Even the most brilliant idea needs proper implementation especially when it comes to online stores. You may have the best product ever at the most reasonable price. However, you will never bear fruit without its introduction to a wider target audience and your potential buyers. This is where a solid website will come as an ultimate solution.
SMBs & Freelancers
Most of you have asked questions plenty of questions when facing the need of building a website from scratch:
- Will I have to handle too much of admin work?
- Do I need to have any technical skills?
- Will it take a month to build a solid website from scratch and publish it on the web?
Most of you refused from the idea of hiring development teams considering the price for a simple business card, blog or portfolio. Others cannot afford spending months necessary to handle all the development stages in addition to website support and maintenance.
The situation has changed to better with the introduction of website builders. They proved to be essential helpers for newbies who want to represent themselves of their companies online. Website builders make it easy to create any site despite the purpose. Whether you need a colorful blog, professional looking portfolio, a corporate website or a digital store, the software comes as an ultimate solution without the slightest necessity of writing a line of code.
Affordable prices and multiple plans will suit any budget and provide full freedom when creating a functional website with a full pack of e-commerce, SEO, Blogging, and other features. The only challenge is to choose the right platform. Check our tips to select the software that will exceed your expectations depending on your purposes and goals.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Website Builder
While there are so many different website builders, choosing a proper one can be a bit daunting. For this reason, you need to have a clear understanding of why you actually need a website. Define its main functions and purposes:
- What features should it have?
- How are you going to use it in future?
- What type of content will it contain?
After you answer these questions, consider the following aspects when choosing the best website builder.
Is the Website Builder Easy Enough to Use?
Let’s consider, you do not have the slightest technical or coding skill. For this reason, you need a platform designed specially for amateurs and newbies. Most website builders come with a simple drag-n-drop function based on WYSISWG technologies. It lets you easily add, remove or edit content, website block or section. You can customize each page and download media content with just several clicks.
Can You Improve Website Usability?
Creating a website is not enough to grow recognition and traffic. It is supposed to be user-friendly and intuitive for users. The level of usability increases users’ engagement, which is vital for your resource. Major website builders provide a selection of easily customizable templates for different needs. As a rule, they are divided into categories in accordance with a specific field. The features may include:
- Mobile Responsive Templates – your website is ready to use on mobile devices;
- High-Quality Design – all platforms boast a sold design in addition to overview features. You can decide if the template meets your needs before applying it;
- Trendy UI Design Features – modern templates come with visual effects like parallax scrolling, etc.
You can build a functional and up-to-date website within a couple of hours to meet your users’ expectation.
Can You Afford The Cost of Website Builders?
The cost is the major issue for most of us. Limited budgets do not let us opt for custom development teams that charge thousands of dollars for a simple photographer portfolio. Moreover, you need to deal with hosting provider and domain name registration. Both may also cost a fortune. Website builders come as a cost-effective solution considering a variety of plans to meet any budget.
Some platforms offer free plans. Although they are hard enough to come up with a decent site, you can check all functions and features delivered by the software. The prices also vary. However, they never exceed $15-$30 per month. For that money you get:
- Free Hosting & Domain;
- Enough bandwidth to host your files;
- Free templates and themes;
- Free widgets, apps, and add-ons;
- Customer support depending on the plan.
Website Builder has certainly proved to be a more cost-effective solution.
Special Features and Widgets
Website builders make it easy to customize your every page adding special widgets and apps. As a rule, those widgets are already included in your plan, while platforms boast their own App Stores. Simply choose the app you need to create a stunning blog, add social sharing buttons, connect your website with major social platforms, enable e-commerce and SEO options, etc.
Does a Website Builder Allow Third-Party Integration?
You may sometimes need to integrate your website with other CRM and service to provide an enhanced users’ experience as well as track your results and stats. For this reason, a website builder should be available for integration with third parties. Not only will it let you grow your business, but also generate detailed reports in Google Analytics and other services.
Mobile Friendly Templates
The modern world keeps going mobile with almost 90% of all users in the world accessing the global web via mobile devices. You also need to stay trendy and follow the latest mobile technological improvements. Website builders provide mobile-ready templates ready to use on various devices including tablets and smartphones whether they are supported by Android, iOS or any other operating system.
Full Scaled Preview Mode
While we are using mobile responsive templates delivered by a chosen platform, we need to check how our website will look like on various devices. Look for a preview mode before opting for software. Not all website builders have this function that lets you check how a published website will run on a smartphone, desktop version or tablet.
Is Customer Support Available 24/7?
Considering the fact that website builders are for newbies, users may sometimes require professional assistance, especially when getting started. The availability of customer support is important. As a rule, website builders provide tutorials and video guides that make the things pretty clear. FAQ sections and blogs with topical posts may also come in handy. Premium plans should include live chats and online support team.
Can a Website Builder Grow Your Business?
We are constantly looking for a chance to develop and grow our business. The global web provides a different way to increase traffic and attract more potential customers. Make sure a chosen platform has all necessary tool for those purposes. They may include:
- SEO Features to increase your website’s search engine rankings and recognition on the web;
- E-Commerce Tools to manage your sales and products as well as track results;
- Analytic Tools to monitor major performance rates and stats;
- Social Network Features to speak volumes and cover broaden target audience.
Check for the slightest tool that can let you updated your services and deliver advanced user experience.
Does a Website Builder have Restrictions?
Some website builders establish limitations on the number of boxes used on the page as well as the number of media files you can attach. As a rule, those limitations are a part of free plans and trials. Once you need a set of extended features, simply opt for premium plans that suit your budget.
IM Creator – An Ultimate Website Building Solution
Bringing all those factors to a single structure may turn into a tough challenge. Luckily, IM Creator developers made their best not only to meet customers’ needs but also exceed their expectations when it comes to creating a solid website for different purposes. IM Creator mission is to deliver an ultimate website building solution. The platform uses latest technologies with a bunch of handful features to make your website functional, easy-to-use and able to grow business.
