Businesses started transitioning to the remote environment in 2014 when smartphones, mobile devices, and Internet services became more reliable. Fast-forward to 2020 and the global pandemic has made going remote the new normal for businesses. 

It’s been more than a year since we went into lockdown. For your business to thrive in a world where going remote is a matter of necessity, you need a few tools in your belt to keep it growing and adapting. 

The tools you need must cover the following areas of business:

  • Meetings
  • Project Management
  • File Sharing/Organization
  • Communication
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Marketing
  • Outsourcing/Talent Acquisition
  • Email

Based on our experience, here are some of the best tools you need in your belt to tackle 2021.

1. Meetings

Virtual meetings have been growing in importance as businesses continued to seek strategic partnerships with other companies across the globe. The global pandemic accelerated the need for more businesses to incorporate virtual meetings as part of their process. 

Zoom 

Zoom Video Communications made it on the map when the San Jose-based company offered its 45-minute package free of charge for K-12 schools and small businesses.

What are the features of Zoom?

  • HD audio and video for up to 1,000 participants.
  • Collaboration tools such as share-screen.
  • Record meetings and create transcripts.
  • Sync meetings with Gmail, Outlook, and iCal.
  • Chat messaging system.
  • The webinar platform is expandable to 50,000 participants and can be streamed via FB Live, YouTube Live, and other streaming services.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft launched Microsoft Teams in 2017. In 2019, Microsoft reported that its web-based app had more than 20 million active users. Because of the pandemic, Microsoft disclosed that there were now over 44 million active users of MS Teams. 

What are the features of Microsoft Teams?

  • Teams use Channels to converse with other teammates or invite others. 
  • Chat messaging system.
  • Access to SharePoint Online, a platform where teams can share documents.
  • Video conferencing with share-screen. 
  • Online meetings can host up to 10,000 users.
  • Audio-conferencing allows anyone to join via phone.

Google Meet

Google Meet was introduced in 2017 as a replacement for Google Hangouts. Google reported that because of the pandemic, Google Meet experienced 100 million active users daily compared to 200 million active users for Zoom. 

What are the key features of Google Meet?

  • An unlimited number of meetings for up to 100 participants.
  • Closed captioning during meetings.
  • Compatible with many devices from desktop to mobile platforms.
  • Preview for audio and video.
  • Change screen layout.
  • Exclusive control for meeting host.
  • Share screen and messaging.
  • Sync with MS and Google apps.

2. Project Management

Before project management apps became available, close collaboration was difficult when working with remote teams. There were a few platforms you could use but the features were limited. 

The project management apps that we selected make it possible for teams to collaborate on tasks as if they were sharing space. 

Asana

“Asana” is the term used to describe the act of practicing Yoga poses. Similar to Yoga, the objective of the project management app Asana is to help businesses achieve balance in managing remote work.

Asana was founded by former Facebook engineer Justin Rosenstein in 2012 as a mobile productivity app that helps teams manage, track, and organize their tasks. 

Forbes magazine reported in 2020 that there are more than 1.3 million paid users of Asana around the world.  

What are the key features of Asana?

  • Create customized forms for projects.
  • Create customized templates for workflows.
  • Create customized drop-down menus and fields.
  • Track the progress of a task as “Completed” or “Waiting”.
  • Put timelines on specific tasks.
  • Motivate your team by establishing milestones.
  • Option to make projects private or public.

Monday

Monday started out as an internal productivity tool for Wix.com from 2010 to 2012 when the app was bought out and became daPulse. It was rebranded to Monday.com in 2017 and to date is used by more than 100,000 organizations.

Monday.com won the 2020 Webby Award for Productivity in Apps, Mobile, and Voice.

What are the key features of Monday?

  • Centralized management with the use of an easy-to-use, color-coded, multi-functional board.
  • Comments and notifications to team members are sent by “pulses”.
  • A well-organized board helps managers track the progress of every task.
  • Allows companies to invite clients and collaborate on projects.
  • Advanced search features that enable users to locate projects, images, assignments, and updates without restrictions on dates. 
  • The timeline feature gives users the look and feel of Gannt charts so they can monitor and update progress.

Basecamp

37Signals developed and launched Basecamp in 2004. Owing to the success of the project management app, 37Signals changed the company’s name to Basecamp in 2014. 

Today, Basecamp is valued at US$100 Billion and has millions of users across the globe.

What are the key features of Basecamp?

  • Create and assign to-do lists.
  • Chat system for group and private messaging.
  • Generate reports to follow progress on tasks and to track the performance of individual team members.
  • Hill Charts feature allows you to monitor progress on tasks in real-time.
  • Schedule hourly back-ups of files.
  • A keyword search function allows you to find what you’re looking for right away.

3. File Sharing/Organization

Yes, digital technology and advances on the Internet made it faster and more convenient to manage tasks. However, it also means you have to attend to and accomplish more tasks often within the same number of work hours. 

If you don’t have an efficient and easy-to-manage file sharing and organization tool to manage your tasks and projects, you might as well break out the lock and key for that heavy filing cabinet in the corner of your office.

Google Drive

Google launched its synchronization and file storage platform in 2012. Work with other Google services such as Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Google Slides then share files with team members using various devices. 

According to Google, Google Drive had more than 2 billion active users in 2018, and in excess of 2 trillion files were stored in the platform in 2017. 

What are the key features of Google Drive?

  • Sharing of files is under the control of the owner.
  • Compatible with a large number of 3rd party apps.
  • Google Drive viewer is compatible with a multitude of formats.
  • The Android version features QuickApp that “predicts” the files you need even before you can tap on the keyboard.
  • With built-in programs that make the platform accessible to the visually impaired.
  • Includes encryption capability. 

Dropbox

Dropbox was launched in 2007 by a pair of MIT students and seed funding from Y Combinator. Today, the company is valued at over US$10 Billion. 

According to Statista, Dropbox had 15 million paying active users in 2020. Other statistics show that there are more than 600 million users of Dropbox worldwide. 

What are the key features of Dropbox?

  • Store and access files from anywhere and from any device.
  • Synchronize work from other platforms and services.
  • Instant notifications on updated to-do lists and project timelines.
  • Collaborate with everyone on your team by using Dropbox Paper.
  • High-level security keeps your files safe.
  • Designate work and limit access to files only to authorized people.
  • Restore damaged or hacked files within 30 days.

Microsoft 365 – OneDrive

OneDrive is a Microsoft file-sharing and synchronization service that was launched in 2007. It’s part of the Microsoft 365 suite of products and services. 

There are millions of users of Microsoft 365 worldwide. In the United States alone, Microsoft 365 has more than 650,000 active users.

What are the key features of OneDrive?

  • Access your files from anywhere using any device.
  • Share your files with teams or individuals.
  • Integrate with other Microsoft 365 products.
  • Free up storage space.
  • Personal Vault gives you high-level security to keep your files safe.
  • Supports different forms of multimedia.
  • Scan documents with your mobile phone.

Evernote

Evernote was introduced in 2000 as a marketing software then evolved into a productivity app that helped businesses manage and organize their tasks in 2008. 

Evernote has become a go-to tool of businesses that despite increasing its prices in 2016, has amassed more than 220 million paid subscribers. 

What are the key features of Evernote? Take note the key features outlined below are for Evernote’s Premium Subscription.

  • 10GB of new uploads every month.
  • Synchronize with various devices.
  • Capable of searching for text inside images.
  • Share files and notes to teams or individuals.
  • Passcode lock feature for the mobile app version.
  • Forward your emails to Evernote.
  • Annotate, search for images in PDF format.
  • One-click feature for presenting notes.
  • Scanning feature to create business cards.

Pocket

Pocket was launched in 2007 as Read It Later, an app developed to help you manage a list of reading materials and videos curated from the Internet. The service can be accessed by multiple devices and browsers. 

The company reported that as of 2018, Pocket has more than 30 million users. 

What are the key features of Pocket?

  • Save an unlimited amount of articles, web pages, and videos.
  • Synchronize with a wide range of devices.
  • Use tags to organize your saved items.
  • Accessible from various platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Flipboard to name a few.
  • Listen to your articles by converting text into high-quality audio.
  • The intelligent tag suggestion feature helps you organize your content for easier and faster search.
  • Customize layouts and font styles. 
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4. Communication

Having excellent communication systems in place can replicate the advantages of shared space collaboration for your remote setup. 

The communication tools we selected will allow you to keep track of your team’s work without hovering over them as you might do in a physical office. These apps function like central hubs where you can get everything done in one place.

Slack

Slack started out as an internal communication tool for gaming company Tiny Speck when they were developing Glitch. It was formally launched as Slack, a communication platform for businesses, in 2013.

As of 2019, Slack has an estimated 12 million daily active users. 

What are the key features of Slack?

  • The use of Channels allows you to organize and manage teams handling different projects or tasks.
  • The “Narrow search” function makes searching easier.
  • Mentions feature lets you find messages that were specifically for you.
  • A flexible messaging system enables you to quickly find a specific user and send a DM, mark a message as “unread” for future reference, and restrict access to threads.
  • Keep track of important discussions by using the Highlight Word function to advise you if a keyword shows up in a thread.
  • Create auto-replies for faster response time.

Microsoft Teams

We discussed MS Teams earlier but the service is worth mentioning again as an effective platform for communication. 

After deciding against bidding for Slack in 2016, Microsoft developed MS Teams as a direct competitor of the communication platform. As you will read below, MS Teams has communication features that aren’t available in Slack.

A 2021 survey showed that MS Teams has 75 million Daily Active Users (DAUs) compared to “only” 12 million DAUs for Slack.

What are the key features of MS Teams?

  • Channels function like conversation boards and make it easier for team members to communicate.
  • Compared to Slack, MS Teams invites more open communication by getting teams to view other communication and provide inputs. 
  • Files are automatically filed and organized in a SharePoint document.
  • Quick and easy access online calling and conferencing system with top-level audio and video quality.

Blink

Blink is a communication app that was developed to improve employee productivity by providing them with a platform to collaborate effectively and avoid incidents of miscommunication. 

Companies that have used Blink were reportedly able to reduce employee turnover rate by 26% and improve employee satisfaction by 30%.

In 2018, Blink received 2 awards from Finances Online – the Great User Experience Award and the Rising Star Award.

What are the key features of Blink?

  • Fully customizable; companies can add their logos and colors.
  • Accessible to multiple devices and browsers.
  • Availability of team calendar to help team members keep track of deadlines.
  • Workplace analytics enables managers and top officers to evaluate employee engagement and performance.
  • The one-on-one chat messaging feature lets you communicate directly with frontline employees and give them valuable feedback.

