How to Get More Reviews On Yelp

get_more_reviews_on_yelpFor businesses to get ahead, positive online reviews are like gold. So it’s no surprise that Yelp reviews have become the word-of-mouth of yesteryear. Consumers flock to Yelp, not only to look for suggestions, but to check out reviews before patronizing any business. If you have positive reviews on Yelp, you can bet you have a greater chance of getting even more business.

But what do you do if you don’t have any reviews on Yelp? Here are some tips to help you gather some quickly.

Claim your page. Go to Yelp and claim your business page. Fully customize it by adding images, a description of your business, business hours, contact information, etc.

Add a Yelp badge on your website. Make it clear that you’re on Yelp! Add a review badge and a link on your site where it can easily be seen.

Put a sign in your store. If you have a physical location, place a sign “Find us on Yelp” sign in your front window or near the register.

Add the link in your email siggie. The more exposure you can bring to your Yelp page, the better. Add your link to your email signature, your email newsletters and anywhere else you can.

Cross promote your Yelp profile. Utilize your social media followers to get reviews. Don’t go begging for positive reviews, that just screams desperate. Instead, post that you’re on Yelp and would love to hear what people think of you. Or simply say “Check us out on Yelp.”

Ask your loyal customers. If you have customers you have you serviced for years, you may be able to nicely ask if they would be willing to leave you a review on Yelp. You may even offer an incentive for leaving a review – like a coupon or discount.

Ask your vendors. Vendors you have worked closely with often know your business best. Like hitting up your loyal customers, don’t bribe or blatantly ask for a raving review. You can, however, ask vendors if they would review your business, not as a customer, but as someone how has worked with you.

Conclusion

Peer influence is great motivator when it comes to consumers. Yelp reviews are a great way to grow your customer base. If you don’t have enough (or any!) positive reviews on Yelp, follow these tips to help get your name on the Yelp board.

What Does the Perfect Social Post Look Like?

perfect_social_postOkay so there’s no such thing as a perfect post. But there are some elements you should include that are specific for each platform. Let’s take a look at the components for an optimal Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube post.

Facebook

While this one seems like a no-brainer, there are some elements that are often forgotten. Start with your link. If your goal is to increase your website or blog traffic, it’s best to share links to your own stuff.

Make sure you include a description. Don’t let your link preview do all the talking. This is where you can add extra details and keywords to really bring your post some attention. And of course, make sure that your image is displaying correctly.

Twitter

Short and sweet, there may seem like there isn’t a lot to know about Twitter. But here’s a tip: keep your posts less than the allotted 140 characters. It leaves space for others to RT without losing any of the valuable content. The best way to do this is to use a link shortener like bit.ly. It will also let you track your clicks.

Another thing that works well on Twitter is adding a call-to-action. Make it clear what you want people to do after they have read your post.

Pinterest

For this image-based site, it’s best to use images that seem to work well. Images with less background tend to have the most repins. So do images without human faces. Colorful images do way better than black and white ones, as do images with multiple colors. You can also use hashtags to make your pins easier to find.

YouTube

This search engine giant is great for bringing traffic back to your site. The first part of creating the perfect YouTube post is to get your title right. The title is what will entice viewers to click on your video. You also want to make sure you add a description. Using keywords in your description will help your video rank better and will help people find it. Make sure that you include links to your site and affiliate links to any products that you mention.

Lastly, optimize your video. Add tags that will help it get found. Customize your thumbnail to attack more clicks. Pick an image that is interesting but still relevant to your content.

Conclusion

While there really isn’t a definitive right or wrong way to post on social media, there are some things that can greatly help your posts gets traffic and attention. Use these tips when crafting your posts for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

Email Marketing for Local Businesses 101

email_marketing_local_businessesEmail marketing is one of the top strategies for online businesses, but what about local businesses?

Many local businesses disregard email as a marketing method simply because their business is offline and they think it’s not a relevant tactic.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Email marketing still works extremely well for local businesses. Email has the power to engage your current customers and increase your sales. Whether you are new to email marketing or need some tips to boost what you’re doing now, these tips should help.

