Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Hidden Costs of Website Hosting

Understand the price of web hosting and what to expect as you grow

Creating a website is exciting. In many cases, it means you’re starting or expanding your own business.

But in order for your website to be live on the Internet, it needs to be hosted. In short, web hosting provides storage space and access for websites.

So, you know you need it and you know you’ll need to consider the website hosting costs. Like anything else, the costs associated with hosting your website can influence some of your decisions.

Like nearly every other product and service, there isn’t one set for website hosting. There are even some hidden costs associated with site hosting that you need to be aware of.

Allow me to explain.

If you cut corners initially with site hosting costs, it can end up costing you more money down the road. You could run into issues that are more expensive than you might think.

I developed this guide to help educate you on how much website hosting will really cost. We’ll go through different elements that you need to take into consideration.

Types of Web Hosting

There are three main types of website hosting.

  • shared hosting
  • virtual private server (VPS)
  • dedicated hosting

The costs vary based on which type of web hosting you use.

Types of Website Hosting

Shared hosting is the least expensive option. That’s because your site gets stored in a server that hosts other websites too. Dedicated servers are be the top of the line option — one that comes at a premium price. Just as the name implies, your site gets hosted on a single server you have all to yourself. (If you’re a small business, dedicated is likely way more than you need.) VPS hosting falls in between these two options. It’s less expensive than a dedicated server but has additional features and greater flexibility than shared hosting.

Free Website Hosting

What about free website hosting? Is it good? Do I recommend it?

These are questions that I get asked all of the time. For those of you who are interested in this, you check out this guide on the best free web hosting.

While free hosting is definitely an option you can consider, there is an old saying that you should keep in mind: You get what you pay for.

Now, this isn’t necessarily true all of the time. If you buy a $500 designer shirt, is it really that much better than a cheap $5 shirt? Probably not. But when it comes to web hosting, free or cheap isn’t always better.

So why do so many services offer free hosting packages? They are able to make money in other ways.

Some free hosting services make money from the banner ads displayed on your website, or even banners on your own dashboard. Some get paid with ads on forums that they force you to visit and post on in order to receive your free hosting. You’ll see web hosting plans that are offered free but then entice you to switch and upgrade to paid service.

You might even come across a startup company that’s running a web host for the first time, and offering free hosting before they transition and go after paying clients. This is something you’ll want to avoid for sure.

Website Traffic

It’s natural to try and save some money with a free or inexpensive hosting service. But eventually, your site is going to grow. Obviously, this is a good thing.

However, when your site reaches a certain size, the host may begin to throttle your website if you’re on a shared server.

A couple of things can happen from here. None are good news for your website.

It’s possible that website visitors will have trouble accessing your pages and content. They might even see error messages when attempting to connect to your site.

Even if an error message doesn’t appear, the increased load time will cause people to bounce. That’s a major problem. As loading times increase, page abandonment increases as well.

Load Time Adandonment Chart

Slow loading times are extremely costly. 40% of people abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load. 80% of people who leave your site because of slow speed say that they won’t return.

This is extremely costly for your website, so make sure you understand the basic principles that boost your website loading time. Upgrading and paying more for your web hosting can save you thousands of dollars in lead generation, customer acquisition costs, and sales.

Security

Reliable websites need to be secure. Safety always needs to be a top priority for your business.

This is especially true if you’re processing payments. Think about all of the sensitive information that your website has on it. It’s your responsibility to protect your site visitors and customers from cybercriminals and malicious attacks.

Here are just some of the minimum security measures that you need to keep in mind.

  • spam filtering
  • security audits
  • firewall configuring
  • network protocols
  • scans for malware and viruses
  • passwords
  • multi-level authentication
  • user permissions

A popular security option is a secured cloud where you can store all of your documents and manage files. However, all of this costs money.

But if you pay for a reliable web hosting service, you can get all of these features included as part of your subscription. This is much better than having to pay for them individually, or even worse, pay the costs of your website getting compromised or having security problems.

Servers

You need to make sure that your site hosting servers are reliable as well. Read reviews and do your research before you sign up for any hosting service based on attractive pricing alone.

The best servers have updated software, 24/7 monitoring, regular maintenance, and automatic updates.

Earlier we talked about the different types of web hosting. Your server will depend on which option you choose.

It’s worth mentioning that the size of the dedicated hosting market across the world is growing each year.

Dedicated Server Use Chart

Does this mean you need to have a dedicated server? Not necessarily.

Your website will perform better if you do, but depending on the size of your site right now, it’s not completely necessary.

But if you decide to upgrade or change your server at some point in the future, there will be additional costs associated with that transition, including some possible down time on your site.

Operational Costs

I consult with lots of business owners who just want to host their website on their own. They have a technical background and don’t think it will be a problem.

