The Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing Printing

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

Paper printing is an excellent way to market and spread buzz about your company throughout the community. Business cards, flyers, posters, brochures – all of these media can be used to effectively pull in interest and create sales. In a world where most people are talking about websites and online presence, it”s easy for a new business to forget about the powerful positive impact of traditional marketing.

Of course, anyone new to purchasing printing might have trouble wrapping their head around all the terminology and phrasing used by printing professionals. This is a short guide to help you with the basics of printing, to ensure that you get exactly what you need to drive your business”s popularity.

What is GSM?

GSM (Grams per square metre) is the term used to describe the weight or grammage of paper. Business cards use a different weight of paper than brochures and flyers, and all off these are different than the normal paper you would put into your printer at home.

To put all of this into perspective, typical printing paper is usually around 75 GSM. The higher the GSM number, the thicker the paper is. If you go up to 90 or 100 GSM, you have paper around the thickness of printer paper meant for color copies or laser printing. It”s just a bit thicker, which makes it slightly heavier and less transparent when you hold it up to the light.

With that in mind, printing companies will usually ask you to choose the GSM for your printing order. Depending on what you need to have printed, this can vary quite a bit. It”s always up to your personal preference whether you want to have thick or thin business cards, but here are some standard weights for common printing projects.

Business Cards – Business cards are much thicker than regular paper, closer to card stock than anything else. The common weight for business card paper is usually between 300 GSM and 400 GSM.

Posters, Brochures, and Flyers – Paper for these projects is usually thinner than a business card but not terribly lightweight either. Most of the time, they will have a glossy finish for a polished, sleek feel. The GSM for these usually runs standard at 150 GSM.

Letterheads – When you want something light and versatile without the flimsiness of regular printing paper, a 100 GSM size is perfect for letterheads, with compliments slips, and office stationery.

Standard Printing Sizes

Besides thickness, you also have to think about the size of your printing jobs. The printing business uses special terms to quickly figure out the length and width of the paper they need to use, which translates over to square mm. Here are the common printing sizes for most of the jobs, to give you a quick reference for your printing needs.

Posters – Posters can be in a wide variety of sizes, with the largest size being AO (1,189mm x 841mm) for mega posters to A2 (420x594mm) for regular posters and the smallest size being A4 (210x297mm). The “A series” is a term used to denote common sizes for printing use, and each number corresponds to a specific size. A4 paper is the most common paper size in the world, which is the size used for regular letter paper.

Letterheads – As just mentioned, A4 is the standard size for letterhead, and most home/office printers are built to accept this size or smaller.

Brochures – Brochures for business use will usually be printed on A4 paper which is then folded using either a tri-fold (most common) or a z-fold. The printing is broken up into what is known as DL size, which allows the paper to be folded into 3 equal sections, thus giving you the folded brochure. DL size has the same width as A4 but at 1/3 the height.

Flyers – Flyers, like posters, come in varying sizes. For a full sheet flyer, most printers will recommend A4 paper. If you want something smaller to easily hand out to visitors, DL size makes an excellent choice.

Business Cards – The standard size for business cards in Australia is 90×55 mm, which has a 1.636 aspect ratio and fits nicely into just about any wallet. We also work with 86×54 mm on occasion, which is more standard in Europe but is just a little smaller and more compact.

Printing Paper: Recycled vs. New

Whenever possible, we make an effort to use recycled paper in our printing projects. Why? Environmentally it just makes more sense. There are a lot of myths that virgin (new) paper actually requires less energy than the processes used to recycle paper, but the facts suggest otherwise.

The story goes that the whole process of breaking down paper fibres and then reconstituting them into fresh paper uses much more energy than it does to cut new trees for virgin fibre. What actually happens is that recycling centres, which are usually placed in industrial areas, do in fact take more energy (electricity) from the grid.

What they don”t mention is that most deforestation teams use on-site power to break down the trees for shipping and processing. In the end, recycling actually uses less total power than harvesting virgin fibre once you factor in transport, worker housing, even the gas used for chainsaws.

From a business standpoint, recycled paper is just as strong and durable as virgin fibre, and allows you to do your part to conserve the world we live in.

Finishing with Finishes

The size and weight of a paper can say a lot about your company, but the finish is just as important. Just as if you were painting your house, you have the choice of gloss and matte finishes when you order a printing project. Each one is more suited for a different printing style, so let”s look at what those are.


As you might guess, a gloss finish gives your brochure or poster a sleek, shiny feel and look. It”s smooth to the touch and reflects light more than regular paper would. Most people choose gloss finishes for brochures and posters more than anything else because it protects the paper from wear and tear. Here are the pros and cons.


  • Shiny finish
  • Vibrant colours
  • Sharp, crisp images
  • Scanning doesn”t pick up the texture of the paper


  •  More susceptible to smudges from handling
  • There may be a glare which makes the design harder to see from the wrong angle


Matte printing gives a more classic, natural look and is another popular choice for poster printing. Brochures can have a matte finish as well, although they”re usually requested with a gloss.


  • Fingerprints and heavy handling won”t leave smudges
  • Many times a matte finish will give your project a more professional look, especially if it involves photos
  • No glare


  •  An image may turn out grainy, depending on the paper
  • Colours aren”t as vibrant
  • If you scan a matte image it can pick up the paper texture and distort the image

No Finish

In some cases, you may not want a finish at all, which will leave the original paper texture. This is a more affordable option, and makes sense with letterheads or office stationery. For something larger that will be seen by many people, a finish is usually recommended.