How to Build Your List

The first step to utilizing email marketing is to build a decent-sized list. Here are some tips to help you do that.

Include the sign-up in your checkout process. You can place a small sign and have a way for people to sign up at the register. If your checkout process is electronic, you can add an email screen that will allow you to collect emails upon checkout.

Give them an incentive to sign up. Not everybody is keen on getting a bunch of emails, so make this is easy decision for them. Offer a special coupon, discount or the prospect of getting future discounts just for signing up.

Add your opt-in form to your website. In addition to collecting emails in-store, make sure there is an opt-in form on your business website as well. Place the form at eye level, or even use a pop-up) to ensure people will see it.

Add it to your Facebook fan page too. If your business has a fairly active Facebook fan page, you can take advantage of it and get email addresses there too. Follow these instructions to add an opt-in form on your Facebook page.

Make it easy for them to sign up. Keep your website opt-in form minimal. No one wants to fill in a ton of fields just to receive a small discount. Make signing up for your email list easy and appealing by requiring just their email address.

Creating Awesome Emails

Now that you have collected a bunch of subscribers, you want to send emails that not only keep their interest, but boost your business. Not sure what to send? Here are some ideas.

Add social buttons to your emails. In your footer, don’t forget to add your social sharing icons. This will encourage readers to share your messages and inspire even more subscribers.

Check all your messages before they go out. Many online readers are now browsing on mobile devices. Because of this, it is extremely important that you double check your messages to ensure they look good on all sorts of devices.

Keep in touch regularly. While you don’t have to send an email every week, you should engage your subscribers at least once a month. Share your latest blog posts, announce upcoming events and sales, or include a product or service feature.

Send surveys. By surveying your subscribers you not only help your business, you also help your readers. Ask them what they want to see in your newsletters, and follow through with it. People are much more likely to continue reading your emails if they feel they have an impact on you and your business.

Send special announcements. Have a big sale coming up? Make sure your email subscribers hear the news first. You may want to offer special coupons that are only for subscribers, or give them first dibs on a flash sale. Make signing up for your email list worth their while.

Conclusion

Even for brick and mortar stores, email marketing works. It is a way to engage your customers both in-store and online and keep them coming back for more.

Does Your Business Need a Podcast?

podcasting for business, how to start a podcastSeems like more and more businesses are putting out podcasts. They can be great for changing up your content format and reaching new audiences, but they aren’t always right for every business.

What about your business? Does it need a podcast? Here are some reasons to do them to help you decide.

Podcasts are hot right now. Not a great business-minded reason, but still a pretty darn good one, podcasts are hot right now. This means people are listening to them and searching for them online. Jumping into it now is a great way to be relevant right now.

It’s pretty easy to get into. It may sound daunting and expensive but the truth is, it’s not that hard. Basically all you need is a microphone and some editing software. You may need a stand, depending on your microphone and your recording set up.

Podcasting can help raise you to expert-status. I don’t know what it is about speaking that makes you seem more like an expert. But it does. So podcasting has the potential to really boost your expert-status.

It allows you to vary your content. Some people are seers, some are hears. Offering podcasts in addition to your written content helps you reach all types of learners. Also, if you speak clearly and make it easy to understand, podcasts are generally easy-to-consume pieces of information for just about any type of audience.

Podcasting could lead to speaking engagements. This goes along the lines of raising your expert status. If your podcasts catch on, you may start finding yourself receiving invitations to be on the podcasts of others, or for even more prestigious speaking gigs.

It helps you build relationships. Doing your podcasts in interview form is a great way build connections with industry experts. Google prominent blogs to find bloggers to interview. Or check Amazon for bestselling books in your industry and find authors to interview.

It’s another way to build your brand. Adding a podcast to your repertoire will help you develop your brand and it another way to spread the word about your products or services.

Conclusion

Podcasting is another form of content for you to try out. There are many advantages to making podcasts, and they could very well help you boost your business.

Now to you: Have you dabbled in podcasting? If yes, how did your business benefit from it? If no, is it something you have considered?

