4 Reliable Signs That Your Business Needs an SEO Agency

Pagespeed, Local Listings, Content, and More!

As you compare this month’s numbers to last’s, your heart sinks as you see that your profit is slipping month-over-month. You know that it has a lot to do with your website, but you’re not entirely sure what the issues are (other than you don’t like the design anymore). These four reliable signs are great indicators that it may be time for you to hire an agency to improve your website’s online performance.

SEO Search Engine Optimisation Availability Concept

Your website is slow

Studies have shown that 47 percent of people expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. In other words, the longer your site takes to load, the more likely people will leave it. Google’s search algorithms look at how users interact with your website, and if a lot of people are leaving with no interaction it will likely negatively affect your rankings. There are several different ways to improve your page speed, but it can be difficult to fully diagnose the root cause of your site’s slow performance as there are a lot of factors at play. An SEO agency is usually best equipped to both diagnose and solve this issue as it is, in many ways, a cornerstone of overall SEO health of a website.

Your listings have the wrong address or phone number

Have you ever gotten a phone call from an angry customer who can’t find your business because you have the wrong address on one of your business listings (Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, etc.)? Or, worse yet, have you had to deal with an angry customer in person who tried to call your location but couldn’t reach you because you have the wrong phone number on one of your listings? Unfortunately, if your business has multiple locations and you don’t have an aggregator in place to monitor and update these listings, then you could very easily run into one of these scenarios if you have a change of address, phone number, etc. According to Yext.com, after looking at 40,000 business listings they discovered that 43 percent of them had at least one missing or incorrect address. Since having correct information on listings not only gives customers a better experience with your brand but is also a ranking factor in Google, it is essential that you have the correct information listed. Thankfully, SEO agencies have the capability of aggregating this information for you so you don’t have to spend hours rummaging through hundreds of listing websites making sure all the information is correct.

People have trouble navigating your website

If in between your phone calls dealing with complaints about your listings you also take calls complaining about how hard it is to find things on your website, then you’ve got a serious problem. A website’s layout should be simple, intuitive, and have a clear path laid out for the user so they’ll know where to go without having to think. If a user has to rack their brain trying to find your contact page, then your layout might need updating. User experience is a big ranking factor for Google, and hiring an agency that can perform effective user experience testing and deliver recommendations to improve your site’s layout can have a very positive ROI.

You don’t have a content strategy

Blogging is not just a fad, it’s a proven marketing strategy that works. Having a consistent flow of content helps fuel SEOgenerates more traffic, and makes you 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive ROI. If you don’t have a documented content strategy, you’re not alone. 55 percent of B2B marketers don’t have a content strategy in place while 32 percent say they do. This means that there is still a huge opportunity for your business to implement a content strategy and get ahead of the competition. If you’re unable to find the time to write content for your business each month, hiring an SEO agency to handle it can prove to be an effective long-term strategy.

Partner with the right agency today!

As a business owner, if you’re honest with yourself you know that you can’t do it all. When signs like these start to creep up on you, it might be time for you to partner with an agency that is just as interested in improving your business’ profitability as you are.

Originally published on Go Local Interactive

Who Are You Writing For?

A Simple Philosophy for Writing SEO Articles

A big component of SEO is having the right words on the page. Specifically, if you want to rank for a keyword then you need to have content on your site that relates to that keyword. This is a no-brainer for anyone with basic knowledge of SEO, but there is a much deeper concept that needs to be explored in order to clear up any misconceptions people may have about why their content isn’t ranking well.

Close up hand writing on paper. Close up people writing on paper.

Lose the Litmus Test

When creating content for a website, a common mistake people make is thinking they have to write articles that pass some sort of litmus test with Google. They think that they need to write an article that crosses all the t’s and dots all the i’s such as having the right keywords on the page, having the right amount of links on the page, having the right metadata implemented, etc.

While these aren’t things you should avoid thinking about entirely when creating content, there’s just one vital piece of the pie you’ve forgotten about during the creation process: the person reading your content! Google, like any company, wants their platform to best assist the people who use it, so it’s safe to assume that they would only want content ranked well that answers its user’s inquiries. A well-written, informative piece of content has a much better chance of doing this than a thin, keyword-stuffed piece of…*ahem*.

“Welcome to My Storage Website! We Have Storage Units, Storage Rentals, Storage California, Storage New York…”

Let’s be honest, it’s very obvious when you come across content that has only been written for the search engines. It tends to be thin, unhelpful and crammed together with lots of keywords making it hardly readable. If you came across a page like that, you would likely leave and look for something more useful, right? Google wouldn’t want pages like these to receive a lot of traffic from their site if users aren’t finding it helpful. They want their own users to think of Google as being the best tool to use when searching for things.