But just because you have the ability to self-host, doesn’t mean that you should. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but I don’t want to see you have to deal with hidden or unexpected costs.

You’ve got a business to run. Hosting your own website shouldn’t take away from your daily business tasks.

If you pay for a web hosting service, you’ll benefit from things like servers, bandwidth, storage, automatic updates, maintenance, and data migrations. Do you really want to have to worry about all of this?

Let a hosting provider do all of the heavy lifting for you. Hosting a site on your own can increase your operational costs. It will take time out of your day, and you may even need to hire more people. This is an inefficient use of your resources.

Instead, I’d recommend just finding the right hosting provider from the beginning. Then you can focus your efforts on running your business and avoid unexpected costs.

Renewal and Setup Fees

When you first purchase web hosting, the price might seem great. But that is likely just your initial cost for signing up.

The promotional rates aren’t usually the final price and probably won’t last forever.

Make sure you read the fine print to see what your renewal costs will be. Whether that’s next month, next year, or three years down the road. In most cases, there is no way around the price jump, but you should be ready for it.

Eventually, you should be expecting to pay full price. This will likely come when you renew.

Some services will also charge you for a setup fee.

Web Hosting Setup Fees

In the example above, the setup fee is free. But this isn’t always be the case.

For those of you who are paying for dedicated servers, the setup cost is definitely justifiable. That’s because your provider may need to physically add hardware components and set up software that you requested.

Conclusion

Hosting is a requirement for every website. There are lots of different options for you to consider.

The costs vary depending on which route you choose. Some options are more expensive than others. You may even decide to look for free website hosting.

Regardless of your decision, there will be some hidden costs that you need to be prepared for. A plan that saves you money up front could cost you extra down the road with your website traffic, operational costs, and security. Be prepared for additional fees associated with renewals and setups as well.

It’s important to make sure that you’re always using a reputable host.

If you still have questions about the costs associated with website hosting, you can ask me about it in the comments section, and I’ll be happy to help you out.

How much are you planning to pay for website hosting?

http://www.quicksprout.com/website-hosting-costs/

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

How to Make a Wix Website in 6 Easy Steps

Every business needs a website. But for those of you who have never created a website before, this can seem a bit intimidating.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just launching a new startup company, if you’ve been in business for a decade, or fall somewhere in between. You need to have a website to increase your reach and establish a digital presence.

Ultimately, your website will serve as the center or hub of everything that you do.

It’s a place people can find basic information about your company, such as your location, phone number, and email address. All of your campaigns should be driving traffic to your website. If you’re going to sell products and services online, your website will facilitate those transactions.

But before we get ahead of ourselves and into all that, it’s time to get back to the basics: How do you build your own website?

There are tons of different website builders out there, but Wix is definitely a top option to consider. (It’s our top pick for best website builder for automating the tough decisions.)

I like Wix because it’s very easy to use. Someone who has never created a website before can get a site up and running in no time at all. Even if you have some experience building websites, you can use Wix as an alternative option to simplify what you’ve done in the past.

Plus, Wix gives you hundreds of templates, pages, and web hosting services for free. You’ll eventually want to upgrade to one of their premium plans, which are very affordable, but we’ll talk about that in greater detail later on.

Even though it’s easy to make a Wix website, you can still cut some of the trial and error out by using this step-by-step guide as a reference.

Let’s dive right in.

Step 1: Create an account

Like almost anything else you do online, the first thing you need to do is set up your account. It’s really simple, and should only take you a few seconds.

From the Wix homepage, just click on the “get started” CTA in the center of the screen.

Make a Wix website get started button

If you’ve been doing research and find yourself on another one of the Wix pages, you can still get started without having to navigate back to the homepage. Just look for the CTA, which might be worded slightly differently depending on the content that you’re looking at. For example, from the “Explore” page you’ll want to click “Create Yours Today” to move forward.

It should be pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re struggling, you can always go back to the homepage, or just click here to create your account.

Unlike other platforms that ask for nearly everything but a blood sample to sign up, Wix asks for just two things.

  • email address
  • password

It’s optional, but they’ll ask you some follow up questions as well to help you create exactly what site you’re looking for. Answering these questions will help Wix’s ADI builder help you create a site you like faster.

Who are you creating a Wix site for?

  • yourself
  • a client
  • company you work for
  • someone else

What type of site Wix site are you building?

  • business
  • online store
  • music
  • designer
  • blog
  • portfolio
  • events
  • photography
  • restaurants and food
  • accommodation
  • beauty and wellness

What is your level of expertise building websites?

  • built sites professionally
  • created many websites
  • made a few websites
  • never done this before

Here’s an example of what this might look like for you, depending on the options that you’ve selected above.

Step 1 in making a Wix Website

From here you’ll have two options.

