Blogging is one of the most popular sources of passive income among youngsters nowadays, and why not? It requires less investment and gains a high ROI.
Now to start Blogging, you need a website to start with, and there are various free blogging websites available to make it easy for you. But do you really like to be controlled by these Free blogging websites? What if your blog is growing day by day and all of sudden your blogging site provider suddenly shuts off!
All your months of hard work will go in vain suddenly. Which you will don’t like!. Why depend on others and become liable to them if you have an option to choose your own hosted blog site in minimal amounts, where you will be the boss of your own blog website and you are free to do whatever you like to do with your site whether customization or adding new features to it. Due to this, a Self-hosted WordPress blog is very common nowadays, and below you will get all the information regarding “what is a self-hosted blog? How can you set up a self-hosted blog and some tips? etc.Self-hosted WordPress blog
Self-hosted WordPress blog is nothing but a website for which you can buy your own domain name and Manage hosting service provider to set up your own blogging site. In which you can install your own CMS(Content Management System) and you have your own Control panel (Provided by both Domain name and hosting service provider). Where you have all the controls and can pay as per their monthly/yearly plans.Pros of Self-hosted WordPress Blog
So when you decide to blog and have all the important resources needed to create the blog (which we will discuss later in the blog), it shouldn’t take you longer than necessary to create a record. This means that it could be up and running in no time. So fasten your seat belts, as we will take you for a ride.
Resources you will need to start the blog:
This last step in this process is simply for fun. Once you have WordPress installed all you have to do is fill the spaces on the blog with ‘new posts’. You have completed the difficult part; all that’s left to do now is have fun with your new blog while making sure people learn something new, from your perspective.Which one is best for you?
You cannot simply say that one platform is “better” than another.
The good question is: “What is the best option for my specific needs with the blog that I want to create now and in the future?”
I would consider the decision according to a series of different scenarios that can occur in this:
The reason is not so much the cost since the cost of hosting is very low, but to keep things simple.
Blogger demands more technically. I mean, would you rather not have to touch anything that sounds like technical stuff like HTML, or wouldn’t you mind messing around with these things a bit? If you don’t like technical stuff the answer is clear you better chose Blogger for an easy and hassle-free start. If you are a little more “techie” and you like to mess around with things like HTML or CSS, WordPress.com in its variant will be frustrating because basically you can not do anything at this level. Now, to get into its paid versions that already allow you to do things, but they cost what a hosting or more, I would go directly to WordPress.org with hosting.
Therefore, here it is more logical to go to Blogger if you want a free option. And also, if at any given time you want to monetize your activity, you will have fewer restrictions than on WordPress.com
Now, if you really are in an extreme economic situation that prevents you from spending money on hosting, to choose between WordPress.com and Blogger, I would approach the subject as in the previous point depending on your skills with web technologies.
And finally, do not hire a free hosting, stay better with WordPress.com or Blogger. It will not compensate you, they are little less than a trap, a crappy trick to attract crappy customers.
And I am not thinking about the limitations for the use of online advertising, in fact, it is one of the least effective options when you are not an experienced and media professional.
I’m thinking of things like, for example, affiliate marketing where you need to do things like following conversion statistics to know what content works and what doesn’t for the purpose of generating commissions, being able to design your site free to adapt it to what you need or the integration of a shopping cart to be able to make sales.
If you are starting out and do not have technical knowledge of any kind, also seriously consider spending a little more on hosting that goes beyond normal support on hosting and also offers specialized WordPress support.
If nothing works for you, you can learn web designing and earn from it from freelancing. There are various freelancing websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, etc. that provide a unique platform, to begin with. Just you have to make a free account and attract web designing clients with your lucrative offers/bids.
Now, as it could have been pretty clear now, nothing is easier and more fun than having your own blog to keep your point of view or your business facing the world and nothing is easier and faster than doing the same with WordPress. Now, you can get your blog up and running in even less time than you need to do laundry every day. If I were you, I’d rather skip my clothes today and build my blog.
As a newbie to the world of websites, you’ve probably heard of WordPress, plenty of website owners and developers swear by it as the best content management system for building your website.
The problem with WordPress for many is also its greatest strength, the power of customisation.
Creating your own site on WordPress is as simple as finding a theme you like and installing it on your site. There are thousands of themes to choose from, with many of them being affordable and provide you with a host of features any website owner would love, yet people still opt for free themes.
Free themes are a great way to get used to WordPress and messing around, but as for building your actual site on a free theme, I would recommend against it.
In case you think you’re cutting costs or being smart you need to realise that there is no free lunch, even with the internet having so much frees tuff available. There are reasons developers are giving away stuff for free and its all part of a grand plan.
If you want to know why you should avoid free themes, then check out our list below.1. No support or documentation
Most free WordPress themes aren’t worth a developers time to maintain, update or provide support and is an entry point for users to try out WordPress or see what the developer is capable of so they can upsell you into their premium themes.
Many free themes are often abandoned, the developers don’t update them or the developers no longer in operation. Free themes also don’t always come with great documentation on how to use them so you won’t know if something is a feature or a bug, you simply have to figure it out on your own which can take hours.
Developers are also going to focus on what makes them money so while some do update their fee themes, they take more time to release than the Premium versions which are worth updating, so you need to wait for your updates, leaving you behind others.2. Not SEO-optimised
Free WordPress themes are usually bare-bones and hardly offer any in-built SEO options and the coding will be unclear. A clean code, faster loading time, SEO compatible makes a theme SEO-optimised. If the point of your site is to get traffic from Google search, its better to have a platform that tailors to all Google’s needs from the beginning.3. Lesser number of features
Free themes are normally not rich when it comes to features and is only there to give you an idea of how what a developer can do for you. Some will rely on plugins when these features could be built natively into themes and bloat your code when it wasn’t needed.
Certain free themes also try to upsell you by recommending premium plugins instead, and once you get all the features you want, you probably paid more for all those plugins than a premium theme would have cost you.
A basic blog could possibly get away with using a free theme, but any business or eCommerce site should always opt to ship out for a paid theme if they are serious about building a website.4. No theme options panel
Many bloggers who are starting a WordPress site may not have technical knowledge. Premium themes often gather various feature sets and place it into an easy to use GUI which is known as a theme panel, a benefit of using a premium theme.
Most of the free WordPress themes do not come with a theme options panel, so you need to play with the codes to create any custom design or even edit the PHP file to add certain features, an option that many non-coders should try to avoid.
If you’re a non-technical person and just want to be able to make changes while changing a range of presets.5. Mobile responsiveness
Having a site that is mobile-friendly is not enough in this competitive internet arena, and your site needs to provide an optimal mobile experience as it would on desktop. Google has actively split its mobile and desktop index to give better results for mobile users, and if you’re in a country with a high mobile use rate, it’s best you get a theme that can automatically respond to your changes and turn it into a mobile-friendly page.
Free themes may have some mobile-friendly aspects like 1 or 2 columns settings, but it may not allow you to do more customisation than a premium or paid theme would, limiting your ability to customise your site for mobile users.6. Spam links
The one thing that sets me off about free WordPress themes is they often stuff links into the footer, sometimes it’s customisable other times its encrypted and cannot be removed. This may be seen as link spam by Google or if your site gathers a lot of traffic you’re sending the theme owner tonnes of free traffic via your efforts.7. Hidden and malicious code
Unfortunately, the WordPress community aren’t all the noblest of developers, and open source code isn’t the most trustworthy. As a developer, you may be able to snatch code from online repositories and review it for insecurities before using it.
However, for non-technical grabbing random code off the internet, this provides a distinct risk as you could be installing backdoors into your website or devices, as well as hidden, malicious code within a theme. This hidden code can produce spam links, security exploits, and abuses on your WordPress site. Hackers install code in various places that run this type of malware.
If you don’t want to risk bad or malicious code, then stay away from free themes.8. Plugins compatibility problems
Plugins are one of the main reasons any site owner opts for WordPress since they make it easier for non-coders to add features to their site. Free themes are often not the most well-checked code bases and plugins can sometimes break or corrupt your site as they are added. The incompatibility of your theme with plugins will mean one has to go and since the theme is the main code base, you will have to start deleting WordPress plugins to keep your site in working order.
In addition, a shoddy code base can also mean 3rd party code reduces the performance and actually needs to be refactored to work properly.
If you feel that plugins for 3rd party tools and features are a must, then its best you stay away from free themes.9. Endlessly searching for free themes
Free themes are a dime a dozen and reviewing themes, there features and which one has more of what you need can take a lot of time and to be completely honest, you won’t find a free theme with all the features you like and want. As you dive deeper down the rabbit hole of themes, you could end up downloading files that aren’t exactly the safest.
To find trustworthy themes, you should use approved WordPress theme resellers and try to find something in your price range. Remember this is only to get you started, once your site is up and running and making money you could purchase a more expensive theme and revamp your site with new features and a better look.10. Lack of continued development
WordPress software continues to improve with each new update. Two or three times a year, WordPress releases new software versions, adding new features, security patches, and numerous other updates. This is the code base of the actual WordPress CMS, not the theme or 3rd party software like plugins.
As you can tell, there are a lot of moving parts, and with free themes not having support, as coding changes, you may see more and more erratic behaviour from your site.
You will either be forced to remain on older versions of WordPress to remain compatible and miss out on new features, and security updates or you need to get a new theme or a developer to update your free theme, costing you more than it should have should you have bought a premium theme.Free can come at a cost
I get it, it’s easy to get wrapped up in free offers but in some cases, free can cost you more than spending a few bucks for peace of mind. If you’re going to pick a theme, make sure you use trusted theme resellers and that you have direct content with the creator so you can always reach out to them should you have issues.
Free WordPress themes have their place in the ecosystem, but should not be used if you’re going to be serious about building a website and want customers to interact with it.
Working from home is a logical response to the circumstances that emerged because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, are we all really ready to work from home and from other places where we have the opportunity to connect to our company systems via the Internet, that is, public networks, and work the same as sitting in our office, at our desk?
What could be wrong with that? Well, for many, just about everything…Risks of Telecommuting
The company’s internal systems have been built and adjusted over the years, taking care to be stable and secure. Suddenly, overnight, employees are no longer in their offices but at their homes or in some other places where there’s an Internet connection. Of course, they’re expected to be productive and perform their tasks as well as if they were in their usual working places.
Such work outside the company’s offices can seriously jeopardize the security of the organization’s data and information systems. These risks are incomparably greater in times of crisis, such as natural disasters, earthquakes, riots or states of war, and even in times of epidemics such as now.
Some of these risks include:
You need to take care of 3 basic things:
Working from home often involves more than just using devices from the company we work for, which should have antivirus detection software installed and data security systems stored on those devices (such as encrypting the data contained on devices and/or partitions and directories accessed with special credentials).