5. Accounting/Finance

The absence of proper money management systems is the number one reason why many small businesses fail within the first 5 years of operation. 

One of the first things you have to do when starting a business is to fortify its foundation. These are the support activities that help your business run smoothly. 

Accounting is considered a back-office function but it plays a significant role in ensuring the success of your business. 

Having your financial transactions covered and organized by a reliable accounting app will help you monitor your liquidity, cash flow, and if you’re on track to meet your profitability objectives.

Quickbooks

Quickbooks feels like it’s been around forever and to some degree, it has. First introduced in 1983 as Quicken by Intuit, Quickbooks was developed with the small and medium-scale business owner in mind. 

According to Intuit, Quickbooks garnered 74% market share in the US in 2005. The NPD Group reported that in 2008, 94.2% of retail units in the US used Quickbooks. 

What are the key features of Quickbooks?

  • Create and send customized invoices and quotations.
  • The software can be accessed from a remote location.
  • Offers remote payroll assistance and outsourced accounting services.
  • Availability of electronic payment options.
  • Online banking and reconciliation options.
  • Mapping integration feature with Google Maps.
  • Email functionality feature through MS Outlook and Outlook Express.
  • Integration with Excel.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks was developed by 2ndSite, a company based in Canada and was launched in 2004. Initially, Freshbooks was intended as an invoicing program for IT professionals. 

In 2015, 2ndSite set up a second company, BillSpring, that handled product development. Freshbooks evolved into an accounting program that can manage the accounting needs of small and medium-scale businesses.

What are the key features of Freshbooks?

  • Customizable invoices.
  • Automatic payment reminders for clients.
  • Automatic late fee penalties for invoices that are past due.
  • Incorporate credit card payments into your system.
  • Automatically schedule invoices for recurring payments.
  • Organize invoices and confirmed payments per client.
  • Multi-currency and multi-lingual billing options.

Xero

Xero was developed in New Zealand and introduced as a cloud-based accounting software program for small and medium scale businesses in 2006. The company has gone global with offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Asia.

According to Xero, in 2018, there were more than 1 million subscribers to its app in Australia and New Zealand plus another 1 million users worldwide.

What are the key features of Xero?

  • The software program is compatible with Windows and Mac.
  • Versions for Android and iOS are available.
  • Customizable dashboard for convenience and ease of use.
  • Generate multiple reports at one time.
  • View and share financial reports with your partners or investors.
  • Option to invoice clients using different currencies.
  • Customizable invoices.
  • ISO/IEC 27001-2013 compliant; this is the gold standard for high-level online security.

6. Marketing

Marketing has grown in prominence over the last few decades. It used to be the case that companies would only allocate 1% of their revenues for marketing activities. 

According to a 2017 study by Deloitte, companies have steadily increased the budget allocation for marketing. Consumer goods retailers are the biggest spenders at 24% while those in the Energy sector spend the least at only 4%.

Thanks to Marketing apps, small and medium-scale businesses have the means to run marketing campaigns without spending too much time and money.

HubSpot Marketing

HubSpot is a wonderful resource for everything marketing-related. It’s no surprise that the HubSpot Marketing app which was released in 2006 is actively used by more than 30,000 companies in 90 countries.

HubSpot Marketing is a one-stop-shop for all your marketing needs. A free service is available for first-time users to try and test the products and other offerings. 

What are the key features of HubSpot Marketing?

  • Build and design your own website.
  • Create and publish content from a built-in blogging platform.
  • Perform keyword research to optimize your content.
  • Customizable CTA buttons and Landing pages.
  • Organize all information including leads into one database.
  • Easy-to-use and highly customizable email templates and campaigns.
  • Marketing automation software allows you to customize and develop marketing campaigns to help accomplish specific business goals. 

OptinMonster

Lead generation is a very important part of digital marketing. The ability to generate leads will help you pre-qualify potential clients and allow you to better maximize your marketing budget as well as optimize your marketing efforts.

OptinMonster is a lead generation software that was developed to help businesses build their email list by improving engagement levels. According to OptinMonster, the program is used by more than 1,213,437 websites.

What are the key features of OptinMonster?

  • Drag ‘n; Drop Builder lets you create customized forms.
  • Campaigns can be optimized for mobile devices.
  • Use MonsterEffects feature to create more eye-catching visuals.
  • Customize messages to increase engagement levels.
  • Choose from a wide variety of campaign types including the very popular Lightbox PopUp, Slide-screen Scroll Box, and Floating Bar.
  • Built-in technology designed to study visitor behavior.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an email marketing and marketing automation service that was launched in 2001 by its developer, Rocket Science. It started out as a paid service before introducing a freemium service package in 2009. 

According to Rocket Science, Mailchimp was generating 14,000 new subscribers every day in 2017 and was sending out an average of 10 billion emails per day. 

What are the key features of Mailchimp?

  • Organize your leads with its built-in Marketing CRM.
  • Learn more about your customers with the Audience Dashboard.
  • Improve the efficiency of your marketing campaigns with the segmentation feature.
  • Find out where your visitors and customers are coming from by accessing data on demographics. 
  • Availability of content creation tools to help develop optimized content. 
  • Access reports that give you empirical evidence of audience behavior.

7. Outsourcing/Talent Acquisition

Small business owners know that to scale operations they need help. The challenge is to pay for talent without compromising their cash flow. 

The cost of hiring Full-Time Employees (FTEs) can be calculated by multiplying their salary by 1.4. For many small business owners, hiring FTEs can be too expensive. 

A more affordable option would be to outsource work to remote employees or professionals who provide technical services through the Internet. Examples of remote workers are virtual assistants, freelancers, and telecommuters.

With remote workers, you have different payment options. You can pay only for the hours worked or on a per-project basis. You have more flexibility and can stay within your budget. 

Here are some of the best sites to hire remote workers:

UpWork

UpWork started out as Elance in 1999. Then, in 2003, Elance merged with another online freelancer platform called O-desk and was rebranded as Elance-oDesk. The company settled with its current name in 2015.

The UpWork head office is based in Santa Clara, California, USA.

What are the benefits of using UpWork?

  • Choose from more than 18 million freelancers from different countries.
  • Trusted by more than 5 million businesses.
  • 3 million jobs posted every year; UpWork is the biggest freelancer platform in the world.
  • Freelancer profiles contain valuable information such as client reviews, total earnings, and a summary of skills and certifications.
  • Work Diary feature allows you to check and verify the total productive hours worked by your freelancer.
  • The Payment Protection feature gives you the option of choosing between pay-per-hour and pay-per-project arrangements. 
  • UpWork is the only freelancer platform that offers a dispute resolution service.

Freelancer

Freelancer has staked its claim as the world’s biggest freelancer platform with a reported user base of more than 51 million clients and freelancers from over 247 countries. 

The company has acquired other freelancer sites such as GetAFreelancer.com, EUFreelancer.com, and ScriptLance.com. 

What are the benefits of using Freelancer?

  • Wide range of freelancers to choose from; you can find freelancers who can handle large-scale as well as small-scale projects.
  • Option to pay freelancers per hour or with a fixed price.
  • The chat feature allows you to communicate directly with freelancers.
  • Milestone Payment system gives you the protection of paying the freelancer only when you’re 100% satisfied with the result.

Guru

Guru.com was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh. It started out as eMoonlighter.com. In 1999, it was rebranded as Guru.com and was used to hire high-tech freelancers for an online clearinghouse. 

Presently, Guru has 1.8 million freelancers offering more than 4.4 million freelancing services to businesses around the world.

What are the benefits of using Guru?

  • A streamlined dashboard makes it easier to keep track of projects and the work of freelancers.
  • Communicate directly with the freelancers or “gurus” that you have contracted for the job.
  • Pay a minimum fee of US$29.95 to have your job or project posted for 30 days to attract more freelancers.
  • Multiple payment options such as electronic payment systems, credit cards, checks, e-checks, wire transfers, and direct payments to the website.
  • SafePay system lets you review and approve the work before paying the freelancer. 

8. Email

Email remains a critical part of communication. Despite the availability of various media and platforms, people still depend on email and regard it as the primary channel of communication.

The tech giants recognize this and have expanded their offerings to include apps that can turn your email into a central hub with all the apps you need to manage your business. 

The email service providers have also upped the ante on security and data protection. 

Office 365

Microsoft launched Office 365 in 2010 in response to growing competition from Google’s Gmail service. Office 365 was designed to provide subscribers with a wide range of Microsoft services that cover all of the key areas of a business. 

With the addition of MS Teams, the user base of Office 365 grew by 53% from 75 million users in April 2020 to 115 million users to date. 

What are the key features of Office 365?

  • Availability of apps for spreadsheet, word processing, slide presentation, online conferencing, and file sharing to name just a few.
  • A cloud-based platform means you can access Office 365 anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
  • Real-time collaboration with team members on any document or project.
  • Yammer is Office 365’s communication app that allows you to set up specific channels with different departments or individuals. 
  • Files are shareable with people who are not part of your company.
  • Workflows app keeps your team updated on deadlines and lets you monitor their progress. 
  • Top-level 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption. 
  • Built-in proprietary antivirus software.

Gmail

Gmail is Google’s game-changing, free email service that was launched in 2004. According to Google, as of 2019, there are 1.5 Billion users of Gmail worldwide. 

Once you open a Gmail account, you can access its other business apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and Google Meet.

What are the key features of Gmail?

  • 15 gigabytes of storage; the largest among email service providers.
  • Email capacity for receiving emails can go up to 50 megabytes.
  • Send out emails that are as big as 25 megabytes.
  • Google’s mail servers immediately scan mail for spam, malware, and context-sensitive ads. 
  • Access to other services such as Google Drive and Google Photos.

ProtonMail

ProtonMail is literally the stuff of science. It was developed by scientists from Switzerland who spent time at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). 

Introduced in 2016, ProtonMail uses a proprietary client-side encryption program to safeguard email content before they are transmitted to the ProtonMail servers.

From only 2 million users in 2016, ProtonMail has over 50 million users as of 2021. 

What are the key benefits of ProtonMail?

  • High-level combination of encryption programs to fortify email protection and integrity of services.
  • Availability of Two-Factor Authentication process to prevent unauthorized access to email.
  • The addition of the Archive folder lets you store important communication while keeping your Inbox clean.
  • Label feature helps you organize your emails based on sender or by category.
  • Customizable themes to create a distinct look and feel for your Inbox.

Conclusion

You don’t have to include all of these apps in your digital toolbox. Give them a try and find out which products fit the needs of your business. 

Times may have changed and it might be a while before we develop a sense or feel of normalcy. The last thing we should do is to wait because the old normal as we knew it might take some time to come back – if at all. 