You can allow the Wix ADI to create a website for you. All you need to do is answer some questions, and it’ll make a site for you in just a few minutes, complete with custom text and images. It’s almost magical how good it is — you should definitely try it out.

Alternatively, you can use the Wix Editor to make a website on your own. For our learning purposes today, this is the route that I’ll go with.

Step 2: Choose a template

Wix offers hundreds of standard templates at no charge. You can search for a template based on category. For example, let’s say you want to create a Wix business website. Some popular categories include:

  • automotive & cars
  • advertising & marketing
  • consulting & coaching
  • finance & law
  • pets & animals
  • real estate
  • services & maintenance
  • technology & apps

All of the template options are located on the left side of the dashboard. Take some time to scroll through and find one that fits best for the type of website you want to build.

Wix Website template categories

Check out the first template on this page. It’s a “Coming Soon” landing page. Even if your website isn’t built just yet, it’s important to least start off with this type of landing page. For startup companies, creating a website may be the first thing you do, even before you actually register your business name or create an LLC. Wix understands this, which is why they give you this option.

Alternatively, you can select a blank template and build your own from scratch. While this is definitely something you can consider, I recommend going with one of the pre-designed templates. This will make your life much easier in the long run, especially if you’ve never built a Wix website before. If you’re up for a challenge and want to be a bit more unique, go ahead and give the blank template a try.

When you hover your cursor over each template, it will tell you if it’s free or if you have to pay. Once you find a template that you like, just click “edit” to continue.

Step 3: Save your work

It’s not a huge deal, but unfortunately, Wix’s autosave feature doesn’t turn on until you manually save for the first time. So before we make any changes at all, let’s manually save the page.

The “save” button is located at the top right corner of the screen.
Wix website editor save button

Be forewarned: If you leave the Wix Editor and make changes in Wix Code, which is more advanced and not recommended for beginners, there is no autosave function. There’s also no autosave function for contributors.

Step 4: Edit your site

After you select a template, you’ll be brought to the Wix Editor.

Basically, this is what your website will look like if you decide to publish it right now. It’s up to you to make the necessary changes to make the website your own.

Here’s a basic look at what you’ll see when you’re editing the content on your future site:
Create a Wix Website step 3

Anything can be changed just by clicking on it. Start with the basics, like replacing the template company with the name of your actual business.

For our purposes, let’s just say I am redesigning the Quick Sprout homepage with Wix.

In less than one minute, look at what I was able to accomplish.

Create a Wix Website example page

I replaced the Axis Group with Quick Sprout on the center of the page, as well as the in the top left corner of the menu bar. I also swapped out the dash on a red background with the letter “Q” on a green background in the left corner of the menu bar.

The financial consulting texted was changed to “Grow your business, faster.” You can also see that I changed the red “get started” CTA to a green “contact us” CTA.

Look at the menu options at the top of the screen as well. The original template had a “news and updates” page. I clicked on that and changed it to “blog” because that makes more sense for the site that I’m building.

Again, I made all of these changes in less than a minute. All you have to do is click on what you want to change, and follow the instructions on the screen. It’s that simple.

You can replace images when any custom photos you’ve taken for your website. Or you can refer to our guide on the best places to get website images (paid and free).

It’s easy to drag and resize any of the content on each page, too. The Wix Editor allows complete customization based on your personal preferences.

Step 5: Optimize your site for mobile devices

The mobile version of your website should not look the same as the desktop version. Part of having a good website means that it needs to be easily accessible from smartphones and tablets.

If you don’t have a good mobile site, you could lose more than half your customers: more than 52% of all Internet traffic comes from mobile devices.

Fortunately, Wix makes it easy to optimize your web design for mobile users. Just click on the mobile icon at the top of the screen to switch between desktop view and mobile editing.

Edit Wix website for mobile

Wix does a great job of changing the content for you, so it’s automatically optimized. However, you may want to manually make some changes on your own. The changes you make here won’t impact the desktop version of your site.

Before your site goes live, make sure you go through the mobile version of each page to ensure that’s it’s properly optimized to your liking.

Step 6: Connect your domain

Before you can publish your site and have it go live, you’ll need to connect your domain name.

The easiest way to do this is from the dashboard. Just click “Connect Domain” to proceed.

Connect domain to Wix website

By default, your website domain will be: yourusername.wixsite.com/mysite

You’ll have the option to change the “my site” portion of that domain for free. But, that’s definitely not how you want your site domain to look.

When was the last time you went to a legitimate and credible site that had all of that extra stuff, including the website builder in the domain name? It’s not a good look for your business.

Wix gives you the option to buy a domain name directly from their platform or connect a domain name that you already own. I recommend not buying your domain from Wix, but at a place that specializes in domain names, and putting a lot of thought into get the right domain. If you haven’t done this yet, refer to our recent guide on how to buy a domain name.