The use of other devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, or home computers used by other household members, especially children, can be very dangerous and their use should be completely excluded or minimized.VPN as a Solution for All Problems
VPN these days is a magic word that solves all problems when it comes to working outside the company’s premises. Yes, a VPN allows secure data exchange between remote systems and the computers that access them, but it also has its weaknesses. Even well-known manufacturers of equipment and software solutions for establishing VPN connections have faced security vulnerabilities in recent years.
Many small businesses use low-cost networking equipment that also has VPN functionality. Most of these devices are made for home use to provide basic protection for access to networked devices in the house (cameras, heating systems, air conditioning systems, lighting …).
To make things worse, many of the weaknesses of these devices and the ways to abuse them have long been known and are available to everyone, not just experts. If you’ve already enabled VPN access to your organization’s system, install the latest software that resolves known security issues.
If your device allows you to select VPN communication encryption algorithms, choose the one that gives you the highest level of security. This will inevitably slow down the speed of communication, but with modern devices and fast Internet links, the slowdown won’t be an obstacle to get the job done without any problems and your organization’s systems and data will be much more secure. Limited access device resources can be a problem, but only if a large number of users connect to the system at the same time.Access Control
And last but not least important component of maintaining system and data security is access control. When working from the office, users have different access rights to data and applications and this is mostly addressed by rules at the level of the operating system, DC (domain controller), or some other access control system.
In most cases, this is sufficient protection because all, or the vast majority of users, work within the environment for which access rules are set. Remote work requires the establishment of the same rules but in the new situation, access points are exposed to possible hacker attacks and they will, once inside, know how to bypass those rules and access your confidential data.
If the equipment you use for the VPN connection allows this, turn on multi-factor authentication and filtering of IP addresses from which access is allowed. You can find out your IP address and hide it at https://nordvpn.com/what-is-my-ip/. Segment your internal network and disable access, except with special credentials, to those segments that are most important to the functioning of your organization and that contain the most sensitive data whose endangerment or destruction jeopardizes the survival of the company.
Quality and up-to-date antivirus programs, network segmentation, regular and secure backup, and monitoring of traffic, especially the one coming out of your system, are necessary elements to raise system security to a sufficient level for most companies. System and data integrity and security should always come first.
Running PPC campaigns can be incredibly lucrative. In fact, many businesses have taken off solely with the power of a well-targeted paid advertising campaign.
However, at the same time, PPC can be very costly, especially when you’re getting clicks but no one’s taking the action that you want them to take.
When that happens, there’s usually one primary reason:
Poor landing page copy.
If there’s a disconnect between your ads and your landing page, people will not only fail to convert but will leave your site in a matter of seconds.
Therefore, ensuring that your copy is in line with your audience’s expectations and your campaign goals is absolutely vital. It might even be the single most crucial thing that you should focus on.
If you look at some of the best PPC landing page examples, you’ll quickly notice how focused and well-crafted the copy is, with every element and word carefully chosen to match the brand voice and audience expectations.
These companies have perfected the art of landing page copy, but even though the bar is set quite high, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create copy that works just as well, even if you don’t have a lot of experience.
To help you get started, let’s explore some of the most important aspects of PPC landing page copy that you should consider.Understand Your Audience
Countless components go into successful landing page copy. But few are as important as your ability to get through to the very core of the problems that your audience is facing.
Most marketers think that they understand who they’re trying to reach, but few actually take the time to dive deep into who their audience is, their pain points, what solutions they are seeking, or even how they formulate their problems in a search query.
Having answers to these questions will dictate every decision in your PPC campaign and will provide you with all of the knowledge necessary to craft compelling copy that captures attention and fills the reader with a sense of urgency that forces them to take action.
If you know and understand the problem that your audience is facing, you will have a much easier time emphasizing that problem in your copy, relating with your audience, and showing how your solution can alleviate their pain in the easiest and most convenient way possible.Use Stories to Break Through Barriers
Stories have been the driving force of human communication since the dawn of humanity. They are so ingrained into our minds that we can’t help but relate to stories that capture our imaginations and address problems that we are familiar with.
That’s why it’s not surprising that stories have become one of the most powerful ways to communicate sales messages as well, with savvy marketers using them to showcase how a product can help solve a pressing issue.
With the help of stories, you can bring your product to life, putting it in a real-life scenario where you or your customers use the solution that you’re selling to overcome obstacles and reach the goals that seemed unattainable.
Having some of your best customers tell your story for you is especially powerful, as it not only paints a compelling picture of how your product can help but also allows the reader to associate with the story’s protagonists and envision themselves going through the same journey.
Instead of listing your product’s features and benefits, which alone is sure to be met with skepticism, you can use stories to form a genuine connection with your audience and make them trust you in as little as a few minutes it takes to read through your landing page.Create an Irresistible Headline
No matter how well-crafted the body of your copy might be, it won’t make much of a difference if the reader doesn’t get past the headline.
Once a prospect clicks through to your website, they are intuitively looking for a reason to click away, as they are in unfamiliar territory and aren’t sure if they can trust you or if what you have to offer is even relevant to them.
If you don’t want to lose the vast majority of your site’s visitors, you must make sure that your headline and subhead are irresistible and almost force the reader to go through the rest of your page in order to satisfy their curiosity.
Most good headlines masterfully combine an element of curiosity with a laser-focused identification of the most pressing problem that the reader is facing.
This way, the prospect is left with no choice than to read further because if they don’t, they will feel like they’re missing out on a solution that could potentially help solve their problem forever.
When working with PPC campaigns, it’s also essential to connect the headline of your ad with the headline and subhead on your landing page, as they must build on one another and naturally guide the sequence of information towards the resolution that the reader is seeking.
One rule of thumb to follow when designing great headlines is making them all about the reader instead of your company. Many brands tend to focus on who they are and what they’ve achieved, but those that manage to flip the conversation to focus on the customer’s needs and how the solution can help them usually see the best results.Make Your Landing Page Look Professional Image Source
With so many aspects of the landing page to consider, it’s not surprising that some elements are neglected, even if they play a vital role in how many visitors end up converting into customers.
And one of these aspects is the presentation of your brand and your company on the landing page, which might seem like an afterthought, but can actually determine whether a visitor trusts you enough to buy from you.
For one thing, you should make sure that your site looks secure, and has an SSL certificate, a user-friendly design, and social proof elements that showcase your success stories.
Another vital part of presenting yourself is using clear wording, including the correct grammar. Making grammar and style mistakes throughout your page can be an instant turnoff for readers. By using online grammar and punctuation checker tools it will be easier for you to just focus on creating amazing content.
When writing the copy, try to make the language easy to understand and avoid complex sentences or less-common words. After all, your primary goal when creating a landing page is not to impress the reader but to make sure that they understand your message and are persuaded to buy.
You should also make the page easy to skim through in order to ensure that your readers understand the core message. To achieve that, use plenty of bolding and colored elements to make important sentences pop out.
Use bullet lists for features and benefits, as well as clearly distinguishable testimonials that ideally have the person’s full name and a picture.Final Words
Even though PPC campaigns can be incredibly effective, making them profitable does take time and effort. If you want the clicks to turn into customers, you must have a solid understanding of your audience, connect with your readers through stories, and come up with a headline that immediately captures attention.
Finally, your landing page must look professional and convenient to browse on any device because getting prospects to trust you is essential if you want them to buy from you.
In the past few months, the use of innovative technologies is streamlined under the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing, remote working, and self-isolation have created hurdles on the way of marketers to reach out to their customers. It has forced marketers to make the use of digital channels that include innovative technologies such as AI and ML, AR and VR, Big-data, digital marketing, and more into their marketing strategy. The pandemic has created a lot of opportunities for businesses to expand their digital footprints as people spend most of their time online. Expert opinions and predictions indicate that these trends will be followed through the crisis and there are all possibilities that these trends will live after the crisis. In this blog, we are going to discuss some of the major innovative technologies being used increasingly in the Coronavirus pandemic.1. Shifting to online ordering
Online delivery services are emerging as a new norm, people prefer to order food items, groceries, and other products online instead of visiting a physical store. As a result, Restaurants and other bricks and mortar stores are using the potential of web technology to cater to their customer needs by providing a digitally enabled delivery system. For the first time, the delivery orders are more than the supply, delivery based apps like Doordash, Instacart, and Uber Eats are being extensively used. UberEats have found a 30% increase in the customers signing up for services during COVID-19. In Instacart, people ordered around $680 million worth of goods in each week of April which is about a 430% increase from December. According to Statista, 27% of the US respondents stated that they have deliberately purchased hygiene products (e.g. hand sanitizer, toilet paper, etc.) online instead of offline because of coronavirus pandemic. Businesses are rapidly adopting digital delivery systems to make it convenient for customers to shop online.2. Use of AR and VR to market products
Businesses are utilizing the potential of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) more during the pandemic. Retail, real estate, trade shows/events and are the major areas using AR and VR technology to provide better virtual marketing experience for the customers and driving sales. For real estate, a VR startup Beike has developed a VR platform to enable potential customers to take a virtual 3D tour of the house properties in the market. The platform has 4 million house properties and apartments listed and it has 650 million users. VR-based trade shows are being widely used by hotels, airlines, and the fashion industry, the technology is enabling users to join large conferences virtually and have real-world tradeshow experiences without breaking the lockdown order. It eliminates the trade show costs and time such as traveling time, meal cost, and other expenses associated with traditional trade shows. Other marketing areas are using the AR and VR technology to streamline their marketing as it was before the crisis.3. Digital marketing
With consumers staying safely in their homes and spending most of their time online, digital marketing platforms are the best tools for brands to reach out to their potential customers during the pandemic. Digital marketing channels such as E-mail automation, SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing were already well underway, but due to pandemic businesses are relying more on digital mode for marketing. With the increased activities on the biggest platforms like Google, Facebook, and more, the opportunities for businesses to reap the benefit is increased.4. Big-Data, predictive analytics
Predictive analysis and forecasting are being used widely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Big-Data helps businesses to make decisions, there are many companies implementing data science solutions for efficient marketing. The retail industry is embracing data science and predictive analytics solutions to find out hidden revenue opportunities, consumer purchase behavior, competitive prices, and more. These factors are helping businesses to make proper marketing decisions and get better results. Predictive analytics is not only helping in marketing decision making but also in increasing model sustainability by processing a massive amount of data. Data science solutions and predictive analytics are helping businesses to stay ahead of the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic.5. AI and ML-based Automations
The pandemic has accelerated AI and ML-based marketing automation processes that were already well underway. With the help of machine learning, it becomes possible to make market predictions by processing a big amount of data. Major companies such as Google and Facebook are utilizing the potential of machine learning to improve ad offerings to consumers. Machine learning algorithms are helping advertisers to improve their media buying efficiency while AI and automation help marketers in many different areas. AI helps in segmentation the customer base, selection of the right channel to drive engagement, fraud detection, and security, and more. Several companies are embracing the potential of AI and ML to bring automation in the system and to be able to deal with the current marketing challenges.Conclusion
With an increase in the digital shopping habits of consumers, the use of innovative technologies by businesses of all kinds has increased during the pandemic, executing business processes digitally is shaping up to be new normal. A recent survey states most people of all age groups are likely to make online purchases even after the crisis. These trends are expected to live through the pandemic and beyond, thus, for businesses, it is important to develop an infrastructure to maximize digital or web-based interactions with their customers. Many expert opinions suggest that businesses are required to utilize innovative technologies to stay ahead of the curve.
