It’s a good sign that economies around the world are slowly opening up to business as usual. But recent events have proven the unpredictability of the pandemic. If there’s one lesson we’ve learned since March 2020, it’s to respect Murphy’s Law. 

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency if your business is running at 100% capacity. A time might come – sooner than later – where an unfortunate turn of events will necessitate a shutdown of business if the world goes through another series of lockdowns. 

Protect your business from the dangers of today’s uncertain times by integrating a telecommuting program. 

Top 6 Tips For Running A Successful Telecommuting Program

We can all argue whether vaccination is necessary or not. However, we can’t argue about the importance of having a telecommuting program in place for your business. 

Think of the telecommuting program as a way of vaccinating your business without the side effects – if you do it right.

1. Introduce a Solid Telecommuting Policy In Your Office

Telecommuting isn’t a new concept. You can trace its origins to 2012 when then-Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer started a telecommuting program in the company. One year later, Meyer shut the program down, attributing the decision to its failure to significantly boost productivity. 

It seems like Meyer jumped ship too soon because one year after she discontinued the program, telecommuting grew by 6.5%

Meyer’s problems were a result of not having a solid telecommuting policy in place. 

While telecommuting has become more of a necessity today because of the pandemic, the program must be guided by policies that establish its conditions, goals, process flows, tech profile, and other matters that determine its success.

“How to Craft a Comprehensive Telecommuting Policy” can be the title of an entirely new article. For the time being, here’s a quick summary of the issues that should be addressed by your company’s telecommuting policy:

  • The Selection Process

It might come as a surprise to you but not everyone is cut out for telecommuting. Some employees actually prefer to work in an office because of their situation at home. 

Likewise, some employees might not be qualified for telecommuting. This might be true for newly-hired employees who are still dealing with a steep learning curve. Their performance metrics won’t be substantial enough to be entrusted with work-from-home duties. 

For these reasons, you have to come up with a selection process to identify the employees who best fit the ideal telecommuter profile. The selection process should consider workplace statistics, work ethics, recommendations from supervisors, and home/personal life conditions among others. 

We will discuss this topic in more detail in Tip #2.

  • Telecommuting Equipment and Online Tools 

If employees are using company equipment such as PCs, laptops, and tablets to work from home, the policy must clearly state that these items will be used for work-related purposes only. 

If the employee has to use his own computer at home, you have to make sure that the equipment can handle the demands of the job. Specify the required Internet bandwidth and memory storage for the computer. 

More importantly, check that the computer is equipped with your preferred security software. Remember, the telecommuters are accessing data outside the office’s secure network. 

We recommend that you regularly monitor the telecommuting team’s computers and take the necessary measures to protect your office network from potential breaches and attacks. 

The computers must have the latest version of the online tools that you plan to use for communication, project management, file sharing, and time management to name a few. 

  • The Hierarchy

Establish the hierarchy or the organizational structure of the telecommuting team. There must be a team leader or a supervisor who can oversee the activities of the telecommuters and keep track of their progress. 

Qualify and designate individuals to manage key areas of responsibility. For example, there must be someone that the team can rely on and contact for technical issues. 

Although the telecommuting team is working outside the confines of the office, it’s still part of the organization, and it must have the ability to function by itself. 

  • Work Schedule, Compensation, and Benefits

Telecommuters are spared the inconvenience of the daily commute. Also, they get to spend less on food and the other usual expenses of the 9-to-5 office lifestyle. Meanwhile, Full-Time Office Employee “A” receives the same salary but takes home less pay because he incurs more expenses related to work. 

Salary and total compensation can become a slippery slope to traverse if the telecommuting policy isn’t clearly defined in the company’s HR manual. You have to set up the work schedule as well as the policies governing the telecommuting program before you activate it. 

Circulating the memo isn’t enough. We strongly recommend that you take the time to discuss the provisions on work schedule and compensation with your workforce. 

Open the floor to receive questions from everyone. You might receive inputs that will help you fine-tune the telecommuting policy. 

2. Qualify the Right People for the Telecommuting Program

Let’s pick up where we left off from Tip #1…

To be clear, make sure that the telecommuting program doesn’t discriminate. It must be open to everyone. However, a qualifying process must be in place in order for the program to start out on the right track. 

No matter how many times you’ve reviewed its parameters, things can still go wrong when the telecommuting program goes live. Pioneering the program with the people who best fit the telecommuting profile will help reduce the risk of incurring costly mistakes. 

Here are 5 tips on how you can come up with a reliable qualifying process for the telecommuting program:

  • Review Personnel Metrics – Find out who among your employees has been consistently meeting benchmarks and performing at or above the desired numbers. 
  • Evaluate Work Ethics – Who among your employees has been diligent at work and behaving like a true professional? Look into their employee records. 

Employees who have acquired multiple incident reports and have a history of unreasonable tardiness should be at the bottom of the list of telecommuting candidates. 

  • Consider Tenure – Telecommuting might be a “must” but it’s still considered a privilege. As such, prioritize the most tenured employees to avail of this benefit. 

Those who have been newly hired or have been working with the company for less than one year are better off sharpening their skills in the office. 

  • What Do the Supervisors Say? – Once you have a shortlist of candidates, talk to their immediate supervisors and get their feedback. They might know these candidates more than you and can provide information that won’t show up in the employee metrics. 
  • Private Life – Since they’ll be working from home, it only makes sense to find out how their home life is. 

Pay a visit to the home of the telecommuting candidate. Talk to the wife and kids. Get a feel of the situation. Look around and see if the conditions are ideal for a work-from-home arrangement. 

Put your observations in a report and discuss your thoughts and opinions with the candidate. You’re not acting like the paparazzi. You’re only looking out for the interest of the company.

Don’t make your final decision until you’ve conducted a test run of the program. The test period can run for a minimum of 2 weeks. That should be enough time to get solid data about the program and the performance of the candidates. 

3. Design an Online Workflow

One of the biggest criticisms against a telecommuting program is that the lack of organization leads to many mistakes. In fact, this was an issue that was highlighted by Meyer in her explanation of why she discontinued the telecommuting program at Yahoo.

Meyer believed that close, shared space collaboration was superior to telecommuting because it makes performance easier to track and keeps everyone moving along the same timeline.

While there’s merit to Meyer’s statement, this issue can easily be remedied by having online workflows built into the telecommuting system. These workflows should cover:

  • File sharing
  • Project collaboration
  • Report generation and distribution
  • Timekeeping
  • Work/Project distribution
  • Work/Project submission
  • Communication 
  • Quality Control and Quality Assurance
  • Customer Support
  • Technical Support

When you have this process flow in place, it makes organization much easier to achieve. 

Everyone knows what to do, where to go, and whom to talk to. You can run the processes through software programs and apps and integrate them as part of the telecommuting system.

4. Schedule Regular Meetings 

Let’s assume 30% of your workforce comprises the telecommuter team. Guess what? It’s still business as usual. The place of work has changed but there’s still work to be done, deadlines to meet, and goals to achieve. 

Get on the conference call and schedule regular meetings with the telecommuting team. Set the schedule at a time and date where everyone is available. Create an agenda and distribute copies to all team members. Designate special topics for key people on the team. 

If possible, schedule a general meeting every quarter or end of the year with everyone – onsite personnel and the telecommuting team. Don’t leave anyone out. 

A survey conducted by Goodhire revealed that 61% of Americans don’t mind taking a pay cut if that would allow them to work from home. Your employees might feel the same way. 

You can temper these emotions by meeting with employees on a regular basis and addressing issues that could affect productivity and increase the attrition rate. 

5. Track the Performance of the Telecommuting Program

As with new business development strategies, find out how the telecommuting program is doing by tracking its performance. Create a performance criterion that includes the following variables:

  • Accuracy – Evaluate the quality of work of the telecommuters; find out if the output meets or exceeds prescribed standards and calculate the percentage of errors or mistakes. 
  • Statistics – Determine the rate of consistency of the telecommuting team in meeting deadlines. 
  • Work Ethics – Identify the rate of absenteeism and tardiness by reviewing the time logs. 
  • Measure the ROI – Calculate the output of the telecommuting team in dollar terms then measure the ROI by cross-referencing it with the budget or cost of managing the telecommuting team. 

With these types of data, you can readily identify which telecommuters are lagging and which ones are performing above expectations. 

6. Adopt a Flexible Telecommuting Program

Even if you’ve come up with a telecommuting policy that’s delivered results, its guidelines, processes, and provisions shouldn’t be set in stone. 

Here are 2 good reasons why you should adopt a flexible telecommuting program:

  • Telecommuting is People 

There’s more to managing a successful telecommuting program than just designating the employees with the best track record, experience, and skills to a work-from-home arrangement. 

People adjust to a telecommuting lifestyle differently. In fact, you’ll get to see more of who they are when they are working remotely. Believe it or not, working from home has a learning curve to it. There will be some employees who won’t get the processes right the first time. 

Be mindful of the situations that may arise as new employees become telecommuters. Some might make suggestions on how to improve the program and it would be a good idea to keep an open mind and adopt a few changes. 

  • Technology Continues to Innovate

Technology continues to innovate at warp speed. The app market is exploding with new tools that are designed to make life and work easier. 

Look at Zoom. At the height of the pandemic, people around the world opened a Zoom account to stay in touch with family, friends, associates, and clients. Zoom became the go-to choice of businesses to communicate and collaborate with their remote workers.

Within a few months, other tech companies came up with their own audio-video conferencing platform.

The tools you have in place today might be rendered obsolete by the latest apps coming out tomorrow. When you’re working with a remote team, efficiency is a primary factor for its success. 

However, don’t completely overhaul your existing tech profile. Like all online tools, there’s a learning curve to respect. It will take time to be proficient with its features. 

Start out with one new tool. Get used to it and see how it complements the other tools in the system. Track its performance and how the rest of the telecommuters are progressing with it. 

Conclusion

During the 2014 Global Leadership Summit in London, 34% of the attending companies said that they expect 50% of their workforce to work remotely by 2020. 

Telecommuting was the direction businesses were headed to – the pandemic just sped it up. Setting up a telecommuting program in your company is a good way to protect your business from uncertainties in the future.

Start out by crafting a telecommuter policy. Don’t expect it to be fool-proof. A good first step would be to confer with HR professionals and a lawyer to make sure everything is in accordance with local state regulations. 

Then, evaluate your current manpower roster. You might also want to hire freelancers for your telecommuting team. This could work and make the process easier because freelancers are experienced, remote workers. 

They have the equipment, the expertise, and depending on the arrangement, you might be able to significantly reduce costs by going with freelancers. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you will make mistakes and that’s perfectly fine. 

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. They are part of the process. Mistakes will expose the weaknesses and flaws in your system so you can improve your telecommuting program. 

If you need assistance in setting up your telecommuting team, give us a call. We have experience qualifying, selecting, and managing remote talent and our team has generated positive results for our clients. 

Let’s have a quick call and get your business moving online right away!

