Thursday, December 31, 2015

Freelancers Bring a Lot to the Table

For businesses, big or small, startup or well established, freelancers offer a wide range of benefits. With freelancers, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well! Because freelancers usually handle everything from bookkeeping, budgeting and billing to marketing, social media and branding for themselves; they have an understanding of the everyday tasks and challenges a business faces.

Freelancers offer a flexibility that full-time employees do not. Business demands can suddenly increase or decrease in ways a the business can not predict. Freelancers are an on-demand, work-ready, skilled resource that can help a business meet unexpected demands. Freelancers are also known for working odd hours and can often complete projects quicker than a regular employee. And because of their flexibility, they can often take care of tasks at times that do not disrupt other business follow. For example, updating your website late at night, when traffic is low or posting to social media in off hours when your target audience is more likely to see the post. With a freelancer, you just need to be clear about what you want done and in what time frame, and they will create time to do the work optimally.

Hiring a freelancer offers affordability and freedom that are not possible with a full-time employee. Rather than employing a full-time staff member, you can work with a skilled professional on a project-by-project basis, which will save on salaries, insurance costs, vacation pay, and other benefits. Hiring a specialized freelancer can help streamline your business and stretch limited resources.

A freelancer's income depends on being reliable and meeting or exceeding expectations. And their success is based on being efficient and effective. When dealing with a freelancer, you are dealing with a specialist in his/her field that is motivated to do a good job and get the job done.

Freelancers can also offer a savings over temp services or consulting agencies. Freelancers usually have little or no overhead costs, no vacation costs, no HR costs, etc. This means that you have the opportunity to get a very skilled professional at a much lower cost than you would through a service or agency.

But, you should also be careful when hiring a freelancer. The number of freelancers in the workforce is constantly increasing, especially with technology that allows more and more people to work from home. Research suggests that there are about 42 million freelancers in the U.S. workforce. Whether you are hiring a copywriter, graphic designer, CPA, or social media
strategist; you should be cautious. Ask for business references – people you can contact directly by phone or business email. If applicable, ask to see a verifiable portfolio of recent projects or clients. Check their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and business pages. And as with much of the rest of life – you get what you pay for. While cheap might fit nicely into your budget, the results may not be what you expected or needed.

When your business needs a skilled professional, consider a freelancer first.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2016 Trends in e-Commerce

As each year draws to an end, we look to the New Year for new chances, new opportunities, fresh starts. We hope that the New Year will bring us more then the closing year. And this is no different for business owners and entrepreneurs.

But, to increase your good fortune for the New Year, it's best to make plans. And to make the best, most accurate plans, it's good to know what trends are in store for the upcoming year.

After a little research, I've put together some trends in e-commerce that you should be aware of for 2016.

Start Off Right – Design Trends

A well designed site is essential to ensuring your visitors and customers enjoy shopping on
your site. Sites must:

  • be modern and have a look and feel that is attractive – the 'flat design' is very common and even expected today.
  • be easy to navigate – studies show visitors leave after only 12 seconds if they can't find what they are looking for!
  • be trusted – if you are selling, you should have an SSL certificate or use a secure checkout portal (like PayPal).
  • have a common pattern – this may be one reason WordPress sites are so common. While there are many different themes, their layout follows a typical pattern that users have become used to. Using common patterns may make 'all websites look the same.' But, studies show that they also increase customer comfort and comfortable customers are more likely to buy or follow through to requesting information or services. (I'm not saying WordPress is necessary. Any site can be made to follow the flat design that most WordPress themes use).

Pop-Up Ads – What?

Yes, pop-up ads are coming back. The once hated (well, still hated) marketing technique is making a resurgence. But wait, the pop-ups that are getting results are not the usual, annoying ads that are pushing products. Instead they are the offers of information, free downloads, discounts, and even free products when the user agrees to join a membership program or a rewards program, agrees to receive email offers, or agrees to like/share the company's social media pages/posts. Having the email address or membership information of potential buyers is a huge step towards more sales!

Mobile Will Soon be King

About 4.9 billion people worldwide own smartphones. And web browsing on mobile devices has already overtaken browsing on desktop computers. And mobile shopping is not far behind.
Nearly every kind of business-to-consumer company should have a mobile friendly (responsive) website!

Shoppers will continue to move toward the convenience of mobile shopping. Can you afford to miss out on this trend? If your competition has a mobile friendly site and you don't – you are missing out on sales! And if you are the only business in your market with a mobile friendly site, congratulations. You are winning business away from you competition!

Your Audience is Growing

Forrester Research has predicted that online consumers will spend $327 billion in 2016! And the trend for larger order size is also increasing. Trends are showing that December order size is increasing by about 10% each year ('larger order size' means dollars spent per order, not necessarily more products purchased).

Knowing that this trend for online sales is only going to increase, you really do need to make sure you are a part of it. A new, modern website is essential in converting visitors to customers. And a responsive mobile website will add to the conversion rate.

Finally, just a little about the numbers – the analytics. It is important to know how your online presence is working. Analytics can help you understand the trends for YOUR audience. With analytics you can track time spent on your site by visitors, how well your social media campaigns are doing, track the results of other marketing campaigns by tracking hits to special landing pages, and even figure out what time of the day, week or year your marketing is giving you the best ROI.

There are several analytic applications that are free, such as Google Analytics. And most have a pretty good tutorial and documentation. But, if you don't have the time, your web developer, host provider or third-party marketing expert can help you to understand just what all the acronyms and cryptic phrases mean when it comes to analytics. Believe me, it is worth looking into.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

We Now Offer WordPress Packages!

Freelance I.T. Solutions is now offering customized WordPress sites. As an introduction to this service, get a 25% discount off the regular price.

More info here:

We've worked on many WordPress sites with other designers - creating custom child themes, plugins, and widgets.  Now we are doing it all in-house!

Use the link above to see the packages we offer or to get more information on a completely custom WordPress site.