Wix lets you create a website for free, but you’ll eventually want to upgrade to a premium account. This is when (and why) you want to do that. Without paying for a premium account, you’ll be stuck with the “wixsite” in your domain name.

Packages start at $11 per month, but if you’re using this site for business purposes, you’ll want to pay more than that. Even Wix’s most expensive business plan is just $35 per month. It comes with features such as:

  • accept online payments
  • unlimited bandwidth
  • connect your custom domain
  • free domain for one year
  • 50 GB of storage
  • $300 ad vouchers

So review all of the premium plans to find the one that’s best for you. Depending on what you select, it will only cost you between $132 and $420 per year. That’s pennies considering how much money you can make with a website.

Conclusion

It’s that simple. You’ve learned how to make a Wix website.

There’s not much to it — just six easy steps.

Once you go through everything outlined above, all you need to do is publish your Wix website, and it will be live on the Internet for everyone to see.

To recap, create a Wix website for the first time by following these simple instructions:

  1. Create an account
  2. Choose a template
  3. Save your work
  4. Edit your site
  5. Optimize for mobile devices
  6. Connect your domain

That’s it.

Once you complete the steps, you can publish your site and start generating leads, driving traffic, and selling products online. Your opportunities are endless.

What type of business or brand page are you going to build on a Wix website?

http://www.quicksprout.com/how-to-make-a-wix-website/

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Website Planning in 4 Steps and 20 Minutes

 

Everything you should know about website planning


Save yourself a lot of time and headache: before you dive into building your new website, think through a high-level website plan.

This planning process doesn’t need to be complicated or time intensive. It’s more or less about taking the time to answer some important questions that will help ensure you build your website with the right foundation to accomplish your goals.

For example, creating a website to sell products is very different than creating a website for your personal brand. Thinking through what you’ll need to accomplish one or the other is essential to building a successful website. (If you don’t make the right choices now, you may have to tear down everything you’ve built and start over from square one.)

In fact, this planning process is as much about deciding what you do not need for your website, as it is to figure out what you do need. Less is definitely more here. Don’t fall into the trap of adding a bunch of stuff to your website just because it seems like something you should or because it’s what other websites do. I recommend using MindMeister or some other mind-mapping tool to drive this process.

The purpose of this guide is to prepare you to create your website.

In order to best illustrate the process, I’ll walk you through how I did it for one of my undeveloped websites, SelfTeach.com. This is a content-driven website, so there is a heavy emphasis on written content.

If you take a look at my initial plan here, you’ll see it isn’t very extensive. It doesn’t need to be! This was just a quick brainstorm of what I think I’ll need for the website. It took me 20 minutes to think through.

Remember, you do not need to get this perfect. The point here is not to develop a perfect plan, but rather to equip yourself to get started building your website. Once you get into the weeds, the plan will evolve with you.

Determine What Content You’ll Need for Your Site

You need to have a good idea of what kinds of content you will create — but, of course, it isn’t realistic to think you’ll have your content created before you build the website. The website will have to come first.

Again, you don’t need to have a full list of all the content you’ll need forever. Instead, I recommend coming up with 1–2 content ideas for each type of content you want on your site. This will give you a good sense of what your content will look like, which will influence which WordPress theme you’ll use.

Some common content types:

  • Blog posts or articles
  • Guides / How to articles
  • Reviews
  • Interviews
  • Curated content
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Inspirational content
  • Updates
  • Case studies
  • Q&A
  • Podcasts
  • Product pages
  • Utility content (e.g. privacy policy)
  • About content

For SelfTeach.com, these are the content types and ideas that I need to plan for when creating the website:

When all is said and done, the website will have thousands of pages. However, the design that I choose for this website really just needs to be able to handle what’s in this mind map. If I make sure I have these content types covered, the rest of the pages will be covered because they are simply more of the same types I’ve already planned out.

Consider the Other Assets You’ll Need

There will be a number of assets outside of your core content you’ll want to consider from the start.

Here is an example of what this might look like:

The biggest ones here are your brand assets and social media accounts.

Your brand assets don’t need to be anything spectacular. I put together a quick guide on how to develop your first brand identity.

A list of assets you might need to think about

The point of this list is to inspire ideas. You might not need any of the things on it, or only a few of them. Some of them might come later. It’s up to you to decide what you’ll need now, and what you’ll need to prepare for when it’s time.

  • Logo
  • Brand colors
  • Brand fonts
  • Iconography
  • Photography
  • Illustrations
  • Podcasts
  • Customer testimonials
  • Customer reviews
  • eBooks / White papers
  • Videos
  • About content

Nail Down Your Must-Have Website Features

Features are probably the most important part of your website foundation. You really want to nail this.

