Fail, Perfect, Early – LIFT Slides 11-22-14 and more...




Fail, Perfect, Early – LIFT Slides 11-22-14

As we approach our customers and the content we publish, we always look for ways to give our people a boost using the LIFT acronym.

Here are a few decks on SlideShare that might help you in building a better business presence and a smoother work flow.

 LEARN – 5 Ways to Fail Correctly

IMPROVE – Craft Perfect Posts for Social Networks

FIND FLOW – First 30 Minutes of Your Day – Plan Your Content

THINK – 10 Ways to Show Your Customers Love

As a youth, Saturdays were filled with visual candy of cartoons in the morning and movie matinees in the afternoon. Now, we practice sharing Saturday videos from TED, subscriptions from YouTube, , decks from SlideShare, LIFT clips, and other videos shared via feeds.

Note: Every Sunday afternoon, our Whistle Stops Weekly newsletter is sent with at least one resource or link to L.I.F.T. your presence or practice. Subscribe today.

Fail, Perfect, Early – LIFT Slides 11-22-14 is a post from: ConverStations


How-To’s, Holidays, and Habits – LIFT Clips 11-22-14

We are always looking for ways to give small business owners a boost using the LIFT acronym.

Here are a few videos that might help you in building a better business presence and a smoother work flow.

LEARN – How to Look Better on a Webcam

Can't see the video in your RSS reader or email? Click Here!

IMPROVE – Holiday Trends for Small Business

Can't see the video in your RSS reader or email? Click Here!

FIND FLOW – What Makes a New Habit Stick?

Can't see the video in your RSS reader or email? Click Here!

THINK – Creating a Customer Journey Map

Can't see the video in your RSS reader or email? Click Here!

As a youth, Saturdays were filled with visual candy of cartoons in the morning and movie matinees in the afternoon. Now, we practice sharing Saturday videos from TED, subscriptions from YouTube, LIFT clips, and other videos shared via feeds.

Note: Every Sunday afternoon, our Whistle Stops Weekly newsletter is sent with at least one resource or link to L.I.F.T. your presence or practice. Subscribe today.

How-To’s, Holidays, and Habits – LIFT Clips 11-22-14 is a post from: ConverStations


Best Practices and Ideas for a Content Audit

Slide showing Stocked Grocery ShelvesWe often use Fridays as a showcase for Guest Posts that help business owners – like this one on opening an online store. We try to publish two such posts each Friday.

The afternoon’s post didn’t show – so, practicing from the recent How I Use Feedy and Pocket post, I’ve found some of the better pieces on conducting a content audit for your site using Feedly Power Search and my Pocket tags.

This will make for a great weekend project.

Best Practices and Ideas for a Content Audit

How to Prepare for Your Content Audit - It’s great to know what you’re looking for and what tools you’ll need. This piece gets you ready. Ready?

How to Perform a Qualitative Content Audit - Creating a User Persona profile before you start is a great way to make sure you’re on target and that your reader will enjoy their journey.

How to Conduct a Content Audit on Your Site - This is the piece I refer to and share most often on this topic. Simple to follow with great examples.

How to Conduct a Content Audit without Pulling Your Hair Out - Good tips, plus a cool tool that will keep your fingers away from your scalp (and save on keyboard and mouse time, too).

How to Run a Content Audit on Your Blog - Lots of screenshots and images, plus another cool tool I use often. This one is always in my Pocket for quick reference.

How To Do a Content Audit – Step-by-Step - Really, this is an ebook with links to in-depth steps. This is an exhaustive reference on doing an audit.

Remember, everything you publish becomes part of your online inventory. If you’re looking to do your own content audit, these resources will guide the way. If you’re looking to outsource it, consider a SmallBiz Track.

Best Practices and Ideas for a Content Audit is a post from: ConverStations


How To DIY An Online Store For Small Business Owners

customer offering credit card for purchaseWrittten by Geoff Austin

Ecommerce continues to grow and is worth over $304bn in the US right now. The peak online selling period has started and will run until Xmas. Black Friday which comes at the end of November is worth $1.2bn in sales. So it’s easy to see the benefits of selling online. Yet according to the NSBA, 72% of small businesses are still not selling their own products online.

For the small business owner juggling the demands of running their own business, ecommerce can be something that seems beyond their capability and belongs to bigger businesses who can hire someone to do it for them.

In this post we show you how easy it can be to create an online store yourself. Even if you’re not very tech savvy, you can start selling your own products online with the minimum investment in time and money.

 The Challenges You Face and the Options Available

Most small business owners have a lot of different roles to fulfil when running their own business. It may be that you’re short on time, or your technical IT skills aren’t up to scratch.

Therefore it makes sense that you’d want a solution that enables you to start small, that won’t make a huge dent in your budget and is easy to setup. If you’re successful then you can afford to invest more time and money into it, since you’ll have seen the results first hand.

 Hosted Ecommerce Solutions

For this reason I suggest looking at a hosted solution for starting your online store. This means your store is hosted by an ecommerce provider who’ll usually take care of all the technical and operational things for you. There’ll be less work involved for you in setting it up and maintaining it, meaning you can concentrate on growing your business.

