Marketing your business: A beginner’s guide to buyer personas

You’re great at running a small business… but how about marketing it? There are so many things to think about: where to find new customers; what they like; and how to get your business out there so people can see what you do!

Say goodbye 👋  to the confusion with buyer personas! You might have heard of them before, perhaps you know what they are, or maybe you’re scratching your head. Whatever your knowledge, don’t worry – we’ve broken down:

What a buyer persona is

How to create yours

How to use buyer personas in your marketing

We’ll take you from theory to action, without breaking a sweat. The result? You can stop stressing about marketing and get back to running your business. We’ve even created a free downloadable eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas for you to takeaway.

1. What are buyer personas and how can they help?

A buyer persona is a representation of your typical customer. Think of it as snapshot or collage of the kind of person that buys from you.

Buyer personas help you market more effectively. Created from your knowledge of customers, as well as a little market research, they help focus your marketing efforts. How? Clarity around who buys from you means you can serve your customers more effectively. Instead of trying to reach everyone, buyer personas focus your marketing efforts.

Our eBook, ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas’, aims to make knowing your customer easy. The outcome? The rest of your marketing falls into place.

2. Get to grips with the theory of buyer personas

Who to include in my buyer personas?

What information should I research?

When can I use my buyer persona?

All of these questions and more are covered in the eBook. The first section lays out the theory, to make the process as simple and transparent as possible. As with anything in life, understanding the reasons for something before doing it provides clarity and confidence. Because without a good understanding of what matters and why, it’s hard to create effective buyer personas that work for you.

3. A hands-on guide to creating your buyer personas

The second part of the eBook gives practical information about what to include in your buyer personas.

Use our hints and tips to create your own personas. You can also take a look at our example for inspiration, or make use of the template included and use your own customer data to fill in the gaps. The aim is to give you the knowledge and the tools to build up a set of buyer personas that work for you and your business.

4. Action! How to put your personas into practice

While it’s fun to get creative, the third and final section of the eBook is about action!

The best thing you can do with your buyer personas is to use them. Think of your personas like a fancy new bike. It arrives in a box, in many pieces, and you follow the instructions to slowly, slowly, build the bike. The process is challenging but fun – it’s exciting to see the bike take shape.

Here’s the thing though. If you don’t take the bike for a spin, you miss out on the benefits of cycling. Your buyer personas are no different: the best part is putting them to use in your marketing. You’ve put a lot of effort into creating them, so why not make the most of them?

5. Create your buyer personas with confidence

Knowing where to begin with marketing can be tricky, especially when you’re trying to run a business or juggle a side hustle. Defining your buyer personas is a great place to start, because you already know lots of information from serving your customers. And once your buyer personas are complete, they make the rest of your marketing much easier.

6. So why not create your buyer personas today?

Download our free eBook below👇 

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How to manage your small business during the Covid-19 crisis

Mother working on laptop at home, while her child using tablet. Boy and mother sat on the sofa. The Mother is managing her business on her laptop during the Covid-19 crisis

Change can be scary and when it happens fast it’s even more worrying. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our movement, our work, and how we go about our daily lives. Sadly, small businesses are highly impacted by the global pandemic and need to adapt during these uncertain times. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to support you. In this article, we’ve outlined 4 areas to help you as a small business owner navigate this crisis: wellbeing, work, communications, and taking stock.

Of course, the most important thing is to always act in accordance with local health guidelines and official advice. Don’t do anything that would endanger yourself or others.

With that in mind, we hope the following information is useful.

Wellbeing

Taking care of your wellbeing is the most important thing during a health crisis. If you are well, you’re able to look after the people you love and serve customers effectively.

Take care of your physical wellbeing:

  • Online fitness classes – exercise outside might not be possible right now. There are many, many classes available online, from free exercise videos on YouTube to personal trainers carrying out virtual workouts. Try to get a good mix of everything, as you would in normal life, for example: movement, cardio workouts, strength training, and flexibility
  • Keep moving – regularly get up from your workspace and walk around. If allowed, take permitted exercise outside
  • Get some fresh air – open windows, sit on the balcony and make use of outside space at home, if it is available to you
  • Cook homemade meals – use what’s available. Eat a balanced diet and keep regular mealtimes

Look after your mental wellbeing:

These are unprecedented times; keeping your mind healthy is an important part of staying well.