Writing business proposals is hard. That is, it’s a time-consuming process with no guarantees that you’re going to get the results you want. However, there are plenty of ways you can sure up your chances of success.
Today we’ll look at some of the most important strategies to write more effective business proposals.
This is crucial. The average win rate for a business proposal is just under 50%. In other words, half of your proposals don’t work out. These five simple strategies will help you increase your win rate, and push your margins up in the process.
Better yet, none of them are rocket science. Let’s look at some simple ways to improve your business proposal win rate.Understand What the Client Really Wants
The biggest mistake sales professionals make is failing to solve prospects’ problems. That is, an effective business proposal starts by trying to understand the client’s business goals. An effective proposal convinces the client that you can help them meet these goals.
Ultimately, they don’t care how you do this.
This is where an effective discovery session comes in. While listening to the client in these sessions is obviously important, it’s also vital to cut through to the headline issue they’re facing. Let’s think about an example scenario.
Say you run a marketing agency, and you get in touch with an eCommerce store to help with their SEO. But when you get under the hood, they’re traffic figures are actually pretty healthy. Rather, the problem is that their product pages are a disaster.
In this case, the prospect only thinks they want help with their SEO. Your task is to scratch below the surface and see that they really want more sales. Since you’ve already identified the pain point to fix, the task of your proposal is to convince them of this.
Of course, this is an extreme example.
To grasp what clients really want in every discovery session, you can use certain prompts. These include:
The answers to these questions will then inform your next stage. You can also supplement this with feedback from previous clients.Frame Your Introduction with Concrete Goals
An effective introduction achieves a few different things. First, and most importantly, it grabs the reader’s attention. They should be excited to read on. To achieve this, it’s best to start with a simple promise in your title.
This includes what you’re going to achieve, and how long it will take.
The key here is to reference the fundamental business problem that you identified in your discovery session. You should then quantify the value you can add to this. For example, double your sales or generate 10,000 more leads.
Now that you have their attention, the remainder of your intro has another goal. Specifically, you want to start convincing the reader that you really understand they’re business needs. Of course, this is also a great chance to hammer home your goal.
Essentially, what you want to do is briefly outline what they’re current situation is, and where they’ll be once you’ve worked your magic.
You might optionally want to add a brief reference to the method you’ll use to achieve your goal. However, this is only effective if it’s actually possible to do this in a couple of words. Unfortunately, whether you can do this or not really depends on what kind of business you run.
For instance, ‘web design project’ is easy to drop into a casual sentence, and it won’t put anyone off reading. ‘High capacity sewage management system’ does not have the same effect in an intro.
On the subject of grabbing your readers’ attention, here a bonus takeaway. Obviously most proposals are read on a computer. However, 34% are read on mobile. While this may come as a surprise, the implication is obvious.
You simply can’t afford to lose a third of your business just because your proposals aren’t mobile-friendly.Use Detailed Timescales to Increase Buy-In
When they formulate project proposals, most sales professionals are afraid to use concrete time scales. In a way, this is understandable. There’s a certain risk to offering detailed timescales, as it’s easy for things to go wrong.
However, the alternative is much worse. In fact, omitting time scales completely makes your proposal seem amateurish and uncredible. To mitigate risks, it’s best to include time scales with an extra buffer for yourself when you need it.
This also means you’ll seem to be ahead of schedule during project delivery.
Besides this, the real benefit of providing timescales is psychological. To understand this, put yourself in the reader’s shoes for a minute. Whoever wrote this proposal has already put the work into figuring out every detail of this project, down to when they’ll deliver everything.
If you were in this situation, you’d likely feel two things. Consciously, you’d be impressed by the work ethic of anyone who did this much of a project before they’d even made the sale. Unconsciously, you’d feel like the project was already underway.
Therefore, when the time comes, it wouldn’t feel like such a leap to sign on the dotted line.Add Proof Using Case Studies
So far in your business proposal, you’ve been trying to convince the reader that you can solve their particular business problem. The trouble is, that so far they’ve had to take your word for it. That is, they have nothing to go on except that you’ve told them you can solve their problem.
But how do they know you’re not just a smooth talker?
You can leverage this fact to make your business proposals more effective. This works in two ways. First, it adds credibility to your claims. That is, it shows that you’re not all talk. When the time comes, you can actually deliver the goods.
Second, it adds an element of FOMO. This works best when you use a case study from a client who works in a similar sphere to your new prospect. Remember, you’re writing this proposal because the reader has a problem with their business.
Whether that’s poor sales or low lifetime customer values, the last thing they want is for them to suffer when they’re competitors are thriving.Reference Value when Presenting Costs
In any business proposal, the biggest barrier is getting the reader to get over the costs associated with your project. Times are tough, and many businesses are wary about throwing cash around.
This is another chance to utilise a little bit of psychology.
Specifically, you can use an effect called anchoring bias. This is where people create a reference point in their minds when they hear a piece of information. This reference then influences how they think about new pieces of information.
To utilise this, always give a concrete figure for the value you’re offering before any mention of the price. This ensures that the reader is always referencing the amount they’ll have to pay to the larger gains they’ll receive.
Another great practice is using investment as a header instead of costs, or pricing. This emphasizes the benefit of doing business with you – it’s an investment for future success, not just a one-time cost.
Then signing on the dotted line is a no brainer.How to Write More Effective Business Proposals
As we’ve already discussed, the core problem when writing business proposals is that they take a lot of effort, but there’s no guarantee they’ll pay off. However, this is something you need to overcome.
Indeed, effective business proposals are the only sure-fire way to score high-value clients.
To that end, we’ve looked at a few concrete strategies to make your proposals more effective. Even better, these are all things you can implement today. At their core, they all start by trying to understand the client’s fundamental business problem.
You then use the remainder of your proposal to convince them that you’re the person to solve this problem. We’ve looked at a couple of extra ways to sure up this approach, but at the core, it’s really that simple.
The web design process is a demanding one that requires collaboration and inclusivity to achieve the desired results.
During the project, designers receive tons of opinions and reactions from the stakeholders. The feedback, if constructive, can drive the project forward. It helps designers stay on the same page with their clients while working collaboratively towards the common goal. Conversely, poor feedback can hold up or potentially stall the project since designers are not sure of the changes or revisions to implement.
For this reason, you should learn how to provide clear and actionable feedback that adds value to the design process. Below are eight tips that can help you provide constructive web design feedback to improve the outcome of your project.1. Assess how the design aligns with your business goals
Whether you’re working on a new project, or redesigning an existing website, start by evaluating how different design aspects align with your objectives. For business and organizational websites, verify that the design follows your brand guidelines, including imagery, color scheme, fonts, and other graphical elements. The website design should be an accurate reflection of your brand’s personality.
As the design process unfolds, be sure to check whether it meets the goals you set at the beginning of the project. Ideally, the design should be intuitive enough to guide users through the desired path of action.2. Be clear and specific
This is arguably the most helpful guideline for making your feedback more effective. You should always strive to articulate your views clearly in a way that the designer can understand and implement your feedback accurately.
When you see an element that requires some tweaking, be,and provide as much context as you can. Clear and concise feedback gives the designer something constructive from which they can start revising the design.
It is always important to keep off generic comments along the lines of “I don’t like the layout” or “make it cooler”. This kind of feedback does not provide necessary guidance or context for making changes to the design.3. Provide examples whenever possible
The best way to express opinions in your web design feedback is by using examples. Sharing a couple of screenshots and links to other websites with your designer provides a better understanding of the kind of design you’re looking forward to.
With a visual reference, designers can make necessary revisions in the right way. This avoids the confusion that might occur when you use a vague description that is subject to misinterpretation.
So, next time you’re providing web design feedback, make it more effective by illustrating your points with visual examples.4. Avoid vague or ambiguous comments
One of the most common reasons why clients deliver poor feedback to their designers is by using vague and ambiguous comments.
For instance, when you say “make it pop,” “jazz it up,” or “the site looks bland,” the designer might be confused about what you want. Many questions will pop up – do you want some improvements on the fonts used? Do you want a brighter color scheme? Are you recommending a change of the images used?
Good web design feedback avoids generalities since they are open to multiple interpretations. You should use clear statements with concrete examples of what you’re feeling. For instance, you can ask the designer to draw more attention to the sidebar titles by adding some whitespace and making the headlines bigger.5. Be objective
Most people are tempted to give web design feedback based on their personal tastes. Even if you’re working on a personal website or blog, it is always good to step back and assess the design from your customer’s or end-user point of view. Your target audience should be your top priority, so comment based on what they like or what they’d find intuitive and easy-to-use.
Additionally, good feedback is as objective as possible. It builds on definitive information such as research findings, project goals, or the creative brief. For instance, saying “I don’t like color red, can you remove it?” sounds harsh. Instead, you can provide a more objective reason for the suggestion. You can say, “The design looks good, but can we use a different color scheme because red isn’t part of our brand’s color palette?”6. Use a web design feedback template/checklist
A web design feedback template is a simple and easy-to-use form that allows you to communicate your view on key design aspects.
With this template, you can comment on a wide array of UI elements including usability, intuitiveness, efficiency, memorability, navigation, content, load speed, and more. Using a feedback template or checklist allows you to provide exhaustive feedback about website design, without leaving out the most important details.7. Ask relevant design questions
An effective way of improving feedback is by asking questions that make designers feel respected as contributors in the project. So, instead of providing feedback that’s too specific, consider creating additional room for engagement by asking questions.
For instance, you can politely ask why they added a particular element to the layout. Alternatively, you can ask the designer to tell you more about a particular choice of design. The idea here is to ask questions that are directly tied to the project goals. When the designer responds, you can easily gain insight into their approach to solving particular problems.8. Be honest
Finally, remember honesty is key. You should be completely transparent with the feedback you provide, without worrying about causing offense.
The goal of the project is to deliver a product that meets the specified requirements and gives your audience the best experience. Designers cannot achieve these or any other desired result without your input. So, be sincere from the start to avoid multiple unnecessary revisions or frustrations at the end of the project.
