business

Blog Basics | 5 Small Steps to Make a Big Impact

A blog is a great medium to share information and generate discussions. If you don’t know the basics of blogging you’re going to be in trouble! Make these 5 small steps with your next blog post to make a big impact on your audience. Listed in no particular order, these steps are sure to equip you with the information you need to help your blog succeed.

Words per Blog Post

The number of words per each post depends on a number factors, including the purpose, frequency, audience and substance of the blog content. There is no one right answer to how many words per post you should include, so you have to find that out on your own. A number of expert bloggers recommend writing no more than 600 words per post, claiming that readers have short attention spans. While this may be true regarding some topics, it is not true for all. Doctor offices, for example, may benefit from writing frequent short 250 word posts answering questions regarding health and nutrition, but someone in the life coaching industry may benefit from writing one 1,200 word post weekly regarding personal development.

While there is no golden rule to the number of words per post, it is important to recognize the influence word count has on your blog. Shorter blogs, 250-300 words may be best for generating discussions and 300-600 word posts give your blog an SEO advantage. Longer blog posts, those 1000+ words are most likely to rank well on search engines, but run the risk of content being skipped over.

The standard blogging length is 300-600 words.

Content Image Size and Quality

In the world wide web, visuals are everything. You will lose readers if your site is attractive and unfocused. This goes for images, too.

Make sure your images are clear quality, and don’t alter the size proportioning. That means you need to avoid blurring your photos when you adjust the height and width of your content images.

The layout of your blog determines the height and width of your content images. Divvy’s content images are always adjusted to be 680 pixels wide, and the height changes accordingly. This allows the content images to take up the same width as the words, making it fall in line and measure perfectly.

Featured Image | Get Creative

Content images are important to keep your reader’s attention after clicking the link, but featured images are what draw and hook your blogger in. This means you need to get creative and make your featured image. Using Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop works best, but there are tons of awesome free online tools you can use if you don’t have access to Adobe Creative Cloud. At Alexander’s, we like to use Canva and Pablo by Buffer if we are in a rush to publish a post. They are simple and easy to use and completely FREE.

SEO and Tags

SEO is important in the increasing viewership and traffic to your blog. There are a number of great WordPress Plugins that can help with your blog’s SEO. One of our favorites at Alexander’s is Yoast SEO. It provides you with the necessary guidelines and information to producing a good SEO. Try it out!

Tags help your post be found through browsing and searching. This post, for example, will be tagged with blogging and business tips to name just a few. The idea is to pick words that sum up what your post is about and words that someone might use that would find your content and information useful.

 

If you need help or have questions regarding your business blog, call us or fill out the contact form below. Divvy specializes in social media marketing and blogging. We would love to help you!

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How to Destroy Negative Thinking

In the business world, there is nothing worse than negative thinking. Negative thoughts can be crippling to not only yourself as a leader or employee, but to your inner self. Whether it stems from another’s comments, your own self-doubt, etc, negative thinking can be stopped. Follow these tips the next time you are divulging in negative thoughts:

Smile.

The Scientific American reported on a study that suggests people who smile more – rather than frown – tend to be happier. This is because there is a connection between our body and our emotions, and our brain isn’t always in charge of how we feel. Our bodies can influence how we feel. So next time you are thinking negatively, trick your emotions! Are you smiling yet?

List 5 Things You are Grateful for.

“Those who are the happiest never did have everything. But rather, they are thankful for everything they do have.” – Unknown

And it’s true! Harvard Medical School studied the relationship between gratitude and happiness, and found that those who feel grateful have more positive emotions, relish good experiences, deal with adversity better, and build stronger relationships.  What better way to destroy negativity than recognize the positivity? Write down 5 things you are grateful for and why. Do it with a positive attitude and you will walk away feeling more thankful and happy.

Don’t Pull the Victim Card.

Some negative thoughts need to be kicked in the shins, and this is the way to do so. You hold the power to change your thoughts, no matter the origin of the negativity.

Your thoughts have a tendency to match your actions. If you have a habit of playing the victim card… STOP.  You cannot be a victim of yourself or your negative thoughts. Allow yourself to recognize that you are the one allowing negative thinking – and act by stopping them in their tracks.