And if you enjoyed this article and know of someone who’s thinking about incorporating telecommuting in his company, please share this article. 

Despite the pandemic situation taking a turn for the worse, the world already seemed set on embracing the work-at-home arrangement for the foreseeable future. 

“The Great Resignation” has been dominating the news as more Americans prefer to work remotely than remain 9-to-5 brick-and-mortar employees. It’s clear that the shift toward remote work will continue over the next few years. 

Whether from home or at the office, work will continue to present challenges that might encroach on your personal life. But it won’t be that way if you follow our 10 tips on how to balance life and work at home.

1. Stick to a Schedule

When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Distractions are everywhere and sometimes family and friends will demand your time. To remain productive without overlooking the needs of others, come up with a schedule and stick to it. 

If you think about it, the only difference between work back then and now is the location. You’re no longer working in an office but at home. However, work is work. You still have to manage tasks, meet deadlines, and complete projects. 

Before ending your workday, prepare the following day’s schedule. Identify the tasks you have to accomplish, schedule them based on priority, and allocate the number of hours you plan to dedicate per item.

2. Take Advantage of Digital Technology

Once you’ve established your work schedule, the next step is to inform everyone involved of the designated hours. You can do this effectively by using online tools for communication, project management, and file sharing. 

For example, if you’re working with a remote team, you can use Asana as your project management tool. Asana lets you establish the chain of communication, create a work calendar, and distribute projects per person. 

If you use Skype, include your work schedule or hours of availability on your profile. By doing so, you keep people who have nothing to do with your business from messaging you out of the blue. 

3. Use Free Time for Me Time

Even when you’re working from home, you still need to take breaks to recharge before attending to the other tasks for the day. If you’ve set aside an hour to 90 minutes per task, a rest period of 30 minutes should be enough to get you going again.

The question is: “How should I spend my break time?”

30 minutes is enough time for rest but not much for anything extensive. Going to the laundromat or shopping for groceries will be out of the question. We recommend using your rest period for yourself. 

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a nap.
  • Exercise for 10-15 minutes.
  • Check your personal email.
  • Check your personal social media accounts.
  • Review the errands that you have to run after work hours.

Whatever you decide to do, don’t get yourself too tired or worked up. If you decide to exercise, get a good sweat going but don’t work yourself to the point of fatigue. 

If you decide to check your social media accounts, avoid posts that trigger negative emotions or those that stress you out.

4. Don’t Forget Your Loved Ones in Your Daily Schedule

To achieve a balance, don’t just plan for work-related activities in your daily schedule. Include those who matter most to you – your family. 

It’s distressing for children to hear “Sorry, I can’t make it to your recital today. I have a lot of work to do.” They might not show it, but for sure, your child will be disappointed that you couldn’t find time in the day for them. 

The key is planning. 

Here are 3 tips for you to consider:

  • Tell your children to inform you ahead of time of the important dates or events in their schedule. 
  • Review your calendar and pencil in days in the month where you can do something special with the family. 
  • Make your schedule public so that your family will have an idea of your availability. For example, post a hard copy of your schedule on the refrigerator door. Update your calendar when needed.

Remember, you can always find time to get new clients or customers. There will always be opportunities for you to capitalize on. But time lost with family can be lost forever.

5. Keep Your Routine Going

If you followed a routine when you were getting ready for the office, there’s no reason you can’t keep it going when you’re working from home. Keeping your usual routine going will help you achieve a state of mental readiness faster and remain productive. It will feel more like “business as usual”. 

The best part of it is that you have more time to enjoy your “rituals” because you don’t have to worry about traffic, the commute, or looking for an open parking space.

Go ahead and shower longer to feel refreshed. Savor that freshly brewed cup of coffee. Catch up with the family and give them some good advice for the day. Prepare your workplace; organize your area, review your calendar, and put your mind in office mode.

6. Focus On Quality Not Quantity of Work Hours

In a survey conducted by wfhresearch.com, 60% of respondents said they were more productive working at home compared to the office. 

The result isn’t surprising because you don’t deal with the usual stressors and productivity inhibitors at home that you would at the office on a daily basis. These stressors include:

  • The daily commute
  • Office politics
  • Frequent watercooler chat
  • Micro-managing by the supervisor
  • Unexpected changes in work schedule

For this reason, you can get more work done at home in less time than you would at the office. 

If you dedicate 90 minutes per task, you can get 3 tasks accomplished per day while still having time for intermittent 30-minute rest breaks. The 3 tasks can be accomplished in 6 hours. 

Compare that to a day in the office where according to studies, 10% of the workforce only puts in 90 minutes of productive work per day. 

By following our 90/30 work schedule, you can boost your productivity by 300% – and you’ll only work for 6 hours per day not the usual 8 hours schedule. 

Long hours don’t make you productive. It what’s you do during time spent at work that determines your level of productivity. Here are tips on how to get more out of each work-from-home day.

  • Prioritize the high ROI tasks
  • Work on the tasks that are closest to their deadlines. 
  • Start with the task that gives you sleepless nights. 
  • Delegate non-essential tasks. 

Stay disciplined. As our teachers used to say in school, “Finish or not finish”, stop working and take your 30-minute break. If you didn’t finish the task but you’re within the deadline, finish it the following day and work on a new task when your break is up. 

7. Designate Work and Play Areas

In the past, we’ve written about how important it was to dedicate a work area in your home to help you focus on your business. What we haven’t touched on is the importance of having a dedicated space for playtime as well.

Playtime for adults? Yes! Adults need to relax and decompress from work especially if things have been getting stressful. Taking naps are great but sometimes, all nap and no play can make you dull – and more tired. 

What makes you less stressed out? Is it playing video games, playing a musical instrument like the guitar or piano? Do you prefer listening to vinyl records? How about solving puzzles or playing chess? 

Identify the activities that help you chill then designate an area for them. Look for a room that’s hardly used and convert it into your private playroom. 

Don’t be afraid of spending a bit such as for soundproofing if you’re a musician or a gamer. Managing stress helps improve productivity.

8. Take a Holiday

Sure, working from home frees you up from having to deal with traffic and office politics but you still have to deal with the demands of your business:

  • Deadlines
  • Clients
  • Customer complaints
  • Tech issues
  • Problems within your remote team
  • Financial matters

There will be days where 30-minute breaks won’t be enough to help you recharge and de-stress. If these days continue and accumulate, they will affect your performance and overall health. 

When this happens, a vacation might be what the doctor ordered. 

Go ahead and take a few days off with your family. Visit a place you’ve always wanted to go to. Plan a laundry list of activities. Shut down the diet temporarily and indulge. 

Don’t feel guilty about taking a vacation. 

9. Unplug Without Remorse

And while you’re on vacation – feel free to unplug – and not feel guilty about it. Sure, take a few pics and upload them on social media but don’t feel obligated to check on your work emails. 

Trust that your remote team has everything under control. It’s okay to check on business matters once in a while. But to get the most out of your breaks – 30-minute periods or a vacation – unplug from technology. 

For example, when at a restaurant or at the dinner table, tell everyone to put away their smartphones and engage in conversations. While on vacation, explore and get immersed in nature instead of video games. 

Technology isn’t going away but relationships might drift apart without the human touch.

 10. Remain Inspired

Perhaps the best thing about working from home is that you’re with the people who inspire you to succeed – your family. 

When work gets tough, take a moment to seek inspiration from your family. Save the spreadsheet file and spend time with your wife and kids. Rediscover your “why” – your purpose for pursuing a successful work-from-home career:

  • To give your family a life where they don’t have to worry about financial matters.
  • To buy a bigger home where your kids can firmly plant their roots. 
  • To set aside money for your children’s education so that they won’t have to be burdened by student loans. 
  • To have a comfortable nest egg for you and the spouse. 

To look forward to retirement and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Whether it’s a Harley-Davidson, a sailboat, or the new Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster – if you can afford it, go for it! 

Conclusion

Can your life at the office and at the home co-exist? Yes! You simply must make time for both. To succeed in life, you must succeed in your career and with your relationships. 

That includes your relationship with yourself. Don’t give too much time to others that you have nothing left for you. 

Did this article help you gain clarity about balancing life and work at home? If so, please share it with people in your community who might need it. And if you want similar blogs for your business, give us a call. We can create amazing content for you!

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

If you want to put up a website for your business, get it done right by hiring the best web development agency. Developing a website isn’t an expense. It’s an investment that can pay out dividends attractively and consistently for your business if it does what it’s supposed to do. 

And building a website doesn’t have to be expensive. There are web development agencies that can design a website to fit your budget without compromising on its functionality, effectiveness, and aesthetics. 

Do it right, do it once by trusting your website with the best web development agency for your business. We’re here to tell you how.

Why Do You Need A Website For Your Business?

A website allows you to capitalize on opportunities that are available on the Internet every day. You’re no longer limited by 4 walls, geographic location, and hours of operation. Your business can be accessed 24/7 by anyone from anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection. 

Think about it. Potential customers from different continents are exploring your website to learn more about your business and if you could be a supplier or strategic partner – while you’re sleeping. 

If you have a fully-functioning, secure, and professionally-managed website, customer inquiries could be responded to within hours via chat or email. Prospective clients could be viewing your videos or reading your content. Buyers could be providing you with their email addresses and contact information. 

The website becomes a machine that constantly generates leads, enhances your online presence, and builds your business brand. 

A Poorly Designed Website Is Bad For Business!

On the flip side, a website that isn’t accessible to mobile devices frequently encounters technical issues and doesn’t assure visitors of data protection and safety will do the opposite for your business. 

Your brand will be tarnished. Your website won’t appear on the first page of the search results – probably not even on the second or third page. 

Prospective customers might view the poorly designed website as a representative of how you run your business – inefficient, irresponsible, inept, and inadequately managed.

How To Qualify The Best Web Development Agency For Your Business

Problems on the website happen because entrepreneurs don’t spend time qualifying the web development agencies that offer their services. They search the Internet or ask friends for recommendations and once they have the contact numbers, they’ll reach out to them and ask for a proposal. 

What are the duties and responsibilities of a web development agency? In addition to designing a website, running tests, and working with graphic designers, a web development agency performs the following tasks:

  • Run frequent website audits to look for potential technical issues, unused and outdated plugins, and other pain points. 
  • Perform maintenance work on the site. 
  • Conduct repairs if the site goes down.
  • Protect the website from cyber-attacks by equipping it with the latest security software and instituting safety procedures. 

Thus, what you are looking for is a web development agency that can be your partner in running the business by keeping your website in excellent working condition every day. 

We’re here to tell you that the qualifying process should start even before you request a proposal. Finding the right web development agency is important because the website is an asset that will be instrumental in growing your business. 

1. Conduct Due Diligence

Like other businesses that are operating in an industry with high growth prospects, the technology industry is teeming with fly-by-night web development agencies that are out to make a quick buck out of their clients. 

Even if the recommendations come from friends and associates, always conduct diligence on the web development agencies before reaching out to them.