It is also a good idea to provide positive feedback as opposed to focusing only on the negatives. Taking note of the positives in your feedback gives a better idea of what you want to the designer. This encourages them to keep moving in the right direction when addressing the negatives. Adding some compliments in your feedback also reinforces your working relationship with the designer.Conclusion
Effective feedback plays an indispensable role in the success of any collaborative project. With clear communication throughout the design process, all parties can be sure of a successful outcome. Whether you’re communicating with your designer in person, via email, or over the phone, using the above tips when crafting and delivering feedback will help your designer understand your needs better and deliver the website you deserve.
It’s no secret that routine at work can get monotonous and unmotivating sometimes. Everyone, at some point, needs to reconnect with their job and find the inspiration again. Nothing wrong with that – we are only human!
Did you know that, according to Gallup’s research, companies with an engaged team are 21% more profitable? Despite this, the research shows that 85% of employees are not engaged at work.
Knowing this, it sounds a bit odd that companies aren’t dedicating more resources, monetary or not, to increase their employees’ motivation and engagement at work.
Fortunately enough, there are many different initiatives that can help you turn that percentage upside down for your team!
And what about developers? Spending their days in front of the screen, fixing bugs, coding, creating new cool features, taking care of the users’ experience… Those need some attention as well!
But no worries, these tips will have you covered with your DevOps team.
Overall, the main tip for all companies out there is to start considering employees’ motivation as an ongoing objective to work on. Yes, that’s kind of broad. Luckily, there are many other, more accurate, tips to increase motivation at work – on a daily basis!
Let’s get hands-on with these 3 tips to boost your developers’ energy at work:Promote data-driven conversations
Creating a positive work environment is the #1 step to promote a positive attitude among your employees. Makes sense, right?
But sometimes, having a nice vibe is not enough to keep a motivated and focused workforce.
You can give it a little twist, and change the “How was the weekend?” for “How was last week?”. Your employees then have the opportunity to talk about their numbers, get inspiration from their colleagues, and get better insights into their own performance.
And of course, this is also applicable to your developers! No matter the department, we all work with some kind of data.
A friendly way of getting started with this type of conversation is, for instance, establishing check-in meetings. It consists of a quick meeting – up to 15 minutes – where a department gathers and talks about the objectives for the week. Both individual and per department.
There, your developers can set the daily goals for the week, talk about last week’s results, and maybe even mention the learnings gathered.
It’s all about creating the space for your team to talk about the exciting or challenging parts of their job, and share their insights with one another.
Try it, and you’ll see!Allow them to follow their progress
One condition to having data-driven conversations around the office – or through video calls if working remotely, is to actually allow your team to follow their own progress towards their goals.
There are many different ways of doing this, but remember that it’s all about transparency with your team.
For instance, an idea that can help you boost your developers’ motivation towards their KPIs is having one-on-ones meetings regularly. Apart from talking about their role, it’s also interesting to give it a data-driven approach by bringing real data.
This way, the employee can see first-hand how the progress has been, how far or close if the KPI from being reached, or whether there was a peak where something didn’t work.
This way, your employees become more aware of their own performance and can make better decisions about it.
Another option is to use a data visualization software, like Plecto, that can display their progress and KPIs in real-time. This allows your developers to have a full overview of their pending and already completed tasks, soon-to-be reached objectives or longer-term goals. All at one glance.
They no longer need to wait for the weekly reviews, or the monthly reports, because they have 24/7 access to their performance.
This allows you to have a more independent team, with each employee taking control over their data. Plus, being able to see their real-time progress promotes some self-competition, where your employees challenge themselves to do better at work – and visualizing it.Celebrate your employees
Celebrating success is often the reason for achieving it in the first place! This might sound obvious, but many companies usually forget about the last step when it comes to their employees’ KPIs.
Just because your employees do what they were hired for, does not mean they can’t take credit from it. In fact, they should! That’s what keeps one willing to do it again.
What happens when you set a goal, work hard to reach it, and then, when it’s done, no one notices? You’d probably not have the same energy to do it again. And again, and again.
In fact, according to research carried out by Globoforce, almost 70% of employees agreed that they would work harder if they felt their efforts better appreciated by the manager.
This is probably what your team goes through, or would do if you don’t take the time to give them the tap on the shoulder they need – symbolically or not.
The good thing is, that there are endless ways of celebrating an employee!
For instance, you can create different initiatives for the various types of goals. Let’s say, every time your developers finish a sprint, they do 10 push-ups together. You can also keep it lower if your development team won’t handle it.
Another example is that, for every bug solved on the website, a notification pops up in the internal communication channel, or in the data visualization software. This way, all your employees – from every department – will know what’s going on around the team.
And that, indirectly, it’s also a motivating push for the rest of the team. Seeing each other working hard and achieving targets, motivates the rest to join the high-performance spirit.
Plus, who doesn’t like a little celebration after a good job?
What can a disgruntled student with a notebook achieve? More than you would think.
In the 1960s, a 15-year-old student in the U.K. become frustrated with the “archaic school practices of the day.” Although he was told to write about his frustrations in the school paper, his ideas were deemed too radical to publish. So he decided to start his own publication to unite the voices of students from multiple schools.
With a notebook in hand, he started to research what it would take and wrote out his plan. Some 50 years later he would go on to say, “Thus, with contributors, advertisers, distributors and costs all in place — at least on paper — I had written my first business plan.”
This simple plan led him to found a successful magazine that featured interviews from stars of the day like Mick Jagger. This early success encouraged young Richard Branson to found many other businesses and eventually build a multibillion dollar fortune.
The lesson is that a business plan, even an extremely simple one, can make a bigger difference than you think.
Today, Richard Branson prefers to use back-of-the envelope plans to organize his ideas for any new business. Even so, he strongly advocates that entrepreneurs write down their ideas and provides a business plan template through Virgin Start Up.
Have you put your business ideas on paper? Is your business plan in place? Remember that even a plan in a notebook can achieve far more than you might imagine.Here is an overview of how to write a business plan in 8 steps:
In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything related to writing a business plan, from the executive summary to the financial plan. Let’s start with why.Three reasons writing a business plan is critical
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”Eleanor Roosevelt
Starting a new business is exciting. But that initial spark and passion can put you at risk of failure. Early on, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the idea for your business. As a result, you may not think about how to communicate that idea to others in a way that makes them want to support you. It can also be easy to fall victim to unseen risks and poor planning.
Understanding how to write a business plan and using this information to write your first one will help you in three key areas, all of which represent compelling reasons to write a business plan.Give yourself clarity
The first and most important reason to write a business plan is to give yourself clarity. As you build a business, you’ll face many difficult decisions. For example, you may wonder who you’ll need to hire and what kind of infrastructure you’ll need to support your growth goals.
You’ll also need to figure out the things that have to happen in order for your business to achieve its mission. Knowing how to react in the face of these decisions can feel impossible, especially when the pressure’s on. Creating a business plan will help you prepare for these milestones and stay focused and committed when they come up.Support your marketing efforts
A business plan will greatly benefit your marketing efforts. Whether you’re marketing to potential customers or trying to get partners on board, it’s critical that you get them excited about your mission, your product or service, and the steps you’ll take to ensure everyone involved gets something of value.
If your audience can’t understand what your business is trying to achieve, how you’ll achieve it, and why that should matter to them, then they’re unlikely to buy from you or partner with you. This will quash any marketing efforts out of the gate.Get support and backing from stakeholders
A business plan is critical to getting support and backing from stakeholders. This includes investors, banks, and vendors. It also includes any type of organization that will back your business growth. For example, you may need FDA approval for a new food product or type of packaging.
Anyone who plans to back your business will need to be taught about your industry, the risks you face, your competitors, your team, and your overall plan for success. Writing a business plan will allow you to fully research these areas and make convincing arguments as to why others should support you.Should you skip a business plan? The dangers of the “Me Test”
“Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs.”Harvard Business Review
Many people will recommend that you simply focus on creating a good concept for your business. They may tell you to just run with it, without digging deeper. The idea is that once revenue starts coming in, you’ll know it’s a good idea and you can start the real planning.
This approach has worked for some, but it’s risky and will leave you unprepared for difficult challenges and conversations related to your business.
Writing a business plan, even when you don’t technically need to, will help you clarify your ideas and identify the most likely roadblocks to your business’s success. A business plan will also help you get third-party validation for your ideas and plans.
In entrepreneurship, there’s a fallacy called the “Me Test.” This fallacy occurs after you come up with an idea for a business that you like. You bounce your idea off your best friend from college and your mom, and they both say, “Wow, that’s great!” Then you immediately start building your business at warp factor 9 without ever asking anyone else if it’s a good idea.
A business plan will help you shift from doing a “Me Test” to a “We Test.” As you write your business plan, you’ll be able to validate your ideas through unbiased research on your competitors and potential customers. This helps you confirm that you’re not the only one who likes the idea since you’ll be able to gauge interest and support for it.
As an entrepreneur, having an optimistic attitude is critical. Many of the great entrepreneurs of our time wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for optimism. But you can be sure they tempered that optimism with a realistic plan that took into account everything that could affect their business growth.
If you want your company to achieve a margin of the success that great companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon have achieved, then you need a business plan. You can’t rely on chance or any other random factor to achieve success. You need to plan for it.How to write an executive summary
The executive summary is one of the most important sections of a business plan. In some cases, it will be the only thing that people read. In others, what people see in the executive summary will keep them reading. No matter who your audience is, they’ll review the executive summary. This makes it the most critical element to get right.What is a business plan executive summary?
It’s generally the first page of your business plan, and it summarizes the points from each section. This allows readers to quickly familiarize themselves with your entire business plan without having to read every page. Most important, it states what your business is and why it will be successful.
Beyond summarizing these points, an executive summary will also act as an introduction to your business plan. This means it can’t just be informative; it needs to grab attention.
A good introduction is relevant and presents a problem to the audience that your business will solve. You could present this problem through statistics, a story, or some other type of anecdote. Use any kind of tool that helps make the problem real and easy for the reader to understand.
Next, ensure that your introduction provides relevant information that gives valid reasons why your business can solve this problem. The challenge is trying to do this in just a few sentences.
Once you lay this groundwork, you can begin to summarize your business plan. Make sure that the summary ties each successive point back to the problem you brought up in the introduction. Then connect the point to the reader by explaining the “so what” behind each part of your plan.The executive summary format
The executive summary format you choose will depend on the structure of your business plan. As a result, you’ll usually write this summary last. Use the table of contents as your executive summary outline, and then write a paragraph or two to elaborate on each point from your outline/TOC.
This section can be difficult to write, so it’s good to look at some examples for inspiration. The Balance Small Business provides a concise, compelling executive summary example.
