fb pixel

Graphics Marketing: Market Your Business With Graphics

graphic of women holding tablet and viewing Launch4Life website

Most everyone is familiar with the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s especially true when you are marketing your business. Whether you are tasked with creating marketing graphics for social media, blogs, or email newsletters, you need to use professional looking images. 

Graphics Make Your Business Stand Out

There’s no doubt about it – graphics capture attention.

Think about when you are scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed. What causes you to stop and read a particular Facebook post? Most likely it’s because there’s an eye-catching graphic, or even better, a video. 

Using interesting graphics helps your social media posts stand out from the crowd. 

Marketing graphics are an essential tool for promoting your business. Think about how a simple graphic, like a logo, can help make a brand recognizable. This is exactly why many businesses put so much effort into creating a logo for their company. 

Take a minute to look at these 4 logos below. Can you identify the company just by looking at the logo? 

 

logos of the Apple, Microsoft, Google, and McDonalds

Easily recognizable logos.

 

Notice there are no words. Just  simple images. These big businesses (Apple, Microsoft, Google, and McDonalds) have all created logos that promote instant brand recognition. As such, their logo’s displayed prominently on all their graphics marketing material. From social media to the website – their logo’s at the forefront. 

As an aside, McDonalds has done such an especially great job with their simple logo. You merely have to hear the phrase “Golden Arches” and you know exactly what people are talking about. Wow. 

 

Where to Begin?

Okay, so we get that graphics marketing is important. But, what do you do if you don’t have the tools or talent to create great graphics?

The answer is to start with baby steps.

You don’t need to be a graphics designer (or hire one) and you don’t need to purchase expensive software like Photoshop. Professional software programs not only cost a lot money, but come with a steep learning curve.

Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to get started along your graphics marketing journey. We suggest you start off with learning an easy-to-use graphics program. 

 

Beginner Graphic Design Tools

One of our favorite online tools is Pablo by Buffer. This free program will allow you to build awesome graphics in a snap. With just a few clicks, you can create a snazzy social media post that includes both text and graphics.

What’s especially nice about Pablo is that it includes a graphics database of 60,000 royalty free graphics. Using their built-in graphics search tool, you can search for any kind of graphic you’d like – snowflakes, mountains, flowers. Best of all, there is no fee for using any of the images.

To add text on top of your graphic, you simply click and type. And for those days when you haven’t a clue what to say, you can use Pablo’s automated quote tool. This nifty feature presents you with a wide range of famous inspirational quotes to choose from.  Social media posts that include quotes are always popular. And more importantly, are the type of posts people like to engage with – likes, comments, and shares.

 

Facebook Post made using Pablo By Buffer

Facebook Post made using Pablo By Buffer

 

While there are other great online graphic tools out there, Pablo is the tool we recommend the most for graphic marketing newbies. When you are just getting started with posting on social media, you need an easy-to-use program.

 

Pablo By Buffer – Demo

This short video contains a quick overview of how to use Pablo. This demo is an excerpt from our Marketing Your Business With Graphics course, we illustrate the process of creating a social media post using Buffer, how to download it to your computer, and then how to upload it to Facebook. 

 

Next Steps

It’s great that there are free online tools like Buffer to get you started with your graphics marketing. However, you will soon learn that the next step in your journey is learn some graphics basics and what other graphics tools are out there. Which is why we suggest you take a look at the course we created – Marketing Your Business With Graphics.

With our graphics course, you will soon be a pro at accentuating your marketing message with eye-catching graphics. You will learn new ways to use your graphics that will help showcase and sell your products and services.

The Launch4Life’s Graphics Course Will Teach You:

  • Where to find free graphics, use them, edit them, store them, and make awesome graphics.
  • The do’s and don’ts of using the right set of color and font combinations in your graphics that will either attract or repel your audience.
  • Understanding of why your audience will think you are an amateur if using kindergartner font styles. Find out how your content requires professional fonts complemented by the right combinations.
  • Tips on how to create presentation slides that will keep your audience involved in your story but can be re-purposed for use in a multitude of ways to continue marketing your message. PowerPoint presentations are a powerful message ally.
  • The graphic tools that will enhance your blogs and social media posts to attract new prospects and customers.
  • A variety of free online tools to build professional looking graphics, along with the links to these sites.

