Category Archives: Tutorials

Social Media Marketing Tips for Food Companies

Just about every business today can benefit from having a strong presence on the Internet, and on social media, in particular. But food companies should follow specific tips and tactics to achieve the best results. If you run a food startup, check out the social media marketing tips below so that you can make the most of every post on every social networking platform.

Royalty free photo

Royalty free photo

Use Instagram to Post Mouth-Watering Photos and Videos

One of the best ways to market your food company is by promoting your food products on Instagram. Take photos of your food in action. Whether you sell delicious dairy-free products like those offered by HamptonCreek, or you are a catering company that serves fully prepared meals, taking and posting photos of your food is a fantastic way to get people’s mouths to start watering. Get followers by using the appropriate hashtags, and take short videos too, in addition to posting high quality images.

Post Recipe Ideas on Facebook

Communicating with your current and potential customers is an important component to any successful social media campaign. If you are a food company, you can have a lot of fun by posting delicious recipes that feature your product. This is a sure-fire way to get people interested in trying out your food in a new way that they may not have thought of before. You can post recipes with photos or with short videos in order to grab people’s attention as they are scrolling through their newsfeed on Facebook, and you can encourage people to give the recipes a try and then post their comments to let you know if they liked them.

Post Your Photos on Pinterest, Too

Another social media platform that is visual and a great outlet for food companies is Pinterest. Post your high quality photos on Pinterest, where customers can gather ideas, including recipes, that they can pin to their boards for later use. You can also use Pinterest to link back to your website or to your other social media pages to attract even more followers. For example, if you are a vegan food company, your goal would be to post recipes that use your product as an ingredient so that people searching for those types of recipes will learn about your brand.

Use Twitter to Promote Your Blog and Website

Because Twitter has such a short limit on the number of characters that you can use in each post, it is best to use this platform to link back to your website and/or to your blog. This will serve to increase traffic to your blog, as well as to your site or your e-commerce shop where people can learn more about your products and make purchases.

Using the tips above will help you attract more attention to your food brand on social media, and that will help your company grow. The key is to be consistent, have open discussions with your customers and followers, and post content that is engaging and relevant to your target audience.

5 Secrets to Building a Brilliant Business Instagram

Despite what some people would have you believe, Instagram is not just for selfies and stalking. The social network now has over 500 million active users every month. This stunning fact means that businesses that want to connect with the public need to be part of the action. Because Instagram is still a relatively new arrival to the marketing sphere, it is not always readily apparent how it ought to be used. If you attempting to build your business’s Instagram account, then abiding by the following guidelines should lead you to some satisfying results.


  1. Tell a Story

Everyone loves a good story, and thanks to Instagram’s newest feature, you can tell yours to your customers. Basically, stories take all of the pictures you add throughout a single day and compile them into a slideshow format. Special tools allow you to add doodles and captions to your pictures for some extra spice. Because each story disappears after 24 hours, people who get the chance to view them feel like they are part of an exclusive secret.
Businesses can use the story feature to their advantage by offering sneak peeks of new product lines or behind-the scenes looks at daily operations. Followers who enjoy the content of your stories are more likely to check your account regularly for updates. As they become more invested in your daily tales, their loyalty to your brand will increase, which should translate into better business for you.

  1. Likable Pictures

Having a strong following is all about having engaging content, and on Instagram, the most important type of content is the pictures. You have to have pictures that people want to look at, plain and simple. Luckily, the latest smart phones make it easier than ever to take clear and attractive pictures, which you can make even more appealing by adding filters. You should set out to create images that visually combine the products or services your company offers with the personality that you want it to convey.
For example, food tech company hamptoncreek features close-up shots of its products, as well as recipes you can make using these products. Chunky cookie dough, savory salads, and lively pastas all sit on dazzling display. Shot against brightly colored backdrops, these pictures convey the company’s upbeat and forward-thinking personality. You can’t help but smile when you scroll through these offerings, and before long you start to want to taste those foods for yourself.

  1. Clever Captions

Even though Instagram is primarily an instrument for showcasing pictures, do not discount the importance of the captions. Viewers are much more likely to remember photos if they are accompanied by interesting or humorous text. When you use captions to explain or elaborate upon your pictures, the points that you hope to make will have a significantly greater impact. Captions are also useful for showing off your company’s unique personality, as well as for sharing links to your other sites.

  1. Hashtag Winning

Hashtags are the icing on the cake for your finely constructed content. This is because they help you connect with people who do not follow you yet. According to Forbes, there are three optimal types of hashtags for businesses to use: Hashtags that are generally attractive to other users, hashtags that turn up in common searches, and hashtags that are specifically related to your products or services. If you add multiple hashtags, then you will have multiple ways of reaching potential followers.