  • Run a Google Search – Just type the name of the agency on the query box and run a Google search. You might be surprised at what turns up! 
  • Check Out Their Websites – The proof of the web developer is on their website. Click their URL and assess your experience.
  • Did their website load fast – under 3 seconds? 
  • Are the icons working properly? 
  • Can you access all of the pages without issue? 
  • Does the website set up properly on your smartphone? 
  • Does the website have SSL certificates? 
  • How do the visuals appeal to you? 
  • Is the content well-written? 
  • Are there errors in grammar and spelling? 
  • Are there client testimonials?
  • Visit Their Social Media Pages – Go to the agency’s social media pages. Find out how many followers it has. Read the posts and assess the level of engagement.

Read the comments. Are there complaints about the quality of work? How did the agency respond to these complaints? Was the response time fast? 

  • Ask Around – Ask people who have been in the industry for a long time about the agencies that were recommended to you. Find out if there are red flags and get their opinions if you should do business with them.

2. Find Out If The Agency Is A Good Fit For You

A partner is someone you can trust in the long haul. Like all relationships, you must be compatible with the web development agency. A better way to put it is that the agency must be a good fit for you. 

The level of fit can be assessed during your meeting by asking questions that uncover the Why, the What, the How, and the Who.

Tip: If the owner of the web development agency is the person who meets with you – THAT is a very good sign of fit! If an agency values you NOW as a prospect that the owner took the time to meet with you, it’s a good bet, the agency will value you more as a client.

  • The “Why” – Ask why the owner/founder decided to open a web development business. Find out if his motivations are similar to yours when you started your business.
  • The “What” – Ask for examples of their work and for client referrals. If the agency gives you a list of clients, reach out to them and ask about their experiences working with the agency.
  • The “How” – Learn more about the agency’s approach to web design and development Find out if they offer dedicated web hosting services and how often they run website backups. 
  • The “Who” – It’s okay to get a bit personal. Divert the business talk to more personal matters. Talk about family. Ask the owner what he does in his spare time. Exchange beliefs and practices. Share common experiences. 

Uncovering the “Who” helps you figure out the best way to work with the agency.

WebsiteSecurity.Protection.Monitoring

3. Do They Understand Your Business? 

Not all websites are the same. There is a type of website for every business. Before the web development agency can design a website, it must have a good understanding of your business and what you expect it to do for you. 

  • What kind of website do you need? 

A responsible web development agency will conduct research about your business. You’ll know off the bat if the agency you’re dealing with is dependable if, during your first meeting, the representatives present you with detailed research on your industry. 

They’ll ask you the right questions and seek clarification of your goals and objectives. 

If you want to use the website to sell products, the agency can recommend an e-commerce site or a basic business website with a built-in e-commerce portal. For brand-building purposes, the agency might recommend including a blog page plus social sharing icons. 

  • How should it perform? 

A website must be functional and user-friendly. Ask the web design agency what the criteria for a top-performing website are. The criteria should include the following:

  • Mobile-responsive
  • Fast loading
  • Accessible
  • Fully-functioning buttons for sharing
  • Strong CTA
  • How will it look? 

Yes, people are attracted to beautiful websites but aesthetics should never come at the expense of functionality. 

The web development agency can present to you a design that’s worthy of the Louvre in Paris, France but if visitors can’t make heads or tails of where to go after the homepage, they’ll click out of your website.

  • What would its features be? 

The features of your website will depend on what you need and what your goals and objectives are. 

Going back to our example, if you need an e-commerce site to sell your supplement line, the web development agency might recommend having a zoom-in feature so that visitors can closely read the ingredients on the label.

If you’re coming up with a website for your resort business, the agency might recommend having a 360-degree feature on a standard room, the facilities, and other amenities. 

4. Negotiating the Cost of the Website  

One of the most commonly cited reasons by business owners as to why they don’t have a website is its cost. Many believe that a website costs a lot of money and that the monthly cost of maintaining it is unsustainable. 

The cost of a website would depend on the type of website you need. A basic business or personal website shouldn’t cost more than US$500 while an eCommerce website can cost anywhere from US$5,000 (up to 100 products) to US$55,000 (1,000 products_. 

An informational business website can cost you from US$2,000 to US$9,000 depending on the number of pages. 

Ask the following questions when you’re negotiating the cost of the website:

  • How many mockups? 
  • Is the Agency open to a trial/test period of 3-4 weeks? 
  • How much will the monthly management fee cost?

When you receive a quotation from the web development agency, keep in mind 2 things.

One is that the quotation is probably on the high side as they are expecting you to negotiate a lower price. Two, everything is negotiable – so negotiate!

5. How Does the Agency View the Relationship? 

There are some web development agencies that won’t say anything until they’re asked. Since this is your first website, you’re unaware that unless you say so, the web development agency will own your website. 

100% make sure YOU own the website when it’s been turned over to you. If the worst-case scenario happens and you lose ownership of the website, its contents, design, and other assets could be used for another website.

A web development agency that doesn’t disclose the final ownership of the site cannot be trusted. Getting full ownership of the website must be established before work can start. 

It’s important to cover the engagement with a Confidentiality Agreement and it must be stated in the Memorandum of Agreement that you own the website after it’s been turned over to you.

Bonus Section: Top 10 Questions To Ask A Web Development Company

  1. What are the stages of your web development process?
  2. How long will it take to complete the website and have it turned over to us?
  3. How would I be involved in the development of my website?
  4. Will you dedicate a day in the week to update us on the developments of our website?
  5. How many pages are covered by your proposed budget?
  6. Can you give us examples of the websites you’ve designed and developed?
  7. Can we talk to your clients?
  8. What is covered by your monthly management fee? 
  9. Will you accommodate us if we need consultation after you’ve turned over the site?
  10.  We want to own the website and its assets. Are you agreeable to this? 

Conclusion

Hiring a web development agency is similar to hiring an employee for your business. 

You want to hire the best talent in the market; the one who can help you grow your business. This is the employee who dutifully performs his functions and consistently delivers the desired results. 

To find the best talent, your job applicants go through a process that may look something like this:

  • Resumes go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
  • Recruiter reviews the resume.
  • Candidates are scheduled for the preliminary interview.
  • Candidates go through a series of tests – Basic office skills, group work, and Psychological/Behavioral testing. 
  • Candidates go through a final interview. 
  • References and work documents are reviewed and verified. 
  • Salary and benefits are discussed and negotiated. 
  • Candidates are given contracts and hired.

The hiring process might seem tedious and won’t guarantee that you’ll get the best employees for your business. But the risks of hiring bad eggs for your business are much less compared to not having a system and just signing up whoever comes along. 

And when it comes to a website – a tool that keeps your business running 24/7 – those are risks that you simply do not want to take. 

We wouldn’t be writing this article if we didn’t know the topic by heart. We’ve heard the horror stories from our clients and we’re grateful for the opportunities they gave to us to turn their businesses around.

If you’re thinking about having a website for your business or having your current one improved upon, give us a call or drop us an email. 

We design WordPress websites for our clients and several have signed up for our WordPress Extreme Care packages. Each package has been customized to meet the business needs and budget of our clients. 

Once you avail of our Extreme WordPress Care package, you can sleep comfortably every night knowing that your website is safe, secure, and protected by trusted people. Let’s have a conversation over coffee or a chat over the phone to get started. 

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with a friend or associate who wants a website for their business. 

89% of marketing professionals can’t be wrong. According to a survey conducted by Ascend2, 89% of professional marketers said SEO is an effective strategy for driving traffic to their website, moving up the search rankings, and ultimately, growing the business. 

In a world where anyone can become an expert by watching YouTube videos, SEO is a skill that requires experience. 

If your attempt at making Steak Charlemagne ends with you ordering pizza delivery, only your ego is affected. But when your SEO strategy doesn’t deliver the expected results, you lose opportunities to place your business, its products and services, in front of prospective customers. 

Here are 5 reasons why you need to consult an SEO expert for your business.

1. Get the Desired Results From Your SEO Efforts

To be clear, hiring an SEO expert will not guarantee results. At least not right away. SEO is a strategy that involves different processes and it takes time for these processes to click together and produce the intended outcomes. 

Think of SEO as a machine that has many moving parts. These parts include:

  • Website mobile responsiveness
  • Proper meta, image, and title tag descriptions
  • Webpage speed
  • Keyword research
  • High-quality content
  • Keyword integration
  • Link building
  • Pay-per-click advertising

You simply cannot handle all of these key areas of responsibility yourself!

An SEO expert is a professional who has enough experience under his belt to organize these moving parts and get them running efficiently. 

Whether you hire an individual or an agency, an SEO expert has a team made up of experts in each key area of responsibility. 

The SEO professional functions like a project manager. He’s focused on achieving your goal, staying within the budget, and providing high-quality work. For these reasons, he assembles a team of talent he can trust. 

The team SEO would usually include the following skills: a website developer,  a few content writers, a keyword researcher, a graphic designer, and a social media marketer.

2. Because Mistakes Can Be Costly

As mentioned above, SEO will not guarantee results right away. It will take time. Even the most well-thought-out SEO strategy will have its share of kinks and flaws. 

An SEO expert will track and monitor the performance of the current SEO strategy. He will identify the processes that are not delivering results and use data to find out if these processes can still be improved or if they should be replaced. 

By staying on top of the strategy, the SEO pro can put it on the straight and narrow while assuring that you get a good ROI on your investment. He will recommend allocating more resources to the processes that are delivering results and set aside funding for new platforms for content distribution. 

You can say that an SEO expert doesn’t only optimize your content, but also your marketing budget! 

Why? Because mistakes can be costly in terms of foregone opportunities and reputation. 

Here are 3 examples of how some of our clients lost money on ill-planned SEO strategies:

  • Client A hired writers who didn’t know how to optimize content and delivered articles that averaged over 2,000 words. The client spent hundreds of dollars for content that couldn’t be found and indexed by the search engine bots. 
  • Client B built his website from a free WordPress template. He ended up with a website that wasn’t functioning properly, had poorly written content, and images and tags that weren’t optimized for search engines. 
  • Client C added links to his content but didn’t conduct the audit necessary to find out if the web pages he linked to were still active or existing. Likewise, he didn’t keep track of webpage downloading speed that had significantly slowed down. 

In each case, the client lost opportunities to drive traffic to his website. The more visitors go to your website, the higher the probability of generating leads that can potentially be converted into sales.

The clients also risked the reputation of their brand. 

If visitors can’t download your webpage in under 3 seconds, they’ll click out and go to your competitors. If someone lands on your website and can’t find what he’s looking for, he’ll leave the page right away. 

If your content isn’t engaging, informative, useful, and is poorly-written with meandering paragraphs, errors in spelling, and grammar, your brand, and reputation will get tarnished. 

The scoreboard will read Your Competition: 1, Your Business: 0.

SEO for Your Business

3. Allocate Productive Time on Your Business

Let’s assume YOU’RE the SEO expert. You’ve taken courses and have been certified as a professional who’s qualified to do SEO. You know how to optimize your website and content – but you run a business consultancy company that provides services to a wide range of industries. 