Change Your Surroundings.

Sometimes negative thinking stems from your environment. If you are surrounded by negative people all day every day, it’s likely that your attitude will adapt to your environment and you will become a negative person. Look closely at your friends and family and make sure they are surrounding you with the positivity you deserve.

Ask Yourself, “What Can I do to Make this Better?”

It’s possible that you may need to simply adjust your attitude. If the reason for the negative thinking is simple, such as “I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,” ask yourself what you can do to make the day better. Maybe you can pick up a drink on the way to work or school, stop for lunch at your favorite restaurant, or promise yourself a nap when you get home.

The Dreaded Cliche: Transform Negative Thinking into Positive Thinking.

When all is said and done, you may need to buck up and recognize that your negative thoughts aren’t getting you anywhere and the only way to move forward is to change. When you have a negative thought, transform it into something positive. For example: “I am so late for work, I can’t believe I slept in” can be transformed into “I got to sleep in a few minutes more than usual, that’s nice.”

 

These are cheesy examples and you are more than likely reading this post looking for deeper answers to a bigger problem but sometimes it’s better to take baby steps. In this case, negative thinking doesn’t change overnight so baby steps are just what you need. We recognize that negative thinking is inherent in businesses and franchises, but Divvy can help! Divvy specializes in making business easier for business owners and employees. For more information call us or fill out the contact form below.

 

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How to Write a Press Release for Your Business

Knowing how to write an effective press release is essential for your business! Press releases are a useful tool for getting free publicity and promotion of products. They are the vehicle for communicating a newsworthy message. This means whatever it is that your business is doing needs to be presented in a way that is eye catching and interesting to the reader. With these basics in mind and the following tips below, you should be able to write an effective press release for your business.

Inverted Pyramid Style.

The first step in writing a press release is knowing the correct format. Press releases are written in what’s called Inverted Pyramid Style, meaning the most important information is at the top of the release, and the information becomes less important with each paragraph thereafter. This is because of space limitations. In the print newspaper days, journalists would often omit parts of the releases due to low space, and cutting out the least important or least relevant information was the best way to do so. Writing in this style allows for journalists to simply cut off the last few paragraphs, leaving the newsworthy part of the message intact.

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This type of format is essential in press release writing, so make sure you’re release is following it correctly. Journalists won’t re-write a press release when they have a handful of  correctly written press releases they can choose from. Also, like this format, your writing needs to be to-the-point and concise. Avoid fluff in press release writing. Reader’s won’t finish a release that’s full of fluff.

The First Paragraph.

All press releases start with what is called a lead, or the first paragraph, but before you write out the lead be sure to write the date and city in which the release is being originated. Once that is done you can write the lead, which answers the 5 W’s and H (who, what, where, when, why, and how). If you are an avid news reader, you’ll notice that most press releases answer the 5 W’s and H in just one sentence.

 

Make sure that all of your sentences, including the lead, are less than 30 words. This helps with keeping sentences straightforward and helps with the reading score, or level of difficulty. Assume that your audience is a smart 6th grader, so avoid using business jargon or difficult sentence structures.

Sounds Good and Reads Easily.

Make your press release sound good by adding quotes in from your CEO or other influential employees related to the purpose of the press release. This means your CEO might say something like, “This is the best thing since sliced bread,” and you need to edit his quote to make it sound better and get approval from him before sending the release out.

 

Also, keep a factual tone in your press release. Avoid emotionally-charged words and sentences. News is unbiased, and your release needs to be the same.

 

Read the press release several times before sending it out to make sure it reads easily. Change any unfamiliar words, incorrect spelling, or grammar errors as you read it. A good rule of thumb is to read your press release out loud at least 3 times. You will notice things by reading it out loud that you may  not have noticed reading in your head.

One to Two Pages and No More.

Press releases should be one page, maybe two, but no more. Lengthy releases are less likely to be published, and for that matter, read through completely!

Concluding the Press Release.

