During a recent conversation about networking and cross-promotion, a colleague expressed doubt about her ability to promote my business because she had little traffic on her website and social media. She said creating content would be futile because nobody would see it. The implication was, “I need to build an audience before creating content.” She had the equation totally backward. Create content first, and the audience will come, over time. In this article, we will go over several strategies that show you how to create content and help you build your audience online!
Introduction to Content Creation
Consider this analogy. You just moved into a house and want to host a party. Are you going to invite guests over to an unfurnished home? You need couches, chairs, tables, food, music, activities, etc. Is your website or social media page an unfurnished home? Do you provide anything to entice people to stick around? If not, don’t expect many people at your party. Would you visit an online magazine without any articles? How do you feel about a website when the last entry on the blog was 18 months ago? I get a mental image of tumbleweeds blowing through a ghost town.
People are attracted to websites and social media pages that provide engaging, valuable, current, and relevant content. We live in a time where we can create and publish our own content whenever we want! We don’t need the Yellow Pages or an advertising firm to share our message. If you want to promote yourself and build your brand, content marketing is paramount. There is no excuse for failing to create content. If you are passionate about your project, there are plenty of formats you can choose to broadcast your message, including:
If you enjoy writing, this is a great vehicle to share stories about your product or service and to share yourself. You can incorporate pictures, link to other sites, and share on social media.
You can share your product or service on several outlets, both on your business and personal page. Share stories about the evolution and improvement of your product or service. Post pictures and show your product or service in action.
Share articles relevant to your project, but it is critical that you add your own commentary. Don’t Just Share, Comment and Share!
People want to know the real you, and this is a great vehicle to share yourself while sharing your product or service. People need to know if they like and trust you before they decide to buy from you. Live videos are starting to explode on social media, so get out of your comfort zone and try it.
Find strategic partners and cross-promote each other. Write guest blog posts, share each other’s content on social media, shoot a video together, or even create a page on your website where you promote and link to your partners.
Regardless of your preferred medium, the following factors are critical to creating quality content: Value, Patience, Relevancy, Non-Monetization, and Storytelling.
Provide Value For Your Audience
It’s all about your audience, not about you! You need to give them real value. Don’t waste people’s time talking about how great you or your product/service are. Talk about how your product/service will improve the reader/viewer’s life by filling a want or need. When I’m scanning a website, I’m looking for content that provides value to me. I’m subconsciously looking for content that makes me think, “I need to read/watch that.” I am looking for content that is conducive to my growth or appeals to my needs and wants.
Hooking Their Attention Within 15-30 seconds
Your titles and substantive content should demonstrate how the material will appeal to the reader/viewer’s self-interest. When reviewing content, I take about 15-30 seconds to decide if I’m receiving any value. Time is too precious and attention spans are too short. I’m sure cat video metrics might suggest otherwise, but I venture that most people don’t go online looking for cat videos. When I find myself sucked into trivial content online, it’s almost always by accident, and I get out of there as soon as I recognize I’m wasting my time.
Don’t Mislead Your Audience. Give Them What You Promised!
Give your content real value. Don’t lure people with the promise of content as a ruse to grab personal information or even worse, hit them with a paywall. Don’t do the bait and switch. Have you ever been tantalized by a link description, you click, and then presented with a landing page demanding your email address before revealing any content? When this happens, I know the content is just bait, and I will have to manually opt-out from daily email blasts to escape the funnel. You might generate some leads that way, but you aren’t giving value or building a positive brand. Provide value on the front end, no strings attached, you will draw more people in overtime, and you will build a brand that people appreciate. This leads to my next point.
Content Takes Time
It takes time to build a brand, so manage your expectations. Even if content unexpectedly goes viral, your fame will be short-lived if you don’t have other content to entice people to stick around or return.
Adjust Your Expectations
You cannot have a mindset or expectation of immediate gratification. I once shared with a friend that I boosted a blog entry on FB, and he smugly responded, “What’s your ROI on that?” I wasn’t looking for immediate ROI! I boosted a blog post I thought would resonate. It led to hundreds of clicks, dozens of likes, and new followers on my business page. Certain people didn’t know about my business before, but they knew about it after. That’s the ROI I was looking for. The immediate business would have been great, but I am patiently building a brand here.
