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How To Get Started On Blogging

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blogging
You want to start blogging? That's great! But how do you start blogging? There is so much information on the web, it is so confusing. But luckily, we were once new to blogging too and know how to simplify this seemingly confusing process and eliminate useless information.
You don’t need to be an IT graduate to start blogging. Anybody can start a blog if they want to because there is very little technical ability needed to launch a blog site. Here are the steps you need to follow to start a blog.

Choose a blogging platform

A platform is where you want to build your blog. Many bloggers use WordPress because it is easy to use and because it is massive. It is one of the biggest blogging platforms in the world and has countless plugins, add-ons and offers many ways to start your blog. There is also a great support forum if you get stuck or get confused. According to data, there are 82 million blogs on WordPress. Great alternatives include Blogger and Tumblr.

Free or Self-Hosted

Now that you know where to build your blog, you have to think if you want a free blog or a paid one. Platforms like WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr have free blogs. This is perfect for those who are not really serious about blogging or those that just want to try their hand on it. However, free blogs have downsides. Firstly, you don’t own the blog. Secondly, there are limits to what you can do with it. For example, you can't really monetize it. You also won’t be able to upload all the videos or images you want. Lastly, you won’t be able to get your own domain name. For free blogs domain names usually look like yourblog.blogspot.com or yourblog.wordpress.com.The solution to this is to get self-hosting. It is not really that expensive, usually costing around $5-10 per month, depending on your platform. You will be able to name your blog so it looks like yourawesomewebsite.com (co, .co.uk, .org, .net etc - you get to choose), have unlimited bandwidth to all images and videos and have access to all free themes.

Domain and Hosting

Assuming that you choose to host your own blog, you need to think about your domain name and hosting provider. Domain name is basically the name of your blog like Google.com or Facebook.com. Hosting is the company that puts your blog on the internet so that everybody can access it. You can think of it as a hard drive where you save your blog. There are companies that do the domain name selling and hosting like iPage. Using this example, they can host your website for as little as $2.5 per month and domain cost will be somewhere around $10-15 per year. Whatever company you choose, most of them will usually have a "one click" install for your WordPress blog.

Design Your Blog

This is the fun part. you can make your blog look like you want it to. If you are using WordPress, you can choose from a variety of free themes. Just go to Appearance > Themes to install a theme. You can also buy premium themes for around $40 at websites like ThemeForest.net. Whatever theme you choose, it is best to find something that is easy to customize and professional-looking. If you get tired of looking at your old blog, simply choose a new theme without losing content or images.A blog's design should reflect your blog's theme. This is what blogging is all about. It can be confusing if you have a cooking blog with a sporty design. Make your blog easy to navigate so that people will like to stick around.Blogging is a great way to communicate and spread information. It is a great way to express yourself or practice your writing skills. Best of all, a blog can help you make money. You need just a bit of patience to make a blog. However, the learning curve is not so steep; anybody can do it.
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Growth Hacking

Stop Paying For Traditional Advertising

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traditional advertising
Everyday I come across companies that are spending tons of money on advertising that is yielding them subpar results. This then makes them believe that advertising does not work. What’s the problem with their strategy? They are using traditional advertising in places where their consumers’ attention is not.
The shift towards digital consumption has significantly grown over the last few years, where most things can now be done on the Internet. Most of our social interactions and the way we consume content is largely taking place through mobile devices as a result of convenience and flexibility. The answer to many of our problems can now be resolved at the touch of a button. Catching up with friends, shopping, binge-watching a TV series, reading the news, or learning a new skill can all be done through mobile device and social apps. Companies that have not innovated themselves to a digital platform are being eliminated by those that have. Of course, not everyone has adopted these mediums as their go-to, some people still rather get their news from a newspaper, or catch up with an old friend at a coffee shop.However, it is evident that our attention is leaving traditional mediums and continues to shift to the new digital space. So my question to you: if we are spending so much of our time in this digital space, why are we still trying to build businesses and sell products in the old traditional world? Why are big corporations spending their large marketing budgets on expensive traditional advertising when they can be spending a fraction of the price to advertise where our attention is? Not only does the digital world have our attention, but it is cheaper to advertise on, you can directly target your audience, and we receive insightful data that cannot be obtained through traditional forms of advertising. I will really be focusing on Facebook Ads because that is where you can currently find good value right now.

ATTENTION

When it comes down to it, marketing and advertising is about communicating a message to your target audience in the most effective and efficient way possible. It's all about finding where your consumers are spending most of their time and figuring out how to position yourself in that space.Billboards are meant to grab the attention of the bored passenger who is staring aimlessly out of the car window and to get glances from the driver. However, this was created when our attention was in the traditional world and before this digital space existed. Today, we have mobile devices that connect us directly to the digital world whenever and wherever. We are no longer bored staring out of car windows, we are on our phones.Even TV commercials have become less effective than they used to be due to the digital world. We have the ability to stream shows and movies online with no commercial breaks, or we can record television programs that we are interested in seeing to watch at a later time. Much like the billboard, TV commercials were designed when this digital space was non-existent and the only way to ‘skip’ through advertising was by changing the channel. We are no longer consuming television in the traditional scheduled way. Instead of having to pay attention to that commercial we can skip through it (if it's recorded), we can change the channel, or we can turn to our devices to distract us.It has become so easy for individuals to be absorbed by their mobile devices whether at home or on-the-go. While this distracts many from traditional advertising, it opens up a whole other realm that holds strong potential when one’s attention is primarily shifted to the digital space. Not only does it allow for a sense of immediate connection, such as real-time conversations on social media during a live award show or sports game, but it is a space that holds opportunity for companies to target users at the right moment.