Once you are done with writing the copy, conclude with three pound signs (###) center justified after the last paragraph. The pound signs indicate the press release copy is complete. After concluding, enter once and underline the words,”For more Information:” and list your contact information, such as your name, company, address, phone number, and email on the space below.

 

These are some of the basic principles of press release and news style writing. If your business needs help with it’s public relations strategies, you can call us or fill out the contact form below. Divvy specializes in maximizing marketing and public relations efforts!

 

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Overcoming Workplace Stress and Burnout

Stress is inevitable, and work-related stress is unavoidable. It can take a toll on you emotionally, physically, and mentally. If left untreated, stress can lead to burnout, which is an institutional concern. Stress, however, is a necessary emotion, and learning to cope with it is important. If used correctly, stress can benefit your business. Blogger Larry Lewis says stress is “the key determinant in well being, quality of life and successful aging.” Consider these tips to avoid work-induced stress and burnout:

  1. Rate your Stress Level. 

    In order to really know how stressed you are, you need to take five minutes to sit down and take a survey. Answer the questions for this questionnaire and follow the directions to score your stress level.

  2. Cultivate Healthy Habits: S.E.E. (sleep, exercise, eat).

    S.E.E. yourself being happy and healthy. This means you need a good amount of sleep each night, you need to exercise daily, and eat healthy meals. These are essential in living a healthy, stress-free life. =

  3. Technology Time-Outs. 

    Everyday we are overloaded with information from the time we drive to work and turn on our alarm before falling asleep. The increasing use and emphasis of technology only increases the potential for stress and burnout. Rule number one: tech time-outs at work. As a busy employee, the emails you receive from friends, colleagues, management, and clients can cause stress and burnout. Depending on your job, you can choose two or three times to check your email each day. Stick to the times you pick and you’ll become more productive and efficient. Rule number two: tech time-outs at home. Leave your work at work and your personal life at home. This means not checking your work email at home, not accepting business-related calls, etc. Establishing these boundaries will decrease the amount of work-related stress in your life.

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  4. Make 3 Goals.

    Now that you’ve taken a survey, seen yourself being healthy, and established work boundaries, you are ready to make three goals. Setting goals helps with motivation and attention-span, something that can be lost when feeling stressed or burnt out. Remember the three P’s: personal, professional, and passion. Make three different goals based on these three areas in your life, and you’ll have the care and energy to keep going when you feel down.

 

Remember that stress is inescapable but manageable. If you’re feeling stressed or burnt out, always ask for help from your supervisor. It is better to get help than to struggle through a rough patch.

 

Are you stressed about marketing? Divvy provides social media and marketing solutions for businesses and franchisees. Find out more about Divvy here or fill out the contact form below.

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Best Business Footer Design Elements

Every aspect of a business’s website should be visually appealing and on brand. Though we hate to admit it, the old adage “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” is often ignored. Judgement happens with one glance, and if a business’s website looks unprofessional, loads slowly, or otherwise disappoints the viewer, they won’t linger long. To convert more viewers into customers, every aspect of your website must look professional, including the footer.

Some companies neglect footer design because all of the important information is included above, right? And today, who’s really going to take the time to scroll all the way to the bottom for elements that can already found elsewhere on the page? But the footer can convert viewers into customers when designed right. Consider the following successful business footer design elements.

Simplicity

After scrolling through the entire webpage, viewers don’t want to be inundated with another novel’s worth of information. Instead, keep both the design and provided information simple, clean, and minimal. Limit your footers to including a handful of these possible elements:

  • Copyright Information – Most webpages include copyright information in the footer, and applying this standard will make your information easy to find. As a bonus, the copyright info is then available on each page without becoming overbearing.
  • Navigation – Secondary navigation can be useful in the footer. Consider including navigation elements such as “back to top” or links to additional pages so that your viewer doesn’t have to waste time scrolling all the way back to the top to reach the main navigation menu.
  • About – Consider sharing just a little bit about your company. People who take the time to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page are more likely to take the time to learn more about your business.
  • Special Offers – When a person reaches the bottom of the page, they often exit out of the website. After all, they’ve reached the end. However, by including special offers or discount information at the bottom of the page, you can encourage viewers to explore deeper into your site.
  • Social Media – Once again, the footer offers one last valuable chance to connect with your viewer before they leave your website. Guide where they go – to your social media pages. Include icons with active links for opportunities to connect with your viewers across different social media platforms.
  • Contact – As a viewer examines your page, they will accumulate questions. Make answering them easy by guiding them directly into a contact form where they can learn more about your business. Include business hours, and additional contact opportunities, such as an email or phone number.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization makes your website easier to find on the web. The footer is a great place to include SEO elements, such as keywords, to help viewers find your website more easily.

