Creating a great web design portfolio and why it is important

An online portfolio provides examples of your work and provides examples of your style. It’s often the first port of call for people seeking to hire you.

If you’re a freelancer, an online portfolio provides examples of your work and allows people to contact you to offer employment.

As a student, your online portfolio may be the first port of call for prospective employers, and if you are a professional designer who works in a studio, an online presence means you can showcase some of your work, creating an online presence.

What to consider when building up your portfolio

Make it attractive. As a designer, you are showing off what you can do. An attractive website or portfolio enables you to show your skills. Use bold fonts, illustrations, animations, and whatever you have in your toolbox to convince clients to hire you.

Include the most important elements of your work. If you’re an illustrator, show off what you can do, explain your niche, and make your work clear to those who might not have an insider’s perspective.

Ensure that it is user-friendly. The more easily potential clients are able to navigate your blog or portfolio, the more easily they will be able to engage with your platform, or find important details.

Provide a clean layout, which helps users to find the sections of your work they are most interested in.

How to create an effective online portfolio

Design a logo

A logo provides you with a sense of identity and helps to define your brand, providing a visual representation of who you are and what you do.

Placed on your website, it will be the first thing your visitor sees. You could place it on the upper left-hand side of the page (so that it will be seen when the eye moves from left to right).

Alternatively, you can create a sense of hierarchy, placing your logo at the top center of your page, so that it makes a large statement. Your logo will make it clear who owns your site.

Present yourself as a brand

Branding yourself means sharing who you are, your strengths, weaknesses, and personality. Share with your online viewers. Let them know what motivates you, what makes you curious, and where your talents lie. Be true to yourself. Let your readers see you for who you are.

If you don’t enjoy writing blogs, don’t do it. Let your visitors see your images or illustrations instead. Let your viewers see where you shine. Present a unified front to the world. Consistency is key.

Look at how others are doing this and inspire yourself from their work.

Make it personal

Make your site personal. The more you share with your readers about your education, background, how long you’ve been in the business, and where you hope to go, the more your users will get to know and therefore trust you.

Allow your viewers to see awards you’ve won or any achievements you’ve made. After all, if they know where your talents lie, they will understand more clearly what you could offer them.

Maintain a blog

A blog is an online journal which provides a portfolio to readers. You can write, or present images of your work, projects you are interested in, or ideas that inspire you.

Your blog can share your areas of expertise and will prevent your website from lying static.

Highlight your interests and future goals

When you let your clients know of the job you want, highlighting areas that interest you, you’re letting your clients know where you’re going.

If you’re interested in web design, share this. If illustration is your goal, let your clients know. Focus on your niche market.

This means you’ll gain a following of people who share similar interests, and you will more easily be able to anticipate your clients needs even before meeting them.

Share your best work

Less is more when showcasing your work through an online portfolio. You want clients to see your best work. Your online viewers may be impatient, and won’t have time to look through a great deal of work.

Place the spotlight on work you are most happy with. This will help you to create a good impression. Your portfolio should represent you at your best.

Share your process

Once you’ve chosen your best work, let your viewers see how it has been presented or put together. You could show your early design stages, a story or mood board which assisted you with planning your project, or your project in the early stages of development.

Present the whole piece or finished product first, then allow your viewers to see photo shots of your developing work. You could use stylized photography, as long as it doesn’t distract your readers.

Use social networking websites

Social networking websites allow your viewers to interact or hold conversations with you.

Encourage those interested in your work to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram. This will assist you in building a following of people who may become future clients.

Sell yourself

What other creative talents do you have?

If you are an illustrator, but you are also able to produce animation, let your viewers know. Provide examples on your website so that you can maximize your talents.

Keep your portfolio dynamic

Once you’ve developed a killer portfolio, remember to keep updating it. You’ll maintain interest if you keep your followers updated on what you’re doing, and what continues to spark your interest. Remember to keep editing your sites as your interests change and your work develops.

If you don’t have a portfolio website already, or if you do have one but you don’t like spending time updating or maintaining it, we’d suggest that you use the RookieUp framework for one of your main projects.

Be original

Designing your own site and letting your readers get to know you create a unique product. It might take a while to know what you would like to do, and how you’d best like to present yourself, but don’t feel tempted to copy.

A unique and personalized site will enable your readers to interact with you, creating a sense of warmth and loyalty.

Ensure your site loads quickly

Online viewers are impatient, and if a site doesn’t load quickly (within less than three seconds) they will often abandon it and go in search of a different option.

Choose a suitable site hosting package which allows for your page to load quickly. Avoid having a slow site.

Some tips

Share your location. This can help clients to assess where you are from, and some clients prefer working with people who are operating from a similar time zone.

Validate your website code. If you’re going to be building sites for clients, show them your own code is valid.

If you don’t have a large portfolio, share what you have, and guide clients towards your interests. You could also interact with other designers on a platform like Twitter.

Use a narrative style to tell a story about yourself and your work. This enables interaction with readers or potential clients.

Explain your niche, and what makes you unique. This is particularly important for people who are not in the industry but would still potentially make use of your services.

Create a backstory of how you got into your work, and what motivated you. How did your passions develop?

Show how you have connections throughout the creative world. Share your clients, any press or publications.

Be approachable. Let your clients know who you are, the hobbies and interests you have, and some of your pleasures. This creates a sense of warmth and allows your readers to relate to you.

Read More at Creating a great web design portfolio and why it is important

from Web Design Ledger https://webdesignledger.com/creating-a-great-web-design-portfolio-and-why-it-is-important/

How to Discover and Create Content That Your Audience Craves (and Grow Your Following)

There are times when we all run out of content ideas.

I’ve been in this situation many times myself — feeling unsure about what content to create and share.

However, after much trial and error, I’ve managed to find a few solutions to help keep a constant stream of content ideas flowing. These strategies help me uncover the types of social media content that our audience loves to engage with and share.

And in this post, you’ll learn about six ways to discover the content your audience craves.

Let’s dive in.

How to Discover and Create Content That Your Audience Craves

1. Use your analytics

One of the best ways to find out what your audience likes (or what works for you) is to use your analytics.

Your social media analytics can tell you what’s working and what’s not.

What you’ll want to do is to study your top-performing posts and re-create them. Here’s how to find your top posts with the native analytics in Facebook, Instagram, and more.

Facebook

One way to find your top-performing Facebook posts is to go to your Page Insights > Posts and manually look for posts with high reach or engagement.

Facebook Insights top posts

A shortcut is to use the Pages to Watch feature in the “Overview” tab. When you click on your own Page, Facebook will show you your top posts for the week.

Instagram

To get the analytics for Instagram, you’ll need to have a business account. (Here’s how to convert to a business account if you wish to.)

In your business account, tap on the analytics icon on your profile. Then, tap on “See more” under the “Posts” section. Here, you’ll see your top posts sorted by impressions. You can also sort it by engagement, reach, and more, and adjust the time period.

Instagram Insights top posts

You can also find your top posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest using the respective native analytics.

Buffer customers

If you are using our Pro or Business plan, you can easily find this information in your Buffer dashboard. Go to your Analytics tab and then Posts report. Then, click on “Most Popular” to see your most-engaged posts.

Buffer analytics top posts

You can also sort your top posts by Likes, clicks, comments, and more. If you are on the new Business plan, you can also use the Overview report to find your top posts.

Once you’ve found your top posts, try to find a pattern among them. Here are some questions you could ask yourself:

  • Is there a common topic among them?
  • Is the content from a particular source — your blog or other publications?
  • Does a particular content type — text, image, or video — perform consistently better?
  • Did people leave any interesting comments on those posts?