TARGETING

Digital takes targeting the right audience to an extreme. Unlike traditional methods of print and TV advertising, Facebook, for example, gives companies the upper hand in narrowing down where advertisements will be seen. You have the option to define your audience through key demographics like age and location, or through interests, likes, and/or groups they are part of. With Facebook Ads, you have the ability to showcase your ads to valuable consumers, target those who are interested in your competitors, and even those that work at Company X. This is killer for B2B! If you have a B2B company and know exactly which companies would benefit from your product/service, you have the option to run ads against the employees of that company. There is even the advantage of having creatives positioned differently for Company A and Company B, a strategy that can be worthwhile if done correctly.One trick that I like to do is that if I know I am going into a meeting with said company, I will run ads against them so that they will become aware of our company and what we provide for our clients. By doing this, I am attempting to sell my services before I step into that meeting and I hope they walk into it already knowing they want to work with me.

PRICING

If you are paying for traditional advertising, you are most likely OVERSPENDING. While these forms of advertising are losing consumer attention, the prices do not reflect that. Digital is a great place to advertise because there does not necessarily have to be an excessive amount of overhead costs like with print and billboards that will cost you material and labour.One number that I find absolutely insane and a great way to gauge ad value is through CPM (cost per thousand impressions). To advertise on TV you will find yourself paying approximately $25-$30 CPM, while a good chance of that can be saved with Facebook Ads ($5-$10 CPM).For about one-third of the price, the same audience size can be reached with a more targeted approach. It is important to take advantage of these low costs on Facebook while they last and have your advertising budget used to the best of its potential.

CONVERSIONS + ANALYTICS

Traditional advertising is measured through audience measurement systems and is not as in-depth as digital advertising. Traditional efforts focus on brand awareness with a possible call-to-action, while digital ads have the ability to make better conversions due to convenience. With the click of a button you can send consumers to a product on your website or to sign up for an upcoming event. This allows consumers to remain connected with your company almost instantly.The insights provided by Facebook Ads allows for user interactions towards advertisements to be tracked (based on the specific CTA being measured, e.g. downloads, signups, purchases). While traditional methods provide you with statistics on average viewership of particular content, Facebook Ads only charge you for what you receive. If your ad is viewed 1,000,000 times, you pay for 1,000,000 impressions, whereas on traditional if a magazine on average sells 100,000 magazines, you pay for that even when this issue only sells 39,000 copies. The same goes with analytics retrieved from video ads. Video analytics provide you with concrete and valuable data that can show where your viewers drop off (such as in the first 3 seconds), giving you the opportunity to address the problem at hand. You have the ability to test your ads for relatively cheap and can identify what needs to be fixed. Don't blow your budget on something that may not produce quantifiable results.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Advertising campaigns done through social media connects the audience to a brand’s page. You not only get to capture attention from your target audience, but, if done properly, this will turn them into loyal followers. It’s harder for traditional methods to directly and easily convert consumers into followers and retain that same audience in the long run. By using digital, advertising to a target audience is more than getting your company’s name or product at the surface. The next step relies on the company’s responsibility to provide valuable and informational content on their socials to keep their followers interested and establish a meaningful connection.Having a strong social media presence alongside digital ads gives your company a more reputable presence. Customers or potential customers choose to follow you on your socials where it is not forced or expected. Instead, these customers see the value in your brand/company and make the decision to reach out to you (even if that reaching out is a simple like, share, or comment). This kind of engagement is crucial in building sentiment surrounding your brand in the digital world. Don’t get comfortable doing things simply because they worked in the past or because they are considered safe. I want you to be able to recognize overpricing and attention shifts so that you will be able to identify the next best place to advertise and not get stuck in the “old ways”. One day, our attention will start to shift away from digital and I’m sure there will still be people paying to advertise there. Always look to the future and play the long game.
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Startup Central

