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9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

Every year, thousands of small businesses open, and thousands of small businesses fail. Building a successful business is much more challenging than most people imagine. Without doing the right research, people have no idea how much work goes into every facet of a business. From marketing to overhead to employees, running a company can consume every bit of your time. 

The challenge is daunting but not impossible. For every business that fails, another thrives. The question is, how can you make sure yours is the latter?

We want to only look at the fun sides of operations. You make your schedule and all the decisions. Every new sale or new customer feels like a cause for champagne. Success means watching the company bank account grow. 

However, we need to have perspective. How are you protecting yourself legally? You need to know exactly how much money you’re making, as well as how much you’re making. Are you innovating? Your competitors are. What is your strategy for customer retention? Launching a company is more than having a good idea. It’s a living being that requires your attention or else it won’t last.

Here are nine reasons why small businesses fail.

1. The Market Is Too Small

Finding a niche is one thing. Being too narrow is destructive. Markets can dry up with any shift in the economy or unforeseen circumstances. Your company can’t be so focused that it shuts down if one segment of the market disappears. No one can see the future, but you can plan for it. 

By making sure you stay agile and versatile, you guarantee that you can weather any storms (as best you can). Businesses need to find identifiable segments of the market to target and be broad enough to appeal to all of them. If one segment shifts, you need to be ready to move to another. Just like we’ll talk about later, market targeting comes down to research.

2. Bad Management

Being a successful manager is challenging under any circumstances. Managing every aspect of your business, including hiring and managing employees, presents an incredibly difficult challenge. Many business owners are not familiar with managing purchasing, bookkeeping, employment, office space, and everything else. We always want to think a good manager is good at delegation, but that’s not always true. 

Delegating tasks to the wrong people can run your business into the ground faster than anything you can do on your own. The most critical problem facing business owners is identifying when their employees are making poor decisions. Unfortunately, sinking everything you have into your business means there’s not much of a learning curve. You either sink or swim. That added pressure means putting proper management at the forefront of your business plan. Will you manage everything yourself? Are there ways to outsource some of your tasks? Where are the opportunities to protect yourself?

Worse than poor delegation is merely a dereliction of duty. Getting spread too thin and overlooking vital operations can also destroy your business, possibly before you even start. Be sure you are up to the challenge, and when it does become time to hire employees to help, be a good leader. Inspire your employees to do their best work, and take advantage of excellent staff.

3. Opening For The Wrong Reasons

Write down the reasons you want to open a new business. Is it just to make your own hours or be your own boss? Do you just think it’s an excellent way to make money? Discover the “why” buried deep within your business plan. If you can’t identify a reason you’re passionate about, the chances your business will succeed sink. You need a passion for what you do, or you can become bored or disinterested, and the company will fail.

Ask yourself some simple questions.

-Why do you want to open a business?

-Where do your passions come from?

-Are you driven enough to put in the hours?

-Can you learn from your mistakes and improve?

-Are you determined to make this company successful?

When you feel confident that your answers point in the right direction, you’ll be ready to start a successful business.

4. Not Enough Money

Not only does starting a business require a lot of time and effort, but it also requires a lot of capital. Many companies can’t make ends meet only a short time after they open. Poor planning is typically to blame, so remember to budget for all of your needs.

Make fundraising a core component of your business plan. Remember, there are options for capital other than your wallet. Investment firms, banks, and Small Business Association (SBA) loans are all alternatives to investing everything you have. 

Start with consultations. Many small business owners don’t fully understand all of the costs involved in opening and maintaining a business. If you’re unsure about what to expect, try the SBA startup calculator. Not planning for all expenses can be devastating. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

5. No Business Plan

Speaking of setting yourself up for failure, make a plan! You need a business plan. Dedication and hard work only go so far. This opportunity is where you flesh out all the details of your launch. If you don’t know where to start, you can find samples and templates all over the internet. You’ll need some guidance, but ultimately, you need to do the research and fill out the details. 

Here are some key elements to include.

-A Mission Statement: What does your business do, and what are your goals?

-Market Analysis: Identify challenges and opportunities within your target market.

-Competitive Analysis: Who are your competitors? What can you offer that they don’t?

-Finances: How much startup capital do you need? List all financial information, including all costs and expected income. 

-Remember to include everything from infrastructure to taxes to marketing.

Budget: After you list your financial details, create a budget accounting for everything, and always try to be conservative with your expectations.

Business plans need to be extensive. You need to address every detail of your business launch and operations, or you may be setting yourself up for failure.

