with new design businesses popping up all the time, so we have some information that may help you make the best decision.
1) The design company's website says a lot! Go to the company's website - how does it look - professional? Is it attractive? Does it grab your attention immediately? Is it complete with all pages and graphics? Is it easy to read, follow and navigate? Does it tell you enough information about the company, it's workers, and it's work? Would you like a site just as good as they have? These are the questions to think about - and typically, the quality of work you can expect is shown in the company's website. If their website looks high quality, that is what kind of work you will get - this goes for the opposite too.
2) QUALIFICATIONS - Are they a "Fly-By-Night, Youtube learner? Don't get us wrong, a huge portion of our training was Youtube and other video tutorials, however, we also have a degree from a highly accredited college that specializes in the arts - The Art Institute of Pittsburg. And while one can learn an awful lot from videos, what is not necessarilly taught in videos is understanding color concepts, the power of hierarchy, color schemes, trending designs, design concepts and practices, and so on. So, is a degree in graphic or web design inportant - we tend to say yes - if the company took the time to better learn and master their craft, you know that they will take the time to master the work they do for you as well.
3) References - Take a look at their work for other customers - what kind of work did their other customers get from this company? Is it the same kind of high quality? Are you able to actually call this company's other customers and ask them what they think of the work they received? Does the design company make it easy to contact their previous customers? A good reference from a previous customer can go a very long way.
4) Does the company have and exercise their full knowlege of graphic design on multiple platforms - You may benefit from a company that does more than just websites. Some companies make sure that they know every in and out of not just a website, but graphics, as to the many different formats of graphics, like png, pdf, psd, jpeg......If the company offers Facebook Management, take a look at their Facebook page - are they truly placing great graphics and ads on their own Facebook page, or are they just sharing cute links and videos of kittens, last night's dinner, local news gossip.......How large is their palet of colorful skills? We believe that a company that offers multiple services in the graphic design field, will have way more experience with every aspect of design.
These are of course, just our opinions and thoughts - and by no means, would we ever claim to be the best. In fact, their are design companies that are our competitors, and we are actually envious of or inspired by them. But when you come across multiple companies that you deem good, your decision may come down to budget and style. Keep in mind, one of the biggest misconceptions, at least in this field, is you get what you pay for. Just because some companies are more expensive than others, does not necessarilly mean that the more expensive, the better work, or the opposite. Some companies have a lot more overhead, so they have no choice but to charge higher prices. Some companies charge very little, because maybe they are trying to get better and build their clientell.
We just suggest, that when looking for a designer, make sure you inspect everything, ask a lot of questions, and really narrrow in on what it is that you want, and make sure that you are not overpaying for work you do not need. Have some opinions on this? We would love to hear them, please comment below.
Are you a person or business that has tried multiple things like radio shows, coupon books, newspaper ads and more in hopes of gaining more awareness for your business and received very little or nothing in return? If you are a small business or even a medium sized business, your ROI (return on investment) is extremely important in today's economy - every dollar counts.
There are endless different small businesses just like mine, always offering great services just as I do, however, are there things that one can do that will help their business that doesn't cost money? Absolutely! If you are on the computer anyways, why not spend some of that time helping your business, FOR FREE. The following are some links and tools that can help your business, and I highly suggest:
Linked in - The world's largest professional network with more than 433 million members in 200 countries and territories around the globe. What we like about this site is that when you create a profile, it is more like an online resume and yellow pages listing all in one, for your business. While it may be a little time consuming, it is easily worth it to take the time and fill up your profile with as much information about your business as possible. Connecting with other businesses and business people can easily help spread the word about your business and can bring you more business - take a look at my page, Click Here.
Manta - This is a site that is very similar to Linked in. We have used Manta for a very long time, and we have found that utilizing the free platform for your business really boosts up your internet awareness on search engines. While just like every other site, they will offer you extra boosting services, but, we have never indulged in the extra services, and still found that they put us up on the Google search pages. If you take a look at our page by Clicking Here, you will see, and notice once you have filled in all information, that the Manta page is just like a full, one page website that can showcase not only everything that you do, but also your hours, contact information, detailed services or products, and more. Manta is in our list of top three things to do immediately when starting a business.