Starting with a hosted ecommerce solution simply involves signing up to the service, paying the fee, connecting your website domain or using the one provided. Then choosing and customizing a store template, and adding your products.

The benefits of choosing this option include:

  • Built-in speed and security
  • All the features necessary for selling online
  • Add-ons and apps are often available to extend your store
  • Easy design customization
  • Technical support for your store is included
  • Continual upgrades
  • The handling of credit card transactions meet the required standards (PCI Compliance)
  • A solid, reliable platform

Hosted solutions come in many different flavors, and it can be a challenge to know which one to choose that is the right one for your needs.  Here are some of the pros and cons and things to look out for.

For Serious Ecommerce Websites

Solutions like BigCommerce and Shopify are two of the most popular for ecommerce businesses. They are designed for selling a large range of physical products and if you need a more complex ecommerce store that is used as your website.

It will mean a bigger investment on your part, since the monthly cost of this kind of store can be anywhere from $30 to $179. You’ll likely want to customize the look of your store with one of the many off the shelf store themes available. Prices vary per theme, but expect to pay around $180. You will need to factor in the costs if extending your store’s functionality with special apps, or if using a web designer to help design your store and it’s easy to see how things can get pricey.

No matter which solution you choose, here are some of the common things to take into consideration.

Payment processing – whichever ecommerce platform you choose there will be a cost of processing the credit card payment which tends to be about 2.9% + 30c per sale. Depending on the provider and plan you may also lose 2% to the ecommerce provider as a “transaction cost”.

Being mobile friendly – isn’t a nice to have, it’s now essential to have a website and checkout process that is mobile friendly and works well on a tablet or Smartphone. 160 million people in the US own a Smartphone, and 42 percent of US adults now have a tablet. In addition to this, 32% of all online purchases are made using a mobile device.

So check your online store is designed to work well on a desktop, Smartphone or tablet, no matter what the screen size. This is often described as “mobile responsive” or “mobile first” by the different hosted online store providers.

Your checkout needs to be quick and easy – give the checkout a test drive before you decide on the ecommerce tool to use. You want something that is simple and quick for the customer to use. Ensure that a customer can purchase without having to register. Otherwise this will cost you sales.  The other challenge for small business owners is that mobile shoppers are even more likely to abandon a purchase if they have trouble with the checkout process. If a checkout has too many fields to complete or if your site is slow to load, they’re gone, and most likely off to a competitor’s site.

Ecommerce Website Builders for DIY

The good news is that there are a range of website builders available such as Weebly, Squarspace, and Wix are designed for the non technical user.  Each has an ecommerce plan for $20 to $30 per month. These tools are good for business owners who want to build a website with ecommerce built-in and don’t mind investing a moderate amount of time and effort.

Tip: If you want a shortcut to selling online and you already have a website, you could add a hosted shopping cart to your existing website navigation. Another shortcut is to add a store to your Facebook Business page.


The important thing is that you can be a small business that is selling online.
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Start Small and Build Up

Remember big ideas are great fun, but it’s better if starting something new to take one small step to sustain huge.

Why not start with an even smaller investment to test the waters? All of the above options will require a moderate amount of work to get up and running. If you don’t have the time or resources to invest in a store built with these solutions, there is a short cut. You can create a store in an hour or two with a small number of products using a tool like Selz.

selz-classic-themeSelz: A Shortcut to Creating an Online Store

Selz is an ecommerce tool that is designed for people to use with no technical skills. It handles the end to end payments process and takes minutes to get started. It keeps costs to the bare minimum and is a good way to start out. You’ll even get a free Facebook store which you can integrate with your business page.

Step 1: Register with Selz

It’s completely free to register an account with Selz. Simply go to Selz.com register with your email address or using a range of Social Networks including Facebook and Twitter.

When you create an account with Selz you receive a free hosted store, with a web address like “mystore.selz.com”. If you don’t want selz.com at the end of the web address you’ll need to buy and register your own domain name. Sites like GoDaddy make the process simple, enabling you to be up and running in minutes with prices that are as little as $3 per domain.

Step 2: Go to Apps Store

Here you’ll want to select the “Store Pro” and “Custom Domain” options which have a 14 day free trial.

You’ll also want to use the “Shopping Cart” app, along with the PayPal payment option which can help with increasing your sales by making the checkout process smoother, and providing additional ways for people to purchase from your store.

Step 3: Customize the Look of Your Store

Choose one of the themes available and install it. You can now customize your store look by displaying a logo, choosing different colors to use, or set the number and type of products to display on home page.

You can also create your own pages which can appear in the main navigation and in the footer. You can create a page for an “About Us” which talks about your business and a page with contains a contact form. To do this you click on Themes in the side toolbar.

selz-product-pageStep 4: Create an Item

Next you can start creating your products. To create your first product, navigate to “Items” in your top navigation and click “Sell An Item”. Choose whether you would like to sell a Physical or Digital product, or a Service.