6. Marketing

Obviously, web-based businesses require a detailed, well-designed website, but every business needs an online presence in today’s market. Websites are a necessity, and a poorly designed site can make your business look unprofessional. Marketing starts with creating an attractive website that engages customers. 

Step two is getting customers to visit your website. This step is where social media is essential. You may be able to get by without a social media presence, but you’re already behind your competitors. The great thing about social media is the price tag. You can create accounts on almost any social media platform for free, and millions of people traffic Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter daily. Each one is an opportunity.

Another critical aspect of social media is the paid advertising side. Yes, accounts are free, but directing customers to your social media accounts can be challenging to do organically. Facebook and Twitter offer reasonable prices to help you reach thousands of people. 

Without some marketing modicum, your business can stay invisible and fail before you have a chance to be successful.

7. Too Much Ambition

Typically, ambition is a virtue in the business world, but you can quickly outgrow your budget and over-extend yourself. Slow and steady growth is the key to success. An extremely memorable example is the Borders Bookstore franchise. By wildly expanding in the ’90s and 2000s, Borders failed to plan for a future being shaped by online stores. By the time online retailers like Amazon took over the market’s lion share, Borders was stretched too thin to survive. They declared bankruptcy in 2011.

Their biggest fault was equating growth with success. The ability to expand doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to do so. Remember your business plan. Hopefully, you included five and ten-year outlooks to try to foresee potential challenges. This kind of planning helps you be more conservative before deciding to expand too much. You want your small business to grow into a large company. Just don’t get too impatient!

8. Customer Diversification

Having a cornerstone customer is excellent, but relying too much on one customer is risky. We discussed making sure you can reach different segments of the market. You need to diversify your customer base so that you can absorb any large-scale losses. Try to go after a smaller market along with targeting “whales.” The diversity will help you be more agile if you lose one of your more substantial income streams.

9. Stubbornness

Many small business owners are set in their ways. They’re experts in their field and want to build a business on what they know. It makes sense. Stick with what you know. 

But are you ready to change with the times?

Many businesses fail because they’re unable or unwilling to pivot to fit the changing market. Understanding the business world isn’t the same as 30 or 20 or even ten years ago is critical to your success. You need to be flexible. Adopt new software that can help with operations. Get past the notion that you can’t teach a dog new tricks. Learn from your competition, and study the market. Getting complacent because “your way is the best way” is a sure-fire way to put your business in danger. 

Summary

Opening a successful small business is much more challenging than most people expect. The level of dedication, commitment, and planning that goes into just the launch is daunting. Before you decide to go down the incredibly difficult road of small business ownership, remember why you want to do it. There are many reasons why companies can fail. Staying vigilant and keeping focused is the best way to increase your odds of success. 

Plan thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a world of resources available to you. Use them. 

Using a sales and marketing platform like Shamrck is invaluable for consolidating your tools and making you more efficient. Small business owners need to save time everywhere possible. Start your free trial with Shamrck to learn how we can help your business succeed. 

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How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

Cheap does not always equal value. Cheap shoes fall apart, and a low-cost computer crashes three days after you buy it. Cheap sunscreen gives you a sunburn so bad you painfully regret not buying better sunscreen. When it comes to web hosting, a cheap host can hurt your website in many ways. A bad host can cause a lot of damage from weak cyber-security to slow page speeds and everything in between.

Don’t get us wrong. Saving money is good. Opting for a more inexpensive hosting service is a plausible solution if you weigh all of the pros and cons. The problem is understanding the impact of certain inequities. Some disadvantages will severely outweigh the advantages, and your site will suffer. The best weapon you have is research. Luckily, there are some tools and resources out there to help (like this post!).

So, how does cheap hosting hurt?

 

Upkeep

A good host maintains a stable website status. That means minimal downtime for repairs or bug fixes. Websites need periodic updates to function correctly since plugins and systems are continually updating. A cheap host can lapse on essential updates that affect (possibly crashing) your website.

Worse, cheap hosts are known for terrible customer service. Your website is the face of the business. Imagine that someone locks you out of your storefront, and you have to wait three days for a locksmith. Imagine the business you’d lose! Think of poor customer service as the slow locksmith. You need your website up and running correctly. A cheap web hosting service won’t take the importance of upkeep very seriously.

