More and more, people are looking for innovative ways to achieve a work/life balance while maintaining productivity.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is through telecommuting, and recenttrends indicate that work-at-home arrangements for those who aren’tself-employed have risen by 140% since 2005.
In theory, cutting out the commute and being
able to focus on tackling tasks from home is an attractive alternative to the
office-bound norm. But, outfitting a home office to include everything needed
to work optimally isn’t exactly cheap. Except, here’s a secret: it can be cheap.
Throw out of the window everything you think
you know regarding expensive office furniture, fancy computer peripherals, and
costly office accoutrements. Given the multiple tools and technological
advancements available to virtually anyone with a budget, getting everything
you need to work from home doesn’t have to require a mountain of cash.
Here’s how to set up a home office that will
be conducive to getting work done without distractions and at a price that your
wallet can live with.
If you’re going to be converting a guest bedroom,
den, or other living space into a home office, your first concern is likely
going to be related to the furniture. For many people, the first impulse might
be to just yank everything out, whitewash the area, and head over to the
nearest Office Depot to get a desk, a lamp, a file cabinet, and any number of
other pieces of furniture that might be needed. For most, furniture costs end
up being the biggest expense involved in setting up a home office.
To bring the furniture bill down as low as
possible, here are a few suggestions:
Stop and think about what you actually need. It’s amazing how quickly a home
office can become cluttered with things that are rarely ever used throughout
the course of a given workday. Take a minimalist approach to stocking your home
office with furniture, and instead of buying everything you think you’ll want in the future, start
with the bare necessities and build up from there as necessary.
Make a list of the required pieces. A desk. A
comfortable chair. A lamp. A computer monitor. Et cetera. Come up with a short,
concise list of furniture must-haves. Try not to include things that could
encourage distraction, like reclining chairs, lava lamps, or digital picture
Tap the secondary market. Your local Craigslist is an absolutely
fantastic source for gently used office furniture that can be snapped up at a
seriously cut rate. Not only can you find everyday consumers selling unwanted
office furniture, you can also get information on local estate sales and
going-out-of-business sales that can hold hidden gems you can acquire for
pennies on the dollar. Is there a retail business near you that is closing its
doors? Go inquire about buying their furniture. Often, they’ll be more than
happy to liquidate it for a fraction of what it cost new.
If you’re strategic about getting the office
furniture you need for your home office, you shouldn’t end up spending more
than a few hundred dollars, tops. If it turns out that you actually do need
that extra file cabinet in the future, you can always look to the secondary
market again, later.
Connectivity is crucial for those who work
from home. You know you need a reliable internet connection, a good wireless
router, a good computer monitor, keyboard, and a few other select pieces of
hardware. For internet service – before you go out and sign a multi-year
contract with an internet service provider, be sure to
shop around just to be sure there aren’t less expensive
alternatives available to you.
Here’s a pro-tip for anyone who’ll be working
from home more than a day or two a week: invest in a high-quality, mechanical keyboard. Be sure to
scour ebay and even your local tech store for open box returns or manufacturer
refurbished mechanical keyboards. Due to their smart construction, these
devices can be easily fixed and upgraded, and they last for a long time.
A final note on routers: unless you absolutely
have to, do not buy a wireless router directly from your internet service
provider. The routers they would like to sell you are often low in quality and
high in price. Remember that modems and routers are two different things, and
the best bang-for-your-buck comes from getting a two-in-one model that performs
both functions. Netgear and Motorola provide some
world-class modem/router combo devices that will almost certainly cost less
than what the internet company wants to sell you.
Ready, Set, Work!
Thinking critically about how to set up your
new home office can save you thousands of dollars and hours of precious time.
By relying on secondary markets for needed furniture and accessories and by
knowing what equipment you need instead of what you want, the savings
can be even greater. Now that you have a plan for building out the home office
of your dreams, go forth and be productive!
Kevin is the founder of Vast Bridges, a lead
generation and customer acquisition firm focused on helping companies grow. They
were voted the best place to work in Jacksonville, Fl. so Kevin knows a thing
or two about a happy and productive workforce. Kevin develops and implements
strategic business for different companies, something that has allowed him to
become an expert on the different ways of growing a business.
Maybe when you first launched your company online, your website was bringing you all the traffic and leads you could hope for. You invested in a great design from a professional company, spent ages getting an SEO audit, and for a while, everything seemed like it was smooth sailing.
However, if you’ve begun to notice your numbers dropping recently, or you’re just not getting the same response you did a couple of months ago, then you might be wondering what went wrong. For most companies, the problem will be a case of “set it and forget it” syndrome.
A website isn’t something that you can work on once and never look at again. If you want your site to be attractive enough to attract buyers, and even brokers when the time comes to sell your company, then you need to keep on top of regular maintenance.
Why Your Website Needs Constant Care
It’s shocking how many modern businesses believe that they only have to work on their websites once. Web maintenance and care are some of the most critical components of looking after your digital company, but it’s also one of the most overlooked.
As the virtual world continues to evolve, you can either move at the same pace as your competitors, or risk falling behind with a website that starts to stagnate. Here are some of the reasons why you should have a schedule in place for regular website maintenance.
1. A Maintained Website is More Secure
Security is one of the biggest concerns that any business faces – online or offline.
As more cybercriminals take to the web to steal private information and valuable data, we seem to hear countless stories about websites getting hacked, and companies suffering from lost revenue and customers as a result. Not only does poor security on your website leave you vulnerable to a host of dangerous threats like malware, and ransomware, but it could also have a negative impact on your brand reputation too.
Even if you fix security issues after they occur, some customers will avoid your website because they won’t feel they can trust you to keep their data safe. A regularly updated and maintained website, on the other hand, constantly patches and repairs any issues as they show up, so you don’t leave any windows open for the hackers.