Colour Printing Choices: CMYK or Pantone?

Colour printing is a hard concept to get across to anyone not trained in design because there are actually a few different standard systems for colour. When you look at a colour on your computer monitor, you”re viewing RGB colour. If you took something and printed it, it would end up with a slightly different shade than what was displayed on your monitor.

In the printing world, most firms will use either CMYK or Pantone colour printing. The differences are simple:

CMYK printing uses four base colours : Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Through these combinations there is almost an unlimited number of colours that can be produced, and it”s easy to take the same design to different printing firms and get a similar result. It”s also less expensive to have a wide array of colours in the same design.

Pantone colour printing is also known as “spot printing.” This will give you a nearly identical print every time, with more vibrant colours than CMYK can usually give. Pantone printing uses special standardized codes to represent colours as they would appear in print (as opposed to on a computer screen). Most printing companies have what”s known as a “swatch book” which has a printed sample of the colour along with its colour code.

Printing and Digital File Types

Let”s say you have a fantastic design already worked out on your computer. Should you save it as a JPG? GIF? PSD? Does it even matter? Let”s look at the most common file types to see which is best for your needs.

JPG – JPG is the most common image format for computers and websites, but the issue for printing is that it compresses the files, making them smaller. For brochures or flyers this doesn”t make much difference, but expanding the files for larger printing jobs, like posters, can result in a pixelated (blocky) image.

TIFF – This is one of the top choices for printing jobs because it saves files in a lossless format, meaning that there”s no degrading of image quality. It offers some of the highest quality for commercial printing work, but the only downside is that TIFF files are large and take up a lot of space.

GIF – The original purpose for GIF files was to work with a dial up internet connection. It”s still useful these days, but its preferred use is for internet graphics rather than print.

PSD – This file type is used specifically for Adobe Photoshop. You may want to save in this type if you are doing image manipulation and want to be able to access the layers again at a later date. This file format will only open in Photoshop.

AI – This file type is used specifically for Adobe Photoshop, which deals with vector images. Vector images can be scaled up or down because they don”t rely on pixels to form the image. Many people like to save files as AI and then keep them as a vector for large scale printing. Will only open in Illustrator.

PNG – PNG was originally brought about to replace GIF files, and it”s still a popular, but little used, file type today. Like TIFF, it uses lossless compression so the image doesn”t lose quality.

PDF – The PDF file type is normally used to display documents and, while it can be used for printing, isn”t the first choice most of the time. It”s usually better to stick with some of the other types that can offer lossless compression.




Posted in 1. General Articles

Why We Recommend WordPress As Our Choice of CMS

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

A CMS (Content Management System) is software that allows website owners to add, remove, or change elements of their website. This could be site content, images, blog posts, contact forms – all a CMS does it make it easier to do everything without changing the HTML of the page itself. Now, the question is which CMS should you choose? There are a few dozen out there, with a few really popular ones, but we will typically always recommend one over anything else: WordPress.

Why WordPress?

We get asked that question a lot, and it really comes down to one reason: WordPress makes it incredibly simple to do complex tasks. There’s a reason that WordPress is the current CMS for over two thirds of the million most popular sites in the world right now, and that’s the same reason why almost a fourth of new websites are using WordPress. It has been proven in the field and always delivers satisfactory results, time and time again. Let’s get a little more specific. We like Woprdpress because:

There’s virtually no learning curve – You can type in the URL for your site, log in, and perform just about any task right off the bat. The user interface is designed with the beginner in mind, but somehow manages to be intuitive enough for veterans to feel like they aren’t playing with kiddie software.

Publishing is as detailed as you want it to be – Do you want to publish a blog post? You type it in, click a button, and it’s done. Do you want to publish that post automatically to your Facebook and Twitter accounts? Two clicks and you’re set up. Do you want to have options for setting up your post’s SEO, metadata, and distinctive URL? You can if you want, and if you don’t it doesn’t get in your way. WordPress is like that helpful teacher who’s there to show you more whenever you ask, but doesn’t shove it down your throat.

The community is helpful, engaging, and intelligent – There’s going to come a point when that one teacher can’t show you everything, and at that point the entire community steps in to help. No matter what you want to do or what questions you have, you can speak with people who have already figured out the answers to those tough challenges. Additionally, you get access to over 20,000 free themes and plugins to personalise your site and make it your own.

Posted in 1. General Articles

Why a Professionally Designed Logo Should Be Your Top Priority

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

There”s a lot that goes into starting a new business: Writing up a business plan, finding investors, working out your location (or building a website), creating a marketing plan. With all of these steps to keep up with, logo design tends to fall through the cracks more often than not. It becomes an afterthought. When they finally realize they need a logo, most business owners will quickly whip something up and work with it until they have time to get something better.

If you”re following that plan, you”re hurting your business more than you know. Your logo is more than just a pretty image to place beside your name – for all intents and purposes; it IS the public face of your business. Because of the way our minds work, images are much easier to remember than words, so as catchy as your company name is; your logo is what people will remember about you. It needs to be memorable to the point that at a single glance any viewer can see it and instantly associate it with your company. Now, you can take that concept and use it to design your own logo, but there are several strong reasons why hiring a professional logo designer is more feasible, and ultimately much more effective.