Now that you have a better understanding of the purpose of the executive summary, it’s time to focus on the starting point for your business plan: the company overview.How to write a company overview
A company overview is a high-level snapshot of your company that lists your company composition, legal structure, and mission statement. As the name implies, the company overview helps your readers quickly understand your organization.
Why should you care about creating a company overview? Because no one wants to invest in a sinking ship. If investors sense disorganization or inexperience from the beginning, they may not be willing to stick around. By determining the details of your business beforehand, you’ll give investors the confidence they need.
But what if you don’t need investors for your company? A company overview will still be beneficial. For example, determining how your business will solve customer problems will help you make important decisions. It gives marketing the needed direction to create effective materials and keeps your team focused on creating products that continue to solve those problems.The process and structure behind a great company overview
While company overviews differ in both length and composition, they all have a few things in common. The majority of company overviews will at least contain the following:
We’ll go through each of these one by one, but before getting started, you should consider why you’re creating the company overview. Are you trying to secure investments, or are you simply creating a guiding document for your team?
Knowing the purpose of your company overview will help you tailor it to better serve the reader. Now, let’s jump into what each of these components means.Terms defined
Company summary. Like writing a summary of a book, this is where you sum up everything about your business. As briefly as possible, tell the reader important details, such as your company name, what your company does, and the problems it will solve.
Mission statement. This tells the reader why your company exists. It’s your chance to explain your vision, purpose, and values. We’ll dig a bit deeper into the mission statement later.
Company history. If you’ve already started your company, tell the reader the history of your company. When did you start it? How did you get started? What milestones have you achieved up to this point?
Management team. Tell the reader who runs the company, their qualifications, and any other relevant details about them.
Legal structure and ownership. How is your company set up? Is it a sole proprietorship, a corporation, an LLC, etc.? Who owns the company?
Location. Talk about where your company operates from and if there are plans to expand to other locations. If you’re planning on expanding, elaborate on why.
Products and services. Give an overview of your products and services. This shouldn’t get too technical, but it should demonstrate the value you’re adding to the marketplace.
Target market. Talk about what your ideal buyer looks like, their demographics, and what problem you’re solving for them.
Competitive advantage. Tell readers why your company will succeed. Are you filling a gap in the market? Do you have access to a technology your competitors don’t?
Objectives and goals. Talk about your short-term and long-term goals. Make sure these goals are measurable and realistic. They should demonstrate that you’re successfully acting on your business plan.
Some of the sections we’ve defined are pretty straightforward, while others require a little more effort. Next, we’ll look at one of these more complex sections and how you can set it up.Setting up your organizational structure
To be clear, there are multiple structures that you need to set up within any business. This might include how the organization is structured legally, how management and departments are built, and the physical infrastructure of your company.
For example, an e-commerce business with one central location would be structured very differently from a chain restaurant. Each is unique and would benefit from a completely different type of legal, managerial, and physical infrastructure. This means that as you structure your business, there won’t be a one-size-fits-all strategy. Instead, you need to match the structure with the business.
Let’s talk about the three different structures that you need to define.
Legal structure. Your business’s legal structure can affect your day-to-day operations, how you’re taxed, and your legal risk. It will also make it easier or more difficult to bring in investors. The most important thing to think about is how you want your company to grow and change over the next 10 years; choose the structure you ultimately need to achieve that. For a full overview of legal structures and their risks, review to this guide from the SBA.
Managerial structure. It’s important to choose the right managerial structure because this will affect your leadership team, how support teams are set up, and overall company communication. Again, the right way to set up your managerial structure depends on the type of organization you have. For example, a restaurant chain may benefit from a functional structure with traditional layers of hierarchy, whereas a software company might benefit from a flatter matrix structure.
The main types of structures include
Physical structure. The type of business you run greatly impacts what an ideal location looks like. For example, for a retail outlet, an area with heavy traffic might be ideal, while for a service company, cost savings might be a bigger consideration. Why should you care? Location can provide your business with critical advantages like visibility, access to a larger network of peers, and cost control.
From coworking spaces to remote workers, the location landscape has changed a lot in the last 20 years. You should look into all available options to find what’s best for your organization. Once your organizational structure is in place, it’s time to consider crafting your mission and vision statement. This will give your organization direction and help your team deliver on your promise to customers.Your mission, should you choose to accept it
The mission statement is more important than most companies realize and often misunderstood. When written properly, the mission statement helps the entire team understand the main goal of your company. This gives people something to rally around and helps guide them when presented with decisions that seem to conflict with your company’s goals.
Why do we say that the mission statement is often misunderstood? Many organizations use the mission statement in their marketing materials. While it’s not necessarily bad to do this, it can result in a mission statement that’s full of marketing jargon.
To avoid this, work from the inside out. Start by considering the mission statement as an internal document and then use it in marketing when appropriate. How can you get started writing yours?Writing the mission statement in 5 steps
These five steps can help you craft a mission statement that’s both compelling and useful for your organization. Southwest Airlines is an example of a company that has a great mission statement and works to apply it in all that they do:
“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.”
First, it’s clear that Southwest’s mission is to provide the best customer service around. But they take it a step further by specifying which qualities are crucial to achieving their mission.
Their mission statement is also realistic and achievable. Any employee can strive to display these qualities in their interactions. Southwest doesn’t water down their mission with flashy language that doesn’t mean anything.
After putting the finishing touches on your mission statement, it’s time to work on your vision. This takes the form of your business objectives and goals. It’s not enough to have a nebulous vision. You need long-term goals and short-term objectives if you want to make that vision a reality.Make your vision a reality with business goals and objectives
If you imagine your business plan as a roadmap, your vision is the destination. This makes goals and objectives mile markers that plot your route for getting there. Choosing the right goals isn’t an aspirational task — it’s strategic. Great goals will be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
Great goals aren’t simply a desired outcome; they explain why it’s important to achieve them and the path for getting there. How can you create these types of goals for your business? Let’s break it down into a few steps.
Setting good goals takes time. Those who put in the time give their team needed clarity, a roadmap, and a competitive advantage. A lot of your goals will be based on your vision for the company, but the best goals are built on data.
Next, we’ll look at how analyzing the market can improve your business plan and help you make better business decisions.How to do a market analysis
The market analysis section of your business plan is critical to proving the viability of your business. Your business’s viability, in turn, is critical when you’re trying to gain support from investors, employees, or partners. If you can’t get this support, then your business may be doomed before it even starts — so you need to get it right.
Having market research is most important when you’re seeking early investors. These investors most likely won’t be experts in your market or product, even if they have a lot of business knowledge. The market analysis section of your business plan is your opportunity to educate them in a way that will gain their support. The data in this section needs to be comprehensive and truthful, but there’s also an opportunity to inject facts that show why your business is such a good solution.
Doing this research will benefit you as the founder of the business. It will help you understand the current risks in the market, opportunities for growth, and the challenges that your business will face as you try to break into the market. Doing this homework will help you to think more strategically and even help you come up with creative ideas that will help you overcome early obstacles.What sections should you include in your market analysis?
There’s a lot of information that you could include, but not all of it will be applicable to every type of business. Let’s start by looking at the information that’s considered absolutely essential:
In addition to these critical sections, there are others you can include. Whether or not you include them depends on your business, your industry, and the stage your business is at (for example, a seed-stage startup can get by with a much leaner market analysis than a late-stage startup raising series B funding). Some of these optional sections include
The sections that you include in your market analysis will depend on its purpose. Is your goal to lay out your idea clearly to gain support? Are you creating this plan for your own benefit? Will this plan be going to the desks of high-profile investors or partners? If the plan is only for your own benefit, then running a large-scale market test will likely be too expensive and time-consuming.
In general, the more thorough you can be in your market analysis, the better. This information can be extremely useful for sales, marketing, and product design later down the road.Market analysis templates and examples
A template is a great place to start your market analysis. Let’s look at two options you can use to kick-start your analysis.
The first one is the lean option that comes from GrowthLab. This market analysis template will help you with the sales and marketing side of your business, and it’s easy to do. In fact, it contains only five questions:
Answering these questions will be extremely valuable to you early on in your business. More often than not, the companies that succeed are customer centric. These questions help you to be customer centric out of the gate.
There’s one caveat, though. These questions will only give you the customer’s viewpoint of the market. There are things these questions don’t take into consideration, like supply and demand, competitive landscape, barriers to entry, etc. Fairly soon after this “foundational” market analysis, you may need to run a second, more complete analysis.
What would this analysis look like?
SCORE provides a very thorough business plan template that includes several pages of market analysis tools (you can find a similar fillable strategic plan template here). This template includes instructions and worksheets for
These worksheets are focused, detailed, and extremely granular. They’ll force you to answer difficult questions about your business — the ones that will make you question your plans and feel a little uncomfortable. It’s easier to answer these questions during planning than it is when an investor springs one of them on you.Tools and resources to support your market analysis
As you run your market analysis, you’ll be asking a lot of questions you won’t know the answers to offhand. You’ll need reliable data to base your answers on. More important, this data needs to be seen as reliable by whoever you’re presenting your business plan to.
The Small Business Administration offers a categorized list of resources to answer some of the most important questions in your market analysis. It’s mainly made up of government organizations that maintain specialized databases of information.
In addition to these resources, find resources specific to the niche you’re pursuing. For example, if you’re offering a software solution to enterprise-level companies, you may want to include research from a top consulting firm like Gartner. These specialized firms will research areas of business that government organizations don’t cover.
Once you’ve looked at the data, take your research a step further by learning about your target market and customers. To perform this customer research, follow these steps:
Following a customer research process like the one described above is essential to writing a compelling business plan. And this type of research should be a foundational part of your business, whether you’re writing a plan or not.
Some of the most effective business plans take customer research a step further. In addition to learning about customers, some companies will test their product or service on them. For example, a business that centers on an app may have customers test a prototype of the app. Or a product-based business may run tests on their product samples with real consumers.
Product testing will add a touch of professionalism to your business plan and increase the confidence of anyone considering investing in your business. Test results are also excellent sales and marketing tools since they allow you to let the results speak for themselves.
When you take the time to go the extra mile in your market analysis, it will show anyone who reads your plan just how serious you are about your business. And that’s a good thing.How to do a competitive analysis
Military strategist Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” The same holds true in business. When you understand your competitors’ businesses, it’s easier to find your unique value proposition and communicate that value proposition in sales and marketing.
Within your business plan, the competitive analysis section plays multiple roles:
Most important, successful companies continually analyze their competition. Even Apple and Microsoft do it (as evidenced by their dueling ad campaigns).