  • Exercise – As above. Scientists have shown a link between physical activity and an uplift in mood
  • Homeworkers/homeschoolers – set up a desk away from where you sleep or rest if possible. Dedicate a specific area of the house to ‘work’ or ‘school’. If that’s not possible, tidy things away once the day is over to create separation
  • Stay in touch – contact loved ones virtually, FaceTime wherever possible and share messages of support to keep each other going
  • Accept the new normal – it is beyond all of our control. Focus on what you can control, such as cooking, school, or sending a text to someone you care about
  • Get some rest – keep your regular sleep routine and make sure you are getting enough rest. Sleep is an important part of our health. A good night’s sleep will mean you’re present, alert and better able to connect with people – including your customers

Work

All of life has been impacted by the crisis, including work. Many small businesses have been particularly affected. Control the controllable with these tips:

  • Keep communicating – with workers, suppliers and customers. Let people know what will change due to the pandemic, what you’re doing about it, and how it impacts the service you provide
  • Keep channels open with suppliers – we are all in difficult circumstances. Bear in mind that your suppliers’ challenges may impact your turnaround. It’s important to communicate this information to customers if this is the case
  • Things are different – stay focused on what’s possible, rather than what isn’t
  • The situation is changing constantly – keep up to date with official government guidance on public health and financial measures to support businesses and individuals. As a business owner, take it upon yourself to establish the facts: trust government websites and media, reliable news sources, and respectable journalism. Do not rely on information shared on social media

Communications

The situation is scary. There are many unknowns. In the face of a crisis, running away and hiding feels like the only option.

Whatever you do, keep communicating. Customers rely on you, and it’s up to you to let them know whether you can still serve them during this uncertain time.

  • Update customers – let them know what is going on. If you are able to carry on working, communicate key information such as new hours, availability of support staff, and changes in shipping times
  • Review scheduled posts – emails, content and social media must all be reviewed, especially if campaigns were scheduled days or weeks ago. Check if the content is still appropriate in the current climate. Change it if not
  • Be mindful of your tone – keep on sharing on social media, but be careful. People are frightened and the entire world is impacted by this crisis. Be sensitive
  • Avoid posting if you have doubts – if the message could come across as insensitive, too much of a hard sell, or seems to contradict official guidelines, do not post the content
  • Be helpful – now is a time for kindness and community, even if we are physically distanced. Thanks to the power of the internet one thing you can do right now, is provide help and insight. Share your knowledge with the world: your customers might not be able to visit you physically, though it doesn’t mean that you can’t share hints and tips with them

Take stock

The challenges the world faces now are unprecedented. The impact on small businesses is far-reaching. If COVID-19 means you are unable to trade, try not to panic. Is there anything you could do differently? If not, is now an opportunity to review your business and plan for the future? 

We’ve divided the following section into two: the short term and the long term. The short-term actions are designed to help you make the best of the present moment, if that option is available to you. The long-term actions are designed to help you plan for the future, so that your small business can come back stronger.

Think short term:

  • Things have changed a lot in a very short space of time – ask yourself, ‘What CAN I do?’
  • If you can’t sell in person, can you trade online? – online stores mean customers can visit you any time of the day or night to make purchases. If you can ship your products, or provide them as a download, then you can sell online
  • If you make things, can you make something different at this time? – for example, can you create essential supplies such as masks, soap or hand sanitiser?
  • If you provide a service, take it online – if possible, carry out meetings and work over video and phone call. Perhaps you could record a series of videos, create a course, or write an eBook and sell them via your online store

Think long term:

  • Reflect on your business – so far, what has worked? What didn’t work so well? Think about your answers to each question and plan ways to do more of what worked well in future
  • Plan for the future – think deeply about your business goals and the strategy that will help you get there
  • Adjust the way you operate – has the Coronavirus revealed any weak spots in the way you run your business? What steps can you take to strengthen these areas and make sure your business is watertight going forwards?
  • Make contingency plans – nobody could have predicted a global pandemic just a few months ago. If you haven’t already, now is the time to imagine the worst-case scenarios your business could face. Plan how you would respond to them and the resources you would need to survive
  • Consider diversifying your business income – you’re fantastic at what you do, we’re sure about that! Focus is great. Though a crisis means that if you only have one way of making money, and that is impacted, your income suffers. Think about different revenue streams, new products and services. Variety helps ensure you maintain a level of income if one area is hit

We are here to support you…

Times are tough, and we really hope that the information in this article is helpful. Our aim is to provide practical support to help your small business thrive – with or without a crisis! That’s why we’ve put together an exclusive offer, to help small businesses at an uncertain time….

Our 14-day day trial is still free, and always will be. That means you can set up a website and an online store when being online is more important than ever.

