Last week saw the release of a new book by one of our clients, Edward Bison. His book, Mr Bison’s Journal, is a very funny collection of stories and observations and is a laugh out loud read. I was commissioned to not only illustrate each of the stories but also design the book cover. It was a fun project and fingers crossed it will become one of the top humor books of 2012/2013. It would make a great Christmas gift -see it on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle ebook
As part of the launch we updated his website www.mrbison.com moving it from a blogger powered blog, to the all singing and dancing WordPress platform and giving the site a mini design overhaul.
The home page now features a prominent call to action to buy the book and a video clip of a sample chapter. The site navigation was revised to include such as his Facebook fan Page
We also took the opportunity to re-code it as responsive website – I’ll fill you in on the ins and outs of that tomorrow.
The New Year often give pause to thought on how you are conducting your business. Are you making the most of your opportunities, using your time efficiently, attracting the right sort of clients? It is a time for reviewing and updating and I have a number of things I will be updating over the next few weeks for my own business.
On the agenda today was my email signature and as much of my business communication is done via email, it is an important little snippet at the bottom of every email I send. It essentially acts as an electronic business card.
What are the elements of a good email signature?
A very brief statement on what you do and offer
Link to company web site
Links to social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook
Keeping the signature short and sweet
In my signature I also have my logo and also the word “Thanks” so I don’t have to type it out every time. The signature can also be edited on a per email basis, so if I need to have a more formal finish I can easily delete “Thanks” and replace with something more appropriate. The same goes for adding my surname.
Here is how it looks.
Setting up an email signature in Outlook is easy and there are great instruction on how to do so here.
Facebook will make it’s new timeline approach to profile pages default on December 22nd. The look and feel of the profile page will change and additional functionality to visit past posts via a timeline, will be introduced. If you don’t want to wait you can easily get the new timeline visiting here , a clicking the “get timeline now” button.
The new profile page features a large cover photo which you will need to set. You can use one of your existing photos or upload something new.
The dimension of the cover photo is 850px by 315 px, if the image you select is smaller that that it will end up being stretched and not sharp.
I created a montage of contemporary graphics for my cover photo, they are the same as the ones I used to create the “Color Punch” igoogle theme.
To get you started I am offering three contemporary graphics you can use on your own Facebook profile. Download by clicking on the image and saving to your computer. They are sized correctly and ready to go.
Here is a list of 7 things you, as a small business owner, can do TODAY, to increase the visibility of your web site. The better visibility, the better rankings in the search engines . End result more site visitors.
Start a Blog
Google’s blogger or WordPress.com are both good candidates for the novice blogger. They are easy to setup and require no technical knowledge . Ideally your blog should be integrated into your web site and given the same look/ feel for a seamless branded image (we can definitely help you with this). However having a standalone blog gives you a great platform to test the blogging waters and find your voice. Write regular blog posts relevant to your business expertise or product offering and make sure to create linksto your web site. Here are some articles on blogging which will help you get the most out of your blog.
Comment on blog posts Commenting on blog posts is a great way to increase the visibility of your site. A fitting comment and a relevant link to your site where applicable can lead to considerable traffic. Tread carefully though and do not spam.
Open a Twitter account Twitter is a micro blogging tool, each Tweet, or post can have a maximum of 140 characters. Spend a little time setting up your profile which can include a picture, an all important link to your web site and a short bio. Next find some people to follow using the tools offered on the Twitter web site, then tweet away. The more you interact the more you will get of Twitter.
Create a Facebook Fan Page for your business To get started with Facebook you first need to create a personal account. Then visit this page https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
Select a good name and populate the info section of the profile with your business information. You are now free to start sharing your thoughts, ideas, products, links, video and anything else you think is relevant to your business via the Facebook status window. You will need to build up your fan base so include a Facebook “like button” wherever you can e.g In your email signature, on your blog, on your web site.