Rather than focusing so much on trying to fit a lot of keywords into your content, try to write your content in a way that would be both engaging and helpful to the reader. As you write, you’ll end up naturally using keywords that are related to the content’s topic. You can, of course, go back and tweak some of the wording if you want to add a keyword here or there, but always be sure that it sounds naturally placed within the content. As Google shifts its focus more toward topicality and LSI keywords, it may not even be necessary to try and fit certain words into the content over time if you want it to rank well.

Always Write With the User in Mind

When creating content for your website, a good motto to live by is, “always write with the user in mind.” The best course of action when creating content is to create something that solves a user’s problem, provides them with invaluable information, or both! The content should be written in an easy-to-read format, have good grammar, and exude the kind of quality anyone would be proud to share.

If you insist on wanting some kind of litmus test to determine if your content is following SEO best practices or not, then use the following question: “What sort of content would I want to read?” Thin, keyword-stuffed content or high-quality, helpful content? I think the answer is obvious.

Originally published on Go Local Interactive

How Not to Go Into a Web Design Project Blindly

4 Questions to Ask Clients Before Designing a Website

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing after I spent weeks building my client’s website.

Data Logistics

“Uh, I don’t really like it. Can you rebuild it?” the client told me over the phone.

My heart sunk as I struggled not to drop the phone.

I realized at that moment that I didn’t even consult the client on what they wanted the site to look like, I just went with what I thought it should look like.

I begrudgingly agreed to rebuild the site and made a simple promise to myself from that point on:

I will always send my clients a list of questions so I can get a better feel for what they want their website to look like.

Since I made myself this promise,  I have yet to run into problems like the aforementioned debacle.

Here are a few of the most important questions I always ask my clients before building them a website.

What is the Tone of Your Brand?

As a web designer, it’s important to get a feel for your client’s brand.

Understanding their tone will help determine the writing style on the site as well as the overall design.

If your client describes the tone of their brand as fun, warm, inviting, etc., then you’ll want to have content written on the site that isn’t overly serious and invites people to learn more about their brand.

The overall design of the site should also feel warm, inviting, and fun.

If they describe the tone of their brand as more serious, you’ll want to have content and a design scheme that looks and sounds more professional and serious.

Generally, content that is warm and inviting tends to feel more personal while serious content tends to feel more distant.

Also, brighter colors tend to give off that fun and inviting feeling while darker, grayer colors tend to be more serious and professional.

Consult your client on your content and color choices to see if they feel like it fits in line with their brand’s tone.

What Do You Want Users to Accomplish on Your Site?

Whether it be to give people information, have people sign up for a newsletter, or purchase something it’s incredibly important to structure a website so that it allows users to easily perform the desired action.

A great book to read on structuring websites so users can easily perform actions is Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.

His philosophy is simple: make performing tasks on a website so simple that users don’t have to think about it.

In other words, if you want people to find information make it extremely easy to find on the website by keeping it only one or two clicks away.

Also, if you want people to sign up for something or purchase something, have sign up forms or purchase buttons brightly colored and hard to miss on a page.

I recommend grabbing Steve Krug’s book if you plan on taking web design seriously as it will help you out a lot.

Who Are Some of Your Competitors?

Get a list of your client’s competitors and look at their websites.

Ask your client what they like or dislike about the competitor’s website, and see if there’s anything on the competitor’s website that you could improve on with your client’s website.

For example, maybe the competitor’s website has a menu bar that looks like it’s straight out of the 90’s, you could easily use a WordPress theme that has a menu bar that looks way better than that!

Or perhaps they don’t have an About Us page or a Blog page, you could easily create those for your client making their website much higher in quality.

Spying on competitors is a great way to both get ideas and ensure your client is outperforming them.

What Features Would You Like Your Site to Have?

Maybe your client wants a sexy slider on the homepage showcasing all of their services, or maybe they insist on having an About section on the front page.

Whatever the case may be, it’s always best to ask them if they have a specific design in mind or want specific features on the website.

That way you have a good foundation to build off of making it easier than simply building from scratch.

What I like to do is show my clients 3 different demos WordPress themes that are within their industry, whether it be dentistry, auto repair, etc.

You can find these theme demos at Themeforest.net.


Coming up with a design can be tough without guidance, so always be sure to ask your clients questions like these so you’ll have a much clearer idea of what kind of website they want you to build.

Also, be sure to never go into building a website blind – you should always consult your client before beginning a web design project.

How Much to Charge for Building a WordPress Website

Guide to Pricing WordPress Website Projects

I made a big mistake on my second-ever web design project. My client wanted me to build them a custom website that included heavy-duty HTML and CSS styling that I was extremely unfamiliar with.

how much to charge for a wordpress website

Having just started as a web designer, I spent many late nights both learning on the fly and slaving away at this website trying to get it to look presentable.

Once completed, all I got out of the project was a measly $1,500.

While that might seem like a lot, and it certainly was for me at the time, looking back I realize that a better price for the amount of work I did would have been closer to $5,000.

However, I was still learning so I bit the bullet and built the site anyway with zero complaints.

Correctly pricing a web design project is one of the most important factors in building a successful web design business.