Play The Long Game
When you are creating content for your business, whether it’s a blog post, video, or social media post, don’t expect an immediate ROI. If you’re doing paid advertising, then you certainly want to track ROI, but this article is about content creation, not advertising. Content marketing is a long game.
No Instant Gratification Here…
Don’t get discouraged if your content receives little or no engagement at first. Keep plugging away, keep improving your craft, keep putting your message out there. The mere existence of substantive content on your website improves your SEO. Some people need to see you post multiple times before they click and check you out. Some people need to review your content several times before they engage or buy. Those people never would have engaged if you decided, after posting a couple of videos, that you weren’t getting enough ROI, and shut it down. There is no instant gratification or overnight success in business, and anything violating this rule is likely illegal or immoral.
Simply put, your content must be relevant to your business’s mission. By all means, have some variance in your content. Change it up. Be original. Push the envelope, but ensure that all of your content is somehow relevant to your business.
For example, if you own an auto body repair shop, don’t post about politics! (Avoiding politics is good advice to any business.) If you own a nail salon, don’t post about gardening; if you’re an SEO consultant, don’t post about woodworking. You get the gist. I know someone in the printer repair business who shares random content on social media having no relation to his business, and every share includes a preamble pitch for his service. The shared content and the message have no synergy or place together. Would you prefer grapefruit with your steak or mashed potatoes with your steak? The whole point of content marketing is to increase brand awareness. This purpose is frustrated when you post irrelevant content.
The subtext of your content is for people to create a mental association with your brand. You want people to associate your product or service with their needs, and quality content creates that connection. This is a legitimate quid pro quo. You provide valuable and engaging content, and consumers provide brand recognition and loyalty. Over time, that leads to revenue for your company. This kind of monetization is subtle, indirect and takes time, but is very powerful because the consumer ultimately initiates the sale.
Don’t OVER-monetize Your Content
People are turned off by content that is overtly monetized. Unless one is shopping or sees an ad with cute animals, people do not actively seek advertising. Remember, people view your content because they are enticed by the proposition of receiving free value. People are guarded when they feel they are being sold, especially when they did not expect a sales pitch.
I once attended a “seminar,” where the ostensible purpose was to teach about marketing, but the speaker could not stop interrupting himself to pitch his coaching service. He would tease with some marketing nuggets, then pull away saying we could hear the best parts if we signed up for his program. “Seminar” was written in quotation marks because I felt I was attending a live infomercial against my will. I got fed up and walked out. I feel the same way when I’m viewing disingenuous content online. Don’t publish thinly-veiled advertorials. The value of your content is tainted when it is overtly monetized.
Don’t get me wrong here. There is nothing wrong with selling. If you want to overtly sell your product or service, then go for it! Just don’t be deceptive.
Facts tell stories to sell. Couch your messages in terms of stories, and people will engage with your content on a deeper level. People remember stories that touch them emotionally, and they remember the source of the story – your business. People are attracted to stories, it’s just human nature. Most people lack the attention span to delve into dense factual material, and you’ll lose most of your audience
Do not wait for an audience to build before you start creating content for your business. Start creating and publishing content now, and you will grow a following over time. If you seamlessly weave facts about your product or service into a story, while giving value and avoiding overt monetization, you can create powerful content and a powerful brand.
Top 10 VPS Hosting Companies
Looking for the best VPS is what probably got you here, read on to get to know ten of the top hosting companies this 2020. Finding the lovely blend of reliability and affordability can be a daunting task, so we scoured around to give you the rundown and help you make an informed decision.
What is VPS Hosting?
Publishing a website online means having to upload your files to a web server. Typically, you purchase this service from a hosting provider. This is what is known as web hosting. Think of this as cyber real estate. Shared hosting means renting a portion of the space, and dedicated hosting is where you have space all to yourself. This is what makes VPS (Virtual Private Server) special.
Shared hosting is perfect for simple websites, but as your website’s needs grow, this type of hosting won’t be enough. A dedicated server would be ideal but can be expensive. Then comes VPS that’s almost the same as shared, but faster and cheaper than a dedicated one. You still share a server with other websites, but with less population, which is what makes it better and inexpensive.