A Strong Logo Offers Distinction

There are probably hundreds of companies out there offering the same type of product or service as your company. Possibly thousands! A professionally designed logo with strong aesthetic points instantly grabs the eye and pulls potential customers towards your brand. It doesn”t necessarily offer any vital information about the company, but like a handsome face it leaves a striking impression that you remember the next time you see it. It offers distinction from the rest of the masses, and that makes it memorable.

Professionals Know Their Craft

It”s hard to make a blanket statement concerning every pro logo designer, but the ones with reputations got to that position because they know, truly and completely, how to make a design shine. Logo design always goes back to the same thing – how memorable is it? What most people don”t know though is that there can be any number of elements that go into a design to make it memorable: Font, colour, shape, angle, scale – each element combines to create the perfect logo. Get one thing wrong and a beautiful, attractive logo either becomes plain and uninteresting or gaudy and annoying.

Posted in 1. General Articles

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying and Setting Up a Website

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

If there’s one thing that has become a necessity in today’s business world, it’s having a company website to serve as a virtual front for your business. If you aren’t familiar with the process of creating a website it can seem like a daunting task, but the technology we have, makes it easier than ever to build a crisp, professional business website, even on a limited budget. Just like setting up a physical business, the first step is finding the right location.

Web Hosting

Your hosting service is what allows your website to remain online. The most important features of a quality web hosting service are their storage capacity, bandwidth, uptime, pricing, and customer support. Let’s run through each of those individually.

Storage capacity – When you host your website, all the coding and content needs to be stored somewhere. Web hosts provide a limited amount of storage for all the “guts” of your website. Usually the amount of storage will be determined by the monthly price you have to pay.

Bandwidth – In a basic sense, bandwidth determines the number of visitors that can be on your site at the same time. Each viewer is taking up a small portion of your bandwidth, which can eventually add up as more people learn about your site. Web hosts offer degrees of bandwidth allowances, which again is usually determined by your monthly fee.

Uptime – You hear this a lot from webmasters, and it’s extremely important. Uptime is the amount of time your website is live, based on a monthly rating. The best web hosts offer 99% uptime in a month. It’s important because any time your website is not live, you can’t make sales.

Pricing – All of the above factors work together to determine your pricing. Web hosting typically charges by month, and can range from $4/month for basic services up to $50/month or more for high profile websites with millions of visitors. Most services allow you to scale your allowances as you require, so it’s best to start with something basic and move up.

Customer support – More than anything else, the support staff of a web host can make or break the deal. You want support that’s helpful, responds quickly, and ideally is available 24/7. That way when you run into a problem you get it sorted out as soon as possible.

Domain Name

Either before or after you sign up with a web host, you need to decide on a domain name ( and purchase it. Many web hosts allow you to purchase a domain through their site, so usually you can combine these steps.

What makes a good domain name? It should be short, catchy, and simple. That way it’s easy to remember. Avoid hyphens or underscores as they usually just make it overly complicated. The name of your company will usually work well, but if you want to get more complicated you can use keywords to help with SEO.

Domain names typically cost anywhere from $9 to $20, depending on where you purchase from, and stay registered for a year, after which you can renew for the same price.

Web Designer

Now that the screws and bolts are in place, the next step is to work on the design of the website. Design is about much more than the way the site looks – it determines the way the site feels. It should be easy to navigate, intuitive, and simple enough to enhance the user experience, rather than distract from it.

There’s always the option, to either A) design it yourself or B) use a free template, but nothing beats the services of a good website designer. Templates are fantastic for personal use, but as a business you want to set yourself apart from the other guys and really make an impact. That’s hard to get with a template, and even harder if you attempt your own design with minimal experience.

Remember that the website is usually the first thing your customers will see, and first impressions go a long way in the business world. A poorly designed or clunky website will lose you customers- guaranteed. Go with a professional and leave the best impact you can on your prospective customers.


If the design is the chrome finish, the coding is the engine that makes the whole thing hum. HTML is the basic coding language, but recently Java and Flash have made an entrance in the business arena, mostly due to the fact that Google and other search engines now have a limited ability to read Flash for search engine optimization. There’s a whole world of opportunity in regards to what a website can become

Good programmers spend years in university and even more time building up experience. While the design is simply the two dimensional image, coding makes it interactive. Hiring a top notch programmer to build your site is an absolute must if you want to make that first positive impact on your viewers.


A lot of business owners have mixed opinions on how important copywriters are for a website. Some are content with simply outsourcing the work to the first available writer, while others take great pains to make sure their website content is pristine and polished down to the last semicolon.

In our opinion, your copywriter is one of the most important tools for your website. As good as the design and programming is; it’s the content that really makes it sell. When your copy is engaging, energetic, and, most importantly, honest, you develop a level of trust with your viewers right off the bat that’s hard to achieve otherwise.

A high quality copywriter will be able to adapt to a tone and style that fits your business and your goals. He or she should also be able to seamlessly implement SEO into your site content, which is something we’ll discuss in a second. You can pull a copywriter from many places – there are plenty of websites created solely for that purpose – but the best writers always come from a recommendation.


Okay, we’ve mentioned SEO a few times already, but what is it exactly? SEO stands for search engine optimization. This term used for optimizing a website to appear in the first few pages of search engines (such as Google or Yahoo). Much of SEO revolves around keywords – words or phrases that target exactly what your audience is searching for. If 200,000 people search for the phrase “lawn and garden,” you’ll have a better chance of appearing in the results if your website uses that phrase in its content.

A strong SEO strategy can be the difference between a popular website and one that isn’t so successful. Keywords are just one part of it, but finding a few popular keywords with which to optimize your site is the best place to get started.


