Launching and running a successful online business and publishing career depends greatly on your ability to continuously acquire and please clients and securing a healthy cash flow. Satisfied clients equal greater potential for profits and success. However, getting the client through the door, closing the sales and acquiring profitable traffic are only small pieces of the puzzle. Seeing projects through to completion and delivering on the clients expectations are key.
Unfortunately, many freelancers and businesses suffer and lack the dedication and organizational skills to follow through; leading to many frustrated and disappointed clients. Many failed projects are not necessarily from lack of skill on part of the web developer, writer or designer but due to poor time and project management skills.
Time tracking is a powerful way to gain control of your clients’ projects and can mean a world of difference as you work to standout. Also, as technology advances and we witness the rise of products like Evernote and Coggle and other design and productivity tools, we gain a better ability to produce stronger results.
Here are some powerful reasons why time tracking is one of the most important practices you can adopt in your practice.
Prevent Creative Fatigue & Burnout
Unfortunately, we’re humans and we will not always possess the energy and drive to work 24/7 passionately with enthusiasm and vigor. It’s simply not possible. There will be down time as we attempt to bang away at the keyboard to get in as much as possible.
This leads to burnout and it will do you more harm than good working excessively at any task without allotting time for breaks and leisure. Using time-tracking as a method of limiting the hours spent on creative work before taking a break or end the day will prevent your brain from crashing and burning. This keeps your mind fresh and in a healthy state for new ideas when you return.
Take note from some of history’s creative geniuses like Ludwig van Beethoven, who although worked very hard at their art, set limits on work and spent time on leisure and mental recovery. Time tracking simply helps you to know when to stop and accounts for the work completed, offering the satisfaction of accomplishment.
Time Tracking Keeps You Focused & Disciplined
There’s something special about taking a seat and hitting start on a timer as you begin your tasks. It creates a sense of urgency and purpose and you’re less likely to be distracted by the outside world and temptations to watch cat videos on YouTube.
A personal timer running in the background while you work makes you more aware of your time ticking away and accountable for it. It turns the working day into a challenge that feels like you’re disarming a time bomb set to destroy your home town. Without the anxiety and potential loss of life of course.
Tracking your work time is like having mini-deadlines, only, you don’t get fired for missing them. You simply brush yourself off and refocus. The important thing here is that you know exactly for what you’re accountable.
Develop a Killer Rhythm
For web developers and designers, developing work rhythms prove very beneficial, especially for repetitive and native tasks. Getting in the zone and working with the clock heightens your senses, blocks out the noise and keeps you on track.
As you log your time, you’re indirectly logging your workflow, revealing deeper insight into your creative process. This enables you to better identify and create work structures and models. Armed with this experience and knowledge, you discover the best practices and approach to client projects.
Time tracking is the best tactic for honing your skills and using your time efficiently as a designer, developer or business person. It’s like having a boss to keep you in check without the stresses that comes with a real live boss.
If you haven’t started yet or are doing it manually, here are 4 free time tracking apps that you can give a try and discover your unique work model:
1. Toggl – Create cool charts and discover the best use of your work time,
2. RescueTime – Find your ideal work-life balance.
3. Timesheet – Cool Android work time tracking app
4. Timely – Beautiful & powerful time and cost tracker
The post How to Use Time Tracking to Boost Online Marketing Success appeared first on The Blog Herald.
Editor’s note: This post was written by Alice McGlinn, who has been a tech nerd since receiving her first computer ten years ago. Since then, she’s been spending her time learning and writing about all things technology.
According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 56 percent of all adults in the U.S. own a smartphone, and the number is even higher for 20 to 30-year-olds. This is the first time since the Pew Research Center started watching smartphone trends that the majority of American adults use smartphones. Although most businesses these days have a website to represent their product or service, many of them are not mobile device-ready. Nothing will send your visitors away faster than a website that isn’t usable on a smartphone or tablet.
Becoming an online marketing professional or freelancer, making a living and building a solid reputation for yourself online is quite a challenging task, especially since there are already so many personalities online. Many of whom are experienced masters of their own art. However, the web is vast and regardless of the countless websites online, there still remain niches that are untouched and with visitors who are still searching for the perfect product or community for entertainment, knowledge and inspiration.
