Let's Talk! 480.206.6452

Small Business Website

What You Need to Know for Your Small Business Website (Guest)

Written by P Collins on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Solopreneur Ideas

When you’re about to launch your first website, it’s hard to know what you really need and what’s just an unnecessary expense.

There are a lot of platforms, both free and paid, that allow you to build a blog with the push of a button, such as Weebly, Wix, SquareSpace, Blogger, and many others. Those can be useful if your site is for a hobby. But if you’re launching a real business, you’ll want to self-host your website. Self-hosting means your website is totally under your control.

Self-hosting sounds technical and confusing, but it’s actually really easy.

All you need to get started is a domain name and hosting. You can purchase those pretty reasonably at SiteGround, InMotion or GoDaddy.

Your domain name is the web address of your site, like bloggingbadass.com or gotprint.net. Hosting is the space you’re renting on the internet that hosts your web files. When you’re just starting out, the basic package is perfectly acceptable. You can upgrade at any time. If you’re not happy with your provider, you can switch to another, so don’t feel like you are stuck with this choice for life.

Inevitably, once you decide to launch a website, you’ll be offered all kinds of additional products. What are all those extra choices? What do you need and what’s just an upsell by the hosting company?

Here are some common items hosting companies will try to upsell:

Domain privacy

When you register a domain, your name, address, email address and phone number are automatically published for the world to see. It’s required by law that the hosting companies collect this information. But many people don’t realize that this information becomes public in an international database called the WhoIs database. If you’re a big company with a physical location, like a grocery store chain or a school, this might not matter to you but if you’re a solo entrepreneur, you may not want all your contact information out there. If that’s the case, you can protect yourself from spam and scams with private domain registration.

Business registration

Some domain registrars and hosting companies want to see you a type of premium domain registration or business registration. This adds very little value to your website and is not worth the price. Don’t bother signing up for it.

Site Lock or malware scanner service

Depending in the price and features, this could be helpful to you. Security is important: No one wants their site hacked! If you don’t want to handle it yourself, ask your hosting company what they offer. The most important question is: Do they merely scan, or will they actually clean your site and put everything back the way it was if you’ve been infected? If you don’t like their answer or prices, I highly recommend installing Sucuri on your new site.

Backup systems

Speaking of security, having a backup system is imperative. If you’re using WordPress to build your website, look into UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy, two of my favorite backup plugins. If you want your host to handle it, be sure to ask them:

– How often do they back up your site?
– How many backups do they keep?
– Where are the backups stored?
– If something happens, will they help you restore your site, otherwise are you on your own?

At the very least, everyone with a website should download screenshots and copies of the photos and text that appears on their site. I go through my sites about twice a year and make sure I have manual copies of everything. Just in case.

SSL certificate

An SSL certificate is used to secure any website that transmits personal information. They are indicated by a green symbol or padlock by the domain name in your browser. Banks, retail stores, hospitals, schools, and many other companies that deal with sensitive data use SSL certificates. Some hosts provide SSL certificates for free. If so, take advantage. They are nice to have. If you’re taking payments on your site using PayPal or Stripe (or another payment gateway), they already have SSL built in. If you’re not certain if you need one, you can always purchase one down the road. You can typically buy them in 1-year, 2-year, 5-year, or 10-year terms.

Dedicated Servers and Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

If you’re a beginner, don’t let an enthusiastic salesperson talk you into purchasing one of these. If you’ve outgrown your economy or basic plan, just move up to the next level that provides the adequate amount of space and bandwidth. A VPS is a monster of a system that requires an extremely tech-savvy individual to manage and is most likely way more than you need. Not everyone needs to have a fully dedicated web server. In fact, most people don’t. The majority of websites start out on shared hosting. That means you and 25 other people like you share a server machine in a giant building that’s connected to the internet. A VPS is a virtual server that is dedicated to you only. Hence the hefty price tag. Down the road, if you’re ready for a dedicated server or VPS, you may want to hire someone to assist you in managing it.

Domain email

Domain email is custom email setup with your domain name. For example, if I owned whitehouse.gov, I could set up the email address perri@whitehouse.gov or anne@whitehouse.gov. Most domain registrars and hosting companies offer this service. You can choose whoever you want to set up your custom domain email. I’m a huge fan of Google. It’s like Gmail for your company email. A domain email will amp up the professional appearance of your business and is usually worth the price, which can range from $50/year to $100/year, depending on what service you use.

Number One Piece of Advice for Your Website

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. One thing to keep in mind is that the web is very flexible. If you want to change your domain name to something else, you can do that. Don’t like the look of your site? Learn how to install a new theme or hire a web developer to do it for you. Want to switch hosting companies? No problem. Everything is changeable, so don’t be afraid to take the leap and crush it online.

Perri Collins, Collins Digital Media

Perri Collins, Collins Digital Media

Perri Collins is the Magical Unicorn of Creativity at Collins Digital Media. She specialized in web development, online digital marketing and social media. She started building websites in 1999 and has continued to help small business owners and individuals take their first steps on the web. She has worked with organizations both large and small, from Arizona State University to freelance writers, restaurant owners, TV news anchors, healthcare professionals, bloggers and comedians.

