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Tom Young

Actively listening

Posted on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 by thomas young

As the sole proprietor I must sell my product to maintain a healthy business. I recently watched a video that spoke to actively listening which all business owner and sales personnel must do on a day to day basis. Actively listening allows you to clarify any assumptions in a conversation. Recently I had a conversation with a coworker about a responsive email newsletter. He said to me "Tom, why are we changing the look of the newsletter? Isn't that going to upset the managers? and it looks a little gray." I listened to his two questions and statement and quickly realized that he was concerned about the design of the newsletters and how others might feel. I asked him "What would you like it to look like?" then told him "If the other managers dislike the new look then they can come speak with me to resolve their concerns."

I'm glad to see he was concerned for others feelings in the workplace but I needed to dismiss his second question because it is not his concern. I wanted to get to his concern which is the look of the newsletter and how gray it looked. Once I asked him how he would like it to look he became more comfortable with his input and was less concerned about how others felt.

Sometimes you have to sit back and listen to what others and saying to you. Almost as if you need to read between the lines to get to the real problem at hand. Once you start refining your clients or coworkers statements you will be better suited to handle their real issue.

 

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Tom Young

Optimize your site for SEO

Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 by thomas young

The structure of your site is important, because it's the roadmap Google will use when it crawls your website and ranks your pages. The structure includes how a user navigates the site, how your URLs are written, and how many clicks it takes to get to your most important content. Most site owners organize content into groups, or categories. My favorite word for this is taxonomy. My editors/writers cringe when I say taxonomy ;). How you decide to group your site will impact how it works for both users, and search engines. Less clicks = better results. The closer your content is to your homepage the better the results and the better the category it's in the better the ranking value.

Say you have a bridal website and you are selling wedding gowns. You'll want to make sure your URL is something like yourweddingday.com/wedding_gowns. The content on this page should contain information about wedding gown style, designer, detail, pricing and so forth. The link should be visible in the navigation and one click away from the group of information you are trying to deliver. Having multiple clicks to get more information on designer or pricing will not work in your favor. 

SEO is tricky but if you properly plan for it you will see better organic results. If you need assistance with your current site please call me to discuss.

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Tom Young

Writing high-quality posts

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2015 by thomas young

Writing high quality content for social media is about deciding on your goals. What action do you want your user to take? How will you compel them to take this action? And, if they have doubts what information will you provide to help prevent those doubts?

I find most people struggle with connecting with their audience with the right message at the right time. You don't know what works until you try a few different posts, right?. Today you see more video and picture posts doing well while text post are not as popular. You'll want to keep your character counts down when posting to Facebook or Twitter. More people today use their mobile device to look at social media so keep in mind that screen space is limited so keep it brief.

Next, you'll want to analyze your social media stats. For Facebook this is located under Insights and for Twitter it is analytics.twitter.com. Find out what time of day does your audience see your posts. This varies depending on where you live and time of day. I find that 8 am and 3 pm EST are the best times to post.

Finally, if the post is important enough for you, you should consider advertising on social media to keep the topic top of mind. 

If you have questions or need a social media person please contact me today to discuss. If I can't help then I will point you in the right direction.


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Tom Young

Link your FaceBook to Twitter page

Posted on Monday, April 13, 2015 by thomas young

1) Go to Facebook.com/twitter

 If you are logged in as a manager of a page it will ask you to default to your user profile. Click continue to use your profile.

2) Click on the "link to Twitter" button. You will be brought to the twitter log in page.

3) Enter your username and password and click "Autorize App" button.

 Done!

Now when you post to FaceBook it will push the same note out to Twitter. Some people may not like this option because they are concerned with the 144 character rule that Twitter maintains. When you are running your business lean and mean this will help you save time by not having to recreate the same post. For those who have the time it is worth editing your post to your Twitter audience because they want a quick read so they can move on. 

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Tom Young

Why do you need an online business?

Posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2015 by thomas young

Here are a few strategies for your online business...

1) Amplify your voice - with the use of blogs, email marketing and social media you have an opportunity to speak with new and repeat visitors. Let them know what's new, discounted and what's upcoming by utilizing the tools you currently have.

2) Automate your customer service - FAQ (frequently asked questions) is a great way to set your visitors mind at ease. Webforms is a great way to communicate and people expect a quick response. Make sure your forms are set up for this level of workflow.

3) Sell online - eCommerce is everywhere and is expected as part of doing business. This can be complicated but we have a solution that will handle this along with your customer database and your email marketing needs.

4) Build your community - With blogs, forums, customer comments and your customer database you will build long lasting relationships.

5) Generate new leads - here is your opportunity to use webforms to capture critical information that will lead to your next prospect. Along with workflows, that will respond quickly, and reporting tools, that give you vitals on your business, generating new leads will feel good.

 Are any of these strategies part of your online business?

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Tom Young

What is CMS?

Posted on Friday, March 20, 2015 by thomas young

CMS stands for Content Management System. You should think about your content, its lifecycle and how to better utilize this content to communicate effectively. Lifecycle is just a fancy way of saying start to finish. Here are five steps to controlling your sites content: analyze, content creation, editing, publishing and archiving. Once you have given these steps consideration you should be able to develop a content strategy that allows you to better utilize your sites content.