Slow Page Speeds

When most people think of SEO, thoughts of keywords, and blog posts come to mind. While those are both essential aspects of optimization, page speed is one of the most crucial. The search engine algorithms look through hundreds of site attributes to rank the results, but some traits are more heavily weighted than others. Page speed clocks in as one of the most important because it shows your website is performing well. Google and the other engines will prioritize sites based on load times.

Why is that important for hosting?

A cheap hosting service may not scale well with your business. That means the more traffic you get, the slower the site loads. Slow page load times can kill your website performance. More than have of mobile users give you approximately three seconds before they leave, and the number drops every second after that. Don’t let your website take a tumble in the search results because your hosting service can’t keep up.

 

Cyber-Security

Cyber-security isn’t just a buzz-word, and your website can’t live without it. Cheap hosting services put security on the backburner because security protocols can require additional resources and bandwidth. Start with a straightforward question. Does your host offer a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate?

An SSL certificate is literally the bare minimum you can accept from a host. Malware attacks millions of sites each year, and cheap hosting services that skimp on cyber-security leave you vulnerable. Be sure to do your research because these hosts will put the security onus on you and make sure you are liable instead of them.

There are cyber-security steps you can take on your own to try to secure your website, but ideally, you’d like to work in tandem with a host that emphasizes security as well.

Less Control

Many cheap hosting services offer low price points because they limit what you can do with your site. You lose the ability to create custom coding to fit your needs because the host won’t let you make substantial-scale changes on their server. By limiting bandwidth and disk space, servers can run with less effort and cost, but you end up suffering through a mediocre website.

An excellent hosting service works with you to make sure your site, videos, animations, images, and all, work seamlessly all day every day. Limiting what you can do to build a custom site leaves you with nothing more than a template to type some words.

Hosting is worth the investment.

You can find hosting services in every corner of the internet. Some host on cloud-based servers with data centers all over the world. Some hosts are on a physical server in the back room of a dingy office building. Regardless of a hosting services’ claim of what they do and don’t offer, do your research. Ask questions about security protocols and bandwidth limitations. Learn more about their customer service team and how they handle updates.

There are qualities to some cheap hosting services, mostly, the price, but choosing who hosts your website is critical. The choice can make or break the success of your site and possibly your business. No, that’s not being too dramatic, either. A malware attack leaking customer information can land you in court, ruining your company. Slipping to the second, third, or fourth page of Google can make you invisible compared to the competition all because your pages load slowly.

Investing in a development team to build your website is a wise decision. Investing in a top-class hosting service is just good business. Don’t get sucked in by low price points and wild promises that are too good to be true. Pick a host that you can trust, even if it’s not the cheapest.

At Shamrck, we believe in value above everything else. A hosting service can be inexpensive and still have a customer-first mindset. We’d love to chat a little more with you about trusting your site to an excellent host. Reach out today, and let’s get started!

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5 Easy Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website from Hackers

5 Easy Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website from Hackers

5 Easy Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website from Hackers

5 Easy Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website from Hackers

Websites are continually targets for hackers. Each site is a treasure trove of valuable information from basic contact information to social security numbers to payment info. Security software and hosting services are improving prevention strategies every day, but so are techniques to avoid them. The more sophisticated hackers become, the more diligent we need to be with our security.

Website security has never been more crucial to businesses. In 2017, one of the big three credit bureaus had a data leak. Experian reported a data breach that affected as many as 150 million people. The leak was catastrophic and led to Experian paying out $700 million to settle federal and state investigations. The lesson to be learned? No company is out of reach for hackers. 

Luckily, we have various ways to take precautions. Secure passwords and the right plugins are an excellent start, but there is no such thing as too much website security. Here are five easy ways to secure your WordPress website from hackers.

Select Good Hosting

Choosing who will host your website is a monumental decision. The most important aspect is knowing you can trust your host with your business. Hosts, like WPClover, need to continually maintain updates to keep up with the most current versions of server software. Excellent hosts are proactive in ways to keep your website safe including having data centers in your country without rerouting information through unsecured servers.

This proactive approach means providing accessible support channels and automatically including the essentials like site backups, security checks, and performance checks. Make sure you know where to find your host’s support team and that they can easily communicate with you about your needs. Working with your WordPress website is complex and not having clear communication with support reps can lead to confusion and frustration.

Keep Plugins, Themes, and Core Up to Date

We already mentioned hackers work daily to find new strategies to break through your security. Part of bracing for those attacks includes keeping your site up to date. Software companies routinely release updates with bug fixes, performance releases, and security enhancements. Make sure your website keeps pace.