  1. Follow Back

Using the preceding tactics will likely cause you to gain some new followers before long. Once that happens, don’t forget to reciprocate. Your customers will be pleased to see that you are following them back, which will make them more likely to respond to your efforts at interaction. Being able to see what your customers are up to can also be a useful mode of market research.
Picture Perfect:
When planning and executing your company’s social media strategies, it is important to remember that Instagram is both a professional tool and a creative outlet. You need to post content that is targeted towards helping you meet your business goals, but you should have as much fun as you can while doing it. People use Instagram to relax and connect, so construct your account with that in mind. Snap some pictures, slap on some filters, and add captions and hashtags that make you smile. Before long, you could be on your way to being Instafamous.

20 fresh wonderful Tumblr themes

Tumblr is a fascinating microblogging platform and the huge number of users is the most convincing evidence to make everyone take it into consideration. Despite of Tumblr popularity, the name and the story of its creators are less or more famous.David Karp is Tumblr founder and CEO; he is only 28 years old and he didn’t graduate the high school! Yeah, Karp dropped out the high school at the age of 15 years old. It’s unbelievable how he and his parents give up to everything in order to construct and market a microblogging platform. Fortunately, Tumblr is a huge success and he is one of the youngest famous entrepreneurs.
The web designers couldn’t stay farther from this network and created themes to enhance the Tumblr accounts. Of course, it was a good idea because lot of people wanted to customize their accounts. In present, more and more designers create impressive Tumblr themes and people buy these almost instantly.
We previously showcased impressive Tumblr themes, but now it’s time for a fresh set of 20 wonderful ones. The collection is made up from fresh themes, so you may purchase one to enhance your Tumblr account!


Many designers are against hamburger menu, but still none come with a better solution. Flud is a great responsive theme but it has a defect. I think that the hamburger menu from the right part of the header is too small when it’s rendered on desktop format. It’s a personal opinion and I am really curious to know your opinion about. Except this fact, the theme is well-designed and get the greatest mark at the cleanliness aspect.


Tumblr main aim is the wide spreading of information using a concise, simple and intuitive platform. It’s said that an image is worth 100 words, so a Tumblr page sharing impressive images is the climax of this idea. Eris is a practical good looking example of this idea. Obviously, it’s suitable for photographers’ portfolio.


Creeps is a responsive and retina ready Tumblr theme. It supports all type of Tumblr posts and it has widgets that show the latest activities on social networks as Instagram and Flickr, Disqus comments, and the documentation is well written. At that, the theme is suitable for any kind of project so it deserves its place in this collection!


Admiral is a complex masonry layout based theme. It supports all types of Tumblr posts, but also the users are able to submit posts or ideas, the search form is awesome, off-canvas content and free future updates are just a part of the Admiral features and these must convince you to pay attention to it.


Politicize is another complex Tumblr theme that is looking almost similar to a WordPress one. It’s designed for politic parties or public personas and its structure is complex due to the fact that it must cover all the aspects specific to these projects. As example, this theme includes a donate button, a RSS feed, “team” and “About us” sections that are uncommon elements for Tumblr pages.


Prospekt is built using a unique Masonry layout. The innovative idea is the fact that the user may double the width of some posts in order to highlight the importance of these. The theme is very customizable, but I like very much the current dark style that pleasantly emphasizes the content.


Low poly backgrounds are very used this year and if you want a trendy theme, then Inferno may be a solution. Infinite scrolling, the full tailoring of the header, sidebar portrait and background, the multiple typography options are some interesting features of this quality theme.


It was impossible not to add in this collection a minimalistic theme. Quila is a black and white minimalistic theme that is very suitable for blogs because the design is specially created for the perfect reading experience.


“Simplicity is the essence of happiness” is the slogan of the header and I really appreciate this idea. Visto is a theme suitable for blogging as the previous one, too. Altogether, the style of Visto is way more warm and happy. I think that this theme is a source of making everyone feel better and in addition to proper content the success is guaranteed.


Mars is a Tumblr theme that is destined for portfolio projects. The style is very joyful and the colors are playing a big role in making this theme visually appealing. It’s responsive and retina ready, so the users will have the same enjoyable experience regardless the device used.


Vesper is the standard Tumblr theme for photographers. It is dedicated to exhibiting photos…nothing more or less. The theme is simple, but it doesn’t mean that it’s incomplete, it just let the photos specking for themselves.


Agency is built using Bootstrap which isn’t something common, but the final result is really cool. Another unusual feature is the video background, but it looks cool, too. It’s a complex theme and it is aimed for business purposes.