2. Ask your audience

The second strategy is to ask your audience.

You could simply post a question or a poll on your social media profiles. For example, “What content do you want to see us sharing?”

If you would like open-ended replies, posting a question will be great. If you have a rough sense of what your audience might be interested in, you could create a poll and list a few options. For example, a while back, we created a Twitter poll to ask our followers what sort of content they would like to see more of from us.

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

A few people also replied the tweet to give us more suggestions.

Twitter poll replies

As Facebook and Instagram (Stories) only allow two options for polls, my favorite way around it is to do a manual emoji poll.

Facebook emoji poll

Alternatively, you could email your blog subscribers and ask them what they would like to see from you. For example, at the end of 2017, we reached out to our blog subscribers with a survey. In the survey, we asked them what topics they enjoy the most and what topics they would like to see more from us.

Blog survey

From the answer, we learned about what to create for the blog and also what to share on our social media.

3. Learn from your industry peers

The third strategy is to learn from your industry peers.

Look at the top pages in your industry and see what is working for them. If you have a similar target audience, what worked for them will likely work for you, too.

It’ll be great to go beyond just your competitors. Are there other companies that you admire, which you can learn from? Maybe because they are in the same space but aren’t your direct competitor. Or perhaps their way of marketing resonates with you. For example, I often like to check out the social media profiles of HubSpot, MailChimp, and Airbnb.

Here are a few ways to research on your favorite companies:

Facebook

On Facebook, you could use Pages to Watch. This feature allows you to quickly compare the performance of your Page with similar Pages. You can also click on any of the Pages and see their top posts for the week. For instance, here’s a recent top post from Shopify:

Facebook Pages to Watch top posts

You can find this feature in your Page Insights, at the bottom of your Overview tab. This feature will only appear once you have more than 100 Likes on your Page.

Twitter

On Twitter, you could create a Twitter list of the companies that you would like to learn from and regularly check out what they share.

Here’s how to create a Twitter list:

  • Click on your profile photo and select “List”
  • Click on “Create a list” and fill out the fields (You might want to keep this list private)
  • Hit “Save list”

Twitter list

Once you’ve created your list, head to the companies’ profile, click on the three dots, and select “Add or remove from lists…” to add them to your list.

A tool I like to use to monitor several lists at the same time is TweetDeck. It is a free tool by Twitter, which allows you to have multiple columns of tweets from a list, search result, and more.

TweetDeck

Here’s a point worth noting: while it’s great to learn from your favorite companies, you might not want to follow them exactly. This is because ultimately your brand is different from theirs and you would likely want to be unique with what you’re sharing on your social media profiles.

The point here is to look for general patterns and ideas that you can adapt for your own brand.

4. Use a research tool

The fourth strategy is to use a content research tool like Buzzsumo.

Buzzsumo is like Google for the most shared content. You can search for any keywords (e.g. “social media marketing”), and Buzzsumo will show you the most shared content that’s relevant to the keyword.

Look through the results and see if you can identify the popular topics around that particular keyword.

What is also helpful is that Buzzsumo breaks down the share count by networks. So you can see if a piece of content is more popular on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo also allows you to sort the results by social network. For example, maybe you want to see what types of articles are popular on Twitter. You can click on the “Twitter Shares” header, and Buzzsumo will sort the articles by the number of shares on Twitter.

Buzzsumo sort

This is also a great way to find quality content to share on your social media profiles. If an article has done really well on Twitter in general, it would likely resonate with your audience, provided that it is relevant to them.

5. Create marketing personas

The fifth strategy is to create marketing personas. Your marketing personas will give you ideas on what content to create and share on social media.

Here’s what a persona is and why it’s important, according to Adele Revella, the founder and president of The Buyer Persona Institute1:

… a buyer persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.

Without personas, you may only be guessing what content your audience wants, which means you are more likely to revert to creating content around what you know best (your products and company) instead of around the information your audience is actively seeking.

Marketing persona template

Once you have done your research and created your marketing personas, you’ll have a better sense of your core audience’s goals and challenges, and the content that they want to read.

To help you with this, here’s our beginner’s guide to creating marketing personas.

Experiment with Jobs To Be Done

Besides creating personas, you could also try the Jobs to Be Done methodology (we’ve tried both ourselves!)

Jobs to Be Done is a concept created by Harvard Business School professor, Clayton M. Christensen, and his team. The idea is that understanding the jobs our customers want to do (or the reasons they buy products) is more useful in helping us create and sell great products than just having demographic information.

Here’s a short video about the methodology and how Intercom uses it for marketing:

How does this apply to creating content that your audience loves?

By understanding the jobs that your customers want to do, you can create and share content that helps them with those jobs.

For example, we have been creating content that helps our readers with their social media strategy, content creation, engagement, and more. And those blog posts seemed to have resonated with our readers. (You might have noticed in the survey results I shared above, we phrased each option as “Content that helps me with (a job)” rather than just the topic.)

6. Follow trends

The final strategy is to keep an eye out for general trends in the social media space and follow them. This will help you get a general sense of the types of content to post. While it won’t be very specific to your audience, I think it can still be helpful.

For example, the top content format now is video. In our 2018 Social Media Trends report, we pointed out that “video posts have the highest average engagement and twice the level of engagement of other post types on average”2. Also, according to our State of Social 2018 report, we found that 85 percent of businesses would like to create more videos in 2018.

State of Social 2018: Content Types

Does that you mean you should be creating videos?

I think it’ll be great to experiment with a few videos if your resources allow and see how they perform. You can create simple videos without a big budget using tools like Animoto and Lumen 5 (and more here). If you are keen, here’s our step-by-step guide to creating engaging social media videos.

Over to you: How do you find out what your audience likes?

The key to growing your following and engagement on social media is to create content that your audience craves. Here are six ways of discovering that content:

  1. Use your analytics
  2. Ask your audience
  3. Learn from your industry peers
  4. Use Buzzsumo
  5. Create marketing personas
  6. Follow trends

How do you discover the content that your audience likes? Let’s exchange notes below. 🙂

The awesome featured image is by Lina Silivanova via Unsplash.

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from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/discover-content-ideas

Miloš Milovanović: Appreciate Your Talent DOTW#3

Today we have the pleasure to introduce you to our favorite designer of this week, Miloš Milovanović. The Serbian graphic designer and illustrator is currently living in a small town called Trstenik.
He affirms that he is “obsessed with vintage and black and white projects.” His work is characterized by single color drawings in the style of the woodcut or an etching. You can stay updated with his work on Instagram , Dribbble, Pinterest, and Behance and why not, drop him an email for inquiries.
With no further ado, let’s get to know the talented designer better in the interview below.

When did you discover your passion for design?
I didn’t start taking art seriously until sometime in High school. After I finished primary school, I couldn’t find myself in anything else, so I decided to go with the arts. In 2005 I enrolled in high school, department of Graphic design.
So going through the classes and getting close to the design world, design started growing up with me, while my passion started when I was starting at University. Besides studying, I needed to work. At the time,
I had a huge interest in logo design and illustration, so I wanted to work on the things I was interested in. In 2010 left University and started freelancing.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m very interested in 50’s Vintage/retro design. So everything that is designed in the 20th century is heavily influenced by me.
Beside this, I get inspired by listening to a good music and collecting and observing old world illustrations.

What were your biggest accomplishment and biggest failure in graphic-design?
I would say persistence is the biggest accomplishment for me.
Failure… Honestly, can’t think of any. I just like everything I do, projects, clients and my workplace.

How would you describe the world of graphic design in your country?
We have a lot of talented designers here, but unfortunately, Graphic design in Serbia is not much respected, from local clients.
Buyers can not value design work much here, so many designers and colleagues I know from here, work internationally.
But I hope this will be changed in the near future and design will bloom and be more respected in Balkan region.