Get listed on YELP Yelp is a local directory allowing users to search for all sorts of services, everything from hair dressers to website designers. Once you are a member (free) you can post reviews on any listing. See our listing on Yelp
Pin something on Pinterest If you have visually appealing images on your website particularly if they relate to your products or services e.g You are a landscaper and have a portfolio of completed landscape projects, Pinterest is a great place to share them. Pinterest is one of the newest and fastest growing social media platforms. It is a virtual pin board allowing you to organize and share all the fabulous images you find on the web. Boards and images can be shared and repined .
Check out our profile on Pinterest
Being active on Facebook, or any social network, takes time and effort. You can maximize the return on that effort by growing your followers and making your content widely available. Facebook wall updates can even be displayed on your website so they will be visible to those who aren’t yet following you, and will automatically update as your status changes.
It takes a little effort but here is how you do it.
Visit your Facebook page and “view source” The method of doing this will vary with which browser you are using but generally if you “right click” the page you will be given an option to “View Source”
On the page source code you need to look for the Rss feed for that page, try doing a page search for “atom”
The line of code you find will look like this /feeds/page.php?id=XXXXXXXXXXXX&format=atom10
where the XXX bit is your page ID
The line of code needs to rewritten to include the full URL http://www.facebook.com//feeds/page.php?id=XXXXXXXXXXXX&format=atom10
If you try a view this feed in a reader it will not work. However if you burn the feed using Feedburner the result is a fully functioning readable feed.
Within the Feedburner dashboard select Publicize>BuzzBoost, and activate. BuzzBoost republishes your feed as HTML , once configured a snippet of code will be generated which you can paste into your website. The Buzzboost code can be easily styled via CSS to fit the look and feel of any website.
Here is one of our clients using Feedburner to display their Facebook page status updates
You write to be read … correct? Here are a few simple tips to reach as many readers as possible.
Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog feed (RSS). This will ensure they see new posts promptly and don’t have to visit your blog to read them. Offer your visitors subscription options, e.g. via a reader or by email.
Set up your feed so that your Twitter account automatically tweets a link to your new blog post. This is easily done using Google’s Feedburner . To optimize the effectiveness of this make sure this is not the only use of your Twitter profile!
Configure your Facebook Fan page so your blog posts are automatically posted there. There are various ways to do this either using the Facebook Notes function or an app like Social RSS or networked Blogs. It is amazing how many additional readers you will get via this approach.
LinkedIn is another great social network which can be automatically setup to display your blog posts. Log in to your account and select > edit profile, scroll down to applications and click > add an application. You will be presented with various apps, if you have a WordPress blog select the WordPress, all other blog select Blog Link.
Syndicate your RSS where ever you can
There are many sites which allow you to syndicate your blog content e.g Technorati, Blog Catalog and even Amazon has opened it’s door for you to syndicate your blog to the Kindle.
I watched my first episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing last week and was amazed at the ingenuity and lengths some people go to, to get stuff for free. The internet plays a huge part in their ability to get the best deals on all sorts of products.
So in the spirit of that program I thought I’d do a series on Extreme Couponing for web designers.
Let kick off with What you can get for FREE – no coupons required for this stuff
Google Products: Google offers a load of free products, from the igoogle home pageyou can fill with gadgets to manage your bookmarks ( even have a folder for all your coupon web sites), see the weather for the week, read the news etc, to Gmail for your email needs. They even offer free storage of photographs through Picasa and you can build a basic website using Google sites
Content Management Systems WordPress is being used more and more these days as a CMS system ( I read recently that 14% of all new web site being built today are built using WordPress). Joomla is a great application for building member type web sites, Drupal is another good contender.
Did you know that it is really easy to extend the reach of each post you write, by importing your blog feed into your social network profiles like Facebook or LinkedIn. By doing so your new posts get automatically published.
So today we have a little poll.
This dandy poll was whipped up in 30 seconds at polldaddy.com. If you are not reading this via our site and can’t see it click here.