Colorfulness and cleanliness are somehow two opposite concepts and I thought until I saw this theme that their combination isn’t a good idea. Gradiente is a theme that made me to reconsider this idea. It’s fabulously how a theme may be full of colors, but in the same time very clean. It will be much better to check yourself to see this theme!


Oblivion is the perfect choice for journalists. The posts may be featured and added into categories, the infinite carousel is main piece of the theme and the tag cloud is assumed from WordPress. It’s a very original theme and it will work as a magnet for users.

Dining Around

Warning: this theme isn’t suitable for blogs and it’s not recommended to check it if you are hungry. Just kidding…yeah, the theme isn’t suitable for any type of blogs because it supports only text posts; even the developers mentioned this fact but it’s the best theme for a food blog. It’s impossible not to remark the wonderful design and the care for details, i.e., the users have the possibility of printing the recipes.


Edge is a very elegant and modern theme. The flat design based layout and the cool sliding effects immensely contribute to the modern look of the theme and surely attract the eyes of the readers. The theme is very customizable, so the ones that want to more powerful express their personality must be happy with this theme.


Amanra is built on Isotope grid and it looks really great. The beauty of colors and the boxed format of the posts are two big advantages of this theme. Of course, there are many other interesting features and I think that you should consider this theme as a reliable solution if you want to personalize your Tumblr presence.


The ones that have a startup and want to have a standing apart Tumblr theme should visit Moveone. The flat design, the complex structure, the multitude of widgets and the truly awesome sliders will impress the potential clients. It’s not an exaggeration to state that this theme has the potential to increase the profits.


Hyperion is a very simple theme and its design makes the reading a real pleasure. The background is white while in the header are used darker color and in this way is assured a smart color balance.


Deliberately, I let this theme at the end of this collection. The idea behind Tumblr is to build a simple, concise and interesting online presence. This theme is 100% a practical example of Tumblr mentality and I consider that it will became a hit in the Tumblr themes marketplace.
I hope that these themes would be appreciated by the readers and it will be great to have a feedback from you. Do you have a Tumblr account?

Focus on Small Inline Validation Features to Generate Big Profits Online

Do you remember the fun you had when filling out forms in your school? Filling forms during college or while joining a company must be memories you cherish, right? Everyone loves to fill forms – it is an enjoyable activity that calms one’s nerves and make one feel at peace with the world.



Image Source

Don’t feel that way? Guess what – people visiting your ecommerce website don’t enjoy filling forms either. In fact, form filling is a much-hated activity. No one likes to fill forms, least of all people who are paying money to buy something. Remember, your customers are filling the form because it is an inevitable fact of life and cannot be avoided.

But they are doing it with ill grace. Any small thing can trigger their frustration. You don’t want to do that after your smart, shrewd and lovely design has persuaded them to buy stuff, do you? A badly-designed web form will make life difficult for the customers. Any of the following can trigger anger in the visitors and make him abandon the shopping process:

  • Long form asking too much information
  • Being told to change input after filling a field
  • Having to fill the form again for error in one field
  • Lack of relevant options in fields

These are small things that can drive away many of your customers. And if you create forms that make the task of online shopping unenjoyable, you deserve it (I deliberately and systematically discriminate against sites that have bad web forms). So, if you are working on an online shopping cart or website, I urge you to make the web forms as easy to fill as possible. And, you don’t have to work too hard – implementing simple changes in the web forms are enough. Here’s what you can do:


Keep it Short, Stupid

Don’t ask what you don’t need to know about

Simplicity in forms is good, but shortness is even better. By asking for the essential information only, you can reduce most web forms to four or five fields. Most ecommerce stores need to know nothing more than the name, address, email and card information of the user. Most online stores are able to reduce the number of form fields when designing for mobiles, but force visitors to fill out a lot of other information on the PC version of the website.


If you really want other details from the users (the kind that you want but are not mandatory, the ones that have an ‘Optional’ tag attached), ask them after they have made the purchase. This way, you will be able to avoid losing customers who dislike long forms.


Provide Clear Instructions and Hints

Don’t assume any knowledge on the part of the reader

Have you ever filled a password section of a form only to be told later on that you can use only so-and-so characters? And then the website have the effrontery to tell you to fill the whole beastly form again! Now imagine if you are filling a form using a touchscreen smartphone with your battery running out and Internet connectivity fluctuating. Not a fantastic experience, right?


Image Source

If a particular form field accepts only a certain kind of input, it is best to let the user know before he enters the information. You can place text on the side of the form field instructing the user or you can place the instruction within the box. If this offends your aesthetic sensibility, you can work a little harder and create hints and instructions that appear as tool tips when the user brings the cursor within a certain range of the form field. And, in case the customer makes a mistake while filling any field, for god’s sake don’t make him fill the whole thing again!