All of these elements can create great business footer design. Though it isn’t necessary to use all of them, implementing the ones that can most benefit your business will help your company succeed. See examples of successful footers here.

Hierarchy

Guide people where to look by making the most important information stand out. If you’d like to utilize the footer to guide people to social media, place those icons front and center at an eye-catching (but not overbearing) size. By using size, color, and placement, you can guide people where to look and click.

Contrast & Readability

When designing your business footer, make sure the information is easy to read. Otherwise, people who wish to learn more about your business will be unable to. Be sure your footer text has high contrast and clear fonts.

Stay on Brand

Lastly, be sure that when designing the business footer, you stay on brand. Use the same elements that represent your company and are visual on the rest of the page, such as fonts and colors.

 

Looking for more ways to stay on brand and reach your audience? Contact us in the form below.

 

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Our Favorite WordPress Themes for Business

As a business today, there is no excuse for not having a website. There is also less room for excuse when it comes to having a stunning website. If you’re using WordPress, selecting the right theme will give your business’ online presence a good foundation to build from. Your theme allows you to visually illustrate your brand’s values and messaging. A good theme allows you to highlight your product or service in a way that tells the right visual story.

So what is the biggest challenge in choosing a theme? Are some themes better than others, or is the difference merely aesthetic? Many WordPress themes come with additional support, plugins, and features that can help you create compelling web content with ease. So which themes are the best value for your money? Keep reading for a look at our favorite WordPress themes for business.

Our Favorite WordPress Themes for Business

1.) The X Theme

The X Theme is widely known as one of the most value-packed theme bundles on the web. With dozens of premium plugins (worth up to $1000 bought separately), this theme offers four different stacks (or base designs) that you can build from. Each stack looks clean and clear and would look great for any business. The theme includes rich fonts, captivating animations, and responsive design.

2.) Avada

Avada is currently the most popular theme on themeforest.net and for good reason. Avada is one of those themes that adapts to virtually any style. This theme is excellent for beginners as well as it comes with HD video tutorials which make the whole web-design experience a lot less frustrating. As Envato’s CEO has said, “Avada is the Swiss Army Knife of WP Themes”.

3.) Zephyr

Zephyr is a theme that will make your jaw drop. The look is clear, clean, colorful, and bold. The developer bundles premium plugins and amazing looking icons, graphics, menus, and sliders that you can use immediately. You can also “test drive” the theme to make sure all of your plugins and data work well within it before officially switching over— a function that no other theme builder has been able to develop.

4.) Impreza

Impreza (made by the same developers that created Zephyr) brings a modernized, creative look with bright color, bold fonts, and some of the best plugins you can find. Much like the Zephyr theme, Impreza adapts well for businesses with creative or bold branding that are looking for a clean look and function.

5.) Be

Touted as “the biggest WordPress theme ever” this theme comes packed with features that enable you to design your sign any way you’d like. Just check out their demo pages and you’ll find more than 200 templates that have been created with this theme. “Be” can be anything you want it to be.

 

There you have it. Some of our favorite WordPress themes for business. If you have questions on how Divvy can help improve your website, print, or digital marketing, contact us below:

 

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What is Networking? (Really?)

By definition, networking is “interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.” However, if networking is viewed solely as a method to “further one’s career”, it’s no wonder that so many people find it unappealing. Whether networking  to find a job, expand a business, or move up within a current organization, using networking isn’t supposed to feel or come across as shallow, selfish, or dishonest.

So let’s take a look at how to network the right way.