After that, if you wish to upgrade your account, we’re giving you the first 12-months at a 50% discount. That’s just £6.50 per month for a domain name, up to 5 email addresses, SSL security and a professional website or online store with no limitations.

To get this offer, simply head over to our getting started page and the discount will automatically be applied at checkout. Remember, you’ll always start on our 14-day free trial where you can access all features without needing to enter any credit card details.

We can’t wait to see your business online!

What is the most important page of a website?

How to make sure your legal business's website is secure online

Although all pages of your website are important in showing information about your business, there are certain web pages that you need to get right. Using a website builder such as Go SiteBuilder you can create multiple pages for your website centred around different topics. 

Once you have the structure and web design of your website set up, the next phase is to consider which pages you need to optimise the most. Certain pages are more important than others due to factors such as ability to give visitors key information and SEO results. 

What are web pages?

So to start off this blog; a quick round up of what a web page is. If you are new to website building you may be feeling confused over the different terms for different aspects of a website. A web page refers to the different sections that a website may have, often to find these pages there is a menu which allows visitors to navigate around the website. 

The most important pages are:

  • Home page – generally this page shows what kind of website you have and gives an overview of the type of content 
  • About page – has content about your company or the kind of work you do. If you run a firm with multiple people this can be a good page to introduce your team. 
  • Contact/Key Information page – without this page visitors will not be able to use your services or engage with you 
  • Blog page – blogs can be a great way to boost SEO and give visitors more information. Check out our post on the benefits of a blog for SEO.

For some businesses/websites there will be pages that are more applicable to them. Such as:

  • Gallery page for a photography business 
  • E-commerce page for an online shop
  • Menu pages for a restaurant or bar 
  • List of services for a beauty salon or hair dressers 

Which page should you focus on?

When deciding your strategy on how to create the most effective website, regarding webpages, there are a few aspects to consider. Generally consider which web pages have:

High visitor numbers/interestwhich of your pages have the highest likelihood of creating interest? Is it your online shop or is there something unique on your blog page?

Strong first impressions which page shapes new visitors’ opinions on your website the most? Studies show that it takes visitors less than two tenths of a second to form an opinion of your brand once they enter your website, therefore creating a strong first impression is incredibly important. Generally this relates to your homepage. 

An ability to sell your brandany page which allows you to inform visitors what your brand is all about is incredibly important. Ensure that pages such as ‘About’ and ‘Contact Us’ are filled with key information. 

How do I optimise my web pages?

You may now have one or a few pages that you want to change to achieve better results. By following some of these tips you will create a more effective website that attracts a higher number of visitors. 

Homepage:

As your homepage is the first page visitors see, creating a good first impression is incredibly important. Consider the following:

  • Use a large header – this could be an image, text or video. But ensure that this is eye catching and shows your logo or brand name.
  • Do not overload with information – if your homepage is too content heavy visitors will be put off reading through all the text. Try and break it up with pictures or videos. 
  • Make a clear menu – your menu should be eye catching and easy to find to allow visitors to navigate your website easily. Read our blog on why navigation is so important to find out more. 

About page: 

This is the page visitors go to in order to find out more information about your business. Ensure you have:

  • Relevant information – readers do not want an essay, stick to the relevant information. 
  • Special commendations – do you possess any awards or glowing reviews? Consider including a few to make your business stand out.

Contact/Key information page:

  • Include links – where you can have links to Google Maps (for your address) and email links to make contacting you easier. 
  • Stick to the information – you do not need paragraphs on this page, just a simple layout.

If you are ready to start building your website, then look no further than Go Sitebuilder. With a wide range of features, our simple website builder design means you can have a professional looking website up and running in minutes. Try our 14-day free trial today!

Is it a good idea to have a personal website?

Smiling african american mother and kid daughter having fun with computer looking at her personal website

For many, the idea of creating an entire website dedicated to you and your achievements can seem unnecessary, even narcissistic. But it could be a great career move, or a way to consolidate your portfolio so your work is easy to find and share. With website builders like Go Sitebuilder, you can have a website up and running in just a few minutes, so now it’s just up to you to decide whether it is a good idea for you. 

A personal website gives you a competitive advantage when job hunting

If you’re job hunting, then a personal website can be an invaluable tool to help you stand out from other applicants. Whereas a CV, cover letter and Linkedin Profile are all restricted in their format, if you create your own website then you have full creative control over how you present yourself. Remember that your website speaks volumes about who you are as a person, so make it reflect your personality. 

All recruiters carry out some research on potential candidates, and if you have a website that comes up after a quick Google, you’re giving them more information in a more dynamic way. It may say on your CV that you grew a blog by 10,000 followers, but your website will have a link to the blog itself, making it more memorable and more believable. Including work samples and client testimonials is another way of proving that your work is valuable and of a high quality.