A selection of versatile features makes the software ideal for different needs whether you want to create a bright portfolio and blog featuring thousands of followers or a solid company’s online representation. Advanced e-Commerce features are good for creating a decent webshop while SEO functions will let users drive traffic and stand out from other competitors on the web. Cost-effective and easy to implement, IM Creator provides everything you may need in one pack. Benefit from a variety of tools and ensure a successful web representation.
Models need to follow the hard and long path from being undiscovered to the front page of the fashion magazine. Having a printed portfolio and a newly established Instagram account is hardly the road to recognition and fame unless you are Cindy Crawford.
The beauty and fashion industry are facing fierce competition with thousands of new models eager to get to the limelight and world most popular catwalks. Getting spotted by real jet sets of the world of looking good seems impossible without having advanced modern tools like a website.
The fashion world is a bub for millions of men and women making their way to the pages of top fashion magazines. Having a stunning web portfolio is a good way to kick-off. It is a chance to establish a strong web representation and show off not only your stunning photos but also personality and other essentials of the killing portfolio.
While one can hardly imagine a model with coding or web designing skills, website builders come as an ultimate solution to the problem.
Website builder appears to be a simple tool to create an award-winning website from scratch without the slightest necessity of being a technical nerd. But first, consider more planning tips to build a modeling portfolio website that will stand out.
1. A Bunch of Killing Photos for a Start – Choose the Right Photographer
Forming a set of stunning photos is the first step on the way to the catwalk. Most models usually opt for typical agencies that offer traditional shooting services. Other with limited budgets ask their friend to help. Both pre-approved and amateur pals photographers are hardly the best choices. As a rule, agency employees shoot similar photos without concentrating on your individuality while friends-photographers are new to the fashion and beauty industry even if the work on National Geographic.
Do the research and check photographer’s websites. Explore their shooting style and decide whether it meets your expectations and preferences. Read customer’s reviews and testimonials. Never miss “About Me” section that can be crucial when choosing a proper photographer.
2. Show Off the Most Stunning and Diverse Photos
Ah, finally! The shooting session is over. You are satisfied with the photos and ready to from your first professional modeling portfolio. This is where you need to focus on both quality and versatility. The more different images you have, the clearer vision of your talent it will make for potential employers. Do not stick to similar poses and outfits. Try different colors, clothing styles, and haircuts.
Some agencies recommend avoiding any emotions on model’s face during a shooting session. This is your chance to stand out from hundreds of similar portfolios. Make a couple of “smiling” headshots. Try to express different feelings and emotions showing that you are also a great actor. A typical portfolio consists of 10-20 images. Make sure they depict all your beneficiary issues.
3. Go Behind the Curtains with Natural Photos
Being a model is not only about posing and showing off. For millions of men and women, it turns into a lifestyle especially when it comes to food, clothes, and entertainments. Including several behind the scene, photos would be a great idea to grab the attention of designers and leading agencies.
Add some images from your previous fashion shows and shoots that would introduce you as a person able to behave with ease even if your pants rip off right on the catwalk.
4. Create a Branded Portfolio – Watermark Your Photos
Watermarks serve various purposes. On the one hand, they protect your content from stealing and frauds. On the other hand, they let you establish your personal unique and recognizable brand. A watermark will become the signature that lets you stand out from millions of photos alike. Adding your last name and is a good idea as well as using website’s domain that can also include your first and last name.
5. Go Online – Create a Website that Speaks Volumes
Stay calm! Nothing difficult here. No need to learn how to code or find out lots of strange and weird stuff like CSS and HTML. Simply choose IM Creator and build a decent web portfolio from scratch within a couple of hours!
Go online to establish a strong web representation. Let other people find you on the global web and see your stunning photo. Create and publish a website with just a click away. Edit pages, add widgets and customize each section using a simple drag-and-drop section. Website builders come as a simple and functional tool to create stunning portfolios that really stand out.
6. Get Spotted by Millions of Potential Followers and Fans
Start with “About Me” section. Let’s break the stereotypes and tell people that models are far from being just cute faces and skinny jeans. Use this section to express your personality and speak about your preferences, talents, and hobbies. A good idea is to include some important aspects from professional perspectives. It does not mean you should write a CV simply listing your qualities and shows. Try to be informal and write in an appealing manner.
7. Blogging Truly Works Personal Magic
Your modeling portfolio looks pretty daunting without some personal magic. A blog on your website will definitely bring that desired magic. Hold it right there! It does not mean you need to write about birds you have just seen or pets you like. Try to keep it in a more professional manner. Show off your state and knowledge of the fashion and beauty trends. Simple “How to” guides will be a good idea. For example, add stories and articles about:
- How to Wear Beanie Hats;
- Top Summer Swimsuit Trends;
- Things to Toss: Cleaning Out My Wardrobe.
The mission here is to establish a unique and recognizable writing style that will eventually turn into your personal signature and introduce you as a real fashion guru. IM Creator make it easy to create and manage your blog. Simply add text and images with just a click away.
8. Stay in the Limelight with Social Media
A good thing to have millions of followers on your Instagram or Facebook page. But you are not Lena Gercke. On the other hand, social networks are still a powerful channel of generating traffic and catching the attention of target audience including designers, agencies, and fashion editors.
With IM Creator, linking your portfolio with major social networks will be a piece of cake. It offers social button widgets to let your visitors share your posts and photos as well as create your own fan pages and publish new articles from the blog with a couple of touches.
9. Use Videos to Promote Your Portfolio
Adding high-quality photos to your modeling portfolio is not enough. You need to use diverse media content to keep the visitors engaged. The latest Facebook analytics show that videos appear to be the most powerful tool when it comes to users’ engagements with the post.
IM Creator makes it easy to add any type of media content including high-resolution videos. You can simply upload files from YouTube and Vimeo as well as other available video sites. The videos may contain your previous catwalk experience, traveling episodes or funny scenes from behind the curtains.