Sustainable Marketing Tactics For Startups

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company marketing
Starting a business is exciting, but also comes with some significant challenges. The success and sustainability of the startup depends on two basic ideas - good product and good marketing. Launching a business is associated with lots of planning, decisions, details and some risks. Determining the target audience and building a strategy to connect with them are vital to the success of a new venture. Sustainable marketing is proving to be a game changer in the present world of business. Sustainable marketing is the concept based on social and environmental sustainability. This kind of marketing strategy tries to meet the demand of the present generation without harming the future. Here are some tips on sustainable marketing tactics for startups.
Identify Your Target GroupUse social media to identify your target audience. You can also research the business strategy of other similar ventures through social media. Read the customers’ responses to their products. Have a close look at the keywords and follower profiles of your competitor company. Try to reach them with some definite objectives to impress them. Focus on spreading the news of your venture and products and how these can affect the environment and community in a positive way. Create excitement about its launch to grab the attention of your target audience.Unique Marketing TechniquesAs a startup, you may not have enough resources and may not be able to take big financial leaps to promote your products or services. However, to get noticed, you can adopt a few innovative ways to do so. Promote your company’s green technology, social relations, and environmental initiatives. You will get a positive response from the media and consumers build an emotional connect with the organizations that provide some social sustainability.Product and CultureCreate a buzz about the product or service during its pre-launch phase. As the stage is set, people are willing to try it. To hold customer loyalty to your product, you need to build a working relationship with them. Listen to their opinion or feedback about the product. Proactive listening is a powerful online marketing tool and sustainable in the long-run. Participate in the networking events that emphasize on sustainable development. Reach out to people who need the products and let them know how should they use them without harming the ecological balance.Market for the Right ReasonsSet your short term and long term goals for the startup. A good product needs proper marketing to reach maximum sales targets. So, operations and marketing should go hand in hand. As the product is developed, it should be promoted in the proper light. Marketing only for the sake of marketing is not healthy for long-term goals.Convert Your Visitors Into CustomersThe startup should be committed towards the future generation. Your company website should promote the sustainable marketing strategies adopted by the firm. It leads to the betterment of the relationship between the company and its customers. As you focus on reducing waste or rejecting child-labor in your firm, the e-visitors feel an emotional connect. The transparency and ethical practice of your startup can gain the confidence of your audience, thus increasing the value of your brand.
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Business

Succeed As A Veteran Owned Business

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Starting and maintaining a business may be hard work, but can be made easier with the right network. Having the right support and connections may be the thin line between success and failure. If you’re a veteran entrepreneur with a business idea, you can receive funding to help bring those ideas to life. We will explain the steps to succeed as a veteran owned business.

Find Out If You Qualify

If you have previously served in the military and/or have an injury-related disability, you may be eligible for government contracting and additional funding. In order to receive this certification, the individual must own at least 51 percent of the company that they are applying for, and manage the day-to-day operations of the business. There is also a procedure that you’ll need to follow in order to prove your veteran and/or disabled status. In order to prove veteran status you will need to provide a Department of Defense Form (DD214). If you are applying as a service-disabled veteran, you will need to get a letter from the US Department of Veteran Affairs proving that you are actually disabled. In many cases, if you are not interested in securing government contracts for your veteran owned business, these steps are not necessary.

Register with The VA

Another crucial step in the qualification process is to register through the VA or Veterans Affairs. Registering will not only assist with the strategic marketing of your business but will also add a legitimacy factor in being known as a veteran owned business. People are generally supportive of service men and women and want to support your endeavors, so proudly promoting that you have a veteran owned business will add to growth. The VetBiz Registry, which acts as a business database is the first step in registering with the VA. You will need to have your DD214, letter of disability status, tax forms, bank statements, business license, any partner agreements, and some other additional documents may be requested at the discretion of the VA.

Utilize the SDVOSBC

The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act was created in 1999. The goal of this act is to generate over $15 billion of contracting dollars for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Being that some veterans return from duty with disabilities stemming from conflict, this program sets aside a certain amount of contracts to service them first. As long as you are considered disabled from service no matter your rating, you are eligible to securing a contract. However, if you do have a 100 percent disability rating the government has contingencies in place to allow a spouse or caregiver to run the business in place of the veteran. It’s very convenient and an amazing opportunity for vets who have served to be able to get their ideas out no matter their status.

Marketing Your Veteran Owned Business

Veterans are normally praised and promoted for their service in the armed forces, but the magnitude of entrepreneurship in this demographic is overlooked. According to Forbes, there are over 3 million Veteran owned businesses run in the United States, 5.7 million people are employed by Veterans, and Veterans are twice as likely to own a business than non-vets. These statistics show that there is a strong thread between the personalities of veterans and the interest in entrepreneurship. Strength, discipline, and leadership are all valuable traits to possess in business. Registering your business with BuyVeteran.com can also be a great resource to use for promotional items. When you register you will receive badges to display throughout your business/store, along with apparel (T-Shirts, Hats), Magnets, and other marketing items. Using the local media in your community, as well as social media, can help with promotion. Using your veteran status to appeal to an audience who already has admiration and respect for you will surely render growth.

Know Everything About Your Industry

If your chosen business field is completely out of your realm of knowledge be sure to research as much as possible before requesting support/investors. You should be an expert on your business idea as well as having a solid business plan ready to execute. Doing research includes finding out who your target audience is, how to price your products/services, who your competitors are, and what laws are in place in that industry. Will you need a license to provide certain services? How does paying taxes change for a business owner as opposed to an employee? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered before you move forward with the business. Once you have completed all these steps you are ready to take on the world as a Vetrepreneur! Good luck!
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