What is your favorite piece of work and why? How did you create it?
Most of my work in some way reflect essence, culture and the personality of each client.
So I’d say Khan The Conqueror is one of my favorites. It was work for myself and a good technique practice.

What do you think are the most important 3 skills for a designer?
Three most important skills: Drawing, knowing the Software and to be decent in Communication.

How do you stay updated with what is new in the design world?
I have a daily routine to check on what’s going on Dribbble and Behance but and digging through the Pinterest.

Have you worked with any major brands?
Villiger Söhne Holding, Old Elk Bourbon (Dry Town).
Old Elk Bourbon (with master distiller Greg Metze) is pretty young on the market (2-4 years), but they are on the right track to becoming world known brand.

In the last couple of years, I had a wish to work for Spirit and Tobacco industries, so thanks to these projects, I hope I will get more opportunities to work with it in the near future.

Who are your favorite 3 designers?
Saul Bass, Louise Fili, and Simon Frouws design.

What kind of people do you love to work with?What kind of people don’t you love to work with?
I like to work with the people who share the passion for their businesses.

Dealing with the slothful (I-need-it-asap) people and the ones who rather use you as a tool rather than a designer. An insidious drain of time and efforts.
Thankfully I’ve learned to smoke these people out before working with them.

How do you handle stress and pressure?
I think I got used to it a bit. If it’s good stress, I manage to do some creative work.
If it’s negative and then I can’t really handle, I try to deal with the situation, or stay away from the computer and let it overnight.

Advice: Do the kind of work you want to get, love your job and appreciate your talent.

Below, we have selected some of the designer’s pieces of work. Make sure you let us know what you think in the comment section.

Bared Footwear Emblem

Napoleon Emblem

TB&TB Box Packaging Detail

 Crown

 

DCH Close up

Dope Coffee House Co

Outdoors Illustration

Khan the Conqueror

Hipster Lumberjack

Map Australia 

Mesa Baja Packaging Graphics

OE Crest

Off Trail Outfitters Emblem

Outer Shores Expeditions

Postamark

Signature Graphic

Signature Graphic

Label

Stamp Close up

Stolthed

TB Drawing Process

 Light Tank 

Villiger

Stay tuned for more inspiring work of great designers all over the world.

Read More at Miloš Milovanović: Appreciate Your Talent DOTW#3

from Web Design Ledger https://webdesignledger.com/milos-milovanovic-appeciate-talent-dotw3/

5 Good Habits Every Design Agency Should Develop To Boost Productivity in 2018

These days, everything is about speed and productivity. You need to be able to deliver fast results but at the same time, you need to deliver quality services and products. Times, technology and consumer habits are changing fast. Nobody has the patience to wait for anything anymore and the attention span of the average human being is lower than ever.

For a design agency, this means that you need to adapt to your customers’ needs and also, to the constant changes within the targeted audience. You can boost productivity by working faster and through a deep understanding of how to better organize your work so that you will be able to deliver the best possible results with the least resources.

The main types of resources:

Yes, everything is resource related. Your productivity depends on how you manage them and the good habits you develop over time that will help you do it successfully. In order to understand the concept, let’s discuss first the main types of resources you need in your design agency and why each of them is important.

Human resources

It’s obvious that the most important resource you have are the people who make everything happen. Starting with the unskilled help and up to the high management positions, everyone is important and everyone contributes to the productivity of the company.

Time

Time is of the essence when you work in the services sector. Your productivity depends on how you manage time and how efficiently you get to organize it, delegate tasks and prioritize them.

Finances

You get paid for services but you also need a budget in order to pay for all the other resources that you need during the creative process. Therefore, it’s important to also manage finances efficiently and prioritize expenditures according to the company’s needs.

Creativity

This resource is strongly related to the human resource. You cannot manage or organize creativity but you can stimulate it and reward it accordingly.

Now, based on these four resources, let’s try and find out the best habits that will allow you to perform better and find the balance between costs and income.

How can you boost a design agency’s productivity?

Let’s start by admitting that there are numerous ways you can improve your management and boost productivity. For this article, however, I chose the most important five of them.

1. Get a CRM

What is a CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It is a system that allows you to manage effectively all business relationships and the data associated with them. Everything related to customers, contact information, sales, accounts, leads and market prospects can be stored and managed from just one place, a central location, with a CRM system.

Usually, all these data are stored in a cloud and as a consequence, made accessible almost instantly when needed. If you want to check this option out, Hubspot offers a free CRM subscription to small business.

 

Why use a CRM?

Well, if you want to boost productivity, the first thing you need is a good client and market management. You need to keep all the information organized and at hand so that you will be able to save precious time and precious human resources easier and more effective than ever. You will save money as well, by automating this organizational process.

As you can see, a CRM allows you to save on three of the four main resources I have listed in the previous chapter. And, this is the main reason I have started with this suggestion. It can really make a difference.

Now, let’s move on to some tasks that are more specific to a design agency and take a quick look at what else you can do in order to boost your productivity:

2. Get informed

Getting to know your clients is a vital step when you are doing any type of job, not only creative work. Therefore, make sure you have a reliable process for gathering valuable information in place, before starting to work for your clients.

What does this mean and why is it important?

Well, whether you were asked to design a simple banner or a whole marketing campaign, you need to know who are your clients, who are their targeted customers, to what audience you are addressing your designs etc.

The data you gather through this process is important because it will help you organize your work better and delegate tasks more efficiently. Considering you know the strengths and weaknesses of each of your team members and the clients’ demands in detail, you will be able to assign tasks according to skills and competencies and thus, save not only time and money but also stimulate creativity.

TIP: If you want to do this even more efficiently, create a standardized template with questions and key ideas that will guide your team through the entire process.

3. Organize

There are several levels your productivity depends on. And, each assignment, task or campaign, engages several members of the team who work together or side by side to complete them in due time. As the manager, team leader or member of a design agency, you probably know already that the actual design comes last.

The sales team comes first, at the first level. They are responsible for landing the clients but also with the information gathering process. Then, the creative team comes in, at the second level. Their job is the take over the data provided by the first team and do the actual designs projects. Then, it’s up to the revision team to review the campaign and give it a green light or, if it is the case, to recommend adjustments, error corrections etc.

You can manage the flow of information between these levels and among members of the teams with a project management tool.

There are several choices in this area and many tools you can choose to work with, depending on your work style and daily processes.

Recommended top project management tools:

A. Teamweek

teamweek

Teamweek is one of the best choices when it comes to project management tools. It can be used across multiple departments and as a consequence, it makes a great choice for a design agency where communications between different teams are essential. Teamweek allows you to assign projects to specific teams, pass them to another team (reassign) if necessary etc. It also gives you full access to the entire history of the project.

B. Trello

trello

Another great management tool, Trello, is effective when you work with teams, especially if not all members are located in the same premises. In other words, it allows you to communicate easier with remotely located freelancers, contributors or clients. You can integrate Trello into a Gmail account or, you can use it as a standalone app. The app is available for all major operating system, desktop or mobile based.

C. Wrike

Wrike is also a great choice when it comes to project management. In fact, I would recommend it, especially for content management projects because it allows you to easily create project workflows between all members of the teams working on it.

4. Delegate

Every project gets to be done more quickly and more efficiently when everybody knows what they have to do, what are their roles and how to communicate with each other.

For maximum efficiency, project managers or coordinators need to set deadlines, assign tasks and track the progress of each campaign or project individually.

