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Is Business Quiet? Need More Money/Sales? Use a Database!

email marketing training course using Mailchimp & integrating with Xero

When I started my first business in Sydney’s Dee Why in the early 1990’s, I was amazed that most restaurants and cafes, as well as other retail shops like dress shops, didn’t even know who their customers were!

Many business owners knew their customers by face, but they missed out on lots of opportunities to market and make contact with these customers when business was slow or they were overstocked. Are you working your database?

Continue reading Is Business Quiet? Need More Money/Sales? Use a Database!
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How Long Does it Take to Write a Blog Post?

Need something written blog writing freelance writing business writing

THE TRUTH IS, writing a blog post takes time. If it were the case of just writing some sentences, it wouldn’t take that long at all.

But what’s the point of that? The last thing you want to do in a busy, information-saturated world is waste people’s time. It’s an insult and you’ll put them off.

After all, these people have given up time in their busy days to read what you have to say. Don’t ruin this special relationship forever by churning out rushed, poor quality content or waffle.

Always think: What’s in it for them? Continue reading How Long Does it Take to Write a Blog Post?

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The New Year’s Approaching: Think About New Content Marketing for Your Business

The Value of Content Marketing

the-value-of-online-content-marketing
Finding it hard to get started in content marketing? Register for our upcoming course.

January, February and March of a new year, which is typically the quietest as people take a while to adjust to the work and school routine, is when a lot of businesses spend time setting goals for the year ahead.

Just as individuals set their own personal new year’s resolutions, many businesses use January and February to set some new year’s resolutions for their business’s marketing activities.

Business Blogs vs Paid Advertising

In 2016, there was an unprecedented uptick in the number of Australian businesses using content marketing to help drive their search engine rankings, increase customer engagement, and position themselves as opinion leaders in their industry. If the last 12 months is anything to go by, then, it’s fair to say 2017 will continue the content marketing trend.

Yes, I’ve been talking about content marketing a lot on this blog lately, as it’s a marketing strategy EzyLearn has been using, almost exclusively, for many years now, with much success — you are reading this blog post, after all!

EzyLearn and our partners continue to help many businesses establish their brand and build credibility online using content marketing — something we continue to do to great effect for real estate agents, to name but a few. Whether you are an agent, bookkeeper, small business owner, or just have dreams to start working for yourself, why not register your interest in our up and coming content marketing course.

Great Content is Like an Equilateral Triangle – All the Sides are Equal

As popular as content marketing has become in the last few years, many people still don’t quite understand that great content marketing requires you to pay equal emphasis on each component. This includes the word content itself in an ebook or enewsletter for instance, but also the layout and design, the SEO etc. It also needs to be free of typos!

I know, in the past, I’ve probably been guilty of rushing to publish content on our website because I’m so eager to share what we’ve created with you. But for content marketing to be successful in the long term, it needs to be approached holistically. In other words, the copy is equally as important as the design and the layout; the messages need to be consistent and you need to keep communicating with your customers — it can’t be hit and miss.

Just as every side in an equilateral triangle must be created equal, so too do you have to consider all components equally when content marketing.

Outsourcing is Okay

As a small business, you probably have at least one person in your team who is either a) design inclined; or b) a good, strong writer. If you’re really lucky, you may have both, but it’s not uncommon for a business to need to outsource part of this work to a professional, usually on a contract or freelance basis.

Take stock of the talent you have in-house already. If you have a competent designer, utilise them and outsource the writing to a professional. It’s unwise to try and do everything yourself. Producing high quality content is a time-consuming process, made even more so if there’s a particular aspect of it — the writing, say — that you’re not proficient at.

I would say that most business owners do most of what I would loosely term ‘designing’, themselves, which in the case of blogging is choosing an image that accurately reflects the message you’re trying to communicate in the main copy.

Think Outside the Stock Box When it Comes to Photos for Your Blogs

content-marketing-photos
Litter your blog posts with photos you have taken yourself – these are far more personal and usually more interesting than expensive, routine image libraries.

There is a certain art to selecting images for your blog. You want to avoid using ones that every other blogger is using, which means ditching your regular Google Images haunt and using a stock library instead. But this is where you need to do your research.