WordPress routinely updates the system’s operating version to fix bugs exploited in older versions. The majority of website “breakdowns” can be attributed to out of date software like older versions of WordPress. Worse, older versions may have outdated security features, which leaves your website security vulnerable.

Making sure you stay up to date with all of your software versions is surprisingly straightforward. Many systems offer automatic updates, while others prompt users with notifications to update. Managed hosting services like WPClover handle all updates and security monitoring

Regardless of your strategies to stay up to date, the importance cannot be overstated.

Secure with SSL

We talked about the importance of choosing the right host. Part of securing your website is using a secure socket layer (SSL). The right host understands server security relies on installing an SSL certificate to keep your website safe. WPClover provides this service at no additional cost for every plan.

Using secure socket layers can also affect SEO. SSLs help your web pages load faster, which is a significant factor used in Google’s search algorithms. Slow page load times can devastate your chances of showing up searches, so installing an SSL certificate is essential for maintaining a secure, fast website.

Keep Your Website Backed Up

The day we started keeping records is the same day we started losing them. The “save” button on Microsoft Word is easy to find for a reason. Imagine all the data, work, and content lost over the years because someone forgot to click the save button. 

Now think about the level of content on your website. The pages of blog posts, entire email list, and possibly customer payment information all can disappear in the blink of an eye. Worse, customer contact and payment information are a treasure trove for hackers. Keeping your website backed up lets you take your website offline without losing any data. This ability is crucial if you notice a security breach or need to fix a bug. WPClover handles website backup and restoration with all plans because we understand the disastrous consequences of losing everything.

Secure Usernames and Passwords

Creating specific usernames and complex passwords is a necessity. Many people use the same password over several websites and logins. Not a great idea. Hackers use a plethora of automated tools to try to retrieve passwords. If they can grab your password from any one of the websites you visit, everything is vulnerable. If possible, use different passwords for everything. Try using password generators to mix things up.

Updating passwords is essential, but do not neglect using different usernames where possible. Just by knowing your username and not a password, hackers can find ways to gain access to your accounts. Using the “forgot password” function or guessing passwords are surprisingly effective ways to slip past security. 

Why go through the trouble of breaching firewalls if hackers can simply guess the right username and password? Be cautious!

Secure Your WordPress Website

If there is one significant idea to remember, it’s that hackers are always looking for ways to access compromised, sensitive information. WordPress provides some tools to help take precautions, but the responsibility falls on you to secure your site. 

You have the resources you need, though. Keep your website updated, and only work with a host that uses a secure server. Your website will always be vulnerable (see Experian), but taking steps like the ones we looked at are an easy way to provide a lot of security. 

WPClover is a world-class WordPress hosting firm that handles website maintenance and security. We focus on providing an excellent customer experience through consistency and service. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’d love to talk more with you about our product. Schedule a demo today to learn more.

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How to Launch a Website

How to Launch a Website

How to Launch a Website

Getting Ready to Get Ready

Why do you even need a pre-launch checklist?

Launching a website is challenging, overwhelming, daunting, and intimidating. And those characteristics only refer to the design. Your website is the face of your business. It’s how customers and potential customers get their first impressions. For one second, think about sites you went to with broken links, images that won’t load, and blocky designs. Chances are, you don’t go back to those sites.

Your goal, as a business, is to launch something comprehensive that consumers enjoy from the first time they log on. Checklists help you cover all of your bases, from design to functionality to site security. Done right, your website will be a fine-tuned machine when it launches so that you can sit back in maintenance mode. 

That isn’t to say checklists make your job any easier. They just make your job more manageable. 

What to include in a checklist

In a word, everything. 

The biggest problem facing new websites is oversight. You might think you “have a plan,” and you don’t need help, but can you imagine the consequences of a security breach or a legal issue? We use lists to go to the grocery store, so we don’t forget the butter! Why should building a website be different? Consult with design and development teams to make sure your list is complete. 

The pre-launch checklist is the foundation of your website. Since we’re launching a WordPress website, much of the foundation is here already, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Vital aspects like design, functionality, and security measures are in your hands. Those features are difficult to course-correct once the site launches. 

Now that we completely stressed the importance of a pre-launch checklist, here is ours.

Content Creation

No website is ready to launch without relevant, constructive content. And no, “lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetuer adipiscing elit” does not count as relevant content. Fresh content prepares your website to show up on search engines. The more you have loaded up, the better off you’ll be.