Offer Enough Options

Don’t let choices turn into an unyielding door

Form field where the users do not need to input data, but can simply choose from a number of options is one way in which the process of filling web forms can be simplified. For instance, when you are designing a form, simply placing letting the customers choose from ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ is better than making them type in the words. Right? Not really – there are millions of transgender people buying things online. They may not want to fill either of the the two options.

Similarly, if you allow your users to choose their country and city to fill up the form quickly, you must be sure that the options that you offer cover all the possibilities. Many online shoppers hate it when their address seems not to exist in the eyes of the website they are spending their money on. When users cannot find the right options and cannot submit the form because of it, they get really angry and frustrated. Either avoid offering options, or cover all possible options, or enable the users to input their own information.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the fact that spending a few hours on inline validation can have a huge impact on the bottom line of the ecommerce store. If you website has bad web forms, you will have a big shopping cart abandonment problem. The simple act of adding inline validation and improving the web forms will help you increase conversions and drive sales.


Author Bio:

Sebatian Atwell is a custom web designer who specializes in designing websites that fulfill the exact requirements of the client. He works for PerceptiveWebDesign, a custom website design company headquartered in Los Angeles.

How to Develop a Multi-Store Ecommerce Website?

Magento is an incredible platform for ecommerce. It is the right choice for those who ever thought about setting up an electronic store online. Thanks to its flexibility and scalability, it suits a whole type of businesses ranging from small, medium to large sized ones.

Running several electronic stores simultaneously is really a great challenge in terms of time and effort. But with Magneto, one can efficiently run a multi-store and multi-language website from only one backend. Here is how to develop 3 stores with three different domains (, and and manage them from the same Magneto backend.


  1. We assume that you are already running a Magneto store, and if it is your first experience with Magneto, you need to firstly install Magento at your server.
  2. We are targeting three stores with three different domains
  3. The three stores will be using the same catalog
  4. Our categories are Furniture, Electronics, Apparel, and Gift Cards for first store.

And basically we are going to work on three configurations:

  1. Categories
  2. Store Configuration in Magento Admin
  3. Store Configuration in the Server


1. Categories


We are going to create our categories under the default Root Category as all the stores will use the same catalog.

Hint: if you would prefer creating a different catalog for each store, you need to create a Root Category for each catalog, meaning, for three stores with three catalogs, you need to add 3 root categories and add your categories for each catalog as subcategories under them.

      1. Navigate to Catalog -> Categories -> Manage Categories
      2. We are going to create our categories Furniture, Electronics, Apparel, and Gift Cards under the root category
      3. At the Display Settings tab, set the categories (Furniture, Electronics, Apparel, and Gift Cards) as “Is Anchor”
      4. from the General Information tab set the categories (Furniture, Electronics, Apparel, and Gift Cards) as “Is Active”

Hint: step 3& 4 are essential for showing those categories on the frontend of your Magento shop.


2. Store Configuration in the Magento Admin

Creating a website

      1. Navigate to System -> Manage Stores and press the “Create Website” button.
      2. In the popup menu insert the following information
        1. Name –
        2. Code – domain01_com ( it is just a parameter to indicate to that particular domain)



Creating the corresponding store

      1. Navigate to System -> Manage Stores and press the “Create Store” button.
      2. In the popup menu insert the following information:
        1. Website:
        2. Name:
        3. Root Category: Default category ( root category)


Creating the store Interface

      1. Navigate to System -> Manage Stores and Press the “Create Store View” button.
      2. In the popup menu, fill in the following information:
        1. Store:
        2. Name: English or (German Version, Italian Version, etc.)just give it a suitable name
        3. Code: domain01_en ( I tried to differentiate this version from other version by adding _en and you can change accordingly)
        4. Status: Enabled ( so that it become accessible to customers)


Configuring the Secure Base URL and Unsecure Base URL 

      1. Navigate to System -> Configuration -> General -> Web.
      2. Assure that the ” Current Configuration Scope:” is showing ””admin_sys_config_scope
      3. Set the Base URL for the UnSecure to be
      4. Set the Base URL for the Secure to be


Hint: uncheck the checkbox next to ”Use default [STORE VIEW]” and then save the configuration.

Creating the other two stores

      1. Repeat step 1 to 10 under “Store Configuration in the Magento Admin” for and


3. Store Configuration in the Server

1. To set theDocumentRoot for all domains to our Magento directory, it is essential to inform the Apache configuration file about the new configuration.