Let’s look at how to run an effective competitive analysis when preparing your business plan.Identifying your competitors and building a summary
The first step is creating a list of competitors. One of two things can happen at this point: Either you’ll immediately come up with a list of all of your competitors, or you’ll say, “We’re different; we don’t really have competitors.” No matter what category you fall into, it’s still important to take your time on this step.
Even if a list of competitors springs to mind, you’ll always miss something, and you don’t want it to surprise you further down the road. If you say you don’t have competitors, then you’re wrong. It’s likely that your competitors are indirect or that your competition is the status quo. So don’t skimp on the competitor list.
Your competitor list needs to account for three basic types of competitors:
Try to list as many competitors as you can in each category. Really push yourself to think of as many angles as possible. When you’re done brainstorming, you can trim the list to the most important competitors.Creating a competitive landscape analysis
With a final list of competitors in hand, you can start to reconstruct the landscape for your business plan’s readers. This can take a few forms, depending on the type of business plan you’re creating and its purpose.
Let’s start with a traditional business plan that’s designed to garner support from its readers. What are the essential elements you need to include? The SCORE business plan template that we referenced earlier uses a table to present the competitive landscape. You can use this table to compare yourself against your top competitors across 15 points. Some of the most important points are
In addition to points like these, you should also add points that are relevant to your business and industry. For example, if you sell a software product, you may want to compare your UX against your competitors. Or if you’re a manufacturer, you may want to compare the processes and technologies you use in manufacturing. The key is including the things that will matter most to your stakeholders.Differentiating your business from the competition
Once you’ve identified your competitors and laid out the competitive analysis, it’s time to use that information to differentiate your business. GV (formerly Google Ventures) has developed one of the single most effective methods for doing this. It’s called a brand sprint.
Why should you use brand sprint exercises as part of your competitive analysis? There are two main reasons. First, a brand sprint allows you to visually display the competitive landscape. Second, it will help you identify ways to further differentiate your business.
There are six components to a brand sprint:
All of these components are useful in differentiating your business. But, for now, we’ll focus on the two exercises that matter most for the competitive product analysis section of your business plan.
The first exercise is “what, how, why” and is based on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. You just answer three questions: What do you do? How do you do it? Why do you do it? The answer to the first question won’t include any earth-shattering information; what you do should be clear throughout your entire business plan. But your answers to the next two questions give you an excellent opportunity to differentiate your business and create emotional appeal.
For example, your answer to the “how” question gives you a chance to show how your process, product, methodology, or approach is different. You may just be another coffee shop, but the fact that you roast your beans in-house and use a unique brewing method may be the differentiator that catches an investor’s eye, especially if no one else in your market is using that approach.
Your answer to the “why” question gives you a chance to appeal to emotions. It tells the story of what’s driving you to get into this business and succeed. Investors have become increasingly interested in what drives company founders to go into business since this can be an indicator of their commitment and follow-through. Your why doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be truthful. For example, a coffee shop’s “why” could be to give patrons a unique and refreshing coffee drinking experience.
The second exercise that can add impact to your business plan is a competitive landscape analysis. This exercise consists of creating a 2×2 matrix with a horizontal line going from classic to modern and a vertical line going from expressive to reserved. It’s best to do this exercise on a whiteboard with lots of sticky notes.
With your tools assembled, it’s now time to organize yourself and your competitors on the 2×2 matrix. Here’s an example of what that looks like from GV:
The purpose of placing yourself in relation to your competitors on this board is to show where your company lives in the competitive landscape. Ideally, the group that’s reviewing your business plan will have some knowledge of your competitors, which will allow them to act as anchor points. Seeing your business in this type of matrix will allow them to instantly understand where your product belongs in the landscape.
With an effective competitive analysis in place, it’s now time to get down to brass tacks. Let’s look at what it takes to create your business’s financial plan.Creating your business’s financial plan
“Long term thinking and planning enhances short term decision making. Make sure you have a plan of your life in your hand, and that includes the financial plan and your mission.”—Manoj Arora, From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom
Your business’s financial plan has one of the most important jobs — proving that your business concept is viable. Your motivation for starting a business may be freedom, getting rich, or not answering to the man. But all businesses have something in common: They need to make money.
If you want to secure outside investments, you need to include a financial plan as part of your business plan. This document gives investors incentive to invest in your business by giving them a clear picture of financial forecasts and risk. So what’s included in the financial plan?
The different reports in your financial plan allow you to get a complete picture of your business’s viability both in the short and long term. They are crucial to planning your business’s future and securing investments. To continue assembling your plan, we’ll go over the most basic elements of the financial plan: the income statement, cash flow projection, and balance sheet.Income statement
If you compared your business to a car, your income statement would measure engine efficiency. This is because sales and income fuel your business. The income statement helps you get a pulse on how profitable your business is and which departments are stars and duds.
Your income statement’s goal is to help you calculate your net income. The equation is net income = (revenue + gains) – (expenses + losses). As you can see, there are five net components to the income statement.
The business plan income statement is especially useful for determining the profitability of your business. But you can also use it to see how your business is performing compared to similar businesses in your industry. The income statement can empower your leadership team to make decisions and change course when things are off track.Balance sheet
Are you looking for quick insights into your business’s financial health? If so, the balance sheet will be your new best friend. The balance sheet is a snapshot of your financial situation for a specific period of time. When compared with balance sheets from the past, you can piece together a broader picture of how your company is performing and even identify trends and seasonal shifts.
How can you create a balance sheet for your financial plan? The basic equation for your balance sheet is assets = liabilities + owner’s equity. The reverse (owner’s equity = assets – liabilities) gives you the same output. You can create your balance sheet by gathering all of the financial data you need and organizing it properly.
Assets are a breakdown of what your business currently owns, including cash on hand and what your customers currently owe you. Assets include
Once you have the totals for each of the categories, add them up to get the amount for your total assets.
Liabilities are the debts your company owes, both current and long term. For simplicity, long-term liabilities are debts that have a payback period longer than a year. Current liabilities are any debts that need to be paid back within the year, like payroll. Add up all current and long-term liabilities for your total liability number.
Owner’s equity is the amount that would be left for the owners if all assets were sold and all liabilities were paid. To calculate the owner’s equity, you need to add retained earnings (ending balance from previous balance + net income – payout to investors) and contributed capital.
Once you have your three totals for assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity, you can plug them into the balance sheet equations to make sure the totals balance. If they do, congratulations! You’ve successfully created your balance sheet.Cash flow statement
This is a financial statement that shows how changes in the balance sheet affect revenue. At a basic level, it shows how cash flows in and out of the business. How does it help a business?
The cash flow statement is important to accounting, lenders, investors, potential employees, and company directors because it tells them whether the business can cover important expenses like payroll, operating expenses, and debts. With the cash flow statement, those thinking of investing in the business will be able to quickly spot a risky investment.
You can create a cash flow statement in two ways. The first, and more complex, is called the direct method. The second, simpler version is called the indirect method and is the preferred method for most business owners for that reason. To put together your cash flow statement, you’ll need to gather financial data for operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities. The Balance Small Business has a great article on using the indirect method.
All of the financial statements we’ve covered can give you useful insights for business planning and attracting investments. But by covering the big three — the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement — you’ll have what you need for a compelling business plan.Making the most of your business plan
A business plan can do a lot of things. It can help you gain the support of stakeholders, clarify your ideas, and overcome roadblocks. Most important, business plans are the foundation of some of the most successful and revolutionary businesses today.
There is one danger with business plans though.
It’s easy to create your business plan and then file it away to gather dust. A few short months later, you could have deviated so far from the plan that your business looks nothing like you expected it to. Or worse yet, you may have made little to no progress at all.
How can you ensure that you make the most of your business plan?
Your business plan isn’t an academic exercise. It’s an opportunity to build the right launchpad for your business and the dreams you have for it.
The new wave of digital networking is full of unique opportunities without geographic limitations. It’s a chance to bolster your current professional relationships online while expanding your network far beyond your usual circle of contacts. Mastering the art of networking online in the virtual business world is easier said than done. The rules of networking have changed and professionals need to stay sharp to keep up, regardless of the stage of their career.
To be successful in a strictly virtual networking environment, you must realize that your online personal brand needs to be polished. You need a “digital handshake” that makes a lasting impression, and you need to be skilled at following up without being pushy. You need to be tech-savvy and find creative ways to convey your personality and your soft-skills since you can’t demonstrate them in person anymore.
If you’re applying for jobs, your networking skills are critical, especially in today’s tough labor market. Embrace the fact that application processes are increasingly digitized by making sure your LinkedIn and your professional references are up-to-date. Your professional contacts are strategic partners in your job hunt. Your network will help you immensely, whether you’re trying to find a recruiter or trying to get your foot in the door for an interview.
Working remotely might take a toll on networking in-person, but don’t let it be a reason for your professional relationships to suffer. Try some new online networking platforms that are specific to your industry. Maybe LinkedIn is your go-to social network, but it’s important to mix up which platforms you use—there are plenty of alternatives that are only a Google search away. Whether you’re a web developer, architect, real estate agent, or fashion industry professional, there are websites dedicated to individuals who share your occupation. There are undoubtedly social networks that people within your field are using that you haven’t delved into yet. It’s definitely worth the extra effort to leverage your networking opportunities beyond LinkedIn.
Since networking online is the only way to connect with potential mentors, business partners, and peers, there is a lot of pressure to make the most of it. Above all, it’s vital to approach networking in a proactive and positive way. In the wake of the pandemic, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing the bare minimum when it comes to keeping up with your network. There might be canceled coffee meet-ups and lunches, but now some amazing networking events are more accessible than before. Don’t be discouraged about no more in-person networking opportunities. Instead, focus on the advantages of networking online. Start by reaching out to personal and professional contacts, from friends and family to school/university alumni. Or, consider signing up for a workshop or bootcamp. This way, you can easily connect with a cohort of people who also prioritize learning a new professional skillset. Plus, the lack of geographic barriers opens up seemingly endless possibilities. There has never been a more important time to stay on top of the latest networking tactics. Check out the graphic below from LiveCareer for a helpful visual representation of some of the best ways to network in 2020.
Every business faces fierce competition, especially when everything can be bought online. Customers are overwhelmed with the number of options available. They want to understand why they should buy from you and not from any other brand. This is where Public Relations and USP are so important.
It is crucial to create a USP for your business that helps your customers make decisions quickly.What Is a USP?
Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is the one thing that differentiates your business from your competitors. An excellent value proposition encourages customers to buy your products as suggested in this article by Maryville University. It tells your potential customers what’s so special about your product/service.
Until you create a USP for your business and capitalize on it, it would be difficult for you to create a name in the industry or even convince people to buy from you.
Your USP helps marketers sell your products easily as the customers can clearly understand the benefits of buying from you.