Search engines also pay close attention to page count. Several long blog posts about your business are great, but if your website launches with seven pages of content, it’ll be invisible. Try to have at least 15 separate pages with different content ready for launch.

Content Advice

Writing “about us” pages and short blurbs about your product are some of the essential pages a website can have, but think about including blog posts, videos, and customer testimonials. Make sure to include links to other pages on your website. You want visitors bouncing from page to page and staying engaged with your material. 

Here are some crucial features to include:

  • Relevance
  • Grammar
  • Readability
  • SEO Forward (We’ll get to that soon!)
  • Active Links
  • Video and Images with Metadata
  • A “Contact Us” page

Website Design

First, let’s clearly state that website design and website development are two entirely different things. Sometimes they are mixed up, but they are not the same! Website design is how you want the site to look. This step is your chance to give your brand the look and feel you want. Working directly with web designers is an excellent way to collaborate with professionals and get the perfect product.

Website design is vital because it affects traffic. Poorly designed websites turn off customers before they get a chance to explore. If a website isn’t aesthetically pleasing or easy to navigate, you could face a high bounce rate. The bounce rate describes how long someone is on your site before leaving. High bounce rates mean your website is underperforming, and it’s time for a change.

Here are just a few more things to consider:

  • How does it look on mobile devices?
  • Is it interactive?
  • Optimize the images
  • Create several internal links
  • Preview your site in the major browsers
  • Incorporate social media links and icons

Functionality

Website functionality is the most crucial facet of building a website. We discussed the checklist being a foundation of a good website launch, and functionality is the foundation of a good website. While the customer sees the web designs you have in place, your website development actually makes your site tick.

Functionality is crucial for several reasons. How your site performs determines the user experience, or UX, from beginning to end. Broken links and slow page load speeds have devastating effects on traffic and search performance. The development aspect is all about attention to detail. You want your website to behave correctly and the same across any platform and any browser.

Remember to focus on other items like:

  • Health Checks
  • RSS Feeds
  • Active Links for Inbound and Social Media 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is how websites show up in search queries. Nearly everything runs through a search engine today. To show up, your website needs content that is “findable” for the search engines. They use different algorithms to find various distinguishing features and rank websites accordingly. SEO doesn’t necessarily refer to content either. Slow page speeds can have a similar negative impact on your results.

Having your website show up in these search results is imperative. Google reigns supreme as the most commonly used search engine. Your goal with SEO is to show up on the first page of relevant Google searches. To put things into perspective, 91% of clicks into websites are on the first page. Showing up below that makes your site nearly invisible.

There are hundreds of books, articles, videos, and blogs about how to maximize SEO. Understanding keyword phrases, text lengths, and metadata are all specific tools for an SEO expert, but you don’t have to be an expert to get good results. WordPress plugins like Yoast put your content through an automated SEO analyzer and provide advice for improvement.

It never hurts to work with professionals, and here are some items to consider:

  • Keywords
  • Relevant Content
  • Page Load Speeds
  • Number of Pages
  • Internal/External Links
  • SEO Plugins
  • Snippets and Meta Descriptions

Marketing

Simply put, marketing is the gateway to new customers to find your business. Marketing puts your product in front of as many potential customers as possible. You can use campaigns to lay out a full plan of action for advertising. With tools like demographic targeting and social media blitzes, marketing is more accessible to everyone. Just like with SEO, there are books and blogs and college degrees built solely around marketing strategies. 

Every company from Apple to a lemonade stand sets out a marketing budget to reach customers. For the lemonade stand, that budget might just cover sharpies and cardboard, but for corporations like Ford and Nike, marketing budgets are in the millions of dollars. Even companies with universal brand recognition use marketing to stay top-of-mind for their consumers. 

For growing companies without brand recognition, marketing serves a significant role in differentiating your business from the competition. Most industries are very saturated, making it hard for small businesses to stand out. The arsenal of marketing tools available today gives you a better opportunity to be seen, but campaigns are still a lot of work.

There are a few things to consider when diving into a marketing strategy:

  • Define Target Audience
  • Choose Marketing Method
  • Social Media
  • Pay-per-click (PPC)
  • Word of Mouth
  • Create an Email List
  • Continuously Release Updates as Business Grows

Legal

Covering yourself in legal protection is paramount for a website launch. Remember, there are some people out there who will find any reason to sue, so it’s best to shore up your defenses. You also need to pay attention to the requirements you face, such as displaying privacy policies and implementing a cookie warning. Disregarding your legal needs can lead to problems reaching far past the website. In other words, cross your T’s and dot your I’s!

