Why should I pay someone to make my website when there are so many cheap Do-It-Yourself website companies out there? 

Hire a professional if you want to save time and money.

There are two reasons why it pays to hire a professional:
1) it will look professional, and
2) it will be completed.

How many projects have you done around your house that you regret doing?  You paid for all of the materials, took the time to complete the project, and when it was finished you realize that you lost money on the materials, and you lost time.  Some people are better hiring professionals.

How many unfinished projects do you have at home waiting for your attention?  Me, too! I have half-finished quilts, pillows, and curtains; I have yards and yards of material and patterns that are now out of fashion because I got a burst of energy and decided I would make something for myself or one of my 4 children.  What happened?  Life happened.  I had every intention to do it, but you know the famous saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  It never got done.

Websites are no different.  They are time and labor intensive tasks that take skill and drive.  If you start a website, and it is only partially finished, that reflects poorly on your business.  People don’t want to see half of a store, nor do they want to see a partially finished website.

If you are task oriented and usually finish the jobs you set out to complete, then definitely give it a try.  If not, save yourself the trouble, and just hire a professional to do the job right.

Getting Customer Reviews

88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations – Myles Anderson, SearchEngineLand

 

With 88% of consumers going online to find reviews, it is imperative that you collect customer reviews.  Some small business owners are crafty and instinctively know how to collect customer reviews, but many of us are in the dark as to how to do this easily and efficiently.

Tips on Collecting Customer Online Reviews

Xizzee homepage QR code

This QR code will take you to the landing page of Xizzee.com.

The best time to get a customer review is before the customer leaves the business or shortly after receiving a service.  I am going to focus on the former: getting customers to fill out a review while in your store or business.

One of the most popular ways to capture people’s attention and share information with them is to create a QR code.  If you are serving food, and the customers will sit at tables, you can easily create a QR code that takes the customer to a site to leave a review.  This can include Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google+, Angie’s List, Facebook, and more.  If you want to increase your following by asking customers to “like” your business, “follow” you, or subscribe to your email list, you can use the QR code to take them to any site you want including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.  I’m sure there are many other sites out there that work like these, but I’ll focus on the most popular.  If you want them to go directly to your website, a QR code can do that, too.

How to Create a QR Code

Many people know what QR Codes are or look like, but how they are created is a mystery to them.  It’s like using a telephone; I know how to use it, I just don’t know how to create it.

Well, here are some tools to help you create your first QR code.  My favorites are QuickMark and Kaywa.  Each of these works differently and has different features.  QuickMark is a Google Chrome extension while Kaywa is a website.

How does QuickMark work?Quickmark Logo

QuickMark is a Google Extension that works on the Chrome browser, so it works on devices like desktops, laptops, and chromebooks.  You must be working in Google Chrome for this to work.  Here are the steps you will need to follow:

1-Go to the Google Webstore.
2-Search for QuickMark in the top left search bar.
3-Look under the section marked Extensions and click the blue + Add to Chrome button to the right of the extension or in the top right corner of the pop-up window if you clicked on it first.  If you have pop-ups disabled, you’ll have to enable them for the Google Webstore.
4-Click the “Add Extension” button in the second pop-up window.
5-Look for the QuickMark icon to appear at the top of your Chrome browser.  This is a Google extension, and it will sit to the right of your URL address bar.  As you add more extensions, they will add themselves to the right of this extension.
6-Click on the extension to learn how to use the extension.  Be sure to scroll up and down to see all of your options.
7-Go to your small business website on your browser.  Right click anywhere on the page and look for the QuickMark icon in the pop-up menu.  Choose Encode next to the icon.
8-A QR code will pop up on your screen.  At this point you can right click on the QR code and choose either “Copy image” or “Save image as.”
9-Once you have the QR code saved, you can paste it into any document or file you are using.  You can add it to your business card, your menu, your coupons, your flyers, your magazine adds, a store poster, a stand-up sign on your counter or table, etc.  The list goes on and on.

How does Kaywa work?

Kaywa is a website that resides at http://qrcode.kaywa.com/.  It offers more options than QuickMark and Qrafter, but it is not as quick and easy to use.

When you first arrive at the Kaywa website, it defaults to dynamic settings which are paid settings; therefore, you must first move the switch under the window from dynamic to static.  Once you are in the static settings, you will see all of the free options.  As small business owners, we have to use as much as we can for free and pay for those things we absolutely have to.  If you start using Kaywa, and want to make it your one-stop-shopping for QR codes, of course you can explore the dynamic features and pay for them.

A screenshot of the Kaywa static QR code generator.

Steps:

1-From the bottom, make sure you toggle the switch from Dynamic to Static.
2-Hit the More button in the top left to expand and get the additional features: text, phone, Vcard, and SMS.
3-Copy the URL of the review site or website you want your customers to go to before leaving your business.
4-Hit the “Generate” button.
5-Another window will pop up encouraging you to use a dynamic QR Code.  You do not need that in this instance, so hit the very bottom link saying “I want to continue to work with my static QR code.”  Do not hit the “Take Me There” button.Kaywa QR Code steps.
6-The QR Code will appear to the right.  Right click on it and choose either “Copy Image” or “Save Image As.”
7-Place the image into your file to use inside your store or business.