One thing that stumps a lot of people who are new to websites is how to manage it all. On the URL it looks great, but what can I personally do from the back end? A decade ago you had to be able to edit and manipulate HTML in order to make changes to a website, but these days we do it through a CMS, or content management system.

A CMS is a user-friendly interface that allows you to adjust and change any element on your website without muddling around in the code. There are a lot of CMS’s out there, but we personally recommend WordPress to our users, mostly because it’s powerful and user-friendly at the same time, a winning combination.

Posted in 1. General Articles

Use Your Online Presence to Optimize Your Offline Popularity

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

The ever-present availability of the internet serves businesses in a lot of positive ways, but it’s easy to forget that offline events can benefit from the internet as well. With the right online promotion, you can boost attendance at your next offline event by double or even triple what you had at your last one. Here are a few tips for using the internet to leverage the popularity of any upcoming business events, whether they be conferences, seminars, tradeshows, or the like.

The first thing to do is get the audience prepared for the upcoming event. Facebook makes an excellent starting point as it allows you to schedule events in advance and spread the word through the social networks. Use your business page to set up the event, and then invite all your followers and contacts. Encourage them to share it with their friends, and with the right type of community involvement you can easily skyrocket the number of attendees. But don’t stop with Facebook alone. Announce the event on all of your business profiles, including Twitter, LinkedIn, even Youtube.

Post information to let your audience learn more about what will be happening at the event, and use that to increase the buzz surrounding it. It’s best to do this at least a few weeks in advance so everybody involved has a chance to reach out to their own communities and reach as many people as possible in the following days. If you can get people excited about what you’re doing online, more of them will show up on the day of the event.

As the event is taking place, set up a real time feed of news, pictures, and video to cater to the people who wanted to attend but couldn’t for some reason. One simple and effective way to do this is to stream every update through Twitter. You can even go so far as to create a unique hashtag that will allow people to quickly find your updates and share them with friends. It also gives you a useful metric for tracking the popularity of the event later on.

At this point, you can continue to use the popularity of that event to build even more buzz for future ones. The day after the event, post pictures or videos of what happened. By doing this you’ll be further connecting with everybody who was present, all those people who couldn’t make it, and anybody who might be interested in attending the next one. It’s a threefold benefit. Now take the time to archive all the media and post some reminders periodically to keep the idea of the excitement fresh in your audience’s minds.

Then, when you’re starting to prepare for the next big event, you won’t have to worry about building as much buzz because it’s already there waiting for you. The internet is phenomenal for promotion and networking. So many people forget about the online aspect when they’re planning an offline event, but it can be just as powerful (if not more so) than traditional offline promotion.

Posted in 3. Intermediate Marketing Strategies

Tips to Help You Stay on Top of the Hottest Online Trends

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

The internet is changing every single day, and along with that change we see news and marketing trends coming and going faster than anything that could happen in the physical world. One of the biggest problems that newcomers to internet marketing face is simply sheer overload of information. If you try to keep track of every single change in your market or niche, you’ll go crazy. But how can you tell which trends are important and which ones aren’t?

Learn to Let Go

The first and most important lesson any online marketer can learn is that you can’t beat yourself up for missing some new important trend. It happens to everybody, and you have to be able to learn when to let go. It might be really difficult, especially in the beginning, but eventually you’ll learn how to cherry pick the information that is most relevant to you and let the rest of it slip on past. You don’t have to read every update that comes through your RSS subscriptions, you don’t need to sit on your Twitter news feed and check every single update; you don’t even have to reply to every email that comes into your inbox. And trust me, it’s going to be hard at first, but you don’t have to do it without help.

Fine Tune Your Alerts

Google has an awesome tool called Google Alerts that allows you to set specific alerts for news from blogs or websites that contains certain keywords. You can choose the keywords, and by doing so keep track of any information about you, your business, and hot topics that you deal with specifically on a day to day basis. Google Alerts will send emails directly to your inbox with all the notifications. You can set it to deliver in real time, once a day, or once a week. Once a day is usually the best option because real time can start to really clutter up your inbox.

The same sort of thing can be done with Twitter as well, with services like HootSuite or Tweetdeck. This lets you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on around you without the need to filter through all the background noise and false alarms. You can take a reactive approach to everything of concern that immediately interests you.

Skim for Stories

I know I just recommended not going through your whole Twitter news feed every day, but sometimes doing just that can help you out. The idea is not to spend too much time doing it. Every now and then, just skim down over all the tweets for the past few hours. Don’t read each one, but look for anything that jumps out at you. You never know what you might run into just by chance. Again, do this sparingly and don’t put too much stock in it. You won’t always find something useful, but you may just run across that one item that sparks a new idea.

Posted in 3. Intermediate Marketing Strategies

How a Local Business Can Take the First Steps in Online Marketing

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

As a local business, it can be difficult to get started in the online realm with a new marketing tactic. One of the most important aspects of online marketing is getting found in the search engines for local results. It’s important to take care of your SEO, but unless you specifically target your city you still won’t have a lot of luck pulling in local traffic who can visit your store in person. Don’t get me wrong – SEO is still vitally important for getting noticed online, but there are specific ways to get noticed by the local crowd that can really propel your business to the forefront of your regional scene.

Collaborate with Thought Leaders

One technique that will have a lasting impact on the success of your business is building relationships with current thought leaders in your industry. A thought leader is somebody who brings new and innovative ideas to the table in any particular market or industry. An obvious example of this would be somebody like Steve Jobs, who was a thought leader in the computer industry.