The best approach is to work directly with a legal team to cover your specific needs. There are dozens of online templates to help jump start your legal process, but no generic model can include every business. Try to collaborate with specialists when possible. 

Here are just a few of the things you’ll want to get in order:

  • Include contact information
  • Display any necessary notifications (Cookies, Affiliate Marketing, etc.)
  • Include website terms and conditions (T&C)
  • Refer to professionals for any local city and state laws

Prepare your Site

Make sure your website is functional. As we discussed, functionality is the foundation of your website. This pre-launch phase is your time for quality assurance. Test every aspect of your website. Go to every page, click every link, and view each video from a phone, tablet, and desktop. You absolutely cannot do too much testing.

Double-check that your domain and server are ready for traffic. Plan for a large crowd because too much traffic can hurt your server speed, causing your pages to load slowly. Slow load times will kill your SEO before your site is even off to the races.

Set up your analytics methods to monitor website performance. You’ll want to follow analytics throughout your launch and for the life of your website. Programs like Google analytics help make it easy, or you can use plugins like MonsterInsights, which integrate directly in with WordPress.

Security

As Target and Equifax will testify, website security is crucial. Even sites with only a mailing list are vulnerable to attack. If your website is an online marketplace, security becomes much more vital since you’re handling customers’ payment information. 

Using cloud-based servers helps with security. You can use secure socket layers (SSLs) to encrypt links and secure your website from malware or other attacks. There are countless security plugins with WordPress, so find one that fits you best and take full advantage of it. You can also never go wrong consulting with an IT security professional.

Make sure to scan the site daily for potential threats, and use complex usernames and passwords for authentication. Most importantly, if there is a breach, make sure your website backs up daily for safekeeping.

Launch Day!

Click the “go” button!

Ok, maybe the launch is not that simple, but it’ll go very quickly. You prepared your website as best as you could. Now is the time to publish all of your content, build a site map to help with navigation, and ensure your legal verbiage is in place. Since your website is live, you can start to make sure your security protocols are in place and monitor analytics. 

Grand openings don’t start with a bang without the marketing strategies you put in place. Make sure your social media accounts are active and announcing your launch. Activate any additional ads you may have purchased on other platforms. Get the word out!

Launch day is exciting and nerve-racking, but the work doesn’t end there. Here are a few things to think about post-launch.

  • Organize website maintenance
  • Update content regularly
  • Make sure your administrative work is done (payments, accounts receivable, etc.)

Celebrate!

You launched a website!

You took an idea and turned it into the face of your company. All the planning, designing, marketing, and building paid off, and you’re open for business. Take some time to enjoy your success before you have to dive back in to work.

Conclusion

This checklist is a comprehensive way to plan, build, and execute a website launch. Sites are an enormous undertaking, and preparation separates the good websites from the great ones.

You learned that content creation is incredibly important but takes a lot of work. We talked about the need for aesthetically pleasing design and easy to navigate site to avoid bounce rates. We covered what role marketing plays in drumming up traffic. Most importantly, we discussed the idea that above all, your website needs to function correctly. Keep in mind; it never hurts to ask the pros for help. 

Aside from the function, we discussed the need to pay attention to the fine print. Get your legal affairs in order pre-launch. Take care of site security, so you don’t open yourself up to any legal liabilities. Again, turn to the professionals if you want more guidance along the way.

Finally, launch day. Hopefully, you were able to incorporate many of the steps included here or even added some of your own. We know this process is long and challenging, but having a roadmap simplifies things, gives you confidence, and helps get you launched faster. 

Enjoy the experience, build the site your way, and good luck with your new website

Have some follow up questions? We’d love to chat! Schedule Office Hours with one of our experts, and start moving toward launching your site!

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Wix Alternative: Get More with Shamrck

Wix Alternative: Get More with Shamrck

Wix Alternative: Get More with Shamrck

 

 

Creating a website is a daunting task for many beginners and small businesses. Companies like Wix and WPClover offer tools and resources for website creation. Design and development can be painfully time-consuming. For business owners, this valuable time costs money and sacrifices customer service. The central part of creating a site is finding the right design to fit your brand. Working with premade themes and templates give you plenty of options and let you pick a look that works.

Wix and WPClover both offer templates to get started, but since WPClover offers WordPress built websites, you get more control over the final product. Wix provides an impressive portfolio of templates along with blank models to let you build from scratch. Wix also makes it easy to move around features like text boxes and images. It comes together into a customized but basic website. WPClover provides several templates, but the use of WordPress explodes the availability of custom plugins and themes.

