Best Way to Bookmark Websites

Here’s the scenario. You find something on the web that you need to access again later. While you could just bookmark it in your browser, if you use more than one browser then what? Some days I use Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, all in one day! And, what if you use more than one digital device to surf the web? You might find a great website on your laptop that you want to visit again using your tablet or mobile phone. As you can see, bookmarking websites can be a bit of a challenge. Luckily there is one method that solves all of these problems.

Meet Raindrop.io, a slick method for saving and organizing all of your internet bookmarks. Raindrop works across all internet browsers and on all digital devices. This means you can create a bookmark on one device and seemlessly access it later on another. Best of all, you can even share your bookmarks with other people. The perfect tool for working with your team.

Here are some features that makes Raindrop.io so great:

Free

There is no charge to use the basic version of Raindrop.io and it’s free forever. No credit is required and it’s not a free trial. To get started, you simply sign up for an account using Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or by email address. There are a few extra features offered in their premium version for $3 per month. However, after using Raindrop.io for several years now, I have never felt the need to upgrade.

Collections

You can easily organize your bookmarks into collections, which is Raindrop’s name for folders. There’s no limit on how many collections you can create. Even better, there’s no limit on the number of bookmarks within each collection. If you’d like to make a collection stand out, you have the option to create a visual icon. If you don’t like any of Raindrop’s 100 built-in graphics, you can always upload your own icons.

Search/Sort

It’s easy to find bookmarks using Raindrop’s built-in search utility. You can perform searches from within a collection or search through all of your bookmarks. To keep organized, you can sort your bookmarks in alphabetical order or by the number of bookmarks there are in each collection. You can also sort bookmarks by: date, name, popularity, or website.

Custom Views

There are four different ways you can view your bookmarks: list, grid, cards, or by moodboard. I prefer the “List” view, which provides a small graphic, title, brief description, and website URL. It’s nice that they provide four different options.

Mobile App

There is a free Raindrop.io app you can download for your tablet or smart phone. The mobile app is easy to use and allows you to easily access your bookmarks on the run.

 

In-App Reading

I like that you can read saved bookmarks from right inside Raindrop. However, if you later decide you‘d like to access the complete URL, a simple click of the mouse will send you to the bookmarked webpage.

Sharing

 My favorite Raindrop feature is that you can share your bookmarks with others. You can share a single link or an entire collection of bookmarks. Sharing is so easy, simply type in the email address of the intended person, and they will receive an invitation to access the link or collection. What’s really cool is that if you share a collection with another Raindrop user, the collection will be automatically added to their account, allowing them to add more links.

So those are just some of Raindrop’s top features. I highly suggest you check out Raindrop.io. I believe you’ll discover it’s a great alternative to traditional bookmarking. Raindrop looks good and will help you stay more organized. Best of all, you will finally be able to access ALL your bookmarks across all internet browsers, using any digital device. This means the next time you bookmark a website you’ll be able to find it later.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

You Thought Building a Website Was Easy?

Think Again!

Building a website is a complicated process and requires a lot of thought. After being involved in building a website for our own business and building websites for our customers, I think I could write a book. It ain’t easy. First there is building a brand-new website. The second is revamping an old one. Both require lots of planning. Whether you are thinking about creating a website or want to update your existing one, I think this blog article will give you a few insights to help you have a better website building experience. Maybe even save you a few dollars.

Before you go to the expense and trouble of building your own or hiring someone, your first step is to determine why you need a website? Is it just to provide information or will it be a place for people to buy your products or services, which means it will require ecommerce integration. If you just need a page or two, you may want to just create an About.Me Page or purchase a do-it-yourself website builder like Weebly, Wix, or Square Space. If all you need is an ecommerce site, you may want to check out Shopify or BigCommerce. That may give you all you need.

If you decide you want a full-blown professional website using WordPress, you will need to choose a web hosting company like GoDaddy, Host Gator, or Bluehost. You will also need to buy a domain, which you will have to renew each year. While it’s not mandatory, it makes life easier if you buy your domain from your webhosting company. If you can get a discount when you purchase these products, you may want to buy a few years in advance. Next up is purchasing a WordPress Theme. While there are some free ones, they should avoided like the plague. Free Themes can have security issues and may not be current with the continuous  WordPress updates. Our favorite WordPress Theme is Divi, which can be purchased from Elegant Themes. We highly suggest you purchase a SSL certificate to keep your website secure for your customer and give you better ranking in Google searches. Finally, a few extras that we also recommend purchasing from your webhost provider is a backup plan, security protection against hackers, and premium email accounts.  