Our Magneto directory is /var/www/http, so let’s re-configure the httpd.conf

<VirtualHost *:80>


    DocumentRoot /var/www/http



<VirtualHost *:80>


    DocumentRoot /var/www/http



<VirtualHost *:80>


    DocumentRoot /var/www/http



      1. At /var/www/http/.htaccess, update the .htaccess file with the next codes:

SetEnvIf Host www\.domain1\.com MAGE_RUN_CODE=domain1_com

SetEnvIf Host www\.domain1\.com MAGE_RUN_TYPE=website

SetEnvIf Host ^domain1\.com MAGE_RUN_CODE=domain1_com

SetEnvIf Host ^domain1\.com MAGE_RUN_TYPE=website

SetEnvIf Host www\.domain2\.com MAGE_RUN_CODE=domain2_com

SetEnvIf Host www\.domain2\.com MAGE_RUN_TYPE=website

SetEnvIf Host ^domain2\.com MAGE_RUN_CODE=domain2_com

SetEnvIf Host ^domain2\.com MAGE_RUN_TYPE=website

SetEnvIf Host www\.domain3\.com MAGE_RUN_CODE=domain3_com

SetEnvIf Host www\.domain3\.com MAGE_RUN_TYPE=website

SetEnvIf Host ^domain3\.com MAGE_RUN_CODE=domain3_com

SetEnvIf Host ^domain3\.com MAGE_RUN_TYPE=website

      1. Restart Apache Server
        1. Type service apache restart, this is for a Red Hat based distribution
        2. Type apachectl restart, this is for other distributions

Hint: we used apachectl restart” instead of “apachectl graceful”, because the latter is useful in case we have already visitors


4: Now we are done

Now you should successfully see all the 3 websites existing in the backend of your Magneto website. All you need now is to fill your catalog with products.


In a few Words

Magneto incredibly allows people with just average skills to set up multiple electronic shops and multi-language stores that can be managed from one back end. So do not miss it out!


About Author:

Mark Wilston is a Content Writer and marketing professional working with PixelCrayons (a reputed Web & Mobile Application development company). He loves to read and write different blogs related to web design and technologies. Contributing in a blog post aids him spreading the words online with a new set of people.

When to Use 3D Models on Your Website

We see a variety of 3D images in movies because they provide cool effects. 3D images really allow what is being seen to come to life. The same holds true for web pages. Many web developers and designers are using 3D models on websites to provide neat effects and grab the attention of site visitors. Some places where 3D models may be seen are on gaming sites, sites featuring artwork and some business websites.


How 3D Modeling Works

All graphics are two-dimensional before they are ever made 3D because that is how a screen works by default. In order to make them 3D, specialized techniques are used. First, the graphic starts out as a simple shape. Then, the designer will add special effects, such as shading, to make the image appear as though it is 3D. A designer may also produce a 3D image by putting together two depth maps into a single repeated pattern that is slightly varied. The most important thing to know when making a graphic 3D is that there must be two copies of the image in order for this design process to work correctly.

In order to make 3D models, special design tools are required. Photoshop is the most popular tool because it is simple to use, and the effects can be achieved with little effort. There are also 3D engines that are used specially for designing animated graphics for games. While most of these tools cost a significant amount of money, there are a variety of free quality 3D modeling tools that can be used by individuals who have a tight budget. In the near future, however, it may be possible to design 3D graphics using HTML code exclusively. An article from ZD Net states that two research teams are working together to add elements into the HTML coding that will allow for developers to add animated 3D graphics to their web pages.


Information Presented with 3D Models

3D models are used for the purposes of making graphics appear as though they are part of real life. We typically see them in animated games as well as in movies and videos. Business owners may choose to design logos in 3D as well as provide 3D pictures of various products in order to capture the attention of site visitors.


How 3D Models Can Effectively be Used on a Website

There are a variety of ways that 3D models can effectively be used on a website. For one, such graphics can be used to enhance a message that business owners are trying to convey to potential buyers. Individuals who may wish to sell artwork will also find it helpful to use this form of modeling.


When Not to Use 3D Models

There are some instances when using 3D modeling is not appropriate. For example, an individual who is advertising writing services will not need to use 3D graphics. Sites that do use this type of graphic will also want to make sure they do not overuse them. These images must be used only when it is appropriate.

While using 3D graphics is an awesome way to reach site visitors, it is essential to make sure the designer is using them correctly. When used incorrectly, these images can actually have the reverse effect and scare site visitors. Graphics must be of high quality, and the site must contain just the right amount of them. recommends that one spend some time learning how to design these properly to make a better first impression on your visitors and clients.

How to Successfully Integrate Video Files to Your Site

The most expensive webcam of all times?