Now that you know what a USP is and how it can benefit you let’s have a look at how to create it.1. Understand Your Target Audience
Before you even start crafting your USP, you need to have a good understanding of your target audience. This helps in creating a USP that they want to hear, which, in turn, will boost the conversion rate.
Here are a few questions you must ask to understand your target audience better.
While most of the answer lies in your website’s analytics, you can also use JotForm Survey Maker to create a survey and send it to your existing customers via emails.
To target new website visitors, it helps you display the form as a popup on your website.2. Explain The Problem Your Business Solves
People don’t buy products. They buy a solution to their problems. Take the automobile industry for example. They don’t just sell vehicles: they sell comfort and luxury.
Considering it in a problem-solving context: people who want to travel comfortably and look financially stable are more likely to buy a car.
Similarly, you need to show your customers how your product can meet their needs and solve their problems.
As someone said, “sell Benefits, not features”. This concept is also applicable when creating a USP for your business.3. List What Makes You Different From Your Competitors
The next step is to list at least three to five things that differentiate you from your competitors. What benefits your customers cannot get from any other company but only from your brand?
One of the excellent examples of a brand explaining the benefits they sell is FedEx. There are lots of delivery services companies but what makes them different from others is their slogan (USP).
FedEx’s USP (tagline) was “when it absolutely, positively has to be overnight”. It guarantees their customers that their packages will be delivered overnight. However, FedEx doesn’t use this slogan anymore.4. Create An Elevator Pitch
Finally, it’s time to craft an elevator pitch that attracts your target audience’s attention immediately. It should be something that explains the problem you solve, differentiates you from your competitors, and is unique.
Make sure your USP is as specific and simple as possible. Also, try to include a promise in your USP.
For example, a moving supply company can have a USP that says, “Sturdy boxes in 24 hours”. This is an excellent USP because it guarantees boxes within a day that won’t collapse. Even if you fell short of boxes while moving your house, this company has got you covered.
Nerd Fitness surely knows how to create an elevator pitch. It says, “we help nerds, misfits, and mutants lose weight, get strong, and get healthy permanently”. This is great because it explains who should choose them and why and guarantees to make them healthy permanently.The Best USP Examples
Beardbrand is one of the brands that have nailed the art of crafting a USP. Their product ethos reads, “Many competing products are formulated to address a man’s insecurities rather than helping them embrace their own awesomeness. We think you are awesome, and our products are designed to help you be the man you want to be.”
This is great because it explains what makes them different from other similar products and how their product can benefit the customer.
GoPro is yet another brand that has an expertise in creating a USP. They know their audience consists of young, thrill-seeking adventurers who have a strong preference for social media. They created a simple USP: “A portable camera that’s small, easy to use and robust”.
Bellroy understands their products and target audience really well. They know people carry important items in their wallets. Most often, pockets get full and clumsy. Their website reads, “Don’t let leather weigh you down. We’ve eliminated those extra layers of leather between your cards to give you a slimmer silhouette”.
Dollar Shave Club definitely knows what influences its target audience into purchasing. The Dollar Shave Club is a subscription-based service that delivers grooming products to customers through the mail. Their USP is “Our goal is to make sure you always have everything you need to look, feel, and smell your best”. This is a great USP because everyone wants to look their best every time.Wrapping Up
Irrespective of which industry you’re in, it is vital to create a USP that defines your brand. Understand what your target audience’s problem is, specify what makes you better than other similar companies, and explain the problem you are solving in the best possible way.
If life is a journey, learning is the vehicle that propels your students forward and helps them decide where they want to go.
With schools now closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators have been forced to reevaluate how they communicate with each other, hold classes from the safety of their homes, and keep students learning while they’re at home.
E-learning provides you with an opportunity to reach students anywhere and keep them engaged whether they’re on the other side of town or halfway around the world. Virtual classrooms — as well as the video conferencing apps that make them possible — transcend traditional barriers that required students and teachers to meet for classes in person.
Incorporating e-learning tools into your curriculum enables students to access an extensive range of written, audio, and visual learning material without having to deal with unwieldy paper assignments or open multiple links to access information.
Since quizzes and assignments are an essential part of the learning process, JotForm offers an all-in-one solution that allows you to
The best part is that you don’t have to be a tech whiz to create a shareable online quiz.
To get a better idea of what JotForm can do, check out this online quiz form template that highlights the different types of questions you can ask.A customizable online quiz form template for educators
The sample quiz also includes a form calculation widget that automatically calculates grades based on correct and incorrect responses.Creating a quiz
You can either build your own test or browse through our template gallery, which contains dozens of ready-made templates that can be tailored to match your needs. Regardless of which option you choose, it only takes a matter of minutes to create a wide range of tests, quizzes, and exams.
If you’d like to build your form from scratch, just open JotForm’s Form Builder and click on the Create Form button on the left side of the page.
From there, all you have to do is choose your preferred layout.
Once you’ve selected a general layout for your quiz, click on the Add Form Element icon on the left side of the blank form.
Scroll through the Form Elements menu that pops up, and you’ll find a wide variety of fields you can place on your form. If you’re not quite sure where to begin, we’ll demonstrate how these fields can create common types of quiz questions.Single-choice
Single-choice questions allow students to pick a single answer from a short list of choices.
Either the Single Choice or Dropdown form element will come in handy if you want to test your students’ overall knowledge about a certain subject. After placing one of them on your form, all you need to do is type your question and list all of the possible answers, including the only correct one.Yes/No and True/False
Yes-no and true-false questions are common on tests and can be advantageous for your students since there’s a 50-percent chance that they’ll select the correct answer. The Single Choice form element is the best choice for these types of questions. Simply add the field to your form, type the question you want to ask, and include two answer options: “yes” and “no,” or “true” and “false.”Multiple-choice
The Multiple Choice form element enables you to ask questions with more than one correct answer and lets students select the answers that they think are right.Open-ended questions
If it’s important for you to understand the thought process behind each student’s response, the Short Text or Long Text form elements will allow students to explain why and how they came up with their answer. Once you place either the Short Text or Long Text field on your form, type the question you want to ask or provide an essay prompt for students.Fill-in-the-blanks
Fill-in-the-blank questions can be particularly useful when you want to gauge how well students understand a specific subject. You can use the Passage Test or Narrative Fields widget to create a sentence, paragraph, or short passage with blank fields that students must fill in.Listings
If you want to build some flexibility into a quiz or test, try the Dynamic Textbox widget. It allows your students to type out any number of answers to a certain question. Unlike traditional test questions that require students to select an answer from a variety of choices, the Dynamic Textbox widget enables your students to get creative, think critically, and provide answers that resonate with them.Collect documents
With the File Upload form element or Drag-and-Drop Upload widget, you can create a test that allows students to upload files, such as an essay, image, or video. These widgets not only allow your students to upload their work but also enable you to collect answers and multiple documents from a single quiz.Question tables
Question tables are handy when your class is covering a topic in detail. Our Input Table form element allows you to easily create question tables, as well as add rows and columns in a variety of formats.
For instance, students can type a keyword in one column, mark a checkbox in another one, and select an option from the dropdown menu in an adjacent column.
Once you add your question and type the options in the rows and columns, open the Input Table Properties menu, click on the Fields tab, and set the format for answers in your table using the Input Type section. You can change how responses are formatted and displayed within each column using the Column Types section under the Fields tab in the Input Table Properties menu.Visual expression
There are times when it’s easier and more effective to ask a question using images, videos, and other graphic elements rather than just text.
JotForm allows you to build a question based on a graph, an image, or even a video by using the Image form element and one of the many video embedding widgets, such as Iframe Embed,Vimeo, or YouTube. After uploading an image or embedding a video, simply add a question beneath it using any format you’d like, such as a single-choice or fill-in-the-blank question.Image options
If you want to get fancy, JotForm’s Image Radio Button widget allows you to create questions and display responses that include images. All you have to do is type your question, list the image URLs, add labels for each one, and set the size for the images.Drawings, paintings, and sketches
If you want to be really creative or give students some room to demonstrate their creativity, JotForm’s Draw on Image widget lets students draw, paint, sketch, and use their own handwriting on tests. You can either provide them a blank space or ask them to draw over a certain image, such as a graph.
Once you place the widget on your form, just type your question and add the image URL.Connected/correlated questions
JotForm’s flexible features can show certain test questions only if students select specific responses to previous questions. For instance, if you ask a yes-no question, JotForm’s conditional logic capabilities will show specific follow-up questions, based on whether students selected yes or no.
Setting up conditional logic in your form can get a little tricky, so we’ll walk you through the process:
Creating a test and getting it to your students is only half the battle. Once they’ve completed your test and submitted it, you still have to review the responses from each student one by one, right?
JotForm can not only help you create a wide range of quizzes, tests, and assignments but also calculate grades once students complete their work. This prevents you from spending hours on grading or inadvertently miscalculating a student’s grade.
As soon as an assignment, test, or quiz is submitted to you, JotForm can automatically calculate a grade based on how many questions were answered correctly and incorrectly.Just so you know…
JotForm can’t calculate scores for certain questions, such as those where students must upload files or type in their own answers.
Before you set up the grade calculation process, it’s important to assign values — or points — for correct and incorrect answers to each question. To do this, select a question, click on the Properties icon, and switch on the Calculation Values option. Use the Calculation Values table to assign points for each answer — the number zero should be used to indicate incorrect answers, while values greater than one should be used for any correct answers.
For example, if a multiple-choice question is worth four points on a test, and there are two correct answers, each correct answer should be assigned a value of two points.
Once you’ve identified the correct and incorrect answers for each question, it’s time to set up the grading process. That may sound daunting, but there’s no need to fret when you have JotForm’s Form Calculation widget.
Once you locate the widget and click on it, go to the Widget Settings menu and use the Add Field button to select all the question fields that now have a designated score. Add a “+” in between each of the form fields and save your settings. When a student fills out and submits your form, this widget will sum up the assigned values for each selected answer.
As a quick reminder, don’t forget to hide the widget from students by clicking on the question’s Properties icon and turning on the Hide field toggle switch under the Advanced tab. Doing this prevents students from viewing or changing their score until they submit their quizzes.Assign quizzes to students and send reminder emails
Now that you’re a pro at making online quizzes, tests, and assignments, why not spring a pop quiz on your students?
If you’re thinking of sending the quiz to each student one by one, stop what you’re doing right now! JotForm’s new Assign Forms feature enables you to share your form with students and control their access to your quiz.
All you need to do is click on the Publish tab at the top of your online form and select Assign Form from the list of menu options. Paste your students’ email addresses into the Invite People field, and invite all of your students to take the quiz at once.
You can save time and eliminate manual data entry by uploading a CSV file that contains a list of email addresses for your students.