In many cases you can get the features you need from your WordPress theme. You can also get features from WordPress plugins.

Generally speaking, you want to have the fewest WordPress plugins possible, and you don’t want to rely too heavily on theme features either. Too many WordPress Plugins will slow your website down and lead to higher security risks. Too many features built into your WordPress theme, and you’ll rely too heavily on that theme making it hard to move to a new theme down the road.

The goal is to find the perfect balance of theme features and plugin features.

But first, you’ll need to determine which features are required to accomplish your website goals. The list of potential features is endless. Here are some I outlined for SelfTeach.com:

Here are some common features you might consider:

  • Breadcrumb navigation
  • Featured content widget
  • Popular content widget
  • Email opt-in form
  • Podcast feed
  • Survey forms
  • Social media links / logos
  • Comment system
  • SEO settings
  • Site search
  • Social media share (to share individual pages)
  • Sitemap creation
  • Automatic website backup
  • Contact forms

To get more ideas, check out 25 Most Useful WordPress Widgets for Your Site from WPBeginner and Website Features Checklist from MarTech.

Get Inspiration on the Look and Feel

Knowing everything that you need to have on the website will help determine which WordPress theme to choose and which plugins to install. You’ll also want to factor in the look and feel.

You’ll need a theme that supports the features you need and has the look and feel you are going for. They’re both important. Taking the time to figure out what you do and do not like will make the process of selecting a theme much smoother.

Resources for finding inspiration

Best Website Gallery — Curated web design by David Hellmann. This is a great place to start to see some high quality designs. Pick out what you like, and use that to attempt to  match it with your WordPress theme.

50+ Best WordPress Themes by codeinwp — Here is one of the many lists of best WordPress themes. It’s not time to pick a theme yet, but you can use this list for inspiration, focusing specifically on the look and feel.

Webdesign Inspiration — Similar to Best Website Gallery, this is a gallery of website designs you can use for inspiration.

In Sum

You don’t need a detailed plan. This process should take you less than an hour. It can be done on a scrap piece of paper with your phone browser for research. It’s just enough planning to get your mind prepared to create a website with a strong foundation to build on.

http://www.quicksprout.com/plan-new-website/

How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2019

google revenue

Digital marketing is going to change drastically in 2019. And sadly, you aren’t going to like a lot of the changes.

And no, I don’t mean change from a competition standpoint. You already know that each year marketing gets more expensive and more competitive. That’s just a given.

Just look at the graph above: that’s Google’s annual revenue. As you can see, during the last recession, Google made more and more money. They didn’t even have a down year.

One of the big reasons we are seeing digital marketing change so much is because of the adoption of new technologies. But also because the web is getting saturated… there are 1,805,260,010 websites on the web.

That means there is 1 website for every 4 people in this world. That’s crazy!

So, let’s dive into it… here’s how digital marketing is going to change this year.

Drastic Change #1: SEO won’t look the same

I’m starting with this one because I know you are going to hate this. SEO is moving to voice search.

In 2018, 2 out of every 5 adults used voice search once per day. But in 2020, 50% of all searches will be done through voice search according to ComScore.

And it won’t just be people speaking into their microphone on their cell phone or laptop, 30% of web browsing won’t even take place on a device with a screen. That means more people will be searching through devices like Google Home or Alexa.

I know you don’t like this because every time I blog about voice search, no one really reads the article. It’s one of those topics that SEOs just wish didn’t exist.

Why?

Well, being on page 1 doesn’t matter when it comes to voice search. Either Google pulls from your website or they don’t.

And secondly, conversions from voice search will be lower because people won’t be going to your website. Google will just be giving them the answer. At least, until we can figure out how to solve this as marketers.

But instead of looking at voice search as a bad thing, just think of it this way, no one cares to read articles about it, which means most SEOs won’t be prepared for it.

This is your chance to get ahead of your competition and gobble up that traffic before the market shifts into using voice.

Here are some articles that will teach you how to maximize your voice search traffic:

Drastic Change #2: Expect algorithm updates to be more complex

According to the Moz algorithm changelog, there were 12 updates in 2018.

Although it sounds like a lot, it isn’t. In 2017 there were 13 updates and in 2016 there were 11. In other words, Google has been averaging 12 updates per year if you combined the confirmed updates with the “unconfirmed” ones.

But let’s look at the older updates…

On July 17, 2015, Google released Panda 4.2. I know you may have hated the Panda update, but it wasn’t too bad. All Google did doing was get rid of spammy sites with low-quality content.

They didn’t want to rank sites that had thousands of 300-word blog posts with duplicate content.

Could you blame them for that?

And what about the change Google made on September 27, 2016, the Penguin 4.0 update?

If you built spammy links, they no longer would just penalize you, in most cases, they would devalue those links instead.