10. Market Yourself for the Overwhelming Limelight Story
Now, you have a website with a stunning portfolio, capturing blog, detailed information about you in addition to social presence and media content. All you need is to make leading agencies and fashion magazines spot you.
Use all possible channels from social platforms to simple SEO tools delivered by your website builder. Focus on keywords related to your niche. Edit titles and descriptions and remember that there is something more than just a catchy introduction of a pretty face on the web when being a model.
Handle All the Steps Effortlessly Using IM Creator
Designed to create colorful and catchy portfolios, IM Creator lets you easily handle all the issues we have described in the article below. The website builder is a simple instrument aimed to help models, photographers and other technical newbies create a stunning site from scratch. Simply choose a nice-looking template that is already mobile friendly and start editing it with just a click away. Add eye-catching photos and create standing out portfolios using drag-n-drop features. Edit texts and add new articles to the already built-in blog section.
IM Creator makes it easy to manage other types of files including multimedia content. Download your videos within seconds. Publish a complete portfolio by pressing a single button and start marketing yourself in from of leading modelling agencies and magazines. Your walk to the limelight and most recognizable catwalks starts with IM Creator.
So, you’ve designed your website, added content, and hit “publish”. Congratulations! All you have to do now is to sit back and wait for droves of users to come galloping toward your website, thirsty for its offerings…
The cruel reality for many new websites is that sometimes, driving traffic is a bit harder than you might initially think – especially without an advertising budget or a team of people able to dedicate hours to promotion day to day. In this blog post, we’ll divulge 5 DIY tricks to drive traffic to your website, using tools and know-how you already have.
1) Links, Links, Links
How many social media accounts do you have? For that matter, how many times have you been asked to fill in profile information for a web app or social network you ultimately forget about? If you’re experiencing a lag in traffic to your website, try tracing your presence on all the websites you’ve signed up for (from StumbleUpon to Facebook and Twitter). When possible, add a link to your website in your profile information. Search engines will appreciate these links, as it makes it easier to identify that your website is consistent with your larger online presence, but adding a link to your site left, right, and center will quite simply broaden your exposure.
If you, like many of us, are at a loss to recall the sheer number of website you’ve signed up for over the years, there are a few tools that can help jog your memory. If, for example, you usually use the same user name, KnowEm can search through hundreds of social networks to identify where your name is being used.
Social media accounts aside, another oft-forgotten opportunity when it comes to linking your site is in your email signature. Not only will an updated email signature help the people you correspond with to keep track of your details, it also puts contacts you may be getting in touch with for the first time at ease, allowing them to instantly verify who you are.
2) Talk About It In Real Life
What happens on the internet doesn’t need to stay on the internet. Your website is an integral tool for your business, online and offline. When you’re networking in the real world, keep on offline version of your website with you on your smartphone or tablet. Providing a visual cue in conversations will help remind your new friend or potential client to visit your website again and spend more time exploring.
3) Check Your Keywords
You don’t have to search for long to find hundreds upon hundreds of blog posts encouraging you to get hip to keywords on your website. “Use popular search keywords in your headlines!”, the cheer. “Throw as many keywords as you can around your site!”, they plead. The reality is, orienting your website content around keywords alone will rarely win you long-term gains in traffic or conversions.
Keywords can be broken up into two different categories: “broad keywords” and “longtail keywords”. “Broad keywords” refer to general (and usually high-traffic) words that you might use throughout your site to align yourself as broadly as possible with an industry. “Longtail keywords”, meanwhile, refer more specific terms that help users narrow what you do down from a larger industry. While they’re often industry-specific keywords, longtail keywords can also be strings of several words, such as “what/who/where is ______?” or “ways to _____.” In these cases, consider what your audience might come to your website looking for, and address their potential questions in your longtail keyword.
Longtail keywords help to drive your most relevant traffic, meaning that you will have a higher chance of starting and sustaining a relationship with your new visitors. For more tips on how to structure keywords to drive traffic, check out this informative article via our friends at HubSpot.
4) Get Friendly With Google
There’s little doubt that Google wields inimitable power on the Internet (and our daily lives). Like it or not, to get ahead online, you may have to get friendly with them. Google offers a huge variety of tools to help sites get ranked on their search engines, but for new site owners, your first step should be to submit your website and its contents to Google. All you need to do is enter your URL and a captcha, and Google will take care of the rest.
There are other ways to cuddle up to Google to improve your search ranking. There’s Google Business, which allows you to register your physical business so that it will more easily show up on searches while providing basic information such as opening hours, reviews, and price ranges. Despite is second-fiddle reputation, Google+ is also a helpful resource when it comes to driving traffic to your website by linking your own website’s content to third party content, comments, and your entire existing social network.
Aiga Waitingroom at Wiki Commons
Product photography plays a crucial role in the success of your website; poor quality or amateurish images cheapen the look and feel of your work, and have a big impact on your audience’s first impressions, not to mention their decision to buy your products. Still, ecommerce is awash with terrible product photography, from out-of-focus and under-exposed, to poorly colour-corrected or crooked images. One might be mislead to think that product photography is just too technical for most of us to achieve on our own. We’d like to let you in on a little secret: Product photography doesn’t have to be difficult, or time-consuming, or even expensive. It can be done right in your own home using a few basic materials – and a little bit of DIY know-how. Before you upload images of your work, be sure to read these 9 simple DIY product photography tips, then watch how these photos transform the look and quality of your website.
Choosing the right camera
Despite what you might’ve been led to believe, you don’t need an expensive camera to take great photos. Even an iPhone or smartphone with a good lens will do the trick in a pinch, especially with some added power by way of the dozens of inexpensive photo apps available, like Camera+ for iPhone and Camera Zoom FX for Android. Ideally though, try to borrow or rent a digital SLR camera that allows you to take RAW files and to adjust camera settings. While it helps to have a macro lens to shoot detailed objects, the standard lens that comes on any digital SLR camera should do the trick.