TIP: Take into account that people need breaks in order to be able to perform at maximum capacity. Also, tasks need to be delegated according to every designer’s skills.

5. Prioritize

This is also an important step in your productivity boosting process. Learn how to prioritize better and differentiate between urgent tasks and important tasks that can be delayed. Assign jobs according to priorities and choose deadlines based on actual relevant data.

If you need help, try using a time tracking tool such as “Tracking Time”, “Timely” or “Harvest”. They are both effective and useful and they can help you save precious resources while optimizing and boosting productivity.

 

TIP: You can combine a time tracking tool with a project management tool for better results.

Conclusion

There are many professional, capable and efficient design agencies out there. They are all aiming at a small piece of the same pie. The competition is fierce and if you want to succeed, you need to work constantly on developing new and better strategies to boost productivity and stay on top.

If you are looking for valuable advice on how to get better at what you are doing, I advise you to start with the above five steps: Get a CRM, get as much info as possible from your clients, organize your tasks and learn how to delegate and prioritize them better. If you commit to including all these steps in your management strategy, I am sure that you will rise above the competition.

What do you think about these five pieces of advice? What other important habits would you include in a design agency strategy that wants to boost its productivity?

 

Read More at 5 Good Habits Every Design Agency Should Develop To Boost Productivity in 2018

from Web Design Ledger https://webdesignledger.com/5-good-habits-every-design-agency-develop-boost-productivity-2018/

How to Schedule Instagram Posts: The Complete Guide

As Instagram has grown it’s become an integral marketing channel for more than 5 million businesses worldwide1.

But as a busy social media manager, it can be difficult to find the time to consistently post to Instagram.

This is where scheduling comes in.

Learning how to schedule Instagram posts is one of the biggest time savers and productivity hacks for social media managers today. And what’s more, scheduling your Instagram posts has many benefits.

Studies have shown that consistency is key to growth on Instagram, so scheduling your Instagram posts and ensuring regular updates can be a win-win situation—both boosting your reach and engagement as well as saving you valuable time throughout the day.

This guide will explain exactly how to schedule Instagram posts (and how scheduling can benefit your business).

Let’s dive in 📷

Buffer for Instagram now comes with direct scheduling! Schedule single-image posts or set reminders to post videos and multi-image posts at your best times to grow your Instagram following. Learn more today.

3 benefits of scheduling your Instagram posts

1. You can save time

Crafting and posting the perfect Instagram post can be time-consuming — especially if you’re creating your posts on the day you want to publish them.

However, scheduling your posts ahead of time might be a better, productivity-boosting way to create and share your Instagram content. By batching your work, you can avoid the costs associated with multitasking and context switching.

According to research shared by Inc., multitaskers take 50 percent more time to complete a single task and commit 50 percent more errors2. By spending an hour or two creating and scheduling your posts for the week ahead, you can save a ton of time and keep a consistent quality across the board.

With Buffer for Instagram, you can now schedule single-image posts directly from desktop or mobile (with a few limitations). For any other scheduled Instagram posts, we’ll send a reminder notification to your mobile device to finish the post when the time is right. This approach can free up so much of your time to focus on the many other tasks social media managers must tackle daily.

2. Ensure you’re posting consistently

Consistency plays a key role in social media success. When you’re consistently and frequently publishing new content, your audience will learn what to expect from your and when it’ll be posted.

For example, every night the NBA shares a round-up of the latest scores from around the league and because I know when to expect this, I open up Instagram to check the results every morning when I start my day:

Keeping a consistent schedule makes sure you maximize engagement without hitting any lulls or stretches without updates.

A few years back, Union Metrics put together data on brands and Instagram and it found that most brands post to Instagram daily — the average was in fact 1.5 posts per day. Another interesting learning from Union Metrics’ study was that there was no correlation between increased frequency and lower engagement, so brands that posted multiple times per day didn’t notice any negative effects.

The lesson here is that consistency is key for Instagram success. By scheduling your posts ahead of time you can ensure your profile is always filled with fresh new content.

3. Create and upload content from your desktop

Smartphones are becoming awesome tools for creating content, but sometimes, especially if you’re a social media manager, it can be easier to prepare and schedule all of your content on a desktop computer. One of the advantages of scheduling your posts in the web app is that you’ll have access to images of videos that might not be on your phone.

Most Instagram scheduler tools, Buffer included, enable you to create your posts on your desktop before publishing on mobile.

 

With Buffer for Business you can also check exactly how your Instagram profile gallery will look once you’ve published your scheduled posts:

Scheduling direct posts vs scheduling reminders

In some exciting news, you can now schedule certain types of Instagram posts directly from third-party apps like Buffer to Instagram.

For any of your scheduled posts that Buffer can’t share directly, we’ll let you know after you create the post. Once the scheduled posting time comes around, we’ll send a reminder notification to you via the Buffer app on your mobile device. You can then finish the post in the Instagram app, where you can add things like filters and photo tags.

Which posts can be shared directly?

  • Single images with (or without) a caption shared to business profiles

Which posts will you need to finish in the Instagram app? (We’ll send you a reminder)

  • Posts scheduled to personal profiles
  • Single-image posts that are very long (portrait) or very wide (landscape). Technically, third-party apps can only directly post images within the range of 4:5 and 1.91:1 aspect ratios
  • Multiple-image posts
  • Video posts

While scheduling Instagram posts directly helps you save a ton of time for basic image posts, one of the great things about reminders are that they allow you to create an image on your desktop, and then use all of Instagram’s handy native features, like image filters, to put a final coat of polish on the post.

How to schedule Instagram posts: Getting set up for both direct scheduling and reminders

Here are a few quick steps to get started with Instagram scheduling:

Step 1: If your Instagram profile is for an organization, switch it to a business profile

If your Instagram profile isn’t a business profile already, switching it will enable Buffer to schedule posts directly to your profile. Here are some handy instructions from Facebook (you’ll need to have a Facebook Page to switch to an Instagram business profile). If your Instagram profile is a personal profile, Buffer will schedule reminders only.

Step 2: Connect your Instagram account

To connect your Instagram account with Buffer from our web dashboard, first, click Connect More on the left-hand side of your Buffer dashboard, below any social accounts you’ve already connected:

From here, click on Connect below Instagram:

Finally, you’ll be asked to log in to your Instagram account and then you’re all set to start scheduling your Instagram posts with Buffer.

Note: If you’re a current Buffer user who has an Instagram profile already connected, you can simply visit that profile in your Buffer dashboard and follow the prompts from the banner on the page. You can also connect Instagram to Buffer through our iOS and Android apps.

Creating and scheduling Instagram content with Buffer

Once you’ve connected your Instagram account with Buffer, it’s time to create the content you want to post to Instagram.

After you’ve sourced the video or image you’d like to post, it’s great to draft your caption, choose any hashtags you’d like to include and any other Instagram accounts you’d like to @-mention in your post.

  • Caption: Instagram captions are limited to 2,200 characters, and after three lines of text they become truncated with an ellipsis. Try to include any key details at the front of your caption.
  • Hashtags: Hashtags allow Instagrammers to discover content and accounts to follow. Research from Track Maven found that posts with over 11 hashtags tend to get more engagement.
  • @-mentions: Is there anyone else featured in your photo? Maybe you could @-mention them in the caption. This will notify them when you put the post live on Instagram.

The below post from Amy Tangerine is a great example of how to effectively use your caption, hashtags, and an @-mention:

(For more on how to craft a great Instagram post, check out our Instagram marketing guide). 

Now it’s time to schedule your post for the ideal time. To do this, hop over to your Buffer dashboard and choose your Instagram account by selecting it on the left-hand side of your dashboard.