It can save you a lot of headaches, frustration, and hours of unpaid labor.

Here are some tips I suggest you take into account if you’re wanting to learn how to best charge clients for building a WordPress website.

Have a Set Minimum Price in Mind

Before I take on any web design project, I always have a set minimum price in mind that I rarely deviate from.

Setting this price is important so you don’t end up taking on a project and feeling like you’re getting shortchanged.

Personally, my minimum price is $1500-$2000 per web design project. This price is largely intuitive and because I have a portfolio so I can charge more than I did when I had no portfolio.

If you are just starting out, it may be smart to have your price lower – anywhere from $500-$1000.

My first client paid me $500 upfront and $500 once I finished, and that felt very reasonable to me at the time.

I would not go any lower than that unless the work would end up being fairly easy and it could score you a reference.

If you have a client that wants you to build a large website with a lot of moving parts, you could easily charge them anywhere from $4,000-$6,000.

Normally, however, when working with small businesses the prices for websites will stay around the $1,000-$2,000 range.

Go with your gut when it comes to pricing WordPress websites for small businesses, and don’t go lower than your minimum if the client rejects your first offer – trust me.

In my opinion, you should never work for less than you’re worth.

Factor Time Spent on Each Project

If you’re unable to figure out a price intuitively, a great way to price your projects is to calculate the amount of time you think it will take you to finish building their site.

My first website took me about 4 weeks to finish with me working about an hour a day on it, so that would have been roughly 28 hours.

The average web developer salary is $64K which is around $31/hr, so if we use this number then 28 x 31 = $868.

Add in a few fees like setting up the site, installing plugins, etc. and you could easily price the website around $1000.

I don’t recommend including your hourly rate or fees in your proposal, this exercise is more for yourself so you can know how to price things.

Most business owners (at least in my experience) like seeing just one flat rate they have to pay and hate being nickel-and-dimed.

Include Every Detail in Your Proposal

While your rate is best structured as a flat fee, you should still include as much detail about the work you’re going to be doing as possible.

When a client sees how many things you’re going to be doing for them, the perceived value of your services will go up.

For example, if all you put in your proposal is the following:

New Website – $1,000

It won’t seem as valuable to the client since there’s not really much detail on what goes into building their new website.

Now, if you include items in your proposal like this:

  • Custom Slider
  • Stock Photos
  • Custom Favicon
  • Brand New Content
  • Privacy Policy Page
  • Google Analytics Installation
  • Google Search Console Account Set Up
  • Bing Webmaster Tools Account Set Up
  • WordPress Plugin Installation
  • WordPress Theme Installation

Total: $1,000

They will be more likely to sign with you even though both scenarios show the same price and amount of work.

The only difference between these two is one of these has more detail than the other.

Clients will be more likely to see the value of your services when they see how much work you’ll actually be doing.

In other words, the devil really is in the details – and he’s got dollar signs in his eyes!

Outline Your Scope of Work and Try Not to Go Outside It

When writing your proposal, make sure that you specifically outline the amount of work you plan on doing and let the client know what sort of work would go outside the scope that they paid for.

Make sure you communicate this with your client effectively, as there can sometimes be misunderstandings between both parties.

I told my first client that I would make any “changes” to their website for free after I built it for them, and somehow they thought that included completely redesigning the site after they’ve paid me for it!

What I meant by that was if they didn’t like something after I showed them the first draft of their website, I would make changes without charging them.

Of course, I didn’t explicitly say it like that in the proposal, so they thought I meant I would make ALL changes to their site INDEFINITELY without charging them.

Thankfully, the client was understanding when I explained to them what I meant and I still work with them to this day.

When you’re first starting out, it may be difficult to tell a client “no”, but in situations like this it’s paramount you do so or you could end up working several hours unpaid.

Of course, there are certain circumstances where it would be unreasonable to charge a client (i.e. updating a plugin for them on their website), but a good rule of thumb is never do anything unpaid that could take more an hour to complete.


Pricing WordPress websites can be difficult at first, but following these tips should help you determine how much to charge your clients.

Remember to always have your set minimum price in mind, estimate the amount of time you think it’ll take to complete the project, provide lots of details in your proposal, and never go outside the outlined scope of work unless it’s a quick fix.

How to Start a Web Design Business With No Portfolio

The Smart Way to Get Your First Client

With sweaty palms and a queasy feeling in my stomach, I sat outside a local dentist office in my car trying to figure out what I was going to say. I told myself that today was the day I would start my web design business, so I Google’d a few businesses, got their addresses, and decided I would visit each of them to see if they needed a new website. The only problem was that I had no portfolio to show them.

Business people shaking hands

“How are they going to trust me if I’ve never worked with clients before?” I thought to myself.

Feeling defeated, I drove away before even hearing a yes or no from the business owner.

Are you trying to figure out how to start your own web design business without having an established portfolio?

