Recently, a not for profit organization had a change of Directors. This change was not foreseen as the Director was diagnosed with a terminal condition that quickly took her life. The organization failed to keep a record of passwords and other pertinent information that were necessary to edit their website, check email messages and access bank and credit card information.
The Director probably had all that information saved somewhere, but where? So not only was the organization suddenly scrambling to keep up on the day to day activities the Director had been doing, they also found themselves in the dark as it related to all the technology that had been part of the organization. That is one reason to make sure the organization's website has a maintenance plan with your web designer.
Some businesses try to save a few dollars by having a staff person manage their website. Every owner or board of directors should consider engaging their web company to maintain the site and keep access for edits and changes even if the employee is making some edits. That is like an insurance policy against having an employee quit or otherwise leave the business wondering how to manage the site without them. At the bare minimum, a hosting and maintenance plan should be included with your web company.
There is no doubt that how we do business has changed dramatically since the world wide web presented itself. We have seen the demise of brick and mortar businesses all across our country. The last Blockbuster Movie store just closed as a good example. Changes in how we buy goods and services have impacted the traditional process. How we find companies to do business with has changed as well. Phone books and Yellow Pages have been replaced with web domains. Almost every business has some level of web presence these days if they want to stay viable.
When the time comes to sell a business, owners should consider part of the value of their company is their web presence. It is just as much an asset as inventory and real estate. That being the case, business owners that are thinking of selling should invest some effort in making sure their website is current and valuable and can be demonstrated as a generator of revenue. Some web designers do much more than host a site. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts are a good example of additional services that drive traffic and attract sales. Social media posts and ads directed to a target market can be shown to prospective buyers that your business is viable and current with today's marketing strategies. A discussion with the web hosting company should be part of the selling process to determine what is owned and if there are any contractual arrangements that would prevent a new owner from assuming the website terms and conditions.
Your website can be modified to include a "hidden" page that can be shown to prospective buyers that give information not visible to the public that could include sales helps such as a history of revenues, profitability, cost of goods, recent evaluations of inventory, real estate holdings, etc. Tapping into the full potential of a website includes working with your web team to promote the value not only of your products and services, but your business as well.
There are a billion ways to monetize your blogging brilliance. You may not be able to support yourself or family when you first get started (true in any business), but with perseverance and a little strategy, you can at least supplement your income and see what's possible.
Google Ad revenue.
You can add Google ads to your website. It takes a little patience to set up, but can give you an immediate return on your blogging bliss. Google: Google Adsense to set up an account and get started.
Google Ad Strategies:
-your audience needs to be the kind of people who click on ads. I built a website once for gamers. The website was a calculator that helped gamers gauge their risk in making different moves in the game. It was awesome. And useful. And gamers would pull up that site and keep it open all day. But they never once clicked on an ad.
Meanwhile, I put ads on a site for Republicans, and oh boy--they went nuts clicking for the whole 17 hours the ads were up. The (elderly) Republican leaders were trying to figure out how ads for Democrats ended up on their site! So they clicked and clicked and clicked to try to get to the bottom of things!! Whoops! Made about $25 before they realized I had the power to remove "the liberal blasphemy" from their site.
My most successful Google ad experience brought in about $100/month for several years (with almost no attention given to the website after the initial setup). The website was for a niche product, and customers were being driven to the website from other websites and marketing methods. People clicked on ads because they were in the market for a product, and the ads were generally related to their product search.
Ever wonder why someone is drinking a Diet Coke in a TV show? Product Placement! Coca Cola will make more money by influencing people to drink their product, than by telling them directly. Use Product Placement with Trade to get started. Want to get your hair cut, but can't afford the best salon? Ask the salon if you can do a trade--a blog post featuring your hair experience with links to their salon site, in exchange for a hair cut! Tip in cash, please!
Once you have a big enough following, you can ask for real money for these sorts of blog posts!
Offer blogs for SEO purposes to local businesses or businesses that hit your niche market (for a fee). Do a story about how awesome a company, service or website is--and include some helpful links to their website in the copy. It's really important that you link properly, or else your blog will come off as spammy, or it won't be effective for your ad client.
