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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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        Last Updated on September 18, 2019

        11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

        11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

        Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

        Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

        “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

        While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

        The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

        What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

        The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

        1. Cloud Computing

        “Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

        There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

        This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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        2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

        Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

        Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

        his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

        3. Data Management

        All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

        We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

        However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

        4. Scheduling

        Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

        An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

        5. Financial Skills

        These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

        While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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        6. Research Skills

        These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

        Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

        So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

        If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

        If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

        7. Marketing Skills

        While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

        Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

        While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

        8. Network Security Specialist

        Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

        So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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        9. Communication Skills

        At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

        Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

        10. Computer Programming

        I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

        11. Graphic Design

        As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

        Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

        That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

        Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

        You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

        Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

        Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

        Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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        This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

        You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

        But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

        Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

        In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

        Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

        And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

        The Bottom Line

        We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

        We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

        We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

        As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

        More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

        Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
        [2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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