As someone who has made thousands building websites, I can relate to the fear of not knowing how to get your first client when you don’t have a portfolio.

Unfortunately, most businesses won’t want to work with someone unless they have a portfolio of work to show them.

The question is, though, how are you supposed to build a portfolio if you need one in order to be able to build one?

It’s like the Screen Actor’s Guild: you can’t get a SAG card unless you’ve been in a SAG movie, but you can’t be in a SAG movie unless you have a SAG card.

Sounds pretty insane, doesn’t it?

Well, thankfully, there actually are ways to start building your web design business even if you don’t have a portfolio to show people.

Follow these tips and you won’t be running around in circles like most people when they first get started!

Lay the Right Foundation for Your Business

Starting a business can definitely be overwhelming, so before diving into it you’ll need to figure out a few key elements that will work as the foundation for your success.

A few of these elements include your business structure (sole proprietorship or LLC), business bank account, business credit card, invoicing software, accounting software, and proposal and contract templates/software.

I personally have an LLC, and I would recommend getting one, but I know plenty of people who work as sole proprietors and they like it better that way.

There are plenty of pros and cons to having both, so do your research and figure out which is best for you.

I also have my own bank account for my business at Central Bank, my own business credit card from Chase, Freshbooks as my invoicing software, and Bonsai as my proposal/contracting software.

As for accounting, I keep track of it all on my own using Google Sheets.

Freshbooks has a great expense tracker as well if you don’t want to keep track of it yourself.

Having all of these things in order will help establish your credibility as a web designer when prospecting for clients if you don’t have a portfolio.

Build Websites for Yourself

Before you even think about building a website for someone else, you need to have some experience building websites.

As mentioned in my post showing how to get into web design with no experience, the best way to learn something is by taking action.

Build your business’ website using WordPress and a nice looking business theme from Themeforest.

You should also try building niche websites based on topics you like (e.g. you’re a fan of quinoa so you start a website showing all of your favorite quinoa recipes).

Having a point of reference for your web design work can help local business owners decide if you’re right for the job, so don’t be afraid to show them these websites as examples of your expertise.

Build Websites for Friends and Family

Know somebody in your family or circle of friends that has a business?

Ask them if they’d be interested in having you either build them a new website or redesign their old one.

Having already established a relationship with them, it’s easier to sell them on your work even if you technically don’t have a portfolio.

Remember, though, that doing business with family or friends can end up doing harm to the relationship if not done correctly so be careful.

Have Friends or Family Refer You

If you don’t have anyone close to you that needs a website, ask them if they themselves know someone you don’t that needs one.

My first web design client was a referral from a friend, and even though I didn’t have a portfolio they hired me anyway because of my friend’s reference and reasonable pricing.

Just bring it up casually when you’re with friends or family and you might get lucky!

Befriend Local Business Owners

People tend to only want to work directly with people they like, so try to build a friendly relationship with local business owners.

Perhaps there’s a local restaurant you go to often that has a crummy website – befriend the owner and let them know that you know how to build websites.

Offer to build them a website at a discount, and see what they say.

You’d be surprised at how willing many business owners are to work with freelancers, and having an existing relationship will help you get your foot in the door even without a portfolio.


While it’s much easier to build a web design business with a portfolio, we all have to start somewhere.

Thankfully, there are ways to begin building your business even without an extensive portfolio.

How to Quickly Get Into Web Design With No Experience

Use These Simple Steps to Decode Web Design

If you’re anything like I was before I learned web design, you might be overwhelmed at the idea of building a website. So many moving parts, so much code, so many headaches…

Start Building Websites

Whenever anyone talked to me about web design I would think back to the scene from the Matrix where Neo speaks with Cypher about the code of the matrix.

Neo: Do you always look at it encoded?

Cypher: Well, you have to… You get used to it. I don’t even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, redhead…

Staring at a black screen with cryptic letters I have to somehow learn how to translate?

No thank you!

Thankfully, web design is nothing like that at all.

In fact, it’s actually not that hard to learn if you are willing to put in the time and effort to do so.

I can tell you firsthand that I have very little coding experience and yet I have built dozens of websites and made thousands of dollars thanks to my expertise as a web designer.

If you have no experience building websites and are looking to get into web design, then here are some helpful tips on how to do so quickly.

Build Your First Website Using WordPress

If you’re thinking about getting into web design, then I suggest building your first website using WordPress.

WordPress is one of the best content management systems around and is super easy to pick up.

As a freelance web designer, I’ve built all of my websites in WordPress and wouldn’t even think of using another CMS.

To create your first website, all you need to do is buy a domain, a hosting server, and install WordPress in the cPanel area.

In my opinion, the best way to learn anything is by doing, so if you haven’t played around with WordPress yet then I recommend doing that before reading any more articles.

Create Projects for Yourself

I learned how to build websites by creating website projects that had specific purposes for me.

My first ever website was a fan site for the show Pretty Little Liars.