Of course, you don’t need to reach that high to take advantage of this technique. Do you currently read any blogs that have a wide following? Those bloggers are thought leaders because they create content that people wish to learn more about, and forming a collaboration with them can bring some of that popularity down on your own business. The easiest way to get in touch with them is to send them an email offering some ideas for a collaboration on online content.

Just be honest and explain who you are, what you do, and what you are trying to get out of this relationship. High profile bloggers receive requests like this all the time and they’ll instantly see through any pretenses that you aren’t doing it for personal gain. What’s the benefit of going this route? Well, for one you can pull in some of their traffic for yourself, but you will also gain a local reputation, a “buzz,” among the people in your area who research a company before making any purchases. Finally, at the very least you’ll get the benefit of receiving a few high quality backlinks to your website or blog.

Work with GPS Marketing Services

GPS is becoming a standard feature in most smart phones, and businesses are using that to appeal to the local traffic in their city or town. A lot of the apps that use GPS make it easy to find local businesses, restaurants, or hotels. There’s a type of mobile marketing for local businesses known as Geo-fencing, in which you create a digital “fence” around your business. When somebody who is subscribed to you enters this perimeter, they will receive a short ad from your business. This is incredibly beneficial because it allows you to appeal directly to an audience that’s already in close proximity to your business.

Posted in 2. Beginner Marketing Strategies

What’s the Best Way to Measure Your Online Marketing Success?

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

There are a lot of differences between traditional print based marketing and the relatively new concept of online marketing. Some marketers say that most of the old techniques still apply to online marketing, while others are of the opinion that there is virtually no overlap between the two. Even with the differences being what they are, there’s still one important thing that hasn’t changed: You always have to measure your marketing campaign.

Introducing New Metrics

Surprisingly enough, most of the metrics used for measuring your marketing campaign’s success haven’t changed all the much. We’re just calling them something different now. Whereas in the past you may have a questionnaire in your store asking “How did you hear about us?,” Now you check a program like Google Analytics to see what their referring site was. It’s the same concept just put into a different context.

For the longest time, the final measure of the success of a marketing campaign was based around the sales leads. The more leads a particular method brought in, the more effective it was. Conversion was important too, but that rested more on the quality of the products, along with the price, than it did on the marketing aspect. Marketing brings people in, and it’s up to the store to close the sale.

As you do this online marketing thing for awhile, eventually you start to realize that things haven’t changed all that much. We just use different words. Let’s look at three specific types of online marketing and see how they’re measured.

Email Marketing

You send out an email to your subscriber list, and then measure the number of people who visit your website from a link in the email. This is called “Click-thru rate,” or CTR, which is a term we’ll use a lot. In the context of a marketing effort, the people who click through onto your website are the leads generated by that campaign.

Online Ads

Ads are placed around on websites much the same way you might put up a billboard in real life. In the real world, someone may see that billboard and then decide to visit your store. Online, the person would see the ad, click on it, and be redirected back to your website. It’s the exact same principle, it just happens much, much faster. Just as with email marketing, you measure the CTR of your various ads to see if they’re effective where they are, or if you should move them to different websites.

Search Engine Results

Somebody searches for a specific keyword and your website pops up in the results, along with nine others on the same page. If they click your website link, that counts as a referral from the search engine. You can track which search engines are bringing you traffic, as well as which keywords are bringing your page up in the results. When you start receiving a lot of traffic from a specific keyword, you know that campaign was successful

Posted in 3. Intermediate Marketing Strategies

How Often Should You Publish On a Business Blog?

June 4th, 2012No Comments »

Setting up a blog is easy; keeping it updated is where the challenge comes in. But how often should you actually post? There have been a lot of independent trials done on this subject, mostly by individual bloggers, who were tracking their results, but the result was invariably the same: More is better. Let’s take a look at what that means, and why finding a balance is the best way to get your blog to the top.

The Research Is Conclusive

We just mentioned that a lot of the “facts” about blogging frequency are from various sources, but don’t let take that to mean that there haven’t been any official studies done on the subject. The State of Inbound Marketing 2011 report from Hubspot came to the conclusion that 57% of companies with a blog have managed to get at least one customer from a lead generated by that blog.

However, even more importantly there’s a direct relationship to the number of blogs posted and the number of customers acquired. Those who published more brought in more customers from their blog. The opposite is also true. When you take a laid back approach to your business blog, you won’t get anything moving. Customers respond to consistency, especially in the blogging world. Businesses that don’t keep their blog updated are seen, even if superficially, as unreliable and potentially untrustworthy.

So How Often Is Often Enough?

That same Hubspot report said that businesses that publish a new blog post at least twenty times each month get an average of five times as much traffic as those that publish less than four posts each month. What that means is that those once-weekly posts just aren’t cutting it.

And what about leads? Those businesses that are throwing out 20 or more blog posts each month are consistently reeling in four times as many leads as companies that don’t blog at all. Those are pretty solid numbers, so what’s holding you back from blogging more?

Realistically speaking, there can actually be a lot to keep you from getting more blog posts up, time being the main factor. Twenty posts each month is a lot of work, especially if you’re shooting for high quality, informative blog posts. A lot of businesses also look at blogging as a secondary priority to other business tasks, and we’re not saying that’s a bad thing. However, finding the time to sit down each month and write a few posts can end up paying off in terms of a 500% increase in website traffic.