The bigger question now is, what VPS hosting do I go for? With the multitude of choices out there, we made choosing simpler for you. Here are the top 10 VPS hosting companies we think are the best and the brightest:
1. InMotion Hosting
One of the strongest and most deserving of the top spot on this list, InMotion Hosting has smart features at a fair price. A few of these are its 75GB SSD storage, 4TB bandwidth, 4GB RAM, and free SSLs, among many others. They also provide shared and dedicated hosting as well as web design and tools to help with site maintenance.
They provide three hosting plans with a price range from $29.99 to $83.99 per month. These come with a 90-day money-back guarantee and chat support that’s available 24/7.
Boasting of a VPS hosting service that mimics a dedicated server, Hostinger offers one of the most affordable in its class. Starting at $3.95 a month for its basic plan of 1G bandwidth to $29.95 with 8GB bandwidth. Each plan is broken down by storage, memory, vCPU, and others.
All of their plans include IPv6 support, a dedicated IP, 100 Mb/s Network aside from the usual Ubuntu, CentOS, and Suse hosting services. Along with their fully refundable plans that allow you to try them, they also have 24/7 customer support.
A VPS hosting that has one of the best uptimes and feature-packed plans, HostGator is also one of the most popular and reliable. It provides flexible hosting solutions that include full root access, one-click upgrade system, development tools, and offsite backup.
Prices start at $29.95 for the basic plan, which comes with 2GB RAM to $49.95 with 8GB of RAM per month. You’ll get all the services of a typical hosting service, but you can also avail of their SEO services, PPC advertising as well as web design services.
If you’re looking for a VPS hosting company that gives out free domain permanently, Bluehost is for you. It lets you add more space to your account any time with their multi-server management services. Their main selling points are their 8GB of RAM and 4 CPU cores, plus their unlimited email accounts.
Their Standard plan costs $19.99 with 1TB bandwidth and 30GB of SSD storage while their Ultimate plan will get you 3TB bandwidth and 120GB of SSD storage.
Offering unlimited email accounts, domains, and monthly data transfers, Hostwinds truly deserves this spot on the top 10 VPS hosting companies. They have several VPS hosting plans from Fully Managed Windows to Unmanaged Linux VPS, all aimed to provide specialized services.
Their Managed Windows basic plan starts at $7.99 with 1GB of RAM and 30GB of SSD disk space. The premium plan goes for $26.79 per month, which comes with 6GB of RAM and 100GB of space.
6. A2 Hosting
For newbies in the VPS hosting scene, A2 Hosting provides intuitive service and the best speed for your website. It also has features that even the experienced will appreciate, such as their Railgun Optimizer and preconfigured server caching. They are one of the few that take speed seriously, with an average load time of 99.99% at 424 ms.
Their plans’ prices range from $25 for their Power+ plan that includes 4GB of RAM, 75GB storage space, and 2TB transfer rate. The Pinnacle+ plan is at $50 per month of 8GB RAM, 150GB space, and 4TB of data transfer.
Probably the least expensive on this list, or anywhere else on the web, iPage offers great value for your money. Their unlimited disk space, scalable bandwidth, free site backups, and superb customer service are just but a few wonderful features. With an above-average uptime of 99.96% over 24 months and an average of 746ms page loading time, this is pretty fast for something so cheap.
Their one and only plan will cost you $1.99 a month, so what’s not to like?
8. Liquid Web
From hardware management to proactive service monitoring, Liquid Web will do almost all of the work for you. Boasting the best customer service around which they named “Most Helpful Humans in Hosting®,” they are a solid choice. With 99.999% uptime, they will assure you of top quality service at $15 to $95 a month.
Although one of the costlier choices, they match it with services that are unparalleled in the industry.
With unmetered bandwidth, stable and fast hosting (99.97% uptime, and 554ms average), GoDaddy is also one of the most well-known choices. This hosting provider allows you to integrate with 125 popular web applications. Just one click installs WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and more.