This online course will give you an easy to understand solid foundation. You will learn where to get the best graphics and the best tools you need to create graphics for all your online marketing needs. 

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Zappos Experience – Delivering Happiness

lonely entreprenuer

Last week Gillian and I were fortunate enough to be able to experience a tour of Zappos, located downtown in Las Vegas. For those of you who may not be familiar with this company, it is owned by Amazon but is independently run. It focuses on selling retail products online, from shoes to accessories to clothing. Their motto is “delivering happiness”.

So why on earth would we want to tour Zappos?

Well, because Tony Hseih, the CEO runs his corporation like no other CEO we have seen before. Tony is famous for his entrepreneurial spirit and his focus on customer service. He has written several books. His flagship book that says it all is called Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose. 

The Zappos organization and its people are committed to delivering happiness to all of their online customers. In order to do that, Zappos created a culture that would foster that not only for their customers but also for their employees. Our goal in touring the company was to explore the culture and see how we could apply it to our business.

Here are a few lessons we would like to pass on:

Lesson #1

All Zappos staff must embrace the 10 Core Values*. That is a prerequisite. That is even more important than previous experience or skills. If you fail to embody it in the work environment, they will happily pay you (one month’s salary) to leave.

Every employee must embrace the Zappos Core Values.

Lesson #2

Each employee is empowered to make a difference to the organization in whatever way furthers the mission of Zappos but also enhances the happiness of their own position. Wow what a concept. Almost as if each person is an entrepreneur.

Zappos employees are free to dress up and have fun. Costumes, wigs, and hats provided.

Lesson #3

Different areas all over the Zappos property, which is the old Las Vegas City Hall, are set up to encourage people to engage and create conversations that would further the goals of Zappos and each of the individuals. From cafeterias to a fitness center, to napping pods, to shadowing other employees, to just hanging out on the patio for a coffee, all are based on the wellbeing of their employees and expressing their ideas.

At Zappos lunch is free each and every day.

Lesson #4

People are encouraged to create new services which embraces their entrepreneurship spirit. It also teaches employees how to create their own businesses.

Below are a few stories to demonstrate that culture.

Creating Your Own Job:

Jackie, was our tour guide, her full-time job. Zappos employees are encouraged to bring their dogs to work. Jackie recognized that often times people were so busy they didn’t have time to walk their dogs. So, she set up a dog walking business. Eventually that may become her full-time job as she is quite busy adding more dogs to her list to walk.

Your Passion is Honored:

We were shown a large wall covered with a mural by artist Miguel Hernandez. His story was that he had offered to paint a large wall to make the room more attractive. Before he knew it, his job became resident artist. His work is so appreciated that the Mayor of Las Vegas announced that Miguel would be honored for his contributions to Zappos and the Mob Museum on May 16th, 2016 as “Miguel Hernandez Day”. His entrepreneurial spirit was a contribution to Zappos and inspired his current role as “artist”.

The artwork of Miguel Hernandez, the resident artist at Zappos.

 

The CEO Practices What He Preaches:

Tony Hseih, the CEO once had a beautiful apartment on the penthouse floor of the building overlooking the Freemont area of Las Vegas. But about a year or so ago, he decided that he was becoming too removed from people and was missing the serendipity moments and collisions (opportunities to meet and collaborate). So, he decided to set up an airstream trailer park and moved into his own trailer with his dog and pet llama. Now Tony is happy as a clam.

The message is don’t remove yourself from your people. Stay connected.

We both walked away from our 90-minute tour feeling very inspired. We realized that we already embody those 10 Core Values and that we want to be known for “Delivering Happiness” and showing our customers a Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose. We want to work with online business owners who feel the same.

Here are the 10 Core Values of Zappos

1. Deliver Wow through service
2. Embrace and drive change
3. Create fun and a little weirdness
4. Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5. Pursue growth and learning
6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
7. Build a positive team and family spirit
8. Do more with less
9. Be passionate and determined
10. Be humble

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

What is Slack and Why Your Small Business Might Need It?