Under the “Content” tab, you’ll see a section labeled “Queue”. Here you can upload a photo and write your caption (including any hashtags and @-mentions).

If you upload your content and it doesn’t meet the requirements for direct scheduling, we’ll let you know that it will be scheduled as a reminder and that you’ll receive a notification to your mobile device when it’s time to post.

Once you’ve uploaded your content, you can decide whether you want to:

  • Add the post to your Buffer queue
  • Schedule the post for a custom date and time (this is especially handy for big events or posts that need to be published on a certain date)
  • If you’re on a paid Buffer plan, you can also bump the post to the start of your queue using Share Next, or share it immediately by using Share Now.

If the post is scheduled as a reminder

When it’s time for your post to be published, Buffer will send you a notification to whichever devices have been connected to your Buffer account. Here’s how the reminder might look on your device.

Tapping “Open in Instagram”  will automatically copy your caption and open Instagram, with the photo or video ready to be customized. Here you can also crop and edit your content as needed.

Now, tap Share and you’re all set! Your post will then be published to Instagram and you’ll be able to see it on your timeline.

Here’s a quick recap of how Buffer for Instagram’s reminders work:

How to schedule Instagram posts

Ready to start scheduling your Instagram posts? Get started with Buffer today

With Buffer for Instagram, we’re excited to be giving you the power to manage your social media marketing from one central location, and we’re eager for you to have the tools you need to plan, track, and amplify your Instagram marketing.

Get started with Buffer for Instagram

Over to you

Thanks for checking out our guide on how to schedule posts on Instagram. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments: What are your top tips for scheduling Instagram posts? Which tools do you use to create and share content on Instagram?

Photo credit: Erik Lucatero

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from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-to-schedule-instagram-posts

Puppies Jumping Into Swimming Pools Make for Unbelievably Cute Photos

 

If you haven’t smiled yet today, you’re about to. That’s because photographer Seth Casteel — the man behind the NY Times bestseller and viral sensation Underwater Dogs — is back with another installment of his series that promises to be even more adorable than the first.

How could this possibly be, you ask? Well, for this second iteration, Casteel taught 1,500 puppies how to swim, making the resulting photo book so squee-inducing you might just explode from all the cuteness.

 

The 72 underwater photographs Casteel captured over the course of these swim lessons have been compiled into the book Underwater Puppies, which is already available at Barnes & Noble for $13.65.

As with Underwater Dogs, Casteel captures that magical moment that the pups first enter the water, all excitement, enthusiasm, and in some cases reticence or wide-eyed surprise. It really is just about guaranteed to put a smile on your face:

 

Many of the puppies like Corey here, were from rescue shelters and had not experienced swimming or jumping into a pool.

 

“Popsicle” taking the plunge for the first time.

Read More at Puppies Jumping Into Swimming Pools Make for Unbelievably Cute Photos

from Web Design Ledger https://webdesignledger.com/puppies-jumping-swimming-pools-make-unbelievably-cute-photos/

This is What Little Puppies Look Like When They’re Shaking Off Water

There’s a rule of thumb when it comes to viral dog photography: what’s cute with dogs is going to be twice as cute when you shrink your subjects down to puppies.

Photographer Seth Casteel did it with Underwater Dogs and the sequel Underwater Puppies, and we are very happy to inform you that animal photographer Carli Davidson recently decided to take her viral SHAKE photos of dogs and create the photo series and book SHAKE Puppies.

These younger portraits actually came about thanks to a suggestion by the best possible team of photo connoisseurs you could have critiquing your work: second graders. Davidson says she was showing off the series to her friend’s second-grade class and, when she asked for feedback, they had two words for her: puppies and colors.

She also writes that she was, “drawn to the idea of surrounding myself with puppies.” And while you might think she’s not being literal, think again:

We actually got a chance to catch up with Davidson and ask her to fill us in on the technical details of the shoot. She tells us,

I shot these photos using rapid recycle, super short flash duration strobes (Paul Buff Einstein’s) to freeze the motion.

I used a Nikon D4 shooting 10fps to capture as many shake photos as I could and edited down to my two favorite, which was not always easy… I shot most of these with a 105mm macro lens. I love that lens for portraits of little animals and I never have to stress about getting too close to the subject for focus 🙂

Other gear that helped me finalize these were a Wacom Intuos and Cintiq to get all the nitty gritty retouching done, the Adobe suite — I use LR for file organization, retouch in PS and lay out / design the books in ID before delivering them to HarperCollins.

Oh! And of course, the most important tools in my arsenal: a ton of paper towels and Nature’s Miracle!

Here’s a look at the results of all those ‘accidents’ and the few pictures Carli managed to capture in-between:

 

Read More at This is What Little Puppies Look Like When They’re Shaking Off Water

from Web Design Ledger https://webdesignledger.com/little-puppies-look-like-theyre-shaking-off-water/

Are You Listening? The 20 Best Social Media Monitoring Tools

How do you know if your customers (and potential customers) are talking about you on social media?

If they tagged your social media profile in their posts, you could check your notifications. If they didn’t, maybe you could search on each social media platform every time you want to find out. Sounds tedious? Here’s a better way:

Use social media monitoring tools.

There’s a great deal of wonderful social media tools out there. Among them are tools built specifically to help you pick out relevant conversations on social media — social media monitoring tools. Some of these tools allow you to monitor multiple social media profiles on the different social media platforms from a single place. There are even some that let you monitor social media trends and keywords.

There’s likely one that suits your needs. Let’s take a look at the 20 best ones for small and medium businesses!

20 Best Social Media Monitoring Tools for Small and Medium Businesses

What is social media monitoring?

Social media monitoring is the process of listening out for social media conversations that are relevant to your brand. Businesses engage in social media monitoring for several reasons, such as to connect with their customers, to provide customer support, to measure their social media reach, or to understand social media trends.

To “listen”, businesses use social media monitoring tools to collect social mentions and track keywords, hashtags, and URLs that they are interested in.

Social media monitoring is also sometimes known as social listening.

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The 20 best social media monitoring tools for SMBs

All the social media monitoring tools listed below are not arranged in any particular order. They are all great in their own ways and will suit different social media monitoring needs.

For example, some are standalone monitoring tools while others have it as a feature within a social media management tool. Some gather individual social media mentions and messages while others analyze sets of social media content and trends.

Here’s an overview of all the tools in this blog post:

I’m sure I’m missing some great tools out there, and it’ll be great to get your help. If you have tried and love any social media monitoring tools for small and medium businesses, I would love for you to share them in the comments section below, including why you love them. Thank you!

Compare the tools easily with this spreadsheet

To make it easier for you to compare the tools, I’ve created a spreadsheet with the following information of each social media monitoring tool:

  • How much do the plans cost?
  • Does it have a free plan, free trial, or free demo?
  • Is it a standalone monitoring tool or is it part of a social media management tool?
  • What platforms are supported?
  • What are the main monitoring features?
  • Can I reply directly through the tool?

Social media monitoring tools spreadsheet
Get the spreadsheet

1. Buffer Reply

All your social engagement in one team inbox

Buffer Reply

Description: Buffer Reply organizes your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram engagement into neatly-threaded conversations in one team inbox. You will have all the information you need to know about each customer to provide personalized responses. Oh, and you can easily add emojis and GIFs. 😉

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram

Prices: Starting at $50 per month and $250 per month

Once you’ve researched all your options and if you think Buffer Reply might suit your needs, we would love for you to check out our webinar on engaging with your customers using Buffer Reply.

2. Hootsuite

Effectively track topics that matter—then respond quickly

Hootsuite

Description: Hootsuite’s monitoring tool is part of its entire package of social media management tools. If you were to subscribe to one of their plans, you can also enjoy other features such as scheduling and analytics.

