5 Tips to Invest in Your Business Blog on a Budget

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Blog, they say. That’s the best way to get your small business noticed, to raise your search engine rankings, to increase customer engagement, to imprint your brand on customers, and much more. It’s true that blogging has a lot of benefits for helping small businesses get noticed. But it’s not always an affordable form of marketing.

Many small businesses struggle with investing adequate funds into their blogs because the capital doesn’t stretch as far as they hoped. As a result, the blog ends up published on a low-quality platform with short, unuseful content and poor imagery. This is unfortunate because when your blog is low-quality, performance tanks and your business receives virtually no benefits from blogging in this oversaturated market.

Fortunately, a lack of funds doesn’t mean your business is doomed to fail. You simply have to make some small changes to your blog and reallocate the funds to do the most work within your blogging platform.

  1. Let your blog pay for itself

There are currently bloggers out there making more than $10,000 per month with their blogs. Though this makes up a very small portion of the bloggers on the web, it illustrates the possibilities. Most businesses don’t focus on monetizing their blog because they don’t want to take their attention away from their primary business plan. But if you’re in need of money, monetizing your blog is a great way to raise it.

Through measures like affiliate marketing, advertisements, paid sponsorships, and products, you can reap decent profits from your writing efforts. It might be just an extra few hundred dollars per month, but that’s more than enough for most small businesses to develop quality blog posts and promotions each month.

  1. Take advantage of freebies

Though the quality is often in question, there are thousands of free tools, software, and resources at your disposal. Use these for both marketing and content generation purposes. Here’s a list of some of the free tools you’d be foolish not to use.

  • Templates and blog themes
  • Security plugins
  • Social media
  • Google AdWords, Trends, and similar tools
  • How-to blog subscriptions
  • Photo editing software like Pixlr
  • Email services like MailChimp
  • Infographic and video software like Canva
  • SEO tactics
  • Google Drive

There are more tools out there, but this is a good place to start.

  1. Social media is free and effective, so you might as well use it

Social media was mentioned in the list above, but it’s so important that it’s worth covering in greater depth. Blog posts have the potential to go viral on social media, reaching billions of viewers. As a small business, you can join Facebook, GooglePlus, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and most other relevant social media pages for no cost.

Once you’ve established a solid profile and generated a following, you can begin promoting your blog through this channel in order to enjoy the many benefits that blogging yields. Also, all of this is usually free.

If you have a little extra cash, invest in Facebook advertisements for your blog or business. These are fairly inexpensive and extremely effective, as they reach a wide audience. Facebook is also very good at targeting users who may be interested in your content by scanning search results and past purchases for individual customers.

  1. Hire interns to develop quality content for cheap or free

Many students majoring in communications, marketing, or English need internships to graduate, and content writing will fulfill the requirement for most. Work with local colleges to set yourself up as a business that can give interns an opportunity to learn and perfect their craft for free without setting you back.

Note: Taking on interns is about more than free labor. You have to provide a solid educational experience for each student so you can remain a qualified internship provider and continue getting quality content from these “employees.” Make sure your office is set up for such an experience.

  1. Update efficiency within the department

It’s the inefficient processes that will result in wasted labor and lost revenue that could have gone towards your blog. Your content creation team can improve efficiency in several ways. First of all, create an editorial calendar that shows which blog posts are to be published and when.

Using project management software, cloud content platforms, and other types of free or affordable software will have your teams working faster and better. Discuss regular ways that you can make content creation more efficient in order to optimize your budget.

4 Digital Marketing Mistakes That Shouldn’t Be Carried Into 2016

4 Digital Marketing Mistakes That Shouldn’t Be Carried Into 2016

Any time you approach the end of a calendar year it is a good time to spot if you have made any of the 4 Digital Marketing Mistakes. It is important to reflect and project your progress. In terms of reflecting, you should look at your business and consider everything that’s happened over the past year – good and bad. This will ultimately feed your ability to project. There will be things you want to bring to an end, as well as profitable aspects of your business that are worth continuing.  

As a digital marketer, it’s imperative that you’re able to honestly reflect on the past year. There should be no sugar coating or overlooking different aspects of success or failure. If you want to improve upon this year and make 2016 your most successful year in recent history, then it’s time to identify and do away with the following 4 digital  marketing mistakes that far too many brands made this year.

  •   Having the Wrong Definition of Digital Marketing

Simply put, it’s amazing how many self-proclaimed digital marketers don’t actually understand the full definition of digital marketing. Unbeknownst to many, there’s a distinction between internet marketing and digital marketing. Internet marketing is a component of digital marketing, but these terms are not interchangeable.

