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Website Design tips

Website Design tips

Website design is difficult for many small businesses. It takes up time that most thriving businesses don’t have.  Read on for 5 basic website design tips, and reach out to The Write Hand LLC when you get stuck!

5 killer web design tips that will make your life easier

Originally written by Skillcrush

website design

We all want to have a beautifully designed website and yet, it’s surprisingly hard. So what is it that great designers know that the rest of us don’t?

The key to great web design is really very simple: you’ve got to understand the universal rules of good design and follow them, all the time.

Let’s make sure this never happens to you.

1. Learn the fundamental rules of type design
The key to good web design, says Ryan Shafer, Lead Digital Designers at MTV & VH1, is remembering that the web is really just a bunch of text. “I encourage all budding web designers to embrace that the web is fundamentally about typography design.”

And the great news is that type designers have spent the past five thousand years perfecting text design, and there are a few golden rules that all websites should adhere to:

For headlines:

  • Make them bold and easy to scan

  • San serif typefaces are great for headlines because they are stark and easy to read at larger sizes

For body text, you want to maximize legibility:

  • For lots of text opt for a serif typeface

  • Make the font-size much larger than you think is necessary, we recommend 16 px at minimum

  • Lines should never be more than 50-60 characters long

2. Pick a solid typeface, and maybe one with a touch of whimsy
Now, don’t get us wrong, we love Helvetica as much as the next designer. When it comes to picking a font-face you want to pick something super easy to read, graphic, and maybe something a little, you know, whimsical.

Colin Nederkoorn, founder of Customer.io says that recently, “Proxima Nova has replaced Helvetica Neue as my sans-serif typeface of choice. They probably won’t make a movie about it, but if you want a sophisticated sans-serif typeface that the lay(wo)man won’t recognize, give Proxima Nova a shot.”

Some other good choices are Montserrat and Merriweather Sans.

website design

3. Pick a three-color palette & then stick to it!
When it comes to picking a color palette the key is to pick it and stick (to) it. Consistency is everything when it comes to creating a cohesive color palette for your site.

“I prefer neutral palettes that use a strong accent color in a bold way,” says Mike Fortress designer at Oak Studios. “Perhaps a white background (#fff), a not- too-dark text value with a little hue in it (#45585f), and a strong accent color (#4e5fff). But,” warns Mike, “Be careful with that last color!”

Check out Adobe’s Kuler tool for picking colors, or get inspired by the collection of palettes at Colour Lovers.

4. Make sure your photos are the right size
Remember, the web is pixel based, so if your image isn’t large enough it’s going to look pixelated.

“When you are looking for images on Google or iStock, make sure to get the proper size” says designer Kristina Zmaic. “Photo clarity adds a lot of credibility to a site, even if they weren’t taken by you.”

If the image is too small, don’t use it!

5. When in doubt, give it space
The most important design tip is also the simplest: “Make sure your content has breathing room; give it proper margins will help with legibility and focus.” In particular, says Kristina, it’s important to avoid overwhelming users with walls of text.

“Too much text can be a bit daunting. Text is necessary so make sure to break it up with larger sub headings and legible paragraphs. Considering using icons or images as alternative ways to communicate your point.”

If there is one golden rule of design it’s this: pick your aesthetic and stick to it. Consistency is key. Nothing will tank your design faster than picking one design direction and then switching it halfway through.

Read more website tips here.

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The Importance of Accounting for Small Businesses

The Importance of Accounting for Small Businesses

Accounting is one of the least-loved aspects of any small business. However, it is one of the most important parts of running a successful company. The Write Hand is here to help, throughout all your bookkeeping and accounting woes.

The Importance of Accounting for Small Businesses

Bookkeeping is necessary in any business. As a small business owner, it’s important to recognize that the best practices used by Fortune 500 companies also apply to you. Following basic accounting principles is essential for success in any size business; savvy record-keeping and financial analysis is key to not only monitoring your expenses, but to discovering new avenues of growth. In addition, it ensures you stay responsible for tax obligations to the government and to your employees.

small business accounting

Accounting entails more than just managing credits and debits, and it comes into play more often in everyday business decisions than you may realize. A few examples include:

  • Closely monitoring your accounts receivable to illustrate trends or behaviors in your customer base. It can also cut down on the costs you incur by pursuing late payers.
  • Establishing a detailed budget to help discover inefficiencies within your operations.
  • Sudden changes in vendor costs or sales revenues can alert you to important industry changes.
  • Understanding your financial position in order to spot problem areas that could interfere with loans earmarked for expansion.