That means if you did something shady like buy a ton of backlinks and get caught, those links would just be de-valued instead of causing your whole site to get banned.

Now if you look at the latest algorithm updates, they are getting more complex and harder to beat. And it’s because technology is evolving so fast.

Google no longer has to just look at metrics like content and backlink count to figure out if a site ranks well. They can look at user metrics, such as:

  • Are users spending more time on your site than the other ranked sites on Google?
  • Are people bouncing off your site and heading back to the Google listing page?
  • Are your brand queries increasing over time? Or do people not see you as a brand?
  • Do people find your site more appealing… in other words, is your click-through-rate higher?

If you want to beat Google, you have to shift your mindset. It’s not about understanding Google, it’s about understanding users.

Google has one goal: to rank sites that users love the most at the top. That causes people to come back, keep using Google, and increase their overall revenue.

If you can put yourself in your users’ shoes, you’ll be better suited to do that.

The first step in doing this is to realize that when someone performs a search for any keyword, they aren’t just “performing a search,” they are looking for a solution to their problem.

By understanding the intent of their search, you’ll be more likely and able to solve their problems. You can use tools like Ubersuggest to help you with it as it will show you long tail phrases (problems people are trying to solve for).

Once you do that, you’ll be able to create the best experience, the best product, or even service that people deserve.

This is how you make your site continually rank well in the long run even as they make their algorithm more complex.

Drastic Change #3: You can’t build a company off of 1 channel

You familiar with Dropbox?

Of course, you are, it’s a multi-billion-dollar company… and you probably have it installed on your computer.

When they first came out, they tried to acquire users through Google AdWords. Can you guess how much it cost them to acquire a customer?

It ranged between $200 and $300.

Do you know how much Dropbox costs?

$60 a year.

The math doesn’t work out. Why would you spend $200 to acquire a user who only pays $60?

Even when someone pays you $60, it’s not all profit. Because of that, Dropbox had to grow using growth hacking.

dropbox flow

Dropbox gives you more free space the more users you invite. That’s a great example of growth hacking. And it’s how they grew into a multi-billion-dollar company.

Nowadays, if you created a similar invite flow within your company, it won’t work that well. You can no longer build a company using one channel like how Dropbox grew.

And do you remember how Facebook grew?

When you signed up, they would tap into your email address book and send out an email to every single one of your contacts inviting them to use Facebook, even if you didn’t want them to.

facebookfriends

That one channel helped Facebook grow into the multi-hundred-billion-dollar company that we know today.

Nowadays, if you get an email saying your friend is inviting you to join a new site or social network, you’ll probably just ignore it.

Again, you no longer can build a big business leveraging only one marketing channel.

So, what does that mean for you?

First of all, popular marketing channels that are profitable get saturated fast and you are going to have a lot of competitors.

Due to that, you have to leverage all channels. From content marketing and paid ads to social media marketing and SEO to email marketing… you have to leverage all channels out there.

It’s your only option to doing well in the long run.

One channel won’t make your business anymore. But if you combine them all, you can still grow your business.

And hey, if something happens to one channel like an algorithm change, at least your business won’t go down too much because you are diversified.

No matter how much you love one form of marketing, never rely on it. Adopt an omnichannel approach.

Drastic Change #4: Blogging won’t work too well

I got into this a little bit at the top… the web is saturated. There are just way too many sites.

Sure, most of those 1.8 billion sites aren’t being updated and a lot are dormant.

Now out of those 1.8 billion sites, roughly 1 billion of them are blogs. That’s roughly 1 blog for every 7 people out there.

When I started my first blog in 2005, there weren’t as many people online creating sites or producing content. There also weren’t as many people using Google.

Nevertheless, Google loved content. Everyone was saying how content is king because if you produce high-quality articles Google would rank them due to one simple fact… they lacked content in their index.

But as time went by, Google no longer had a shortage of content. I would even go as far to say that there is too much content for them to choose from.

For that reason, they can be pickier if they want to rank your website or not. It’s not just about backlinks or optimizing your on-page code, it’s about providing what’s best for the end user.

That means Google is going to rank fresh content that isn’t regurgitated.

If you want to take the route of just writing dozens of articles each way and trying to rank for everything under the sun, you can. It’s still possible, but it will take more time and it will be harder as there is more competition.

More so, the way content marketing is changing in 2019, and we saw a little of this in 2018, is that you need to update your content.

No longer can your strategy be to write a lot of content. You are going to have to plan on updating your content on a regular basis.

For example, I have one person who works for me full time going through my old blog posts to update them. Also, I now only have time to write once piece of content each week. There is no way I can go through my blog and update over a thousand blog posts.

You’re going to have to do the same if you want to maintain your search traffic. If you are established and have an old blog, spend half your time updating your old content. If you are a new blog, you don’t really need to spend more than 5% of your time updating your old content.