The show was extremely popular at the time, so I wanted to make an affiliate website that advertised PLL merchandise.

While the site did make me a few dollars, it didn’t take off like I wanted it to – and that’s OK.

I learned a lot through this experience, including how to install themes, plugins, and make edits to things like CSS files and header.php files.

Plan out what kind of website you want to build, whether it be an affiliate website or a blog, and get to work creating it.

Having a project in mind rather than arbitrarily building website will help you focus and finish what you start.

As you finish your projects, you’ll be able to look back and see how much you’ve learned along the way!

Block Out Time Each Week to Learn

Got an hour or so each day to spare?

You might not think you do, but in reality, we all have at least an hour or two to spare to spend time intentionally learning something.

Rather than spending time watching YouTube videos mindlessly in bed, why not spend an hour playing around with WordPress?

When I first got started building websites, I spent a good couple of hours each day on my websites.

I took breaks not nearly as often as I should have, but I don’t regret it now since I have so many logged hours to work off of at this point.

If you really can’t find time each day to spend on building websites, just use a good chunk of your day off.

Sure, it’s your day off, but how successful you are is determined by how much time you’re willing to put in.

Read Tons of Articles

In between the time you spend building websites, spend time reading articles from reputable sources on things like WordPress, web design best practices, SEO, etc.

Sites that have helped me tremendously include WPBeginner, WordPress.org Forums, SearchEnglineLand.com, and Moz.com.

I’ve also read plenty of one-off articles I’ve found from Google that answers my questions.

As I mentioned, the best way for you to learn anything is by doing, so while reading articles is great don’t let it steal time away from taking action.

Use YouTube

I’ve learned an incredible amount of web design and SEO knowledge from YouTube.

If you’re trying to figure out how to do something web design related, it’s a lot easier watching a video explaining it rather than reading an article.

Just don’t get sidetracked by cat videos – it’s happened to me too many times to count!

Use Free Coding Websites

Sites like Codecademy are truly a godsend when it comes to learning HTML and CSS.

While it’s not completely necessary to know HTML and CSS to build sites with WordPress (particularly if you’re wanting to build websites for local businesses), it can save you a lot of headaches having some basic knowledge on these two topics.

I recommend going through Codecademy’s free HTML and CSS courses just to wet your pallet, then try to learn on your own.


Even if you have no experience as a web designer, there are still several ways to easily get started in the industry.

While you won’t be working for a Fortune 500 company as a web designer or building websites for local businesses overnight, you can certainly start building your own websites right now!

If you invest the time and effort needed to succeed, there’s no doubt you can become a web designer.

5 Free Tools to Help Automate Your Business’ Online Presence

Implement Automation Without Spending an Arm and a Leg

If the thought of keeping in constant contact with your customers online sounds overwhelming then you’re not alone; 24 percent of small businesses don’t use social media at all. The biggest reason for this is a lack of time. Social media doesn’t stop when the workday ends, so it can be a daunting task to commit to a strategy. And your digital presence doesn’t take vacation time – and you wouldn’t want it to. Digital marketing and social media are great ways to continue to build and engage your customers to drive conversions. With the help of free, online resources, automating your business is more attainable than you think. Use these five tools to get started:

Business Automation

1. Facebook’s Response Assistant

This tool allows you to cut back on time spent monitoring your messages like a hawk. It allows you to automatically respond to anyone who messages your business’ Facebook page with a personalized message. While it’s still ideal to have an employee manually go through the messages at some point to give your customer more relevant information, this feature will help you maintain your page’s response rate. To access this tool:

  1. Go to your Facebook page’s “Settings”
  2. Then “Messaging”
  3. Under “Response Assistant” click “Yes” next to “Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page”

Pro Tip: Place the answers to some frequently asked questions in the message to save yourself some time.

2. Buffer

If you’ve tried to manually publish a social media post every day at the same time, you know how hard it can be. After all, we’re only human. Thankfully, digital tools have a much better memory than we do. Buffer allows you to schedule posts to your social media accounts with ease. On the free plan, you can schedule up to 10 posts per account on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram. Buffer also provides in-depth analytics on audience engagement, which is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. Try adding a mix of photos, videos, questions, and promotions to keep your audience both entertained and engaged.

3. Hootsuite

Like Buffer, Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts to your social media accounts beforehand. On the free plan, you can have 3 social profiles, basic analytics, and an unlimited number of scheduled posts. Hootsuite can also run lead capture campaigns through sweepstakes and even has RSS feed integration allowing you to pull content from other websites. As with Buffer, experimenting with different forms of content can help you determine what’s working.

4. IFTTT: If This, Then That

This tool can be a little confusing at first, but can deliver some truly powerful results. IFTTT allows you to set up simple automation “formulas.” It can do everything from automatically posting to Twitter when you publish a Facebook post or keep track of the time you spend on projects. There are plenty of pre-existing formulas that are great for work or for your personal life, but you can also set up your own. There are seemingly endless possibilities with IFTTT, so play around and see how it can benefit you.