Choose a location
Chances are, you already have a great spot for your DIY photography studio in your own home. The best location to shoot product photos is next to a window that lets in plenty of natural, but not direct, sunlight. To set up your studio, place a table next to the window. Your table should be big enough to hold whatever you’re shooting, as well as a stage (or sweep) for it to sit on. If you can’t shoot your photographs during the day or don’t have a great light source in your house, take a look at tip #3 on how to construct your own light tent.
Build a Sweep
Even if you’ve taken a crisp image of your work, awkward background angles and shadows can diminish your final image results. To solve this problem, you’ll need to build a corner-less sweep. All you need is a piece of bright white bristol board (about $1 at a craft shop), some tape, and something to prop the bristol board up against. If you have a table in a corner next to a window, tape the piece of bristol board to the wall and to the edge of the table so that you have a smooth curve with enough room on the table to place your object (don’t fold the board). Otherwise, a stack of books or a piece of furniture can act as a support. Your sweep should be big enough for allow room for about three times the size of the product you’re photographing on all sides. If you’re not shooting with natural light, a light box is crucial. Check out Digital Photography School’s tutorial on how to build one using a cardboard box, some bristol board, and a high watt bulb.
Use a Tripod, or Fake One
A tripod is a photographer’s best friend, especially when shooting with the kinds of camera settings that are best suited to product photography (see tip #4 for more information). Sure, a great tripod can cost a small fortune, but several perfectly decent models are available to buy on Amazon for under $50. Craigslist, eBay, or your local second hand shop are also bound to have even cheaper (and often great quality) tripods available. Look for brands like Manfrotto and Benro, which are often expensive when new but deeply discounted second-hand. For more information on what to look for in a good tripod, read TechRadar’s stunningly complete report. If you’re shooting with a smartphone, the Joby Gorilla Pod is the perfect tripod alternative (and it also comes in handy when you want to shoot a great selfie). The Gorilla Pod hooks on to just about any surface, and clocks in at about $40. If you’re really strapped for time (or cash), however, the best way to fake a tripod is with some heavy books, a level, and a bit of silly putty or poster board tack. Simply place the heaviest books you can find where you would normally place your tripod, use your level to make sure that the surface the camera will sit on is on an even keel, and use a bit of tack or silly putty to keep your camera from slipping away. If you feel like getting even craftier, check out these Instructables on alternative tripods.
Know Your Camera Settings
This is where it really helps to have a camera with manual settings. Make sure that your camera is set to the highest possible quality, which, for digital SLRs, is usually a RAW file set on “superfine” quality. RAW files need professional editing software like Photoshop, but will go a long way in preserving your photos’ quality. As for manual settings: You’re going to need the biggest depth of field that your camera allows. Depth of field is determined by your “f-stop”, which, for most cameras, is around f/8. Maxing out your f-stop means that your camera will let in less light, which is why you’ll need to compensate by setting your shutter speed to a very low speed (this is also where a tripod really comes in handy). Next, there’s you’re ISO, which will control your camera’s sensitivity to light. Set your ISO to a low rate, 100 is usually optimal. Any higher, and your images risk coming out grainy. Finally, exposure: Most cameras, even on smartphones, allow you to adjust your exposure. For product photography, it’s usually best to adjust your exposure to become brighter, so +1 or +1.5. Take heed: finding the right camera settings for your shoot can take time. Take plenty of test shots, then upload them to your computer to see what kind of quality you get before you start shooting different products and angles in earnest. Your photos don’t have to be perfect from the get go, but it helps to have them in good shape before you head to the editing stage.
Taking Your First Photo
Once you’ve tested your camera settings and have the product you want to photograph placed in middle of your light stage, it’s time to get shooting. Make sure not to use your zoom, as this will diminish the quality of your images, and if possible, use a timer. Using a timer will help you to avoid rattling your camera as you press the button, which should provide crisper photographs.
Use a Reflector Card
Scraps of foam core can be used to make a bounce sheet (otherwise known as a reflector card), which will help to evenly disperse light around your object and get rid of any distracting shadows. If you don’t have foam core or can’t find it in your local craft shop, try cutting apart a tetra pak carton and using the reflective interior side as your bounce sheet. Ideally, your bounce sheet should be able to sit on its own, which can be done simply by folding whatever material you’re using in half.
Editing Your Photos
Now that you have the photos you’d like to work with, it’s time to move onto the editing stages. Explaining the basics of photo editing software like Lightroom, Photoshop, or their freeware cousin, Gimp, would be too lengthy to describe here, but here are some great resources to help you learn how to edit photos yourself:
- Product Photography Retouching Photoshop Tutorial: How to (YouTube)
- How to Quickly Isolate Product Photos Onto White Backgrounds Using Lightroom and Photoshop (Tuts+)
Exporting Your Photos for Your Website
With IM Creator, the photos you upload are automatically re-sized so you won’t have to worry about cropping beforehand. Still, in order to retain the best image quality once your photos have been uploaded, make sure that you export your photos as .jpgs. Your photos’ dimensions should remain as big as possible, while keeping your DPI at around 72 or 100. Make sure to keep your images set on RGB, not CMYK. Image Credits Nikon D7000 Digital SLR Camera 05 by Bernie at Wikipedia Commons Aperture Diagram by Cbuckley at Wikipedia Commons
It’s a tough world out there for bed & breakfasts, guesthouses, and boutique hotels these days. Between aggressive chain-hotel pricing and the mammoth new-comer that is AirBnB, attracting guests can be a struggle, even for the most established listings. In order to compete in this increasingly tricky market, your hotel needs a killer website, one that lovingly showcases your accommodations while making it easy for guests to book. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the best ways to create a high-converting, gorgeous website for your B&B or guesthouse – without spending a fortune.