Yahoo - I know that most people that saw the word "Yahoo" immediately thought, "I already have an email address.". That is great, and you do not have to get rid of your existing email, we just suggest that you create another email through Yahoo, similar to your business name as much as possible, and here's why: Once you create your Yahoo email address, and even if you never plan on using it, but would still be good to open it and look in it at least once per month - being that you have a Yahoo email account, you can now register you business in Yahoo Small Business Directory. This is a great way to add all of your information to the Yahoo Directory. Remember, just because you may be noticed in Google does not necessarily mean that other search engines automatically have that same information. While this tool so to speak may be a little more complicated than Linked in or Manta, it is still very useful. Click Here for a better description and instructions.
Facebook, Facebook, Facebook! - This is THEE Leader when it comes to small businesses, period. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people that have a personal account, but still do not have a business account, or, they have a business account, but may not know some extra things that will help. I will try to go through some helpful tips. First, once you have your business page set up, is to make sure that your cover photo, a.k.a. your header is displaying your information correctly. Facebook recently changed the way the business page is displayed to the public. It used to be displayed where the profile picture of the business page was covering the bottom left side of your header. Now, it is off to the far top-left of the page on a computer or underneath the header on a smart phone, displaying the entire header picture. With this new change, comes the ability to have your information show complete and clear right in the center of the cover photo - ON ALL DIVICES - if you design it right. Remember, the header is the first thing that people see when they go to your page, so if the whole purpose of your business page is to attract potential customers, and have them contact you as quick as possible, then you should have all of your information in that header in the center. Take a look at ours just to give you an idea, and feel free to look at ours on your phone or computer, and you will see that we designed it to universally look good - Click Here. Some other tips for Facebook would be to change the background of your header at least once a week, but keep your logo and information the same. Join local groups in your area that allow small business advertising, place ads in them, and make sure to add your Facebook web address. And the biggest thing I see, is that some believe that posting cute stories of cats, dogs, or food, with links will actually help their page. Actually what this does, in our opinion, is distract the reader from your page, and the link actually takes them away from your page, and makes their mind completely change their initial thoughts and intents. We don't want to help the reader who came to our page looking for graphics to suddenly get distracted by a great looking cake that can easily be made if they go shopping - which they may decide to go shopping immediately, and we are suddenly put in the back of their mind or completely forgotten (enter sad face here).
Finally, and we know this is a lot of reading, but hopefully well worth it, join and set up other social media sites, even if you would rarely use them. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.....The more streams that you set up with as much of your business information as possible, the more internet awareness you will have, and all it takes is a little time and No Money you have to spend. There are more tips coming soon, in a different blog, so check back soon. Have any thoughts, comments, ideas or tips that we forgot? Post your comments.
We always see other companies expressing their professional business and thoughts on their websites, Facebook pages, blogs, social media posts....That's o.k. It is good to share information, and even share information with intentions to gain business. However, there are some very important points to remember when doing this, especially if you are a business portraying that you are bigger and better than your competition.
Spelling is still important. We don't say this to be demeaning to anyone, but, if you are writing a long blog to instill in others the "right" way to do things, one of those right things should be to check your spelling. Everything you write should be spelled correctly, grammar is a major key in showing professionalism. When you write a long paragraph, and forget to spell check what you wrote, it portrays that you were just in a hurry to get that info out to the world in order to get that next big sale. Slow down, make sure everything looks good to you, and make sure it will look good to the viewer. If you or your business lacks competence, even with something as simple as proper spelling, how will your potential customer have faith in you enough to complete their project accurately?
DIY (Do It Yourself) Websites. I saw a company complain about websites that can be done by individuals, because it lacks professionalism, however, they had a typo in their very first sentence. Kind of made me laugh. There is nothing wrong with DIY websites - that is how we started our business, and continue to do our business for many others. DIY websites are fantastic for small businesses, especially for those small businesses that are on a budget, those that know and understand that you can not throw all your expendable money out there with nothing left but hopes of gaining a massive return...DIY websites are a fantastic starting point for any business. I have found that those that choose a big firm for their first website, are realistically throwing a lot of extra money away for things they really don't need. Small businesses are small businesses because they are yet to make that massive income with their massive growth in business - so why would you spend a massive amount of money on a giant design firm with no guarantees that all of the extra money you spent would do anything for you? Go ahead, save a ton of money, start a website that you can handle, do your research, get your business out their, and grow your website with your business. We create professional, AFFORDABLE graphics for those DIY sites, and we can help you with suggestions and tips with a free phone consultation. Then you can take that extra money you save, and invest it in brochures, flyers, business cards....After all, no matter what any company says - your business does not just derive from a website, it comes from multiple streams of marketing, especially word of mouth.