You can use your personal website to network

If you have expertise in a certain area, you can highlight this in your personal website. Writing blogs on topics in your industry and optimising them for SEO could get more people viewing your site and seeing you as a leader in your field. This will mean others in your industry will be aware of you and your work, and are likely to reach out, for collaboration, job offers or more!

Think of your website as a virtual business card that you can use when networking, and make sure it has all the information you think is necessary to show you in the best light. Don’t crowd it though – make sure all the information is relevant and useful for visitors to your site. 

Creating and optimising a personal website means you acquire new skills

Depending on which website builder you use, you can make your personal website as complicated or as simple as you like. Either way, you’ll gain a plethora of new skills, proving not only that you are tech-savvy, but also that you are capable of learning new things autonomously. 

You’ll learn how to customise a website for your personal use, show different styles of web design, and also prove your copywriting and content writing skills. If you spend some time optimising your site and promoting it on social media, then these are even more skills that are easily transferable to many different job roles. 

Personal websites lend credibility to freelancers

As a freelancer, you are only as good as your online image. There are so many thousands of freelancers on the internet offering work in a variety of sectors that it is extremely difficult for clients to choose which person to go to, especially on freelancer websites like Upwork or Fiverr. If you have a link to your personal website in your profile for these sites, then potential clients can visit your site and immediately see the work you’ve done, as well as testimonials from other clients who have worked with you. 

Having a personal website also means that you can develop a brand for yourself, rather than using a plain, uniform profile like those supplied by Linkedin or Upwork. Creating a brand means that you will become more memorable and your style will be more recognisable. This gives you a headstart against other freelancers who are struggling to stand out in a saturated market.

Personal websites are perfect for visual industries

Imagine you’re a designer, photographer or videographer. How are you going to showcase your work using just your CV and cover letter? If you’re a freelancer or looking for a job, the best way to show what you’re capable of is by publishing your work so others can see it. If you’re worried about people stealing your hard-earned work, check out our blog on protecting your images from being stolen by strangers. 

When done right, your personal website can be an instant portfolio that will be potential clients or recruiters’ first port of call when they want to find out about you and your work. 

If you think you’re ready to get stuck in and create your own personal website, why not choose Go Sitebuilder to do it? We provide hundreds of pre-designed templates that can easily be customised to your personal brand and style, all in a matter of minutes! We know you’re busy, so our streamlined web design services can be carried out from your laptop, tablet or smartphone, so you can control your website wherever you go. 

Why not try our free 14-day trial to find out what your personal website could look like? 

How to stamp the copyright logo to my images

Black female food blogger taking a photo in a cafe wearing a light blue shirt and red hair bandana

Imagine: you’ve spent lots of time creating the perfect image to upload onto your soon-to-be website. It is eye-catching, unique and perfect for your online business. But, although this image is legally owned by you, the internet is a dark place and someone snatches up your image for their own purposes. Suddenly, your image is no longer identified with your online business. All that time and effort spent sourcing this image is wasted. 

So, how do you avoid this case of online theft? Well, the answer is pretty simple. By stamping a copyright logo onto your images, keyboard thieves will fail to pass off your content as their own. 

Step 1: Choose your software 

Adobe photoshop, Inkscape or Paintshop are the most obvious editing softwares to do this. However, if you don’t fancy spending your money on these, then there are multiple free photo editing softwares which you can use to watermark your image instead.    Alamoon Watermark, WatermarkLib and Kigo Image Converter can all be used to stamp your copyright logo onto your image. 

Step 2: Where to put the copyright

Open your image in one of these programmes and select the section of the image where you want to add your copyright stamp. Make sure your text goes in a place which is visible. This ensures would-be users cannot get rid of your logo without destroying the image itself. This is important – strategically picking a location for your text to go into means digital thieves cannot steal your image without shooting themselves in the foot.

Step 3: What information do you need to add?

When applying a copyright stamp, you need to make sure you include your name/business name, the year your image was created and the copyright symbol ‘©’ into your text. This way you are solidly safeguarding your image from being swiped up by someone else. Although you can’t stop people from downloading your image free of charge, your name will now always be affiliated with this image. Remember, it is important that you lower the opacity of the text so that people can still see your image!

Now that your image is protected and associated with you, it is important you have a website that people can visit if they want to access your material. Check out our 14-week free trial of Go Sitebuilder and see just how easy it is to get your business online!