While you ponder on some ideas for building your online presence and reputation, think about developing your personal brand through becoming a paid writer / contributor on existing popular websites that already command great influence. Therefore, leveraging their reach and exposure. Writing for websites like Mashable and the Huffington Post can gain you massive exposure and reach in a fair amount of time that would otherwise seem impossible. However, how do you land that cool blogging job opportunity? Surely they do not accept any and everybody who applies, so what will set you apart from the masses and get you noticed by the “big dogs” online? Read More
How was Independence Day weekend? It went great for us, and we thought we’d continue celebrating with a new giveaway! We’ve partnered with CrocoBlock, one of the fastest growing WordPress theme clubs.
CrocoBlock gives you access to 70+ WordPress themes and a choice of three membership levels: Standard, Developer, and Premium. In other words, you can choose the membership that exactly matches your needs. Detailed information about each membership level is available on this page. Read More
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Sophie Turton, a writer, editor and content strategist – fascinated by digital communication. You can also check out her web site: www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk.
Twitter has over 255 million active users a month – it is a massive database, buzzing with real-time information about individuals and communities around the world. Twitter is therefore a valuable source of information for online sales and digital content teams, as well as professional bloggers, who can benefit greatly from easy, personalised communication with prospects, as well as readers and consumers.
A Social Database
Twitter is an interconnected game of follow the leader – if you are savvy, you can use it to start far-reaching conversations, as well as plug into those conversations relevant to your publication or brand.
We hear often of the importance of putting information out there on social media and using these platforms to gain followers and develop a valuable community. Twitter presents an alternative method to target and connect with your audience on a personal level and learn about their habits, interests and concerns. This provides a unique opportunity to understand what information your target audience is looking for, how they interact with content and therefore the most effective way to provide it.
Twitter also offers a great opportunity to jump on the back of social trends. For example, you may notice that Game of Thrones is a (pretty darn massive) current trend that lends itself to a plethora of content ideas – a travel blog may write a piece about destinations that resemble those in the book/tv show, a freelance advice blog may write a ‘five things I learnt from Game of Thrones’ advice piece. Shove #GameofThrones on the end of your tweet, complete with the link and a nifty image, and let the wildlings flood in.
Hashtags Are More Than Just A Trend
Hashtags allow you to plug into a conversation and get your tweet, and the content attached to it, noticed. Effective use of hashtags could catapult your content further – therefore reaching far more people – than if you rely on your social channels alone.
Look out for any big event or social movement that relates to your blog, use it for inspiration for a post and then wop in the official hashtag. You will quickly see how many more people retweet, favourite and follow, which will hopefully also lead to a higher click-through and potential conversion rate.
Tweetreach is a great way to assess how far your tweet, and others like it, have reached and gives you the opportunity to analyse what hashtags are most effective. As an example, the hashtag #GameofThrones was used in a sample of 50 tweets and reached almost 130,000 Twitter accounts.
Keywords are Vital
Keyword searches are another brilliant way to identify your target audience. For instance, I am a writer targeting the freelance market so my keywords are very specifically focussed on freelancers and contractors. By setting up a keyword search in Hootsuite, I am able to gather every tweet that uses the word ‘contractor’ and ‘freelance’ and can analyse this data to more efficiently and effectively target my intended audience. I also keep an eye out for recurrent themes – is there a tax issue that many freelancers are discussing? What content can I provide to help solve any issue or confusion they might have?
Furthermore, you can monitor any conversations about your brand, industry or area of expertise – even when tweets don’t mention you directly – by setting up a stream in Hootsuite using a keyword search (domain name, hashtag, alternative spelling, industry, type of products you sell or topic of your blog).
Make content the solution
Look for buying or advice signals by searching for keyphrases such as ‘anyone recommend’ or ‘any advice on’ to identify those looking for immediate assistance. Once you’ve spotted an opportunity, jump in armed with a useful blog post that will help solve the problem – you can even use the information gained through Twitter, such as the person’s name, profession, interests, etc, to help you more effectively tailor your content and response.
You can then use Twitter to monitor whether the problem persists and make contact again with further information, therefore ensuring a return to the blog and adding a personal touch that could really make you stand out against your blogging competition.
And into the sales funnel
Making content the solution is a great way of engaging prospects through Twitter without immediately putting them off with the hard sell. By putting your customers at the centre of all of your content, and ensuring everything you retweet is relevant to them, you will build a community that successfully engages with and values your brand.