People care about praise
Booking accommodations tends to be a process fraught with anxiety; few guests are willing to gamble on an independent hotel’s quality without some sort of third party assurance, and when seemingly more reliable chain options abound.
That’s why one of your highest priorities when considering your website’s architecture should be to showcase any praise, awards, or accreditation your hotel has earned. Get a great write-up in a newspaper or travel magazine? Place a quote from the article on your home page. Did a guest leave a particularly touching comment in your guest book? Use their quote as a headline, or as copy between images. Did you receive an award or special accreditation? Ask the organization responsible to provide you with their logo or award badge to place on your home page. If you’ve yet to score praise by way of awards, look into local accreditation that you can apply for.
Remember, though: Any third-party quote you wish to place on your site must be pre-approved by the author.
For most guests, planning a stay in a B&B or guesthouse is linked to a special occasion, whether an anniversary or a weekend getaway to marvel in seasonal colors and fare. In large part, creating a successful B&B website has to do with what happens after it has been designed: Keeping it updated to reflect changing seasons and moods, and making sure that you are appealing to what your customers are looking for at an exact moment in time.
Creating a seasonal website needn’t be complicated. Oftentimes, a simple change of headlines (from “come have a glass of wine on our patio” in summer to “cozy up by the fire in our library” in winter) will suffice, along with images that reflect the charm of your establishment at any time of year.
One independent hotel that has done a great job of appealing to all seasons is the Fogo Island Inn, an eco-hotel situated at the eastern-most edge of Canada. Famous for its “7 seasons”, the Inn’s photography and website reflect this perfectly with interchanging images of summer to winter.
Invest in great photography
If you invest in any help for your website, make it a professional photographer. We humans are visual creatures, and great images on your website will go a long way in convincing potential guests to make a reservation (why else would AirBnB offer free photography services for all their users?). For hotel owners that live in climates with several seasons, ask a photographer – or at the very least, a photography-buff friend – to shoot images of your property year-round. Make sure to have them capture not just interiors, but what exists around your property, whether it be gorgeous hiking trails, a home-away-from-home pub, or a perfect little cafe. In all cases, try to have your images appeal to what potential guests are looking for in your setting, whether it’s wild nature or cosmopolitan chic.
The Internet is not synonymous with long-attention spans: Potential guests want instant reassurance that your Bed & Breakfast has the right qualities for their getaway, and like any website, this usually means narrowing the focus down to a couple basic value propositions.
Don’t make your guests scroll through an essay on the history of your house before they’re able to see photos of rooms or availability, and more importantly, make sure not to hide your “call to action” behind multiple pages or confusing headlines. You have a limited amount of time to convince potential guests of reserving a room with you, so make sure that pricing, amenities, and other details are available as soon as a visitor arrives on your page. Most importantly, leave plenty of space for your visitors to navigate your page. Even the best hotels seem to fall prey to overwhelming their visitors with information, and more often than not, this crowded, messy environment will repel guests.
Connect to Social Media
More often than not these days, word of mouth is spread via social media. Subtly let your guests know that they can “check in” to your location (and snap away) by keeping up with social media. Adding social media widgets to your website is simple with IM Creator’s drag & drop editor. Simply link your existing social accounts to the widgets already present on a template, or add new ones via the “Widgets” list in your editor.
A Case Study in Great B&B Website Design
Wiggley Bottom Farm is a cottage retreat just outside of Healesville, Australia, a cozy and pet-friendly spot nestled amongst rolling hills. They’ve also designed a brilliantly understated, crisp, and informative website, which is acing it at attracting clientele.
Let’s take a look at what makes their site work so well:
- Availability on Every Page: At the bottom of every page of their website, Wiggley Bottom has placed a “check availability” button alongside an easy-to-use reservation calendar – a great way to add a bit of urgency to site visitors’ navigation.
- Showcasing What Makes Them Unique: Every B&B, guest cottage, or boutique hotel has something special to offer guests, and in Wiggley Bottom Farm’s case, one of those things is their decidedly pet-friendly attitude. Alongside information about their property and guest cottage on their home page, a crisp photo of a dog lets visitors know that Wiggley Bottom welcomes pet-owners – a rarity amongst most guest cottages. Try to pinpoint what makes your hotel stand out from the rest, and use element as the key to your site.
- Simple, Succinct Copy: Wiggley Bottom Farm have nailed their website’s copy, with simple, easy-to-read descriptions of amenities, their location, and local attractions. When writing copy, make sure to use simple, evocative words that provide readers with an instant sense of what you’re describing. Because so many online readers simply skim, make sure to use plenty of keywords that are commonly used by hotel guests, such as “retreat”, “privacy”, and “getaway”.
- Big, Bold, Beautiful Images: Bright and airy rooms, green pastures, local wine tasting, and a relaxing farm atmosphere are the visions conjured by Wiggley Bottom Farm’s stunning professional photography. Photos are shot using a wide angle lens in order to capture as much of their spaces as possible, and have been chosen to reflect the varying moods of the farm’s surroundings (from autumnal leaves to starry skies). Best yet, the colors evoked in Wiggley Bottom’s images have been mirrored in their website’s savvy organization, with varying natural shades used to break up content and ease a visitor’s navigation.
Abandoned motel room – 3206 Ontario Highway 2 – Pittsburgh Township at WikipediaCommons
Marketing is essential for businesses, regardless of the niche they function in. There are companies that managed to achieve such a level of marketing exposure that they actually became a part of pop culture and are a part of modern lives (Coca Cola would be a prime example of this). This kind of exposure is something that is achieved through branding.
Most new businesses tend to view branding as something that requires big budgets to achieve successfully. While it is true that, like any other marketing effort, a large budget makes things substantially easier, branding is a practice that requires as much patience and time as it does money.
Is it the right time to focus on branding?
The answer is always yes! Since branding is a long term process, the sooner you start, the better. With all the other things new businesses need to consider in their initial months, branding can take a back seat – even if it is the bridge between you and your customers. Ideally, plan and implement your first branding campaign even before you launch your business. This way, you don’t need to deal with passively built brand awareness, which doesn’t fit your branding vision.