The SSL Certificate creates the locked padlock and makes your site secure.

As you can see, expect to pay a few dollars right out of the gate. Some of these costs will need to be renewed every year, so keep that in mind. Don’t buy a website package unless you know your business is going to be around for a few years.

Bottom line, you will need to do some research. You want to be sure that you have a website that is modern and responsive for mobile devices, since most of your customers will be seeing your website from their phone or tablet.

Heads up, this is just as important! You need to pay a lot of attention to how you want your website to look. Here are a few things to consider:

  1.  Audience – Know who you are building your website for. Do you have one ideal customer or several? Make sure your website answers the questions they will be asking when they visit your website.
  2. Colors and Fonts – It supports your brand identity and sets the tone of what your customers can expect from you. The rule of thumb for the color is one dominant color, one complimentary and one background. You may want to check out some color psychology articles to make sure you pick colors that will attract your desired audience. Font choices should be complimentary and limited to 2 or 3 max.
  3. Layout – How many pages do you want? How do you want the layout for each page? For example, a 4-page layout would have a Home page, About page, a Services or Product page, and a Contact page.  A 5-page layout would also include a Blog page.
  4. Content – It is a good idea that even if you are hiring someone to write your content, that you write some basic information to give your content/web designer an idea of what you want to express to your customers. Otherwise they won’t know what you want, and you may not like what they write. Save everyone time, anguish, and money.
  5. Graphics – Go find the graphics and photos you want. Ask your web designer what size they should be, so you get the right size and make sure they are clear.
  6. Tag Line – Create a compelling tag line. It will surely be the first thing they see when they click your website. Wow them if you can.
  7. Email Subscribe Box – You need a call to action (email subscribe box) so that people who visit your site are willing to give you their contact information before they bounce. Our suggestion is offering some sort of free gift. Like a free eBook, white paper, or free consultation that they would like and has value. If they want it, they will have to surrender their email. That is your goal. Make sure you already have an email platform (ex. MailChimp) to store that email address. You can add a subscribe or sign up button on your website that links to your email program.
  8. Social Media – You can also add your social media links to your website like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
  9. SEO – you will want to do some research or work with your web designer to determine what are the right key words to have on your website. This helps optimize your website and blog for Google searches.
  10. Google Analytics – To track your website’s performance, you will need to have your website connected with Google’s web tools.

One of the biggest issues we have noticed in working with our customers when building their websites, is that some of them have not thought out what they really want in advance. They leave it to the web designer. It sets someone up for disappointment.

You may love it, or you may hate it. Do some research before you hire someone. Check out your competitors. What colors are they using? Do you like their choices or do you want a different look? The website you are building, or redoing represents you. Make sure you love it.  It is the face of your business.

Doing his website due diligence.

WEBSITE CHECKLIST

With this information, you will be better prepared to create the website you want and will be proud of. Most importantly, your website will attract your prospects and turn them into customers.

  • Determine need of Website
  • Web Hosting Company and fees
  • Domain and fees
  • Email Addresses
  • SSL
  • Color (3) and Fonts (3)
  • Graphics
  • Content
  • Number of Pages
  • Call to Action
  • Email Subscribe Button (have an email program)
  • Social Media Buttons (at least 1 or 2 social media programs)
  • SEO – keywords
  • Blog Articles (optional)

P.S.  One last thought. Think about who will maintain your website after its built? You can’t just set it and forget it. Websites need to be updated with content and and monitored for various software updates. Regardless of who is going to maintain your website I suggest you ask your web designer for the user id and password used to set up the website. This way you will still be in control and will never be held hostage.  You can use that web designer, someone else, or yourself to do the additional updates that will absolutely be needed.  But own your own website “keys”.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Internet Tips for Business Travelers

Many of you know that Launch4Life has a mascot, Bob Launch. We took Bob on our trip to Spain and while we were there he told us that he learned some things he hadn’t thought about before our trip. He asked me to share three tips with you that he believes will make traveling a little easier. Whether you are traveling down to a coffee shop to meet a client, traveling to do a workshop in another city, or trying to connect with clients in other countries, these tips will save you some grief and time.