Woman wonders what is Slack while looking at phone and computer

What is Slack? Listen up and I’ll tell you.

Launch4Life is excited about a communication tool we’ve started using called Slack. What is Slack? It’s an awesome program for communicating and collaborating with team members.

What’s cool is that you don’t have to be a large corporation to use Slack. It’s effective for small businesses and even solopreneurs. Slack allows remote team members to work together. So whether you’re small team, or a one-person shop with a virtual assistant or a family member that helps you run your business, Slack is for you!

 

But let me back up and tell you why we began using Slack.

Our Slack Story

Launch4Life will soon be offering some new services. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details on that. While we are implementing these new changes we found ourselves in need of a better way to communicate with our team.

While email may work great for Janet and I, we discovered that’s not the case with everyone else we work with. Who knew?

Instead, we learned that instead of email, others prefer to communicate via text. Ack!

The rationale is that email has way too many distractions. Email inboxes can get cluttered up with… too many emails. What’s great about instant messaging is that it’s quicker and much more focused.

Okay, while that may make sense for them, it doesn’t work for me. I prefer email because it lets me keep our communications organized and in one central place.

While I do love my iPhone, I save it for personal use. While I may occasionally use it to text a client, or check email on the go, it’s not my go-to device for business. I‘m “old school” and prefer using my laptop.

So, what do you do when you have team members with different needs?

You build a better mousetrap. You look for one tool that meets the needs of everyone on your team. Which is why we are excited about Slack.

What is Slack?

Slack is an instant messaging tool for communicating with your team.

First up, Slack works on all devices – smart phones, tablets, and computers. So, everyone on the team is happy. Hurray!

More important, Slack is way more than a chat room. It’s a dedicated workspace that allows us to collaborate. With Slack, we can share files, links, and so much more.

 

what is slack and what is a custom workplace

Example of Launch4Life’s Workspace in Slack

 

Your Slack Workspace

How Slack works is you set up a private workspace for your company. Your workspace is a secure and dedicated area on the Slack server that comes complete with it’s own custom URL. You can access your workspace from any digital device using your URL and logging in.

While you can have Slack open in an Internet browser tab, I found it better to download the free Slack app. I like to have Slack always running in the background. If you want to use Slack on a tablet or smart phone, visit the applicable app store and download the free app.

Slack Channels

Inside your workspace you will set up different channels to stay organized. Think of these “channels” as you would think of folders on your computer. You then add people (i.e. members of your team) to those channels on a as needed basis. This helps you keep all the relevant information and people together in one place.

Public vs. Private Channels

Public channels are open to everyone on your entire team. When you first set up your Slack workspace you will have two public channels by default – #General and #Random. You have the option of renaming those channels and/or creating more. It’s your choice.

Whenever you type a message or share a file to a public channel, everyone on your team will see it. Also, all the contents of a public channel is searchable by everyone on your team. That way, if anyone on your team needs to find something they can search for it themselves in the archives. Sweet.

You can also create private channels within Slack. This is ideal for private conversations amongst select team members. Private channels are only open to invited team members. As a matter of fact, other people don’t even see those channels listed, so they won’t feel left out. The private channels you are a member of are distinct because they have a padlock next to the channel name.

Direct Messages

You can also send any team member a one-off direct message. This is useful for when you want to send one, or even several people, a quick private message. I believe that you can send a direct message to up to 8 people at once. What I especially like is that Slack lets you know who is currently on-line and off-line.

The direct message feature is especially good for team members that don’t have access to a phone… as you can send and receive direct messages from any digital device.

Sharing Files & Links

So what is slack doing the best? Collaboration.

Slack makes it so easy to share files with team members. You can drag and drop files right into Slack. Easy peasy. The type of files you can share includes: documents, images, pdfs, videos, and audios.

You can even copy/paste internet links into Slack for your team to access. So if you see something of interest on the web that you’d like to share with your team, you can do so using Slack.