The Economy plan is worth $7.99 per month with 100GB of storage space, while the Ultimate plan is at $16.99 per month and the Maximum plan at $24.99, which includes twice the memory load speed and free SSLs.
One of the oldest in this list, DreamHost, hosts more than 1.5 million sites, proof that it’s also one of the best. Its above-average uptime of 99.94% and page load speeds of 648ms is practically still the same as the day they started, some 25 years ago. They have a few unlimited features, which include cloud hosting services and data transfers.
The price starts at $10 for their Basic plan, which gives you 1GB of RAM and 30GB of SSD storage. The most expensive plan, the Enterprise costs $80 a month with 8GB of RAM and 240GB of storage space.
Top 10 Shared Hosting Companies
According to Google, if your website takes more than 10 seconds to load, people are 123% inclined to leave your site. That’s why you need excellent hosting service to prevent that.
Dedicated hosting services can help ease that pain, but it can break your bank. So, it’s best to go for an affordable option so you can save up on the things that matter. That’s why you should consider going for a shared hosting service to keep your site running smoothly.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 shared hosting companies on the internet.
Features include the following:
- SSD Space
- Free Domain Transfer
- Free Website Transfer
- Unlimited bandwidth
The regular price for their FastCloud plans starts at $9.95/mo, while the most expensive one, FastCloud Extra, is $19.95/mo. At the time of writing, all plans are 70% off with FastCloud at $2.95, FastCloud Plus at $4.45, and FastCloud Extra at $5.95.
FastComet users may experience faster loading times boasting speeds at 200 milliseconds. Not only that, but users get a 99.99% uptime. So, website visitors don’t encounter any site downtime. Plus, according to Website Host Rating, their shared server is secure for all users, which is why it’s one of the top 10 shared hosting companies on the net.
According to Blogger Sneed, there’s no dedicated IP address for the shared hosting server. While FastComet has better loading times and even performance than its competitors, the FastCloud plan may not load faster than usual. So, it’s a much better option to upgrade to the higher plans.
Potential customers of ChemiCloud can choose among three plans on the site. It’s on sale at the time of writing, so the most affordable plan is the Web Hosting Starter for 3.95/mo for three years. ChemiCloud priced it originally for $7.90/mo. Their most expensive plan, the Web Hosting Turbo, is for $7.66/mo for three years. It’s 10x faster than its two other plans.
Some features of the ChemiCloud plans:
- Free Let’s Encrypt SSL
- Different server locations
- Free migrations
For some experts, uptime is one of the many pros of the ChemiCloud hosting service. Rare are downtimes with using ChemiCloud, and there’s a 99.98% of uptime most of the time. Another thing is you can migrate your site for free within 24 hours, WP Glossy says.
According to Host Review Now, ChemiCloud can be difficult to navigate since there’s no FAQ or guides. Billing may become an issue for many users due to its billing cycles.
For many users, iPage is one of the top 10 shared hosting companies. The cost for an iPage shared hosting service is $1.99/mo (regularly $7.99/mo) for the first term of service. Users get some of the following features:
- Free SSL certificate
- Unlimited disk space
- Shopping cart integration
One pro of the iPage hosting service is its user-friendly cPanel that even beginners can use easily. It’s great for small business owners that need a domain quickly. TechRadar also noted that it has incredible performance even during the testing period.
Even if the starter price is lower than most hosting services, iPage tends to upsell to their customers. Another con for using the iPage shared hosting service is there’s no cPanel. Besides, users have mixed reviews over their support. Also, if you’ll have to migrate a site, you’ll need to pay $150.
Hostpapa offers three shared hosting plans for potential customers: Starter, Business, and Business Pro. The hosting site recommends that its customers go for a Business plan. Its regular price is $12.99/mo, but they have a deal that is $3.95/mo for three years. The most expensive subscription is $19.99/mo (regular price), and their most affordable is $7.99/mo.
You can get the following features in all plans:
- SSD Storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free domain registration
- Choose between a Canada or US server
Hosting Facts says that small businesses can get a bang for their buck on the Starter Plan. They offer essential features even on the plan, so it’s good value for money. Another reason why small businesses could go for Hostpapa is because of the performance and speed it gives to their sites.
