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Category: Blog

Optimizing Your Images for Web Use

Everyone knows that well placed images draw hits to your website or blog, but possibly the most overlooked way to speed up your site loading times is by optimizing your images specifically for web use. Not only does web optimizing your images make for lower load times on your pages, but it can save you oodles of bandwidth consumption, which can save you a great amount of money as well.

Many people believe that optimizing images for the web is something that will take up too much of their time, or require fancy photo editing software that they can’t afford. While Photoshop remainsthe market standard for people who use graphics in their day-to-day work, there are plenty of great options for people who want introductory programs.

Here are a few great tools for web optimizing tools for your images, as well as an oft-overlooked method for shrinking images with Photoshop.

Smush.It!
For those who are short on time, Smush.It! is a great tool to quickly convert images, either through the web-application or as a Firefox plug-in. This program is a great way to convert files in bulk, and it also quickly turns gif images into png images, which are virtually the same, only much smaller. You can also find Smush.It for WordPress by searching the plugins page.

Online Image Optimizer
The Online Image Optimizer is a very simple and straightforward tool for optimizing images either by uploading them or through entering a URL. With this web-based service, you are able to select the type of image that you would like to convert your file into, and optimize quickly.

PicMonkey
Many novice image editors choose Picmonkey for their image beautification. On top of easily optimizing images for the web, PicMonkey is a service that allows photo editing online unlike no other. PicMonkey is full of effects to enhance your photographs in the most artistic of ways, even with a very basic knowledge of photo editing. PicMonkey is the perfect choice for anyone needing to casually edit their pictures for free and with easy access to filters, frames, collages and text. As long as you’ve got Flash, you can run PicMonkey to ensure your photos come out he way you want them at a size that’s great for your site.

Photoshop Optimization Tools
Anyone who uses Photoshop regularly already knows that there’s a sliding scale option of image quality when saving an image in a useful web format; the higher the quality you choose to save your photo at, the bigger the file is going to be. Did you also know that there’s a specific option in your file tab for optimizing your photos for the web and mobile devices? Under the File tab, you want to look for the option that either says “Save For Web” or “Save For Web And Devices”. You will then be able to specify the file format that best suits your needs from the drop-down. You’ll be able to see your original image as compared to the way that your web-optimized images will appear, and select the one that best serves your intents and purposes.

The main point is to make sure your images are as small as they can be (file size-wise) but as large as they can be visually. It’s a hard balance to nail down.

Do you have any tips that you can share? Please leave a comment so we can try them out too!

The Basics of Tradeshow Marketing

Tradeshows are often the best (and sometimes only) was to showcase your items and creative business. Tradeshows are useful because they offer you a platform on which to shop your products and services to people in a position where they are ready to learn.
They are usually a hub of activity; new products to see, new market trends to learn about and services that people can’t live without. One of the great things about shows is that people go into them looking for specific answers to specific problems. Your goal is to offer those solutions.
With all the different shows and Markets available these days, how do you choose which ones are good and which should be avoided?
Research
You can’t just hop into any or every tradeshow and hope for the best. You need to spend some time looking into your available options and weigh whether or not you are a good fit for each show on an individual basis. If your product misses the mark in terms of what the tradeshow attendees are looking for, you may find that your ROI is low. Instead, find out all about the demographics of each show by requesting relevant information from the organizers. The demographics of the attendees will give you an idea of how each show stacks up against your needs, and that’s important.
Identify What You Want To Achieve
You’re looking to advertise your business, otherwise you would have no reason for attending. Beyond that, what are your goals? Are you looking to a tradeshow as a point of sale? Do you want to land custom orders or sign people up on the spot? Are you looking for investors, or simply to gain clients? Understanding your motives will help you focus your energy in the right places. Keep in mind that not all shows allow cash and carry so it’s also important to ask that question.
Be Prepared
You need to have an excellent handle on your booth; what will the space allow? What will the dimensions be? Ensure that you’re ready for a tradeshow by having handout materials made ahead of time, and ensuring that you’re highly visible. Get a large banner to attract the eye. Offer a demonstration to draw people in. Host a contest to engage your audience.
Follow Up
The idea behind a tradeshow is obviously to gain ground in your day-to-day work. If you make contact with people while you’re there, why not follow up with a thank you card, or send a sample of your work to their office. You want to convince potential customers that they truly can’t live without you, and great customer service is one way to do exactly that.
While this is just a quick post about what to look for in a tradeshow, there are LOTS of great ways to use markets and shows as your primary method of sales/growth. We will be exploring the topic further (especially as we get closer to market season) so please leave your questions/insights in the comments section so we can include those in our next post.