This doesn’t apply to all bloggers, many of whom rely on web traffic for advertisements but do not actually sell anything. However, for companies that manage a corporate blog, the most important part of the process is shimmying the prospect further down the sales process and proving the worth of your blog through increased conversions.
A story in 140 characters
Twitter is a powerful tool – not only does it give you hands-on, immediate access to your audience and target audience, it also provides a plethora of real-time information about people around the world. It can initially feel daunting and some have previously been put off using it for little more than a sharing device. However, with a little bit of savvy and some serious gumption, you will see a significant increase in conversion rates, as well as the monthly visits to your site.
The post How to Use Twitter for Prospecting appeared first on The Blog Herald.
How did the long weekend go? I hope you’re all looking forward to a week of lots of work.
This week, we’re making some changes with the job board highlights and publishing them every Monday instead of every Friday. We hope that this will serve you better.
A social news site is looking to hire an experienced blogger/writer with his or her finger on the pulse of social media and able to find and write stories as they break or begin trending on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Twitter cannot be ignored, point blank. If you and your business have written it off as a site simply for teenagers or idle youngsters to rant, make noise and post about every meal they’re having, you’re dead wrong. Any website that has 645 million active users with 58 million public conversations per day is not something you should be ignoring in your marketing strategy; and if you have an account but are not using it, I’m going to convince you to start doing otherwise.
Twitter is a stage for building powerful credibility for your brand as its an open platform allowing the powerful players to get their messages out there; and when I say powerful I don’t mean the companies that can spend the most on advertising but the brands willing to connect with a global audience in unique and genuine ways. Brands can now directly reach out to and connect with people directly, in real-time and get real responses. Compare that to television or website banner ads and you’ll get the picture. Traditional advertising methods are somewhat like shooting with your eyes closed and hoping to hit something. Even banner ad click rates are at an unattractive all time low dropping from as high as 80% in the 90′s to now under 0.2%. So you definitely need a new strategy and Twitter is a good starting point in social media whether you are a car salesman, lawyer or IT solutions provider.
The most powerful feature I adore about Twitter is its advanced search feature which basically allows you to target any conversation relating to keywords your business covers. So if you want to find someone talking about bicycle repairs, you can and will have the opportunity to directly start a conversation with that person, for free!
Let’s Get Into Twitter’s Advanced Search
The whole point of marketing and advertising is getting your message to the right eyes and people, so targeting has always been a key factor in the strategy. Essentially, with Twitter’s advanced search feature, you can search for “I have a headache” and the results will show everyone who has recently said that phrase within the entire Twitterverse, within the last minute. I’m sure you can see how valuable that is for painkiller suppliers for example.
How Twitter advanced search works:
1. Go to https://search.twitter.com
2. Click Advanced Search. Then you’ll see a page looking like below:
Here you’ll find the options to search and match exact phrases, target languages, specific people in certain locations and even include emotional responses related to their tweets whether its positive or negative (Shown at the bottom with emoticons). This is targeting in its most potent form and your marketing team needs to be leveraging this powerful tool.
Let’s try searching for something, let’s say “where can I find”, matching the exact phrase. Instantly we’re provided with results with the most recent people asking a question on where they can find something highlighted bold. Match this will your product, service or target market keywords and you’ll see the power. Here you can directly respond to anyone.
Forget About Spamming Anyone
So you’re excited to start trying out this new feature and can’t wait to get the word out and promoting yourself, take it easy. There is one more thing you need to take note of and that’s never spamming or overwhelming this newly found audience with your message.
With great power comes great responsibility, yeah I know that’s a bit cliché, but its true. This isn’t the time to start selling, selling, selling but its about engaging in a genuine way and showing real interest in the lives with whom you connect. You can approach a complete stranger and start selling them something, that’s true, but the most valuable transactions and business relationships are gained upon the pinnacles of trust and authenticity. Genuinely seek out people in your niche and target market and seek to build relationships without being hungry for the sale. Your audience cannot be viewed as prey and the wolves in the social media world are quickly identified, called out and ignored. Be authentic and be genuine as you execute your marketing campaign.