Should you do SEO yourself or hire an expert?

We recommend hiring an SEO expert because your time is best spent managing tasks that add dollars and cents to your bank account. It’s better to provide consultation services to clients that generate US$400 per hour than spend 2 hours per day writing optimized content. 

More so for entrepreneurs who don’t have the knowledge or experience doing SEO. Not only will you lose productive hours trying to manage your SEO strategy, but as mentioned in the previous section, mistakes can be costly and risky for your business.

4. SEO Constantly Evolves

SEO is both a science and an art. It’s a science because SEO uses digital tools that automate processes, improve efficiency, and provide real-time data to measure results. 

But SEO is also an art. How these tools and processes are used depends on the type of business, goals, and content to be produced. 

For example, blogs such as this one are more conscientious of keyword usage. If you notice, we use synonyms a lot. Instead of using the keyword “SEO Expert”, we would alternatively use “SEO Professional”, “SEO Pro”, or “SEO Professional.” 

Also, we’d add the keyword SEO to “business” and “strategy” because these keywords could originate from different searches.

In contrast, a product review guide might perform much better in the search engine rankings if it’s packed with the same keywords. The reason is that the blog is more informative and the product review guide is intended to sell. 

The product review guide includes:

  • Detailed product descriptions
  • Detailed product specifications
  • Pros and cons
  • Customer reviews
  • Editor’s rating

These sections will require the same high-ranking keywords that customers will use to search for the product. 

It used to be that SEO practitioners were more conscientious about the frequency of keyword usage, but based on our experience, the level of keyword density would depend on the type of content to be created. 

As consumer behavior changes, so will the application of various tools and optimization principles when developing an SEO strategy. 

This is the job of an SEO professional – to keep track of changes in the behavior and preferences of consumers as well as to stay updated on developments in the industry. 

5. Keep Up With the Competition

According to a study by Deloitte, the budget for digital marketing increased by 11.5% in 2021 despite businesses incurring heavy losses. 

73.8% of the investments businesses made in digital marketing were focused on optimizing their website while 65% spent on strategies that improve search rankings. 

When your business is losing money, you want to recover by working on your business, not for your business. 

Businesses hired professional digital marketing agencies to design, develop, implement, and track their campaigns so that they can spend more time getting their respective enterprises moving again. 

Your competitors are doing it – hiring SEO agencies or professionals – to get their businesses found on the Internet and to drive more traffic to their websites. If they’re doing it, so should you. 

Doing what your competitors do isn’t a case of following the leader. It’s about mitigating the risks of making costly mistakes by going DIY with your SEO strategy and maintaining productive work hours. 

Conclusion

Let’s get real. When it comes to SEO, leave it to the experts. 

Yes, hiring an SEO expert means shelling out cash to pay for professional services. Going DIY might save you money but by making your business a testing ground for YouTube acquired skills, you’re essentially gambling on your SEO strategy. 

Done correctly, SEO is an investment that will pay out big dividends for your business. 

Do it once, do it right! Give us a call and we’ll get your SEO strategy back on track. Our team has the best web developers, content writers, and graphic designers. Find out first-hand how we helped our clients get more traffic on their website and climb up the search rankings. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community!

Based on the latest employment data, more people prefer to work from home even as the world continues to recover from the pandemic. 

According to Pew Research, when the pandemic started, 20% of Americans reported they preferred to work from home. A few months after the US economy started to open up for business, the number of American workers who preferred a work-from-home arrangement ballooned to 71%. 

If you’re one of those former brick-and-mortar employees who have transitioned to a work-from-home arrangement, we know that you’ve experienced challenges to having a productive day consistently. 

We’re here to tell you that shouldn’t be the case. You can have a productive work-from-home schedule by following our 10 tips outlined below.

1. Dedicate a Space for Work

Finding a space for work inside the home isn’t easy for everyone. Not all homes have a spare room that they can convert into an office. If your space is limited, dedicate a table as your work area. 

It would be great to have enough surface area to work with a PC and large monitor. But if this isn’t possible, make sure you have enough space to move around and work with your laptop. 

After all, you want to be as comfortable as possible when working in a confined space. 

If you’re using the same laptop for personal use, create a separate account for work. It might seem like a small thing but having different usernames and passwords for work and personal use can go a long way in maintaining work-life balance and focus. 

2. Establish a Work Schedule

You had to abide by a work schedule at the office, why should things be different now that you’re working from home? You can’t accomplish your business goals if you don’t put in the required hours.

That said, the biggest benefit about working from home is that your work hours are more flexible. Why? For starters, you don’t have to deal with the inconveniences of traffic and the daily commute. 

You can start working the moment you get out of bed or after you’ve had your first cup of coffee. The most important thing is to set a work schedule and commit to it. 

3. Have Process Flows In Place

Process flows are built-in systems that help organize work and make everything more efficient. Systems are composed of programs and other types of tools that have been developed to provide a specific function. 

What do we mean and how do these processes, systems, and tools apply to your work from home schedule?

Incorporate software programs that can help you manage the different areas of work such as communication, project management, file sharing, marketing, and accounting. 

Here are a few good examples of software programs that address these key areas of responsibility:

  • Communication – ZOOM, MS Teams, and Skype.
  • Project Management – Asana, Trello, and Basecamp.
  • File-Sharing – Google Drive, Dropbox, and MS OneDrive.
  • Marketing – Buffer, HubSpot, and ActiveCampaign.
  • Accounting – QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Wave.

You don’t need all of these programs in your process flow. Choose one – preferably the program that you’re familiar with.

Once you’ve selected the programs, create an outline of the steps of the process flow.

For example, if you’re managing projects for different clients, this could be an effective process flow:

Step 1: Project assignments and details will be posted in Asana. 

Step 2: Files can be retrieved from Dropbox. 

Step 3: Completed files will be uploaded to Dropbox. 

Step 4: Status of the project and a direct link to Dropbox will be inputted in Google Sheets. 

Step 5: Progress timetable will be updated on Asana. 

Create process flows for marketing, communication, and accounting and circulate the details to the concerned parties.

4. Plan Your Day – The Night Before

If you go to the supermarket without a shopping list, you’ll spend most of your time stressing about what you need, which aisle to go, and how much to pay. Chances are you won’t get everything you need and end up going over budget. 

If you don’t plan your day the night before, you’ll start the day not knowing which tasks to do and to prioritize. Chances are you’ll overlook the most important tasks and end the workday with not much to show for.

That’s the problem with guesswork – you waste so much time. Guesswork is a productivity killer. 

So how do you plan the tasks for the next day? There are a several ways to approach this:

  • Prioritize the task that results in the highest ROI for your business.
  • Attend to the task that gave you a sleepless night.
  • Attack the task that is closest to completion and will put you on the “board”.

Regardless of your approach, the outcome must be productive for your business. By planning ahead, once you get out of bed, your mind is more focused and you’ll be less stressed. 

A quick jolt of caffeine is all you need to hit the ground running, get your day started, and start ticking tasks off the list of things to do. 

5. Set Your Business Goals

Setting business goals is important because it creates direction for your company. Having a goal gives your day purpose. It’s the reason you don’t just rise out of bed but jump out of it to seize the day.

You can have a primary business goal then break the steps of achieving it into smaller goals. 

For example, your primary business goal is to drive more traffic to your website. It’s not realistic to expect website traffic to increase in one day. Driving inbound traffic to your website requires planning, implementation, monitoring, and consistency. It can be touch and go for a while where changes to the overall strategy will be needed to generate the desired results. 

Thus, a typical day could consist of performing the following tasks to keep you moving toward your goal of increasing website traffic:

  • Write a blog.
  • Post content on social media.
  • Email the latest newsletter to subscribers.
  • Engage with followers on social media. 
  • Review performance on all the social media platforms. 
  • Work with the production team on the creation of new short videos. 

Can you have more than one business goal? Yes! 

Your other goals might be to improve the sales conversion rate, streamline costs, develop a content strategy, or look and qualify resellers and distributors. 

Whatever your goals are, make sure they are realistic and measurable. Most importantly, work on them every day. Those steps might be small but with persistence and consistency, they can help you achieve big results.

6. Create Ground Rules

It wasn’t only businesses that had to shift to an online model when the pandemic hit. Even schools migrated their programs online and had students studying from home. 

As the world slowly opens up to the realities of co-existing with the pandemic, many schools continue to run their curriculums online out of safety concerns. Chances are, you won’t be the only one working from home. 

Your children might think that since Mom and Dad are at home most of the time, you’re at their “beck and call” 24/7. If you allow this to happen, the work-from-home arrangement won’t be productive. 

Set the ground rules at home. Let everyone know that while you’re working, no one will be allowed to contact you unless it’s really, REALLY important. Tell your children to take the phone calls and to attend to anyone who’s at the door. 

Leave a voicemail on your phone that advises everyone who calls that you can’t take their call because you’re working. In fact, we would advise you to keep your phone locked away in a drawer during work hours. 

If your spouse expects you to run some errands, inform your spouse that you’ll attend to those tasks after work. 

7. Schedule Rest Periods

When you were reporting to an office, you had 30-minute breaks every 3 to 4 hours. At home, you can schedule 30-minute breaks every 1.5 to 2 hours. 

Why should rest periods be more frequent when you’re working from home? According to studies, the brain can process and consolidate information for only 75 to 90 minutes; 120 minutes maximum. 

Scheduling rest periods every 75 to 120 minutes will allow your mind to relax, recharge, and retain information better. 

During your rest period, you can:

  • Take a nap – highly recommended!
  • Exercise – also highly recommended!
  • Get a snack
  • Check your phone for messages
  • Check on your kids
  • Run an errand that can be done within 30 minutes

The important thing is to be able to rest and decompress after attending to a task. After 30 minutes, you’ll be ready to handle the next task and move closer toward ending the workday productively.

8. Set Aside Time for Your Colleagues

You might find working from home to be a more fulfilling arrangement but not everyone on the team might feel the same way. 

Some people have a hard time adjusting to a work-from-home schedule. They’re used to shared-space collaboration with colleagues and prefer to work in a traditional office setting. 

Yes, believe it or not, some people don’t mind the commute, the office politics, and having the supervisor hovering over them. 

If you’re working with a remote team, always set time in a day for them. You can use Zoom or Microsoft Teams to run conference calls. This will help those on your team who are struggling with the work-from-home arrangement adjust and adapt to the new conditions. 

A few ideas:

  • Schedule daily pre-shift or post-shift meetings.
  • Have short 30-minute coffee breaks with the team.
  • If it’s someone’s birthday, set up an online party with food and drinks.
  • Schedule one-on-one consultations with team members who you know are struggling the most. 
  • Have a virtual night out with your colleagues; kick back a few ice-cold beers and just chill out. After all, no one’s drinking and driving!

Maintaining regular communication with your remote team will help build stronger relationships and keep everyone more committed and focused on their jobs.