What we need to focus on is finding ways to adapt, survive, and ultimately, thrive in this new environment. Having the right apps in your belt will certainly help you tackle the challenge in 2021 and beyond. 

If you have questions about these apps and if you want to build a website for your online business, give us a call and we’ll schedule a meeting to discuss your concerns. We can use Zoom or MS Teams to get the ball rolling!

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community.

SEO for Your Business

For more than a decade, UpCity’s mission has been—and continues to be—to help businesses find B2B service providers they can trust. The UpCity Recommendability Rating was developed to determine a service provider’s credibility and recommendability, giving UpCity the confidence to recommend them to the more than 1.5 million businesses that visit their site. 

Each year, UpCity analyzes and scores more than 70,000 service providers based on their UpCity Recommendability Rating and acknowledges the top national and local providers with an UpCity Excellence Award. The results are in, and we won!

We are ecstatic to announce that the Mountaintop Web Design team has been recognized as one of the top B2B service providers of 2021 in the Denver area by UpCity! 

Mountaintop Web Design offers a full suite of digital marketing services to our clients around the globe. Many small businesses lack the time and expertise to build marketing that works. We have developed solutions that get your business found so that you can quit worrying and start growing your business. 

Mark Tepper, SVP of Sales & Customer Success at UpCity, had this to say about Mountaintop Web Design:

“Mountaintop Web Design loves when their customers succeed and accomplish a new goal; they thrive on it. This drive to do more and be more is how Mountaintop Web Design was able to achieve the UpCity Excellence Award.”

– Mark Tepper, SVP of Sales & Customer Success

This recognition has been driven in large part by our 5-star review rating on UpCity. Here are a few of our favorite pieces of feedback we’ve received from our incredible customers:

“I have been very pleased with Josiah and his team. He was very responsive – actually impressed me how quickly he responded every time! His team worked well with us every step of the way to pretty much redo our entire website. Offered great suggestions when needed. They made the little tweaks I wanted until I got it just how I wanted it. I’d highly recommend them and will continue to do business with them in the future!”

-Rayna McGill, Mountaintop Web Design customer

“Josiah and his team did fantastic work in helping my company with a website overhaul. From my initial meeting with MWD, I was confident they were going to be able to help me achieve exactly what I was looking to accomplish. Josiah was able to answer all my questions and was also able to ask the appropriate questions to help me craft and create exactly what my company needed from a website. We’ve maintained their service package and they’ve been able to help us keep everything updated on our site and running without any major disruptions. I would highly recommend MWD for your website needs!”

-Brad Schoenthaler, Mountaintop Web Design customer

At Mountaintop, we take pride in giving our clients the best value for their money. We don’t just craft digital marketing strategies and websites, but we help clients save money along the way. Thank you to the UpCity team and our Mountaintop Web Design customers for this tremendous award and honor. 

Whether you have a stable job or are looking for work, having a new stream of income will always be welcome. One of the best ways to make money is to work as a freelancer. 

For many 9-to-5 employees, freelance work not only augmented their income, it was also the first step to a rewarding career as an entrepreneur.

What Is A Freelancer?

A freelancer is a person who works independently and offers services to businesses that are interested in his specific skill set. 

Essentially, a freelancer is self-employed. He can be considered an entrepreneur because he manages the needs of his business. Similar to an entrepreneur, he is responsible for the success or accountable for the failure of his freelance business.

What Are The Benefits Of Becoming A Freelancer?

The benefits presented to a freelancer are the same benefits presented to an entrepreneur.

  • You have your own time.
  • You have a chance at achieving financial independence.
  • You have control over your financial growth.
  • You are the main decision-maker.
  • You choose who you work with.
  • You choose the clients you want to manage.

In other words, a freelancer is his own boss!

How To Make Money As A Freelancer

However, being the boss isn’t easy. 

If the decisions you made resulted in losses to your business, there’s no one else to blame. It becomes your sole responsibility to find solutions to situations before they become full-blown problems. 

Likewise, achieving financial independence is never guaranteed.

Having control over your financial growth entails making the right decisions.

  • How many clients can I handle without affecting the quality of work?
  • Am I charging the right fees?
  • Should I keep networking for more clients?
  • Do I need to hire people now to expand my business?
  • What tasks should I outsource?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now – don’t worry!

We’ve created this guide to help you get started as a freelancer and make good money along the way.

1. Identify Your Skill Set

There are thousands of jobs available on every freelancing site. Businesses from all over the world are looking for freelancers who can help them get work done at the least cost. 

Unless you identify your skill set, you’ll get lost – not knowing which jobs you should apply to. 

Do you consider yourself an expert in a particular skill? If so, are you 100% confident that you can offer this skill to a client and assure him of high-quality work and top-level performance? 

For example, you have experience as a Graphic Designer. You’ve done graphic design for friends and for your department at the company. How qualified are you as a Graphic Artist?

You should be proficient in a few software programs for graphic design such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and CorelDraw Graphics Suite. Some of the job ads will specifically require proficiency and experience in conducting graphic design work using the software. 

It would also be to your advantage if you are proficient with a particular style of art such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Cubism, Pop Art, or Impressionism. The client will have an idea of your approach to design.

2. Define Your UVP

UVP stands for Unique Value Proposition. Put simply, it’s the answer to the question in the minds of potential clients who come across your profile:

“Why should I hire you as my freelancer?”

You’re not the only freelancer applying for that job. HR Officers and business owners will be browsing through proposals and online profiles to hire the freelancer who can do the job according to their expectations.

What makes you different – and the best candidate over everyone else?

List down your hard and soft skills. 

Hard skills are the technical skills or the ones acquired through formal education, training, and experience. Soft skills refer to the personality or behavioral attributes that best define your approach to work. 

Review your hard and soft skills carefully. Then, come up with a phrase that best sums up your value to the potential client. This phrase is your UVP and it should appear in your online profiles and applications. 

3. Establish Your Service Offerings

What services can you offer potential clients? 

For example, if you’re a Digital Marketer, you might be able to offer the following services:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Social Media Marketing/Management (SMM)
  • Content Writing
  • Keyword Research

You can also include a list of your core competencies:

  • Project Management
  • Hiring and Recruitment of Remote Employees
  • Quality Assurance
  • Planning and Strategy Design
  • Analytics and Process Improvement

Be as detailed as possible but don’t offer more than what you can provide. If you offer services that you’re not capable of doing and then fail to deliver results, you might compromise your career as a freelancer.

4. Set Up a Business Website

Having a website will professionalize your freelancing business. There are many benefits to having a website as a freelancer:

  • The About Me page will give potential clients an idea of who you are as a person. The client will know if he can work with you.
  • The Home page will highlight your UVP and inform the client what you can do for him.
  • The Portfolio page will shine the spotlight on your past work or examples of hard skills. 
  • The Services page will summarize the list of services that you can offer to interested clients.
  • The Contact Me page will inform interested parties how to get in touch with you. 
  • Add a Blog page so you can share your expertise and knowledge to potential clients.

With a website, you can be reached by potential clients through search. You won’t be limited by social media or by freelancing websites. 

5. Create an Online Profile

An online profile is your resume on the Internet. You have to create an online profile in social media networks and freelancing platforms. 

Here are important things to keep in mind when creating an online profile:

  • Write a short and concise introduction that’s easy to read. 
  • Make sure your information is updated regularly.
  • Use a professional email address.
  • If required, upload a professionally done headshot. 
  • Summarize your work experience, educational attainment, and career achievements in bullet point format.

Lastly, make sure your online profiles are consistent on all platforms. You don’t want a social media profile that reads differently from your profile at UpWork.

6. Network for Clients

Successful networking is a numbers game. The more often you network, the higher the probability of getting noticed. That said, landing a client comes down to finding qualified prospects or those who are genuinely interested in hiring your services as a freelancer. 

How do you find qualified prospects?

First, you have to create a Client or Buyer Profile. 

  • Who do you think will most likely hire your services? 
  • Where do they come from? 
  • What is the size of their business?
  • What is their industry?
  • What is their budget for remote employees?
  • What type of services or skills do they need?
  • How much work will they require per freelancer?

Second, you have to be selective about where to look for open positions or available projects. 

Similar to social media sites, there are many freelancer platforms on the Internet. Some platforms cater to specific skills. 

For example:

  • UpWork – Content writers, web designers, software developers, and virtual assistants
  • Fiverr – Graphic designers, content writers, and social media marketers.
  • Guru – Website designers, software developers, and virtual assistants.
  • Odesk – Content writers, customer service specialists, and virtual assistants.
  • PeoplePerHour – Graphic designers, web developers, software developers, research specialists, and video editors.

Once you’ve identified the best platform to market and promote your skills, then it’s time to go networking!

  • Be conservative with your goals. To land your first client, assume a success rate of only 2%. Therefore, to get your first sign-up, you must apply to at least 50 job openings or projects.
  • Set a time for networking activity. In order to apply to 50 job openings or projects in one month, you only have to target 1-2 prospective clients per day. Two hours per day will be more than enough time to be selective about your choices.
  • Go Old School. Who says online is the only way to go? You can attend networking events or conferences for small businesses. There are local businesses that are constantly on the lookout for freelancers. 

Even if you’ve signed up a client – don’t stop networking. Continue to look for good opportunities on select freelancer platforms and stay active in social media. 

7. Focus on Quality of Work

It’s great to be in demand. However, freelancers are not immune to the Law of Diminishing Quality of Work. 

Sure, you can make more money by accepting more freelance work. The downside is the more projects you accept, the more deadlines you have to meet, and thus, the higher the probability of work quality getting compromised. 

You might think otherwise, but no one is Superman. You have to rest and relax your mind. Also, ask yourself why you became a freelancer in the first place. Is it because you want to have more time for yourself and your family? 

As a freelancer, always focus on maintaining – or exceeding – the quality of work. If clients are happy with your service, they will stay with you. More so, they might even recommend you to their associates and friends. 

8. Get Testimonials From Clients

Testimonials from happy clients are more powerful than paying for micro or macro influencers for their endorsements. Why? For the reason that testimonials are organic, natural, and appear more sincere than paid endorsements. 

If a potential client wants to know if the testimonial is genuine, all he has to do is to contact the person who gave the testimony. 

Having multiple testimonials can be greatly capitalized if you have a website. Place them on your homepage so that website visitors can see them right away.

9. Build Up Your Online Presence

The key to be seen and noticed by potential clients is to stay active on the Internet:

  • Join interest/focus groups on social media and actively participate in the discussions.
  • Post at least once a day on social media. If you don’t have a blog, curate relevant content or post regular status updates. 
  • Share your opinions but be mindful – and respectful – of those who don’t share your views. 
  • Another option you can consider if you don’t have a blog page is to blog from your LinkedIn account. 