Arvixe has two plans with two categories for its shared hosting service. You can choose between a personal or business plan and a Linux or Windows shared hosting one.
Their most affordable shared hosting service is the PersonalClass Linux shared hosting service that starts at $7.70/mo. You can get a PersonalClass Pro starting at $11.00/mo. You can upgrade to more features for $20/mo.
Some features of the PersonalClass plan are:
- Unlimited disk space
- Free domain name
- Use of cPanel
Arvixe isn’t just a website hosting site. You can build a site and get excellent uptime during the testing period, according to PCMag. Plus, you may get a 60-day money-back guarantee if you want to try out Arvixe for a while.
One disadvantage of using Arvixe is that you’ll need to buy an SSL certificate for $25.00 a year. You might want to consider other hosting sites if you need support often since many users across different review sites aren’t pleased with them.
If you want to avail of a Namecheap shared hosting server, you’ve got three options and two servers to pick from before you purchase a plan. You can opt for a Stellar, Stellar Plus, or Stellar Business plan. Meanwhile, the two data center locations available are US and UK.
Small businesses can get more out of a yearly subscription on a US server since it also includes cloud storage. The price is $52.88 for the 1st year and $104.88 a year ($8.88/mo). They do recommend availing of the Stellar Plus subscription. You’ll pay $29.28/yr for the first year, and it renews at $57.88/yr ($4.88/mo).
Some features you get on the Stellar plans are:
- 50GB SSD
- Unlimited websites
- Free one domain name
According to WhoIs Hosting This, your account and data are secure on Namecheap because they enable two-factor authentication. The cPanel is also something many find an advantage against its competitors. It’s because of the ease of use and design.
Some experts note they face issues over uptime. They found that it has less than 99.99% uptime, which isn’t a good thing. Plus, not many are satisfied with the support given by Namecheap.
Hostinger recommends that small businesses go for Business Shared Hosting for $3.99/mo for four years. It will renew to its regular rate of $15.99 after that period. Its most affordable plan, the Single Shared Hosting Plan, is at $0.99/mo for four years. The Single Shared Hosting plan is limited, so it’s best to opt for a Premium Shared Hosting plan or higher to get more features.
Here are some features you get if you choose a Premium Shared Hosting plan and above:
- Free SSL certificate
- Free domain
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited number of websites
If you want to save money, you’ll need to avail of a 1, 2, or 4-year plan.
Experts notice that support is one of its main issues because you can’t call their support. Otherwise, many do like that support is responsive online, so that’s a plus. That’s why users do find that Hostinger is one of the top 10 shared hosting companies.
For KnownHost, they present you with three options (prices discounted for three years only):
- Basic ($3.47/mo)
- Standard ($6.47/mo)
- Professional ($9.97/mo)
KnownHost promises unlimited bandwidth for all tiers and free SSL certificates.
Experts and users alike report that uptimes are as advertised. It seems many find satisfaction with support also. One downside about using KnownHost is that it hosts using Linux only. Otherwise, it’s an excellent service overall.
Like most of the shared hosting companies on this list, they also offer a 1, 2, or 3-year subscription. But if you just want to test the waters on Hostens, you’re free to opt for a monthly subscription paying their regular price.
Their most affordable plan is the S10 plan for only $0.99/mo for three years. They do suggest you avail of their S20 plan for $1.80/mo for three years. Their most expensive shared hosting plan is $3.60/mo for three years.
Common features of the three plans:
- Free website builder
- Different server locations
Aside from its affordability, Website Planet finds that there’s the ease of use and the one-click installer for programs. One main disadvantage of using Hostens, though, is it doesn’t offer DDoS, and it could affect your website. Despite such, it’s one of the top 10 shared hosting companies on the list.
Similar to other hosting companies, you have three plan options that would best suit your small business. Their recommendation is the Business Plan priced $4.95/mo, while the regular price is $7.95/mo.
You can get the following perks when you use TMD Hosting:
- Unlimited SSD space
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Let’s Encrypt SSL
- Plesk Control Panel
Website Planet finds that free daily backups are helpful. Another point goes to TMDHosting because they have servers in different locations. However, there are frequent complaints about billing from users. Other than that, TMDHosting is one of the top 10 shared hosting services for some users.
