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MYOB or WordPress for your new business website?

I recommend WordPress (and our online courses) over MYOB Atlas website builder any day

Is MYOB doing too little of too much?

I recommend WordPress (and our online courses) over MYOB Atlas website builder any dayEvery business needs a web presence, and it’s become a lot cheaper and easier to get one. Where it once could cost many thousands of dollars to have a web designer get your business online, you can now build your own website yourself, quite cheaply.

That’s due to the number of cheap open-source content management systems that have come the market, like WordPress (by far, the market leader), then there is Wix, Squarespace, and even Google Sites (part of Google’s G Suite productivity apps for business). Our online WordPress Training Courses include the basic creating and editing of website pages and blogs posts to more advanced features only available to WordPress Site Admins. 

You might find it interesting that MYOB offers a website service and it makes me wonder whether MYOB has the single focus on building the best accounting software for small business or jumping into any and every new technology it can to see which one sticks.

MYOB is also into websites

About five years ago, MYOB, in partnership with Google, launched a website creation tool called Atlas as part of an initiative called “Getting Business Online.” Atlas enables MYOB customers to create a business website, get a domain name, connect an e-commerce site, and social media platforms for $30 a month. 

Learn about domains, DNS, hosting, Websites and WordPressI put together a series of emails which explains in a logical order how domain names, hosting & websites work…
and it’s free so check it out if you want to learn on that technical stuff!

Because they’ve partnered with Google, the sites promise to “rank well on Google search,” but there’s no flexibility to manage your SEO or integrate with any SEO tools. In fact, for your $30 a month, you don’t get much flexibility at all — not in the choice of themes (they’re limited), adding corporate branding, to connect email marketing services, template changes, and so on.

Carmel Crane ERP Specialist National Bookkeeping_3_comp
Learn more about ERP system from a specialist

MYOB wants to be the ERP platform for small business

Back when the internet was still fairly new, MYOB used to have a partner program in place with hosting companies to help their clients run multi-user programs in the cloud. When MYOB realised they could be earning that money themselves, they shut the program down and did what they have often done — disregarded their partners and their businesses completely. 

MYOB have gained a bit of a reputation for this sort of thing — starting up, and then abandoning, partner programs. Over the years, perhaps due to the complexity of their software, they’ve tried to establish themselves as the enterprise reporting planning (ERP) software of choice for mid-size businesses, but they’ve struggled with already established specialist brands. The MYOB Atlas website creation tool is another example of just that.

The cloud, focus and commitment

 With established platforms like WordPress, which is easy and cheap to use, and highly customisable, this might just be another missed opportunity for MYOB. These website design platforms are built around the concept of open source software and WordPress is surrounded by thousands of theme and plugin developers which provide the integration for some pretty advanced features in an easy to use interface. We made the change to WordPress after going with a Site Builder program which ended up closing down and no longer being supported – it’s a huge waste of energy and resources when you have to start all over again!

Unlike MYOB, Xero realised early that online software is about being a specialist in a given field, so they integrate with lots of different specialist platforms and systems so small businesses can connect the applications they need. I’ll be writing about some of these Xero integrations soon.

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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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Be Loved by Google: Use WordPress!

why-google-loves-wordpress
There are many benefits to creating your website with WordPress – and Google loves it too.

Although our flagship training course is our online MYOB training course, EzyLearn also offers a number of other training courses, such as our Small Business Management Course and our WordPress Design Course. WordPress has become one of the most popular free and open-source content management systems in the world and is used by nearly 19 percent of the top 10 million websites, according to Forbes magazine.

WordPress Benefits

What makes WordPress so popular, especially among small businesses, is that you can edit and update content whenever you like. You can select from a number of pre-existing themes, or install a custom-made theme to use for your website. There are also a number of plugins available to WordPress, like Google Analytics, which allows you to track and analyse the traffic visiting your site.

Until far too recently, creating a website for your business was often a costly and daunting exercise. While large organisations typically had in-house web developers and SEO experts, many small businesses retained the services of external web developers.