As you consider your accounting strategy, review your company’s financial goals. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or you employ a staff, your survival hinges on clearly stated financial objectives. You may be in business to reap as much profit as you can, or you may be interested in sharing a product or service that you believe in. Either way, experts agree that one of the most common reasons small business fail is because cash flow runs dry. To prevent this disaster, your business should implement policies for efficient record-keeping and a sound financial strategy.

Taxes are unavoidable. Depending where you operate and the nature of your business, the IRS has very specific requirements about the documentation you’re required to file. Submitting improper or inaccurate documentation can get you into trouble, and it can be extremely costly in terms of fees and penalties. Preparing the required tax documentation has its benefits though, and it can give you vital information about the health of your business. Monthly or quarterly financial statements, cash flow statements, and asset and income statements can provide a clearer picture of your business than your bank balance. Understanding IRS requirements and how you can make them work for you can give you a deeper understanding of your company’s financial health.

small business accounting

What information should I be tracking?

If you haven’t had formal training in accounting or are more interested in other aspects of your business, keeping meticulous records of financial data can be a chore. Furthermore, understanding precisely what information you should be tracking can be overwhelming and confusing. Most small businesses should track the following categories of data:

How should I track these metrics?

Though it’s quite common for small business owners to have a spouse or family friend “do the books,” effectively managing your small business’s finances goes beyond bookkeeping. Properly strategizing for your company’s future, as well as meeting your legal requirements, is best achieved with professional accounting methods. This is particularly true if you’re too busy or too uninterested in the nitty-gritty details to analyze the numbers. At this stage, successful small businesses consider either outsourcing their accounting needs or investing in accounting software. Each option has its pros and cons.

For many startup companies, funds are tight and it may be tempting to pursue the cheapest method. Because your legal requirements are only due once per year, you may choose to ignore it all until tax time every spring. Remember, if you choose this option, you’re essentially opting out of receiving crucial data that can encourage success. The short-term solution may not be the best one, and it pays to do your due diligence when making this critical decision.

Read more about accounting and bookkeeping resources here.

Find more accounting and virtual assistance help from The Write Hand LLC.

 

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Business By Mr. Rogers??? 

So I was searching around YouTube for something totally different and found this unique remix featuring Mr. Rogers. If you really truly listen to the words of the song you can apply this to so much stuff in your life. Be inspired, use your mind, and chase your dreams. Whether they are personal or business, dreams can only come true if first try … and maybe try again, and again, until you get it right. https://youtu.be/OFzXaFbxDcM

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Let's Share...

 

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Effective FB Advertising Virtual Assistant Tricks

Effective FB Advertising Virtual Assistant Tricks

This is one more of those emails I debate whether to “UNSUBSCRIBE” and Clean my Inbox of recurring emails that mostly I NOT INTERESTED in. This time – I took the time and I really enjoyed a lot of this lady’s perspective on Facebook Advertising.

Things that make you go hmmmmm… time to rearrange and keep up…

Full Article and Credit Here

February 3, 2016 — Posted By

Bigger is always better, right?

When it comes to Facebook advertising and your audience—think again!

Advertising in general is both an art and a science, and the same is absolutely true when advertising on Facebook.

This week’s Mari Minute poses the question: what is the ideal audience size for your Facebook ads?

Given that there are 1.59 billion monthly active users on Facebook, it seems almost counterintuitive to aim small, but as Facebook explains it,  “the ad in your ad set is likely to perform better if it’s displayed to the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.”

The reality is that a smaller number means you are targeting specific users to help you achieve a desired outcome, as opposed to casting a wide net and just seeing what sticks. For you as the advertiser, aiming smaller will allow you to narrow in on the exact type of customer or client that your business really wants.

Tips for Successful Audience Targeting

  1. Aim for an ideal audience size between 30,000-300,000 users.
  2. Use Interest & Behavior Targeting to narrow down the audience size.
  3. Use Detailed Targeting in the Power Editor to use Boolean search terms, like “and” “or” to reach users that, for example, like Mexican food AND Los Angeles, or Mexican food AND Los Angeles or Orange County.
  4. When building your ad, aim to get the Audience Definition meter somewhere in the middle between specific and broad.
 