Many free stock libraries serve up the same images that you find in Google Images, which brings you back to square one. They’re also incredibly boring. At this point, next logical option probably seems like paying for a membership to a stock library.

Again, research is required here. Not all stock libraries, even paid ones, are created equally. Well known libraries — iStock Photo, for example — are expensive, while the other, lesser known ones are still boring. So what’s a content marketer to do? Get creative.

Take Your Own Digital Marketing Images With Your Smartphone

Remember, content marketing is about creating original, high quality content that’s relevant both to your customers and to your business. With this in mind, rather than paying for expensive stock photography and images, why don’t you take your own? There’s nothing more original and relevant to you and your customers than your own photography.

Publishing original content on your blog and website, whether it’s in the form of images, copy or videos (or all of the above), the harder it will work at driving your search engine rankings, while, at the same time, the personalised approach will have a longer lasting impression on your readers and customers.

Prioritise Content Marketing in 2017

Bookkeepers especially — take note!

Start a bookkeeping business not a franchiseIf you’re a bookkeeper looking to start your own bookkeeping business and find yourself clients, or grow you list of clients, and content marketing isn’t already on your agenda for 2017 —  it should be.

In terms of having the experience and know-how to content market to people we know what our students need to be successful to this end, after all, most EzyLearn students use our services for MYOB Training Courses, Excel Training Courses, Xero Courses and Small Business Management Training because they’re looking for bookkeeping work or want to start a bookkeeping business. Very early in the piece we started finding out why our students did our courses because it enables us to develop targeted products (and write content about) what they need.

Join our Bookkeeping Directory TODAY

We’ve launched a new bookkeeping directory which is aimed at helping people (our students primarily) find bookkeeping work or start a bookkeeping business, but it’s also a great way for small businesses to find bookkeepers who are close to them. We’re also taking registrations for our content marketing online course.

To find out more about how you can be more than just a bookkeeper, and start a bookkeeping business, including promoting your bookkeeping services to a much wider circle of people and engaging in content marketing, read more about listing yourself on National Bookkeeping.

If you’re interested in content marketing, either for your business or because you’d like to become an independent contractor offering content marketing services to other business, you can learn more by subscribing to our blog.

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FREE Digital Business Course

Learn How to Run a Business Online

starting-a-new-cafe-or-retail-business
It doesn’t matter whether you have a specifically online business, or a gift shop, clothing store, cafe or other bricks and mortar business, as a business owner, we can help you understand the digital economy.

In a post I published about starting your own business in January 2017, I said that all small business owners should have an understanding of traditional and digital marketing. You’ll be surprised how many don’t!

All businesses have a digital aspect to them these days so it’s vital that business owners and managers know how to manage the digital aspects of their business. This starts by understanding some of the terms used and how websites, domain names, hosting and the Google search engine works.

It doesn’t matter whether you intend to start a fully digital business (i.e. a home based bookkeeping business or online shop for example) or if you will start a more traditional bricks and mortar business (a cafe, retail clothing or gift shop, or some other business with office or retail space), you need to understand how to use the internet to develop new leads, engage with your existing customer base, and build your presence online.

Register for Our FREE Digital Business Foundations Course

I created a free Digital Business Foundations Course to help new and existing business owners understand how to digitise their business. You can register for our free Digital Business Foundations Course (scroll about half way down the page) to begin receiving the free course content. Some of the things you’ll learn include:

  • Insights into websites
  • Domain names
  • Web hosting
  • How Google Search works
  • How businesses use Content blogs for SEO
  • What SEO really is, plus much more.

Each of the principles discussed in the free Digital Business Course were applied to EzyLearn, when it transitioned from a bricks and mortar training centre business to an online only training business, and have been used by 123ezy, which provides content marketing for real estate agents, content writers and bookkeepers across Australia.

Case Study: Baby Massage Business

baby-massage-helps-new-parents-bond-with-their-newborn-child-wordpress-training-courseI wrote about Sonia Mitterdorfer and her baby massage business in August this year. For most of her working life, Sonia had been a registered nurse. After raising her family she wanted to return to the workforce in some sort of meaningful capacity and heard about baby massage. Her first introduction was a seminar (incidentally, run by a middle aged bloke holding weekend retreats helping new parents understand and bond with their babies!)