You can then edit their permissions by allowing them to view, edit, or fill in the form. Once you invite your students to take the quiz, you can change their level of access to your quiz by clicking on the Assigned to icon.
Edit their permission settings by using the dropdown menu that appears on the far right side of the row that includes their name.
To ensure that all of your students are notified about the quiz or assignment, schedule automated reminder emails to be sent on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Simply go to the Publish tab toward the top of your form, select Email from the list of menu options, and click on Schedule a Reminder Email. From there, you can customize the reminder email and schedule it to be sent out on certain days and at specific times.View answers
Once students submit their answers to your assignments or quizzes, their form responses will be sent to your JotForm inbox. You can access your inbox by clicking on the form in your My Forms page and selecting Inbox from the list of options.
JotForm can send you an email notification once someone fills out and submits your form test. All you need to do is click on the Settings tab toward the top of the screen and select Emails from the list of menu options. Select Notification Email from the list of available email options, and add your email address to the Recipients Emails field.Announce results and grades
It can be nerve-racking for students to wait for their grades. The good news is that tallying up scores and sending them out doesn’t need to take days or even hours. In fact, JotForm can show students their grades as soon as they complete a test, exam, or assignment and submit it to you. It’s important to note, though, that JotForm can’t calculate scores for certain questions, such as those where students must upload files or type in their own answers.
All you need to do is click on the Settings tab near the top of the Form Builder and select Thank You Page from the left sidebar. The Thank You Page appears immediately after a quiz is submitted. You can customize the page, add motivational phrases, and inform your students of their grades. Just select the Form Calculator from the Form Fields dropdown menu to let your students know how they did.Conclusion
Although nothing beats in-person instruction, online, or distance, learning can not only help you reach students in more places but also develop a flexible curriculum that keeps students engaged when they can’t be in the classroom.
With JotForm, you can create interactive tests that will keep students on their toes and save time for everyone. Students no longer have to write out answers by hand and wait several days for their grades to arrive. More important, JotForm automatically calculates grades for most question types once students complete an online test and submit it, reducing the amount of manual work that teachers need to do.
Stop relying on old-school methods — and paper tests — to keep tech-savvy students engaged in a 21st-century classroom. Give JotForm a try today and surprise them by being the teacher with the coolest online tests on campus.
Cybercrime is nothing new, but it is evolving. Being that each year the digital environment continues to grow and evolve new security threats keep revealing themselves.
It’s not so much that cybercriminals are getting overly powerful, it’s just that the digital sphere has grown so much that it’s hard to keep all the gaps closed.
When it comes to small businesses, first websites tend to be rushed affairs. In a lot of cases, SMB owners don’t have a lot of experience with setting up an online presence for their brand, which can lead to mistakes of various severity ranging from minuscule to very serious.
The biggest mystery for them is probably hosting and the server-side of things. In a lot of cases, they just pay for hosting without even knowing what type of hosting they’re getting let alone if it’s set up properly and has all the right protections.
Let’s see what you need to pay attention to when purchasing hosting.Backup is essential
Things happen, nobody is perfect, no software is infallible, and downtime can be forgiven. What cannot be forgiven is not having a backup for the files you host.
If a malfunction occurs on the server, all the files that belong to the client can be lost. Being that most business websites are living things that constantly go through changes (product pages, blog posts, banners, etc.), a lot of time is wasted on recovering everything. In some cases, it’s impossible.
The only thing that can help is having backup files.Understand the type of hosting you are getting
Not all hostings are the same. There are more than a few options to choose from, and what you’ll be getting will depend on what you intend to do with your website.
Here are the prominent hosting types:
As you can see, there are quite a few options to go for, and it all depends on your know-how. Choosing the wrong provider may lead to security gaps and inconsistency in service.Network monitoring is essential for prevention
Your website is a particular symbiosis between hardware and software. This symbiotic system is quite complex, and its performance is not always the same.
If you get hosting with network monitoring, you’ll be getting updates on how well each part of the system is performing. It can be useful for optimization but also in times when you’re experiencing traffic spikes that may cause some parts of your website to malfunction.
Furthermore, network monitoring also records and reports access from unknown machines, IP-addresses, and other suspicious activity happening on your server.Firewall, DDoS protection & SSL
Most of us have at least a basic understanding of what a Firewall is. It serves as a barrier between the server and the rest of the web. We’re talking about host-firewalls, which are responsible for traffic coming in and out of a server machine.
DDoS attacks are the most common malicious attacks a server can experience. Their full name is Distributed Denial of Service, and the concept behind them is fairly simple.
Multiple devices bombard one system with requests for data and/or queries in order to prevent anyone else from gaining access to the server’s resources. It can be done to incapacitate a particular service or an entire server. These are considered basic protection.
With these attacks, we face a denial of service through the virtual hijacking of server resources like RAM, bandwidth, and CPU. Having a mechanism to protect you from these is essential for serious businesses.
SSL encryption (or TLS as the current version of the certificate is called) is something you see every day but don’t know what it is. The “https” marking that you see in the link of a particular website is functioning under the security certification of TLS.
Here’s what SSL/TLS ensures your visitors have when they visit your website:
Having this security certificate also helps with SEO as it shows search engines that the website is secure.User access and permissions
Now, this is more of an internal thing. It is up to you to decide who has access to what within the server.
This goes for basic users, moderators, administrators, and so on. We’re not going to go into the details of how to do this, as it will depend on what server you’re using.
Be advised that failing to set these parameters properly can open your server to manipulation, tampering, and even theft of sensitive business and customer data.Regular updates
Updates are not there to only remove bugs and improve performance. They’re there to close up any security holes that might have been identified. Missing one update can be bad for you if you are unlucky. Missing multiple updates increases this risk many times over.
Oftentimes we hear about exploits that developers didn’t realize they left open to hackers, and these updates help them close them up. The longer the list of updates you missed, the longer the list of potential security breaches you are leaving your server open to.
We understand that some updates may make a bunch of plug-ins go down. Change them!
Updates take precedent over non-essential functionalities.
We hope we managed to help you understand the connection between the hosting and security of your online business. Do additional research for things you can’t understand – nobody expects you to – and find an approach that keeps you safe.
Today we’ll be talking about the in-app purchases feature in mobile apps and how to integrate them with your business app. But before that, we need to take a slight detour to basics.
Smartphone apps have become an essential part of our lives. These apps didn’t exist 12 years back, and now we have a mobile app for everything, literally everything. For instance, there is an app that just has a button that does absolutely nothing.
So, from taxi apps to food delivery, from gaming apps to dating, and from social media apps to work assisting apps, there is a virtually infinite buffet of apps for you to choose from. But there is one more interesting thing about these apps. Have you ever observed that most of the top apps we access on our Android and iOS smartphones are free?
It may feel weird that the biggest apps from the richest firms in the world are actually free. Then how do they make money on such apps?How Do Free Apps Make Money?
This is such a vast topic that we could write a whole new blog on how free apps make money, but I’ll explain it briefly.
There are several ways to earn from an app, even from a free app. The most popular means of revenue from free apps are:
Out of all the options mentioned before, for this article, we will be focusing on In-App Purchases. Several years ago, the App Store allowed developers to charge customers directly within the mobile app.
Obviously, paying in an app that you downloaded for free didn’t seem a very good idea at first for the users. This approach took a while to catch on, but at present, it’s one of the top means of revenue for many app companies and individual developers.
People have different thoughts about the in-app purchases model. But one thing is for sure, you may love it, you may hate it, but you can’t ignore it.
There are a few strategies in the in-app purchase approach:Free Trials
This approach mostly works for gaming apps and photo editing apps. The App Store doesn’t directly allow free trials of apps, but with in-app purchases option, you can offer users a demo and trial of their apps at no cost.
For instance, a game developer can offer a free download of the full version of their game, with 1/10th of the levels unlocked. This strategy worked amazingly for a long time. If the app users loved the game, they would purchase the rest of the game via the in-app purchase approach.
With this approach, there is a higher chance of people giving a shot to your app and downloading it. Since users can download the app for free, they are more inclined to try it out, and hopefully, upgrade later.Freemium Model
This is the next level of strategy after the free trial one. The word freemium comes from two words “free” and “premium.” In the freemium approach, the app is free to everyone, but those who use the app regularly and like it can upgrade for more features.
Let’s see this with an example to understand better. Let’s say you have built your own photo-editing app like Picsart or Snapseed. Such apps are usually free, with most of the basic features. For the advanced features though, users have to pay. That additional filters and editing tools come into the in-app purchases.Currency Model
Now comes the most common example and popular example of the in-app purchase model. This model is used primarily in social and gaming apps. The currency model of in-app purchases for the users who like to have more than the normal experiences on the app, a little extra boost, or more premium service.
If I explain with an example, it’s those advanced weapons, vehicles, or game pass that you purchase in games like PUBG or Asphalt. With social or dating apps like Tinder, people purchase extra likes and other premium features.Implementing In-App Purchases in Android Apps
The in-app purchases in Android are managed by Google Play’s in-app billing service. For Android devices, the in-app purchases can be applied to only those apps that you publish through Google Play.
In simple terms, the Google Play app handles the connection between the Android app and the Google Play server. But, Google Play is not in charge of your content delivery. However, the financial transactions happening in the app is up to Google Play to handle.
You must also create a Google Wallet merchant account to integrate in-app purchase feature. You need that account to use the in-app billing service on Google Play.
This merchant account lets you manage in-app products and subscriptions very effectively and many useful features like improving synchronous purchase flow.
There’s always a case where mistaken in-app purchases would be made by app users, or maybe their young kids. Now usually in an Android device, if an app user has made a purchase of an in-app product or a subscription, there is no refund window.
So, if a user needs a refund for an unintentional in-app purchase, they’ll need to contact you directly through the standard payment processor, Google Wallet. I would recommend backing up the information of in-app purchases on your server for your own records.Implementing In-App Purchases in iOS Apps
The iOS apps’ In-App Purchase service is much similar to Android’s. Store Kit framework is used to embed in-app purchases in an iOS app, but you also need to design an In-App Purchase store.
About the actual implementation of the in-app purchases service, you need to see Apple’s programming guide. See the guidelines of the In-App Purchase services to make sure your idea of the service matches Apple’s.
Now, the way in-app purchases work in iOS apps is like this. Once you’ve made the payment, the Store Kit communicates with the App Store for secure payment processing. Once the transaction is made, the app is notified, and the purchased items should be provided to users.
Apple also provides a sandbox environment to test your app, and in this case, our in-app purchase service before you launch it. So, before letting the in-app purchase service out in the market, you can make sure it is good to launch without any errors or bugs.
Integrating In-App Purchase service to an app is a lot more complicated than many think. The reason for this complexity is that there are money transactions involved and more than a few moving parts in the process. So, approaching an app development company for such a task is the best step you can take.