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Posted by on March 3, 2016 in Time Management

 

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Self-Filing Taxes vs. Hiring an Accountant: The Cost Breakdown

Self-Filing Taxes vs. Hiring an Accountant: The Cost Breakdown

The Write Hand, LLC is a Virtual Assistant Company

At The Write Hand, LLC, we are dedicated to helping small business owners eliminate and manage all sorts of administrative tasks. We have assistants with a variety of talents enabling us to create and maintain websites, create and distribute all manners of marketing collateral, down to simple tasks like scheduling, email clean-up, travel reservations and so much more. We like to share articles of value when we come across them and we hope you’ll enjoy this one…

Self-Filing Taxes vs. Hiring an Accountant: The Cost Breakdown

From Kabbage – Click Here for Full Article and Credits

To file, or hire it done, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the pocketbook to hire a professional, or to suffer the slings and errors of doing it all yourself…

Tax time is on us, and that means struggling with a question millions of small business owners ask themselves every year: is it worth the money to hire an accountant?

Fifteen years ago, the answer was clear. Unless you’re an accountant yourself, hire it done. With the new(ish) wave of websites and apps that do the hardest parts for you, though, filing your own taxes is within the ability of many small and most micro business owners. It boils down to a question of cost.

Let’s look at those costs…

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The Costs of Self-Filing

The good news here is that the cash costs of filing correctly are free as compared to filing via a professional. Yes, state filings include a nominal fee — but your accountant includes that fee in his charges, so there’s no difference there. Additional costs of self-filing fall into three categories:

  • The cost of labor. The average personal tax filing requires 16 hours of record keeping, tax planning and filling out of forms. The average business tax filing requires 24 hours for small businesses and increases exponentially as the operation becomes larger and more complex. This could represent cash laid out for a bookkeeper or office manager, or your own precious time.
  • Costs of organization. If you want to come in at anything near the estimated times above, you need to have your business finances in relatively good order. This means paying a bookkeeper, buying financial software, organizing paper records and/or a combination of all three. There’s no true average cost of making this happen, but it will cost you time and money.
  • Software and apps. TurboTax, TaxAct and similar tax preparation help sites are what make this question reasonable, but they do come at a cost. TurboTax costs $80 for federal small business tax filing, while TaxAct costs $50 for federal taxes. Both charge an additional fee for state filing, which varies by state but is rarely higher than the cost for federal filing.

The bad news here is that those low costs are for filing correctly. If it’s an honest mistake, the IRS will ask you to correct the information, and charge you 0.5 percent of any overdue payment for every month it’s late. Considering how long it takes the IRS to process your taxes, you can already have racked up six months or more worth of interest penalties before you even find out about the error.

If they think you filed untrue information intentionally, you’re in a huge world of hurt. Don’t even think about it.

The Costs of Hiring an Accountant

Hiring an accountant is pretty straightforward, cost-wise. On average, it costs about $420 to professionally prepare a Schedule E or C tax filing. This doesn’t include any filing fees you would pay if you filed yourself, but in terms of out-of-pocket expense it’s comparable to the $50 to $80 you would pay to use an online tax service to help you prepare on your own.

It’s important to remember that some of the costs of labor and organization still fall in your lap if you hire an accountant. That $400 charge only happens if you show up with your books already in order, and are able to quickly answer any questions the accountant might have. If you drop off a bunch of disorganized notes, your accountant will charge you for the time spent putting it together…and his/her time costs more than your time or your office manager’s.

On the plus side, hiring a professional accountant provides some protection from the costs of incorrectly filing your taxes. If the mistake was because you gave bad information, those fees are generally your problem. But if you provided accurate information and the tax filings were prepared wrong, that’s what their errors and omissions insurance is for.

The Middle Ground

Choosing whether to hire an accountant or to prepare taxes on your own is a matter of weighing risks, costs and opportunities. Whichever direction you choose, there are ways to mitigate risks and costs that might shade your decision toward one direction or another.

  • If preparing your own taxes, use a tax preparation service and opt-in for their audit protection and other error protection services. It’s not 100 percent protection against everything that could go wrong, but it is a cost-effective way of hedging your bets.
  • If hiring an accountant, ask your accountant exactly how he/she likes to receive documents. Put in the time to have them exactly that way. This will keep your accountant’s time spent at a minimum and keep your fees as low as possible.

Our Recommendation

Since every business is different, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. However, we can give some general advice based on the trends we’ve seen among our own clients:

  • Very small businesses, including sole proprietorships, microbusinesses and most home-based operations, aren’t much more complex that the personal filings you make when you have income from a business. If you’re filing successfully for yourself, you can probably file successfully for your business.
  • Small businesses with equipment to depreciate and employees with payroll are usually better off hiring an accountant. The variables and complexities are too numerous to do successfully without costing you more time and energy than you would save…unless you or a staff member (or a family member) is already confident and experienced with bookkeeping and tax preparation.
  • Medium businesses with complex payroll, multiple locations and other complications should hire an accountant. Even experienced tax people who don’t do taxes professionally can’t count on knowing all the changes and updates to the tax code that could be relevant.
  • Multi-state and other large enterprises should always hire professionals for the job. In fact, at this size there’s a good chance you’ll want an accountant on your payroll full time.