 

what is slack and an overview of the opening screen

Example of Launch4Life’s Channels & Files in Slack

 

Search Feature

What’s great is that EVERYTHING you type or add to your Slack workspace is searchable. Finding messages, files, links, etc., is so simple. Simply type what you’re looking for into the search box… and voila it’s found.

Works Well With Others

The feature that sold me on using Slack was how well it works with other programs. At Launch4Life we use a whole host of online tools to run our business. From A to Z (Asana to Zoom) it looks like Slack works with every program we use. Awesome! The biggest integration bonus was Asana. If we had needed to give up Asana that would have been a deal breaker for me. By the way, if you are a big fan of Asana, check out this awesome article on how well they work together.

I am amazed at how many apps Slack plays nice with. In Slack’s integrations directory there were apps listed that I haven’t even heard of. Which makes this tech nerd girl very excited. There’s probably some cool toys for me to check out.

Your Own Little Slack Bot

If you ever need help using Slack, it’s nice to know you have a trusty slackbot to guide the way. Simply type a message into the direct message chat window and your bot will display the answer. How cool is that?

what is slack and direct messaging a slackbot

Example of Gillian chatting with the Slackbot

 

Customize Your Preferences

Slack allows you to customize your settings. There is even a Do Not Disturb setting that allow you to set your office hours. This means you won’t hear any bings or dings alerting you to new messages. This helps set boundaries around when you work and when you don’t.

Pricing

Slack’s free plan is one of it’s best features. They offer a free forever plan that is very generous. A small business with simple needs may find they never need to upgrade. Kind of reminds me of both MailChimp and Asana.

Free Plan

  • 10k Message Search
  • 10 Integrations
  • Two Factor Authentication
  • One on One Voice and Video Calls 5GB of Total Storage
  • Standard Support

So there you have it, that was my quick overview on what is Slack? I will report back in a few weeks and let y’all know how it’s going. In the meantime, below is a good video about what is slack and how it works.

To sign up for your own account, visit Slack on the web.

 

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Using Facebook Live for Business to Extend Your Audience

Facebook Live for Business Training

Facebook Live for business? What on earth is that?

Let me explain.

As I’m sure you know, organic reach on a Facebook business page is pretty dismal these days. When we post something to our Facebook business page, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of likes, shares, or comments anymore. The bad news is that too many businesses are now having to buy ads if they ever want fans to see their posts. The good news is there is still one free post type that’s doing well – Facebook Live video.

Using Facebook Live for business is a great marketing strategy. It is free way to promote ourselves and our business.

Mari Smith, one of the top Facebook Marketing experts, recently confirmed that “Facebook is now favoring Live broadcasts, which tend to get more organic reach.” It turns out that most people love watching live video. As a result, Facebook Live video gets as much as six times the engagement over regular video.

According to Mari Smith, here’s how Facebook Live video engagement compares to other content you may be posting.

  • Video posts on Facebook get the best engagement – with an average of 6% (up 2%)
  • Photo posts get 4.81% (down 3%)
  • Link posts get 3.36% (down 7%)
  • Status posts get 2.21% (down 10%)

Facebook Live for business is a smart move for anyone that runs a Facebook business page. Unlike Facebook ads, which cost money, Facebook Live videos are free.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… there are a few extra things you can do to get more bang for your buck.

Secret #1: Add Captions to Your Facebook Live Video

Facebook offers a free captioning tool you can use with your live videos. You can type or upload your own captions, or let Facebook generate them for you. The majority of Facebook users see videos in their timeline with the sound off. When they see captions on your video it will catch their eye and let them know what you’re talking about.

Adding captions to a Facebook Live video

 

Secret #2: Upload Your Facebook Live Videos to YouTube

Facebook allows you to download your Facebook Live videos. Which means you can repurpose those videos. One idea is to upload your Facebook Live video to YouTube. This creates more content for your YouTube Channel, which helps with SEO. (Every business owner should have their own YouTube Channel. That’s a blog post for another day.) Always remember Google owns YouTube and having content on YouTube helps with your Google Search ranking. SEO baby.