Lets dig a little deeper, say I own a fitness business and I post daily to my FaceBook or Twitter accounts and update my website with shots of new equipment or people using the equipment. That's a quick analysis of my content. The next step is content creation and thinking about meta tagging or categorizing your data. Why? adding a meta tag to your content is like tagging someone on your FaceBook page. That person you just tagged will get notified. Well the same applies to search engines. Consider this a step toward your SEO strategy. So, I post on my site "New equipment for members and a %10 discounts on products" - I want to tag what type of equipment/products and a short description. After that you will edit this content. This is a good idea and often overlooked. How many times has auto correct changed what you are trying to say? "New equipment for meters and a 10% disown on products". Then on to publishing which the previous steps will help identify what, when and where your content will go. I will use FaceBook and Twitter for audience reach but I want a coupon on my website and a splash page for those who I don't reach through social media. And finally will you archive this content for future use. I will run this campaign every month the first week.

What is your websites content lifecycle?

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Tom Young

You time vs Work time

Posted on Monday, March 16, 2015 by thomas young

Many of us think we balance our work and life time, but we don't. To be clear work time is time spent working, traveling to and from work and time spent thinking about work while at home or away from work. It's that last phrase that gets you thinking about how much time you really are spending on work.

I have a full time job, run a freelance business out of my home and own a rental property. Yes, I'm a busy body, but I do think about my family and what I could do to be with them more.

One trick to creating a better balance is to draw a line in your day where you will force yourself to stop working and spend time with your family or for yourself. I make time to work out for 15 minutes everyday (I know I should allocate more time :) ) and most nights I eat dinner at the table with my family. At night I try to shut down my work around 8pm to spend a few minutes with my kids before they go to sleep.

Think of your time as a budget and plan accordingly. 

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Tom Young

The power of a Web App

Posted on Tuesday, March 03, 2015 by thomas young

I have been working on a few web apps recently to test what is capable utilizing Adobe's Business Catalyst. A web app can mean so many things to so many people. When I talk about a web app I'm talking about a website ability to function as an application. This goes above and beyond the modules already offered like blogs, events, photo galleries, news, media downloads, forums etc. For example, on your website you want to create a listing of businesses. In each listing you offer to the businesses the ability to enter in product information, store location, store hours, price lists etc. (let your imagination run wild here). With a web app you can develop a database that can be managed internally or externally. The catch, well you would need to make sure you purchased the Pro Plan which offers you the ability to develop a web app that will separate you from your competition.

Over the next few weeks I'll be working on a Web App for my site tomscreativeservice.com that will be a functional app to develop a company listing on my website. You will need to log in as a user and set up your company details on my webpage. This should be fun!

If you have questions or would like to know more about it please contact me at tom@tomscreativeservice.com

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Tom Young

how to set up a new web page in business catalyst

Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 by thomas young

Hi. Here are instructions on how to set up a new web page in business catalyst. First thing you will need to do is log into your admin site. Type in your website backslash and admin - it should look like this yourwebsite.com/admin. You will then enter your username and password. You will then access the back end of your site and see a panel to the left that looks like this

Don't worry if your pallet does not look the same. Depending on what type of hosting you selected for your business you may see less options in your pallet. Click on Site Manager then click on Pages

Click on Add Page you should see

There's a couple of things going on here so lets take a look at page details to start.

You will enter a page name here. So if you wanted a page for news links you would name the page news. The page URL will update itself to say www.yoursite.com/news. Folder is not something you would use often unless you are restricting access to this page so leave this blank. Templates, leave the default. In most cases the site will use default because this is the basic structure of your site and will look like all the other pages of your site. Next is the SEO Metadata...

The page title will fill itself in when you give the page a title in the page details view. The page description is very important to search bots to understand what you are writing about. So building off the news links we might want to say something like "a listing of local news citing yoursite.com service or product". Next is More Options...

301 redirect is exactly that a redirect to a different webpage. You could use this to redirect to  a site that handles your news links if desired. Probably not the best example but you could set a webpage to Facebook and redirect to your Facebook page. A more likely scenario is a redirect to a purchase site like Amazon.com. In any case you would most likely skip this and move on to release date. Set this to a date you want this page to be active. Expiry date you would set to when you want the page to expire. Enable will enable More Options or disable those few options. Role responsibility and workflow are for cases in a business where you need to have someone oversee the pages being released to the public. This requires some changes to site settings. For the time being we can leave this as is. Next is the page content

You will enter your content in this box. The pallet at the top is similar to that of Word. Although you don't want to copy and paste directly from word because this would cause issues with the look and layout of the page. There is clipboard with a W on it that indicates paste from Word. This will strip the formatting and keep your site looking good. There is a toolbox to the right which is for the modules you have for your site, again you may not have as many depending on your hosting solution you chose.

A few things to keep in mind that while you are working with the default template sometimes you may get unexpected results on your page. As a designer I work HTML and know that you are probably missing some code to wrap the copy and content holder coding. The simple solution is to look at another page's HTML tab (located next to the design tab lower left of page content window) that is already done to see if you are missing code. Also, I'm here to help answer your questions and better yet consider a maintenance plan with your contract so you are not stuck trying to figure out what's missing.

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Tom Young

The right position

Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2015 by thomas young

Putting the right people in the right position in your business will help you succeed. As you interview for your next hire you need to be up front with that employee and why they are being brought on to your team. It's about making money and helping our clients make money. The folks that work with me are clear on our objective and we discuss weekly what will help our clients online business and bring in the next customer.

Recently, I had an issue with an employee that was stressing out about how to manage the workload. I realize quickly that I needed to step in to calm this person and reorganize their responsibilities. After our conversation I could see the weight lifted and they moved on smoothly with the next few projects.   

As I watch this business grow I want to make sure I hire the right people and develop them to be strong leaders. I make a promise now to do so.

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