9. Keep the Learning Process Going

It’s not just your kids who should pursue higher education. Everyone, including you, can benefit by keeping the learning process going. You can always get better by updating your current skill set or learning new ones. 

For example, everyone can benefit from improving their business acumen. If money management is a weak point, sign up for short courses on business accounting. 

If you want to improve the existing workflows in your business, spend an hour each day learning a new project management software program. 

Why not sign up for online foreign language courses so you can network and promote your business to other regions?

You can also research your industry and find out the latest trends and developments. You may have been immersed in managing the micro details of your business that you’ve been out-of-the-loop with the macro factors affecting your industry. 

Keep in mind that the world doesn’t standstill. In a global economy, events in one region can have repercussions in another. Market conditions can change without warning. 

It would be a good idea to adopt a flexible business model. This means learning new skills that can help you identify shifts or changes in the horizon and implement the appropriate courses of action right away,

 10. Take Vacation or Sick Leaves

Just because you’re working with the comforts of your home doesn’t mean you’ll never get sick or need time off to recharge. There will come a time when the 30-minute rest periods every 75 to 120 minutes won’t suffice and you’ll need time away from work.

When that time comes – get away from work. If you get sick, schedule a few days’ leaves and get much-needed rest. 

Depending on the situation in your region, if pandemic guidelines allow you to travel across the country, schedule a short vacation. Head off to a place where you can get fresh air and sunlight. If possible, disconnect from technology and immerse yourself in nature. 

Our company is called “Mountaintop” for a reason. Whenever we feel the need to decompress and recharge, we get away from it all by climbing mountains in Colorado. 

Mountain climbing is a great form of exercise and helps clear our minds from the challenges at work. It’s also a wonderful way of building teamwork. Getting to the top of the mountain requires everyone to perform at their best and to keep the team’s interest the main priority. 

Reaching the pinnacle of the mountain is always a rush and an amazing accomplishment for the team!

Conclusion

Working from home is an opportunity for achieving a work-life balance. However, its success will depend on being able to maintain a productive schedule daily.

You don’t have to implement all of our 10 tips discussed in this article to ensure a productive work environment at home. Choose the ones that best apply to your situation and nature of work. 

The important takeaway is to understand that when you work from home, you still have to work and put in the needed hours to succeed in your career. 

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we can create these types of amazing, high-ranking content for your website. By outsourcing content writing to us, you can focus more on the tasks that add dollars and cents to your bottom line. Likewise, feel free to share this article with friends who are working from home.

WebsiteStandOut

Starting a work-from-home business can be quite a shift coming from a 9-to-5 office job. You’re moving away from a career that has the security of a paycheck every 15 days to one with no assurances of a consistent stream of income. Anyone can start a business but it won’t run unless you have a client. All it takes is to land the first one. It seems daunting, and it is. But if you follow our 10 tips below, you could sign up your first client faster than you ever thought possible.

1. Set Up a Business Website

If you’re serious about running a business from home, invest in a website for your business. A website is where potential clients will go to learn more about your products, services, skills, and experiences. 

As you will find out in this article, to get clients for your work from home business, you have to market and promote your skills and abilities. All of your marketing and promotional efforts have a single destination point – your website. 

You don’t need a fancy website with all the bells and whistles. Simple design will work as long as the website is highly functional. Therefore, it must be mobile-friendly, has a fast download speed, and is secured by SSL Certificates. 

What pages do you need for your business website?

  • Home Page – Discuss your value proposition; what can you do for your client?
  • About Us – Share your story; why are you the right person for the job?
  • Products/Services – Create a “showroom” of the products and services you offer; descriptions must be detailed enough to answer all of the client’s possible questions. 
  • Portfolio Page – Show the client the projects you’ve done so far; encourage the clients to visualize the work you can do for them.
  • Contact Page – Include complete contact information such as business address, contact numbers, and e-mail addresses.

2. Clean Up Your Social Media Presence

Believe it or not, finding clients is similar to looking for a job. Remember that in the same way a recruiter qualifies the best candidate to work for the company, potential clients will qualify the best service provider they can work with. 

In other words, potential clients, like employers, want to know who you are before they sign you up. And the best gauge is your social media. 

According to a study conducted by The Manifest, 90% of recruiters will check the social media activity of a job applicant before proceeding further.  Take the extra step and assume that potential clients will do the same to you.

Remove all posts – text, images, and curated content – that could potentially put you in a bad light with the client. 

3. Create Business Pages in Social Media

Whether you have a company name or if you’re using your real name as the brand for your business, it would be a good idea to set up business pages in social media. 

A business page will help you build your brand through the following ways:

  • Develop a solid base of followers;
  • Establish online channels to distribute your blogs;
  • Engage with your followers; 
  • Drive traffic to your website;
  • Set up additional channels for potential clients to reach you.

In addition to your personal social media pages, prospects will visit your business pages to see how you handle questions about your products/services and deal with current clients. 

4. Blog Regularly

Blogging is a great way to enhance your reputation as an expert in your field or profession. Think of it as a platform – a virtual soapbox on the Internet – where you can share your ideas, thoughts, and opinions with people who are interested in what you have to say. 

Maybe a few of those “sitting in the audience” could be your future clients! 

But blogging isn’t just about tapping away on a keyboard putting ideas on a word processor. Blogging is both an art and a science. You want to be sure that what you post on the Internet will be seen by the people you want to target as clients. 

In other words, your blogs must be optimized for search engines. Your blogs must be searchable; easily found and indexed by the search engines’ crawl bots. Optimization is a skill in itself. For optimization to be effective, its principles must be applied diligently:

  • Embed high search volume keywords into your content;
  • The main keyword must be in the title, first paragraph, body, and concluding section of your blog.
  • Keyword density must not exceed 2% of the total word count. 
  • Include at least 1 link from a reliable source into your content. 
  • There must be at least 2 supporting keywords in your content. 

Once you have the hang of optimizing your content, the next step is to blog regularly. According to studies, you have to blog 11 to 15 times a month to drive more traffic to your website. 

Your best option is to outsource blogging to us! We’re optimization experts and we have a team of content writers who can create high-quality and high-ranking blogs for you. 

Our blogs on digital marketing have frequently been cited by the UpCity website as the best in business writing!

5. Invest in PPC Ads

Pay Per Click or PPC ads guarantee quick hits to your website. Since you’re already promoting your business organically through social media marketing and blogging, invest a bit of money on PPC ads to speed up results. 

You can start with Facebook PPC ads. Facebook will place your PPC ads directly in front of your target audience and increase the probability of someone clicking on your ad.

When someone clicks on your PPC ad, that person will end up on your website’s landing page. If he likes what he sees, he will explore your website better. And if he’s convinced that you have the skills for the project, he’ll get in touch with you. 

The good thing about PPC ads is that you only pay whenever someone clicks on it. It’s an effective way to stretch your marketing budget while boosting your chances of landing a client.

6. Join Freelancer Platforms

Now that you’ve set up the foundation of your online business, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and let the real work begin! 

Networking is a must-do activity in the search for clients. In this article, we will explore 3 different types of networking activities you can do. The first one is to network on freelancer platforms. 

Freelancer platforms are sites that connect businesses with remote workers, virtual assistants, freelancers, and those who run an online business from home. You might be surprised to know that many of the largest and most successful companies in the world use freelancer platforms to look for talent. 

Some of the best freelancer platforms you should consider are the following:

  • Upwork (Formerly known as Elance-oDesk)
  • Freelancer
  • FlexJobs
  • Toptal 
  • Fiverr
  • People Per Hour
  • Guru
  • Simply Hired

Create a compelling online profile and make sure you include links to your website and social media accounts. If you’re trying to land your first client, don’t prioritize your earnings and price yourself out of the market. It’s unlikely that a client will pay a premium for a first-timer. 

Lastly, successful networking is a numbers game. Qualify and be selective with the projects you want to apply for but try to bid for more than one. 

If we conservatively assume a 2% success rate then you must apply to at least 50 projects in one month or almost 2 projects per day. Yes – including Sundays.

7. Network in Social Media

The second type of networking still keeps you on the Internet. This time instead of the freelancer websites, you will be networking on social media. The best social media platform is LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn is widely considered the professional’s social media network. Many entrepreneurs, CEOs, key influencers, top-level executives, and managers use LinkedIn to connect with potential clients, strategic business partners, as well as find talent for their respective companies. 

Similar to your freelancer profile, come up with an impressive LinkedIn profile. Creating a LinkedIn profile is like writing a resume. Cite your achievements and share your career milestones. 

Join community groups in your industry. Get involved in focus discussions but don’t sell your services here! At least not yet. Your primary objective is to gain acceptance by frequently sharing your knowledge and expertise with the community. 

LinkedIn has its own blogging platform. You can blog from here and then distribute your content to your community and to the focus groups you belong to. You can also share your blogs from your website. 

Once you’ve got a good feel of LinkedIn, try to connect with other members who are part of your industry. Look for potential clients. Qualify them by reading up on their bio and by researching on the Internet. Once you’ve identified your “targets” shoot them with a Linkedin invite to connect. 

Send a customized invite. Don’t just send the default LinkedIn invite and write one that’s directed to the person you want to connect with. 

The magic number in LinkedIn is 500 – as in 500 followers. When you’ve achieved this milestone, people will want to connect with you!

8. Qualify Your Contacts List

Your contacts list –  you know the ones in your email, your phone book, and social media accounts – could be potential gold mines for clients. 

Go over your contacts list and pick out those contacts who might be interested in hiring your services. Put these names on a shortlist then review them one more time. Rank them in order of importance – who would most likely hire your services? 

If you know them quite well, message them first and ask if they’re up for a quick call or a chat over coffee. Let them know straight off the bat that this meeting will be for your business. And if they’re interested – or not – they’ll let you know right away. 

Who knows? Maybe they’ll give you a referral which we’ll discuss next. You have nothing to lose except a few minutes of your time. 

There’s always that possibility your contact will tell you “Sure! I was just looking for someone with your skills. It’s a good thing you called me. Let’s meet for coffee. Are you free tomorrow?”

9. Ask for Referrals

Asking for referrals can be an uncomfortable experience. You’re calling a friend or an associate to ask for a favor. Just remember that every successful entrepreneur has asked friends, business associates, and family members for referrals. It’s part of the entrepreneurial job description!

While many will gladly help you out without asking for anything in return, it’s perfectly fine to offer a referral fee. After all, this is business. A referral fee is usually 2% to 3% of the project cost or a small percentage of your first month’s pay. 

Whatever you decide, you must be comfortable with it and the incentive must be worth your friend’s time. 

 10. Attend Networking Conferences

The third form of networking is good, old-fashioned leg work. Try to attend networking conferences such as trade shows and relevant expos whenever possible. 

These events might be rare or less frequent during this time of the pandemic but some organizers are still willing to host as long as safety protocols are in place and strictly implemented. 

If you have an opportunity to attend a networking event, bring calling cards and a few hard copies of your company brochure. Yes, not everything should be uploaded on the Internet. Many people still prefer having a calling card and a printed brochure in their hands. 