Uploading a Facebook Live video to YouTube

Secret #3: Embed Facebook Live Videos on Your Website

After you’ve uploaded your Facebook Live video to YouTube, you can then embed it on your website. While you could embed a Facebook video on your blog or website, embedding a YouTube is better. We’ve been embedding YouTube videos on to our website for years and found YouTube to be so reliable. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it?

Not Using Facebook Live for Business?

If you’re not currently using Facebook Live for business, there’s no time like the present. Maybe you have a long list of reasons you’re not already taking advantage of this free and powerful marketing tool. You don’t have time. You don’t know how. You don’t know what to say. You don’t like how you look on video. You don’t like the sound of your voice. Yada yada yada.

“When you need an excuse, any excuse will do.” ~ Robert Vazquez

Please don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. ’ll be the first to admit that I have been riding the “excuse train” for quite awhile. However, I finally decided now is the time to jump in. For a few month now, I’ve have become inspired by a friend and business associate. Sue Clayton, the Serene Solopreneur, is just rocking it with Facebook Live for business. Sue runs a membership site for business women. To keep her members engaged and active on Facebook, she posts at least one (if not more) Facebook Live video each week. Whether she’s at home, at an event, or in her car, she never hesitates to whip out her cell phone and go live on Facebook. Following in the footsteps of my friend and colleague, this weekend I decide to whip out my computer and made my first solo Facebook Live video. For my first session, I decided to just relax and go with the flow. If I can do it… you can do it. The beauty of using Facebook Live for business is that you don’t need any special talent or equipment. Really. If you can write and publish a status post to your Facebook business page, you’ve got this. Plus, you can use any digital device – a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. To get started:

  1. Visit your Facebook business page.
  2. In the status box, click the Facebook Live button
  3. Allow your digital device to access it’s camera.
  4. Smile and get ready to go live – countdown 1-2-3
  5. Start talking. It’s really not the hard.
  6. Your Facebook Live session will be posted to your Facebook business page as you are recording.
  7. Later, you can go back into the video post on your timeline and add captions, download the video, etc.

Facebook Live For Business starting a session I would like to add a few extra tips:

  • If you use your computer, it’s best to do so using Chrome Browser. I discovered that Facebook Live and Safari don’t play nice.
  • It’s important to have a clear idea about WHAT to talk about. Have a specific purpose and stay focused. Try not to drone on and on. Nobody likes a rambler.
  • Think about providing an overview of a specific product or service you offer. Do a quick question and answer session. Or, offer some tips and tricks your audience might find helpful.

Facebook Live videos are an awesome tool every business professional should check out. Try not to get hung up with being perfect. Instead, be yourself and let your unique personality shine through. People like to do business with those we know, like, and trust. Facebook Live videos for business are a great way for your customers to get to know you. So what do you think? Are you ready to start using Facebook Live for business?

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Increase Productivity with This Free White Noise Generator

Listening to white noise generator with computer headphones
Some people love listening to music while they work. Not me. Instead, I find it’s the sounds of nature I need for focused attention. So, when I’m in a place with distracting sounds I yearn for a white noise generator.
 
While silence may be golden, unless you live in the mountains, it can be hard to find. Right now, I have traded in country life for the big city. I am currently staying in Las Vegas where I’m surrounded by noisy neighbors. Summer in the city often includes the sounds of traffic, dogs barking, and lawn mowers.
 
City sounds can get on your nerves and interfere with concentration. Studies show that not all noise is bad. Ambient noises can help increase creativity and make us more productive. I’m excited to share an online white noise generator I recently learned about that creates ambient noises. 
 
Meet Noisli a simple program that serenades you with a host of background noises. The 16 tracks span such sounds as the: rain, ocean, coffee shop, and more. Sound tracks can be solo or combined, allowing you to create the background that meets your needs. The background color changes to add variety.

What I like about Noisli is its ease of use. No login or signup required. Check out their website and start listening to the sound tracks. With a click of the mouse you can toggle any of sounds on and off.