 

Tip #1 – Secure Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is available at most places you visit, either free or for a nominal charge. But it won’t necessarily be a secure network. How you will know this? Sometimes you will log onto a particular website on your device. It will allow you to do some things, but not all. You will think that a link is broken. But it’s not. The website is trying to protect you. What you need is a Virtual Private Network. A VPN will put a security bubble around you while you are logging in to pay a credit card, your mortgage, or making a transaction with your bank account. In essence it creates a firewall. I discovered a VPN called Windscribe: https://windscribe.com/  The good news is that they offer a free version that was perfect for me for this trip. This idea is great even for someone who only travels locally. If you think you will need more than the free version, the first paid level is only $4.08 per month and provides unlimited bandwidth. But whatever your need, this VPN is something that will make your life easier and prevent hackers. Also, it will allow you to see the websites you visit in your own language, very helpful.

 

Tip #2 – Online Calendars

How do you reconcile your online calendar with different time zones? This is the one that really made me crazy. You can bet I made a couple of mistakes with that. But now I have it all figured out. Whether you use Outlook or Google Calendar, both have built-in time zone converters.

If you have a Google Calendar, here are the instructions to add a second time zone:

  • Go to your Google Calendar.
  • Click the settings wheel, top right corner.
  • Scroll down until you see time zones.
  • Add another one,
  • Click Save at the bottom of the screen.

If you have an Outlook Calendar, here are the instructions to add a second time zone:

  • Click the File tab.
  • Click Options.
  • On the Calendar tab, under Time zones, select the Show a second-time zone check box.
  • In the Label box, type a name for the additional time zone.
  • In the Time zone list, click the time zone that you want to add.

Now when you go into your calendar you can schedule the appointment in the time of where you are currently. It will automatically convert to the default time for your appointment. So much easier.

 

Tip #3 – Wi-Fi Booster

Many hotels and Internet cafes have Wi-Fi. But it may be sketchy and not secure. You can use your new VPN to create security. But your Wi-Fi might still have strength issues. Downloading files or watching videos may be impossible. If you are like us and use video conferencing, having a good network connection is imperative. We plan on purchasing a Hot Spot before traveling to our next destination. I have done some research. There are a number of them to choose from.

I think I like this one called Keepgo: https://www.keepgo.com. It seems to have everything we need. We can use it nationally as well as internationally. We can buy the pay-as-you-go option for the data after our one-time purchase for the HotSpot of $99. They have a 30-day money back guarantee, so I don’t think I can lose on that decision. I will let you know how it works. There are a number of choices out there to review for your individual needs.

Whether traveling down the road or traveling far and wide, knowing these tips in advance can save you a lot of headaches. If you are in a virtual business like us, the ability to “have laptop will travel” is a huge plus. Utilizing these 3 tips will make all the difference. Bob wishes you “happy travels!!!”

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Project Management for Solopreneurs

Whether you are a large corporation, small business, or solopreneur, organizing your tasks and projects may be one of the most important tools for business growth. While some of us can manage everything in our head, most of us are better served using a dedicated project management tool. The challenge is finding the right tool to help us better manage our projects, so we can be more productive. While there are a number of great project management programs available, most of them were designed for large organizations.

Recently, one of our clients asked if Asana was appropriate for solopreneurs? Our answer was – yes, yes, yes! Whether you’re a big company, small biz, or team of one, Asana is right for your business. Launch4Life has been a big fan of Asana for several years. We use Asana to manage both our personal and professional projects. We love Asana for many reasons. It’s easy to use, keeps us organized, and best of all… it’s free.

Asana allows you to take everything you’ve got going on in both your life and break it down into manageable pieces. With a click of a mouse, you can set up an unlimited number of projects. For each project, you can create a list of tasks and sub-tasks that need to be completed. If a task is time specific, you even have the option of setting a due date. Since Asana was initially built as team-based tool, you can assign tasks to team members in your organization and/or external partners/consultants. But, if you are a solopreneur you can simply assign all the tasks to yourself.

