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How to Use LinkedIn in 2017 for Business

How to Use LinkedIn in 2017 for BusinessLinkedIn has changed a lot since November 2016. This is when the professional social media platform was acquired by Microsoft in an astounding $26 billion deal. That is a lot of money, even for one of the largest software companies in the world and, if they were willing to pay the price, it means only one thing: LinkedIn is worth every single dollar.

This is something you should keep in mind as you are planning or adjusting your marketing plans. You cannot ignore LinkedIn as a powerful and affordable platform to grow your brand image and to attract new customers, investors, and business partners.

As you may have probably noticed, some changes to the look and functionalities of LinkedIn have already been implemented. In this article, we will tell you what else is different from the point of view of promoting and advertising your business on LinkedIn. Let us get started!

1. The Hashtag Is Coming Back
Some years ago, LinkedIn experimented with the hashtag (even before Facebook took the idea from Twitter) but it didn’t really catch on so they quietly snuffed it. At that moment, the professional community did not regard the hashtag as a “serious” and “professional” way of highlighting skills, keywords or core values.

But things have changed tremendously since then, and everyone knows how important the hashtag is, even corporate CEOs. So the hashtag is back, currently on the LinkedIn mobile app, but quite soon on its web platform as well. This means that you can use the experience you gained with using hashtags on other social media platforms to enhance your LinkedIn content and make it visible for the right keywords.

2. LinkedIn Pulse – A Powerful Content Marketing Platform
LinkedIn Pulse is one of the best free marketing features of this social media platform. For one, you can showcase your expertise, tag your articles with relevant keywords and include backlinks to your website.

On the other hand, there are the instant notifications sent to all your connections every time you post a new article. Yes, everyone you are connected with gets a personal notification of this – and since people are highly likely to click on mobile push notifications, your content will have more readers and sharers than ever.

3. Lead Generation
The new LinkedIn platform includes new tools for businesses to attract the right candidates, to showcase their expertise and their potential as employers. These new tools will not only help you increase the chances of attracting talent to your company, but will also improve your credibility and image among potential customers and business partners.

You can also take advantage of the new Sponsored InMail function which is proven to get you three times more replies than regular emails. However, in order to work in your favor, a Sponsored InMail should only be sent to a qualified lead, so that it is not marked as spam by receivers.

4. One Word: Remarketing
So far, LinkedIn has been quite deficient in the remarketing department, but no more. From now on, you will be able to create, select and target specific custom audiences, almost in the same manner as on Facebook. While the remarketing tools are still in the beginner phase on LinkedIn, its in-depth professional targeting tools are spectacular: you can target specific job titles, within companies of a specific size and located in a specific area.

Combined with the remarketing tools, you can now target junior CEOs from medium-sized enterprises who have interacted with your business three months ago, or who failed to complete a purchase following a LinkedIn ad.

5. Sponsored Content Outside LinkedIn
The value of this feature is immense – even though it is still unclear how many websites will be included in this program. However, you will be able, based on the LinkedIn profile data you collect from people who click on your ads, to track them and show them ads on other websites they are browsing.

Most likely, LinkedIn will partner with news and professional websites and forums, which their users are usually browsing.


Home-Based Business Website and FTC Compliance

Home-Based Business Website and FTC ComplianceThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one of the agencies ruling over advertising, including online advertising, marketing and sales. Starting from 2009, there are now clear rules on what companies can and cannot do in terms of presenting their offers to clients and attracting them with promises of benefits.

Apart from regulating fair use of advertising, the FTC also oversees online data privacy. This means that even if you have a landing page inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter, you fall under FTC regulations and must comply with its rules.

The consequences of not doing so are harsh, with fines up to $40,000 per breach of regulations and even larger amounts in legal expenses and damages if you fight it in court. There is little chance of winning a case against the FTC, especially in view of the growing concern on personal data protection and online fraud.

This means one thing: you must safeguard your home-based business website against violating FTC rules. Here are the top issues you need to review and solve as soon as possible:

1. The Privacy Disclaimer Page
Any website collecting personal data must include a Disclaimer page. In this page you will disclose to website visitors who agree to share personal data with you the following:
⦁ That you are taking the best precautions to protect the data you collect from theft;
⦁ That you do not sell their personal data to third parties;
⦁ If applicable, if you share this data with your investors/stakeholders.

The Privacy & Communication Disclaimer is a binding contract between your home-based business and your subscribers. This means that if you fail to keep any of the promises above, you are liable for action in court.

2. Testimonials
Any business needs testimonials in order to gain the confidence of future customers by bringing proof of the quality of the product. Certainly, the best proof come from people who bought and tried the products. Ideally, testimonials are given without asking for them.