Look Around

Networking contacts don’t have to be complete strangers. Friends and family who you already have relationships with can and want to help you meet the right people to make your business endeavors a success. The simple and honest relationships you surround yourself with everyday are naturally the best starting place for networking.

Give, Give, Give

Remember that networking isn’t just about what other people can do for you – it’s what you can do for other people. If you see someone looking for a job, and you’ve heard of a place that’s hiring, don’t hesitate to share a link. Networking is a two way street. The more you give, the more willing people are to help you in return.

Maintain Relationships

Along those same lines, be sure to take care of the relationships you have. All this requires is offering common courtesy to your family, friends, business associates, and acquaintances. Keep an eye on those Facebook reminders, and when a birthday comes around, leave a comment. Is someone sick? Send them a “get well” card. In our internet age, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with those surrounding us. By maintaining relationships and never burning bridges, your networking circle will stay healthy, and grow naturally.

The Correct Response

Remember, in those times that you do need to ask for a favor, evaluate the relationships you have, and determine who will most willingly meet those needs. A cookie cutter email asking for job recommendations can come across as spammy if you email associates you never talk to. Instead, tailor your requests to those within your networking circle. Having a sincere, real conversation with someone you’ve helped before who you believe can help you now is more likely to be successful.

Networking Variety

In our modern age, there’s a way for everyone to network, whether in person, over the phone, through email, or through social media. Utilize all avenues that work for you.

Feeling shy? Check out check out our suggestions for online and offline marketing for introverts.

 

How do you Network? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Why is My Business Failing and How Do I Save it?

80% of new businesses fail within their first 18 months.

Don’t let yourself be one of them by avoiding these common mistakes that lead to a business failing.

No Niche

Check out the local competition, and investigate the market. If you’re trying to sell your product in a market already saturated with similar products, it will be difficult to gain traction. Build your brand, and show how your product differs from the competition. Do you provide better service? Lower prices? Higher quality? Find out what the competition is doing, and see if you can fulfill the need in a different, better way.

Poor (or Nonexistent) Business Plan

A business plan identifies what the company’s goals are, and how to achieve them in a realistic manner over a realistic period of time. If your business is struggling because there is no plan, or because the plan is not working, it’s time to reevaluate it. Remember, markets change. More likely than not, your business will have to adapt to survive. Travis Thorpe, CEO and Co-founder of Boostability, puts it like this,  “Perhaps your initial business model can produce a certain level of activity, but if you are not perpetually studying your market and evolving accordingly, you run the high risk of being left behind.” Readjust to the market and create a new plan.

Investing in the Wrong Things ($$$) –

Money is one of the big cripplers of new businesses. Be aware that in the beginning, it may take time for your business to start turning a profit. SmallBizTrends.com, a business news resource, offers this infographic which states that 40% of small businesses make a profit, 30% come out even, and the remaining 30% lose money. Avoid loosing money in your business by being smart with finances. Use professional business accounting software to keep records of all financial transactions, including all money that comes in as well as all the money that goes out.

Not Connecting with Customers

Communicate with people in the way they are trying to communicate with you. Remember, you are providing a service for your client. Your job is to listen to them. Capitalize on feedback forums, and listen to customer concerns. When you speak directly with clients, give information in a clear, concision, compelling matter, and be sure to address their needs.

Of course, communicating with customers is only possible if your customer can find you. Be sure to connect with your clients, be it by print, social media, direct mail campaigns, etc. Travis Thorpe puts it like this, “In order for your business to thrive, your business must be visible to consumers doing their online research and shopping. SEO work, social media marketing, and cross-selling between all communication channels are all absolutely crucial to increasing online visibility.” Avoid making common mistakes on both your website, and social media. Remember to keep tabs on the attention your website gains so you can harness this information and use it to create an even more successful business plan.

Self-Sabotage

Is your business failing because you are distracted with family matters? Does your anger get the better of you when talking to employees? Are you directing your company with confidence, or are you listening to your own self-doubts? For your business to succeed, you must act the part of a leader.