With Hootsuite, you can set up unlimited streams of social media content based on your mentions, selected keywords, hashtags, or locations. Furthermore, Hootsuite integrates with more than a hundred apps to help you do more from its dashboard.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs, forums, and more

Prices: Free, $19 per month, $99 per month, $499 per month, and enterprise pricing

3. Sprout Social

Intelligent, real-time social media monitoring with Sprout

Sprout Social

Description: Similar to Hootsuite, Sprout Social’s monitoring and engagement tools are part of its social media management software. Sprout Social has two separate features for social monitoring and engagement.

In the Smart Inbox, you’ll get all your social media mentions and messages. With the discovery feature, you can search for particular keywords on Twitter or Instagram (for example when someone mentions your brand without tagging your social media profile).

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+

Prices (per user): $99 per month, $149 per month, and $249 per month

4. Agorapulse

Discover what people are really saying about your business

Agorapulse

Description: Agorapulse is also an all-in-one social media management tool, which comes with scheduling, monitoring, engagement, and analytics features.

Its inbox collects all your social media mentions while its listening feature allows you to search for keywords, URL, and handle on Twitter. Agorapulse also allows you to monitor comments on your Facebook and Instagram ads.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Prices: $49 per month, $99 per month, $199 per month, and $299 per month

5. Zoho Social

Social media management software for growing businesses

Zoho Social

Description: Zoho Social is a social media management dashboard where you can publish and schedule posts, monitor social activities, analyze your social media performance. 

In the Zoho Social dashboard, you’ll get real-time updates of how people are interacting with your brands. I find this great for events, where I might want to monitor related social media posts and engage with the attendees.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+

Prices: Free, $10 per month, and $50 per month

6. Brand24

Smart social media monitoring for businesses of all sizes

Brand24

Description: Brand24 is a powerful yet affordable tool for those who want to dive deep into social media monitoring. Besides the major social media platforms, Brand24 also monitors blogs, forums, and other sites for mentions of your brand.

Apart from collecting your mentions and allowing you to reply, Brand24 analyzes your social media reach, interactions, sentiment, and more.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, forums, and more

Prices: $49 per month, $99 per month, and $399 per month

7. Mention

Media monitoring made simple

Mention

Description: Mention is more than just a monitoring tool for social media; it also monitors mentions of your brand across the web such as on Yelp, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, and Amazon. On its custom company plan, you can get in-depth insights and reports of your brand mentions.

If you connect your social media profiles to Mention, you can reply mentions directly within Mention. (You can even add a Buffer account and schedule your social media posts.)

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, forums, and more

Prices: $29 per month, $99 per month, and enterprise pricing

8. Social Mention

Real-time social media search and analysis

Social Mention

Description: Not to be confused with Mention above, Social Mention is a free social media search engine for user-generated content across the web. It lets you find and measure what people are saying about your brand and products on places such as Twitter, YouTube, and blogs.

Since an account is not required, I believe Social Mention doesn’t save your searches.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google, and other websites

Price: Free

9. Keyhole

Hashtag tracking for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Keyhole

Description: Rather than finding individual mentions of your brand, Keyhole provides trends, insights, and analysis of your preferred hashtags, keywords, or accounts. This makes it better for gathering data and reporting results than replying your social media mentions.

If you want to test out its tools, it offers free hashtag, keyword, and account tracking.

Platforms supported: Twitter and Instagram

Prices: $165 per month, $349 per month, $599 per month, $999 per month, and enterprise pricing

10. Trackur

Simple, fast, and affordable social media monitoring

Trackur

Description: Like Keyhole, Trackur is a monitoring and analytics tool. It can help you find mentions of your brand (or your keywords) on social media, blogs, forums, and more and then analyze the trends, sentiment, and influence level.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs, forums, and more

Prices: $97 per month, $197 per month, and $447 per month

11. Buzzlogix

Social media monitoring and engagement made simple

Buzzlogix

Description: Buzzlogix helps you with both social monitoring and social engagement. For social monitoring, you can track content with your preferred keywords and get the statistics in easy-to-understand graphs. For social engagement, you can monitor multiple social media profiles and response to social mentions and messages.

Platforms supported: Google+, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, forums, and news sites

Prices: $19.95 per month, $49.95 per month, $99.95 per month, and $399.95 per month

12. TweetDeck

The most powerful Twitter tool for real-time tracking, organizing, and engagement

TweetDeck

Description: TweetDeck is the official Twitter management dashboard, where you can manage multiple Twitter accounts and monitor mentions, keywords, Twitter lists, and more in separate columns. And it’s free!

Platform supported: Twitter

Price: Free

13. Iconosquare

Instagram analytics and management platform

Iconosquare

Description: Iconosquare is one of the most popular Instagram analytics and management platforms. Besides its robust analytics and management features, Iconosquare offers custom feeds, which you can use to monitor specific Instagram content. For each feed, you can add up to 50 users and 20 hashtags.

Platforms supported: Instagram

Prices (per Instagram account): $9 per month, $29per month, $49 per month, and from $990 per month

14. Tailwind

Social media monitoring for Pinterest and Instagram

Tailwind

Description: Tailwind is built specifically for Pinterest and Instagram, the two visual social media platforms. Apart from its scheduling and analytics features, Tailwind enables you to monitor your content and your competitors. It also provides information about emerging trends so that you can tap into them.

Platforms supported: Pinterest and Instagram

Prices: $15 per month, $799.99 per month, and enterprise pricing

15. Sendible

Seize opportunities via social listening

Sendible

Description: Sendible is a full social media management tool, built for agencies that manage multiple clients. On top of scheduling and collaborating on social media content, you can also respond to comments and messages from an inbox and monitor hashtags, keywords, and your competitors on social media and the web.

Platforms supported: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, blogs, review sites (e.g. Yelp), and more

Prices: $49 per month, $199 per month, and $499 per month, and enterprise pricing 

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The remaining social media monitoring tools are more pricey than those above. I have not had the opportunity to try them out myself (as they do not provide free trials). I’ve selected them based on reviews and their brand name. If you have used any of them before, it’ll be great to hear your experience.

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16. Union Metrics

Social intelligence. Designed for marketing teams.

Union Metrics

Description: Union Metrics provides the social intelligence that can help you improve your social media strategy. With Union Metrics, you can track and analyze social media posts, monitor your competitors and trends, conduct research, and more.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr

Prices: $99 per month, $199 per month, and enterprise pricing

17. HubSpot

Connect with the people you care about

HubSpot

Description: HubSpot is a comprehensive marketing automation software that includes everything from social media and emails to SEO and lead management. The social media management features are included in the plans starting from $200 per month.

Because HubSpot integrates many parts of marketing together (such as customer relationship management and social media), it allows you to better monitor your leads and customers on social media.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Xing, YouTube, blogging platform with RSS feeds, and Pinterest

Prices: Starting at $200 per month, $800 per month, and $2,400 per month

18. NUVI

Real-time social intelligence

NUVI

Description: NUVI gathers all your social media data in real-time and displays it in insightful visualizations to help you make decisions quickly and effectively. Like most social media management tools, NUVI can help you publish and schedule posts, analyze your social media activities, and create reports.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, VK, blogs, and RSS feeds

Price: Custom pricing

19. Falcon.io

Manage your brand

Falcon.io

Description: Falcon.io is a marketing platform that helps social media marketers with social listening, customer engagement, content marketing, and audience management. Its social listening features help you monitor your brand, stay on top of popular topics, and engage influencers.

Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube

Prices: $1,000 per month, $1,750 per month, and enterprise pricing

20. Talkwalker

Put social data intelligence to work. Instantly.