Now go forth and engage! Start experimenting with Twitter search and you’ll see how you can reap the rewards. Remember that the stronger the relationship and trust there is in you and your brand the more likely people with refer you, spend money with you and be loyal.
The post How to Use Twitter’s Advanced Search Engine for Networking & Marketing appeared first on The Blog Herald.
The online publishing world is so crowded that it could be a gargantuan task to get noticed by the audience you want. Some niches are even worse than others, and any online publisher needs all the help he can get to get eyeballs. Hence the rise of content marketing and other “tricks” to promote content.
Your blog or online magazine, or whatever you want to call it, may have some of the most interesting and useful content there is in your field, but if you do not promote content, then no one may know you even exist – except for your mom and dad, maybe.
But there’s also the danger of going overboard when you promote content. We all hate spammers, and these days, all the major platforms have stringent measures in place. And, even if they did not, people will naturally block you out if you go overboard.
So what’s a man to do? Read More
Who among us can resist a great bargain on that pair of jeans with the perfect amount of fade? It’s no wonder that ecommerce accounts for nearly 12% of US retail sales with over half of all Americans being avid online shoppers.
What’s more eye opening is the fact that 61% of Americans have made a purchase on a blog post.
See the connection? People love shopping online. Blogs influence people’s shopping decisions to a large extent. Result: online shopping and blogs are a great combination.
Let me give you 9 more reasons why blogs can help your ecommerce business spread its wings and soar. Read More
How did you start out as an online writer? Perhaps you got odd jobs here and there, and you didn’t really see what you were doing as a business. If you’ve been doing this for several years now, your client base has probably expanded, and you might even consider what you do as a small business.
When your online writing activities transform into a legit business, things get better, albeit with some more responsibilities. While you may have more revenue streams, you may have more expenses as well. You might have to tap into savings, consider credit card balance transfers if you have existing credit card problems. According to Jeffrey Weber of SmartBalanceTransfers.com, this is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to manage credit card debt and starting anew.
You may even have to learn how to manage your own books. You can always take on the services of an accountant, but that will only add to your expenses.
If you need a little help tracking your online writing business finances – expenses and earnings both – here are some tools which can make things easier for you without having to outsource this aspect of the business.
1. Google Spreadsheet
By far the simplest and easiest way to keep track of income and expenses is to create a spreadsheet. You probably already have a Google account, so you only have to access your Google Drive and create a spreadsheet which you can use to monitor your online business finances.
Above is a simple example of what you can do: just create tabs for earnings and expenses, indicate the client/source and expense item, as well as the amount. With spreadsheets, you can use formulas so that amounts are automatically added or subtracted as needed.
Note: This tool is the most basic you can use, and for many it works. If you need more features like bank integration, read on.
inDinero packs a whole lot of features. Not only does it help you with accounting, but it can also serve as a tool for taxes and payroll. Even if you’re the only employee of your business, help with taxes is a big plus already.
The downside is that the service is not free, although they have packages for small business (1-30 employees). Additionally, they don’t just take on clients indiscriminately. That says a lot about how they take care of their customers. You have to request for an invite and see how things work out for you.
QuickBooks is already one of the most popular finance tracking software out there, and it offers more than simply monitoring your earnings and expenses. Just like inDinero, if you have other employees, you can run payroll with QuickBooks. You can even do client invoicing via the platform, making sure you do not forget to do this at the appropriate time. Even more, having a system like this in place helps your professional image.
QuickBooks for Small Business starts at $12.95 per month, but you can try it for free first.
4. Zoho Books
“Smart Accounting for Growing Businesses” is the tagline of Zoho Books, and it also enables you to send invoices, track expenses, as well as connect your bank account for automated transactions.
They have one pricing for all their features, which is a good thing, but you’ll have to shell out $24 per month. That’s still cheaper than keeping an accountant on a retainer basis! And, you can try it for free for 14 days.
If you have no accounting background at all, and you feel that you can use all the help you can get, then FreshBooks is a good option. It is made for non-accountants so that you can easily send invoices, while at the same time keep track of your online writing business finances without having to worry about missing a single detail. They offer a trial of 30 days, which is perfect so that you can see how it works for you for a month. The cheapest package, Seedling, costs $19.95 per month and limits you to 25 clients.
The post 5 Tools to Keep Track of Your Online Writing Business Finances appeared first on The Blog Herald.