Don’t hesitate to give advice on the Internet even if you won’t get paid for it. The important thing is to let potential clients know that you are competent and highly knowledgeable about your profession and industry.

Conclusion


We saved the best for last! 

“As a freelancer, how much should I charge clients for my services?”

When you’re starting your career as a freelancer, don’t charge potential clients what you believe you’re worth. Let your success eventually determine your fees.

If you have no experience as a freelancer and your online profile shows that you haven’t landed many clients, if any at all, don’t charge a rate that’s much higher than what other freelancers are charging. 

Your first objective as a freelancer is to get the ball rolling by signing up your first client. Contrary to popular belief, many companies that are looking for freelancers are less concerned about costs than the quality of work. 

Hiring freelancers carry other cost-saving benefits for companies such as paying only for productive hours and setting the work schedule according to a fixed budget. These companies want to be sure they get what they pay for.  

Sign up a client first and then prove your worth by performing well and above expectations.

If you’ve been consistent with the quality of your work, garnered great feedback from your clients, and have built a steady reputation as an amazing freelancer who can deliver results – then, by all means, raise your fees!

Your skills shouldn’t be commoditized. If you’re really good at what you do, then clients won’t mind paying a premium. 

If you’re thinking about setting up a personal website for your freelance business, give us a call and we’ll build one for you. 

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends. 

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

While many people welcomed 2021 as the year to start over fresh and recover from the difficulties of 2021, there are those who believe that the new year is just a continuation of the events of the previous year. 

To an extent these people are correct. We should anticipate a residual effect from the damage the lockdowns wrought on economies worldwide. It will take time for industries to recover and get back on track to profitability. 

And that’s the question you must ask yourself: 

“How long will it take for things to go back to normal so I can earn a regular income again?”

There’s no clear answer to that question because the new normal has made the business environment more uncertain and ambiguous. And for that reason, you should not wait and assume the new normal is just “normal”.

It’s business as usual in 2021!

Take control of your financial independence and make money this year by setting up a home-based business.

Step 1 – Come Up with a Business Idea

Here’s a question that always stirs debate – or an argument:

“Should you follow your passion or should you find a business that makes money?”

And here’s a diplomatic way to answer this question:

Find a business that makes you happy and motivated every day and has the POTENTIAL to make money in the future. 

Sometimes your passions can limit you. At the same time, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t like winning a lottery. You’re not guaranteed financial success. 

The guiding rule when starting a business is to find a product or service that creates value or gives benefits to a target market. 

Conduct preliminary research and identify products and services that are in high demand in your area. The product or service must be relevant, useful, and practical given today’s conditions. 

For example, according to Criteo, these products have been selling well since 2020:

  • Exercise Bands
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Pet Products
  • Gaming Equipment
  • Baking Items
  • Sleep/Lounge Wear
  • Shaving/Grooming Kit
  • Webcams

Should you sell these products as well? 

You could – or use the list as a basis for selling other products that are similar but cater to a specialized niche. A case in point would be to capitalize on the home gym trend and sell adjustable dumbbells or kettlebells instead of resistance bands.

Step 2 – Prepare a Business Plan

Once you’ve identified a product or service to sell, prepare a business plan. A standard business plan consists of 5 sections:

  1. The Executive Summary – Summarizes details about the ownership and the products and services to be offered.
  1. Business Overview – Discloses information about your company such as business type, office address, and contact details plus your mission statement.
  1. Products and Services – Discusses the types of products and services you’re selling and identifies factors that prove there’s market demand. 
  1. Market Analysis and Strategy – Presents an empirical, data-based analysis of market demand, a breakdown of market demographics, and outlines the strategy for attracting potential customers/end-users.
  1. Financial Projections – Includes sales projections, projected cash flow, and loss/income statements, and cash disbursement schedules.

Don’t put this off! A business plan acts as your blueprint for building your business. It keeps you on-course if you find yourself veering away because things aren’t going as planned. 

Step 3 – Register Your Business

Registering your business legitimizes your enterprise. Clients and customers prefer to deal with entities that are registered with the state and local government and have acquired the necessary permits to operate. 

Find out if your home-based business should be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a government agency such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). 

From there, you’ll have to acquire licenses to allow you to operate a business from home. There are 5 types of licenses that you might need for your home-based business:

  1. General Business License – Authorization to conduct business within your local jurisdiction.
  1. Professional License – Some states require certain types of home-based businesses such as a daycare center, hairstyling salon, and financial services to secure a professional license. Check with your local government office if the type of business you plan to set up at home needs a professional license. 
  1. Health and Safety Permits – If your business sells products that are flammable or if you receive clients and customers to your home, then you have to secure health and safety permits.
  1. Sign Permit – If you plan to advertise your home-based business by posting signs, you’ll first have to get the requirements from your local government. There will be guidelines on the size, location, and whether the use of lights will be allowed.
  1. Sales Tax License – The sales tax license may be part of your General Business License. If it’s not, you’ll have to secure one for your business from your local government.

Step 4 – Put up a Website

Now that your business is registered and authorized to operate – let’s get to work!

And the first order of the day is to put up a website. 

Your business license will state your residence as the address for your business. But your business address is the URL that potential clients and customers will click on when they run a search on the Internet. 

If the URL is the business address then your website is your office or retail store on the Internet. The website is where people go to:

  • Learn more about your business
  • Find out the products and services you sell
  • Read valuable content for personal information or research purposes. 
  • Field a question or address a concern
  • Buy products and services

According to a survey made by the National Retail Federation (NRF), while brick-and-mortar stores enjoyed a higher-than-expected 8.3% increase in holiday sales, online sales grew faster at 45.3% on a year-to-year basis.  

Research firm Digital Commerce 360 believes that the comparatively higher increase in sales for online retailers confirms the change in consumers’ buying behavior because of continued fears about contracting the virus. 

Therefore, to improve your chances of becoming successful, you must have a website for your home-based business.

We’ve helped many home-based businesses get started with their website. Give us a call and we’ll show you how Mountaintop Web Design can develop a website for your business that’s mobile-responsive, fast, functional, optimized for search, and very easy to use. 

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

Step 5 – Organize Your Business

Even though your business runs from home, it still needs different departments to function properly.

Here are the 6 essential functions of a business:

  1. Accounting 
  2. Sales
  3. Marketing
  4. Human Resources
  5. Information Technology
  6. Customer Service

When you’re starting out, it might be possible to oversee these functions yourself. However, if the business starts to pick up, you’ll have less time handling these tasks in favor of running the core functions of the enterprise. 

You might want to consider outsourcing the functions to a qualified third party such as an outsourcing company, specialized freelancers, and virtual assistants. 

Outsourcing saves you money because you only pay for productive hours or actual hours worked. If you outsource to a remote location outside the United States, you can reduce costs further because the labor cost is much lower. 

Thus, by outsourcing services, you can reduce costs and increase productivity at the same time because you can allocate more hours to handling the tasks that add more dollars and cents to your business’ bank account. 

Step 6 – Build an Online Presence

To drive more traffic to your website, you have to build an online presence. Some home-based businesses open a Facebook business page plus another social media platform to widen their reach. 

A more effective way to build an online presence is to invest in Digital Marketing by hiring an experienced Digital Marketer or an agency.

Digital marketing is the process of using digital technology – Internet-based platforms and apps – to accomplish a specific goal such as to drive traffic to a website, build the brand, establish the reputation of the business as a valuable resource, or generate sales. 

The digital marketing toolbox consists of the following:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Video Marketing
  • Paid Ads

An experienced Digital Marketer can send up a team to run the DM campaign. The team may consist of the following skills:

  • Digital Marketer (Project Manager)
  • Content Writer
  • Social Media Marketer
  • Graphic Designer/Artist

The Digital Marketing team can put together a campaign strategy that can help you meet your business goals. To run a successful campaign takes consistency. 

For example, you must post content on social media from Monday to Friday:

  • What type of content should you post? Will it be a blog, an infographic, curated content, or a video? 
  • Who will create the content? A 1,600-word, optimized, and well-researched blog will take approximately 4 hours to complete.
  • Who will engage with your followers?
  • Who will answer the inquiries posted on your chat support platform?

As you will see, managing a Digital Marketing campaign can take up a lot of time. We recommend outsourcing it to a qualified agency. At Mountaintop, we’ve done Digital Marketing for clients with great results. 

If you’re interested, give us a call, and let’s discuss how we can package web design services with digital marketing.

Step 7 – Set Up Your Home Office

While your website and Digital Marketing are being set up, let’s shift our focus to setting up your home office. 

Your home may be your castle – but it’s now your place of work. Similar to a castle, the home office must be fortified against distractions and enhanced for maximum productivity. 

  • Buy a new PC or laptop – Yes, you can always upgrade your computer but consider a new one an investment in your business. The PC or laptop must be dedicated to your business and not be used for anything else. 
  • Secure your Internet speed. Your bandwidth would depend on the type of business you plan to run. To give you an idea, it will take 2 minutes to download large files with 1.5mbps and only 10 seconds with 20mbps. 

If you’ll be downloading large files or regularly accessing videos, you need at least 3mbps. It would be great if you can strike a deal with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) where you can get 10-20mbps without added cost.

  • Download all the necessary software. To run a home-based business efficiently, you’ll have to download software to carry out different functions. For example, you can use Asana as a project management tool and Slack to communicate with your team. 
  • Buy ergonomic furniture. You’ll be spending most of your time in the office. You might as well make yourself comfortable. 

Ergonomic furniture is designed to reduce stress on your lower back, shoulders, neck, and joints. It can be considered an investment to keep you healthy so you can stay productive.

  • Remove all distractions. Put your mobile phone away while working. You can keep it inside a safe or locked drawer. Inform your family about your working hours so that they’ll know when they can’t disturb you. 

As much as possible, have everything you need in the office before you start working on the day’s agenda. That includes coffee, water, and healthy snacks.

You can always check up on your phone messages and your family’s needs during your intermittent breaks.

Step 8 – Network!

Regardless of the type of home-based business you’re running, networking should be a constant activity. 

Networking has many benefits that can grow your business:

  • Find clients
  • Establish connections with people who can help with different areas of your business
  • Build strategic partnerships
  • Generate important leads
  • Gain valuable knowledge from experts in various fields
  • Get first-hand information on trends, developments, and upcoming events
  • Be referred to other people or companies that need your products or services

Even if your home-based business has become successful, keep networking. You can network via social media channels such as LinkedIn and more industry-specific platforms or do it the old-fashioned way by attending trade shows, networking events, and business forums.