How to Write a Blog Post

How to Write a Blog Post

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Start Blogging

Are you overwhelmed at the prospect of writing a blog post for your website? I get that way too especially when I overthink the process of how to write a blog post. When I think of it as an email to a client or prospect giving them information they’ve already requested, it’s a lot simpler. Here are tips for the next time you write a blog post:

Repurpose old content

Don’t Let Your Blog Post Go Stale – 11 Ways to Repurpose Old Content

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Content Marketing

This is the pot calling the kettle black when I say don’t let your blog posts go stale. You need to repurpose old content and not just let it sit on your website. I’m putting a plan together to make more of what I’ve already written. If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you’ll see that I’ve been sharing; but that’s not all there is when it comes to repurposing old content.

Repurpose old content

Think about why you’re blogging.

  • Drive traffic to your website.
  • Share your own content on social media.
  • Call people to action.
  • Make prospective clients interested in working with you.

You can’t meet any of these goals if blog posts are just sitting dormant and unshared on your website.

Make the most of your blog posts with these eleven ways to repurpose old content.

  1. e-book. You’ve got a lot of written content sitting on your website. Take a series of related blog posts and create an e-book website visitors can download in exchange for their email address. You may need to massage the copy a bit but it’s better than starting from nothing AND you’re building your email list.
  2. Podcast or livestreaming. Take the ideas from your blog posts and repurpose to a podcast and/or livestream where you can reach a new audience. Share podcasts and the transcript to your blog as new content.
  3. Share on social media. Breathe new life into old content by sharing it on social media. Share with the title and a link to the post. Then take shorter pieces from the body of the post and share on social media. Use a scheduler like Buffer or Hootsuite to keep the social media pipeline filled or hire a Social Media Manager.
  4. Revamp and re-release. Not every blog post is evergreen meaning that it stands the test of time. Schedule time to review current content to see which posts can be revamped and updated.
  5. Spin it differently. Instead of writing generically on your topic, write for a different audience. For example, if you sell life insurance, write about why people need life insurance, then also write life insurance for families, why you need more than just your employer sponsored insurance, spousal life insurance, life insurance tips for young families. Keep your target market in mind as you spin content differently.
  6. Case Studies. Let’s take the life insurance example from #5. Rather than telling people why they need life insurance, give them an example in a case study. Tell why the client came to you, what you offered as a solution, and the outcome. Use these stories as your commercials at networking events to get people more interested in what you’re offering.
  7. Value of links. When you’re writing new content, refer to old content. Link to the old content in the new post. You’re more likely to have visitors stay on your website and keep reading.
  8. Update the statistics or infographic. Take an old piece and update the numbers or the infographic and you’ve got a new post! Be sure you’re changing at least 30% of the content to avoid duplicate content issues with Google.
  9. Best of blog posts. Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating content for your website. Create a Top Ten list a la David Letterman about content on your site. Link to the old posts to get them back in front of your audience.
  10. Pinterest for Brands. If you’re a master of images, utilize Pinterest to drive traffic back to your website. The old post about picking the best colors for your website? Get it in front of your Pinterest following!
  11. Newsletters. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel every time you need newsletter content! Use blog posts to create a theme and message for the people on your newsletter mailing list. This will let them know what you’ve been up to and will drive them to your website.

If you’re wondering which of these is most effective to re-engage your audience, use Google Analytics to track website traffic. Not only can you see which posts are getting the most views, you can review keywords and social media sites that are driving visits.

Creating content isn’t a one-time event. With a content strategy you can repurpose old content into newsletters, e-books, live streaming, social media updates, and new blog posts.

Start Writing Blog Posts

Where to Start Writing Blog Posts When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Start Blogging

You’re staring at a list of blog post ideas waiting for the posts to write themselves but they never do. Where do you start writing blog posts when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away, do something else, then return with a new approach.

Do anything that gets your mind away from the blank page.

Go for a walk. Play with the dog. Dance.

Start Writing Blog PostsYou will be amazed at what 5-10 minutes away from the screen can do for your creativity and blogger motivation.

Believe me when I say I spend as much time in my backyard pondering as I do writing.

Come back to the list of ideas or the piece you’re writing with new eyes.

Start where you’re comfortable.

Pick a topic from your list that inspires you and write. Some days that’s easier said than done.


There are two ways I approach blog post writing:

  1. Write the middle of the post first. Then a conclusion. Craft the opening last. It’s often easier to write the opening after I’ve gotten all of my ideas out of my head.
  2. Write what I know on the topic. Write from the heart. Research and make notes. Then go back and craft a piece my client will love.

Find your flow. There’s no right way to write.

On my list(s) of blog post ideas, whether for my own writing or for a client, I add notes and relevant links that trigger me when I come back to write. If I have only a topic listed, I don’t always recall why I wanted to write on that topic and it causes a feeling of overwhelm.

