Tag Archives: small business advice

Free Photos For Your Small Business or Non Profit!

This is one of my photos. So no credit required!

For many non profits and small business owners, finding or getting good quality photos can be a big challenge. If you’re updating your website, writing a newsletter or a blog, or doing almost anything you’ll share with potential clients, interesting and relevant photos are a must-have.

In an ideal world, having professional photos taken – of your clients, or people who could be clients, makes a huge difference in developing your company’s brand, and can put you way above the competition. But in a real world I know that this is not always feasible!

What IS always feasible is either purchasing good quality photos, or finding them for free.

Because I’m sure you can find the paid ones easily enough, I wanted to share with you some websites where you can find free photos.

Photo Pin
Photo Pin  allows you to use photos as long as they’re not for profit. (credit required….see bottom of this email for this photo’s credit)


Morgue File
Morgue File has the least restrictions on usage, and attribution is not always required. Quality of photos varies, but this is my go-to photo website.

HubSpot
I recently found out about free photos from HubSpot. You can download a variety of business-related photos using the above link.
FYI – Not long after I downloaded some images from this site HubSpot called me inquiring if they could help my business in other ways. Fair enough!

Getty Images
Getty Images also now offers free photos, for use on blogs, etc.
You can publish them without paying as long as you’re not earning money from them (ie. a blog) and the photo has the embed symbol, which looks like this:  < / >

 

 

Please note: websites (including the above) may change their terms of use from time to time, so before using any photo it’s a good idea to double check the terms of use.

I’m sure there are more sites out there where you can find free photos, but I’d say this is a good start. I hope these come in handy for you!

Feel free to email me if you want help directly on your business.  And, sign up for my newsletter to receive articles like this directly to your inbox.

 

 

Ducks photo credit: EJP Photo via photopin cc

 

Social Media Driving you Crazy? 2 Tips to Simplify

Social Media Driving you Crazy?

Social media ever make you feel like this?

Ever have one of those weeks? You know, the ones where you wonder how you’re going to get everything done? And you’re doing okay (horray!)…..until you remember you’re supposed to be “doing” social media.

And maybe the sinking feeling sets in, or the feeling that this is inevitable. Or the feeling that maybe social media isn’t “for you”. Quite possibly you just hate it!

I’ve been there too — and for me time has been a constraint for the past three weeks with my husband out of the country.

What can you do to manage your social media and still have some kind of life? Here are two little tips that can make a big difference to your productivity and sanity. (and who doesn’t love feeling sane?!)

Social Media Management Tip #1
Use scheduling software
I nearly always advise clients to use one of the many social media management programs out http://www.wonderoftech.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/buffer-logo.jpgthere. I use Hootsuite, but there are lots available, most with free versions.

It’s far more productive to set aside 1/2 hr per week (or however you manage that) to schedule posts for the next week. (I personally do a two week period of scheduling posts) Then you can take 5 http://bcitma.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hootsuite-logo-dashboard.pngminutes every day to see what’s going on, provide timely updates/info, and comment on posts.

If you know you’ve got a busy time period coming up, or you’re going away, schedule your posts as usual, but perhaps for however you’re going to be busy/away. You still need to reply to posts, but perhaps you skip the 5 min per day.

http://www.universitiesnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/social_media.jpg

Photo courtesy of Universities News

Social Media Management Tip #2
Limit the number of social media you use.
So many small businesses are told that they need to be *everywhere* and feel like if they’re not on the latest, trendiest social media they’ll be left behind. And I know that others feel like there are so many social media out there that they are overwhelmed and don’t pick any! (sorry, but that’s a no-no; you’ve got to join in on this one)

If you’re managing your social media yourself, pick fewer and do a better job on them. Most popular social media for the most part are Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn is also a good choice for B2B….both for networking and because it shows a level of professionalism for any small business person.

Pick social media you either like using, or at least don’t hate. Then post regularly – scheduled posts and impromptu. Choosing fewer social media will allow you to focus your efforts and become more known and trusted in those circles….and the old adage still holds true that we buy from those we know, like and trust.

Ultimately I think it’s good to keep in mind that while any small business can benefit from using social media, it does not have to be painful or overly time consuming. That’s why I’m here – to help make Marketing and Social Media easier for small businesses!

If you have any questions email them to me and they might appear on this blog, with a link to your website.

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The 5 Most Useful Google Analytics Pages

Every single small business should be tracking their website’s results. This is 100% standard for large companies and organizations, and small business owners should take a page out of their book.

Tracking a website allows the small business owner to see what is working and not working and take steps to improve their results. It allows them to know where in the world their audience is coming from and how they found the website. Find out more on why every small business should track their website.

The most popular website tracking system is Google Analytics, and it’s such a robust system that is is easy to be sidetracked (or even overwhelmed) when you go into it. So, below you’ll find what I think are the most useful pages within Google Analytics as well as what they tell you. Please note that while I’ve given suggestions as to what the business could do that is featured in these examples, what any small business does with website results are totally dependent on what a their objectives are.

The Audience Overview page is the default landing page for Google Analytics. I like it because it shows me at a glance some key stats. Here’s what the below example shows me:

  • This is between Dec 8, 2013 – Jan 7, 2014
  • The number of visitors went up in January 2014 (blue line is going up)
  • Most people came to this website once. (“Unique visitors” versus “visits”)
  • They looked at about 3 pages
  • They stayed on the website 2min 54 seconds

I’d recommend to this client that they try to increase the number of visitors to the website, as well as try to keep them on the site longer. They could compare the below results to last year’s results to see if they’ve improved year-over-year.