Step 9 – Track Your Business Performance

Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, keep track of your performance. 

  • How is your digital marketing campaign performing?
  • Has your website received significantly more traffic?
  • Are you generating a lot of leads?
  • What is your sales conversion rate?
  • Where is the bulk of your traffic coming from?
  • What types of content are generating the highest amount of engagement? 

The advantage of managing a home-based business in the age of digital is that you can easily track performance simply by accessing data analytics from your website and social media pages. 

With analytics, you can pinpoint which strategies and processes are working or yielding the highest ROI and which ones are not. Using these numbers, you can review your budget with more certainty and determine how you should allocate your resources. 

Conclusion

Why wait for things to go back to normal when it can be business as usual? You can start earning good money in 2021 by setting up a home-based business right now.

Not only will you do yourself a favor by creating new streams of revenue but you’ll be helping other people who cannot access your products and services. 

It’s never too late to start. All you have to do is take the first step. In time and with persistence, you can have a financially rewarding career as an online entrepreneur.

Before taking that all-important first step, let your fingers do the tapping and give us a call. We can help you set up a website for your home business and get your digital marketing campaign started.

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

SEO for Your Business

For many entrepreneurs, 2020 was not a great year. It will be remembered as the year a virus caused a pandemic that shut down the world and changed the way we lived and worked. 

Since 2014 there has been a steady shift toward Internet-based businesses that accommodated mobile technology. The events of 2020 accelerated the shift from 0 to 60. 

Entrepreneurs that recognized this, have invested in strategies that will capitalize on opportunities on the Internet. And one of the investments that’s expected to pay big-time dividends in 2021 is SEO.

What Is SEO And Why Is It Important In 2021?

How did you find this article?

According to a study by BrightEdge, there’s a 53.3% chance that you found our blog after running a Google search. You probably ran the following search queries on Google:

  • Invest SEO 2021
  • SEO investment 2021
  • Why invest SEO 2021
  • SEO business investment 2021
  • Why invest SEO business 2021

In comparison, paid ads and social media only accounted for 14% and 5% of all website traffic respectively.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of developing strategies that utilize various techniques and tactics with the goal of giving a website a boost up the organic search rankings. 

“Optimization” in SEO means increasing the visibility of your content to the search engines. One technique that SEO practitioners use to optimize content is by embedding it with high-ranking keywords. By optimizing your content, web crawlers can find and index your pages. 

When an Internet user launches a search query with the keywords you used to optimize your content, the search engine can pull your web page and include it in the search results page. 

Over time and with consistency in your optimization strategies, your website may find itself in the top 3 spots on the first page of the search results page. 

How important is it to rank in the top 3 of the SERP?

According to a landmark study by Digital Ad Agency Chitika, the top 3 URLs in the SERP accounts for 61.5% of all search traffic for that particular topic search. 

The number one spot accounts for 32.5%!

You can read up more about SEO in our article “The Basics of SEO”.  

Take note that the study of BrightEdge was done in 2019 – a full year away from the 2020 pandemic. 

We’re sure that if BrightEdge updated their study to reflect consumer online behavior in 2020, the numbers would be much different. 

A study by Skyword showed that organic search traffic dramatically increased last March 2020 when the world entered into lockdown. 

In particular, the following industries experienced a massive surge in online traffic:

  • Healthcare – 358%
  • Consumer Goods and Services – 83%
  • Consumer Media – 61%
  • Business Services and Consulting – 47%

Does this mean that businesses that aren’t in these industries shouldn’t expect to reap dividends from their investments in SEO?

No, because overall Internet usage has increased by 70% since the lockdown. More consumers are going online to find products and services that address their needs. 

The ballgame has changed. The playing field is now on the Internet. Are you ready to play digital ball? For sure your competition is. 

SEO Vs. Paid Ads – Which One Is Better For Your Business In 2021?

Have you met with digital advertising agencies? For those who have, some of you may have noticed that when discussing a digital marketing strategy, the agency will tend to push for paid ads over SEO. 

This is because paid ads generate quick results. If you want to drive traffic to your website immediately, PPC or Pay-Per-Click ads will do the job for you. Once someone clicks on your ad, he will find himself on your landing page. 

In contrast, SEO strategies take time because it focuses on organic or natural growth. 

Think of your content as a seed that’s planted on various locations on the Internet – website, social media, newsletters, and guest blogs. Optimization strategies will help the content take root while your content branches out to people who will recognize and appreciate the fruits it bears. 

Meanwhile, there are many reasons why a person might click on your PPC ad:

  • Need
  • Curiosity
  • Attracted by the Design
  • Accident

Compared to a blog, a video, or an infographic, the information that can be fitted on a PPC ad is very limited. He might visit your website but eventually be disinterested and just opt to log out. 

Therefore, while paid ads may generate quick results these results may not be sustainable or represent your desired outcome. 

With SEO, you’re building relationships with your audience. As you become more consistent in creating and distributing optimized content, in time, you will develop a strong reputation and encourage more consumers to trust your brand. 

While the results take time, the results are sustainable and reflect your desired outcome. 

Research firm, Conductor, performed a study on how various digital channels drove traffic to websites. The results showed that when it comes to driving inbound traffic, SEO is king.

  • Organic Search – 64%
  • Referral Visits – 15%
  • Direct Visits – 12%
  • Paid Ads – 6%
  • Social Visits – 2%

Now, let’s factor in cost. 

Cost Variables in Paid Advertising

What does a paid ad campaign look like in the age of digital?

A typical digital ad campaign will include the following strategies and processes:

  • PPC ads
  • Guest posts 
  • Blogs and vlogs by micro-influencers
  • Endorsement arrangements with macro-influencers

The cost of the PPC ad will depend on the keywords you are bidding on. Although you pay only when someone clicks on the ad,  in order to generate better results, and improve positioning, you’ll have to pay more and run the campaign longer. 

Micro-influencers are individuals with social media platforms that have followers in the upper hundreds of thousands or millions. Macro-influencers are celebrities who are willing to endorse products or services.

Arrangements with influencers can be very expensive but if you land a deal with a reputable influencer and carry out an effective campaign, then you could end up with a windfall. 

The reported ROI on influencer marketing is US$5.20 for every US$1 invested.

Conversely, land a bad arrangement, and your business could be in big trouble! 

Likewise, your consumers could be sensitive to your influencers. For the reason that the arrangement is paid, the endorsement might not be perceived as sincere. The question for you is to figure out if the cost – and risk –  is worth it. 

The Cost Variables of SEO/Organic Search Campaign

The cost of running an organic search campaign is generally lower and more manageable. To streamline costs, you can write your own blogs and utilize free online channels such as social media and search directories to distribute content. 

The objective of content marketing is to drive traffic to your website so you can capture leads, and potentially convert interest into future sales. 

The generated leads will be used for your email marketing campaign. Every month, you’ll send at least one newsletter to your subscribers. The content of these newsletters should have great value to the recipient. 

You have to factor in the cost of the email marketing service provider and of course, the cost of your giveaways to get the website visitor to surrender his email address. 

The ROI for email marketing is even higher than influencer marketing at a reported US$44 for every US$1 spent

That’s 4,400% ROI! 

For your organic search strategies to succeed and deliver the targeted results, you must consistently create high-quality, well-researched, and properly optimized content. 

To achieve this, you may have to hire the services of experienced content creators. Even if you have the experience and required training for optimized content writing, we advise you to outsource the task so you can allocate more time to managing the core functions of your business.

If you consider that organic search strategies are more affordable and generate better results than the more expensive and less sustainable paid ads, then investing in SEO is the smarter move in 2021. 

Conclusion

If you’re willing to grind it out, SEO will be one of your best investments – if not the best digital marketing investment in 2021. 

Many businesses want short-term results and allocate more resources to paid advertising. They want an immediate return and hear the cash registers ringing. That’s to be expected and understood. 

However, the results might not be sustainable, and in the long-run, you’ll end up spending more while experiencing diminishing returns. 

As a business, you want your short-term goals to support your long-term objective. SEO can do this for you by building strong relationships with your audience and customers. 

Be patient. Remain persistent. Keep pushing! 

The results will soon come!

If you’re serious about growing your business organically, give us a call. The prestigious B2B website, UpCity has recognized some of our blogs as the best in Digital Marketing and small business marketing.

Let us do the same for you!

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community.

For sure you’ve read all the stories about the number of businesses around the world that have closed down because of the economic effects of the global pandemic. 

The media tends to report more “gloom and doom” because it sells. The truth is, there were a good number of businesses that made money – even generated record-setting profits during the lockdown.

What was the common denominator among these businesses? They all invested in building an online presence and the foundation of their Internet-based model is the website. 

How The Pandemic Highlighted The Need For A Website 

If there’s a lesson that can be learned from the global pandemic that put even the world’s most powerful economies on lockdown, it’s the importance of having a presence on the Internet for your business. 

While many brick and mortar businesses closed down, those that invested in e-commerce and simple business websites continued to ring in the cash registers. 

Think about it. When you needed food and supplies delivered to your home, all you had to do was place your orders at an e-commerce website or arrange for home delivery via a courier app. 

And when economies opened – it didn’t change anything. 

Many people still preferred to stay at home to work or run errands through the Internet. People discovered that working from home was not just more convenient – it was also more productive.

Of course, the threat of getting infected remains real. More so now that the virus has mutated into 2 strains as of this writing: the United Kingdom and South African variants.

The combination of these factors has led to a surge in online spending. Here‘s a shortlist of countries that experienced an increase in e-commerce transactions at the time of the new normal:

  • United States – 18%
  • Russia – 45%
  • Brazil – 66%
  • Mexico – 79%

Analysts expect a significant increase in the volume of online traffic in the United States as the rate of infections continues to climb. 

If you don’t have a website, the good news is – it’s not too late to set up one for your business. Consumer behavior has changed. Your business has to accommodate changes in consumer behavior to survive the new normal.

10 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs A Website In 2021

A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management COVID-19 response revealed the following results on how the pandemic has changed the business environment:

  • 43% of respondents started to rethink their business strategies.
  • 32% of respondents focused on finding new ways to deliver products and services.
  • 22% of respondents have asked their employees to learn new skills that are transferable to the business.

Having a website ticks off all the boxes. 

It’s a new business strategy that gives you another avenue for delivering products and services to your customers and generate income. To maximize the benefits of having a website, you’ll have to learn new skills such as SEO, Social Media Marketing, email marketing, and content writing.

Sure, engaging in social media marketing is great for promoting your business. However, when it comes to running an online business, the website should be the cornerstone of your strategy.

Here are 10 reasons why your small business should have a website in 2021.