As successful entrepreneur Neil Patel says, “Digital marketing is any form of marketing products or services, which involves electronic devices.” While the growth of the IoT means most modern electronic devices are either directly or indirectly connected to the internet, this isn’t always true. Digital billboards, radio, and TV are all examples of digital marketing mediums that operate independently of the internet.

Keep this in mind as you move into 2016 and don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons beyond your current internet tactics. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to internet marketing, but learn to use the correct term moving forward.

  •   Ignoring the Growth of Mobile

In May of this year, it was announced for the first time ever that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” We’ve seen this trend unfolding for years, but it’s now official. That means you can no longer ignore mobile in lieu of desktop.

Mobile should be the priority in 2016. From web design and paid advertising to content marketing and social, optimizing for mobile is incredibly important moving forward.

  •   Not Tracking Your Efforts

A handful of years ago, nobody could fault you for failing to track your digital marketing efforts. There simply weren’t very many tools and resources available to accurately monitor internet marketing campaigns in a cost-effective way. However, those days are long gone.  

In 2016, you’ll have access to hundreds of different budget-friendly tools that can help you achieve clarity and visibility in real-time. From predictive analytics tools to social listening resources, there’s a technology for every need.

  •   Failing to Invest in Video

For someone who’s never invested in video, the process can seem intimidating and expensive. However, now’s the time to jump on board. Just scroll through your Facebook newsfeed or head over to YouTube and you’ll see just how prominent video is in today’s internet marketing mix.

Currently, online video accounts for 50 percent of all mobile traffic. That number is expected to grow in the coming months. By 2017, 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic will be video. While you shouldn’t invest in an all-video strategy, it needs to play a role in your digital marketing efforts moving forward.

  • Eliminate These 4 Digital Marketing Mistakes Now

As you can see, there’s much room for improvement in the digital marketing industry. While you may not be making all of these mistakes, you’re probably making at least one. By eliminating these faults and correcting them before your enter the new year, you can enhance your efforts and incite growth.

Five Ways Total Quality Management Can Revamp Your Business

With so many factors in a shifting landscape, sometimes it’s difficult to get a broad overview of your business. If you have a firm grip on total quality management, your leadership teams are focused on case studies and apply successful techniques to your current operations.

Depending on the size of your firm, it may not be possible for leaders to get on the same page. Larger organizations may consider hiring an outside expert to help them strategize. In smaller organizations, however, internal leadership collaboration can make a big difference.

total quality management illustration design over a white background

Here are five benefits of total quality management that can improve your business.

1. Better communications

Leadership teams can grow significantly stronger if they work on quality management together. This gives different departments the opportunity to pool resources, collaborate on changes, and compare notes.

No total quality management plans are one-size-fits-all. These strategies must be designed with the company’s best interests in mind. Having representation from various teams can strengthen your plan, and ensure that no one is left out. Working together to redefine processes and streamline workflows can build closer relationships between departments.

2. Higher team morale

When your company takes action to develop and implement a better total quality management plan, your workforce will take notice. They can bring attention to faulty or time-consuming processes that need to be dropped or revised. Areas of frustration can be discussed, so leaders can find effective solutions.

This can help restore workers’ faith in a company and align everyone with the organizations’ mission. Higher team morale can have a positive impact on productivity and customer relationships. Make sure that communication channels are open to everyone in your organization, regardless of their roles.

3. Outside perspectives

If your company is very large, it may be difficult to unite leaders from various departments behind a cohesive plan. This is when your business should look to an outside expert to study processes, product design, training, and employee participation.

A third-party expert can provide an objective assessment of your company’s operations and then create a total quality management strategy that fits your needs. Since a third-party consultant is not involved in your daily functions, he or she will have enough distance to identify success and opportunities for improvement.

4. Process evaluation

As leaders and outside experts collaborate on a strategy, they must look at their current processes and consider how to improve them. This includes a thorough analysis of all processes, from general to minute. Specialty software can help leaders track employee performance, pipeline activity, revenue streams, inventory, and shipping freight costs.

Metrics should provide leaders with a clear snapshot of how each department is performing at any given time. Keeping an eye on these numbers can help your company adjust processes, by comparing the changes to updated metrics. Tracking metrics can also help managers identify workflow failures, so they can shift gears immediately and discard unproductive processes.

5. Implementation and action

Once your company has created a total quality management strategy, it’s time to act on it. In order for your organization to be successful, you must get all employees on board with the pending strategy.

Smaller processes should integrate with the whole, and they shouldn’t cause conflict or more work. Collaborate with company trainers to make sure that all employees understand how the new strategies will be implemented, and what workflow changes will be embraced.

Leaders should track incoming data during this transitional period, to see if the new processes are driving better results. A streamlined total quality management plan can greatly increase your company’s ROI and foster better customer relationships.

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