Google Analytics small business toronto tracking 1

 

Another page I always look at is the Acquisition – Overview page because it’s really valuable to know how people are finding your website.

Google analytics small business marketing toronto 2

In this example you can see that most people are finding the website through Organic Search and almost none through Social (ie. Facebook, etc.). The company may choose to focus more on Social or Referral or they may try to increase the number of people that find them through Organic Search.

 

 

The Behavior – Site Content – All Pages result page tells you what pages are the most popular. I always ask clients — Are these the most important pages on your site? If so, great! If not, you might want to focus on improving the most important pages. Or see which is the most popular page and listen to what your customers are telling you – that it is important to them.

If a page surprises you and is more popular than you thought, you might choose to spend more time on it.

ie. on this website the company’s most popular page is a cost calculator (below). It’s even more popular than their homepage. That tells me they should never remove the cost calculator! And they might want to try to reduce the 73.96% of people who leave from this page.

Google analytics small business toronto tracking 3

The Behavior – Site Content – Landing Page results page tells you which pages attract most visitors and are therefore the most interesting pages.

Think about the pages that attract the most visitors and try to figure out why they are most interesting. Then try to replicate that success on other pages.

Again, in the below example the most popular page is the cost calculator. I would advise this client to enjoy the fact that they’ve got a tool that so many people use…..and to think about how they can get people from the cost calculator page to other pages.

Google analytics small business marketing toronto tracking 4

 

The Behavior Flow – Site Content – Exit Pages offers insight into what pages people are leaving your website from.

I think of this like a bucket — you can pour lots of water into a bucket but if there is a hole and the water is escaping you should fix it. Similarly, if lots of people come to your website, but don’t make it to a page that encourages them to take action (whatever action you want – ie. call you, email etc.) then there is room for improvement.

In the below example you can see that lots of people leave from the cost calculator….but #4 is the Contact page, which is great. I’d like this company to focus on the homepage – enticing people to read further.

Google analytics small business marketing toronto exit pages

 

Do you have any pages that offer golden insights? Please share!

Or If you need help, or want someone to explain this to you (or manage it for you!), I can do it. While I’m physically located in Toronto I can do this no matter where you’re located! Just email me to get started. :)

In the meantime, feel free to sign up for my newsletter to receive both these articles directly to your inbox.

Is Your Small Business Competition-Ready?

CompetitionFirst of all, what is “competition” in the business sense? My definition is a business that offers very similar services in a similar location.

Since you probably did your research and set up your business in a location where there is a need for it, it’s likely that other service-providers have also picked the same location for similar reasons. So, you’ve got competition.

However, sometimes we look at competition in the wrong way. Let me give you an example.

When I decided to expand my business a couple years ago into a more full-time job, I mentioned my intentions to a friend. This friend happily shared with me that she had another friend in the area who was also offering Marketing and was in the same situation as me, and she thought we should connect.

At first I felt kind of anxious about this – another Marketing person in the same area at a similar stage of their business? But I went ahead and met with her….because you never know…..!

Nance Williams Jonkman

Nance Williams Jonkman of Strategy 4 Balance

Nance and I fairly quickly realized that our services were quite different. Better yet, over time we’ve been able to support and encourage each other, and have even developed a friendship.

So much for competition!

The Point — sometimes what you think of as competition really is not.

Now think about your competition. Your biggest competition.

ie. Maybe you’re a Wellness Clinic that offers Massage, Nutritional Counselling, Naturopathic, and Psychological services and there’s one down the street that offers basically the same services.

What you need to do is focus on how you’re different. Maybe it’s with respect to your ideal client — you might want to focus on working with kids, or maybe pregnant women while the clinic down the street seems to focus on adults in the neighbourhood. (and no, you should not say you want to focus on “everyone”! That’s just confusing.)

Or, maybe your company has a different personality – ie. your space/vibe is professional and more medically-focussed, and the one down the street is more natural and earthy.

The Point – differentiate yourself – so it’s easy for potential customers to know when they should come see you and when they should go to the other company.

Competition does not have to be a “scary” or “bad” word. It’s just how you look at it and what you do about it!

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Social Media is Like My Asparagus!

Social Media + Asparagus.....I was in my garden today and was *thrilled* to see my first asparagus EVER poking their heads out of the ground. Asparagus only produces edible shoots upon its third year in the ground, so these asparagus have been a long time coming!

This will probably seem strange to non-marketers, but the sight of these asparagus finally coming out after so long reminded me of social media.

When I planted these seeds three years ago I knew logically that they would take some time before I enjoyed the fruits of my labour. However, I didn’t imagine the time inbetween, the waiting and wondering if these things were really going to grow, or if the effort (and cost) would all be in vain.

Last spring was especially hard. It’d been long enough that I illogically felt like I should be getting some return on my asparagus-growing investment, and the scraggly-looking shoots poking up from the ground were not exactly what I’d imagined. I thought about pulling them up, about giving them away (to a good home of course), of not watering them…..

BUT look at those tiny, tender asparagus today! I’m glad I stuck with them long enough for them to actually produce edible shoots.

Social media, like my asparagus, require patience. They don’t grow overnight. If you hop on one medium (ie. Facebook) then don’t put in the effort, or wait long enough, you won’t see results. Then you might try another (ie. Twitter) and go through the same process with similar lackluster results.

I’m not saying your social media will take as long as my asparagus to grow, only that it may take longer than you expect, and longer than you’d like. How long? The consensus seems to be that in general around 6 months is when you should be seeing results. (though of course this depends on the specific campaign)

So, stick with it and I hope your social media results are as sweet as I imagine my asparagus will be this year!