How to Collaborate Using Evernote

If you, like most small businesses today, are taking advantage of remote employees in a number of different locations, you may be looking for easy ways to streamline projects and share notes. Evernote is an excellent tool for collaborations because it offers a great way to view and share notes, notebooks and ideas with other team members in real time.
To begin using Evernote, sign up at evernote.com. Once you have signed in you can create as many notebooks as you like. In order to share, simply click on the share option and ask your team members to do the same. This is the best way to manage evernote, though you can also send out the URL to a note to allow non-users to see it. Non-users will not be able to make changes or edit notes unless they sign into an account of their own. Evernote allows you to invite team members to notebooks, which can only be viewed by those who are invited, and which keeps sensitive documents more or less protected.
Probably the most reliable and efficient way to share notes across a remote team, Evernote is an excellent way to allow your team to be heard and informed on business issues. Evernote is easy to set agendas before collaborative meetings, or to allow employees to make note of concerns that they may have. If you have multiple members working on a project, it’s also a spectacular way to keep up with who is working on what aspect of your collaborative efforts, as well as offering practical and relevant advice as things take shape.
For managerial staff especially, Evernote is currently the best way to streamline your involvement on collaborative projects within your workplace. It allows you the opportunity to remotely oversee exactly what is happening, and give pointers on changes that you would like to implement. Evernote can give you a good idea of how well your team is working, and it can offer insight into the ways that you can all work more effectively together, even when you physically can’t be.
My favourite part about Evernote is that it can be installed on multiple devices and syncs with each one. I have it installed on my desktop computer (yes those still exist), my laptop, my Ipad AND my IPhone – AND they all sync together so whenever and wherever I have an idea or even a blog post, I can write it down and then when I get a chance, I can finish it off on any device.
I’ve hooked up the family and even they use it to create things like Christmas lists, party plans etc. The best part is that you can add in links and it live connects to the site the link lives on, so you can add Pins, Amazon products etc. and compile all of your info in one place.
Do you use Evernote? How has it changed your business practices? Do you use an alternative? What is it and how is it better than Evernote?

Looking Forward And Planning For 2019

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season begins to wind down, many entrepreneurs are caught off-guard by all of the things that need to get done for the new year. When you’re a business owner, the working world didn’t just stop for the holidays. After the fuzz of January has worn off, now come the time to plan strategically for February and beyond. Don’t procrastinate! Instead, take a good hard look at all aspects of your business.
How was your business year? Did you achieve your business goals? Exceed them? Fall short? Take a deliberate look at your business, profits, projections and marketing efforts. Are you happy with your results? Looking back, what would you change? Why?
Take a look at the things that you are most happy with. Which projects did you complete? What plans did you have in place that made these projects truly successful? What did you learn from these experiences? What can you plan to do differently?
While you’re looking at your past, think about your future. Do you need to add something to your overall ideals? Do you need to add staff to your team? How do you plan to expand your marketing efforts? Is there a way that you can better reach your clients and potential clients, both online and off?
You can jot these ideas down in a notebook, or create a vision board for your next year. If you respond well to creative efforts, make yourself a board that you can put up in your office and come back to. This should be a memorable learning activity that allows you the opportunity to implement changes to your goals and methods for the new year.
Remember that business is all about learning from your triumphs and shortcomings, and to identify troublesome habits or isolate the root of some of your frustration to experience smooth sailing after the fact. We all have some stumbles amidst our successes, and each serve to teach us where we plan to go in the future.

How To Create A Basic Editorial Calendar That You Can Stick To

An editorial calendar is a great tool for anyone who uses social media or blogs. It allows you to get a handle on your content by answering some of the most important questions about who you’re planning to reach, when you should be writing, what you have to say and where you’re going to say it.

If you’re running a site with multiple contributors, an editorial calendar will also help you keep track of who is responsible for generating content at what time. It’s likely the best way to keep publishing streamlined and organized, and to set time restraints for yourself and your team.

Use A Template

You don’t need to make a complicated calendar for your editorial needs; in fact the simpler the better. All you need to do is find something that you’re familiar with and run with it. If you’re most comfortable using Google Calendar, you can create new calendar and make that into your editorial one. If you like using a day planner, by all means, use that. We even have a weekly planner you can download for FREE!

Brainstorm

In order to create your editorial calendar, You need to have a number of post ideas that fit in with your marketing plans. Take some time to research others who are blogging in your field to get some ideas of what you feel is relevant or irrelevant to your business. Once you have a list that you’re satisfied with, you can start to plug those blog posts into your calendar.