If you want to go to the next level, you’ll need to download the Chrome Browser extension. Sign up for a free account using an email address, Google ID, or Facebook account. Advanced features include saving sound tracks, a timer, and distraction free writing.

Noisli is also available as a purchased app for phones and tablets (iOS and Android). The price runs about $1.99 and does not include as many features as the desktop application. Save your money and use the computer version for free.
 
White noise generators like Noisli are ideal for anyone that works at home. Within seconds you can drown out annoying noises. Noisli’s sounds boost productivity and foster relaxation. It’s great to have an easy to use program to stay focused in a world full of distractions.

* Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition
Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu and Amar Cheema
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 4 (December 2012), pp. 784-799

 

Noisli White Noise Generator Mini-Training

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Starting a Podcast Has Never Been Easier

Have you ever dreamed of having your own radio show? I know I did. When I was a kid, I used to entertain my family for hours with my imaginary “Allen Brady Interview Show.” I always hoped one day I’d host my own show. Now that starting a podcast has never been easier, my childhood dream is totally possible.

Back in 2006, only 22% of U.S. adults had even heard of the word “podcast”. By last year, that figure had risen to 60%. People have not only heard of podcasts, but they’re listening to them on a regular basis.

According to Apple, iTunes now features more than 500,000 active podcasts, including content in more than 100 languages. Wow. Podcasts are popular.

What’s a Podcast?

Not quite sure what a podcast is? It’s kind of like having your own radio show. However, instead of broadcasting your voice live over radio waves, a podcast is an audio file that users can either stream or download and listen to.

People listen to podcasts using any digital device – a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. We’re listening to podcasts at the gym, in the car, at home, walking down the street, or sitting by the pool.

Last winter, the Launch4Life team looked into starting a podcast. However, after doing a little research we were in complete overwhelm. There seemed to be so many moving parts. Special equipment for recording. Software for editing. Not to mention the cost of finding a podcast host provider.

End result? We decided podcasting was way too complicated and expensive for us. Until we heard about Anchor.

Anchor.fm is an exciting new program that makes podcasting super simple. Creating a podcast episode with Anchor.fm is so easy, that anyone can host their own show.

Starting a Podcast with Anchor

To get started with Anchor, all you need to do is sign up for a free account. When you create your account, you can create a custom URL, where you can store all your episodes. You can even add artwork to brand your page.

You have the option of uploading existing audio or creating a live recording. Recording can be done using your computer, smart phone, or tablet. What’s great is that no special equipment is needed. Simply use your device’s built-in mic or attach an external microphone. It’s your choice. As a test, I used the ear buds/microphone that came with iPhone. The audio quality was great.

The podcast episodes you record are limited to one hour. And there is no limit to the number of episodes you can store. After you have recorded an episode you can save it as a draft or publish it immediately.

There are several different options for publishing. You can share it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), embed it on your website, or distribute it to about 13 syndicated podcast sites (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.). Wow.

Of course, if you want to keep it easy-peasy, you can choose to only publish to your custom podcast page on Anchor. That’s what I choose to do as I am testing the waters.

I like the idea of embedding podcast episodes directly on our website. It’s super simply. You just copy the embed code from Anchor and paste it onto any page on your website.

The possibilities are endless. We could sprinkle podcast episodes on various blog posts or on select pages on our website. Or, we could dedicate a Podcast Page on our website to store all of our episodes.

Here’s an example of a podcast episode embedded directly on a WordPress website:

P.S. Contrary to what I say in the podcast episode, you are NOT limited to 5 minute recordings. My bad. You can actually record for up to 60 minutes. Awesome.

If we didn’t want to mess around with copying/pasting embed code to our website. We could just direct people to go to our custom page at:  https://anchor.fm/launch4life

 

Here’s an example of a podcast published on our Launch4Life page on Anchor:

With Anchor, there are no fees. There’s no charge to set up an account. And there’s no charge for hosting. If you’re wondering what’s the catch? The folks at Anchor are being funded by a huge grant from Google.

Anchor even provides excellent stats, so you can track your podcast audience. Their newest feature is that they recently introduced an iPad version that allows you to edit your audio. Hopefully, that benefit will soon be available for computer and mobile users.