Drastic Change #5: You’ll need to focus on new search engines and new content types

We can all agree that text-based content is saturated.

If you don’t agree with me, just scroll back up to Drastic Change #4 😉

We all know it takes forever to rank on Google. If you aren’t willing to give it a year, you shouldn’t spend much time doing traditional SEO.

What if I told you there was another form of SEO in which you can see results very, very fast?

So fast, that within 30 days (or even a few days!) you can rank at the top. And, better yet, those rankings mean you will get traffic.

Just look at my search traffic from this different kind of search engine:

youtube search

Can you guess that what search engine this is?

YouTube!

I generate 198,380 views every month from YouTube search. And those people watch my content for an average of 559,237 minutes a month.

I’m generating over 388 days of watch time each month just from YouTube search. That’s crazy!

YouTube isn’t nearly as competitive as Google. Nor is optimizing for the iTunes store if you have a podcast.

Don’t just focus your efforts on Google.

Focus your efforts on less-saturated forms of content like video and audio while optimizing for less common search engines like YouTube and iTunes.

Plus, these new channels have a very lucrative audience as they are engaged. Did you know that 45% of podcast listeners have a household income of $75,000 or more?

Here are some articles that’ll help you out:

If you don’t have a big marketing budget no worries. These channels aren’t as expensive or competitive yet. You also don’t need a studio to film or record. You can just bust out your iPhone and start recording yourself.

Believe it or not, a lot of people prefer that over studio quality content as it is more authentic.

Drastic Change #6: Budgets will start shifting into conversion rate optimization

At the beginning of this post, I broke down Google’s yearly revenue.

As you can see it has continually increased even during recessionary periods.

Sure, some of it has to do with more people coming online. But also, the cost per click is rising.

Same with Facebook Ads. I literally know hundreds of affiliates who used to make over a million dollars a year in income because Facebook Ads were so affordable.

But in June/July 2017, Facebook crossed a point where they had more advertisers than inventory… at least in the United States.

Over time, that trend continued into other countries, which mean Facebook Ad costs drastically increased.

Just look at the graph below. As you can see, companies spend the majority of their budget on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.

marketing by spend

Now let’s look at what channel produces the highest ROI. Can you guess what it is?

marketing roi

SEO, right?

Although the chart shows SEO produces the biggest ROI, in reality, it is the second runner up.

What’s hard to see because it is classified as “other” in the chart and it is grouped with other marketing channels, is conversion rate optimization. And that channel produced the biggest ROI by far. It beat SEO by leaps and bounds.

It was just hard to see that because not enough companies spend money on conversion rate optimization. And when they do, it is a very small portion of their budget.

In 2019, start running A/B tests. Whether you use Crazy Egg or any other solution out there, don’t forget to include it in your marketing arsenal.

Drastic Change #7: Marketers will learn what funnels are

You may have heard of marketing funnels or sales funnels, but I bet you aren’t using them.

And no, a funnel isn’t something as simple an email sequence.

Because ads are getting more expensive, you’ll find yourself doing things like running more A/B tests (as I mentioned above), but it will only help so much.

As your competition also starts running A/B tests, you’ll find that ad prices will go up again.

So, what should you do?

You are going to have to upsell and downsell your visitors. I learned this tactic from Ryan Deiss years ago and he was spot on.

The best way to generate revenue isn’t to get more customers, it’s to get more money out of your existing customers.

Sure, your customer base is only going to spend so much. But if you offer upsells and downsells you can see increases in revenue from 10% to 30%. And some cases you’ll even double your revenue.

The key points with upselling and downselling are as follows:

  1. Offer at least 2 or 3 upsells (or downsells).
  2. If people don’t take the offer, considering offering the same offer again with monthly installments.
  3. The best offers are speed and automation. In other words, if you can help people get results faster or in an automated way, they are much more likely to take it. People are lazy and impatient, hence speed and automation always win when it comes to upsells.

At this point you are probably wondering how to do all of this upselling or downselling, right?

You have to build a marketing funnel. The good news is, you don’t have to hire a developer, you can use solutions like Click Funnels and Samcart.

They are easy to use, and you can get started in minutes.

Conclusion

Expect 2019 to be a crazy year. What worked once, won’t work in 2019.

Technology is more sophisticated and with things like machine learning and artificial intelligence knocking at the door, we are going to be on a crazy rollercoaster.

Don’t be afraid, though!

If you take the concepts above and start working on them now, you are going to be in for a much smoother ride with fewer downs and more ups.

So what do you think is going to change in 2019?

The post How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2019 appeared first on Neil Patel.

Monday, January 14, 2019

How to Develop Your First Brand Identity on a Budget

The emphasis here is on first. This guide is meant to help you get your first dirty brand identity out the door.