How to build your brand
Branding can seem like an endless, complex process, but it helps to consider its key values. Here’s what to keep in mind when planning your branding strategy:
Honesty & reliability
Decide on the level of quality you are willing to offer and stick to it. The whole point of branding is to get your customers used to a certain quality of service and deliver every time without fail. This way, your customers will always know what to expect and they will learn to rely on you. They will also tell their friends about your brand and will promote you for free because they trust you.
When it comes to branding, you can rely on other companies’ experiences but not their ideas. You need to find an approach that works for you and stick to it. Sit down and brainstorm a bit until you hit something you like. Creativity is very much a plus here.
All your marketing efforts need to be done with branding in mind. Make sure that you make your chosen colors work for you and that your logo appears within everything you do. It is a good idea to develop a certain style which, through consistent marketing efforts, will make it clear that the commercial (or any other marketing form) is yours before your logo even appears.
Rely on testimonials
Customer feedback is a fantastic way to reinforce your brand’s value. Speak with you clients and colleagues, and ask them how they feel about your product or service, as well as how they use it. Use their positive feedback as copy on your website (with proper permission, of course). Customers tend to trust other customers over the company themselves when it comes to judging quality.
Become an expert for your niche
Web users are interested in hearing about personal experiences, especially from those who have gone through the same experiences as themselves. Becoming an ‘expert’ in your field simply by writing about what you know is a straightforward (and surprisingly easy) way to build a brand. Your customers will be thankful for the insight you give them and you can provoke sharing through social media.
Branding is basically putting a face and a personality on your business. When branding is done correctly, the customers feel like they know the company in question and they trust them that they will deliver the same quality as before. It takes one major slip to put your whole effort to rest though, so tread lightly.
Online marketing has turned into an art form of sorts, creating promotional material that can reach millions, all the while providing tons of statistical data, which enables better targeting and the creation of better marketing material. However, for inexperienced online marketers, it may be problematic to pick out the marketing method that works best for them. This is usually achieved with a trial and error method and it takes time to figure out what works best for individual situations.
One exception to this rule is video marketing, which is as effective online as it has previously been through our TV screens. The possibilities for the application of quality video material seem boundless. A single video can perform multiple marketing roles; in this article, we’ll go over a few of its key benefits and capabilities:
Social sharing potential
Promotional material doesn’t tend to thrive in boring environments; no matter your audience, they want immediate answers relayed in a casual, playful, and straightforward way. Video marketing has great viral potential and allows you to play with a lot of elements that can increase its chances of catching the sharing wind through social media.
What’s more, video provides the unique advantage of letting you time when your audience loses interest and stops watching.
Managing boring subjects
Not all material is easy to advertise. B2B companies in particular know that it can seem next to impossible to make technical language and abstract concepts pop out of the screen. Even potential clients who are well versed in your business sector’s language don’t tend to have the patience to read through your company’s information.
With a video, much of the wall-of-text malaise that comes from technical language can be improved by simple animations and diagrams. A well-made video not only helps to hold a viewer’s attention as they learn about your product, it also makes it more understandable.
There’s little way around it, the most immediate, obvious (and free) way to start driving traffic with video marketing is via YouTube. Not only is it the single largest video platform online, YouTube recognized early on the power of social media, and its interface has been optimized to make it as easy as possible for your viewers to click share.
It can take work to develop a steady fan base, but will pay off in the long run. The rules for running a decent YouTube channel are quite similar to running a successful blog:
- Punctuality: Keep viewers fed with a steady stream of helpful tips and resources. Just as every blog post you write needn’t be 1,500 words long, nor do regular videos need to be overly steeped in details. Short, happy updates often suffice.
- Quality: A no-brainer, but it needs to be re-stated: There’s no point investing time and energy into videos unless you have something valuable to say. Focus on churning out good content as opposed to filling a quota.
- Responsivness: Like all user-generated content, YouTube and other video platforms thrive on user comments. If a user comments on your video, be prompt and helpful in responding to them.
Statistic and customer information
Your audience’s attention span isn’t the only bit of data you can glean from your video analytics. Different analytics allow you to gain information about your viewers’ gender, age, nationality, location and more. This information is invaluable for future decision-making and for the creation of better targeted marketing material. On top of this, you can ask for additional information through “squeeze windows” – pop ups that encourage viewers to click or subscribe.
In the past, the production of video material for advertising purposes was expensive, but these days, the whole process costs a lot less and it doesn’t really need to be top-notch from the technical side of things in order to be effective. If we look at things across the board, most successful video blogs were started by teenagers from their bedrooms and dorm rooms, with rudimentary budget equipment and video production software. All it takes is a bit of research and a good idea to boost your website traffic, increase conversion along with your fan base. Video material can be combined with your blog in order to network better. The benefits are too great to disregard.
Ecommerce is evolving fast, and for you, that means easier and faster accessibility to tools that once loomed large and out of reach for your small business. Without the confusion of figuring out sales integrations, payment forms, and tax rates, your website can be turned into a money-making machine with just a few simple adjustments.
Here’s how to turn your IM Creator website into a web shop:
Okay, so their underwhelming webpage might not look like much, but PayPal’s Buy Now Buttons are possibly the easiest way to start selling online.
Buy Now Buttons allow you to sell individual items on your website using credit card or bank transfer payments, at fees on par with the rest of PayPal’s services. You can create your own button on PayPal simply by filling in some information about your business, sales tax, and delivery. PayPal will then generate HTML code that can be easily implemented into your website using the “HTML” element in your drag & drop editor.
Buy Now Buttons do come with some limitations, though: They won’t help you manage orders and payments or let you view sales reports and customer analytics.
For more information on how to make your own Buy Now Button, check out this IM Creator tutorial.