Talkwalker

Description: Talkwalker is one of the most powerful media monitoring tools. Besides being able to monitor social media platforms and websites, it can also monitor print and TV and radio broadcasts.

It even has image recognition technology to help you pick up social media posts of your brand or product even when your brand isn’t mentioned in the caption.

Platforms supported: More than 10 social platforms, websites, print, and broadcasts

Prices: $8,400 per year, $12,000 per year, and enterprise pricing

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100 more social media monitoring tools

While the tools above are all social media monitoring tools, they are different in subtle and big ways and serve different needs. I hope you found one suitable for your company. Otherwise, do check out this comprehensive list by G2 Crowd:

Best Social Media Monitoring Software

Once you have picked your social media monitoring tool, I would love to hear which tool you decided on and what considerations you have made. I believe it can help others make the right decision for their company, too.

The awesome featured image above is by Alex Blăjan and taken from Unsplash.

from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-monitoring-tools

How to Build a Website the Easy Way – Simbla Review

As a small business owner, at one point you have choose if you want an agency to create your online representation of your business or if you want to do it yourself using a website builder like Simbla. Sometimes, having an agency create your website can get pretty pricey and miscommunication is usually the number one reason why projects remain unfinished or fail. With Simbla however, the entire process is effortless even for a non-technical person while the results are impressive, considering that you get to create a complete website with an online database and all the other features of a professional website.

I remember working with several website builders over the past ten years or so. Most of the times, they were basic tools with just a few features, intended mostly for amateurs. Simbla, however, is more than a website builder. At least, it is more than what I would have expected considering my past experiences. While the drag and drop interface makes the whole creation process quite effortless, the database integration feature adds to your website the element that makes it a real website, a professional online representation of your business.

 

With Simbla, making your own website seems a good alternative to working with an expensive agency. Here’s one way to do it and our favorite website builder to do it with.

What is Simbla?

An HTML5 SEO ready website

Simbla is a website builder that uses Bootstrap 3 to create HTML5 websites that look great and are also great for SEO. You will find several similar tools that will not allow you to create SEO ready websites. This is a particularly important thing because you want your content to be easily readable and visible by the search engine crawlers and thus, properly indexed.

Simbla websites are capable to generate valid standard XML sitemaps that you can integrate into your Google webmaster account and thus facilitate Google crawler’s access to your local files. The metadata generated is also in standard format, with typical titles and keywords and the URLs are search engine friendly as well.

The websites are easy to create unlike with other website builders. Also, the HTML5 feature is a good thing, considering that this version of the Hypertext Markup Language supports multimedia and is natively supported by al web browsers, desktop, and mobile alike.

How does Simbla work?

Everything you need is right there, on your own canvas. Simbla allows you to create a professional looking website with a working online database in just a few minutes, without much of an effort. Moreover, users are allowed to create alerts and send emails as a response to database actions as well. What else do you need to know about all its features?

Two modes for the website builder

Simbla features two different modes for their website builder, an easy mode for the beginners and an advanced “pro” mode for those who already know a thing or two about website design and coding.

(select a template or start with a wizard)

(Choose a plan)

(Your canvas)

  1. The Easy Mode

This is exactly how it sounds: an easy mode that allows the user to create a new website in just a few minutes without the need to know how to code or design a website. What’s great about the app is that everything you create with it looks professional and out of the box. There’s no way to tell that in fact the website was designed and developed through an app and not by a team of coders.

There are already made modules and prebuilt sections you can choose from and if you want to preview your work in real time you can do it without the need to write content. Everything you implement on your website will be instantly populated with dummy content. Therefore, there’s no way you can do something wrong. In order to insert your own text and images, you just have to click on a specific part of the module and insert your own content. I cannot remember another website builder that is easier and faster to work with.

  1. The Pro Mode

This mode is dedicated to those who know what they are doing when it comes to Html code and web design. In other words, if you’ve been around the block and think about yourself as an experienced web developer, you can access this feature and control every single detail of your website, starting from the first page and up to the last dot posted after the last phrase.

Upon entering the Pro Mode, you will receive a notification. At this point, if you are unsure about your skills, you can return to the previous mode. If not, you will see that the working canvas is a little bit changed and that you have more freedom on how to build your website. The drag and drop features are still present but at the same time, you get to start with a blank canvas and bring your website to life, step by step, by adding the elements you envisioned it should be there.

What kind of knowledge do you need in order to properly work in the Pro Mode? Well, you need to know a few things about how a website is structured, how menus, headers, and dynamic content are implemented and displayed. You will also need to know how to add different structures to your page and what each of them means and how does it work.

Simbla’s App Market

No website builder would be complete without some extra modules and apps to be installed on the newly designed and set up web pages. There’s an app market available on Simbla that includes modules for blogging, news, e-Commerce, product catalogs and a Knowledge base. Let’s take a quick look at four of these apps:

The Blogging App

One of the most important marketing strategies you can develop for a website is to create valuable content for your audience. The best channel for doing it is, of course, the blog. You can create and update your own blog right from the Simbla interface and add it to your website

The News App

Do you have some important news to share with your audience? Or, do you think that a newscast feature will be useful in the future? There’s no problem, Simbla allows you to add scrolling news headlines to your website. The interface of the module is similar to that of the blogging feature or other modules implemented by Simbla and therefore, you will find it easy to use and set up.

A Product Catalog

Whether you already run an e-Commerce website or you are using the web only to showcase your products, a good and professional looking catalog may help you market your business better to your customers. Fortunately, Simbla features an easy to set up the app for product cataloging and presentation that you may use as a part of your website.

The e-Commerce App

A website builder with an e-Commerce app? Can this be for real? Yes, it can. Thanks to Simbla, we can now design and launch a website with just a few clicks and set up a professional and working e-Commerce store. You can now organize your products, display them in your own store and let your customers easily checkout once they choose to buy one or more of them.

The CRM system

One of the most important and dynamic features of SIMBLA is the integration of a CRM system within the app itself. This means that the database, the website you have designed and all its related apps are integrated and available in one place. Thus, the CRM system will allow you to manage your online business, your customers, sales, meetings and the website itself better and easier.

 

Also, with the CRM system you have access to a smart sales dashboard and some new cool features like the sale pipeline and a new way of editing and creating data. While still in a beta version, the system is in continuous development and we can expect a final version quite soon.

 

Conclusion

If you are looking for a cool and professional tool to build your own website in less than an hour and without needing any of coding or designing skills, Simbla may be your best options. It has everything you need to start building from scratch, it allows you to build an online database along with the website and it includes several other apps that may be of help in the beginning or as your website grows. Moreover, a new beta CRM system which will include some cool new features will be released soon.

Did you try Simbla or a similar app? What do you think about it? Do you see yourself building a website with Simbla?

 

Read More at How to Build a Website the Easy Way – Simbla Review

from Web Design Ledger https://webdesignledger.com/build-website-easy-way-simbla-review/

7 Invaluable Marketing Skills That Help Teams Produce Consistently Great Content

In speaking with thousands of marketers and businesses over the past several years, we’ve learned that marketing has an incredible potential to impact people’s lives.

In fact, the American Marketing Association defines marketing as:

“The activity, set of institutions, skills, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

I love that. We as marketers are benefiting society at large!

But marketing skills and career growth don’t come easy in a field that moves at the speed of light. It seems like every week companies are demanding an evolved skill set out of their employees – giving rise to a new era of marketing roles such as the Full-Stack and T-Shaped Marketer.

Brands that can successfully bring a variety of people, marketing skills, and unique perspectives together have a huge advantage when it comes to providing value.