It’s meant to be functional and good enough for now.

There are two options I recommend for developing your first brand identity:

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Use 99designs

Both options will get you to the finish line. The trade off is your time vs. your money. If you are short on money, then do it yourself. If you are short on time, then use 99designs.

If you were to get a high quality, professional brand identity, it’d cost you tens of thousands of dollars (or $211 million).

A more professional approach with an agency would look something like this. If you hire 99designs, you won’t get this level of quality, but you’ll still have a very functional starting point. 99designs has a brand identity package that starts at $599.

If you aren’t familiar with 99designs, it’s a platform that runs design contests. I particularly like the contest approach for your first brand identity because chances are you don’t know exactly what you want yet. Having a bunch of options to choose from will help.

Brand Identity Contents

A brand identity can be extensive, but we’ll just focus on a few things that you need to get off the ground. Everything else is a bonus.

  1. Logo — There are 7 common types of logos: lettermarks, wordmarks, pictorial marks, abstract logo marks, mascots, combination marks, and emblems.
  2. Colors — It’s best to stick with a primary and secondary color only. This makes it pretty easy to keep things simple.
  3. Font / Typography — The fonts that you will use for your brand will go on your website, your emails, etc. There are fonts that will go better with your logo than others.

A more extensive brand identity might include things like: design systems, custom illustrations, photography guidelines, iconography, interactive elements, video or motion and even a full out web design. We don’t need more than the first 3 items: a logo, colors, and font/typography.

The Execution: 99designs vs. DIY

If you go with 99designs, when all is said and done you’ll automatically end up with everything you need.

You’ll start a contest, which will attract many designers to submit designs. They’ll typically start with the logo and go from there. You’ll have the opportunity to rate designs, submit feedback and tweak until you find the winner.

There are obviously a number of advantages of going the 99designs route, vs. DIY — however, if you don’t have the budget, then you don’t have the budget. In that case, here is how I would go about doing it myself, if I were in that same boat.

DIY Brand Identity (Kind Of)

Start with Brandmark. It’s a very cool tool that is essentially a logo generator. Creating your logo will give you the essentials you need for your brand identity. I say start here because while Brandmark can give you what you’re looking for, it’s also very limited.

It used to be free, but now it looks like they are charging for the logos. You can still design as many logos as you’d like; but now you’ll pay to download the files ($25–175 depending on the package you pick). Still, that’s a very cheap option.

I went through the process for an example, and outlined it with images below:

Step 1: Enter your name and tagline if you want one.

Step 2: Enter some keywords.

Step 3: Pick the color style you like.

Step 4: Logo options are generated for you.

Step 5: Choose a logo and see style details.

Step 6: Purchase the logo. (There are 3 options.)

Give it a shot, and see how it feels. If it doesn’t work, there’s a second option.

Full On DIY Brand Identity

If you don’t like the outcome of Brandmark, your next option is to go full-on DIY. With this approach, you’re simply going to use a standard lettermark logo. It’s essentially just picking a font. (Unless, of course, you have design skills, in which case, this entire guide is probably irrelevant to you anyway.)

First, decide on your fonts.

I strongly recommend sticking with Google Fonts. Here is a great article on different options for Google Font combinations. Pick one of the combinations that you like.

There is a great free tool to test different Google Fonts and color combinations called Typecast.

Here’s an example. Number 5 on that list is Playfair Display, Alice. I’m going to take that and use those for my brand’s fonts. I’ll use Playfair Display for my logo. Then on my website, I’ll use Playfair Display for headings, and I’ll use Alice for my body font.

It will end up looking something like this…

While you’re testing different fonts, you can also test and select colors.

Here is a good article on the best logo color combinations. Pick one you like and try it out.

This one is pretty cool, so I’ll use it as an example:

In this case, I would probably use the dark blue (#081c4f) as the primary font color for the body of my website, and potentially for my logomark. Then, I’d use the secondary greenish colors (#19fc88) and (#1c9391) throughout the website.

Now I have an example of two fonts, one of which I am using for my logomark (as seen above), and I have three colors.

That’s all I really need for my brand identity. Now, I can use these elements everywhere on my website, business cards, emails, social media accounts, etc. and my brand is clear and consistent. It’s certainly not going to win any awards, but it’s functional and it’ll work for now.

It’s Only Temporary

Remember that this is just your initial brand identity to get things off the ground. You can update it down the road. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but you should still feel good about it.

Doing it yourself and on a small budget can be a challenge, but there are viable options to get the job done. 99designs may seem expensive, but it definitely beats hiring an agency or going through the process of trying to find a freelance designer. It’s not very time consuming and it’s actually fun. You’ll have more time to work on your business or or to create your website.

http://www.quicksprout.com/develop-first-brand-identity/