Sonia had her website created by a registered BAS agent who wanted to have add another feather to her bookkeeping bow (and wanted to do more “creative” work). Sonia’s website has been pivotal as a means for her to demonstrate her credibility and explain about the nature of her work.

There’s Much More to Domain Names

So many business people think (wrongly) that a domain name is simply the cost of a website, but that’s just the name — you need to:

  • point it (DNS) to a web host
  • set up your email at the web host (I prefer to outsource that to Google Apps — now called Google G Suite)
  • install website design software like WordPress
  • create the pages and menus
  • insert images (source them and edit them)
  • write some words (that Google thinks are relevant).

Don’t worry if you feel a little bamboozled — we cover all of this in our WordPress course!

Add an Online Dimension to Your Business

The majority of people, when they’re looking for a product, service, restaurant, cafe, real estate agent, bookkeeper, virtual assistant — online training course, even — will search online. Even if you think your business is already doing well, if it’s not optimised to deliver online leads, then it could be doing much better.

Reach your business’s full potential, register for our free digital business course to start a digital business or transition into one today.

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Blogging for Business Training Course

Create a Business Blog to Start Your Content Marketing Strategy

blogging for business helps you get discovered for the keywords relevant to your business

I started Business Blogging when we took our training courses online because there is a lot of information to share about MYOB, Xero, Microsoft Excel and the other software programs that help small business owners streamline their business, manage their accounts and finances and perform sales and marketing to bring in new sales.

Another reason was my realisation that keywords are king in the age of discovery where getting discovered by Google results in over 70% of the traffic to many websites!

Keywords Are King

A lot of small business owners throw thousands of dollars at Pay Per Click advertising in the hope of getting more visitors to their website. The most common service to help people spend these advertising dollars is Google’s own Google Adwords. Here’s a blog post about Google Adwords from 2010.

[quote]Have you heard the promise “I can guarantee your website appears on page 1 on Google”? It’s often by using Google Adwords and targeting selected keywords that companies can deliver on this claim, but at what cost?[/quote]

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Google Adwords is the perfect capitalist advertising tool because every advertiser competes for the keywords they want. The more competitors there are for a keyword or keyphrase the higher the cost per click – How scary is that!?

I understand that “Insurance” is one of the highest cost keywords you can “bid for” and there would be some pretty big players in that business. They keywords in this paragraph is “bid for” because that is exactly what happens, you place a bid for the maximum you are willing to pay for that keyword or keyphrase for EVERY time someone CLICKS on your ad.

There are ways of making sure a competitor doesn’t send you broke by clicking on your ad over and over, but essentially this strategy involves choosing keywords and bidding in the marketplace with all of your competitors.

Would You Rather Have People Come to You?

Bidding for keywords using Google Adwords is a great way to quickly test an idea or a strategy because you can guarantee website visitors, albeit at a high price, but people come across our website from all sorts of different keyword searches and that is where this blog has come in very handy.

I admit when I first started blogging for business the concept seems very NERDY! It’s like keeping an online diary for all to read and share. Then I justified it by affirming that keeping a blog is really just like having a “News” section to your website, demonstrating that your business is active and there’s a lot going on. Now I realise that it’s even more than that! Blogging for Business helps you

  • build an online reputation,
  • explain how some customers use your products
  • encourage readers to become customers
  • encourage readers to be part of your community
  • enable customers to be advocates and recommend your business

Having a business blog with useful content, good use of relevant keywords and landing pages that give internet users answers to their questions will help you begin the journey into Inbound Marketing, where potential customers discover YOU and what you have to offer. Do it right and you’ll just need to guide your website visitors to the conclusion you want – usually a sale.

Your Blog Becomes More Valuable Every Week

The other great thing about Blogging for Business is that your blogging site and the landing pages you refer to become more and more valuable over time as they remain in Google’s cache. They also become tools that can be used by your staff as they refer the blogs to customers who have specific questions that are answered in your blog posts.

Google is the current flavour for search engines and they seem to be doing a great job to stay in front, but Bing (owned by Microsoft) and others in China and Russia are always looking for ways to do better and get more people using them and having an active and useful blog will ensure success no matter how the search engine market changes.