Use and Update

The point of an editorial calendar is to keep you organized and on task. It’s great to wake up each day and know exactly what needs to be written, or to be able to advise your staff in kind. For an editorial calendar to be effective, you need to update it on a regular basis; write, publish, brainstorm, repeat.

An editorial calendar is an excellent way to keep from feeling rushed or overwhelmed when it comes to blogging, newsletters and other outreach. When keeping up with an editorial calendar, you can sit down and write your posts for the week in a matter of hours because you know what needs to be done, and that will free up your time for so many other important things.

Leave us a comment and let us know how your Editorial Calendar turns out!

5 Ways To Stay Motivated In Business

By shaking up your approach to your career, you will find new and innovative ways to keep yourself from growing bored, and you’ll also see your business improving in the long run.

Keeping momentum and motivation in your small business are often two of the biggest challenges that an entrepreneur faces on a daily basis. When your heart isn’t in your company, your clients know it. Your sales will begin to fall, which leads to an even bigger lack of motivation.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest from the trees when it comes to inspiring growth, but it’s important to take steps towards rejuvenating your love for the craft when your motivation starts to slip.

If you’re finding yourself trapped in a place of listlessness or even bordering resentment, there are some important steps that you should take to get active in your business.

Look Backwards

You’re in this to win this; you want to be successful. Yet, losing your motivation hurts those chances for success by dragging you down. Take some times to look back on your past successes. These are the things that will motivate you most, because they will remind you how good you can be. Focusing on these achievements will serve to get you back on track and guide your way into success once again.

Try Something New

A lack of motivation very often comes from a place of becoming stagnant. When you allow yourself to get too set in a daily routine, there’s a possibility that you will lose your passion for your career. Stir things up a bit! Take a new approach to an old problem. See how you can alter your perspective and come at your problems from a new angle.

Challenge Yourself

In the same way that routine can get boring and cause you to become unmotivated, so can a lack of challenging problems in your daily workload. Set goals for yourself, whether small or large, and ensure that you work towards meeting each one. Spend your work hours creating steps of action which get you on track to be successful in your goals.

Make sure your goals are YOURS

Have you ever sat back for a minute and asked yourself WHY you’re doing this? If you have and realised that you’re doing this daily grind for someone else, then it’s time to rework things. Obviously some things are for others (feeding the kids etc.) but if your business’ main goal is to make something or someone ELSE happy, you will very easily lose motivation to keep it up.

Make your END GAME very visible

You know those “Vision Boards” everyone chats about? They work! They keep you on track and keep your goals in view. You don’t need a fancy vision board, you can have a list if you’d like or even a jot note on a napkin but the key is to have it VISIBLE to you so you can see it every day – that way you see what all your hard work is contributing to!

Above all, don’t give up! If you need to find an accountability partner, do so.. Join a group like YRCIA or get a few business friends together and help lift each other up!

How to Say NO and Why You Should Do it More Often

Isn’t life all about creating boundaries?

You need boundaries with your friends, boundaries with your children and boundaries when it comes to your business. As a business-owner, it’s tempting to hoard opportunity. You want to get experience! You want to get your name out into the marketplace. You want to be seen and cater to people who are clients or have the potential to one day be clients. In some ways, this is a clever approach to business, but if you’re not careful it can quickly slip into a matter of entrepreneurial suicide.

Let’s get this out of the way, shall we?

You cannot be everything to everyone. You can’t take on every invitation. You can’t do it all. It’s tempting to try, but this is not the way lasting growth is made.

So, now that we understand that, let’s take a look at how to start saying NO!

Identify What Works
Before you know what to decline and what to accept, take a step back and evaluate the events that you’ve seen as successes. Which events led to new clients? Which undertakings produced measurable results? Once you know which things work for your business, you can develop a list of criteria for future acceptance.

Don’t Lose Focus
When we say yes to everything, we become strained. When we’re strained, a few things happen to our business. First of all, we begin to dread getting up every day because we know how much work there is on our plate. We become discouraged when the work that we’re doing rules our life and doesn’t actually deliver us closer to our goals. We lose our focus, drive and passion, and it happens fast. Saying ‘no’ to things that aren’t directly beneficial will ensure that you have the time and energy for the things that will directly aid you in success.

Practice Makes Perfect
Saying ‘no’ isn’t easy at first, which is probably why you’re tempted to avoid it. Still, like most things, saying ‘no’ will become easier with practice. Design yourself a quick two sentence decline, thanking the inviter for the opportunity and asking them to consider you again in the future when opportunities arise. Becoming a master of this decline is an excellent way to make a good, albeit different impression on other entrepreneurs and marketers. You establish yourself as someone who values their time and who gives great consideration to your business, which is an admirable quality.