Tips for Keeping Your Blog Organized

If you have trouble remembering to get those posts up (and a lot of us do), try to sit down at the beginning of the month and plan out which days you want to post. You can make it even easier on yourself by figuring out which topics to write about for each day. Them either set aside an hour for each posting day to write, or write all of the week’s posts at the beginning of the week and schedule them.

Posted in 3. Intermediate Marketing Strategies

Advanced On-Site SEO Concepts

March 26th, 2012No Comments »
If you”re new to SEO and want to get your website seen by search engines, the basics are enough for a cursory ranking, and sometimes you won”t need anything else. For example, if your keywords don”t have a lot of competition, simply optimizing your content might be enough to get you up to the first or second page of Google. However, if you”re struggling to get your ranking up, or if you just want to ensure that your on-site SEO is as tight as possible, here are a few advanced techniques to practice.

Title and Meta Tags

Adjusting these tags requires a very slight knowledge of HTML, but it”s easy enough to pick up. If you go into the HTML of your site, we”re looking for the <title> and <meta> tags. Hitting CTRL F and then typing those into the search field will bring them up. They”ll be close to the top of the page.

Title Tag

The <title> tag is what is displayed as the main title of a web page when it pops up in the search results. If you”re doing a search, you”ll instinctively look at that first to see what the page is about. By default, most pages will display the main title of the page. This is usually enough, but if you”re the type of person who likes to write more “artistic” titles, it might not serve you well. Let”s look at an example of when you might use this:

You have a post on your site”s blog about proper SEO strategy, with the title “Working Out the Kinks In Your Home Page.” It”s interesting, but it doesn”t convey a lot of information about what the post is actually about. Instead of changing the title itself, you can change the <title> tag to something more concise, maybe “SEO Guide for Optimizing a Home Page.” Ideally, this would have your main keyword in it.

Meta Tag

The <meta> tag fulfills a similar purpose, but it gives a short sentence or two summarizing the page. In search results, this is the little blurb below the title and link. If this tag is blank, the search engines will do their best to pull up the most relevant section of the content. You can control what appears, however, by writing it in yourself in the <meta> tag. Again, use your main keyword here (just once) to get the most out of it.

Additionally, you have another option with your <meta> tags. The first is the “Description,” which is what we just talked about, and the second is the “keywords,” which, unlike the description, won”t be visible in the results. The two can be differentiated like this:

<meta name=”"Description”"

<meta name=”"Keywords”"

When putting in the keywords; do it in list form with a comma between each keyword. Try to keep it to fewer than 7 per page.

It”s important to note that after some of the recent Google updates in 2011, Meta tags don”t carry as much weight with ranking. They”re still important however, so don”t completely ignore them.

Posted in 4. Advanced Marketing Strategies

4 Ways to Keep Your Blog Niche Focused

March 11th, 2012No Comments »

One of the biggest mistakes you”ll see in business blogs these days is off-topic content. This not only hurts the site in terms of SEO value, but gives the readers information that they frankly probably couldn”t care less about. This is an important suggestion for any blog, but it”s especially relevant for business blogs. Depending on your niche, it can be easy to stray off the main topic, but time and time again we see that focused, niche-oriented blogs, perform the best.

Why is that the case? Think about it from your readers” points of view. People want a guarantee of what they will find when they go back to a website. If you go to, what will you find? Business tips and entrepreneurial news. If you go to, you get recipes. These websites have a formula and it hinges around staying focused on their main niche. If Inc suddenly started posting recipes, you”d probably lose interest pretty fast, as would most of their readership. The point isn”t necessarily that those readers don”t like recipes; it”s just that they don”t go to Inc to get them.

Your blog should be laser targeted on a single niche, and every post needs to bring something new to the table regarding that niche. We”ve talked before on how to introduce variety, but how can you do that while still keeping the same focus on your blog?

#1- Figure Out Your Goal For Your Blog

Before doing anything, figure out what exactly you expect to get out of blogging. Is it to bring in more sales? To increase your brand exposure? To educate people on what you do? Something that seems plain cut on the outside can have multiple different angles once you dig deeper. Write down some different goals and then figure out what your main focus is.

#2- Research Keywords

Once you have your goal figured out, do some research on specific keywords that people may be using to find that information that you plan to provide. Keywords are obviously important for SEO, but they can serve to help you stay focused with your posts. Anytime you think of a new post, review your keywords to see if it matches with your original goals. If throwing the keywords in would make it awkward, it”s probably not the best post for your blog.

#3- Figure Out a Specific Topic In Your Industry

Try to pinpoint a specific topic or skill set within your industry that you know a lot about. Let”s say your company sells and installs AC units, but you know quite a bit about changing out filters and which types of filters work well in various units. You can run with that and turn your blog into a go-to source for filter changing advice. That”s a specific example, but you can apply the same logic to any type of industry.

#4- Give Your Audience What They Want

Finally, focus on what your audience wants to read. Use your market research here and figure out what type of people you want to attract to your blog. What would these people search for when they want information? And, what will ultimately take them to your products/services page to make a purchase?

Posted in 4. Advanced Marketing Strategies

Getting Started with On-Site SEO

March 2nd, 2012No Comments »

It’s extremely important to make sure you have a solid off-site SEO strategy, but you shouldn’t neglect the on-site SEO, because in its own way it’s just as important. While off-site SEO takes place across the internet on other sites, your on-site SEO needs to happen right at home, on your own website.