If you didn’t need to make any changes to your website, this was usually fine. Your web designer would create your website and it was all systems go. But as Google has changed the algorithms that are used to index websites, preferring web pages that are constantly updated, it’s become more necessary to update your website — and often — in order to appear relevant to Google.

The Need to be Googled

Google, the verb, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, and is defined as “using the Google search engine to obtain information about something or someone on the World Wide Web.” Thus, it’s necessary to ensure your website appears in Google, so people can google you.

To do this you need to update your content, and frequently. This could involve creating new web pages, or regularly maintaining a blog. However, paying a web designer to upload and publish new content on website on a daily basis is not cost-effective, which is why WordPress has become so popular.

But there are other practical reasons to create and manage your own WordPress website. If you change your business address, or telephone number, you can quickly and easily update those details immediately — rather than waiting until your web designer has the time.

You’d be surprised how many businesses show their incorrect building address or telephone numbers on their websites, because they don’t have an easily updated website. And for each customer who calls, or can’t find that business at their address, that’s a customer they’ve lost to their competitor.

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If your business’ website is not currently easy-to-update, consider using one of the world’s most popular content management systems, and take our WordPress training course today.

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The 7 Website Must Have’s

Website building should include 7 key elements
Website building should include 7 key elements

We made the decision to use WordPress for our website because it’s easy to use, inexpensive yet looks professional. It’s great for blogging and bringing visitors to your website and is also really flexible — with an abundance of features, layout options and plug-ins.

Yet, when it comes to websites, there are still thousands — yes, thousands — of business owners who don’t have one. These are people who still believe in phone books.

Phone Book Uses

Phone books are pretty handy things. They’re handy for fashioning into a makeshift monitor stand to prop up your laptop. They’re handy for wrapping glassware and crockery when you’re moving house. They’re pretty darn handy for killing really big spiders. And if you’ve got a stack of them collecting dust in your garage since, say, 1982, then why not build a fort? Surely that’s pretty handy for someone, somewhere — the kids, maybe?

Phone books are not particularly handy, however, for finding a telephone number or business listing in 2013. Why flick through some-seemingly million pages searching for something you could easily find with a click of your keyboard, a glide over your tablet device, or a quick chat with Siri?

Get a Website

If you’re a business owner and you don’t have a website, our strong advice is: get one! Today, when people are searching for a business, product or service they invariably Google it, so for anyone in business, a website is an essential online marketing tool.

Again, we highly recommend WordPress. Business owners can manage their own content, which gives you enormous flexibility and it comes with a host of attractive themes and options. We offer an online WordPress training course, designed to help you understand things like SEO, working with plugins (including mobile sites and RSS feeds) and much more.

The 7 Website Must Have’s

If you’re a business owner and you already have a website but it looks like a 90’s relic with loads of Clipart, an endless-scroll of 10-point, Times New Roman copy, punctuated periodically by headings that are underlined, in bold and capped off with 73 exclamation points, then it’s time for a makeover.

There are 7 things you must do when building or renovating your website:

1. Establish Goals: Like anything in business, you need to establish some goals for your website. Things like: Why will people visit my website? What information do I want to provide? What do I want people to do next? You need to answer these questions before you begin.

2. Don’t Forget to be Mobile: The Internet is literally in the palm of your hands; so don’t forget to consider a mobile strategy during the planning stage. You’ll need to consider the main reason people will be visiting your site — for information about your products and services, to purchase your products and services, or something else — and build that into your mobile site, make it the most prominent feature.

3. First Impressions: Your website is your brand, your personality, and your reputation all rolled into one. If your website resembles the shambolic mess we described above, that’s how people are likely to view you and your business: as a shambolic mess. Photos from online photo libraries, like iStockPhoto will give your website a professional finish, but don’t forget to add a bit of you into your website. Too many stock-standard images and you run the risk of seeming generic, uninspired, bland. And bland is boring.

4. Keep it Simple: Don’t overwhelm your visitors with too many links, too many choices. This isn’t a Pick Your Own Adventure novel, it’s a website. Ensure your menu and links are intuitive and consistent. If you want to point people to the “contact us” page in your copy, use the same language that’s in your navigation menu — this will eliminate confusion.