While your hosting company can do some work to keep you safe from security threats, you’ll still need a strong maintenance plan to make sure that you’re the first to know when vulnerabilities arise.
2. Make a Better Impression
Your website is essentially your digital storefront. It’s how you show off your brand to the online world and convince people that you’re worth their investment. If your website looks unprofessional or outdated, then it’s going to be hard for you to convince customers that they should buy from you. In fact, a poorly-designed website could even mean that you scare away brokers when you’re trying to sell your business. After all, most online investors won’t want to have to pay the money to have a site completely re-designed before they can start making money from their new business.
A strategy of regular maintenance for your website ensures that you won’t fall behind on design trends and preferences. When you’re constantly checking on your site and comparing it to your competitors, you can start to see when you might need a design refresh or something new to improve customer experience.
Remember to ensure that your site is designed to work well with both desktop and mobile browsers too. More people than ever before are shopping from their smartphones these days, and you don’t want to miss out on an incredible opportunity to make a big profit. While you shouldn’t necessarily change your site every time a new trend comes along, big changes like responsive grids and better navigation can make your site more appealing and valuable.
3. Keep your Content Fresh
There are various components involved in a good website maintenance strategy. While it’s important to make sure that your site looks good as trends change, and that everything works smoothly from a security perspective, it’s also crucial to keep your content assets in check.
While the design of your website will impact the first impression that customers have of you and your company, it’s your content that will keep people around for longer and convince them of your credibility. With great content, you can show your audience that you deserve their trust and their custom. By spending some time to regularly look through your content, remove blogs that aren’t working, and add new ones, you’ll be able to boost your incoming traffic and increase brand loyalty.
Remember to keep a close watch in your content marketing metrics like engagement levels and bounce rates, so you can adapt your posting strategy to suit the preferences of your target audience.
4. Boost Usability
Even if you have the most attractive and entertaining website online, you’re going to have a hard time making a profit with it if your customers can’t use it. As technology continues to transform, visitor trends are changing with it. A regular maintenance plan for your website will help you to make sure that you’re still using the right formatting and navigation strategies to suit your audience.
For instance, many websites today have horizontal navigation bars – which might be great for devices with larger screens, but they’re not as useful for smartphones and tablets. A recent trend to hit the web design marketplace is the implementation of the “hamburger menu” which can be much easier for customers to use on a smartphone.
Check that you’re still giving your customers the best possible experience with your website. If it’s difficult to get around your blog posts or check out your new products, then people will simply skip your website and head to a competitor instead.
5. Enhance your SEO
Finally, regularly maintaining your website also gives you an opportunity to make sure that your SEO strategy is up to scratch. Since a good portion of your customers likely come to you from organic traffic, it’s important to make sure you’re ranking for all the right keywords and phrases. Of course, there’s a lot more to ranking on Google than putting the right words into your blog posts.
Google, as well as other major search engines, constantly updates its algorithms with new rules on how to make it to the top of the ladder. If you’re not keeping track of your SEO strategy, then you might be falling behind on the rules. Everything from the speed of your website, to the websites that link back to your products and blog posts, can impact your SEO today.
Make sure that your strategy is strong enough to keep getting you the organic traffic you need. As you maintain your website, remember to:
Remove anything that could slow down loading times
Focus on customer experience to keep people around for longer
Use keywords organically in your content
Add images where possible with meta descriptions
With regular care and maintenance, you can make your website really shine!
Bio: Jock Purtle is the founder of DigitalExits.com and an innovative entrepreneur who started his first business when he was still in his teens. When Jock isn’t running his business, he’s writing for high-quality publications all the way from Forbes, to CNBC and more.
So You Have A Website Now What? By: Jessica VanderHaar
You start with a great idea or product that you want to market. You have done the research and built the website but how do you drive people to your site? The internet can be a field of dreams; however, due to its sheer size even if you build it, they may not come.
If you have unlimited funds, you can definitely pay to get your website submitted to multiple search engines quickly. If you want to submit your website to search engines for free, it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks for the search engine to finally add you to their results. But you want traffic now.
There are a lot of submission programs being advertised on the internet. Some are legitimate programs and some will take your money and not deliver. It is hard to know who to trust. Here are some ideas to help assist you on the road to success.
1. Promote your website yourself. This sounds like a very broad statement and just where do you start? Get creative. There are many avenues that you can take to advertise your product and/or website. a. Add your website information to your signature line in your email account. Every time you send an email, you are also advertising your website. b. Print up flyers about your product / website and post them around your community. c. Take out classified ads in your local papers. Many of these you can do online and can do so rather cheaply. d. There are multiple free classified sites that you can submit to. You may not get a large number of clicks through free classifieds but the goal is to get your information circulating. e. Another good avenue I have found to drive traffic to your website without having to pay out large advertising dollars is by using Instant Buzz. Instant Buzz is the easiest way to drive targeted traffic to your website just by doing what you do anyway; surfing the web. You can install Instant Buzz in seconds, never do anything different ever again, and you’ll still earn traffic every time you surf. It is free to use so you don’t really have anything to lose and everything to gain.
2. Pay-Per-Click This form of advertising can get pricey pretty quickly but by using Google Adwords and Yahoo, you can set your own daily spending limit to ensure you don’t go over budget. Both sites have keyword help to assist you in creating the keywords for your ads. A small word of advice, start small when using Pay-Per-Click. Allow yourself the opportunity to get the hang of it. If you choose keywords with low click price, you can receive more clicks before you reach your limit. There are a lot of great resources out there to learn about using Pay-Per-Clicks.