If you are running a business solo, consider hiring a partner (or, if you are just getting started, get a co-founder). The reason? A business partner may see flaws in your business plans that you don’t. Having someone you trust to provide a second perspective is incredibly useful to paving the path to success. Invest in a partner that is willing to tell you when you are wrong in order to do what is best for the business.

If you have business partners, work with them in unity. Leaders who are constantly contradicting each other can lead to fractures within the company, frustrated employees, and ultimately, failure.

Still wondering why most businesses fail? Check out this video from Forbes:

Are you determined to save your stuggling business but aren’t sure where to begin? Contact us. We’ll help you identify your problem, and find a solution.

 

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Do I Need a Business Card?

If you work at a business or have recently started your own, you may find yourself asking, “Do I need a business card?” With so many things digital now, and so much easy to find online simply by typing it into Google, are business cards necessary? Take a look at the benefits of business cards:

Cover all Areas of the Market

Consider this – would you only market your business through print media and completely ignore social media avenues such as Facebook or Twitter? No! Social media has so many unique benefits that can’t be achieved through print. Well, the reverse is true. Printing can access areas of the market that social media doesn’t, extending your business reach to more places.

Gives Correct Information

Sometimes phone batteries die, and not everyone will have a pen on them. If people ask for your information, this is a great way to ensure that they get that information – and correctly. No need to worry about typos or bad handwriting. With a well designed business card, your information is received correctly every time.

Talks for You

If you are attending networking events such as conferences, trade shows, or more, you’ll need a business card. Why? Not only will everyone else have them (and so if you don’t, you’ll stand out – and not in a good way) but business cards left accessible on booths or tables allow people who are too shy or too busy to talk with you to receive your information, providing them a way to contact you later.

Creates an Impression

Everything, from your clothes to your words, will create an impression when a potential client first meets with you. A business card extends that impression. The way the business card is designed will say a lot about you and your business, so create a unique card that best expresses what you do. Business cards come in a variety of shapes and sizes (and can even be made on different substrates). When choosing your fonts, cut, colors, and layout, keep in mind the impression you’ll be creating and make sure it matches your brand.

 

Looking for more ways to expand your business? Contact us! We’ll help guide you through the different avenues of marketing.

 

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How to Resolve Common Employee Complaints

A work environment has the power to alter the proficiency of a business. Working together in harmony as a team will create a strong, productive business. However, unhappy employees can mean disharmony, and a dysfunctional team. In order to restore a positive work environment, learn about the top most common complaints employees have against their bosses or leaders, and how you can help resolve common employee complaints.

Micromanagment

As important as it is to get jobs done right, few people appreciate constantly being told what to do,  and how to do it. Instead of micromanaging every aspect of a project, first train your team on what’s expected of them. Set up deadlines, and then trust them to meet those deadlines.

Not Giving Clear Instructions

While it’s unnecessary to micromanage, it is necessary to lead and direct the team. Give clear instructions, so employees understand what’s expected of them, and what their deadlines are. Be available for questions if employees require clarification.

In addition, be sure to provide clear feedback when required. When expectations aren’t met, give constructive criticism so employees understand what the problem is and how to fix it.

Not Recognizing Achievements

This is the number one complaint employees have against employers. Everyone enjoys feeling like a success and knowing that they’ve done a good job. If employees are quick to criticize, but slow to complement, employees may feel belittled, disrespected, or unwanted, which will push them into working someplace else. Instead, take time to recognize and reward the good work of employees. This will boost confidence, and encourage positivity in the workplace.

Not Listening

When meeting with employees, listen to their ideas or concerns. Many employees are frustrated when employers aren’t aware of other commitments and deadlines the employee must meet. This can lead to an unrealistic workload that will quickly overwhelm, frustrate, and burn out employees. Instead, talk openly about time restraints and job expectations so everyone is on the same page.

Not Knowing Employees

Last of all, try to connect with employees on a personal level. No one wants to feel like a cog in a machine. Instead, learn each employee’s name so that they feel recognized and valued. Say hello as you walk in. Ask about their families during conversations, and show them that they matter. Connecting with employees is one way to show that they are respected and valued.

 

How do you resolve problems with your employer?