10 things you should think about before building your own website

Female florist sat on the floor with her laptop resting on her legs whilst she updates her Go Sitebuilder website. She is wearing jeans, a blue top and a neutral coloured apron. Flowers can be seen in the background.

Creating a website is the next step for your business, but where do you start? Before you leap into choosing a colour scheme, have a look at our 10 pointers on the most important factors to consider when planning your webpage.

1. Domain name

This should be short, simple and memorable. You’re going to have to pay a fee to have the rights to use this name, so make sure it counts! Brainstorm ideas, align it with your branding strategy, and check that you’re not violating any copyright law with your domain name. 

2. Audience

You need to know who your target audience are and what they want, this way you can appeal to their needs. Use analytics tools to get data on your current clients so that you can create a website that will attract traffic with a higher potential conversion rate. 

3. Social media

Much as we complain about them, almost all of us are using at least one form of social media. This is a great tool to help expand the reach of your brand and for users to recommend and share your services, so make sure your website has an option to share content on social media. 

4. Design

Users create a first impression of your site in a couple of seconds, so good clean design is paramount. Make sure the homepage isn’t too cluttered, and make sure it has a clear call to action so that users know what you provide and how they can access it.

5. Sitemap

Before starting to build a website, you’ll need to sketch out a quick plan of what pages you want to include and consider the user experience at each step. Will the user easily be able to find what they need? Are the pages presented in a clear and efficient way?

6. SEO

It doesn’t matter how beautiful and engaging your website is if it doesn’t get the clicks in the first place. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an invaluable step in the creation of a website, as it allows Google to easily rank the page and make it visible for your target users.

7. Security

It is easy to forget about this step, but good security is vital in order to keep your website healthy and to build trust in your clients, especially if they are sharing personal information through your site. This should be addressed at the beginning of website design, as pages need to have SSL certificates and regular security checks. 

8. Compatibility

Your website needs to work on all browsers, but most importantly, it needs to be compatible with mobile devices. Mobile internet use has increased by 222% since 2013, and 85% of adults think that a website should work just as well or better on a mobile device than on desktop.

9. Hosting

The website host you use will determine how quickly your site loads. If your site takes a long time to load, it will directly affect the amount of people who visit your site; 53% of users will stop engaging with a site if it takes over three seconds to load. Make sure your file sizes aren’t too big and run tests to check your loading speed before you make your site public. 

10. Price

What you can get will depend on what you can spend. A custom-built website will cost thousands, but a website creator can give you a great design for a fraction of the cost. Do your research to get the best deal. 

There are lots of factors to consider when building your website, but if you’re still feeling lost, then Go Sitebuilder gives you a 14-day free trial of their simple and streamlined process to create and manage your website. Give it a go today!

Essential work-life balance tips for small business owners

One of the best things about running your own business is that you get to be your own boss. You don’t have to work in one place or between set times: you can decide how you want to work. This gives you a freedom you’ll rarely find when you have an employer. This freedom offers many benefits, but it can also be a double-edged sword when it comes to work-life balance.

While employers might enforce working at certain times, this will likely also enforce not working at other times. This is something that can be harder to do when you work alone. If you’ve struck out on your own, or are thinking about it, this is probably something you’re aware of. As a result, you might be wondering how you can maintain a work-life balance when all the running of the business falls to you.

The good news is that it’s possible! We’ve created a free eBook with some easy steps you can take to maintain a good work-life balance whilst running a successful business. With a little planning, you can take care of yourself, so that you can properly take care of your business!

In this eBook, we’ll share:

How to value your time

How to prioritise your health

The importance of prioritisation

How technology can help

Enter your email address to download your free eBook today

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The ultimate online success checklist for your small business

Just like people, cars and pets, businesses need a checkup every now and again to ensure that they’re as strong and healthy as they can be. We’ve created a little checklist of the top things you should include in your business’s MOT, so you can have it running as smoothly as possible in next to no time.

Strategy and goals

You can only become successful if you know what your goals are, and how you plan to reach them. Start by thinking about why you originally started your business. Are you still working towards the same goals? Once you’ve thought about the broader stuff, there are a few more specific areas to think about:

Do you have an idea of where you’d like your business to be this time next year?

Numerical, abstract or otherwise, this is a great way to give yourself direction and help you to establish priorities.
Tracking your return on investment (ROI) will help you discover when you break even on your investment and prove your success when you start making a profit.

If you’re selling products, will you be able to meet demand if your business grows in popularity?

Or do you need to get something in place for this? This isn’t just a case of being optimistic – it’s important to ensure that if your business gains momentum, you’ll be able to keep that going. Make a plan for how you might expand your offering to meet demand if the need arises.