Then give your product a detailed description, a preview image, price and category. You can also set the quantity available and create your own discount coupons. When you’re done click update and your product will be listed for customers to buy. Repeat this process for each product you want to sell.

Step 5: Add Google Analytics

You’ll want to know about how you are getting visitors and customers to your site. Selz comes with business reporting built in, but you can also use the powerfully free Google Analytics with a Selz store. Google Analytics is one of the best free reporting tools, and you can use it to identify the sources of the most valuable customers, or to measure the return on investment from any paid advertising you run.

All you need to do is plug your Google Analytics ID into Selz. Follow the step by step instructions below to get started. Don’t worry this only takes a few seconds and is easy to do.

  • Create a new profile account in Google analytics using your Selz store URL.

Hint: Google Analytics will ask you for the URL when you set up a new profile. You can find your store URL by logging into Selz and navigating to ‘Store’ in ‘Settings’.

  • Copy your ‘Tracking ID’ for your profile you just created in Google Analytics. The code can be found under the ‘Tracking Info’ tab within Google Analytics and should start “UA…”.
  • Head to ‘Store’ in ‘Settings’ in your Selz dashboard, if you’re not already there and paste the code in the ‘Google Analytics’ field and ‘Save’.

You can now use Google Analytics for your reporting (allow 24 hours for Google to start collecting the data)

Promote Your New Store

Next is the most important step. Promoting your store and focusing on the marketing, the blogging, the SEO, or using social media to build visitors to your online store. You can also experiment with paid advertising. You’ll be able to measure the results and find what works and doesn’t work in generating sales with the Google Analytics reporting you set up.

Final Thoughts

You will need to think about your own requirements, budget, and commitment. You can then weigh up the hosted ecommerce options that best suits you. Remember to check that it is mobile friendly and ensure the checkout is quick and easy to use.

Don’t forget you can start small and build up your online sales. Using our shortcut tip, you can have your own online store in a few minutes and with the minimum of work. You can use your new store as a simple website, or link to it from your existing website or blog if you have one.

The important thing is that you can be a small business that is selling online.

Author Bio

If he is not busy sharing stuff about start-ups and helping smallbiz, Geoff Austin spends his time being chauffeur to twin daughters. Keep up with Geoff on Twitter, or Google+

Note: Occasionally, this site will publish a post by a guest author if the content, links, and purpose is to assist small businesses in building a better presence online or offline. If you are interested in participating with your own guest post, here are the ConverStations Guest Post Guidelines.

Featured Image on Pixabay by Jarmoluk

How To DIY An Online Store For Small Business Owners is a post from: ConverStations


How I Use Feedly and Pocket

Using Feedly and Pocket for ResourcesI share a lot of links and resources. But, I don’t share everything.

At this writing, I have 839 feeds (sites, blogs, search strings) in my Feedly Reader. This indispensable tool allows me to skim, search, save, and share relevant items in a variety of ways:

Send Specific Feed Items

I email industry-specific or interest-based items to individuals when I think they can find value for their business or possibly use for their blog or Twitter feed. The other day, I found something about pet care. I’m not going to Tweet about it, but I know this veterinarian who could. I probably send 15-20 items a week to folks. Feeds Create a Lifetime of Loyalty.

Share Valuable Resources

If you look at the two Twitter accounts I’m active on, you’ll find my sharing rate at around 15-20 each day. I don’t share everything and vet each link with at least a scanning read. If a post isn’t formatted well or is covered with ads and pop-ups, it doesn’t matter how good the content is – I don’t share it. When I do share, I use Buffer.

Save Items to Read Later in Instapaper

There are often links that I want to read, but TL;DR motivates me to save it into Instapaper. I can organize items in folders and maybe someday read it and decide to share or trash. I might send a handful of items here each week and try to clean it out monthly. A lot of personal pieces go here: Recipes, sports, film … that kind of thing.

Pocket the Best

Pocket has become a great tool for my own professional development. I save Hall of Fame-type posts into folders. These items are – for me – the real “Ultimate Guide” or “Essential Tools” type of posts I can refer back to often. On occasion, I can share some of the best resources in a post, like I did in Best Practices of Email Marketing. Only the best items get in my Pocket.


Only the best (RSS) items get in my Pocket.
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Automated?

There are IFTTT recipes I can use on this path of skim, scan, and share, I’m not a fan of sharing or saving automatically. I prefer to filter if I can. If I don’t have time to filter, I simply don’t share or save. If it’s really, really good – it’ll come back into one my streams again eventually.

Summary

Of the 839 feeds, many of which publish multiple times a day, I either share (email or social) or save (Instapaper or Pocket) 35-50 items daily. It doesn’t take long to scan the headlines and titles, which eliminates hundreds of items immediately. Often, I’ll use one of the Feedly mobile apps to peruse and pare, then go back to what I’ve saved to determine how I share.

Between personal development and professional courtesy of sharing the gems, reading via RSS feeds is one of the most important things I do daily. Feedly and Pocket are tools I rely on most often.

How I Use Feedly and Pocket is a post from: ConverStations