5. Use a ‘Call-to-Action’: Your visitors are here for a reason; capitalise on that. Make sure it’s easy for them to find what they’re looking for — display contact details, proceed to checkout links, or your mailing list prominently — and encourage them to take the next step.

6. Less is More: The endless scroll of copy has got to go. It doesn’t matter how multifaceted or interesting your business is, people won’t read it. They don’t care. If you can’t whittle your business and services down to two or three (short) sentences, get someone else to — we recommend you use a professional copywriter.  

7. The Need for Speed: Load times are critical. If people can’t open your page within ten seconds — that includes mobile devices — they’ll try a website where they can. If you’re taking your own photos to include on your website, remember that huge files require huge download times. Make sure to reduce the image sizes to a few kilobytes rather than a few megabytes.

You can master the skills to build a fabulous website a lot sooner than you think! Check out the details of our WordPress Course Outline

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Creating images with transparent backgrounds using freely downloadable software

FREEBIE: We thought we’d share this demonstration video with you because it is very handy when working with images for your website.

GIMP is an open source image editing program that gives you very powerful functionality for editing images. Get to know a little about this program and you won’t need to struggle with Paint or pay for Adobe professional image editing software. This video is one of the free videos in our online WordPress training course.

You’ll want to use this when you want your logo to appear in a WordPress website. There’s nothing quite so unprofessional as a logo with a white rectangle background behind it.

Enjoy. If you receive this information via email and cannot see the video, click on the title to read this at our blog site.

 

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Fantastic WordPress website template themes

You can download free WordPress templates, you can design them yourself using Artisteer or you can download them for $50-$150 each. I found someone who creates them, offers support and allows you to use any of the theme templates he has created for $19.95 per year. Even if you just use it to purchase one template you like, the offer made by this company is the way that dedicated and committed businesses should be working.

I started out just using free templates because I didn’t know what I was looking for and I didn’t know how to use WordPress properly, plus, I was using a different sitebuilder for most of my websites anyway. Then I looked at some of the professional WordPress templates available and didn’t like the idea of paying $75 for an excellent theme from Press75 because I figured I may not like it in 6 months, OR I wouldn’t be able to get all the features working properly. Instead I purchased Artisteer because I realised I could take any template and customise it completely! I was in complete control. In reality, I then spent a lot of time using Artisteer and realised that I didn’t want to design many of my own prefessional templates, I simply wanted to find one that was created by a professional and customise it for my own websites.

I had to find a business that creates professional looking WordPress template themes, would allow me to use a variety of themes they had created and all at a price that was impossible to refuse. I found Elegant Themes by Nick Roach and I’m amazed at how easy he has made it to use any of his themes and how little he charges. Visit his website to see the WordPress themes available: http://bit.ly/aCLCsg

Follow this blog to find out how I went to install and start using the features of the eVid theme…

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Writing a blog post from your phone

You can truly understand the power of communications today when you can create a blog article from a cafe using your iPhone, wordpress and website design and have that article and related links appear on numerous websites.

We’ve just setup a new phone system using linksys (Cisco) phones and voip business telephone system which means we now use our broadband connection to make calls and can transfer calls no matter where we are, but better than that we pay $14.95 per month for a line and no longer receive TELSTRA bills. That’s a good feeling.

There is a cost for new ip handsets and some configuration to do, but Simon from yourITSupport does all of that effortlessly.

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EzyLearn has created a new Training Workbook on WordPress Blogging software

WordPress, the hugely popular and very powerful blogging software script (program), has been available on the 123ezy website hosting system since it began in 2004, but EzyLearn has now written a training workbook on how to simply install and use WordPress to benefit your own business website.

“WordPress has some fantastic features that make it a must to use with your website. Everytime something new happens in your business promote it via your blog and potentially hundreds of blog directories will pick up the information… great for your internet marketing” says Steve Slisar, director of EzyLearn Pty Ltd.

Click Here to go to the Online Computer Training website and access the Workbook for free.