Do you currently have a system in place to help raise brand awareness?

Whether that’s reviews, word of mouth, competitions or something else, brand awareness is an important part of growing any business. Take a look at what similar businesses are doing, and think about what would work best for your brand.

Are you achieving the goals you previously had in mind?

It’s totally okay to not be achieving every single one of your goals; it’s just important to be aware of them as a guideline, and to have an idea of where you are compared to where you wanted to be.

Website

Does your business have a website?

If yes:

Is it mobile friendly?

This is crucial to ensure that your website shows up on search engines like Google. It also means your customers can easily visit your website on the go!

Do you update it regularly?

This will keep your visitors coming back to your site and further boost your search engine rankings.

Is it easy to find? i.e. personalised domain, good keywords

It’s much easier for customers to find a website if its domain is simple and matches the company’s name. In conjunction with good SEO rankings, which you can boost by ensuring that you’re using relevant terms throughout your website, and by making the most of any SEO tools included in your website, this will ensure that you can be found by the customers you’re targeting.

Do the images fit with your branding elsewhere?

This will ensure that your brand sticks in your customers’ minds. They don’t need to match, but it’s good to ensure that they don’t look incongruous with the rest of your branding.

If you opened up the website and saw it for the first time, is there anything you’d change?

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to take an objective look at your website. This will help you to identify any issues you might be missing by being too close to it!

If no:

Are you losing potential business by not having a website?

Not having a website makes it harder for potential customers to find your company, decreasing brand awareness and customer conversion.

What kind of website would suit your business?

Do you need a store? Just a blog? What kind of website would ensure that you’re keeping up with the competition? With a website builder, you can be really flexible, so just having a little look around at the kind of websites others have can help you to decide what you do and don’t need to include. Once you know, you can create your own unique, beautiful website in no time! It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming; sign up for a free trial of Go Sitebuilder to see for yourself!

For more hints and tips on the main things to consider when you’re making (or managing) a website, see our blog here.

Social media

Do you have:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

LinkedIn?

The more social media accounts you have, the more people you’re likely to reach. Once you have a posting rhythm going, it won’t take much longer to post to several pages than it would to post to one. There are also loads of tools to help with this.

Have you replied to all the messages you need to reply to?

Did you know that Facebook rates your response rate for your customers? Try adding an automated message response to keep your rating high, and try to reply properly as soon as possible.

Do you update it regularly?

This is the best way to make sure you’re keeping your followers engaged. There are different studies on how regularly you should post, but many suggest once a day on Facebook, at least once on Instagram, at least twice a week on LinkedIn and between 3 and 30 times a day on Twitter (which can include retweets, of course).

Is it connected to your website?

This is an easy way to keep your website updated with little effort: featuring new social posts on your site ensure that visitors can see everything in one place.

If you use images, do they fit in with your branding elsewhere?

This will ensure that your brand sticks in your customers’ minds.

Are you engaging with your customers?

From liking posts you’re tagged in to asking questions, there are lots of ways to keep your customers engaged and active.

Do you follow accounts who offer good information/connections?

This is a great way of making sure you’re on top of the latest trends in your area. If you follow relevant accounts, not only will you be able to pick up on useful information, but you’re also more likely to find opportunities to promote your services or products!

Are you reposting content from others?

This helps to build a community, shows support for other local or small businesses and saves you from having to create original content every time you post. As an added bonus, if you share something of theirs, they’re more likely to post about your business in return!

For more advice on making the most of social media, check out our blog here.

Your own wellbeing

No matter how perfect all the other areas of your business are, you come first – and in order for a business to function well, its owner needs to function well too.

Are you getting enough time away from your work?

The key to a work-life balance is in the name – you’ve got to balance both things. Make sure you’re setting aside time to do things that aren’t related to work, whether that’s spending time with family, exercising, watching TV or a hobby.

Do you have a good working environment?

If you work in one place on a regular basis, ensure that it isn’t going to cause you any problems. General employer desk assessment checklists can help with this. If possible, always work away from where you sleep, as this can disrupt your all-important sleep!

Are you getting enough sleep?

Sleep is incredibly important, and it’s never worth sacrificing it. Even if you feel like you need to spend more time growing your business, being more tired will just end up making you less productive in the long-run.

Are you delegating tasks to colleagues (if applicable), technology and your future self, rather than trying to do everything?