5. MailChimp

As one of the best email autoresponders out there, MailChimp just got better because it’s now completely free for less than 2,000 subscribers. MailChimp can help you keep in touch with your audience by sending automatic emails. You can send a ‘Thank You’ email after someone completes a purchase, ‘Welcome’ new subscribers to the club, and even keep your followers up-to-date with a regular newsletter. MailChimp also collects data on your email campaigns and can segment your audience based on email clicks, open rates, or even geographic area. You can then use this information to drive new marketing tactics and increase your conversions.

Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Strategy

While tools like these can help you save time, remember that nothing beats real human interaction. You and your employees will be able to better answer a prospective customer’s question and provide more empathetic customer service. At the end of the day, a customer wants a genuine relationship with your company. Meanwhile, it’s also important to continually update your strategies to cater to your audience. These tools can help you strengthen your online presence while letting you focus on your brand and your customers.

Originally published on MarketingBitz.com

4 Tips to Increase Your Business’ Instagram Engagement

How to Best Engage With Your Audience on Instagram

Is your business on Instagram? If not, you may be missing out on an opportunity to reach a huge audience! In December 2016, Instagram reported that their user base had grown to an astonishing 600 million users, with their numbers rising each day. If your business is already on Instagram, but struggling to get more engagement, here are 4 tips to promote interaction.

Business Instagram Engagement

1. Take Advantage of Hashtags

Hashtags are searchable indicators of what your posts are about. It’s important to add relevant hashtags to your posts to expose your content to a broader audience. Using a good combination of both general and specific hashtags in each of your posts is key.

For example, if you own a salon, use general hashtags like #salon, #hair, etc., as well as more specific hashtags such as #losangeles if you are located in Los Angeles or #aveda if your salon sells Aveda products.

2. Exclusive, Behind-the-Scenes Access

Consistently creating new content is hard work, and often times consuming. Save your best bouts of creativity for special occasions.

Try documenting things around your business. By posting the work you already do, you can highlight your services and an endless supply of content.

A salon’s Instagram page will often post photos of recently completed haircuts. This shows off the stylist’s skill and keeps their followers’ content cravings satisfied.

People are generally more drawn to content that is organic versus photos that are staged. Once the pressure is off to “be creative” and you are free to document the daily experiences at your business, you’ll not only seem more genuine to your audience but you’ll also find it much easier to post things throughout the day.

3. Victory in Videos

Videos are visually compelling and proven to have higher engagement than photos. Instagram videos can be up to one minute long on your profile, and ten seconds long on your story.

While your content is limited in duration, it shouldn’t be in creativity or production value. Even minimalistic videos are successful when they adhere to your brand voice, and don’t suffer in quality.

While a quick, unorchestrated video is great for the Instagram Stories feature, a video post should be properly strategized and executed.

4. Use Clear Calls-to-Action

A call-to-action (CTA) is a simple phrase that invites your audience to do a specific task. Whether you place these phrases in your images or in your captions, a strong CTA will encourage interaction with your post, and your brand.

You can use CTAs as a tool to initiate feedback, engagement, or word-of-mouth marketing. CTAs have been proven to increase customer interaction and deepen your audience’s relationship with your brand. Experiment with different CTAs to see which works best for your business.

Start Building Your Instagram Brand

Social media marketing is all about meeting your customers where they already are. Instagram has been increasing its user base over the last few years, providing businesses with new opportunities to reach a broader audience. Start developing relationships on Instagram today; and watch your business grow as you implement these simple strategies!

Originally published on MarketingBitz

How to Make Your First Sale on Amazon FBA

Step-By-Step Tutorial on How to Use JumpSend

Making those first few sales is crucial to your overall success as an Amazon FBA seller. If you’ve been following along in my Amazon FBA startup series, this is the final segment where I show you how to make your first sales using JumpSend, and how to start your first Amazon PPC campaign.

Make Your First Sale on Amazon FBA

Set Up Your JumpSend Account

Note: In order to use JumpSend’s Promotions correctly you MUST be a Professional Seller.

Now that your products are ready to sell, it’s time to put things in place so you can get your first sales and reviews.

I recommend using JumpSend as it will allow you to advertise your products at a discount to over 100K shoppers.

JumpSend also allows you to set up custom follow-up emails with your customers to persuade them to leave a review on your product.

In my experience, I have been able to get my first few reviews on products using JumpSend so I cannot stress enough how important this tool is to your long-term success.

It might sound counter-productive to give your products away at a discount but think of these first sales as buying reviews rather than turning a profit.

Having good reviews, in the beginning, is vital to your long-term success as an Amazon seller.

Head on over to JumpSend and sign up for a free trial of their Starter plan as it’ll allow you to deal with up to 3 products.

Set Up Your First Deal

Once your account is created and you give JumpSend access to your Amazon seller account, click the “My Promotions” tab at the top of the page after you log in.