Choose EzyLearn for Your Blogging for Business Training Course

We’ve been blogging about our online training courses since 2008 and we are a training company that designs courses in a logical fashion from basic to more advanced skills to ensure you experience the epiphanies most students are looking for when they do a course.

We include all of our content for one low price and we add updates that we create during the year to our existing courses, creating more content and better value for money every month.

Best of all our Blogging For Business Training Courses includes real life blog site membership, exercises where you get to create your own blog posts and link to landing pages, participate in social media and in a community of like minded beginner bloggers.

Learn more about the Blogging for Business Training Course.

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How Bad Do You Want It? (Money, That Is!)

invoicing small business
Don’t do all the hard work and not get paid for it: consult our checklist for what you can do to get paid – and faster.

If you’re working as a contractor and using an Australian business number (ABN), rather than a tax file number (TFN), you’re self-employed, and this means you will need to invoice your customers for the products or services you provide in order to get paid.

If you’ve only ever worked as an employee before, you’re probably used to being able to set your clock to payday, but unfortunately this isn’t often the case when you’re a contractor.

Getting paid late — or worse, not at all! — can seriously affect your cash-flow, and in turn, affect the success of your business, which is why we cover things like financial planning in our Small Business Management and Start Up Course.

Continue reading How Bad Do You Want It? (Money, That Is!)

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Web Analytics Made ‘Ezy’

If your business isn't using web analytics then you're still not using your website to REALLY understand what makes your customers tick.
If your business isn’t using web analytics then you’re still not using your website to REALLY understand what makes your customers tick.

Ok, so you’ve got a website and on it you have all this information about your company — who your people are, what you do, how customers can contact/connect with you — and best of all: you get heaps of page views every month! Talk about winning the Internet! You’ve got this website marketing business down, am I right?

Except that maybe you don’t. And for this reason, we’re currently developing a new Digital Business Course to help businesses transition into the online world. A big part of that transition involves understanding how web analytics work, which is the bread and butter of any successful website — and indeed, successful business.

How to Use Web Analytics

To get the most out of web analytics, you kind of need to change the way you view your website. You need to see it as a form of marketing, just like an advertisement in a newspaper or a piece of direct mail. Once you start treating your website the same as you would any other marketing activity, it’s likely you’ll have some questions you’ll want answered.

Your Conversion Rate – Do YOU Know It?

Somewhere on this list — though we imagine that it would be on the top — should be “What’s my conversion rate?” To answer this question, you need web analytics. We recommend Google Analytics, namely because it’s free and extremely easy to use.

Your conversion rate is the number of people who have visited your website and carried out some form of action — signed up to a newsletter, made a request for more information, downloaded an e-book, and so on. In short, it’s any action that involves the exchange of information that you can later use to develop into a sale.

Constant Improvement

But the real genius of analytics lies in how it allows you to isolate problems with your website’s content and refine them. For instance, if you have a rather average conversion rate, but a high bounce rate (the number of people who leave your website within 30 seconds of landing on it), there’s a good chance that’s there’s something wrong with the keywords you’ve selected for your SEO. Or you’ve selected keywords that your website’s content doesn’t address properly. Either way, you need to fix this.

Finding Out How Your Customers Think

Once you do, you should see you bounce rate drop off and your conversion rate increase, which means more opportunity for more sales. And just think: if you didn’t have analytics, you’d have never known. This is what makes web analytics invaluable for small business owners, because it gives you rare insight into what makes your customers tick — what are they really looking for, and how can you adapt your business to meet their needs? — and provides you with the opportunity to meet those needs.

In essence, small business owners now have the same resources at their disposal as large multi-nationals, who typically spend bucket-loads on research and development, focus groups, and the like, trying to ascertain what exactly their customers are looking for — and even then, often don’t get it right.

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At EzyLearn, we use web analytics extensively to ensure we’re constantly meeting the needs of our students and potential students. Through web analytics data, we ascertained that a number of small business owners were looking for a cheaper alternative to MYOB, so we developed two new cloud-accounting courses: the Reach Accounting Training Course and a Xero Training Course to satisfy that need.

For more information or to receive alerts about our forthcoming Digital Business Course, subscribe to our blog by clicking here.