 

How to Raise Your Rates, and Get What You Ask

how_to_raise_your_rates-1How much money are you making from your business? How hard are you working for that money? Are you trading dollars for hours? These are all important questions to ask yourself and most often they lead to one important decision. It’s time to raise your rates.

Unfortunately many business owners struggle with this concept. They fear that raising their prices will make them lose money rather than make it. This is a mindset problem and one that needs to be overcome. The first person you need to be able to convince about a rate increase is you.

Here are some tips to help you raise your rates without losing your clients.

Begin with new clients. Possibly the easiest thing to do. Simply offer any new clients your new rate. If you do not have your rates posted on your website, there is no way they will know what rate you are giving current clients, unless they were referred by one of them.

Start with the new year. Each year, expenses rise, so it only makes sense that your rates should increase as well. However, keep in mind if the client declines your raise, you will be put in an awkward position. Ideally, you will want to give the client an ultimatum: either they agree to your increased rate, or you walk. Of course you will want to do this as politely as possible, highlighting the value you bring to the table as their writer. Send a written letter or email 2 months before the close of the year. This will give them time to absorb your request and act upon it accordingly. Also, make sure that you ask for a modest raise; no client is going to agree to double your pay overnight.

Use your anniversary. Rather than pitching a new rate at the end of the year, you may want to pitch the increase when your work anniversary with the client is approaching. Over the year, you should have delivered quality work and built a rapport that will show the client the value in your services.

Offer package discounts. If your client seems like they may decline your raise request, offer more than one pricing option. Perhaps they would agree to more work than you are currently doing if you promise them a discount off the new higher rate. It’s a win-win situation for both parties – you will still make more with the higher work volume, and the client can avoid paying the highest rate you suggested.

Conclusion

It’s never easy to raise your rates. There’s always the possibility that your clients will say “thanks, but no thanks.” But are you worth more than what you are getting? Chances are the answer is yes. Use these tips to help you raise your rates, and get what you are asking for.

 

Why I Love Working as a #Freelance #Writer

love_working_freelance_writer-1I wasn’t always a freelance writer. In fact, years ago, I didn’t even realize this career existed. It took the amazing generosity of another freelance writer to open my eyes. I actually met her on a parenting forum way back when I first became a parent. I loved to write, so I reach out to her to see if she could point me in the right direction for getting started. She did one better, and she kindly offered me her ghostwriting course for free.

Over four years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else. While there are many general benefits for working at home, here are the specific reasons why I love working as a freelance writer.

I get to stay home with my kids. The whole reason I wanted to work from home was so that I could be with my kids all the time. With my first child, I work full-time out of the home. I miss her first steps, the first word. When I became pregnant with my second child, I vowed to not miss out on everything this time. And I haven’t. Now that they are both a little older and in school part of the day, I’m still grateful that I get to be the one to pick him up and help them with homework.

I make my own hours. With my schedule (and I use that term very loosely), it has been amazing to have unscheduled work hours. My typical day doesn’t really look like anyone else’s. I know a lot of freelancers who are able to wake up, jump right on the computer and work for a set amount of hours. That’s not me. I wake up and haul two kids off to school. The little one, the one that goes face-first down slides, is only in school for 3.5 hours. In that time I may do some work or I may run some errands. The older one gets out a few hours after he does. My work hours may be sporadic, but when it’s time to work it’s time to get it done.

I get to work on projects that interest me. I have been lucky to have gotten great projects with even more awesome clients thus far. While I do write into various niches, I am often sought out for finance and marketing. Which means I get the privilege of writing on topics that I love and am passionate about. And what’s better than doing something you love?

I get to meet amazing people. This is the benefit that I feel is hardly mentioned but deserves recognition. Through writing and networking, I have met amazing people. Like amazeballs awesome. I have met people who have become friends, and others who have become great contacts that are willing to recommend me to anyone and everyone. I have met many who have become both. I am blessed.

Conclusion

Ask any freelance writer why they love what they do and you may get a number of different answers. For me, it’s mostly about being with who I love, doing what I love and meeting new people who I have come to love.