If you employ anyone, make sure you’re delegating tasks, and not letting yourself get into the mindset of ‘it’ll just be quicker if I do it myself’. That task might be quicker, but it will always come at the cost of something else that needs doing. If you don’t employ anyone, then focus on prioritising and scheduling. Even though all tasks are technically delegated to you, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all at once.

Are you acknowledging your own achievements?

Remember to give yourself a pat on the back every now and then! You’re doing something amazing by running your own business, so make sure you acknowledge when something goes well – and go easy on yourself if it doesn’t.

Looking after your own wellbeing is such an important aspect of being a business owner – and one that’s often overlooked. If you’re finding yourself unable to tick any of these boxes it’s probably because your work-life balance isn’t quite in check. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! We’ve provided some helpful tips on ensuring that you’re maintaining a sustainable work-life balance in this free eBook.

This may look like a fairly long list, but in reality it should only take you a few minutes to go through it – and any unticked boxes can be rectified gradually before next time. Whether you use this list once every month, quarter or six months, it’s important to have a system in place to check your business’s metaphorical engine!

Eight ways to build a social media following

Social media can be a great way to reach people, gain customers and keep them engaged, as well as growing your brand as a whole. But how can you make sure you’re using your valuable time effectively?

The idea of growing your following can seem daunting, but here are eight ways to build a social media following and be well on your way to success. Once you’ve done some of these, you’ll realise it’s actually nowhere near as scary as it seems! With a little bit of planning and thought, your follower numbers will be climbing in no time.

Understand who your audience are (and focus on the networks they use)

First of all, who are your audience? Are you mostly targeting a certain age group, or a certain lifestyle category, such as young parents or travel enthusiasts? If so, find out which social networks they’re most likely to use. There are loads of great resources like this article from Hootsuite which will help you to understand where you need to place your focus.

If you’re not sure who your audience are, don’t worry! Looking at competitors; talking to your existing audience; just thinking about who you want to be interested in your products – there are plenty of ways to get a better idea of who you’re targeting.

Make the most of useful apps and tools

Even if you’re focusing on one social media platform in particular, it’s likely that you’ll need to at least occasionally use other platforms. Juggling messages, comments, likes and tags on several different platforms can get overwhelming – especially if (or when!) your following increases. Fortunately, there are loads of tools which make managing multiple accounts as easy as managing one.

As well as using products to link your accounts, make the most of the existing connections between the platforms. If you post regularly on Instagram, for example, why not turn on post sharing to Facebook, so you can update the two pages at the same time?

Be human

We may be all for automating processes, but that doesn’t mean that your posts need to lack personality! Social media is a great way of connecting with your customers as individuals. Interact with them, respond to their questions, and engage with any mentions of your brand – if they’re positive, it’s free advertising!

Over two-thirds of customers are more likely to recommend a brand if they’ve had a positive experience with it on social media, so it’s really important to try and ensure that you’re creating a positive environment on your page. There are loads of ways to do this, but the best thing you can do is be yourself. Your brand is all yours, after all!

Help, don’t sell

In keeping with the above point, your customers want to be treated like individuals, and to feel like they’re speaking to a human being. It’s best not to focus too much on selling, as a rule – if you can build a good enough rapport with your customers, you’re more likely to make sales anyway! It may seem like a contradiction, but if you can establish your company as a helpful presence on social media without constantly selling to them, your potential customers will react much better to the idea of buying from you.

Use great photos (it doesn’t have to cost a lot)

People are more than twice as likely to engage with a Facebook post with an image, and tweets with images get 150% more retweets than those without. Wherever possible, keep your posts engaging with images. Most smartphones these days have pretty good cameras, so it’s actually easy to take great photos with minimal effort. If this isn’t really your thing, or your product isn’t something you can photograph, make the most of the interactions you’re already having. Have they tagged you in a post you can share? Has your product helped them to achieve something they would be happy for you to promote?

When you don’t have any images of your own to share, you can also use stock images to liven up a post. There are loads of free websites where you can find great images which are suitable for reuse, without the risk of copyright issues arising.

Build a community; don’t buy one

It may be tempting to go for a ‘quick fix’ and go down the route of buying followers, but this isn’t how you’re going to grow your brand long term. Slow and steady really does win the race on this one. If you can create an engaged community of followers on social media, you’re much more likely to see your brand having a wider impact further down the line. This is especially true seeing as Instagram has begun to take steps against inauthentic follower numbers.

The best way to build a real community is to really listen to your target audience. Ask questions, engage with their responses, and keep up a rapport with them. Why not run a competition, or even a weekly photo challenge featuring your products? There are endless ways to keep people engaged, but perseverance is key – engagement fluctuates, and that’s totally normal!