1. Hedge Your Business Versus Uncertainty

The threat of a lockdown is still there despite the availability of vaccines. The virus can still mutate and more study needs to be done on the effectiveness of the vaccines that are currently being used. 

If you don’t have a website, what will you do if another lockdown happens because COVID-19 mutated into a deadlier, more infectious strain? 

With a website, your business is protected versus uncertainty. If another lockdown is mandated by the government, you can get a good night’s sleep knowing that your business has another address on the Internet. 

2. Keep Your Business Open 24/7

The mall and commercial office spaces have closing hours. The Internet doesn’t. Long after you’ve locked up the doors of your establishment, your website remains open to attend to the needs of your customers. 

Your website can still accept and process orders for your merchandise. Are you a consultant or a service provider? Your potential customers can still book appointments on your website. 

Lockdowns, weekends, and holidays won’t matter either because your website will remain open 24/7. 

If customers place their orders on a Sunday, you’re already assured of business on Monday. All you have to do is to deliver the goods first thing Monday morning!

3. Accommodate the Needs of Your Customers

According to a study conducted by Omdia, Internet usage has increased by 70% since the pandemic. Omdia which is the research arm of Informa Tech believes that the surge in Internet usage is clear proof that consumer behavior has changed.

Consumers preferring to transact online is no longer a trend – it’s the current reality. 

And having a website is not only for people who want to buy. People have different reasons for clicking on a URL:

  • Request for customer assistance or support
  • Learn more about the company
  • Read your blogs
  • Research relevant information to address a specific need
  • Find out the products and services that you offer
  • Conduct competitor research
  • Find out the location of your store(s)
  • Find out your contact information

A website will make work and life easier for your customer. It will accommodate the changing behavior of consumers. 

4. Competition Has Gone Online

With so many businesses closing down, you might think there’s less competition. On the contrary, competition has become tighter. 

Customers have become more discerning about their choices in order to get more value out of their money. You’ll need to have every advantage over your competitor. And if you don’t have a website, your competitors have a big advantage over you!

Given the increased amount of time spent by consumers online, you can be assured that more small businesses are realigning their budgets to fund their websites. 

Your potential end-users are all searching for information on the Internet from their mobile devices. If you don’t have a URL, you’ll never be found. 

5. Level the Playing Field With the Big Boys

The Big Boys in Business – Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba – all made money during the pandemic. Likewise, other big companies that were in struggling industries such as Fender and Gibson guitars, earned record-setting revenues. 

They survived and made money because the Big Boys invested in e-commerce websites. Their customers were able to place orders safely and conveniently from their homes while on lockdown. 

A website will level the playing field with the Big Boys. If you’re a retailer of guitars but your products are priced competitively, you might drive customers away from Fender and toward your e-commerce website. 

If you’re a retailer of consumer goods and electronics of the same brands sold by Walmart or Amazon but have a wider selection of budget brands, more people may prefer to do business with you. 

Keep in mind that with the continued innovations in digital technology, more consumers will be dependent on their mobile devices to conduct research before purchasing. 

It’s no longer automatic for the Big Boys to generate a sale. In the end, consumers want more value for their money.

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6. Capitalize on Opportunities

Think about this scenario.

You’re in the business of making homemade jam, jellies, honey, and condiments that are sourced from local, indigenous materials. Someone comes across your website and sends you an inquiry – if you can export to the European market. 

These are opportunities that happen every day on the Internet because the businesses are discovered through their website. 

When you’re operating 24/7 in a market where close to 5 Billion people are constantly searching for information, engaging with businesses, and sharing opinions, opportunities will always exist. 

7. Find New Customers

If your business is located inside a mall or a commercial building, the bulk of your market will consist of consumers residing within a 5-mile radius. 

But if you’re on the Internet, there are no jurisdictions to worry about. Any consumer or business that has access to the Internet and has a need for your products and services can become your new customer.

On the  Internet, there are no barriers or walls or closing hours. Your marketing efforts will not be limited to a locality. Your digital marketing campaigns can reach a wider audience. 

You can reach customers who have not heard of your products. If they like what they’ve read or heard about your products, you have the potential of creating new customers in different markets. 

8. Professionalize Your Business

If you think having social media pages is enough to properly represent your business, the majority of your customers will disagree with you.

A survey by Verisign showed that 84% of consumers shared the opinion that a business with a website is more credible than a business with just social media. 

A website is a one-stop-shop for consumers who want to know more about your business and the products or services that you offer. The standard website has 5 web pages with each one having a specific function.

  • Home – Contains the Brand Value Proposition; “Why we offer the best solutions for your needs/concerns/problems”
  • About Us – Gives the visitor unique insights about the people behind the company; builds familiarity and confidence that there are real people running the business.
  • Products and Services – A virtual showroom of the products and services offered by the company. 
  • Blog – Provides the visitor with fresh, unique, and engaging content developed to highlight the expertise and value of the company.
  • Contact Us – Provides all the information needed to reach out and connect with the company. Your website will be fitted with buttons that can improve sales conversion and generate valuable leads you can use email marketing:
  • CTA Button – What do you want the visitor to do? “Buy Now – Click Here!”
  • Sign Up Button – Capture leads by enticing visitors to sign up for monthly newsletters in exchange for their email addresses. 
  • Social Sharing Buttons – Make it easier for site visitors to share your blogs on their social media pages.

9. Increase Customer Engagement

A website can also be used to increase customer engagement. Oftentimes, a customer might visit a website to address a particular issue. 

The customer will go to the “Contact Us” page which provides him with various means to get in touch with the company:

  • Phone Number
  • Fill-Out Form
  • Email Address
  • Chat Support

With a website, customers no longer have to be “put on hold”. They have different ways to relay their problem or concern.  If both phone and chat support have a queue, the customer can opt to send an email or fill out a form.

This is a great way of mollifying an irate customer! 

The next step is to address the concern within 24 to 48 hours. Even if you can’t arrive at a resolution, at the very least keep the customer informed and updated.

 10. Support Your Brick-and-Mortar Business

Another way to view the website is that it’s like having a second branch of your brick-and-mortar business. Only this time, it’s located on the Internet and not inside a commercial establishment. 

With a website, you have a second source of revenue. Customers who are located far from your business will have the option of buying online rather than be inconvenienced by the long drive. 

Your business website will remain open whether it’s snowing hard outside or if your city is experiencing inclement weather. 

In fact, if weather conditions are too risky to go out, you can keep your brick-and-mortar store closed and just direct customers to your website via multiple high traffic social media channels.

Conclusion

We can all agree on one thing.

Business today is more uncertain than ever. 

When faced with uncertainty, you need to have more options. A website will give your business multiple options that you can use to overcome the various challenges coming your way.

If there’s another lockdown or if people continue to prefer working from home, your website will give them the most convenient and easiest way to reach you. On your part, you continue to generate income for your business.

Promote your products via social media but give your followers a venue they can visit to learn more about your business – the website – where you can generate leads, build an audience, and potentially convert interest into sales. 

Assure your customers that you’re concerned about their satisfaction and value their opinions by creating multiple points of contact between you and them through your website. 

If 2020 was a disappointing year for you, let 2021 be the turnaround year. 

Get a website for your business right now!

Give us a call or send us an email and we’ll set up a mobile-responsive and optimized website for your business. We can do different types of websites to suit your business needs. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

Many people couldn’t wait for the year 2020 to be over. 2021 seemed like a breath of fresh air; as if everyone had woken up after the nightmare that was 2020. The reality is January 1, 2021, was just 24 hours removed from December 31, 2020. The situation has not changed. The world is still feeling the economic effects of the pandemic. And it’s for that reason, that 2021 is a good – no, great year – to start a business. 

From Pandemic To Endemic?

Toward the end of 2020, pharmaceutical companies were scrambling to have their proprietary vaccines available in the market. The vaccines represent some measure of hope that life could go back to normal once people are inoculated. 

However, early reports from scientists appear to hint that there’s no going back to the “Old Normal”. 

Even after you’ve been vaccinated, you still have to wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and observe good hygiene when in public places. Offices will not run in full capacity. The threat of lockdowns will always be there. 

Scientists from the UK believe the pandemic will eventually become endemic or a part of life much like the flu.  

If the new normal will just become “The Normal” – then there’s no reason to stop and not pursue your dream of starting a business. You will just have to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior. 

People will continue to have needs. And consumer needs will open up new markets of opportunity. 

Our Fearless Forecast For 2021

“In the midst of every great crisis, lies great opportunity.”

  • Albert Einstein

The lockdowns that ensued after the COVID-19 spread was declared a global pandemic triggered recessions all over the world. Several businesses closed down and never recovered after the economy reopened. Billions of people around the world lost their jobs. 

As we discussed earlier, having the vaccines available will not significantly change how we live or work. Life, as we knew it in the New Normal, will continue. 

And so should your pursuit of your entrepreneurial dreams!

Rather than give up or wait for a more opportune time – we recommend integrating digital technology into your business model. 

The importance of a business having a digital component was highlighted by the pandemic. The businesses that survived and even thrived during the lockdown period were the ones that already had digital systems in place and an online presence. 

Businesses going digital is a phenomenon that won’t stop anytime soon – not in the next 4-5 years. The world was trending toward digital as far back as 2015, the pandemic just accelerated it. 

Digital is the way to go and it forms the backbone of our fearless forecasts for 2021:

1. Greater Demand for Mobile Responsive Websites

Mobile devices accounted for 60% of online traffic in 2014. Yet, as of 2019, only 36% of small businesses had a website. 

We believe there will be greater demand for mobile responsive websites because the pandemic has significantly changed the online behavior of consumers.

A report from Statista on the effects of the pandemic on online traffic revealed the following:

  • A month-to-month increase in online traffic of 7%.
  • An 8.3% increase in the number of online transactions.
  • A 1% increase in the number of sales conversions.

The numbers may not sound impressive – but take note – this is on a global scale. A 1% increase in sales conversions could mean billions of dollars for a country. 

The data was corroborated by the following tech companies that experienced increases in usage:

  • Verizon – 75%
  • T-Mobile – 45%
  • Facebook – 70%
  • Marqeta – 82%

The website is your business address on the Internet. That’s where people will go to find your products and services. The website becomes your one-stop destination for people who are looking for information and solutions. 

But it has to be mobile-responsive. If you don’t have one or if your current website is not mobile-responsive, give us a call and we’ll get you started.

2. Digital Marketing Will Be the Difference-Maker

A study by global advisory company FTI Consulting Incorporated estimated that U.S. e-commerce retail enjoyed a US$71 Billion windfall in 2020 as more consumers shifted toward Internet-based shopping. 

Of course, the shift in shopping behavior was greatly influenced by fears of contracting COVID-19. 