Your turn: Why do you love doing what you do?

Common Storefront Mistakes – How They Apply to Your Online Business

common_storefront_mistakes_v1We’ve all experienced it. That annoyance when you step into a store needing some assistance only to see all the associates gabbing away with each other, completely ignoring you. Or how about when customer service was so totally lacking you thought your head was going to explode out of frustration and anger?

Unfortunately, there are many storefront mistakes, and they happen far too often.

But don’t think that online businesses get a free pass. These mistakes easily apply to online businesses too.

Mistake #1: Making a bad first impression

In person, you only get one chance to make a first impression. When a customer walks into a store and is completely ignored, there’s no coming back from that.

Same thing goes for online businesses. When visitors first get to your website, what they see makes a big difference. Your design should be clean and organized. It should load quickly, or visitors will quickly leave. It should be easy to navigate, and visitors should be able to find what they are looking for.

Mistake #2: Not helping customers

Don’t you hate it when you really need assistance but it seems like all the sales associates are busy doing nothing? Not helping your customers is poor customer service and just looks bad on a business.

Not helping customers online is also bad customer service. You want to make yourself available and approachable. Treat your readers like you would your friends; make their experience on your site pleasurable. Having a killer product or service is not going to be enough – you have to show people that you value their time and money.

Mistake #3: Not thanking customers

This is another poor customer service mistake. The simple act of saying thank you can go a long way. It has the power of making customers feel appreciated and encourages them to want to return and shop again.

Similarly, it’s important to thank people online. There are many ways to show your online readers that you appreciate them. Redirect each blog comment to a “thanks for commenting” page. Offer freebies. If you run an e-commerce website, make sure each purchase is redirected to a page that thinks the customer for their order. You don’t have to have spend a lot of money. Sometimes the simple act of just saying thanks is enough.

Mistake #4: Knowing less than your customers

When you walk into a store, you want to know that the associates are capable of helping you in your purchase, and answer any questions that you may have about a product.

Well online customers want to know the same thing. How can an online business prove that they are knowledgeable? Through content. Write posts that show off your industry or product knowledge: how to posts, top tops, latest news, etc.

Bonus: Showing your knowledge and leadership will get readers to rely on you for information and come to trust you. And trust is the foundation to a good relationship that turns readers into your loyal buyers.

Mistake #5: Being hard to find

Where is everybody? You don’t want to have to track down those associates when you walk into a store. For physical stores, it’s important for assistance to be easy to find at all times.

It is no different online. While you can’t always be physically there, you can make it easy for people to find you. Provide as much contact info as you need and make it easy to spot. You may also want to have a contact me form or button shown prominently on your site.

Conclusion

There are many repeated customer service errors when it comes to offline stores. But these same mistakes can easily be applied to online businesses. Luckily, these mistakes are super easy to avoid. Just make sure your website and content are working for you.

Now to you: What is your biggest customer service mistake pet peeve? It can be offline or online, or both!

 

Online Heatmaps-What They Are and Why You Need Them

online_heatmapsIf you could read your website visitors’ minds, would you?

Of course you would! Because then you would be privy to knowledge like what type of posts your readers like, how they spend your time online and even how they interact with your website.

The good news is, with online heatmaps you can know the answer to the last one. They can give you the answers you can’t find using other tracking methods, which can really help your traffic and conversion rates.

What are Heatmaps?

Heatmaps is this freaky technology that uses mouse tracking to get real data from your visitors. By tracking their mouse movements, you can analyze their behavior when they come to your website and see which areas of your website are being clicked on and which are being ignored.

What Can They Do For Me?

What can’t they do for you? But seriously, knowing how your visitors interact on your site will give you real-time analytics and show you how you can set up your site for the past results. Just some of the things heatmaps can show you are:

Where your visitors click. You can learn which areas of your site gets the most clicks, showing you what elements of your site get the most interest.

Where your visitors don’t click. On the other hand, they can also show you what areas aren’t getting any interest. This can give you the option of taking things out or renaming them.

How to draw attention to important info. Are your readers clicking more on the left sidebar than the right? If so, focus your most important info and links on that side. You have this info, use it to your advantage.