However, if you offer any kind of incentive for customers to post testimonials, you need to make a material connection disclosure about this aspect. Otherwise, you might fall under the incidence of a false and misleading advertising violation.

Also, if you plan to use any person’s full identity (photo, video recording) in the testimonials published on your website, you must sign a Publicity Consent & Release Agreement with each person individually.

3. Claims Concerning Your Products
Any kind of claims you make about the way your products work, and the effects or benefits the customers should expect to see must be substantiated. Things are extremely sensitive especially in the area of weight loss, diet, natural supplements and similar products. This sensitivity extends to online fitness or healthy recipes websites.

The FTC is extremely proactive in enforcing the regulations concerning false and misleading advertising in these domains, so if you are operating or plan to open a home-based business in any of these areas you must consult with a specialized attorney.

4. Products for Children
If your ads are targeted at children under 13, you fall under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).You need to follow closely all the FTC regulations included in this act and make all the required disclosures on your website, as well as create your ads in accordance with the guidelines.

5. Affiliate Marketing
Are you an affiliate marketer for the products you are promoting on your website, through reviews and blog articles? Then you must disclose your material connection with the owner/seller of these products. Ideally, you should place this disclosure at the end of each article, specifying that you gain material or monetary advantages from promoting the respective product.


How to Build a Website for Your Home-Based Business

How to Build a Website for Your Home-Based BusinessWe have talked a lot in past articles about how small home-based businesses can prosper with the right mix of social media marketing and SEO on the website, how to be successful in your interactions with potential customers, and so on. All this time we have started all our tips and recommendations with the basic prerequisite that you have a website.

However, for many newcomers to the world of home-based entrepreneurship, the idea of building a website is just as unfamiliar as, for instance, the idea of building a house on your own. Luckily, it is both simpler and less expensive to make your own website!

Ideally, you could go to a web design agency, they charge you a price in the range of hundreds or thousands of dollars and they take care of everything. But you probably do not have so much money to spend on a website and, if you do, you’d rather invest it in raw materials, office equipment or marketing campaigns to attract more customers. This is why we’ve decided today to tell you what it takes to build your own website. Let’s get started!

1. Purchase Your Domain
The first step in the journey towards having your own website is securing an internet domain name. This will be the URL of your website and it must be a short, easy to remember and representative name for your business. Most home-based business owners include their own name in the domain name – which is a smart option because the URL is indexed by Google and you are thus easier to find.

2. Find an Adequate Hosting Service
Before you start thinking about any other technical aspects, you should tick-off the hosting issue. It is an important one because, depending on the software they use and the site building facilities they offer, you will then select the platform for your website. It is not recommended to start working on the website without knowing if the hosting company supports the respective platform or if you can upload your website without advanced coding knowledge.

When you select your hosting service, even if you pick the cheapest plan, keep scalability in mind. As your business grows, as your website becomes more complex and has more visitors, you need more bandwidth and storage space. You should pick a hosting service which offers easy upgrades to premium tier services without any hassle and data loss.

3. Select Your Website Platform
As we said before, some hosting services such as GoDaddy offer a free site builder platform in the hosting plan. This means that you can start working on your website right away, without having to go through this step. But be aware of the fact that if you decide, some time in the future, to move your website to another hosting service, it may be impossible to do so because the website is not transferable by upload.

Therefore, the best solution is to have an independent platform, such as WordPress. This is currently the most popular platform for websites. Why? For the following reasons:

⦁ It is open source, therefore free;
⦁ It is continually improved and developed by many independent programmers;
⦁ There are tons of useful plugins which you can integrate in your website, such as SEO and social media buttons;
⦁ The content management system has a very user-friendly interface, which anyone can use to maintain the website without any coding skills;
⦁ There are lots of professional-looking templates available at an affordable price, or even free.

4. Pick a Theme
The website theme represents the graphic structure of the website: menus, layout, color scheme and fonts. Most themes can be customized by replacing colors and fonts, but usually not in terms of menu structure and layout. When you select a theme, make sure that it is scalable so that you can add as many pages as you need in the future, integrate a blog feature or even an eCommerce section.

Once you have all these, you can start working on your website by creating the menu structure, uploading content and customizing the look of your website.

5. Test before Launch
It is understandable that, once you are done with the work on your website and you have uploaded it on the hosting server, you are excited to share the news with everyone, including potential customers. Before you do that, you should test your website in various browsers (Internet Explorer/Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera) and devices (desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet).

Make sure that all pages and all content items are displayed properly on all of these browsers and devices. If they don’t, you probably need to contact your hosting tech support for advice. Otherwise, your website is ready to go live.

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