Despite humorous stereotypes, recent increases in online video usage aren’t just driven by hoards of Internet users uploading cat videos. Statistics show that videos can be influential in purchasing products and building brand recognition. One retailer increased their online conversion rate by 174% among users who watched newly uploaded product videos. Videos aren’t just important for retailers though. Video content is easy to watch on mobile devices, and builds attention for blogs, news websites, and many other online presences. Here are some tips for integrating videos on your website:


Years ago, incredibly limited storage space and bandwidth slowed the progress of online video. Hosting videos was expensive and bulky, and they took too a long time to load. Popular video sharing websites, especially YouTube, were instrumental in solving the problem of hosting space. By offering to host videos themselves, users were able to easily upload videos without charge. This lead to what would eventually become a drastic rise in online video viewership. YouTube and some other sites allow videos to be embedded on other websites, meaning that they will host a video, but it can be played on another website. This is a great way to reduce hosting expenses, but hosting is so cheap that only very large companies usually have problems with that. The greatest advantage comes simply in having an automatic, easy to use, and universally available video player.


High speed Internet connections now allow users to stream high definition videos, but bandwidth caps on mobile connections limit the total amount of data that can be transferred, so users may be more hesitant to watch videos from these devices. Optimizing video for mobile devices can help. Using a site like YouTube will automatically give users a way to adjust video resolution. Slow connection speeds may also be a deterent to watching online videos, but this is a hard problem for online publishers to solve.

Autoplay and Default Settings

Some content creators choose to have videos automatically begin playing when a user visits the site. This can save an extra click when a site visitor has specifically clicked a link for the video, but other times it can be extremely annoying. Suddenly starting audio can sometimes surprise users (double check to make sure you have the right WordPress theme as well), and can be rude if the user is in a public space, like a library. Some videos, often in ads, begin playing automatically, but stay silent and only take up a tiny corner of a web page unless the visitor chooses to interact with it. This makes the video effective and eye catching without being obtrusive.

The Draft Pick: Choosing a Player

Choosing a video player is an important decision. Adobe’s Flash Player is one of the most popular video players. It is a great choice because it is available for almost all devices, but recent versions of the popular mobile operating system Android don’t support Flash, limiting Flash videos from play on millions of mobile devices. HTML5, the basic computer language of the web, supports video playback by default, but this latest version of the language isn’t yet  supported by all browsers, desktop or mobile. This is a great solution for many mobile users, but you may still need an alternative for some desktop viewers.

There are many important decisions to be made when it comes to using online video. As with all things in design, there is not one correct answer or one perfect way to please everyone. Making the best possible decisions ensures that as many users as possible will be able to access video content, which can help a company keep current, and participate in the 55% growth in online video. Online video is a powerful way to market your brand online. Adventures Cross Country has been advertising their ARCC teen travel trips online for years with tremendous results.

How to Integrate Video Files to Your Site:

How to solve 5 common work from home problems

work_from_home_problemsIf you work from home, you’re likely to have encountered a fair share of misconceptions about your work life. Whether people kid you about working in your PJs or they assume that, without a boss hanging directly over your shoulder, you’ll be free for lunch so it’s totally cool to just drop by unannounced whenever, family and friends alike seem to think that working from home means…um…not actually working.

But you know that quite the opposite is true. In fact, working at home means being a little more strict with yourself than you were at the office. Here are a few of the most common problems work from homers encounter, and a few strategies for dealing with them.

1. Staying On Task

Sure, there are plenty of distractions in the office, but it’s not like you equate your office desk with relaxation. The same can’t necessarily be said for your home desk when the couch is just around the corner and the fridge is even closer.
Email. While email may be your essential link to the office and clients, it’s also a major source of distraction. Checking that inbox is far more attractive than doing the task at hand, and even briefly reading an email can disrupt your concentration. To master that inbox, it’s best to process emails in batches at the beginning and end of the day, so that you can work through them just like you would any other task. You’ll also be best served by immediately filing, filtering, or responding to email rather than keeping it sitting in that inbox and hanging over your head. Browse through this email guide for a few more tips on mastering your inbox.
Work Area. In case you’re wondering, no, it’s not okay to work from the couch. Set aside an area of the house that is all business, whether it’s an office or a nook. Keep it clutter free, and don’t do anything else there, no matter how tempting it might be. The goal here is to have your brain instantly say, “It’s time to get serious” the moment you walk through the door rather than, “Why don’t we switch on the TV?”
Home Life. Just like the actual space you in which you work, it’s important to keep home life out of your work life. That can mean anything from getting a babysitter to bringing in another remote worker to keep you from getting distracted, or even going to a library or coffee shop.