-When you're talking about a web design company, link the important words about their SEO services like this.
-Do not link like this: wakinggirl.com
-And don't bother to link like this: Waking Girl is cool.
Link the words that people would use to find the business in a Google search. That will indicate to Google that "Waking Girl" is a "web design company" and offers "SEO services."
Ask for a one-time fee or a monthly fee, or a set up fee + monthly fee (businesses will benefit as long as the blog post is up and traffic is coming to your website).
Run your own graphic ads on the sidebars, footers or headers of your website. Ask businesses or organizations to supply graphics that fit the space, and then charge a monthly, quarterly or annual fee for sharing your web space! Websites generally charge too much for graphic ads. Words are actually worth more than pictures in a blog. The only time an ad would be more worthwhile is if your EXACT readers should be the EXACT customers for the ads. So--if all of your single, mom friends in Mobile, Alabama are reading your blog, then a graphic ad for a Singles Speed Dating event for Moms in Mobile, Alabama would make sense. For ads, go for sponsorship. Who just wants to support you and identify with you to help you out and be a friend? Is there a Women's Crisis Center or a Church or a MicroLoan organization that speaks to you? See if they want to smack their logo on your website for a small monthly fee. If you really want to benefit the organization, take the time to write a proper blog post about them, too!
What to charge.
Google ads: Google will decide!
Product Placement: use this to trade whatever you can trade! Hair care, kid's activities, restaurants. Look for companies that have some extra time or product on their hands, and want to help you get started!
SEO: If you write up a full, engaging story on a business, that's worth at least $50. If you use some SEO, and target relevant businesses for your audience, that's worth as much as you can sell it for ($75, $100, $250). I prefer low set up fees with ongoing monthly fees ($50 + $5/month, and yes, you may pay for a year at a time).
Ads: $5/month to $500/month. Seriously--the sky is the limit. Try to give people both an ad AND an SEO blog post AND a product placement experience!
Important next steps:
Quantity! Go! Keep writing! The deeper you allow people into your life, the more valuable your blog will become.
Plug into your audience.
Seek out Facebook Groups that feature your target market. Who is your target market? People just like you! Find your people!
Check in with your sponsors.
Follow up regularly with anyone contributing to the cause; communication will help you find new ways to help, and that will ultimately boost your bottom line! :)
Blogs: the gateway drug to your new business.
I'm surrounded by business coaches and the industry has one magic formula called "THE SALES FUNNEL." Catchy, right?
Every once in awhile I get caught in the click-bait of a sales funnel and sign up for an email newsletter. Recently one of those emails explained what a sales funnel is. I almost gagged.
For those of you who haven't heard the concept, a sales funnel goes like this:
Billions of people are out there, and through offers and promotions, you'll catch maybe a hundred or a thousand of them.
Then, through frequent harassment (email newsletters) you'll narrow it down to 10 interested people who might want more information.
And eventually they'll want a Discovery Call (that's just a phone call where you find out if they can afford your services).
And then you sell ONE promotional package to one lucky winner who pops through your little funnel.
And then you create the package, and perform the services. And hope the customer doesn't dispute the charge on her credit card.
And rinse, repeat.
Wow. That's a lot of funneling for ONE sale.
Let's take a look at how the process can work if you just flip the funnel over:
At Waking Girl we do not use lead generation funnels, we do not send out solicitous newsletters. We do not waste our energy on trying to win you over before the sale. We save our energy for going above and beyond for our current clients.
Rather than turning thousands into one client. We've taken ONE client and turned her into thousands of clients.
Thank you, Antique Angel Wedding Chapel, for being our first VIP client!
You go to work every day. You punch in. You punch out. You carefully label your lunch and don't meddle with other people's office supplies. You're a good worker. You look in the rear view mirror before walking in to greet your colleagues and tell yourself hopefully, "Maybe today is the day I'll get a raise."
Sorry. Ain't gonna happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever--not like that.
Raises don't just happen. They don't just fall out of the sky. They're not rainbows. They're not unicorns.
Raises do not come to those who wait.
But why not? I deserve a raise, don't I?