While at a networking event, focus on profiling your “targets” and “scope” them out carefully. It will be good if you can find out from the organizers who the attendees are and to do a bit of research. 

It’s not a good idea to talk business right away. Get to know them as people first and likewise, let the person come out before switching to your entrepreneur hat. The segue from pleasantries to business must be as seamless and natural as possible. 

At the end of your chat, if in your honest assessment everything went well, ask the person if you can meet sometime during the week to discuss business matters further. 

Conclusion

The key to getting clients for your work-from-home business is consistency. You have to be at it regardless of the outcome. There are days when it seems signing up your first client is an impossible task. It isn’t. 

As we mentioned in this article, landing a client is a numbers game. You have to acquire as many prospects as possible to improve your chances of getting one. 

Stay focused on your business and believe that the effort will be all worth it. In a few years, you’ll look back and be glad that you went through the process and overcame the challenges. 

If you need help in setting up a business website or in planning a digital marketing strategy, give us a call or drop us an email. We’ll get you started right away!

And if you enjoyed this article and know of people who can benefit from it, feel free and share this blog with them.

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While it’s true that the pandemic necessitated many businesses to adopt a work-from-home strategy, companies have slowly been transitioning to an online model as far back as 2014. 

If you remember, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer made a groundbreaking shift to telecommuting in 2013. She started slow – transitioning only 10% of the workforce from office to home-based and generated admirable results.

After one year, Meyer pulled the plug on the telecommuting project because she felt that at a certain point, telecommuting generated diminishing returns. 

In our opinion, Meyer pulled the plug too early. There’s a learning curve in everything new. Had she stayed the course, Yahoo, which had been heavily losing financially under Meyer, might have turned around. 

The studies that we share with you in this article proves that adopting a work-from-home strategy for your strategy will produce dividends. 

1. Increase Productivity

A study by Global Workplace Analytics cites the following statistics to support the idea that a work from home strategy increases productivity:

  • Many big corporations including Dow Chemicals and British Telecom have reported that employee productivity increased between 35% to 40% after they adopted a work from home/telecommuting strategy in the workplace.
  • Likewise, more than 67% of companies that took part in the study reported that employees who transitioned to telecommuting assignments showed improved productivity.
  • Other corporations such as Compaq, American Express, and JD Express reported that employee productivity increased from 15% to 45%.

It’s easy to understand how working from home can improve business productivity. 

In the same Global Workplace Analytics study, Sun Microsystems claimed that since incorporating a work from home strategy, the company was able to improve productivity by recovering the 60% of productive time lost by employees during their commute to work. 

When your employee works from home, he won’t be stressed out by the commute. He can enjoy his first cup of coffee, a hearty breakfast, and prepare himself mentally for the challenges ahead. 

By the time he gets behind the computer – he’s revved up and ready to go! And when he gets tired, he can take short naps or a walk around the park to get rejuvenated for the next item on the agenda. 

Although distractions still abound at home, the employee doesn’t have to deal with the usual stressors in the workplace such as politics and water cooler gossip. He won’t be constantly looking at the clock to check if he has enough time to finish his work and pick up his kids at school. 

The Global Workplace Analytics study revealed that businesses lose an estimated US$600 million annually due to office distractions. 

Employees become accountable for their work schedules. As the employer, what you’ll focus on are the results. 

2. Reduce Operating Costs

Rent is one of the biggest expense items on your monthly budget. If you designate a percentage of your employees as telecommuters, you won’t need to rent as big a space. 

You can maintain a smaller workplace and with more areas dedicated to revenue-generating activities. Consequently, you lower your utility costs for electricity, Internet service fees, and water.

Communication expenses can be slashed down significantly because you can incorporate online-based tools that can make communication more efficient and affordable. 

Instead of messaging employees via their mobile phones or calling them on the office landline, you can use ZOOM, Viber, Skype, Messenger, or Slack. These services offer free subscriptions but with limited features. 

Use these tools to arrange and preside over audio-visual teleconferences. It’s as good as face-to-face meetings because you can share screens, send files, and privately message participants. 

Lastly, because more employees are working from home, you can reduce or eliminate office supplies. 

3. Lower Attrition Rates

We mentioned earlier how office politics and water cooler chatter can cause distractions that affect productivity. More specifically, these types of distractions can make the workplace feel uncomfortable and affect the morale of employees. 

Unhappy employees become disengaged. In addition to the losses in business productivity, a disengaged employee will eventually leave your company and contribute to the cost of workplace attrition. 

The cost of replacing an employee is estimated to be double the employee’s salary. In the United States, workplace attrition has cost the economy approximately US$1 Trillion a year. 

A study conducted by the American Sociological Review found that people who work from home are happier and perform better than those who work from an office. 

Another study by Global Workplace Analytics disclosed that 72% of businesses with work from home arrangements reduced attrition levels significantly. 

People who work from home are happier and more productive for the following reasons:

  • They are less stressed.
  • They have more time with their family.
  • They can set aside time for exercise and wellness activities. 
  • They have more savings because they no longer have to commute or eat outdoors.
  • They are less likely to get ill. 

If your employees are happy, so will you!

4. Expand the Reach of Your Talent Pool

Another work-from-home strategy that you can incorporate into your business is outsourcing. 

Outsourcing is the process of delegating or transferring tasks to qualified third parties. For example, instead of setting up an in-house accounting department, you outsource accounting to a company that provides back-office services. 

What are the benefits of outsourcing?

  • Lower costs because you contract the services of a company – you don’t hire employees. The cost of hiring an employee is calculated at 1.5-times his salary because benefits are factored in. When you outsource, you pay per project, per productive hour, or via monthly retention fee. 
  • Improve the quality of work because you’re delegating tasks to qualified people – these are individuals with the requisite knowledge and experience to do the job correctly. 
  • Increase productivity because now, you can focus only on the core activities of your business. 

With outsourcing, you expand the reach of your talent pool. You’re no longer limited to hiring local people. You can outsource to talent located across the globe. 

The obvious advantage of outsourcing to remote talent is that you can capitalize on the lower cost of labor. For example, outsourcing to India or the Philippines will cost you less in terms of labor. 

That doesn’t mean you get what you pay for. In most cases, you’ll get MORE than what you pay for! If outsourcing to remote locations wasn’t effective, India and the Philippines wouldn’t remain as the top outsourcing destinations in the world. 

5. Contribute to a Better and Healthier Environment

If more businesses around the world shifted to a work-from-home business model, we would have a cleaner and safer environment because there would be fewer cars on the streets, less traffic, and lower demand for public transportation.

Because expenses for office supplies would be greatly reduced, there would be less need for paper products. Electrical consumption would be greatly reduced and there would be less garbage to be collected. 

If your company is a strong advocate for sustainable solutions that protect and preserve the environment, shift to a work-from-home business model. 

Conclusion: Work From Home Could Be the New Normal

We believe that in time, the pandemic will become endemic. But that might take a while. 

As of this writing, scientists are still evaluating the effectiveness of the vaccines. Almost on a daily basis, you’ll come across developments that are promising… or underwhelming. 

This is to be expected as it usually takes decades before a vaccine is pronounced effective. It’s safe to assume that all of the vaccines are still in their experimental stages. 

That’s why if your business hasn’t adopted a work-from-home model, it’s not too late. You can still do the shift – but you should start NOW!

Let’s set aside the pandemic. For the purpose of discussion, let’s assume the pandemic never happened. Given the advantages discussed above, wouldn’t you be encouraged to incorporate a work from home arrangement into your business?

What do you have when you increase productivity and reduce costs? Improved profitability!

Do you want to experience how it is to outsource services? Outsource your web development and digital marketing activities to us! 

We have years of experience handling these tasks for our clients. Not only have we contributed to the performance of their businesses, but we also helped them reduce costs.

Give us a call and let’s get started!

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

 

The BackStory: 

Recently, I had a very interesting experience with another marketing firm and learned a lesson from them. I was trying to do the right thing by letting them know they were having an issue with the home page of their website. 

As you know if you read our articles, having issues on your website will lead to lost sales and missing out on potential customers. 

As a courtesy, I reached out via the contact form on their website and gave them a heads up that said their website home page is broken and is showing shortcodes to visitors. As a quick aside, here is an example of what a shortcode looks like: 

[shortcode that is meant for the backend of website] 

The next day I got back a reply from this agency. This was their reply: 

Do not solicit us again through our website or any other means.

Being the optimist that I am, I figured they were probably getting spammed with messages and thought I was one of them. I replied again trying to help them. Here is my reply: 

I’m not soliciting. I get those messages too from spammers. 

I was on your website and the home page was broken and showing short codes. 

(I then included a screenshot showing the error on the website)

A short while later I got the reply to my message: 

Yes, we know and our new site is in production as we speak, so don’t worry about it.  No one asked you to review our site.

Wow. Just wow. I am literally blown away at these responses. 

This is a very small marketing business based here in the United States. They claim on their website that they are here to provide customer service and take good care of their customers. 

However, in this interaction, they made it very clear they don’t care about feedback. 

I then looked at the email again and the disclaimer at the footer of EVERY email caught my attention. Here is the word for word copy of what it says: 

DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the use of email is to convey ideas and thoughts in a quick, efficient manner. It is generally considered an abbreviated, expedited form of communication.  In my case, they are sometimes short, direct and to the point without the use of pleasantries and intonations.  Please do not read more into them, make assumptions, or place any specific emotional value to them other than the point trying to be conveyed.  Any in-depth conversation or dialogue needs to take place telephonically please. Thank you.

Even Further Backstory:

I am sure you are curious now: How did I wind up on their website? 

The short answer is that I had their company website bookmarked (from a year prior) because I discovered they implemented some ADA web accessibility features well on their website. I wanted to research the solution they were using for this functionality. 

I was then curious how I heard about this company as they are geographically a long way away from where we are. 

I did some digging through our internal tech and found an answer. I first heard about this company after they visited our website and downloaded our free guide on 5 Mistakes Your Website Is Making back in September 2020. 

I had briefly replied to them at that point as it looked like we were doing similar things in different parts of the country. It is always good to network and see if you can learn from others. During a few emails, we had a pleasant conversation.

As I learned more recently, this interaction was not a good representation of their company or their culture.

The Lessons Learned:

In our article, 10 Qualities of a Professional Web Designer (this applies to all marketing), we talk about the essential qualities you should look for when working with a website designer or marketing agency.

There are a few relevant ones to this discussion:

  • Empathy – This means putting yourself in the shoes of your customers and viewing things through how they will view them. 
  • Good Listener – This means acknowledging the feedback (and ideas) other people give you and working to understand their feedback (and ideas).
  • Effective Communicator –  An effective communicator knows how to relay opposing viewpoints without discouraging or embarrassing the client

As you can see, this agency doesn’t embody any of these characteristics. 

The email responses I received from them were the exact opposite of empathy, good listening, and effective communication. 