WordPress is an incredibly powerful platform. One look at the back-end dashboard of a WordPress site amplifies the simplicity of Wix’s system. The dashboard may seem overwhelming, but it is easy to follow and make edits to your website. WPClover uses WordPress to help you design and develop the perfect site instead of settling for one that’s almost right. More than that, WPClover provides a team of experts to help each step of the way.

What is Wix?

Wix is a website building platform that offers free website creation and hosting. The company prides itself on providing ready-made websites for beginners and small businesses to create an online presence. Wix offers several options for website themes and templates and makes simple customization more accessible. The platform falls short in several areas, however.

The free version offers a set amount of options and build-outs, which may not meet your needs. You’ll also have to deal with Wix advertisements on your site unless you decide to buy into a subscription. The free version also doesn’t come with premium support, which is another add-on found in the subscription versions.

The ease of use and free hosting makes Wix an instant contender for anyone looking to start a website, but after a little more digging, we see the need to buy into a subscription. Wix offers four tiers of subscriptions. Mostly, the subscriptions help with removing ads to give your brand priority. You’ll start to get better support services, more storage, and the ability to connect your domain.

The biggest problem with using Wix is the utter lack of back-end help. There are no services to help with maintenance, scalable development, or automation. The platform doesn’t lend itself to anything more than putting content on a website.

You get what you pay for

Wix offers a free product, but it is so limited, users have little to no control over anything aside from what content goes on their website. Wix hosts their websites on physical servers around the world, which has a higher risk of security breaches and crashes. There are no health scans or performance monitoring.

The limited amount of storage on the free version is another enormous drawback. Photographers, bloggers, marketers, and other content-heavy businesses are forced to buy into the subscription tiers to get enough storage. Videographers have to buy into the subscription tiers merely to house 30 minutes or more of video.

Wix also forces customers to buy into a subscription to connect their domain. Regardless of if you already have one or get one through Wix, you won’t see any valuable analytics without connecting your domain. Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel are available but not on the free, basic product.

Get what you need

As a Wix alternative, WPClover offers website templates, design, development, hosting, and everything else with a comprehensive WordPress solution. Everything Wix offers for free and everything provided in the premium subscriptions are covered in the WPClover Starter kit. Wix focuses almost exclusively on the front-end of your website except for helpful web-apps. WPClover helps design and build your customer-facing content with expert advice. However, WPClover handles something much more crucial, maintenance.

WPClover’s cloud hosting gives you the peace of mind of a secure, fast server, and developing a site on WordPress opens many possibilities. The most valuable product offered in a WordPress solution is maintenance. WPClover continually monitors your website for potential security issues and keeps all of your plugins up-to-date to make sure your website is operating correctly.

The best part about a managed WordPress solution is knowing you’re getting the best website possible, regularly maintained, and with a team of experts in support of any needs. Unlike the rigid setup of Wix, WPClover allows you to make unlimited WordPress requests to add functionality or tweak your site for better performance. From your initial idea to launch day and beyond, WPClover makes sure you get the website you need without losing the time-consuming stress of securing and maintaining it.

Wix provides an inexpensive solution to a complicated problem. Your website is your face for your customers. If you only need your phone number and logo on a website, maybe a free, elementary website is the best choice. If you’re like most companies, you’ll want your website to stand out, showcase your brand, and customized to your exact needs.

Managed WordPress solutions provide all of those needs and much more at a manageable cost. Wix simply can’t begin to offer the same level of service on the front-end or back-end as WPClover. Building and managing a website is a daunting task to do right. You need a plan to help you save time and money on your way to an engaging product you can be proud of.

We would love the chance to talk more about your needs. Reach out today, so we can show you how much value a managed WordPress solution provides.

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4 Reasons a Managed WordPress Solution is Right for Your Business

4 Reasons a Managed WordPress Solution is Right for Your Business

4 Reasons a Managed WordPress Solution is Right for Your Business

Marketing is a complicated process. Where do you begin? What’s your overall strategy? How do you even know if your strategy is working?! Marketing, in its most simplistic form, is how you get the word out about your business. So how are you doing it now?

If you don’t see the results you want, you’re missing a puzzle piece. As tricky as marketing is, there’s a winning formula out there. You need to find it. It could be something simple, like adding a Facebook page or starting an Instagram account. Sometimes it’s more difficult like tracking KPIs based on several underlying SEO keyword phrases. But we’ll get to that later.