We do our best to report truthfully with up-to-date information, but none of us are tax lawyers and you should take this advice as advice only. If you have any serious tax questions, check with a professional.

Sometimes, small businesses end up in a crack where a tax refund will set them right but they don’t have the money on hand to hire an accountant. In such cases, a Kabbage loan can be a quick and cost-effective way to bridge that gap. Find out more today.

 

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Starting a Business After 40: Part 3 – Learning How to Market Yourself

Starting a Business After 40: Part 3 – Learning How to Market Yourself

The Write Hand, LLC is a Virtual Assistant Company

At The Write Hand, LLC, we are dedicated to helping small business owners eliminate and manage all sorts of administrative tasks. We have assistants with a variety of talents enabling us to create and maintain websites, create and distribute all manners of marketing collateral, down to simple tasks like scheduling, email clean-up, travel reservations and so much more. We like to share articles of value when we come across them and we hope you’ll enjoy this one…

Starting a Business After 40: Part 3 – Learning How to Market Yourself

From Kabbage – Click Here For Full Article and Credits

Finding and developing a niche in business is a great way to attract the kinds of people you want to work with, but don’t expect overnight success. You will need to work at positioning yourself as the go-to expert in your niche, as well as market your message in the right channels to reach your audience.

In Part 1  of this series, we discussed choosing your niche, and in Part 2 , how to gain experience in it. Here, let’s talk about marketing yourself in your niche. In her book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, author Dorie Clark provides several insightful tips to do just that.

small business news

Find Your Unique Selling Proposition

Clark says you need to know what’s unique about you so that you can convey it to others. This will be the basis of your marketing going forward. Additionally, she suggests you consider “what skills or abilities you possess that are in short supply in your new field.” Knowing what gaps there are that you can fill makes you even more attractive as a niche provider.

Clark also says not to fear being an outsider: even if you’re moving into an industry you have little to no experience in, find ways to relate the experiences you do have to making you uniquely qualified to view problems and solutions from a different angle.

Build Your Narrative

The next step in preparing your niche marketing is to craft your narrative:

“Humans understand the world around them through stories, narratives we tell ourselves about what’s happening and why,” Clark explains.

What is your brand, and why are you focused on this niche? Cut-and-dry answers won’t make your story resonate as well as a well-told narrative. Maybe your grandpa was in this industry and he taught you everything you know. That’s a story. Maybe you had a wake-up call after 10 years as an investment banker when you had a heart attack, and now you’re focused on living a better quality of life through your new company. Find a way to make your story relatable. Evoking emotions never hurts!

Apply Your Niche to Content Marketing

Content marketing is still one of the best ways to impart your knowledge on a topic, and the more niche that content is, the better. As you get to know your audience, you’ll better understand what topics they care about. Sometimes, though, it’s trial and error. In Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, Clark says:

“Sometimes you have to experiment with a lot of ideas and see which one sticks. If you’re unsure, let the market decide. Which posts receive the most comments, or retweets, or e-mail inquiries? What seems to capture people’s imagination? Finding your niche is not an exact science, and you often won’t know in advance what will work.”

Not sure where to start? Try conducting research and writing reviews, Clark suggests. Both give you authority in your field, and help expand your knowledge.

Also, Clark says that repurposing content gives you even more ways to reach people. For example, can you take one blog article and expand it into a longer ebook? Create a series of videos or emails? Share tidbits via Twitter?

Get to Know the Media

Another marketing technique Clark suggests in Stand Out is developing relationships with traditional media:

“Being quoted in the mainstream media is useful because they often still have large audiences, even in an era of fragmented reading and viewing habits. Plus, their third-party validation lends credibility to you. If you’re quoted in The New York Times or have appeared on the Today show, that’s a public signal that you’re an authority.”

Keep Your Own Marketing Channel Preferences in Mind

People may tell you that podcasting or videos are the must-have marketing tools, but if you’re uncomfortable with the medium, they won’t work for you. Clark says it’s no good forcing yourself to use a tool if you dislike it.

Instead, focus on the channels that make sense. If you enjoy writing, blogging and book-writing may be a natural fit. If you love speaking to your audience, video is worth considering.

Scale Your Efforts Strategically

Why help one person with your knowledge if you can help five…or 5,000? Clark brings up the example of Quora, a website people go to in order to find answers to their questions. Thousands of industry experts weigh in on questions, building their authority and credibility.