For the most part, this includes optimizing your site content, titles, URL, image “alt” tags, and sub-headers. We’ll look at what all that means in just a second.

The main idea with on-site SEO is to get your keyword density right; that’s all that matters in the end. Too few keywords, and your site gets missed by search engines, but too much and you might get flagged for keyword stuffing.

Choosing Your Main Keyword

The best results come from optimizing each page for a specific keyword. You can have several pages optimized for the same keyword, but try not to have too many keywords stuffed into one page. It sounds confusing, but look at this example: Let’s say you want to optimize your Home page for the keyword “cheap auto loans.”

You would then place that specific phrase – cheap auto loans – into the text as many times as it makes sense. That’s important; some site owners make the mistake of compromising the flow of their content so they can stuff the keyword in as many times as possible. Search engines will spot that in an instant and boot you down in the rankings.

Another common mistake is trying to rank for multiple keywords on one page. With the same example, you might throw in “cheap car loans,” “best auto loans”and“car loan help” in addition to the main keyword on the same page. Search engines see this and have trouble figuring out what the page is actually about, and as a result it ranks poorly for all of the keywords.

So where do you put the keywords on the page? Here are the most important areas of your site to focus on:

Content – Self explanatory really; all the normal written content on your site should be optimized for keywords.

Titles – The main header on your page uses the <h1> tag, which is where search engines look first to determine a site’s relevance. Whenever possible, put the keyword right in the title or header.

Sub-headers – It’s a good idea to place sub-headers throughout your site content for two reasons: 1) It’s easier for visitors to read, and 2) The header tag (<h2> or <h3>) will be picked up by search engines.

URL – Whenever you add a new page, most hosting interfaces will automatically make the URL the same as the title, with the option for you to change it. For example, the Home page on your site has a URL of If you have a page dealing mostly with cheap auto loans, change the URL to for better search visibility.

Image “alt” tags – Since search engines can’t see images, they read the “alt” tags instead, which are a description of the image. Whenever you upload a picture, go into the HTML and change the “alt” to one of your keywords (as long as it matches the picture).

Posted in 2. Beginner Marketing Strategies

Off-Site SEO Tips for Redcliffe Small Business Owners

February 5th, 2012No Comments »

Off-Site SEO Tips for Small Business Owners No matter how you spin it, the main goal of just about every website these days is reaching the top of the search engine rankings. Internet marketers make millions of dollars selling their services to up-and-coming small businesses which are just beginning to venture into the online market. But before you take any steps towards optimizing your website, you have to understand the basics.

When you search for a phrase in Google or Yahoo, or any other search engine, you receive a list of relevant results. If you are like most people, your first inclination is to click on one of the links offered on the first page. I mean, those must be the most relevant results, right?

Not necessarily – you see, most websites use search engine optimization, or SEO, to artificially boost the chance of their website coming up in the first few pages of search engine results. While on-site SEO is very important, the major difference comes from how you utilize off-site SEO.

Off-Site SEO Basics

Essentially, the main thing you want with your off-site SEO is inbound links (also known as backlinks). Inbound links are hyperlinks that point back to your website from another domain. The favorite term in the industry for the effect of these links is “link juice.” The better the link, the more “juice” it sends your site. If a link is coming from a popular, well respected website, you”ll get more juice from that link. If the link is coming from a free blog that was set up a week ago, you”ll receive less juice.

For example, if the Huffington Post links back to your website or one of your blog posts, you”re getting a very high quality link. Since most major sites like this won”t allow you to simply plaster links on their pages, you have to use different methods to bring in those high quality inbound links.

Tips For Getting More Links

Posting good content is without a doubt the number one way to bring in links. The better your content is, the more likely it is to be shared by your viewers. Other blogs will take notice and begin posting links back to your website. This method has a slow start, but is ultimately the most powerful and effective. Think of it like a snowball rolling down a mountain; by the time it gets to the bottom it”s an avalanche.

Of course, to speed that up a little you can always write guest posts for other blogs and websites. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement because you can put a link in the post back to your website, and the other site gets free content. Everybody comes out ahead.

Simultaneously, you should always submit your site (or blog) to search directories. There are hundreds out there, and it only takes a minute to do. Technorati is a great directory for business blogs, but there are plenty of others as well.




Posted in 2. Beginner Marketing Strategies

Setting Up Your Virtual Storefront: Why You NEED to Have a Website in 2012

February 5th, 2012No Comments »

Setting Up Your Virtual Storefront: Why You NEED to Have a Website in 2012Everybody knows that it”s vital these days for a business to have a website. Developing a strong online presence is important for any type of business or enterprise in any industry. Despite this, it”s surprising to find out that a lot of small businesses still haven”t made the leap to the online world. It”s actually estimated that as many as 40% of small businesses are operating without a website.

The truth is, no matter what your market niche may be, a website offers a valuable window for new customers. It”s not enough to just set up a social media profile, such as a Facebook fan page, and call it quits. As we edge further into 2012, it”s more vital than ever that you build a virtual storefront for your business.

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Of course, simply setting up a website isn”t the end of the road either. Even among the businesses that do have a website, there are plenty of people who haven”t set it up to optimize their online endeavors. What I mean is, you may have a website already, but if you haven”t engaged in the right type of promotion you”re probably looking at meager traffic statistics. The goal behind setting up a website in the first place is that it will ideally become a powerful inbound marketing opportunity for you business.