Perfect for: Small businesses that need a fully-functional e-commerce set-up for their own website.
Shopify is the posterboy for simplified e-commerce. Employing the simplicity of a website builder, sellers can add a webshop to their own site simply by customizing a template, and adding products and billing information. What makes Shopify really useful, though, is its detailed analytics tools to help you keep track of customer accounts, sales, and SEO. Shopify also comes with a host of integrations, from MailChimp to Olark.
Shopify plans start at $29/month plus a 2% transaction fee for 1gb of storage space, mobile e-commerce, and 24/7 support, then jump to $79/month plus a 1% transaction fee for 5gb of storage, 24/7 support, and added features like abandoned cart recovery.
Perfect for: Businesses that are anticipating fast growth, businesses that need help handling shipment.
Amazon are the undisputed champions when it comes to e-commerce – their payment processing, ordering, and shipping processes have been optimized to near perfection, and with millions of dedicated shoppers worldwide, selling via Amazon is a great way to find an entrance into the market.
With Amazon Webstore, you can apply Amazon’s technology to your own domain and design. Your webshop’s payment plan can be customized to suit your business’ needs, and best yet, you can send your inventory to an Amazon storage facility so that they can be shipped automatically when an order is made.
At $79/month plus a 2% transaction fee, Amazon’s services don’t exactly come cheap to newcomers. Still, their monthly package does come with unlimited bandwidth, storage, and SKU’s, as well as instant access to Amazon’s enormous pool of customers. Amazon Webstore offers a 30-day free trial to make sure their services are right for your business.
Perfect for: Brands selling online goods like apps, mobile e-commerce
Selling online is all about making things simple for prospective customers. If there’s a lengthy form to fill out or a payment process that seems to take ages, buyers will flee. Google continue their takeover of just about everything web with their take on online payments: Google Wallet. For buyers, Google wallet simplifies the transaction process (especially for non-material goods) by bringing the payment process down to a couple clicks. What’s more, Google Wallet is built specifically with mobile e-commerce in mind.
For sellers, Google Wallet makes reaching the millions of US customers already using their service a breeze, and with highly competitive rates: Google Wallet is free to use, with each transaction costing at most 5% or 1.9% + 30c (USD).
To learn more about how to set up Google Wallet on your website, take a look at their how to page.
With attention spans running low, store-front businesses and pop-up shops need to be fast if they want to catch clients, which means accepting payments on the go, with whatever form of payment they have on them. You, the seller, need to turn your smartphone or tablet into a point-of-sale system.
There are various methods you can use to make sure that you do not let your business walk away, and one of the best is to use your smartphone in order to accept credit card payments. In order to do that, you require a few services, and there are dozens out there.
Please go through this list of 20 Ways to Accept Mobile Payments. As always, your comments are welcome.
If you’re looking for a nitty-gritty way to conduct portable credit card handling, then look at Square. With no month to month expenses, no contracts, and no shipper records, Square is a decent answer for businesses that infrequently require portable payment. Square connects specifically with your financial balance and acknowledges installments from all major charge card organizations. Its 2.75% transaction fee is somewhat steep, but with no extra month to month expenses, you could wind up with cash to spare through Square as long as you don’t use it frequently.
At $12.95 a month, Intuit’s GoPayment for iOSs and Android gadgets is an alternative choice for entrepreneurs searching for a versatile credit card processor. The fittings needed for swiping credit cards come at no extra charge, and transaction fees are aggressive, at 1.75%. Intuit additionally offers a pay-as-you-go plan for dealers that is just about indistinguishable to Square’s arrangement, at 2.75% for every transaction. On the off chance that your business uses Quickbooks or an alternate Intuit Payment Solutions programming, then Gopayment may be an smart decision. It naturally matches up with your bookkeeping programming, helping you effortlessly deal with your books, even on the go.
Created by ROAM Data, Roampay is a mobile payment solution that charges a month to month remote payment access expense of $7.95. Each swipe will set you back 19 cents in addition to a greater transaction expense of 1.58%. Roampay additionally collaborates with a few other credit card transforming organizations, including creditcardprocessing.com, which charges a $7.95 access charge and transaction expenses of 20 cents in addition to 1.55% of the aggregate deal.
17. PayPal Here
Many companies only permit you to have your customers use credit or debit cards, but Paypal Here allows businesses a great deal more flexibility. With this application and equipment, your clients can pay specifically from their mobilePaypal records. Card-less transactions are simple with Paypal: Clients login with your business on their mobile Paypal application and afterward exchange trusts to your record to settle their bill. The expense for every transaction is 2.7% of the last purchase, and there are no extra setup expenses or month to month charges. Paypal recently revealed an alternate mobile installment alternative that permits clients to make in-store installments. Still being developed, Paypal Beacon is a Bluetooth gadget that will incorporate with vendors’ current POS frameworks and unite with the Paypal application on clients’ cell phones when they stroll into a store.
Dwolla doesn’t require any extra equipment. Much like Paypal Here, Dwolla asks customers to log into an application on their cell phones and select which confirmed seller they’d prefer to pay with. Payments are sent specifically to the merchant’s shipper account, and can be observed from the vendor’s cell phone, tablet or portable computer with the Dwolla online booth. Dwolla charges 25 cents for every transaction with no extra month to month expenses, making it one of the most cost effective plans for dealers to take portable payments with.
15. Google Wallet
Using near field communication (NFC), Google Wallet lets organizations take payments both online and in-store. This fast payment system is a great choice for businesses looking to reduce long lines, or for those needing to extend their online client base. For in-store transactions, organizations that don’t, as of now, have a NFC receiver can purchase or rent one from Google’s partner, First Data. Clients with Android telephones running the Google Wallet application will then be able to hold their device over a scanner to make a payment instantly. Sellers pay the ordinary card expenses for Google Wallet transactions, with no extra charges from Google. Your business can likewise connect its client fidelity cards or Google Offers to its Google Wallet seller record to let clients recover rewards with a tap of their phone.