You’ll next want to click the “Add New Promotion” button to the far right of the page.


On this page, you’ll want to enter the ASIN number of your product and click “ASIN search”

To find the ASIN number, simply go to your listing and copy the 10-digit combination of letters and numbers from the URL.

ASIN numbers tend to start with the letter “B”, as you can see with the ASIN from the listing shown below.



Once you click “ASIN search”, your product’s information should populate the fields.


Next, you’ll need to select the product’s category.

In my case, this product best fits in the “Pet Supplies” category.


You’ll also want to choose whether your product is Fulfilled by Amazon or not.

If you’ve been following this course to a T, then you’ll want to select “Fulfillment by Amazon”.

Don’t worry about the “Price After Discount” field as we’ll come back to that later.

Once you have everything selected, click “Next”.


The next page deals with protecting your product’s inventory.

Make sure the “Automatic Inventory Protection On” option is selected.

This option protects you from an individual on JumpSend buying your entire inventory with one coupon.

I recommend setting your “Limit Order Quantity” to 1 as our inventory is low at this time.


On the next page, there is a fantastic video JumpSend provides you that will walk you through exactly how to create coupons.

Just watch their video and follow the steps. The video is incredibly thorough otherwise I would give my own explanation.

The only input I would have is that I recommend setting your coupon to be somewhere between 60%-80% off.

In my experience, selling products at these numbers have greatly increased the chances of people purchasing them.

When you have the coupons created, head back to the first page and input the correct “Price After Discount” based on whatever percentage-off you set.

For example, if my product sells regularly for $21.95 and I want to sell it for 70% off I would need to put $6.59 in the Price After Discount field (21.95 * 0.70 = 15.36, 21.95 – 15.36 = 6.59).


Once you finish head on over to the “Shopper Approval” page.

On this page, I recommend selecting “Manually Approve Shoppers” as you’ll want to wait 4 hours from the time you set up your coupon codes on Amazon (as recommended by the JumpSend video).

In the meantime, you can still run your promotion and just wait to manually approve people who want to buy your product once the 4-hour mark has passed.

Click “Next” when you’re ready to move on to the next page.


Now it’s time to review your promotion.

Make sure all of the information shown on this page is accurate and correct.

When you’re ready, click “Publish” to make your promotion live!


Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for people to request to buy your products!

In my experience, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days for someone to buy your first coupon code, so be patient and experiment with different prices.

The next thing we’ll want to do is set up an email follow-up sequence.

Set Up Email Campaign

Click “My Email Campaigns” at the top of the page and click “Add New Email Campaign” on the top right of the page.

You will then need to select a template to start your email campaign.


Personally, I use the “Two Review Requests” template and have had pretty decent success with it.

This section is completely up to you on how you want to customize your own email follow-up campaign, so I won’t go into much detail.

I will say that the templates are very well made, and you likely won’t have to change much wording within them.

When you select a template, on the next page you’ll need to select your product at the top of the page.

After making whatever changes you want to the messages, click “Review Campaign” and then “Activate Campaign”.

You’ll also want to make sure that the “Message Active” buttons are selected for each of the messages.

A few notes when writing your follow-up emails:

  • Don’t spam your customers as this will likely get you in trouble with Amazon.
  • Don’t link them to any YouTube videos.
  • Don’t send them links in general.
  • Be very careful when sending them things like images or PDFs. While I believe it isn’t against Amazon’s TOS to do so, I would proceed with caution.

Now that we have sent our products to Amazon, have set up our first promotion, and set up an email follow campaign, we will finally delve into the world of Amazon PPC.

Setting Up Your First Amazon PPC Campaign

Amazon’s Sponsored Products program (or Amazon PPC) is a great way to get your product in front of users when your product is first starting out.

The goal is obviously to have your product rank organically, but for now, running ads can give your products some much-needed exposure.

It’s been said that having a product run in Amazon PPC can even help its organic rankings as well.

Head on over your seller dashboard and click “Campaign Manager” underneath “Advertising”.


Next, click “Create Campaign” underneath the “Campaigns” tab.


Give your campaign a name, set a daily budget (this is completely up to you, I like to set mine at $25 but BE CAREFUL as you could potentially rack up hefty advertising fees. If you want to play it safe, set your budget to $5 per day).

Finally, select “Automatic Targeting” as we’ll want Amazon to create keywords based on your product info.

These keywords will be available under Campaign > Ad Group > Keywords > Get report after your ad has been running for a few days.

You can use these keywords to both optimize your listing and set up a manual campaign as well.

Click “Continue to next step” to proceed.


On this page, give your Ad Group a name and click the “Select” button next to your product.

Once it’s selected, set your default bid and then click “Save and finish” to be done setting up your first campaign.


Just give your campaign a few days to run and you should be able to download your report under Campaign > Ad Group > Keywords > Get report to see what keywords your product is showing up for.

These first few sales are vital to getting both reviews and rankings on Amazon, so be sure to not only try these two methods out but also spread the word to friends and family on social media.