A quick look at the internet in 2012 shows it to be much different than the way it was in 2003 or 2004. Back then, just having a website was sometimes all you needed. These days, the success of a company website depends on its surrounding network of connections. You need to make use of search algorithms, strong blogging techniques, engaging content and social media interaction in order to bring your website to the largest possible audience.

The reason the online arena has changed so drastically is because the behavior of the buyers has changed. Most customers now want to have the freedom to choose – they need to choose how, when, and where they make a purchase, all without a pushy salesperson badgering them to get on with it. This shift in psychology basically means that a customer wants to be given information during their online experience, not have it shoved down their throats. It”s a self-service community.

Interactive content – blog posts, social media, podcasts – now make up the majority of all online sales, showing that inbound marketing is on the rise while outbound sales – direct mailers, telemarketing – are on the decline both in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. The bottom line is that a virtual storefront set up for inbound marketing is cheaper, easier, and more cost effective than any of the sales gimmicks that used to be so popular. Your website will form the front line for leads, sales, and increased conversions.

Posted in 2. Beginner Marketing Strategies

Three Simple Ways to Keep Your Blog Integrated With Your Website

February 5th, 2012No Comments »

Three Simple Ways to Keep Your Blog Integrated With Your WebsiteAs anyone will tell you, setting up a business blog is an important aspect of developing an online presence for small businesses. Blogs create a steady stream of traffic and fresh material for both search engines and human visitors alike, and with proper SEO techniques they can be a powerful way to boost a website”s PageRank.

However, simply putting up a blog under your company”s name doesn”t take you all the way. A lot of businesses these days hear about the importance of blogs and jump on the bandwagon without figuring out how to properly integrate the blog with their website, and as a result they lose out on a lot of the potential traffic that would usually come from those blogs. An example of this would be publishing your blog on an entirely separate domain from your main website. Some companies even try to cut budgeting corners and publish their blogs on one of the many free blogging platforms peppering the internet. Taking either of these routes is a crippling mistake that will put a damper on the effectiveness of your blog.

Aside from the obvious SEO complications, your brand itself will also suffer. When a customer or visitor on your website clicks on a link to go to your blog, most of the time they”ll expect to stay on the same domain. When that link takes them to a different domain, or worse, to or, they might get confused because of the unexpected transition. If they land on a free blogging platform, they may even see your brand as unprofessional because you aren”t even willing to pay a few extra dollars a month to host slot machines your own content. There”s a lot to be said about the reliability of a site that hosts their own blog, even if it”s only a face value perception.

There are three simple ways that you can keep your blog integrated with your website to fully enjoy the benefits it has to offer.

Host Your Blog on a Sub Domain

The best place to put your blog is on a sub domain adjacent to your own site. For example, if your website is, the blog sub domain would appear as This keeps everybody in the same place, and allows you to perform off-site SEO for a single site as opposed to two.

Host Your Blog in a Website Folder

Alternatively, you could place the blog location in a folder on your website, with the end result appearing as From the user”s perspective, this is identical to the effect created by a sub domain.

Use a Similar Domain

Finally, if you really want to set up a separate domain for your blog, it helps to keep the URL as similar as possible. Using the same example, this might look like You will run into the problem of setting up viable SEO for both of these sites, but you get the added benefit of having two domains, which can be used to link with each other, thus increasing your backlink power.

Posted in 3. Intermediate Marketing Strategies

Use Variety to Maximize Your Blog’s Potential

February 5th, 2012No Comments »

Use Variety to Maximize Your BlogWhen it comes to setting up a new business blog, one of the biggest mistakes that fledgling businesses make is posting too much brand-centered content. Now, I realize that at face value this might seem like the best strategy – it”s your site, why not promote it? – but in reality this tends to turn away viewers who aren”t actively interested in making a purchase at the time.

One of the main reasons that people come to blogs is to get free information, sometimes entertainment if the blog is set up to provide it. When they stumble across a blog that provides a wealth of useful information, they are much more likely to come back to that blog sometime in the future, bookmark it, share it with friends, and basically spread the word about it. On the other hand, if the blog is obviously marketing their own products with every single blog post, they have a hard time feeling secure when it comes to trusting that information. It”s obviously biased, so they would rather just get the information from a source they can trust.

The way to fix this is to add in some extra variety in your blog posts. Rather than taking a product-centric stance on your blogging, search for ways to provide reliable, educational content that people can use – even if they don”t purchase one of your products. Make it a mix between the purely educational, thought provoking opinions, and data offerings to give your visitors enough variety to keep coming back for more.

What will happen as you do this is that your blog will eventually be seen as an authority on your niche market. Since people have the tendency to share information that has helped them, you”ll be able to reach out to a wider audience, in the meantime bringing in more potential customers. Your visitors will begin to associate your website with useful advice and valuable market expertise, which will in turn boost your credibility and give people trust in any products that you offer elsewhere on the site.

To put it simply, your goal with your business blog should be to become a thought leader in your particular industry. When a new industry breakthrough hits the airwaves, your blog will be the first place people turn to, to get the reliable facts. You can do this in several ways, the easiest of which is to simply post informative content based on your own experiences. For example, if you run a gardening supply website, post guides for planting during different seasons. If you have a law firm, put out some recent case studies or factual data, or publish pieces of interest on recent cases that fall under your area of expertise.

The key is to mix it up and take the main focus of your blog off your particular products or services. The more you are able to do that, the more you”ll begin to see that you don”t need to constantly plug your products to keep up the sales volume.

Posted in 4. Advanced Marketing Strategies