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Five Pro Tips to Setting Up an Online Shop

Five Pro Tips to Setting Up an Online Shop

With creating a personal website being easier than ever, the trend is still swinging wildly upward when it comes to the “everyday-people” building anything from a personal blog or a small online shop, to even soon-to-be huge companies (we all wish, anyways). No longer is your website just the gateway into your business; it’s a one-stop marketing/buying/publication/customer service shop. In that way, your website really does hold the key to growing the exact kind of business and lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

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    Optimizing your site for conversions is one thing when you’re a web designer or developer, but it’s another thing entirely for the rest of us. While you could certainly learn some basic code to up your game, it’s best to save the landing page design for the designers, and focus on the marketing strategies you can do on your own. Here are five things you can’t afford not to consider.

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    1. Brand Yourself

    With the world open to you via the web, there’s a place for just about every niche, and even among those that are already crowded, there’s always room for one more unique and compelling voice. To really brand yourself, you’ve got to:
    Find a niche and stay there. If you already have expertise in or passion for something, great; start there. For most website owners, however, I can guarantee you that your supposed niche is too broad because, well, that’s just the way newbie entrepreneurs roll. Use the Google keyword tool to find what your audience is searching for, narrowing in on keywords with high search volumes and low competition rates. Then adjust accordingly based on Google Analytics data (see below) or according to the levels of user engagement. And don’t worry, you can always expand your focus later. Better to start narrow and widen from there than to be known (or not known at all) as the Jack of all trades, master of none.
    Establish your distinctive voice. Remember the days when the personal and the professional were to be kept entirely separate? Yeah, not when you’re running a website in a flooded market. If you have a distinctive sense of humor, use it (as long as it’s not too offensive). If you’re great at telling stories, tell them. If you’re an expert in law enforcement issues and work at an ironing board rather than a desk, become the iron desk law officer. Draw comics. Share photos. Get up close and personal with followers on social media. This is one case in which being as distinctively you as possible is more than just a confidence booster.

    2. Make an Editorial Calendar

    editorial cal

      One of the most assured ways to get noticed online is to have an SEO-minded content strategy. Developing an editorial calendar is a great method for keeping your site engaging and keyword rich, while also encouraging conversions. Great content, after all, is just the thing you need to pull casual visitors into a newsletter sales funnel. A few things to think about:
      Establish goals from the get-go. Are you looking to sell products? How about advertising space? Or are you just looking to build an engaged community or establish yourself as an expert so that you can secure better jobs? Clarify it upfront, and let these goals guide your content strategy.

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      Use data to brainstorm. Sure, you can free associate for a while, but most often, the best ideas come out of the data. Look up important dates in the industry to be sure you have something relevant to write around that time. Again, use Google Adwords to get a better sense of what customers are asking, and then use that to brainstorm expertise posts. Build in time for brand-building personal posts, guest posts, experimental or themed posts, and spontaneous posts for whatever comes up during the year. While the monthly and weekly template calendars at the Content Marketing Institute are useful, those a regular calendar can work just as well.

      3. Do Some Market Research

      Before you can target your audience, you have to know who they are and what makes them tick. How else are you going to not only hook them into your site, but also motivate them to answer your calls to action? A good look into demographics and psychographics will be well worth the effort. A few good questions to ask:
      ● Where do my customers live?
      ● What is their level of income?
      ● What level of education do they have?
      ● What are their hobbies, interests, and personalities?
      ● What is their biggest problem?
      ● Do they have kids?
      ● What do they really want to know?
      ● [Insert your questions here, gleaned from your industry expertise].

      Amazon’s Ecommerce Software offers some great case studies for those looking to do a little homework on people who have already gone through the entire process.

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      4. Monitor Bounce Rates with Analytics

      Launching a successful website is like doing a science experiment. Your first launch is for your first set of hypotheses, and then it’s time to do your measurements and adjust accordingly. For a good grounding in analytics, I highly recommend reading this excellent Google Analytics guide, which covers everything from getting going to advanced subjects, like setting up segment reporting.

      While you’ll use your Google Analytics dashboard to adjust your SEO strategies, one of the most important things you can track will be your bounce rate, which is, essentially, when someone visits your page once and never returns. This can indicate a lack of interest in the content on your site, or a deep interest in only that single landing page as opposed to further material or products located deeper in the site. If you’re seeing high bounce rates, you might want to tweak your Calls to Action and make sure they appear above the fold, while also linking to more of your own internal pages throughout your posts. You’ll also want to pay attention to the posts where users spend the most time and consider adding more of similar content.

      5. Test the Speed of Your Site

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      site speed

        Plain and simple: speed matters. If your site doesn’t load in a matter of seconds, that viewer will be out of there. Since many users have outdated modems, you’ll have to account for a wide range of connections, ensuring that your site takes no more than 8 seconds to load on a 56K modem. That’s a tricky thing when you’re simultaneously trying to engage viewers with large photos or videos. Test out your site speed with a site speed tester, and if it’s too slow, consider hosting your site with a Content Distributed Network (CDN), which powers faster site speeds, video encoding, and video streaming.

        Along the same lines, make sure that your site layout is intuitive. Users shouldn’t have to (and won’t) click more than a few times to get to where they want to go. Get ‘em in there quick.

        Take-Away

        There’s a lot to do when you’re marketing a new website, but starting with these five basic tips is a great way to get going. Plus, they’re fun to do, too, as you find your site’s distinctive personality. Explore these various techniques, and see what takes!

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        Published on September 16, 2020

        12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

        12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

        Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

        Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

        Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

        Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

        Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

        Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

        1. Organization

        When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

        When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

        Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

        To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

        To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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        2. Flexibility

        You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

        Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

        For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

        To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

        To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

        3. Collaboration

        As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

        Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

        To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

        To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

        4. Poise

        Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

        When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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        What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

        To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

        To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

        5. Communication

        Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

        When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

        To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

        To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

        6. Good Computer Hygiene

        Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

        Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

        To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

        To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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        7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

        Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

        Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

        To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

        To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

        8. Respecting Feedback

        In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

        Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

        To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

        To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

        9. Project Management

        Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

        To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

        To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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        10. Staying up to Speed

        Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

        To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

        To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

        11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

        “Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

        To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

        To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

        12. Teamwork

        Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

        Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

        To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

        To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

        Final Thoughts

        Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

        More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

        Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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