SEO. Most companies, especially big ones, will always scream SEO. They will try to convince you to see that no matter what it costs, SEO, whatever that is, is worth everything you have. Here is the truth about SEO(Search Engine Optimization) - It is better to spend your time than it is to spend your money, and you will get the same results. While you see a lot of work, your customer will see that you are everywhere they look. Sure, you could spend the money and save the time, but once you do, you will always be spending the money. SEO - register your business and domain name with GOOGLE, BING, YAHOO...Make a video and post it on Youtube, add a blog to your website, add small posts to your Facebook page, add links - guess what - you are adding SEO that cost you nothing but time.
Invest in your business. How disappointed are you when you hear about a product that seems outrageously fantastic, and then you see it, and you are not impressed at all, and just turn around. Well, the same goes for your company. While you may have a fantastic product or service, if your appearance does not equally demonstrate the quality of your product or service, you may actually lose more business than you gain. What you see as your appearance being good, may be completely different than what your potential customer sees. Invest in professional graphics, invest in a professional logo that will brand your business, invest your time into your business, because no one will ever know your business better than you.
We can do simple websites, with professional graphics, without any smoke and mirrors, and we can keep everything affordable for any small business.
The biggest misconception with small businesses that first get a website is the belief that once they get a website, they are done, and people will come. This may have been true way, way back when websites were the new best thing, but now, websites really are not even at the top of the "must have" list.
So, every time a website is made, everything that follows is SEO, SEO, SEO. The majority of all small businesses that finally get a website, have no idea what this is, and truthfully, the website designers and companies really take advantage of these new to website, small business owners. "Said business, you don't have to worry about it, we will take care of it, get you noticed, for a small fee of blah, blah, blah". They will get this same pitch in emails, telemarketing, sales pitches from the sharks in suits....
But, what you are really paying for is someone to take the time to do the same things you CAN do, if someone gave you some tips, because most business owners don't have the time. Well, it is just as important to invest the time into your own business, as you do for your potential customers. It doesn't have to be done all in one day - "Rome wasn't built in a day", as everyone has heard that before.
Take a little time each day, you will boost your business, and you will definitely save yourself some money - Here are some tips -
1) Your Website Will Never Be Complete - The reason that I say your website will never be complete is because there is always a need to keep it updated, fresh, add new content....however, I find it very important to have it as complete as possible, as soon as possible, and enough so that if you place links on the internet, the viewer will immediately see somewhat of a full content site.
2)Social Media - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - There are so many businesses that either shy away from social media for multiple reasons, or they set them up, but are not sure how to keep up with them, post on them, or display them the best way. No matter what reason, in this small business day and age, it is a must have, especially for SEO. First create it, and then post it - We know a perfect company to help you with professional graphics :) .
3)Directory/Professional Sites - Theses sites, which are initially FREE to join and add your information, are also extremely important to have. The hardest part about this is that adding your business and information to these sites can be very tedious and time consuming, BUT, it is very worth it. You should join sites like Linkedin, Manta, YP (Yellow Pages Online) and I know that there are even more. Take the time to add all of your important information, add images, be detailed about your business to the fullest extent...Also, if you are a gmail person, that is perfectly o.k. - Here is another tip that will help. Set up an email through Yahoo - WHY? If you set up an email through Yahoo, and even if you only check that email once per month, you will have the opportunity to add a free listing in Yahoo Local Small Business.
4) Multiple Streams - We always hear multiple streams of income, but the same idea also applies to SEO - find multiple ways to get your business out there in the internet world - Youtube Videos, Join Facebook groups and post in them, Craigslist Ads, add your business website to your Instagram Photos, Make sure that your business name is on Your Twitter header and post/interact on Twitter. The biggest lesson with multiple streams is consistency - always add your same links to all sites, social media sites, directory sites.....
5) Key Words, Blogs & Links - You are here, and you can see it all, do this with your business.
I am no expert by any means, but all of this is just some things that I have found to help my business, and all of it has cost me nothing but time, and has definitely helped boost my business, and saved me some money. Do you have comments or suggestions? I would love to hear them. Thanks for reading.