How to Ship Inventory to an Amazon FBA Warehouse

Step-By-Step Tutorial on How to Ship Your Samples

Once you receive samples you ordered from a supplier, or if you’re looking to sell products you have around the house through FBA, you’ll want to send them to one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers. In order to do that, we need to create a shipping order within Amazon’s seller dashboard.

How to Send Inventory to Amazon FBA

If you don’t have an Amazon seller’s account set up yet and you’re unsure how to do so, my article on creating a listing on Amazon should help you out tremendously.

Go to “Manage FBA Inventory” under the “Inventory” tab in your Amazon seller dashboard.

Next, click the checkbox to the left of your product, click “Action on 1 selected” above the listing, then select “Send/replenish inventory”.


Next, assuming your product is, in fact, an FBA listing all you’ll have to do is click “Send Inventory”.

If you have to convert the product from Merchant-fulfilled to FBA you will be prompted to do so by Amazon.


On the next screen, you’ll want to make sure the “Create a new shipping plan” option is selected along with the “Case-packed products” option as this is the option used when sending multiples of the same product.

Once you select these options, click “Continue to shipping plan”.


On the next screen, scroll down and you’ll see an area where we need to enter the number of units and the number of cases we will be sending.

Since we’ll be sending our 10 samples in 1 box, enter 10 into the “Units per case” box and 1 in the “Number of cases” box.

Once you fill all that out, click “Continue”.


In the next section, Amazon asks you to prepare your products.

You’ll need to send each of your products in an individual poly bag with a warning label on it (here is an example).

If you received your products from China and they were already in a poly bag, you should be fine to proceed.

Otherwise, just place the products in the poly bags that I recommend buying from my list of Amazon FBA tools.

For an in-depth video detailing how to prepare products for Amazon’s FBA warehouse, watch this video:

Once you finish preparing your products, click “Continue”.

The next thing you’ll need to do is label your products.

You have a couple of options here, you can either print them yourself if you have a label printer (I recommend using a DYMO Printer) or have Amazon do it for you.

Having Amazon do it for you will obviously accrue some fees which can be viewed here.

You can make Amazon label the products for you by clicking “Apply to all” under “Who labels?” and selecting “Amazon”.

Click “Print labels for this page” and follow the instructions in the above video.

Once you have your labels printed off, place them on the front of your product.

If you want to test out the products to make sure they can then use a barcode scanner – this isn’t required but I always like to do this just to make sure they can be scanned once they reach Amazon’s warehouse.

Click “Continue” when you’re ready to move on.


On this next page, you can rename your shipment or just keep it at its default name – this is completely up to you.

Click “Approve shipment” to move on to the next page.

Your shipment should be created and you should be ready to print your shipping label!

Click “Work on shipment” to be taken to the next page.

You will now be given the choice to ship your products through UPS or FedEx.

I personally always use UPS, but this is totally up to you.

Under the “Shipment packing” section, select “Everything in one box” in the drop-down box located under the text “How will this shipment be packed?”.

Next, you’ll need to input the shipment box’s weight along with the dimensions.

If you haven’t already, fill your shipment box with your products and weigh your products using either a shipping scale or a regular scale.

In my experience, this doesn’t have to be 100% accurate as long as it’s close to the weight range.

As for the shipping box’s dimensions, you should see the dimensions on the box itself.

In my case, I always buy my shipping boxes from Walmart and you can always see the box dimensions on the bottom right-hand corner.

Once you’ve entered all of this information, click “Confirm” and you’ll be able to move on to the next section.


Under “Shipping charges”, click the “Calculate” button to get the price you’ll be charged for shipping these products.

Since we’re not shipping very many products, the shipping price will likely be low.

Click the checkmark next to “I agree to the terms and conditions” and then “Accept charges”.

You will be charged to your Seller account and have 24 hours to void the transaction if you decide not to ship the products for whatever reason.


In the next section, click “Print box labels” to download the shipping label you will need to place on your box.

Your label will look something like this (obviously without the blacked-out parts):


Using your laser printer and shipping label paper, print your shipping label.

DO NOT place the shipping label on the top of your box, instead place it on the side as this is where Amazon wants you to place it.

Here’s an example of a labeled box I shipped to Amazon’s warehouse:

A post shared by Thomas Adams (@thomasfadams) on

Notice how I placed it on the side of the box rather than the top.

If your box is too small to fit the label on, you may need to either trim it down or just get a bigger box.

Once you’ve got your box labeled, click “Complete shipment” and all you’ll have to do is drop your box off at a UPS/FedEx store.


Once your products have arrived at Amazon’s warehouse, you will receive an email notification and your products will be added to your inventory.

It may take a few business days for the products to both arrive at the warehouse and be added to your inventory.

When you’re ready to move on to learning how to get your first sale on Amazon, read my appropriately titled post “How to Make Your First Sale on Amazon FBA“.