2. Slow Internet

One of the nicest things about working in a real office: lightning fast internet speeds. Not so at home, unless you want to pay a hefty price for enterprise level service. That said, as this networking guide shows, there are still a number of things you can do to speed that internet back up.
Choose Your Bandwidth Hoggers Strategically. If the kids are streaming Netflix in the next room while you’re trying to have a Skype meeting, you’re almost guaranteed to drop the call. Put the movie on hold.
Limit devices. Chances are, it’s not just your computer that’s connected to your router. If the internet is running slowly, unplug that flatscreen TV, that tablet, your e-reader, and any other devices that might be lurking around unseen.
The router. That basic G router (if you have no idea what type of router you have, check out this guide onhow to buy a router) might have done the job when you were just using your home internet to check email, but you’re going to need an N, N Dual Band or AC router for the best audio and video streaming across devices.
Bandwidth vampires. If your wireless doesn’t have a good or any password at all, get one. Bandwidth vampires may be downloading large and illegal files on your network.

3. Managing Time

time_managementWhen you’re deciding your own schedule, it’s tempting to say, “Eh, I’ll wing it.” But doing so is the best way to get off track.
Make a regular schedule. And follow it. Get up at a regular time and know when to call it quits. Make a to-do list for every day. Don’t try to pump out one more edit to an RFP before putting the kids to sleep. Save it for when that task is scheduled, and give yourself life-work balance.
Let everyone know you can’t come for lunch. If you’re just starting to work from home, be firm when friends and family members try to get you to do things during work hours, whether they’re fun or a chore. Once you set the precedent, you can add in a few lapses here and there.
Track your time in the cloud. Use a tool like Toggl or Harvest to track your time down to the minute and bill accordingly without having to enter your data in multiple places. This will also give you a good sense of how you’re spending your time and how you can become more efficient.

4. Collaborating

When you’re working remotely, using a cloud service to collaborate with colleagues is essential. You’ll save yourself a ridiculous amount of time when you stop sending multiple versions of files back and forth and when colleagues can edit and comment in one spot. Services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Windows Live Sky Drive will make you feel like you’re right in the office, able to access and edit any file you need from the device of your choosing. What’s more, cloud services make for reliable and instantaneous backup, so you won’t have to worry about losing that big presentation.

5. In-Person Meetings

Sometimes, there’s just nothing as effective as face-to-face communication. While there are a number of meeting apps out there, Skype is always a great way to go for one on one chats, and hangouts on Google Plus are a casual and effective way to see everyone in a room. Plus, if you’re using the Google suite of cloud products, you’ll be directly integrated with the rest of the materials you need to be productive, meaning it will be easy to enter notes into a Google Document or share a file loaded up to Google Drive. No matter which platform you choose, it’s important that you firmly establish your presence so that your colleagues remember how crucial a member of the office you really are. It sounds simple, but making sure to say hello and goodbye at the beginning and end of a meeting rather than slinking out when you’re bored or distracted will go a long way towards doing just that.

Working at home really can provide an ideal lifestyle, just as long as you overcome a few hurdles. So get yourself out of those pajamas and get to it!

How to Use Social Media to Measure Success

social media marketingAs a living, breathing human being, you’ve probably already heard that your small business needs a social media plan. In fact, you know that not having one is the surest way to convince potential customers you’re lagging behind.

But simply slapping up a Facebook page or registering a Twitter handle you only use once a year won’t get you very far either. With so much competition, that social media plan really needs to be a plan if you’re going to use social media to establish your brand and stand out from the pack. But just what does that mean to the small business owner, who doesn’t have a digital agency to grease those wheels?
Start by answering these questions below. Then head to this excellent social media guide to get your business on its way.

What does social media success look like?

One of the biggest problems small businesses encounter when developing a social media plan is setting goals. And it’s no wonder, when there’s so much conflicting information out there about what successful social media actually looks like. Does 100 Facebook fans mean you’re a success? How about having more followers on Twitter than people you follow?

The answer to these questions will vary based on your unique business, but know that there are two main camps:

1. It’s all about the dolla, dolla bills
dollar billsAdvocates of this camp argue that the best way to measure the success of a social media plan is by the amount of money it either generates or saves. This could mean everything from generating sales and new product ideas to increasing brand awareness, customer loyalty and purchase rate, reducing customer service time and increasing satisfaction, strengthening relationships with customers or reducing the amount of funds spent on traditional media campaigns.

If you subscribe to the “money above all else” theory, softer metrics like number of fans only have true meaning when anchored to revenue. It’s not saying much, after all, if you have 1,000 fans who never buy anything or become evangelists for your brand. However, if you know that fifty more fans made a purchase this month than last, now you’re onto something.