I have a list of 100 blog post ideas that gives me anxiety.

I wonder why I haven’t written these posts or how I could, if I wrote them, repurpose them into an ebook, livestream, or guest blog post. My chest is tight just writing about it.

Finally I took the list of 100+ blog post ideas and broke it into a smaller list of 25 ideas. That’s where I got many of my 12 blog post ideas in 30 minutes or less.

12 ideas is less overwhelming than 100 ideas or a blank page with no plan.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away and come back with a new approach. Make your list shorter. Focus on one category rather than a huge list. Write a topic that interests you in the moment.

There’s isn’t a right or wrong way to write your blog posts. Find what works for you and go with the flow to create content that reaches your target audience.

blog posts

Why I am Writing 12 Blog Posts in 12 Days

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Projects & Press Releases

blog posts

Originally I was going to write 12 blog post in six days but that just wasn’t a reasonable goal. I updated to 12 posts in 12 days which is more attainable. 

I need a challenge.

Not an income challenge. I already did that Q1 when I exceeded my income goals three months in a row and running. It seemed like a good idea until a I realized I was also planning my wedding. It was a crazy time. Thankfully my supportive husband was with me every step of the way.

Not a client challenge. I’ve gotten the hang of nurturing leads so that when a client and I decide to no longer work together there are prospects waiting to work with me.

Not a physical challenge. I joined a gym in February. I am enjoying working off stress and sleeping better, not to mention the benefit of my clothes fitting better.

I need a blogging challenge.

Why I am Writing 12 Blog Posts in Six 12 Days

Clients approach me with an understanding that content is important to their marketing and social media strategy but don’t have time to write. That’s when they hire me for a 12 post blogging package. Within 4-6 weeks we develop 12 blog post ideas that they can use as blog posts, newsletter content, and/or LinkedIn publishing.

I’ve never done a 12 post post blog project for my own website and it’s about time for that to happen! And I am going to do it in Six 12 DAYS!

Sounds crazy but the timing is perfect. I’ve wrapped up a few projects and am waiting for a few to start. I have ideas on lists all over my office, in my head, and on my computer.

To start, I am handpicking 12 blog post ideas that I’ve had rolling around in my head for a long time. This post is the first of 12.

 

blog post

You’ve Written a Blog Post. Now What?

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Content Marketing

You’ve written a blog post. Now what? It’s sitting on your blog waiting for people to find it but no one is finding it. Why? You’re going to think this sounds weird but people want to be told what to do.

No one wants to be told what to do….or do they?

When it comes to content marketing, people want to be told what to do. They want to be told where to find the information they need. They want to know who the best bloggers are and when they post new content.

How do you share your blog posts?

  • Share on multiple social media sites multiple times over multiple days. Change the message – take a sentence from the post that will catch readers’ attention, ask a question, make a statement about the blog topic – then add a link to the post.
Content for Your Blog

Newsletters Aren’t Just for the Trash (How to Use Newsletter Content for Your Blog)

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Content Marketing

Email can be overwhelming and sometimes we do it to ourselves. I’ve signed up for more newsletters than I care to count. Last year I used Unroll Me to unsubscribe from thousands of emails to which I was subscribed.

It was part of a strategy to test my theory that newsletters from other people aren’t just for the trash and that you can use the content for your social media and blog posts.

Here’s how to use newsletter content for your blog

blog post ideas

Blog Post Ideas Your Readers Will Love

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Start Blogging

Do you want more readers on your blog? If you’re like most bloggers, the answer is a resounding YES. Of course we want more people to read our musings.

Readers want to connect with you as if you’re a friend sitting on a couch sharing stories and cups of tea or glasses of wine. How do we accomplish this? We offer the following blog post ideas:

Make your blog post relevant.

Your readers want you to answer their questions.

writing a blog post

Are you paralyzed at the thought of writing a blog post? Read This.

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Start Blogging

Are you paralyzed at the thought of writing a blog post?Create Content that Tells a Story

Do you write blog posts and never publish them?

Are you writing a post for hours or over the course of days?

It’s time to stop overthinking your blog post.

Have something to say and say it.

Keep it pithy – short, concise, and to the point.

Carry a notebook with you at all times.

use your blog to tell a story

How to Use Your Blog to Tell a Story about your Business

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners

Your business website isn’t a stagnant marketing tool like a business card. It doesn’t just sit around looking pretty or it shouldn’t if you want to make the investment of a website worth your effort. A business website should be used to breathe life into your business and brand. The most affordable and effective way to build your brand online is to blog on a consistent basis and use your blog to tell a story about your business.

First things first. You must be clear about who your target client is or no marketing (blogging, social media, website, etc.) will work effectively to build your business. You have to know who you want to reach so you can create and share content related to that particular audience. Otherwise you’re throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks. Over time, the spaghetti method gets tiresome, boring, and stressful.

Before you begin blogging, ask yourself:

Let’s Talk!

480.206.6452

info@mcauleyfreelancewriting.com