If you start getting the same questions from people over and over, realize that there are even more people out there that want the same questions answered. Determine the best way to help more people with your answer. You could post the question and answer to Quora, or write a blog post and then share it on LinkedIn. There are numerous ways to share your knowledge with more people with a little ingenuity.

Because you’re talking to such a small sector of the population about the niche you serve, your marketing needs to be extremely targeted and valuable. But the more value people get from your marketing messages and content, the higher your conversion to new customers will be!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Small Business News

 

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Starting a Business After 40: Part 2 – Getting Experience within Your Niche

Starting a Business After 40: Part 2 – Getting Experience within Your Niche

The Write Hand, LLC is a Virtual Assistant Company

At The Write Hand, LLC, we are dedicated to helping small business owners eliminate and manage all sorts of administrative tasks. We have assistants with a variety of talents enabling us to create and maintain websites, create and distribute all manners of marketing collateral, down to simple tasks like scheduling, email clean-up, travel reservations and so much more. We like to share articles of value when we come across them and we hope you’ll enjoy this one…

Starting a Business After 40: Part 2 – Getting Experience within Your Niche

From Kabbage – Click Here For Full Article and Credits

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed identifying your niche to help you better serve your customers. By narrowing down the products or services you offer, or by whittling down the scope of who you serve, you can quickly become an expert in your niche.

But if you don’t have a ton of experience in that niche, how can you get it?
The good news is: the more work you do with that laser light focus, the faster you’ll attract more business in your niche market. The key is knowing what projects to take on, and which types of customers to work with. It may take a little more work upfront, but your efforts will quickly snowball, and you’ll have more business than you know what to do with in your little niche!

small business news

Start by Saying No

It’s daunting when you first start working within a niche; you’ll still get inquiries for projects outside of what you want to focus on, and turning them down feels like leaving money on the table. However, it’s the first step in freeing up your time to spend more energy on attracting your niche.

Make sure the verbiage on your website reflects your recent shift to a new niche. You shouldn’t say that you write press releases if your marketing firm now only focuses on blog content. This will deter any people outside of your niche focus from trying to hire you. And conversely, make sure your website does reflect that you cater to your new niche.

If you do have someone approach you for services you no longer offer, politely explain that you no longer offer them, and redirect them to a colleague who can help.

Look at What You’ve Already Done

You likely chose your niche based on your past experience, in which case, you should already have a small portfolio of work to start with. Highlight results your work has garnered on your website so people know you have experience with this niche.

It’s also a good idea to reach out to past clients to let them know you’re focusing exclusively on the types of work they’ve hired you for in the past. Knowing this may spur them to hire you for additional projects or let others in their field know. Don’t be shy about asking them to refer you to others in that industry who you may be able to help with your services. After all, word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to attract new business!

Consider Pro Bono Work

If you’re simply not attracting the kinds of work you want to in your niche, look to companies you could offer free work to in an effort to build up your portfolio. The benefit to working for brands for free, in addition to adding to your proof of skills, is that you can pick the brains of the exact types of people you want to hire you. Getting free advice from them is priceless, and will help you learn to market to that audience (something we’ll discuss in Part 3 of this series). Heck, the companies you provide free work to might end up hiring you in the long run if you do a stellar job!

Look for Gaps to Fill

Even in a niche, you may have competitors. Spend some time reading blog content and books, as well as browsing the competitions’ offerings to see what’s missing. Because you have a unique perspective, as well as your own experience, you might see right away that no one, for example, is offering experiential marketing for tech companies. If you have experience doing this, you can make that your focus.

By working around what other businesses are already offering and finding your own niche services, you can quickly ramp up your skills as more and more people come to you for what they can’t get anywhere else.

Write to Learn

While it doesn’t provide experience in your niche directly, regularly writing content on your niche will make you smarter on the subject and show off your thought leadership skills. Writing blog content on your own blog as well as guest blogging on sites that attract your customer will help you leverage your knowledge, as well as sharpen your understanding of your niche.

You might go on with your writing, if you aspire to be an author (another fantastic marketing tactic). First, research to see what, if any, books already exist on your niche. The more specialized your niche, the fewer books there will be, leaving you with ample opportunity to flex your expertise as an author. Make your book really insightful and useful to your target audience, and you literally will be able to say you wrote the book on [your subject]!

The more you work on projects in your niche, the more you will attract, just like the Law of Attraction says. Like certainly does attract like!

– See more at: https://www.kabbage.com/blog/starting-business-40-part-2-getting-experience-within-niche/#sthash.TPvfBoNg.dpuf

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Small Business News

 

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