My Experience With Penji (+25% Promo code) Unlimited Graphic Design Service
Penji is a startup based in Philadelphia, PA offering a unique graphic design business model. The startup offers unlimited graphic design services for a flat monthly rate. You can submit as many design projects as you want via their online portal, and they’ll complete your requests one at a time until your queue is complete.
This type of service promises to be a great added resource for teams to improve productivity. Sounds too good to be true? We thought so too, that’s why we decided to sign up and see if the promise is real.
Don’t feel like reading? Here’s a quick summary of our review with Penji’s unlimited graphic design service.
- Easy and quick to create design projects
- VERY fast turnaround on most projects. I expected just 1 draft in 24 hours but instead received 3 drafts. Revisions were sometimes completed the same day I submitted them.
- A lot of features such as Revision tool, Invite team members, Brand profile, and more.
- Upbeat communication from everyone I interact with.
- Dedicated and responsive account manager that replies within a few hours.
- Can’t call or talk to designers
Penji’s “unlimited” design model turned out to be an amazingly high-quality service at an affordable price that’s backed by a great team. But you need to have the right expectations going in. The experience is entirely online and you won’t get any face-time with your designer.
Compared to designing yourself, hiring freelancers, or using Fiverr, Penji is a much better service and value by a long shot. Their team of designers lived up to the promise and exceeded my expectations.
Penji Promo Code
If you want to give them a try, use this Penji promo code “OWNER25” to get 25% off your 1st month. Full disclaimer, we receive a commission when you use the code.
PENJI FULL REVIEW
Signing Up For Penji
Signing up for Penji was a relatively quick and painless process. Overall, took about 5 minutes to get all of my questions answered by their customer support via Intercom and another 2 minutes to complete the checkout process.
1. Support Chat
This is something I personally test every company for – how fast and reliable their support is. If they’re unresponsive now, it will only get worse once I’m a customer. I hit up Penji’s customer support team via their Intercom chat popup and got a response within 30 seconds, which is pretty good. I asked basic questions and the agent seemed knowledgable
2. Choosing a plan
Clear and easy to understand. All the packages are laid out with monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing. Each of the features also has a little information icon that explains what it is.
3. Checking out
The multi-step process was easy to follow, and what you pay is clearly displayed. Checking out was also a breeze and took about 2 minutes for us.
Submitting Design Projects
Now it’s time to create my first project. Clicking on the “Create new project” button, I’m presented with a visual chart of all the designs they offer. I personally prefer this, because I can see what the designs look like. They offer a lot more categories than I thought and the list is extensive.
Filling out the form
Similar to most other online design services, I have to fill out a form explaining what I want. The form is intuitive, easy to follow, and doesn’t ask that many questions. Most of the questions are optional.
My test projects
As a digital publisher, we produce content on a daily basis and always have a need for on-brand graphic design. I created several diverse types of projects to test how well rounded Penji is and how they handle both simple and complex projects. A simple banner should be difficult, but can they handle a complex infographic with lots of texts and imagery? Here are my test projects.
- Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
- Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
- Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
- Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition
Despite creating four projects, the entire process was quick and smooth. I didn’t feel like I spent too much time creating them and their internal platform was lightning fast. At this pace, I can see myself submitting a ton of projects on their platform with ease.
These four projects range in difficulty and should be enough for me to evaluate Penji’s competency. Now that the projects have been created, I’ll wait and see if Penji can deliver on the promise of these being turned around within 24 hours.
I expect at least one draft the next day. What I didn’t expect were three projects to have drafts. That’s absurdly fast by any standards. Most freelancers and design firms we’ve hired take at least several days to turn around just one draft.
After reviewing the designs, which were surprisingly good considering it’s the first draft AND were turnaround within 24 hours, I realized how they did it. Every project had a different designer. I wasn’t assigned just one designer. That explains how they get things done so quickly.
Revision Turnaround Time
Revisions were turned around pretty fast. Their support agent actually told me it will take 24 hours to turn around revisions. I found that its a same-day turnaround most of the time. The revisions that took 24 hours were typically much more involved.