Which headlines get the most clicks. Heatmaps will be able to tell you which titles get the most clicks. You may start to see a trend, that shorter titles are more popular, for example, or that fun catchy ones are clicked more.

Conclusion

Heatmaps can work like a crystal ball. They can give you a look inside your visitors’ minds and let you know what they are thinking when they visit your site.

Now to you: Have you used heatmaps for your website? If not, will you?

How to Get More Exposure for Your Blog Content

Getty ImagesBy now you know that continually posting good content is a great online marketing strategy. You’re writing good posts, using attention-grabbing titles and sharing them on social media.

But you want more for your content.

You want even more exposure. And with good reason. More exposure can only mean better things for your blog. Here are some ideas to step up your content game and get even more exposure for your blog posts.

Free Options

Guest posting. Guesting on other authority blogs in your industry is a great way to get exposure for your own blog. Start by looking for popular blogs in your niche and follow them for a while. Read their content, get a feel of what types of things they write about and what their audience is looking for. Reach out to the author to see if they will allow you to write a guest post. Remember to include a bio with a link back to your own blog so readers can follow it.

Blog commenting. Commenting on other blogs is another great way to get free exposure. Starts with those authority blogs that we talked about. Leave comments on the posts. To get attention of their readers (and the blogger!) you will have to leave something much longer than “thanks for the great post.” Write something insightful, that shows you know what you are talking about.

Paid Options

Social media advertising. With so many people on social media, a good place to start is social advertising. Try:

• Promoted posts on Facebook. You can target who you want to see your post, picking age, gender, location, etc.
• Promoted tweets on Twitter. Like Facebook you can target who sees your tweets, choosing from things like location and interests.
• Targeting groups or communities in Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Paid content distribution. Another way to promote your content is by paid distribution. There are a several sites where you can pay to have your content distributed on popular sites. Check out:

Taboola
Gravity
Outbrain

Most of these networks will work with people or businesses that have budgets. For example, Outbrain lets you set a max daily budget.

Conclusion

Now that your blog is getting attention, you want to get grab even more attention. Try these free and paid methods to get more exposure for your blog and website.

Hiring a Ghostwriter for Your Corporate Blog – What You Need to Know

Image on Getty ImagesGhostwriting and freelance writing. They’re similar, but different. Some freelance writers ghostwrite, others do not.

Both can help your business by creating engaging content and compelling web copy. The big difference is that if you have your content ghostwritten, you get to take the credit for the work. The blog post can be published under your name, the whitepaper can be credited to you. Hiring a ghostwriter gives you all the glory, without all of the work.

How does this apply to your business blog?

When it comes to your corporate content, you want to be the one credited for it. Ideally, the owner or founder should be the name on the blog. Why? This helps establish credibility.

Unfortunately, there isn’t always time to maintain a blog and other website content.

Enter the ghostwriter.

Why hire a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters will work within your guidelines. Whether you are looking for a certain tone, blog post length, topic, title, etc., a ghostwriter will work with you. He or she will do their best to write your content as if it were coming directly from you. However, since they aren’t you, they just may put a slight spin on things that can help your content appeal to even more people.

Ghostwriters come with experience. While you are great at running your business, writing content for online audiences may not be your forte. But that’s okay because it’s where ghostwriters shine. Most come with years of experience under their belt, and they know how to utilize keywords, SEO practices and effective communication skills. Yes, you probably could figure it all out yourself, but you’re paying someone to do it faster and maybe better.

You still get the credit. Hiring someone to ghostwriter will give you the rights to the post, as opposed to publishing the posts under writer’s name. This protects the authenticity (and authority!) of your blog. Win-win situation for you right?

Conclusion

When it comes to your business blog, it’s important to have compelling content that will show off your authority and expertise. If you don’t have the time or skill to do the writing, hire a ghostwriter. A good ghostwriter will deliver well-written content written from your POV and voice, and give you all the credit for it.

Need tips for picking the right ghostwriter (or freelance writer!) for your corporate blog? Check out this post.