After pondering this interaction for a while, I also started thinking more about the disclaimer that appears to be included in every email from their business. I had a few thoughts:

  • It appears from this disclaimer that they make a regular habit of sending short, rude, and unfriendly emails to their clients.
  • This is apparently so frequent and has caused so many issues for them that they decided their best option was to include a “rudeness” disclaimer at the bottom of all emails

I am not sure about you, but if I was the customer of a company that regularly sent me rude emails, I would not stick around very long, even if they were good at their work. 

Unfortunately, this is similar to the stories we have heard from many of our clients that have come to us after bad experiences with other agencies.

The interaction with this agency makes me question how effective they actually are in their marketing.

Marketing is based upon having the empathy to understand your potential customers and the problems they are experiencing. It is only after understanding your customers that you can then craft marketing messages that clearly communicate how you will solve the problem(s) that they have.

It has been proven countless times that collaboration usually results in outcomes that are better, cheaper, and more efficient than if someone tried doing this on their own. However, a core element of collaboration is communication.

If you run a small business, you likely know your customers and the problems they face better than anyone else. If you hire a marketing agency, it is important that they are able to listen to your ideas and feedback as you are the one that knows your business best. A marketer needs to have the empathy to understand not only your needs but also the needs of your customers. 

If a marketing agency will not listen to your ideas or feedback, or they cannot communicate well with you, this is a clear warning sign that you may be wasting your hard-earned money on marketing that is not working. 

It may be time to find another agency that will make the effort to understand your business, the challenges you face, and most importantly your customers. 

If you are a company that is working with an agency that is rude, ignores you, or is bad at communicating, YOU DESERVE BETTER. 

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

Online shopping has been on an uptrend as far back as 2014. A driving force was the increased use of mobile devices to access the Internet. It became easier and more convenient to visit an eCommerce website than the popular department store. 

Then, the pandemic hit, and the need to shop online wasn’t just easy and convenient. It was safer and more practical. According to the United Nations, global eCommerce sales increased to US$26.7 trillion because of the pandemic. 

If you have an eCommerce site, you’re definitely in the right business. And if you’re planning to open a retail store online, there’s still room for growth. However, just like a brick-and-mortar store, success isn’t a given. You have to do things right to turn your eCommerce website into a money-making machine. 

In this 2-part series, we’ll share with you 10 tips you can use to keep the checkout counter of your eCommerce website busy. The first 5 will be in this article and we’ll discuss the final 5 in part 2.

The eCommerce Boom – Can You Handle The Competition?

As vaccines continue to be rolled out, more consumers will prefer to shop at an eCommerce website. If you have an online retail business, you won’t have to worry about demand. However, you have to be concerned about increased competition. 

Presently, there are an estimated 12 to 24 million eCommerce websites on the Internet catering to the needs of approximately 2 billion shoppers. It might seem that there are enough customers for every online retailer but that’s not the case. 

A shopper might have the patience to cope with the hour-long drive to the mall or the 30-minutes waiting time at the cashier’s checkout counter but he has less patience waiting for your eCommerce site to load. 

If your website doesn’t load in 15 seconds or less, he’ll click out and just go to your competitor. 

And the challenges don’t end there!

The challenges facing an eCommerce business are no different than those of a brick-and-mortar store owner. You have to keep your customers happy, stay ahead of the competition, and remain visible. If you can’t, the checkout counter of your eCommerce website won’t be ringing. 

While demand is there, you can’t be assured of good sales if your eCommerce business isn’t creating new customers and maintaining existing ones at the same time. 

We’re here to show you how it’s done!

1. Optimize Your eCommerce Website

Setting up an eCommerce website is definitely a smart move. Now, you can sell your products 24/7 and have a wider reach for your customers – if they can find you. 

Imagine entering a huge supermarket and not knowing where to get toiletries. You’ll waste so much time going from aisle to aisle. The experience could be so unpleasant that you’d probably go back to your neighborhood grocery store.

Optimizing your eCommerce website will make it easier for your customers to find you. Going back to our example, optimizing the supermarket would be having a map of the layout so that it would be easier for you to find toiletries. 

When someone makes a search inquiry about a product you carry, optimizing your eCommerce website will make it appear on the search results page, hopefully, on the first page. 

Here are a few tips on how you can optimize your eCommerce website:

  • Mobile-Responsiveness – According to Statista, mobile devices account for 54.8% of global online traffic. If your eCommerce website doesn’t set up well on mobile screens, potential buyers will click out.
  • Utilize Keywords on High-Impact Pages – Keywords are the most-used words or phrases when people launch a search query. Having high-volume keywords embedded on your high-impact pages such as the Homepage, Products, and About Us will make your website easier for the web crawlers to find.
  • Soup-Up Your Home Page – The Homepage is where potential customers land after they click on your URL. Entice visitors to stay longer and to explore your website by presenting a beautiful and functional homepage. Make sure it’s highly navigable, well organized, and uses unique images that are optimized with ALT tags.
  • Highlight Top Products – Let your visitors know what your top products are. For example, you can tag them as “Best Seller”, “No.1 for Households”, “Buyer’s Choice”, or “2020 Award Best Consumer Product”. 
  • Conduct a Technical SEO Audit – A Technical SEO audit is performed by your web developer. A typical audit would include a check for duplicate content, broken links, a website speed test, a review of the backlinks, and a review and analysis of site metrics. 

If you want a Technical SEO Audit done on your website, give us a call. We’ve done this with our clients and we can perform an audit on your eCommerce website as well.

2. Promote Your eCommerce Website via Social Media

4.48 million people are on social media and 56.8% are active on some social network on a daily basis. On average, a person spends 2 hours and 25 minutes on social media, and 40% use these platforms for work. 

If those statistics aren’t enough to convince you to promote your eCommerce site on social media, this one will:

71% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by social media.

Marketing your eCommerce through social media is a cost-effective and efficient way to generate more awareness about your business. Opening an account won’t cost you a cent and your posts can reach your target audience faster than traditional marketing channels.

What are the best ways to harness the power and reach of social media? 

  • Blog! Blog! Blog! 

First, you have to create content and one of the best forms of content marketing is blogging. However, blogging isn’t just about putting content on a word processor. 

Your blogs have to be unique, useful, informative, engaging, and compelling. Likewise, it must be optimized with the right keywords and structure to be found on the Internet. 

Blogging requires frequency. To produce the desired results, you have to blog 11 to 16 times per month. Once you have posted your blog on your website, share it on your social media accounts. 

  • Choose the Right Social Media Platforms 

You don’t have to put up 10 social media accounts to get results. Social media platforms are communities and as such these communities attract particular market segments and have their unique culture and set of behaviors. 

Choose social media platforms based on your business goals, type of industry, and target audience. 

For example, if your products are highly visual, social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest might work for you. 

If your goals are to generate leads, create awareness, enhance industry reputation, and improve customer engagement, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit would be the best choices.

  • Stay Active 

There are so many opinions and recommendations out there about the activity level you need to maintain on social media to achieve your goals. We’ll simplify it with only 2 rules:

Rule #1 – Post at least once a day. 

Rule #2 – Restrict your posting activity only from Monday to Friday.

The exception to Rule #1 would be Twitter and Pinterest where studies have shown posting up to 20 times per day produces better results. 

Likewise, the exception to Rule #2 is if your product or service is patronized even on the weekends such as food, personal training, and fashion apparel.

Tip: When posting or sharing content on social media, make sure your content has these 2 components:

One, the lead-in to your post must include your website URL. And two, make sure there’s a powerful Call-to-Action (CTA). 

For example, if you’re selling supplements, end your lead-in post with: 

“Go to www.supplementmania.com/shop/protein-powder and buy your whey protein stock NOW.”

3. Write Highly-Detailed Product Descriptions

We’re used to recommending to our readers that web copy needs to be kept short, concise, and of course, optimized to be effective because site visitors tend to have short attention spans. 

The case is different when you have a potential shopper who’s looking for a specific item to buy from a website. Like most shoppers, the eCommerce visitor wants to get more information about a product in order to validate his decision to purchase or not. 

Your eCommerce visitor will also use the available product information to compare your item with your competitors’. If your product doesn’t provide the same information as your competitor, you’ll lose the sale. 

When it comes to product descriptions, quality and quantity go hand-in-hand. Focus on giving the potential buyer as much detail as possible but make sure these details are relevant! Provide “stuff” and not “fluff”. 

To know for sure, look at how your competitors or the main players in the industry are writing their product descriptions. Take note of the information included in the descriptions – then do better! 

4. Diversify Your Product Mix

So you’re selling what you believe to be the world’s best disinfectant? No matter how many studies you cite to back your claims up, it’s not realistic to expect everyone to be interested. 

Similarly, people might be looking for other types of sanitizing solutions other than a disinfectant sprayer.

Going back to our example, in addition to the disinfectant, you can add the following items to diversify your product mix:

  • Copper Face Mask
  • Hand Sanitizing Lotion
  • Disinfectant Hand Wipes
  • Portable Cold Fogging Machine
  • Face Shield
  • Protective Gloves
  • Polymer-based Surface Disinfectant

It’s always a good idea to offer your potential customers choices in your eCommerce portal. Not only will you cater to a larger market but it will be easier to upsell. 

5. Engage Your Audience

The “social” aspect of social media marketing comes to play whenever you engage your audience. Interacting with your audience gives your business a sense of “humanness”.

You’re not just a company out to profit but an actual entity that’s accessible to people. Social media allows you to make a connection with your potential buyers. Engaging them helps build trust and create an impression that you care about your customers.

Here are a few ways you can engage your audience:

  • Respond to Comments and Messages

As the saying goes, “All comments are good comments”. 

Even if you receive a negative comment about your product, the silver lining is that the customer took the time to share his experience. Don’t take it personally. Change your perspective and view the criticism as an opportunity to win back a customer. 

Assure the complainant you’ve taken note of his situation and that you’ll get back to him with a course of action. Comments can be harsh but remain respectful at all times. Always conduct yourself in a professional manner. 

  • Offer Discounted Promotions 

If sales are only trickling in, offer your eCommerce visitors limited-time discounted promotions.

For example,  offer 25% off your flagship product or a buy one/take one promo on slow-moving items. Customers will view discounts as proof that you’re willing to take a hit on your profit margins just to get them to try your product. It’s a sign that you’re confident your product will deliver the desired results. 

  • Come Up with Contests 

Contests are a great way to generate more fun and engagement. Posting about a contest changes the dynamic of your business. It shows you’re not just selling products but you’re selling the experience of transacting with your company.

If you own a chain of burger restaurants, you can post a contest that invites followers to post a video of themselves eating your spiciest burger. The person who clocks in the fastest time gets a t-shirt. 

  • Make Recommendations  

Oftentimes, your eCommerce website will receive visitors who are unsure of what they are looking for. They are no different than customers who enter a coffee shop, look at the menu board, and decide on which type of coffee they’ll order. 

You can help them by making recommendations:

  • Have a chat support agent available during working hours.
  • In your product descriptions, include recommendations on “who this product is for”.
  • Categorize your products based on Buyer or User Profile. 