The ISIS Mobile Wallet is another NFC-empowered payment technique, a joint venture between Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Used by more than 200,000 retailers across the country, ISIS is set to become Google Wallet’s principle rival. To start using ISIS, your business will require a NFC receiver, which you can lease or purchase from a vendor of your choice or one of ISIS’ partners. ISIS doesn’t charge extra transaction fees for shippers or clients.
Mastercard’s Paypass lets your business receive quick payments through a NFC-empowered POS terminal. Clients simply tap their NFC-powered credit card or cell phone over the terminal to make a payment. Paypass sellers either buy a module NFC receiver from Mastercard or introduce a completely incorporated POS framework from the organization. Mastercard does not charge merchants extra utilization or transaction expenses for the Paypass framework. Having a Paypass terminal set up at your register will permit your business to receive a variety of contactless payments, not only those made with Mastercard, including Google Wallet and ISIS Mobile Wallet. Mastercard additionally offers a safe advanced wallet — the Masterpass— that your business can use to make checkout simpler for clients. The service is free for both dealers and clients.
Much like Mastercard’s Paypass, Visa’s paywave lets clients make contactless payments at a business’ POS terminal. To begin using contactless payments, sellers can either buy a NFC-empowered POS terminal directly from Visa, or purchase one from another dealer. It isn’t necessary for businesses to buy numerous NFC receivers from Mastercard-aligned organizations. Visa, Mastercard and American Express all issue NFC-empowered cards and gadgets that use the same radio-recurrence innovation.
Levelup is an application that allows businesses to receive portable payments from any client, without credit or debit cards. Vendors use a Levelup terminal, which coordinates with their current POS framework, to scan a (QR) code on a client’s cell phone. Notwithstanding making portable payments speedy and simple, Levelup lets shops create loyalty programs for clients: regulars can add credit to their Levelup account when they visit their favourite shippers. What’s more, this application gives entrepreneurs access to a reach of effective analysis tools so they can stay informed about clients and their purchases.
This cloud-based application lets organizations oversee payments over various locales, monetary forms, and payment types, right from their cell phones. Its parent organization, Powa Technologies, offers a few other portable technologies for vendors. mPowa’s coordinated POS application lets organizations send and accept cash in more than 20 currencies, helping organizations avoid paying transaction costs and remote trade charges. mPowa additionally gives shippers access to many worldwide banks and payment services.
PayToo’s POS application (and card reader) works with credit and debit cards, and in addition to portable wallets, QR codes and RFID, otherwise called contactless payments. Vendors can accept payments in a few different currencies. Notwithstanding its wide cluster of payment alternatives, Paytoo offers global direct-deposit services for workers, free cash exchanges to other Paytoo clients and prepaid universal Mastercards, making it a good choice for multi-national businesses. Paytoo’s portable payment application is free, and there is no month to month administration charge. Vendors accept one free charge card when they sign up. Transaction charges change relying upon the system for installment and whether the installment is performed in individual or on the web. In-store installments with a Visa bring about a 2.69% expense for every transaction, in addition to a 29 cent charge for every approval.
Boku lets vendors acknowledge payments from clients utilizing just cellular phone numbers. Traders can decide to include Boku as a payment choice on their site, portable site or application. Clients essentially enter their cellular telephone number, and payments are added specifically to their telephone bill. Bank accounts and registrations are not required in any way. Boku does not distribute pricing data for potential customers on its site, yet you can seek a Boku account online by giving your business’ essential details.
Like Boku and other mobile payment companies, Payfone is not a credit card solution, but it is still a versatile payment option. The organization’s direct carrier billing permits clients to shop in online stores and charge purchases straight to their cellular telephone numbers. Payfone’s remote system is among the most secure in the business, reassuring vendors that their payment systems are kept confidential.
Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) is the retail world’s endeavor to take mobile payments into its hands, as opposed to entrusting them to the companies behind Google Wallet, ISIS and other portable payment platforms. Insights about precisely how the application will function are few and far between, but MCX maintains that it offers vendors a “versatile trade solution that consistently coordinates payments with an extensive variety of advancements and administrations through practically any cell phone.”
linked2pay is an interesting choice for businesses looking to satisfy the majority of their payment needs in one spot. While the organization offers a versatile application and card reader for businesses, it likewise works as a payment option for dealer sites and encourages payments either in individual or through email, general mail or telephone. The cost of linked2pay’s services, which incorporates Visa and ACH preparing, comes to about $39.95 a month, with no extra transaction charges. Businesses get a free mobile card reader when they sign up. A less expensive bundle is likewise accessible for vendors that sign up for the organization’s services but simply need to process Visas with no ACH payments. The month to month expense is $29.95, with no extra transaction charges.
In case you’re searching for a portable payment option that can additionally work as an in-store POS, then Innerfence may be an incredible decision for you. The organization offers a free application and a card reader that attaches into the charging dock (not the sound port) of cell phones. For more flexible in-store use, Innerfence offers Mastercard readers compatible with Mac and PCs running Windows 8.1. For shippers without a current Visa processor, Innerfence charges $25 a month for Mastercard handling, as well as a 2.9% fee in addition to 30 cents for every transaction.
This mobile payment option from Groupon is giving contenders a run for their money. The no-agreement, no-month to month charge Breadcrumb application serves as a POS framework both in store and out and about. The transaction charges are among the most affordable in the business, at 1.8% in addition to 15 cents for every swipe.
An alternate application for organizations is PaySimple. Best known for its easy to use interface, this mobile credit card processor charges a month to month charge of $34.95. Transaction charges are 2.39% of the aggregate deal, in addition to 29 cents for every transaction.
If you’re searching for a mobile payment option that is certain to keep your clients’ information secure, then Forte may be the right decision for you. The iDynamo, study card reader from Forte offers fraud detection, capable encryption, and security innovation that guarantees most extreme security. The service costs $99.