We expect the upward trend to continue as COVID-19 remains a health concern for consumers over the next few years. 

With more businesses expected to integrate Internet-based systems, the battle for market share may come down to which company has a more effective digital marketing strategy. 

The reason for the strong shift toward digital marketing is the process’s ability to target an audience. With targeted marketing, you’re able to maximize your budget by attracting segments with the highest probability of buying your products and services.

Digital marketing also provides you with analytics – real-time data that measures how your strategies are working. Through analytics, you can identify the strategies that are delivering consistent results so you can allocate more resources and maximize the return on investment. 

When COVID-19 hit, many businesses cut down budgets for paid advertising and traditional marketing strategies such as TV ads and print ads.  

As the economy slowly opens up to life under the new normal, businesses will prefer to utilize more cost-effective processes such as Digital Marketing. This viewpoint is echoed by the consulting agency, Kantar. 

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3. Demand for e-Commerce Services and Apps Will Increase

As we mentioned in the previous section, the U.S. e-commerce industry benefited from the lockdown measures. 

In our opinion, the availability of the vaccine will not significantly affect the upward trajectory of the e-commerce industry. There might be a slowdown but consumers have adapted to the home-based lifestyle. 

The continued increase in the number of mobile users, as well as patronage for mobile services, supports our contention that demand for e-commerce platforms and apps will grow over the next few years.

Sensor Tower, an app intelligence and data collection company forecast that global spending for apps will hit US$171 Billion in 2024 or more than twice the US$85 Billion spent on apps in 2019 – worldwide.

What this tells us is that businesses are evolving and adapting to COVID-19 by using digital technology as its new environment.

4. The Freelance Economy Will Boom

Offices and businesses are slowly opening for business and this has given people some semblance of normalcy. However, it’s still widely mandated for offices and businesses to observe social distancing by operating their physical locations at only 30% capacity.

Businesses cannot function properly with manpower down to only 30%. The best option has been for businesses to tap into the freelance economy – remote workers who are contracted to manage select tasks and functions. 

Freelancers are individuals who have decided to monetize their specific skill sets by offering their services to companies that prefer to hire talent on a contractual basis or those who are amenable to flexible scheduling. 

Under a contractual work or flexible scheduling arrangement, companies can reduce labor costs and increase productive hours. 

A report by the largest online freelance platform, UpWork, confirmed that many businesses have recognized the value of freelancers. 

According to UpWork, the freelancers contributed US$1.2 Trillion to the U.S. economy during the pandemic. The demand for freelancers has led to more young, qualified, and highly-skilled professionals changing careers from 9-to-5 office workers to remote workers. 

Hiring freelancers isn’t the only remote option for businesses. 

You can set up your own team of remote workers composed of your current employees. Instead of calling them freelancers, office employees who work from home are called telecommuters. 

The advantage of setting up a telecommuting arrangement in your company is that you don’t have to spend time and resources training them. 

As current employees, they know their job and have already been indoctrinated into your company culture. Generally, employees are happier working from home and are more productive. 

5. Products and Services That Improve Home Life Will Be in Demand

Now that many people work from home, they want to make sure the environment is conducive for productivity. Since they’re spending more time at home, they start to notice things that could affect work from home lifestyle. 

For example, pests. 

If the home is infested with pests such as cockroaches, ants, flies, and mosquitos it makes working from home very difficult. Of course, disinfection remains a top priority. If you frequently receive guests, you want to be sure your home is COVID-19 free when they leave. 

For these reasons, the pest control and disinfection industry have been booming since the lockdowns. More homes – and offices – are having their areas disinfected and sanitized by professional service providers. 

Delivery services will continue to thrive over the next few years as people remain wary of their safety. Expect more food retailers and supermarkets to invest heavily in arranging for home delivery services.

Conclusion – How To Approach Business Planning For 2021

Our fearless forecast for 2021 didn’t just give you a snapshot of what we believe are business trends this year. We presented business ideas where there might be opportunities for you to start an enterprise. 

The global pandemic changed life and work as we know it. To survive, you have to acknowledge that despite the promise of a vaccine, the future still remains uncertain. To thrive, you have to change your perspective about uncertainty. 

Instead of viewing uncertainty as risky, view it as an opportunity. After all, there’s no such business that carries no risk. 

How should you approach business planning for 2021?

  • Conduct Research. In addition to our inputs, conduct research and try to uncover other trends that are developing at the time of the new normal.
  • Learn To Work Past Your Comfort Zone. If the idea of running an online or Internet-based business makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re not alone. But you have to work past your comfort zone because digital is the current reality. Build up your knowledge about technology and test a number of apps that you can use for your business.
  • Measure Risk and Reward. Truthfully, there’s no difference between business planning for an online model and a brick-and-mortar model. You still have to measure the risks and the rewards to come up with courses of action and entry/exit strategies. 
  • Be Open to Outsourcing. As your business grows, you’ll have to scale up in order to accommodate increasing demand. The best option for online businesses is to outsource work to remote employees such as freelancers and virtual assistants. For sure, you’ll save more money but you have to take time when it comes to selecting and hiring remote talent. 

Let’s move past calling the time we live in as the “new normal” and just accept it as the normal. There will always be opportunities for you to capitalize on. Having a fresh perspective on the present will help you build a successful future. 

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For many, the New Year brings forth a clean slate and fresh hope that the next 365 days will bring more success and prosperity. People begin the year by cleaning their homes; removing clutter, throwing out useless “stuff”, and organizing the different areas. Likewise, your WordPress database needs to be cleaned up of clutter, useless stuff, and have its files organized so that it can perform optimally for the next 365 days.

Over the course of the previous year, your WordPress website has seen plenty of activity. It may have undergone site revisions, received spam comments, saved drafts, and stored data from old plugins, trackbacks, and pingbacks. Removing all of this clutter will free up space in your database and allow your website to run faster.

WordPress highly recommends that you frequently clean up your WordPress database to ensure top-level performance and user experience. And cleaning up your WP database might be easier than cleaning out your home!

What Should You Clean Up On Your WordPress Database?

Before we get into the specifics of how to clean up your database, we recommend that you first backup your website. Yes, cleaning up the WordPress database is easy but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You want to have peace of mind just in case anything goes wrong during the process.

If you’re thinking “Oh, no! I don’t know how to backup my website!” 

Don’t worry as we’ve got you covered!

There are many WordPress plug-ins that you can use to backup your website. Once installed, the plug-in will run the backup for you. 

Here are 5 plug-ins that we highly recommend:

If you want to learn more about how and why you should backup your WordPress website, you can read our article “How Often Should You Backup Your WordPress Website?”

Once you’ve successfully backed up your WordPress website, what items should be cleaned out of your databases? 

  1. Data from old plug-ins – One of the key procedures to protect your website from cyber-attacks is to remove unused plug-ins. However, after you’ve removed them, some data might be left over. Make sure your database is 100% cleaned of the plug-in files and data. 
  1. Data from old posts – You’ll have data leftover from posts you made in the past. These can be found at the wp_postmeta table.
  1. Spam comments – When your website is popular and has elicited a high-level of engagement, there are some people who will use the comments section to put links to other websites. This is an unethical practice that Google frowns upon. Likewise, visitors will be turned off by spam comments that take them to spurious websites. 
  1. Unapproved comments – Unapproved comments are types of content posted by commenters that may be deemed inappropriate. For web pages where comments don’t require approval, having these comments visible to everyone might affect your reputation. Likewise, unapproved comments can invite spammy links to your website and compromise your SEO strategy. 
  1. Unused tags – We discussed the value of attaching tags to your content. Over the course of publishing content, there may have been instances where you changed your mind and replaced the tag. There will be leftover data that could be removed.
  1. Transients – WordPress, as well as some apps, have a feature that allows you to temporarily store cached data in your website’s database for a specified time frame and under a filename. This type of data is called a transient and takes up a lot of storage space. Once transients have accumulated, they will significantly slow down your website. 

What Plug-Ins Can You Use To Clean Up Your WordPress Database?

Similar to backing up your website, there are plug-ins that you can install to make it easier for you to clean up its database.

Here are 3 of the WordPress plug-ins we recommend for cleaning up the database of your website. These plug-ins are free. We’ve used them on our clients’ websites and can attest to their effectiveness.

1. WP-Rocket

WP-Rocket is one of the most popular cache plug-ins in the market. We use WP-Rocket extensively with our clients because it’s also a terrific optimization tool. 

It’s a no-fuss, plug-in with many amazing features that are designed to help your website perform better. 

WP-Rocket sets up easily on your website. No need to configure. All you have to do is to activate the plug-in so it can go to work right away. 

Its interface is very intuitive that beginners will easily see the sections they need to cleanout. WP-Rocket also allows you to schedule database cleanups. Choose your preferred frequency – daily, weekly, or monthly – and WP-Rocket will clean up your databases automatically.

2. WP-Optimize

WP-Optimize has been downloaded more than 600,000 times for one reason: it does the job of cleaning up your WordPress website perfectly! WP-Optimize also enables you to compress images to free up memory and improve website speed. 

Another wonderful feature of WP-Optimize that gives your website’s speed a boost is the ability to cache your web pages. Caching stores memory-heavy data in a temporary file that your site visitors can access anytime. 

You can read more about caching in our article “What Is Caching And Why It’s Important For Your Website”.

WP-Optimize makes it easy for you to clean up your database. Its Table Information section shows you all the databases and their respective sizes. There are plenty of cleaning options to choose from. To activate, simply click “Run Optimization”.

Similar to WP-Rocket, you can schedule the automatic clean up of your databases with WP-Optimize.

3. WP-Sweep

WP-Sweep is a plug-in that is fast gaining users largely because it was created by Lester Chan, a highly respected WordPress developer. 

And Mr. Chan’s plug-in delivers the goods!

Like WP-Rocket and WP-Optimize, WP-Sweep is very easy to use. It only uses a single button “Sweep All”  to clean out the following items:

  • Transients
  • Post revisions
  • Spam comments
  • Unapproved comments
  • Auto-drafts
  • Unused terms
  • Duplicate metadata

Of course, you can be more selective and click “Sweep” beside the item you want to be removed.

Conclusion

How often should you clean up your WordPress website?

The schedule of cleaning would depend on the size of your website and its level of activity. 

If you are consistently uploading content, updating features, and if your website is enjoying plenty of traffic plus high engagement, you should clean up your databases more frequently. 

A good rule of thumb for busy websites would be to run cleanup activities once-a-month.

The key takeaway is that websites over time accumulate clutter and must be cleaned up to maintain speed, improve performance, and ensure functionality.

