help to your brand though…

#5. The Pitch…

You’ve read blog articles before. Ya know what’s coming. I’m a Web Developer after all!

But a pitch? Barf.

Where’s the promised land of marketing and your online presence?

It’s when a business starts picking up and new customers are around your business more often after a website re-do (or re-brand).

How about some numbers? These are some market research I’ve done for case studies for clients in 2018 and 2019:

  1. Local Restaurant (2019)
  2. eTherapist (2019)
  3. Large Manufacturing Company (2018)
restaurant website

Thinking about a professional website? Check out the features a website project gets you like FREE WEB HOSTING FOR LIFE with your website development at https://unglitch.io.