Make the shopping experience as easy and convenient as possible. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. 

  • Would you be happy with the experience of visiting your website? 
  • Can you find what you’re looking for right away?
  • Do you feel confident knowing that someone is ready to assist you? 
  • Did you spend less time making decisions because there’s enough information available to make an educated purchase?

When conceptualizing your eCommerce website, always have your buyer in mind. 

Conclusion

We hope we’ve helped you find clarity on how to generate regular business with your online store. If your eCommerce site is struggling, please know that it’s not the end of your online career! 

This is just part 1. We’ll discuss 5 more tips on how to boost the sales of your eCommerce website. 

If you can’t wait for part 2, give us a call or drop us an email and we’ll have your eCommerce store rolling out and making money right away! 

And if you know someone who has an online store or is planning to put one up, please feel free to share this article with that person.

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Fresh college graduates face the daunting task of launching their professional careers at the time of the new normal. The pandemic has affected economies around the world and the United States was not spared. 

A 6.5% growth in the second quarter of 2021 raised hopes that the U.S. is on track for a post-pandemic economic recovery. Slowly but surely, businesses will be rising from the hardships caused by intermittent lockdowns all over the world. 

But just when HR departments and recruiters were anticipating busier days ahead as thousands of job openings hit the market, businesses were hit with another problem. 

The New Reality At The Time Of The New Normal

More American workers are quitting their jobs at a time when the economy is on a cusp of a boom. The number of resignations are hitting record highs – at levels unseen the past 20 years.

Apparently, as the pandemic triggered an emergency shift toward work-from-home arrangements, many people realized they prefer to dedicate more time with family and an office job won’t cut it.

As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. In this case, there are an estimated 9.3 million open doors for fresh college graduates to walk through. 

What Skills Are Recruiters Looking For In Fresh College Graduates?

Despite the demand for new talent to make up for the resignations, getting hired is never automatic for fresh college graduates. Recruiters still want to find the best candidates to fill in key positions in the company. 

You still need to qualify for the job by having the skills recruiters are looking for in fresh college graduates. 

1. Technology Savvy

Before the pandemic, we were already headed toward a technology-intensive global economy. 

Concepts such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Virtual Reality (VR), the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and Augmented Reality (AR) were increasingly discussed and gradually implemented in many businesses. 

Digital technology will continue to evolve and introduce new innovations designed to improve efficiency and productivity as integrating remote workforces remain the norm in the age of the new normal. 

When the world went on lockdown mode, many businesses were scampering to familiarize themselves with telecommuting and teleconferencing tools such as ZOOM, WebEx, MS Teams, and Google Meet. 

Likewise, companies are investing in developing technology that’s proprietary to the business. These are software programs, hardware, and networking systems that are designed specifically to run the processes of the company. 

Recruiters will be looking for fresh college graduates who are proficient in technology. They must be comfortable managing work through the use of software programs and only a slight learning curve to deal with.

2. Leadership

Leadership used to be a skill that was identified only with those in the mid-management level position to the top officers in the company. Today, recruiters are constantly on the lookout for talent with the potential to become potential leaders within the organization. 

In business, success is never guaranteed. There are always hindrances or obstacles toward accomplishing business goals. A company wants to hire people who aren’t afraid of facing these obstacles. They view problems as challenges that need to be overcome. 

Leaders are people who aren’t averse to making mistakes or experiencing failure. They know failure is part of the journey to success. 

Employees who have the potential to become leaders in the organization are those who don’t procrastinate and continue to push forward despite the odds. 

They’ll do what is demanded of them but at the same time, they won’t hesitate to share their thoughts and ideas with top management simply because they want the organization to succeed.

3. Adaptive Mindset

In a global economy, the repercussions of an event aren’t isolated to one part of the world. It will have cascading effects across regions. For example, world-changing events such as 9/11, the 2003 Crash of the Equities Markets, the Eurozone Crisis of 2009, and the pandemic have affected the economy of every nation. 

For this reason, a rigid and inflexible mindset will not thrive in a global economy. Recruiters want to hire people who have an adaptive mindset. They recognize that the world has turned VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous – and understand that circumstances can change without warning.

Having an adaptive mindset helps them foresee and anticipate these changes so they can prepare alternative courses of action in the event current strategies fall short in delivering results. 

Recruiters prefer to hire people who are open-minded and willing to accept new ideas, concepts, and processes. This is an important component for ensuring a productive and progressive organizational culture. 

4. Cultural Awareness and Diversity

Talent is never a monopoly of a region. You can find talent across time zones. The most successful companies have long recognized this. As an example, businesses continue to outsource work to other countries not just to cut costs but to capitalize on talent as well. 

Inevitably, whether you work in a brick-and-mortar office or from a remote location, you will find yourself working with people from different ethnicities. The challenge businesses frequently grapple with is navigating incidents that encroach on cultural inappropriateness. 

Oftentimes, the situation is unintended. It’s normal for people to be simply unaware of cultural differences. 

Try to educate yourself on the cultural practices and traditions of other nationalities. If you’re not sure, it’s always a good idea to take the conservative or less risky approach or to simply ask. 

For example, many Asian countries observe religious holidays and don’t work. However, there are different religious denominations and therefore, the practices will vary. 

So if you find yourself collaborating with people from another nationality who don’t show up for work on a particular date, don’t assume they’re lazy or sick. They could just be practicing their faith. 

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5. Fast But Firm Decision-making

In business, time is money. Every second that passes by where a decision isn’t made increases the cost of opportunity. 

While you’re vacillating on whether to take action or not, another party – your competitor has – and your opportunity to generate sales, get hired, or land an account has just come and gone. 

Recruiters want to hire people who have the ability to make quick decisions but are firm about them. They can do this because they have the fourth sought-after skill on this list – adaptive mindset. 

Quick decision-makers are able to balance the value of time and the probability of risk. They are willing to execute and implement decisions because they’ve already come up with alternative courses of action in case the desired outcome of the decision isn’t achieved. 

If you’re averse to risk, you’ll end up doing a lot of fence-sitting. And in business, if you’re not going forward and just staying still – you’re moving backward.

Speaking of collaboration…

6. Collaborative/Interpersonal 

One of the main reasons why companies have shifted their focus on building teams based on cultural fit is to create effective collaboration among individuals. 

You can have a team composed of the most talented people in terms of experience, academic achievements, industry awards, and levels of expertise, but if they don’t get along, the team won’t produce the expected results. 

Imagine a rowing team where the athletes don’t row at the same cadence or have some participants putting in more effort than others. That boat will be going around in circles instead of a straight line. 

The key component to establishing strong collaboration is having excellent interpersonal skills. When recruiters look for someone with excellent interpersonal skills, he’s not just assessing the ability to communicate. 

The recruiter is also looking for the ability of the person to willingly engage another person on the team; to reach out and establish rapport. He’s open to the idea of interacting with others. 

How will the recruiter test if this skill is present or not with the job candidate?

You might find yourself grouped with the other applicants or with a team of veterans. An HR Officer will ask the group to perform a task. From there, you will be in a fishbowl. 

The HR Officer and perhaps an embedded veteran will monitor and evaluate how you interacted or collaborated with others in the group.

7. Business Acumen

Business Acumen is a skill that’s widely overlooked by many fresh college graduates. The university teaches you the fundamentals of business; theories, principles, and concepts that are used by companies to develop strategies to achieve business goals. 

But learning theory is different from understanding how these concepts are applied in the real world. 

Put simply, Business Acumen is understanding how business works. 

  • What are the current trends in the industry?
  • What are the pressing issues and concerns faced by businesses today?
  • Are there laws that inhibit how businesses perform?
  • How are the equities markets performing?
  • What are the current economic indicators?
  • Are there political issues that could affect the growth of the economy? 

An inquisitive mind is a prerequisite to developing Business Acumen. When you find the answers to these questions, you begin to formulate scenarios as to how a company – the one you’re applying for – creates strategies that protect its interests. 

The recruiter might ask you questions about prevailing issues in the industry and how these impact the company. The idea is to assess your potential and gauge your level of interest in nurturing a career in the industry. 

8. Time Management

A study has shown that in an 8-hour workday, the average office worker is productive for only 2 hours and 53 minutes. 

That’s a productivity rating of only 36%!

What non-work activities are office workers distracted with?

  • Scouring the internet for news.
  • Visiting their personal social media accounts.
  • Water cooler chatter with office workers.
  • Looking for new work opportunities.
  • Smoking!

These distractions are present even if you work from home. You might think “I only spend 5 minutes on Facebook.” Let’s assume you’re being truthful about the time you spend on Facebook, but you’ve been paid for those 5 minutes. 

Secondly, the time spent on other distractions will all add up to your total unproductive hours per day. 

Can you imagine if you were productive by another 50% or by 2 more hours? Now, if everyone in the office improved their productivity by 50% – the company would be more successful and profitable. 

Effective time management is a skill that helps the company become more efficient and productive. 

9. Creative Problem Solving

Employees might be faced with a problem that leaves them stumped. The seconds become minutes that add up to hours of unproductive work. Worse, if the problem isn’t resolved, it could have a cascading effect across the company. 

Sometimes the answer isn’t found in your college textbook or the training manual. You’ll have to flex your creative muscles and conceptualize the best possible solutions. 

Recruiters love candidates who exhibit the ability to “think outside the box”. Creative problem-solving means finding answers when it seems that you’ve arrived at a dead-end. You’re able to pick out features from different theories and personal experiences and develop creative solutions. 

Another word for creative problem solving is resourcefulness. These are the types of people who won’t throw in the towel because they believe every problem has a solution – you just have to know where to look. 

 10. Self-Management

Gone are the days where supervisors micromanage their employees. Micromanaging is not only a time-waster but it also hinders the progress of the employee. 

Recruiters prioritize candidates who can work on their own and be entrusted to manage their tasks without the need for much supervision. These are the types of personnel who embrace responsibility and understand the importance of completing their assigned duties. 

Fresh college graduates might be micromanaged by their supervisors for the first few weeks. But once the supervisor is convinced that the newbie is consistently delivering results and maintaining the quality of work, they will gladly remove the training wheels. 

Hiring people who can self-manage allows the company to optimize its available man-hours and accomplish more goals every day. 

Conclusion

As you’ve read from our list, recruiters aren’t only looking for candidates with the requisite technical skills. They are also looking for candidates who are made of the “right stuff”-  the personality/behavioral attributes that make you who you are. 

Technical skills are referred to as Hard Skills. The personality attributes are called Soft Skills. 

In our list, only Technology Savvy, Interpersonal (Effective Communication), and Business Acumen are hard skills. The rest are widely considered by recruiters as soft skills. 

Of course, the nature of your job will require you to possess the necessary hard skills to manage the duties and responsibilities that are specific to your profession. 

However, recruiters over the last few years have shifted their focus toward identifying people who aren’t just talented but have the right attributes to fit into their organizational culture.

It’s no longer just about what you know but who you are. 

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