It doesn’t matter which QR code generator you use so long as you are using something to reach out to your customers and get more customer reviews.  The data support it, and you should, too.

If you would like support creating your first QR code, feel free to contact Eileen at Xizzee.  Empowering small business owners is what she does best!  If you found this blog helpful or would like to leave a comment, feel free to comment below or hit one of my social media links at the top and bottom of the page and leave a review.  Thanks and remember to #harnessthepower of social media!

Helping Customers Create Website Content

Helping Customers Create Website Content

Being a teacher of 27 years, I approach problems differently than most people (to the chagrin of my husband).  You see, I am a problem fixer.  If something is broken, I analyze it, break it down, and fix it.  Having this skill was very handy in education because if a student didn’t understand something, I would figure out a way to help him understand.

“What does this have to do with helping customers create copy for their website?” you ask.  Well, I was recently working with a client to create her website copy (that’s a fancy word for website content).  This client is full of words.  She can talk to anyone anywhere about anything.  Strangely, though, when it came to her talking about what her business had to offer, she came up short.

Possible Issues

insecuritiesWhat’s the problem?  Well, could it be she doesn’t like writing?  Perhaps she doesn’t feel like she is a good enough writer.  Maybe she is the type of person who doesn’t feel comfortable tooting her own horn.  Maybe she talks better about other people than about herself.  Maybe she doens’t know what people want to know.

What should she put on her website?  That is a great question, so let’s begin at the beginning.  All SEO aside, the first job of a website is to share information with customers and to get them to stay on the site long enough to read what is there for them.  Following these simple steps will help you get over your writer’s block.  Guaranteed!

Content Creation Exercise for Customers

Step 1: Make a list of all the questions you get about your business.  This can be a team or individual effort.  The longer the list, the better.
Step 2: Organize the questions into related groups.
Step 3: Name each group – these might end up being the names of your pages or headings for your FAQ page. It’s okay if you repeat yourself.  This can get cleaned up later.
Step 4: Answer each question either on paper or by talking.  Yes, you can talk your way through the entire process without ever picking up a pen.  Read on.

Using Technology to Help You Write

Use your smartphone to record your website content.

Use your smartphone to record your website content.

With so much technology around, it is easy to forget the powerful tools at your fingertips.  How many business owners own a smartphone?  In my totally unscientific research, I’d guess a pretty large percentage.  A voice recorder is pretty much standard on a smartphone, so grab your list of questions, hit record, and start talking.

Using this method does require you to pick up a pen and transcribe what you said, but the next method will actually turn your speech into text.  Read on!

Speech to Text Apps and Add-ons

There are plenty of speech-to-text or voice-to-text apps available for both iOS and Android phones, but not all of them are reliable.  Check out these reviews from Computer Business Review and Entrepreneur to help you narrow your focus and target a reliable tool from the start.  If you are more comfortable on a laptop or desktop, move on to the next section.

5 free voice-to-text apps – Computer Business Review

3 Mobile Apps for Converting Voice to Text – Entrepreneur

 

Smartphones – Not the Only Game In Town

You can @harnessthepower of Google by allowing it to type as you speak!

You can @harnessthepower of Google by allowing it to type as you speak!

If you have access to a Google account, you can access Google Docs which has a Voice Recorder in its Tools menu.  I just tried it out, and the accuracy was amazing.  It even corrected itself when it thought I had said one thing but had actually said another.  There is also a Google Add-on for Speech to Text that you can download for free.  Directions for how to do this can be seen at the Xizzee YouTube channel.

So if you are coming up short when trying to generate content for your site, try these quick and easy steps.  Your webmaster will thank you, and you will be able to move forward.  For more tips like this one, follow us on Facebook.com/xizzee and on Twitter @xizzee.  Good luck to you, and remember to #harnessthepower of the web.

Pros and Cons to Using Dreamweaver Software

Pros and Cons to Using Dreamweaver Software

Dreamweaver is a high end website generator that utilizes HTML and CSS.  HTML stands for hypertext markup language.  CSS stand for cascading style sheets.  The first allows web designers to create a page that can be read on the Internet.  The second give you the beautiful style you want and allows website designers to change all pages by making a change to the CSS file.

The benefit to using Dreamweaver is  Continue reading

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

WordPress is a free system you can use to create your websites.  Just because it is free does not mean it will be easy.  Both are extremely time consuming to learn to use, and many DIYers start their page and then leave it up on the Web reading “Hello World.”  This is the default page for the first page of any WordPress site.  If you do not have a lot of time or an undying curiosity to learn how to create websites, you should not tackle this on your own.

There are two versions of WordPress.  One ends in .com and the other in .org. Continue reading