Your best option to keep your website healthy and running at optimal levels is to sign up for one of our Extreme WordPress Care Plans and allow us to do everything for you! 

With Extreme WordPress Care Plans, you can sleep soundly knowing that your website is being watched by a team of experts. 

We’ll run the updates, initiate backup and cleanup activities for you as well as keep your website protected from hackers. If you want to learn more about our Extreme WordPress Care Plans give us a call. 

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community.

Once you’ve set up a website, the next step is to drive traffic through digital marketing. We can assure you with 100% certainty that a strategic, well-thought-out digital marketing campaign WILL bring people to your website. The bigger problem is when people land on your website, what would you want them to do?

Entrepreneurs are often so focused on blogs, videos, and images as the primary forms of content that they overlook one essential element of web copy – a button that can deliver the desired results. 

This button is called the Call-to-Action (CTA) button; a key feature of your website that tells the visitor what you want them to do upon landing on the page. 

The CTA button is small in size and does not occupy a lot of real estate on your website. But when properly designed and located, the CTA button can yield big results for your business.

Call-To-Action: What Is It Really?

A Call-to-Action is a command, instruction, or a specific course of action that you want the audience to take. On a website, the CTA is typically presented as a button, usually on the home page which is the landing page when someone clicks on its URL. 

In website design, all the elements of a webpage must work together. For a home page, the Header carries the business’ Brand Value Proposition (BVP). 

As we discussed in our article “One Simple Hack to Get More Website Engagement”, a Header that captures the interest of the visitor within 6 to 8 seconds is critical to cause the visitor to explore your website.

He may scroll down and find your CTA button. The next few seconds will determine if the visitor will move further down the sales funnel – or abandon the search and click out of your website.

The CTA button must answer this question:

“What do you want the visitor to do NOW?”

Why You Need A Clear-Cut CTA On Your Website

Let’s assume you’re really hungry and badly craving a burger and fries. You enter a restaurant with a slogan (think of it as the website Header) of serving the biggest, juiciest burgers in the world. 

When you enter the restaurant, you have no clue where to sit and how to order. No one’s attending to you and there are no signs on the entrance detailing the next steps. 

With your stomach grumbling, chances are, you’ll forego the biggest and juiciest burgers in the world and just opt for the regular, fast-food burger next door – perhaps 2 or 3 orders this time!

A vague, lackluster, and drab CTA will have the same effect on a potential customer who lands on your home page.

We defined CTA as a form of command or instruction and these descriptions might seem too forceful or aggressive. But an effective CTA is one that is crystal clear; there’s no second-guessing on the action you want the website visitor to take. 

With a consumer needing only a few seconds to make a decision, you can’t afford to be cute with your CTA. It has to grab the visitor by the collar, get in his face, and tell him with absolute certainty what he needs to do next. 

If your CTA is unclear and leaves the website visitor wondering what he’s supposed to do next, he will leave and you will end up leaving money on the home page. 

Examples Of Good And Bad CTAs

Let’s start out this section by giving you examples of CTAs that won’t get the job done for your website:

  • Learn More
  • Get Started
  • Ask Me How
  • Take Part in the Journey
  • Click to Believe

These CTAs will fail to deliver because they’re ambiguous to the visitor. It’s not clear how taking the action will help the visitor find the solution to his concern. The CTA does not convince the visitor that you’re the answer. 

A CTA might as well be called Compel to Action because that’s what you want the button to do – act or move according to your command.

Why? Because by following the instruction of the CTA, the visitor will find what he’s looking for. Whether it’s solutions, answers, or information – by clicking on your CTA button, he will get it.

Here are 10 examples of effective CTAs that will compel the visitor to act:

  • Buy Now
  • Book an Appointment
  • Sign Up For Free
  • Get 1 Month Free NOW
  • Click for FREE Access
  • Click for FREE Consultation
  • Get Free Estimate Now
  • Download Free Copy
  • Claim Your Free Gift
  • Click For BIG Discounts

When you go over these examples, the CTAs are crystal clear on what they want you to do.

How do these CTAs work or deliver results for your website?

Example 1: A Pharmaceutical Company that sells insecticides and disinfectant products engineered to kill mosquitos, cockroaches, other insects, and green chemicals proven to destroy a wide spectrum of bacteria and viruses.

Header: Keeping Homes and Offices Safe From Diseases, Bacteria, and Viruses For Over 50 Years.

CTA: Buy Now

Example 2: A roof repair company with extensive experience fixing leaks and other forms of damage.

Header: One-Stop Shop For All Your Roofing Needs

CTA: Book An Appointment

As you can see, the CTA is aligned with the Header and the company’s overall value proposition. It answers the question:

“What can we do for you?”

Answer – Click our CTA!

6 Rules For Creating A Good CTA For Your Website

Creating a CTA that works wonders for your website is not as hard as you might think. Here are 6 rules you need to keep in mind when coming up with a good CTA for your website.

1. Support the Header

Yes, we’ve mentioned this quite a few times in this article. But it’s worth stating again the importance of having a CTA that clearly aligns with your Header. The CTA must help push the visitor further down the sales funnel.

2. Be Bold and Clear

A General isn’t vague when he gives the Private an order to “drop 10”. The Private has to drop down right away and knock out a set of 10 push-ups. 

With the CTA you have to be bold and tell the visitor what you want him to do. Buy, sign up, try, subscribe, claim, or download – be clear in telling the visitor what he needs to do next.

3. Make it Emphatic

Assume that the visitor who landed on your page wants a solution NOW. He clicked on the right URL, it’s up to your CTA to push him to act by creating a sense of urgency. 

4. Keep it Short

If you noticed from our examples of good CTAs, the maximum word count is 4. Can you go over? Sure, but it should not compromise the effectiveness of the 3 previously discussed tips for a good CTA. Too many words and the message can get lost. 

5. Visually Appealing Design

The CTA should stand out on the webpage. Ideally, it must be brightly-colored and creates a wonderful contrast with the background. 

6. Location Must Be Visible

The CTA usually comes after the Header. It must be clearly seen and easily identifiable to the reader. The font size must be large enough to be visible with enough spacing between the words to make it highly-readable.

Conclusion

If your website isn’t delivering results, the CTA could be the problem. We recommend to our clients that they run A/B testing among possible CTAs to have an idea which one has the best chance of generating the desired outcome. 

The CTA accentuates your sales pitch to the visitor. Take your time in coming up with one for your website. 

Better yet, give us a call and we’ll create a CTA that will meet your business goals. We’ll run the A/B tests so we can assure you that our CTA is the right choice for your website.

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

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WordPress plugins allow you to improve the performance and functionality of your website. As digital technology continues to evolve and as more people rely on the Internet to access information, your website has to keep pace with demand and higher online activity. 

This is especially true in the time of the New Normal where businesses have migrated their operations online and people prefer to work from home. 

Why You Have To Update Your WordPress Plugins

WordPress has become the most popular website platform and Content Management System not only because of its ease of use but also because it has thousands of plugins to choose from. 

The plugins have different functions and are frequently updated and improved upon to assure your website of better performance. 

However, you have to make sure that your website’s plugins are always updated not just to maintain top-level functionality but also to ensure site security. Outdated plugins are among the favorite points of entry of malicious software.  

How To Update Your WordPress Plugins

Before anything else, make sure you have a recent backup of your website. Having a backup of your website acts as insurance in case something breaks during an update. When a break occurs, your web page won’t load.

If this happens, all you have to do is restore the backup without the need to inactivate the individual one.

Also, check the website for issues. It’s best to know if there is an issue BEFORE you update, rather than thinking the issue was caused by your update. Run a quick website audit and look for anything that’s broken or not functioning properly. 

In fact, before even updating your plugins, find out if the latest version of your WordPress website is available. Once you’ve updated the WordPress website version, clear the website cache. 

Now, let’s find out how to update the plugins on your WordPress website.

WordPress makes it easy for you to update your plugins. In the first place, WordPress has a built-in system that automatically checks your website for plugins that need to be updated. 

Once WordPress has identified the outdated plugins, the system will send you notifications. In addition to the plugins, WordPress will also inform you if the themes and core software need to be updated.

However, if the plugin is not available at WordPress.org, WordPress will not be able to automatically update your website’s plugins. Thus, it might be better to use WordPress’s “One-Click Method” for updating plugins. 

This is quite easy to do! Simply follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Open the Administration Panel.
  2. Click “Updates”.
  3. You will see the plugins that have updates available.
  4. Select the plugins that you want to update.
  5. Click “Update Plugins”.

For bulk updates, click “Select All” then click “Update Plugins”. Likewise, you can update the themes on this page. 

Mountaintop Tip #1: Although the bulk update option is available, we recommend updating each plugin one at a time.

You also have the option to manually update your WordPress plugins:

  1. Go to your Dashboard.
  2. Click “Updates”.
  3. If there are updates available, the WordPress admin bar will present the notifications on the plugins menu.
  4. Click “Plugins” to head over to the “Plugins” page.
  5. Select the plugins that you want to update. 
  6. Click “Update Now”.

Mountaintop Tip #2:  Make sure there are no prompts to finish updating plugins. Also, clean up spam comments and optimize the database. Finally, if the feature is available, clear the website cache.

What happens if the updated plugin causes functionality problems or has defective features?

If you’re not happy with how the plugin is performing, you can deactivate it:

  1. Go to your Dashboard.
  2. Click “Plugins”.
  3. Choose the defective plugin.
  4. Click “Deactivate”.

With the possibility of having to deal with defective plugins, you might want to download the WP-Rollback plugin on your website. 

The WP-Rollback plugin will allow you to revert to the previous version of the plugin that you just deactivated. 

After deactivating the plugin, go back to the “Plugins” page and find the plugin you deactivated. When WP-Rollback is available, you will see “Rollback” as one of the options underneath the deactivated plugin. 

Click on “Rollback” to activate the previous version of the deactivated plugin. 

Mountaintop Tip #3: Check the front end of the website one final time for any issues.

Conclusion

There you have it! Now, you can update your WordPress plugins like a professional! By following the simple steps that we discussed, you can be more assured of your website’s performance and security. 

As you have just read, updating the plugins on your WordPress website is easy enough. WordPress regularly updates its plugins. So if you don’t get frequent notifications on available updates, run a manual check on your website. 

For better results, perform a website check, and if available, update your WordPress website to its latest version before updating the WordPress plugins. Keep the “Mountaintop Tips” in mind to assure you of a safe and successful update of your plugins. 

To be sure, allow us to do an audit on your website. Give us a call or an email and we’ll attend to you right away!

Better still – sign up for one of our Extreme WordPress Care Plans. We can perform all the updates for you and keep your website protected from cyber-attacks while you sleep.

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community. 

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