Asana is so much more than a well organized to-do list. It’s actually more of a business management hub for tracking tasks and managing your documents. Each task in Asana can include a wide range of file attachments: PDFs, Bitmaps, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and more. What’s especially helpful is that these files can be shared and/or revised online with other collaborators, or even with yourself. This feature ensures you will always be working with the most up-to-date file.

What I like most about Asana is that regardless of the number of projects I have, all my tasks can be viewed together in one area. By simply accessing the MY TASKS tab, I have a birds-eye view of everything on my plate. Better still, all of the assigned tasks can be segmented by due date: Today, Upcoming, and Later. This feature helps eliminate overwhelm when you are juggling several projects simultaneously.

Here are some reasons that you too may want to check out Asana:

Repeating Tasks – If you find you do the same thing each week (ex. write a blog post that’s due on Monday) you can set that up as a repeating task. Each week when you complete the task, once it’s been marked as “done”, the same task will be automatically assigned the following week.

Accessible Everywhere –  You can use Asana on a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Being a cloud-based tool, it works easily with Windows, iOS, or Android devices and can be accessed used any internet browser.

Drag and Drop – All of your tasks can easily be moved around using drag and drop.

Export Features – If you need to export project information out of Asana, you can do so using Excel or send it to a printer.

Customizable Workspace – Asana provides you with a customizable workspace. You have the option to color code projects, view tasks that are in-process or completed, and even view your progress. You also have the option to archive any in-active projects, which simply hides a project from view temporarily.

IntegrationsAsana integrates easily with a whole host of internet-based programs ranging from: Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, MailChimp, Toggl, Zapier, and more.

Cost – It costs absolutely nothing to get started using Asana. While there is a premium version, you might find you never need to go beyond the free version. Unlike other Project Management tools that offer a limited free trial, the basic version of Asana has no expiration. You just can’t exceed having more than 15 team members. If you are a solopreneur, having a small team shouldn’t be an issue.

Flying Unicorns – When you mark a task as complete, you’ll sometimes see a flying unicorn shoot across the screen. While this isn’t really a necessary project management feature, it sure does make using the program fun.

The only caveat about using Asana is, just like any other software application, you need to put in some learning time upfront. While the program is pretty much intuitive, you’ll find you get more out of Asana when you learn all it can do. I highly suggest watching a few of their training videos. You will find that Asana‘s help topics and videos are fairly short and easy to digest.

No matter the size of your business, you will discover that Asana can help you stay organized. It’s a great project management tool that allows you to break down all of your projects into bite-sized tasks, assign due dates, attach relevant documents, and keep track of where you are in the process. Asana is one of the easiest programs we’ve come across and with a getting started price tag of FREE, it will definitely not break the bank for any solopreneur.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Does Your Business Have a Crisis Design Plan?

Steve Jobs had a quote “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Your business must have a plan that works in every aspect, during the good times, the bad times, and the crisis times. This blog post is about designing for the crisis times.

Last week I had the humbling experience of witnessing the passing of my wonderful Aunt. In the midst of my grieving, I also had the responsibility of creating the funeral arrangements on behalf of my cousins. My Aunt had not made any preparations nor left a note with her wishes. I had to figure out what she would have wanted, what did the family want, and then rustle up a plan that could be implemented quickly. We only had a couple of days left. Fortunately, it was all in place before she passed.

Conversely when my mother passed away a couple of years ago, she had already set in motion her arrangements along with having paid for it. My two sisters and I were able to be at our Mother’s bedside in her final days as daughters, not worrying about the business aspect. When she passed, all we had to do was make a call that triggered the well-orchestrated plan my mother had created months in advance.  No stress, no arguments, no worries except to grieve. What has this got to do with this business blog you ask? Everything. Because the same plans are needed for your business when you are gone? Who is left figuring out what they should do with the business?

Accidents can happen in a moment. Sickness can beset us without any warning. One could get a bad case of the flu and be unable to even think about that appointment made for tomorrow. Or who is going to open the shop? What about that workshop that was scheduled in two days. Who is going to tell your clients you are not showing up? If you have a partner, then things might not be a total disaster. But if you are a solopreneur there is no one to manage your business while you are out sick. Worse, if you died, is anyone designated to tie up all the loose ends of your business?

No one likes to think about these things, but life happens, and death happens. As responsible business people we need to have documents and plans in place to help our partners or family members manage our business for us.