Don’t have a marketing plan at all? Sure you do, word of mouth! It’s one of the most common and effective strategies ever, but in today’s digital world, you need to reach out more. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are ways to reach an enormous audience without spending a fortune. On the other end of the budget spectrum, advertising campaigns with videos and billboards are common strategies, but they can get pricey quickly. The good news is there’s a strategy for everyone.

So, where to start? If you’re marketing online, look no further than your WordPress Website.

Get your website to work for you

 

WordPress powers 35% of all websites on the internet (W3 Techs). The power comes from the ability to be flexible, accessible, and, most importantly, robust. We use WordPress templates for everything from online marketplaces to blogging sites to digital storefronts. 

The question isn’t if WordPress is right for you. The only question should be, “how are you using it to work for you?” The simplest way to tell is to look at your plugins. Plugins are how we operate within WordPress for the most part. They’re designed to, well, plug into the website and provide almost every service you can imagine. 

Do you need something to send out emails for you automatically? Plugins will do it. Don’t know if your website is performing well? Plugins will help you monitor success. The beauty is if you don’t see a plugin that will work, we can build a new one that fits your needs!

The more you explore what plugins are available, the more you see how the can help you use your WordPress website to market to your customers. All of which brings us to our next topic.

Organize your website

 

You have a lot to say! A marketing strategy is a bullhorn to get your message out there, but you need to have relevant content. Think about what you want to accomplish and be specific. Now, think of how your information needs to flow. You need to write something people want to read. Make them want to stick around and view your entire website.

However, writing the content is only half the battle. Earlier, we talked about tracking SEO results through different KPIs. Let’s put that in English. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The phrase refers to how well your website (and by extension, your business) shows up on web searches like Google or Yahoo. To put it in perspective, 91% of all clicks from search engine results come from the first page. If you aren’t in that top 10, you’ll have a hard time attracting traffic.

So, how do we get there? We use SEO keywords. They’re “buzzwords” that search engines use to find relevant websites. If you have a cooking blog about recipes with watermelons, “watermelon,” “watermelon recipes,” and “cooking” should be at the top of your list of optional keywords to get noticed. 

After we write using what we hope are the best keywords, we want to measure success. We refer to these measurements as KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are how we track our website’s performance based on specific attributes. Without diving too deeply, KPIs like increases in website traffic, sales, and subscriptions are measurable and help us reorganize our marketing strategies to make them better.

Plugins and content aren’t the only ways to use your WordPress website to market to your customers, though.

Other strategies

 

There are limitless options to using your website for marking. Testing new keywords, monitoring your KPIs, using plugins to help with SEO are all extremely creative and efficient routes. However, we want to take a look at some of the not-so-common ways to market using your site.

Allowing guest bloggers to write content for you goes a long way toward updating relevant, well-written content that doesn’t require much work on your end. They also provide a fresh look at different topics giving you a different voice contributing to your business. Most importantly, guest bloggers like to show off their work, so expect links to your site from other pages!

Social media sharing is an accessible tool that many businesses overlook. Do you have a new blog post? Share it on LinkedIn! How about a company event? Share the pictures on Instagram! Post announcements on Twitter. Invite customers to Facebook pages. The options are limitless and, more importantly, free!

Slightly getting away from actual marketing techniques, there are some design and development elements to consider. For the first time in 2018, mobile web browsing overtook desktop browsing in website traffic. If you want to use your WordPress website to market to your customers, be prepared to gear your site toward mobile users. This mobile emphasis means your website needs to be lean. Work on things like using small images and shorter videos. Keep your site fast, and you won’t have problems losing traffic due to slow page speeds.

Next Steps

 

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you what to write, what plugins to use, or how to track your success. Those elements are up to you to figure out! Fortunately, you have all the tools you need to use your WordPress website to market to your customers. Explore the plugin options like Yoast for SEO and MonsterInsights for help to start. Review similar sites for content ideas and see what you can do differently. 

Make sure your website is up to date and working correctly! The best-laid plans can go to waste due to poor website maintenance. Work with professional, managed WordPress hosting and management firms for peace of mind. 

Marketing is a complicated process. Use your WordPress website to market to your customers, and you’ll be off to the races.

We want to talk more about your needs and how your website is performing. WPClover provides expert support for content review, page speeds, and mobile accountability, so reach out today, and let’s talk!

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