2. It’s about the dollar bills…and a few other key metrics
If you subscribe to this camp, the correlation between revenue and social media efforts need be not quite as direct. Relationships, after all, take time to build, and it’s often worth it to measure so-called “softer” metrics as an indication about where things are headed. A few include:

• Growth of of Your Social CRM (sCRM). Are you just on Facebook, or do you have several blogs, a Twitter feed, a Pinterest account, and a YouTube account? Your sCRM encompasses every fan on all of your accounts. Every month, collect your number of followers onto a spreadsheet and compare them to last month’s numbers to get a clear sense of trends. Bonus points if you do the same thing for all of your competitors.

• Monthly Referred Social Traffic to Your Site (sTraffic). Say it with me: Google Analytics is your friend. Register your site, and take note of how many visitors reach your site every month via social means. This number is your sTraffic, and, if you’ve got a great social media plan, it should grow consistently.

• Social Media Impressions (sMI). Again, Google is your friend here, specifically Google Alerts. Use this tool to monitor mentions of your brand all across the web and social media. This will give you a rough estimate of your sMI.

Overall, true social media success, means using social media to create measurable increases in awareness and consideration of your brand, loyalty, and advocacy that eventually will turn into company profits. But just how directly that connection needs to be is a standard you’ll have to set for yourself.

What does your business hope to gain from using social media?

managing social mediaOnce you know what true social media success looks like, it’s time to clarify your business’ immediate and long term social media goals. Here are just a few laudable goals:

1. Securing your brand. If you’re just starting out, choose a set username for every social media site and go grab it before anyone else. You’ll want to have your storytelling in line and ready to go, as well as a consistent voice to be used across platforms.

2. Increasing engagement. To increase the number of people interacting with your brand on social media, developing a good content strategy is a must. The goal here is to establish your expertise and become a go-to resource for your industry, so that potential customers won’t be able to help sharing, commenting on and discussing your brand on social media.

3. Developing satellite communities. Learn where your customers are hanging out online. Then, camp out there. Comment on content and other comments with useful, intelligent conversation, share expert content from these communities, and become an active, contributing member of a wider community.

4. Increase revenue. This one may sound obvious, but hey, it’s got to be said! If your primary goal is to increase revenue through social media, it’s best to set clear (and achievable) goals for each campaign. You may, for instance, want to sponsor a photo contest to generate publicity around the holiday season, with the goal of increasing sales by 10%. The more specific you can get, the better.

No matter how you spin it, having a social media plan is crucial for all businesses, big and small alike. To make the most of all that this powerful platform has to offer, take the time to determine what social media success really means to you, create an out-of-this-world content strategy, and start measuring your success.

Why the WP Sidebar is Your #1 Conversion Tool

WordPressWordPress, started in 2003, began as a simple self-hosted blogging tool. Since then it has grown into so much more. It is now a content management system with many large websites such as Forbes and Tech Crunch running entirely on the platform. The company was quite accurate when they said, “WordPress is limited only by your imagination.” Using those same creative juices, configure your sidebar to ensure you convey exactly what your web site is about and deliver the most value to your visitors.

A sidebar is just that, a bar on the side of a blog or website that stays put as you click through different pages. It is very easy to produce, and helps the visitor to your blog or website understand more about you as a person as well as many other helpful things that generate traffic. Easy navigation is essential for any website, and while a sidebar provides this for visitors, it also allows you to choose which pages or posts they navigate to.

Directing People to Social Media with the Sidebar

wordpress-sidebar-widgetsSidebars come in many shapes and size, so pick out the correct theme with a style you like – it will save you hours of time in customization. It can point out things that you would like to highlight when visitors are on your page. It is also a great way to direct people in the right direction so they know how to contact you or follow you on social media. The importance of this is huge; when people know you on a more personal level it makes it easier for them to relate to you. It is easier to trust or support a company or person when you can check them out, and social media is a good way to do this. You can see how the person interacts with others, and check if they are a legit business.

Great Uses for Your Sidebar

The possibilities are endless when it comes to deciding what to put in your sidebar. It is easily changed and can be customized (think of the sidebar as the equivalent of virtual advertising magnets) as you see fit. The most popular options are:

1-     An about link/picture: This is important because it will show people your expertise and whether or not they should trust your business or opinion. This also makes your page very personal and more welcoming to others.

2-      Contact information: This can include ways to contact you on social media, phone numbers, addresses (if applicable) and any other way you are open to receive communication. If people have questions or concerns they need to be able to get a hold of you.

3-      Links: These could be links to other websites or blogs you run, or websites that you are affiliated with and support. If people are interested in your blog they will more than likely want to check out other stuff you create or support.

4-      Popular posts: This will showcase the most popular posts which could essentially spark immediate interest in what you are offering. This is also a great way to drive views to relevant content.

WordPress is a fun and easy way to write and be creative. Use your sidebar to help you keep visitors entertained and help them find exactly what they are looking for.