Overall, I never felt like revisions took too long. Most came back within a few hours after I submitted them.
Everything is done online so I can’t just call my designer and tell them what I want to change. My one gripe would be that I prefer to have some sort of real-time chat with my designer or at least have a skype call. That’s one thing I like working with my freelancers, is that whenever they were online, we could just have a back and forth conversation to get the revisions across. I can’t do that with Penji.
Built-in Revision Tool (see image above)
Penji has a built-in revision tool that lets me click anywhere on the design to leave a revision. I found this incredibly useful and enables me to pin-point what I want to change.
It took about 1 week to go back and forth with revisions and edits for all 3 design projects. At the end of the week, I received the final drafts for all three. Here are the results of the three test projects.
1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
This far exceeded my expectations and will more than do for the blog I’m writing about DSLR camera equipment. I think most designers would probably just stop with 1-2 icons and graphics for this design. My designer decided to add the tripod, three lenses, drone, backpack, and a whole entire stage lighting kit.
I didn’t ask for those, but I’m impressed with the quality of the design. No revisions needed. I approved this project 1st try.
2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
For this project, I asked my designer (Kei) to do a custom illustration of a man vacuuming his floor. He actually drew it up and then send me a rough sketch first before he started coloring it in. That was an extra layer of care and attention to detail I wasn’t expecting. Needless to say, I approved of his drawing and then he delivered this draft the next day.
Everything in this graphic was hand-drawn and then colored. That’s impressive. Like the first project, I couldn’t think of any revisions except asking him to put the texts “Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy” in. Just when I thought Kei couldn’t outdo himself…
He went the extra mile and designed the text to fit the graphics. See for yourself above. Details like these I would have had to harass my freelancer and he would try to nickel and dime me for every revision. Great work Kei!
3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
My designer Jave’s 1st draft amazed me because of how many icons and details he put into this graphic. I had asked for an isometric graphic with various tech products laid out on an isometric glass plane. I honestly thought my description may have been a bit too vague, but somehow he understood my vision better than me and made it work.
I left one comment for this project, “Wow.” and marked it as complete.
4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition)
My designer Billie gave me 3 versions of the magazine cover. I don’t like Version 1 at all, it seems too templated. I personally like Version 2 and 3 and left revisions accordingly. The Corona Virus image was entirely her idea, and I love it.
This project took a bit longer than the others because my designer Billie had a lot of questions and we had a lot of back and forth. I didn’t mind at all since she was asking good questions that I should’ve clarified in the first place. Overall, I appreciated the extra time she took to understand me and the project better.
About three days later I got another draft and this one blew everything before it out of the water.
All communication is done online through Penji’s proprietary online portal. That includes revisions, feedback, and answering any questions my designers may have.
Communication With Designer
I was assigned 1 designer and communication Billie was great. Billie was responsive, attentive, and always seem to have a positive attitude no matter how demand I came off. She had a lot of questions for some of the projects, and the back and forth took longer than I wanted, but I realized she’s just being thorough and wants to get the design done right, which I appreciate.
Communication With Account Manager
I was also assigned an account manager who emailed me the first day. Charmaine was very quick whenever I needed something. It usually takes just a few hours for me to get a reply via email from her. When I had an issue with one of the projects, she quickly stepped in and helped resolve the situation.
All four projects were completed within two weeks and I was impressed with how they all turned out. See for yourself below. If I had paid hourly or per project, these would’ve easily cost me well above $1200+ to get done, and probably taken weeks.
With Penji, it took less than a week and I paid a fraction of what they should’ve been worth. Definitely impressed with both the turnaround, quality, communication, and value this startup has to offer.
But Penji isn’t without its flaws. The service definitely isn’t for everybody. Their service is more catered to business owners, marketers, agencies, and creatives with consistent design needs. They’ll take all the heavy lifting off of your shoulder. If you don’t have a consistent need, the bill will start racking up after a couple of months and you won’t see the value in the membership.
However, if you do happen to fit their target demographic, then there’s no better replacement out there. The speed and quality of their work easily rivals of not exceed any other services I’d ever used. For $399/month, this is an absolute steal and I can’t recommend them enough.