Have you found yourself taking on too much? Have you decided to say NO? How did you go about getting out of the rigorous grind and what was your experience once you said NO?!

Creating Your Circle Of Support

No matter which line of work you’re in, it’s easier to be successful when you’ve got a support net that you can lean on. For many, finding those with similar interests and experiences makes all the difference in getting through the harder times, and celebrating the great ones.

You may have heard business people talk about finding a tribe, and a circle of support falls into the same kind of an idea. When you’re an entrepreneur it becomes especially important to create a core group of people with similar business values that you are able to lean on and learn from. The question is, where do you find them?

A circle of support is a mutually beneficial relationship that allows members to come together and help reach goals. How often you meet is completely up to you, and may be dependent upon your members and your current goals. Circles don’t have to consistently be the same, and can shift as your situations do.

To create your own circle of support, first you must get an idea of who to include. It’s likely that you already have a network of people that you lean on personally, but this group is going to be a little different. You’re going to want to put together a circle of people with expertise in business, or in a particular field.

After you’ve decided who you want to gather, you have to pitch the idea. This is important, because you’re representing your idea and making a lasting impression. You have to convince your peers that they want to be involved, and show them the benefits that they stand to see by doing so.

A circle of support is a planned meeting of the minds with the intention of brainstorming and learning. Together, your circle of support will work through business challenges, profit stalls and other common business problems. You will learn from and celebrate one another’s triumphs, while also creating deeper connections within your industry.

Why You Need to be Creative in Business

What is creativity? It’s the ability to come at an old problem from a new angle. It’s about being able to entice people to buy your products or services by breaking down perceived barriers. It’s an act of translating ideas into innovation.

It’s no wonder, when we look at creativity from this perspective, that the most creative campaigns and companies have now become the most successful.

For a long time, those with creative minds were considered to be subpar entrepreneurs. It was almost as though creative people were destined to a life of being employed by someone else. Today, things have changed. With companies making huge strides in the now viral field of creativity, there is not just a hope for creative folk in the business world, but an expectation of being able to think outside the box in production as well as marketing.

The internet and other new technology have changed the face of business for the better. Highly creative, engaging, customer focused campaigns have become the norm, meaning that there’s a need for creative leadership within companies in the market today. This means that entrepreneurs need to work towards creative campaigns, but also that business-owners would do well to pay attention to the creative ideas of their employees.

Being able to recognize a brilliantly creative idea is the first step to successfully launching a creative platform, but the buck doesn’t stop there. After you’ve caught wind of an innovative idea, you have to find a way to channel that idea and make it a reality. This takes a special kind of creativity of its own, but it can lead to brilliant business results.

There’s an inclination shared by most business owners in the creative world today; they want to become market leaders, but many are afraid to take the risks necessary to do so. It’s scary going out on a limb, but when it comes to translating creativity into profit, trailblazing is a must. Risks need to be taken in order to see rewards from your creative mind, or the ideas of your staff and colleagues. Timing is often the difference between a successful creative campaign and one that falls short.

How to Cope with Social Media (And Not Feel Completely Overwhelmed)

If you’re feeling stretched by the time and organization it seems to take in planning and using Social Media, you’re not alone. The market today is changing, and now more than ever before, business owners are faced with the need to sell themselves on a daily basis, while not being obnoxious or annoying their target audience. That certainly sounds overwhelming; especially when you consider the sheer volume of social media networks that are out there. Don’t start breathing into a brown paper bag just yet, there are some things that you can do to keep yourself from spending all of your time managing social media.

Utilize Tools

One of the benefits to the social media world is that there are a lot of people out there facing the same struggles that you are. In light of this, some very clever people have developed tools to help the rest of us streamline our social media outreach. Some of these tools include Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Ping.fm. Take a look at each one to see which platform you like better.

Stick With What Works

Depending upon your target market, you may not have clients on every social media platform. The good news is that you really only need to post on the platforms that your clients frequent. Facebook and Twitter tend to be the most popular, with LinkedIn and Google+ serving a different crowd. Instagram and Pinterest are very visual mediums, and Youtube works well for those who are looking to establish expertise. Familiarize yourself with your audience, and then go where they’re going to be. This is where a social media strategy comes into play.

Outsource

If you’re truly overwhelmed, it may be time to consider hiring a social media manager or virtual assistant. With someone else’s expertise on board, you can rest assured that your social media marketing is handled reliably and professionally without taking up loads of your time.