Work with influencers (but be careful)

Over the past few years, there’s been a huge rise in the number of brands working with social media influencers: accounts with a lot of followers, and therefore a lot of influence over people’s decisions – hence the name. There are a few different ways to go about this: you can ask them to review your products or services; you can set up giveaways; you can ask them to feature your products in one of their posts; the possibilities are broad-ranging.

This said, there are a few things to be aware of. Sending your products to an influencer does not guarantee exposure: the more popular an influencer, the more likely it is that they get sent a lot of products – and that they are selective in what they post. Make sure you choose who you contact carefully; don’t send your products to someone whose account (and therefore follower base) isn’t in keeping with your goals and values. Not only will they be less likely to feature you, but it probably won’t build you the right audience if they do. Last but not least, don’t do anything you can’t afford to do! If you can’t send freebies out just yet, that’s okay – focus on other ways to grow your audience for now, until you’re in a better position to come back to this.

If you have the budget, try some paid ads

Paid social advertising can be a great way to widen your audience, gain a better understanding of who you’re reaching, and know if you need to retarget at all. It’s definitely worth looking into its benefits if you have the budget, but, as with the above point, don’t overstretch yourself! Some social media sites will offer advertising credits from time to time – make the most of this wherever possible. If you don’t have any credits, it’s totally fine to leave advertising until you can spare a bit more budget, or to set a very low limit for a pay-per-click campaign. Focus on growing a community organically, and you’ll soon find you have the budget for advertising after all.

This might seem like a lot, but it’s actually surprisingly simple! The key things to remember are:

    • Stay relatable
    • Make your life as easy as possible
    • Understand your audience
  • Be helpful

Keep these ‘rules’ in mind, and you’ll surprise yourself with how quickly you can end up with a successful social media presence.

Once you’ve got all the followers, make sure you give them a way to become customers! If you haven’t already, you can create a great new website today: download the Go Sitebuilder app on Google Play or the App Store, or access it through your browser here.

Six reasons to have your own website

Why you need a website

Setting up a website is one of the best things you can do for your business. It can grow it from an exciting idea into much more, so that all your hard work pays off. One of the great things about having a website is that it’s largely up to you what you want from it; you can choose to have as much or as little content and functionality as your business needs. However, when you’ve already got several things to think about, there is such a thing as too much choice! To make your life a little easier as you embark on the adventure of growing your business, we’ve narrowed down the six main things you can be sure to get from a website:

1. Legitimacy

A website is vital for your business’s professional image. While social media is an important tool, today’s customers expect a stronger web presence than this alone. In this data, only 16.8% of online shopping traffic came from social media – less than direct navigation, search or email. A professional online presence is often key to a business’s success. This online presence doesn’t just include a good website, but also features such as domain names, email addresses and more.

2. Simplicity

There are many different ways to create a website, from paying a web designer to using a free online platform. However, a lack of direct input or technical experience can mean that the result isn’t quite what you envisaged. Not only this, it can still leave you short on money, time or both. Whatever route you go down, it’s important to have a website you can easily manage and maintain. Small businesses are constantly growing and changing, so being able to update your website – without the technical experience of a web designer or developer – can (and should!) be an important part of your business strategy.

3. Discoverability (SEO)

Most of us know the importance of getting a website ranked in search results, but many people are reluctant to pay the (often hefty) charges for search advertising. A simple, mobile-friendly sitebuilder can play a huge part in SEO success by allowing you to add content regularly. This is often one of the key factors in driving up a website’s search ranking, so the right people will find you.

4. E-Commerce

A good online store will boost sales and contribute to the smooth running of a business. The time constraints of running a small business mean that an all-in-one platform can really make a difference. Having something that will process payments and orders without constant management leaves you free to work on other areas of the business.

5. Mobility

We know that many business owners are single-handedly balancing a business with other personal or professional commitments. In 2017, 76% of businesses were entirely run by the owner(s). One of the perks of running your own business is that you don’t have to be tied to a desk. This means it makes sense to have a website that you can manage on the go, at any time.

6. Social media cross-functionality

As mentioned above, social media is very important for businesses, so a connection between your social media and your website is key. Displaying social media posts on your website (and vice versa) means your website will reflect the time you spend updating social media, and ensures that nobody will miss your news and updates.

Your website can be instrumental in turning prospective customers into actual customers, and keeping them engaged over time. We’ve designed Go Sitebuilder with this in mind, so that you have everything you need to grow your business, wherever you are. To try it for free today, download the Go Sitebuilder app on Google Play or the App Store, or access it through your browser here. Happy sitebuilding!