If you would like to try your hand at starting a podcast you should take a look at Anchor. It really doesn’t get any easier than this. If you decide to give podcasting a whirl, please let us know, so we can check out your show.

Learn More About Starting a Podcast With Anchor

 

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Want a Faster Website? Learn How to Easily Reduce Image Size

Did you know your website’s page load speed has a huge effect on visitors? Customers have no patience for slow loading webpages. So what bogs down a website? Most likely it’s all those lovely graphics. Most likely, they’re too big. Easy fix. Reduce image size. The immediate result will be a faster website.

Your website visitors aren’t the only ones that don’t like slow loading webpages. Google hates them too. This month Google is releasing a new search algorithm. ‘Speed Update’ will track how fast a webpage loads on mobile devices. Slow websites will rank lower in Google Searches.

So what are we to do? We need to reduce the size of our images. Optimized graphics result in faster page load speed.

You may be wondering “which images on my website do I need to reduce?” If you’re like most small businesses, you have a ton of graphics on your website. And, have no clue which ones are too big.

Thank goodness there’s a simple way to find out. A free and easy website analyzer you can use to discover your oversized web graphics.

So let’s get started.

 

Which of Your Web Images are Too Big?

To test your website’s images, visit Page Weight by Imgix and type your website’s url in the search box.

Immediately, they’ll show you all the images you need to fix. They’ll even highlight your worst performing image. You’ll notice that they list the image’s dimensions (i.e. width x length pixels) and file size (i.e. KB or Kilobytes). They also point out their recommendations for optimizing the image.

 

 

Above is an example of a graphic image from Launch4Life’s website. Notice that while they have the same dimensions (1100 x 600 pixels) the file size 1017.3kb is too big. The webpage does not need the graphic to be at such a high resolution. The file size is causing slow page load speed.

As a good rule of thumb, the size of your image should match the display size on your website.

For instance, on our WordPress blog the featured image (at the top of the page), shouldn’t be any wider than 700 pixels. So if we used an image that was 3,500 pixels wide, it would be five times larger than we need.

The dimensions of a graphic are only one part of the “size” equation.

Resolution, or image quality, also has an effect. The higher the resolution, the bigger the file size.

Images we view on the web don’t need to have such high resolution. Therefore you should try to reduce the image size down to 100kb. Even better, shoot for 75kb.

 

How to Optimize Your Graphics? Reduce Image Size 

So below is an image I uploaded from my phone. Nice picture of me and my family traveling in Scotland.

In the graphic above, the image on the right is the original. You can see the dimensions are pretty large – 1280 pixels by 960 pixels. The file size – 508,460 KB – is pretty big too.

If I wanted to make this the featured image on my blog post, I would need to reduce both the dimensions and file size.

So how can we do that?

Resizeimage.net is the easiest online tool I’ve found to reduce image size.

You don’t need to set up an account. Upload your image, type in the dimensions you want, and click the Apply Changes button. Wow, it doesn’t get simpler than that.

As a tip, it’s best to choose select JPEG for your output file. JPEG files are smaller than PNGs.

As an added benefit, this program also has a few other simple editing features. You can use it to easily crop images and/or add a custom-colored border. It’s pretty basic, but then again, sometimes that’s all you need.

Once you’re done optimizing each image, you will need to upload the images to your website and place them where they belong.

You could stop there, but I suggest doing a few more things. Even if it’s a bit of extra work.

Number 1, make sure you delete all the old images from your website. Even though they will no longer be displayed, you don’t want them cluttering up your media library.

Number 2, go back and run your website again through Page Weight. Hopefully, your website will now pass with flying colors. Allowing you to feel confident your images are no long dragging messing with the speed of your website.

When you reduce image size the speed of your website should increase. Which means Google won’t penalize your website for being too slow. But most important, faster webpages will make your visitors happy. And happy visitors are more likely to stick around and check out your website.

 

Recommended Online Tools

 

Page Weight By Imigix

https://pageweight.imgix.com/

 

Online Image Resizer

http://resizeimage.net/

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

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

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