I dunno, DO you? A business owner has a lot on the line and quite frankly, often doesn't know if *she* is going to get a cut from month to month. You were hired because a business owner needed help; and hiring you was probably long overdue, but once you were hired, the business owner realized, "Shoot. How am I gonna afford to feed all these people AND train these people AND pick up the slack when they tap the snooze icon too many times? Can I raise my rates? Can we find a more innovative way to do business? Maybe I can just stop sleeping for a few months."
Rainbows and unicorns don't just fall out of the sky for business owners either.
Every business owner dreams of the day when a new hire knocks assertively at her door, enters, sits down and says the following:
Boss Ma'am, I would like to present a plan I've been thinking about. I noticed that Teddy, Bill and Sally are awesome at organizing and generating content. I also noticed there is some down time when we're not on the phones from about 10am-11am each day. I was wondering if we could take over the social media work that Big Mega Co. has been handling for you during that time each day. I hope you don't mind, but I went ahead and looked at your contract with Big Mega and according to Section 14 we can pop right out of that contract at the end of this month. It looks like you're paying Big Mega about $800/month. Would you be willing to give me a raise of half that amount to handle the management and responsibility of this task?
Sold. Done. Immediate raise. Promotion. Partner in the company by the end of the year.
But I'll take over the social media for my company. Do I get a raise now?
No. Getting a raise isn't about taking on more tasks; it's about taking on more thinking. A small business owner's brain looks like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory--on steroids. If you can handle just one chocolate slide, that frees her brain up to make more blueberry bubble chutes.
I like chocolate slides. Do I get a raise now?
Are you handling the responsibility to the extent that the owner would? More? Better? Beyond? Then, yes! A small business owner is in a place of being able to hire others because she has exceeded her customer's expectations and her company has grown. Her products and services are in demand. But considering we're not ready to clone business owners (yet), she has the unruly task of hiring/contracting, training and praying to God that her new team will love her clients just a fraction as much as she does.
How did my boss exceed expectations?
She did what the client *would have asked for*, if the client knew such a thing existed.
How can I exceed my boss' expectations?
The same way. Stop looking at your work as a job, and start looking at your work as a service. You are in the business of helping your boss, boosting her profits, and reducing her costs, and above all--easing the Willy Wonka chaos. Thinking in this way immediately increases your value. If you're there to HELP your boss now you can offer to do tasks beyond your job description. You can even offer to help with things that are fun for you, but clearly a chore for your boss.
But my boss makes a lot of money; shouldn't I get a fair cut?
The reason a boss will love you forever if you waltz into her office with a money-saving or profit-boosting proposal is because you're paying attention. You probably know exactly how much money you cost the company and how much money you make the company. Just because the boss is invoicing lots and lots of dollars doesn't mean she's taking any of it home. Companies rarely make tons of money over night; there are debts to be paid, investors, mistakes, blood pressure medication, and it all adds up. Instead of looking at your paycheck with a "gimme gimme" mentality, go get the facts. Find out if your boss has been coming out of pocket to keep you on the team, and more importantly--if your ideas can boost the bottom line!
But what if my ideas offend the boss?
Then it's time to start your own business. You have the confidence and the know-how to be an entrepreneur! Give your two week's notice and get to it!
Ok, ok, I'm not quite ready for that--but can I work for you?
You tell me! How can you help me? What's your pitch? What's your proposal? You've visited my website, you've seen my rates. How can you add value to what I'm already doing and tame the explosion of berrylicious goodness in my brain? Can't wait to hear it! :)
Angela Refsland, owner of Waking Girl Web Design worked for a small business over a decade ago, and asked for not just one raise, but two! After just three months, she noticed an ongoing problem and found a solution. She presented the solution, offered to implement the solution for more pay, and it was an immediate YES from the boss. Know what happened? Her colleagues resented her for it, because they had been waiting for 6 years for rainbows and unicorns. The work environment became too hostile so she asked to be switched from an employee to an independent contractor (no more taxes being taken from her checks), and have the freedom to work from home. The company agreed! And from there--it was an easy step to venture out on her own.