Here are some considerations:

#1 A list of all the programs you have purchased for your business. Which should be cancelled or continued? Where can they find the passwords? Is your business calendar accessibly so they can contact your clients that you had appointments scheduled with?

#2 Who to contact if you have a lease or own a shop? What about staff members contact information?

#3 If your business is a corporation or LLC, where can your tax id be found?  Your tax accountant?

#4 Is your business something that can be sold by your family? Have some notes that can assist them in the research. Depending on the size of the sales do you have a written business valuation?

#5 If you have a partner, is there a buy/sell agreement in place?

Those are a lot of questions to think about. The last thing your loved ones need to be worrying about is winding down your business stressing over how to figure out how to do that. So, do them a favor. Take an afternoon and write down the answers to those five questions. Pick someone to tell them about the plan, where to find it and what you want done.

My Mom had told us that she had pre-planned and paid for her funeral arrangements. We knew exactly what she wanted. We sisters all worked together to support her wishes. She allowed us to be with her in her final days without stress or worry. My aunt on the other hand, had not made any plans. Her children who lived in Europe, were not familiar with U.S. customs and without me would have struggled to put a plan together quickly. Fortunately, having had my Mom’s experience I was able to take charge and make their grieving a little easier. So, show your family how much you love them, write that plan today. While you at it, it wouldn’t hurt to write down your personal needs message to your loved ones. We saw what happened in Florida on Valentines Day. Things can happen at any age.

Steve Jobs knew what his “time” clock was. He worked with his team for the necessary transition. He also created new apple products that could be built and used long after his demise. We don’t always have the knowledge of how much time we have.

I hope this message gives you the courage to write that plan now. Then you can relax and focus on growing your business confident in the knowledge that “just in case”, your business will transition the way you want it.   Your loved ones or partner will thank you for it.

 

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Working With Clients Internationally

While it’s fairly easy working with U.S. clients when you’re in the United States, it can be a challenge when you’re traveling abroad. Also, as your small business starts to grow, you may attract clients from other countries. Solving the puzzle of working with clients internationally is worth some thought.

A simple solution is corresponding by email or video conference. The Launch4Life team loves using Zoom video calls to meet with clients online. However, we still like to provide customers with the option of meeting by phone. That led us to look for a way to host telephone conferences without breaking the bank for either us or our international clients. After all, nobody likes incurring international calling fees.

For us, UberConference was the magic solution. If you’ve been reading our blog posts for awhile, you may remember we wrote a blog post about Uberconference before. UberConference is a cloud-based conference calling program that offers both a free and business plan. For quite awhile, the Launch4Life team was testing UberConference alongside of Free Conference Calling. We found them both to be great programs. We especially like that they both offer a free version, making it easy to try before you buy. After careful consideration, we agreed UberConference was the winner. And, just this past week we made the decision to upgrade to their business plan.

What we especially like about UberConference is that participants have the option of joining a call using their telephone (landline or cell) or VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). VOIP is just a fancy way of saying using your computer’s microphone and speakers in place of a telephone. As a tip, it’s always a good idea to wear earbuds or a headset mic when using VOIP. You will find that it improves the quality of the sound immensely.

If telephone conference call attendees can participate via their computer on the web, it means anyone with Wi-Fi access can join a call. So, if you have international clients or you’re traveling abroad, you will not incur long distance phone charges. Yahoo! It’s hard to believe that joining via VOIP is a feature of UberConference’s free plan. Other free features include: instant or scheduled meetings, notifications and reminders sent by email or text, and unlimited free MP3 recordings.

You may be wondering why we bothered upgrading to UberConference’s business plan? Well, we recently discovered the business plan allows international clients to join by telephone for free. This means our international clients can use a local access number to dial into our meetings. UberConference provides international telephone access numbers in over 50 countries. And as a bonus for us, when we travel abroad we can use those very same international access numbers to meet with clients back in the United States. Sweet!

We’re so glad we took the time to test several conference calling programs before deciding on UberConference. Evaluating which telephone conference platform was the right tool for our business, meant a long and lengthy test drive. Luckily, we found several programs that had a free version. When we first began our research, we had no idea that it would be a need to work with clients internationally that would drive the final decision. Thank goodness all that research didn’t cost us a cent.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com