That’s why we’ve partnered with the incredible marketing team at Asana, a leading work management software, to break down the top 7 invaluable marketing skills that help some of the greatest brand teams on the planet produce consistently great content.

Let’s dive in!

7 Invaluable Marketing Skills for Team

7 invaluable marketing skills for teams

As Sujan Patel writes on his blog, “the modern marketer has to be familiar with a lot, good at many, and master of a few.”

Having a variety of skills and tools not only provides ultimate flexibility as a team to create a variety of successful marketing campaigns, but it also allows each marketer to shine as an individual.

These 7 high-level marketing skills will help to ensure your team has ultimate flexibility and individuality.

1. Storytelling

There seems to be a general belief that marketing has always been about storytelling – and that marketers have always identified as natural storytellers.

But that may not be the case.

LinkedIn found that just seven years ago the number of marketers listing “storytelling” on their profile as a skill was obsolete. It didn’t exist at all as a respected marketing discipline.

Today, however, between 7 percent and 8 percent of all marketers on LinkedIn worldwide identify themselves as storytellers based on their profile descriptions and list of skills.

Storytelling Marketing Skills

As a marketer, storytelling doesn’t just mean telling your audience what your product or service does or what it has done. Effective storytelling involves a deep understanding of human emotions, motivations, and psychology in order to effectively communicate with them in an authentic and engaging way.

During the writing of this article, Asana CMO Dave King told me: “The best marketers are problem solvers and storytellers. Content creators should ask ‘what problem is this piece solving for my audience.’”

As marketers, there are endless ways to tell a story.

One of my favorite ways to develop a compelling story is to use “The Story Spine” formula created by professional playwright and improvisor Kenn Adams. Over the years, Pixar has won countless awards by using this formula, including 13 Academy Awards, 9 Golden Globes, and 11 Grammys.

The Story Spine - Pixar Marketing Skills

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

I encourage you to practice this formula for your own own brand, products, or services.

Let’s give it a shot with a brand we might all know of: Nike.

  • Once upon a time there was a passionate shoemaker that wanted to get his shoes into the hands of runners around the world.
  • Every day, he worked on perfecting his shoes so that these runners could perform at an optimum level.
  • But one day, this shoemaker realized that supplying shoes to thousands of runners around the world was no easy task.
  • Because of that, he worked harder and harder to ensure that he had the supply of products needed to be successful despite what critics said.
  • Because of that, his shoes continued to improve and more and more athletes started to wear them in prestigious competitions.
  • Until finally, it wasn’t just about running anymore. It became about something bigger – finding your inner champion doing what you love in gear that makes you feel great.

As Ken describes, “The Story Spine is not the story, it’s the spine. It’s nothing but the bare-boned structure upon which the story is built. And, that’s what makes it such a powerful tool.”

It’s up to us as marketers to fill in all the little nuances of the story.

2. Prioritizing

As many marketers know all too well – there is always something to be done.

Being an effective prioritizer is one of those marketing skills that doesn’t get talked about enough, but plays a huge role in the success of your team and content.

Producing consistently great content means saying yes to a handful of awesome content ideas/opportunities and saying no to many others.

The Asana marketing team uses a project labeled “Content Opportunities” to which anyone in the company is highly encouraged to contribute ideas. Then, when their marketing team is ready to take action on a piece of content or campaign, they add it to their Editorial Calendar project.

Asana Dashboard - 7 Invaluable Marketing Skills

This management of ideas, projects, and initiatives is what allows them to be super focused and productive on a consistent basis.

So how can you develop prioritization as a marketing skill? And how can you prioritize content and campaigns that will perform at a high level?

That’s where the importance of goal-setting comes into play!

At Buffer, we’ve experimented with a variety of goal-setting frameworks such as OKRs, Locke and Latham’s 5 Principles of Goal-Setting, BHAGs, and lots more.

Today, our marketing team is using two types of goal-setting methods depending on the scope. For long-term planning and strategizing, we use a modified Warren Buffett Framework, and for short-term (experimental content), we use a framework called ICE.

The Modified Warren Buffett Framework

My colleague Hailley has long admired the original framework for setting goals from Warren Buffett – a method where you write down 25 things you want to accomplish in your career, and from that, pick the top five as the focus and put the other 20 on an “avoid at all costs” list.

We’ve since adopted a modified version of this goal-setting framework. Here’s a quick overview of how it works (with a real-life example goals from one of our 6-week cycles):

Step 1: Choose 10 goals

Brainstorm a list of 10 goals related to your work on the team that can be accomplished in a certain, predesignated timeframe.

Remember to focus on goals and not tasks. A good way to remember this is that tasks describe how you spend your time, whereas goals are your results.

Ex:

Warren Buffett Framework Step One

Step 2: Assign a “tag” to each goal

Next, go through and add a tag to each goal with the category that it falls into. The tagging system should be unique for each person.

Come up with your tags, and assign them to each of your 10 goals.

Ex:

Warren Buffett Framework Step Two

Step 3: Pick three goals to focus on (P1s)

This is the most difficult portion of the exercise! Refining the list from 10 to the three that you will focus on during the specified time period.

Pick one goal for each tag that you have on your list.

Ex:

Warren Buffett Framework Step Three

Then, add a P2 and a P3 to prioritize the rest of your goals within the list.

That doesn’t mean you have 10 goals all competing with each other at the same time.

It means that as soon as you complete a P1 in any one of the categories, you then (and only then) move onto your P2 and P3.

ICE Score Framework

“ICE” stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease.

Below is a description of each element directly from the creators of the ICE Score Framework at GrowthHackers:

  • Impact: The possible impact the idea could have on the business if considered a “win
  • Confidence: This relates to how confident you are in whether it’ll result in a wi
  • Ease: This relates to how many resources, and what kind, are needed to implement the idea

For each idea, give each factor a score from one to ten. The overall score is determined by taking the average of the three scores. You should start with the idea that has the highest score.

ICE Score Framework - Marketing Skills

For example, let’s say you wanted to run a content partnership experiment with a peer or influencer within your industry (similar to this one!) Your ICE score might look like this:

  • Impact: 8
  • Confidence: 7
  • Ease: 7
  • Total: 22

Comparing that to other ICE scores, you can quickly determine which ideas to tackle next and which ones to table for the time being. Over time, you’ll be able to score ideas quickly and efficiently.

3. Collaborating

Why is team collaboration necessary?

Part of the answer, according to research from strategy professor Benjamin Jones at the Kellogg School, is that our individual knowledge base is becoming more and more specialized.

Jones gives a great example of the Wright Brothers and building an airplane:

“In 1903, two people designed and flew an airplane. Today, a Boeing 787 has dozens of specialists working on the engines alone. Then there are the controls, the hydraulics, the airframe itself. There is an incredible range of specialized skills needed.”

Generalist vs. Specialist Employee

There is an ever-growing need for collaboration among specialists (teams) within companies to get a product or service off of the ground.

In our experiences at Buffer and Asana, the most successful marketing teams coordinate on two important levels:

  1. Messaging: Ensuring there’s consistency in what is being said across channels (blog, website, social, etc.
  2. Distribution: Planning and sequencing content rollout for maximum impact across channels

By combining the right set of marketing skills in both messaging and distribution you are setting your campaigns up for a much higher rate of success.

Messaging

Whether you’re launching a full-on marketing campaign or simply posting a video to Facebook, creating a consistent message across channels is an important part of building your brand.

We’ve found that having effective collaboration tools in place makes all of the difference.

Here’s a quick example of some of the tools and workflows we use in order to help our teams create consistent messaging:

  1. Kick off a conversation in messaging app, Slack, about the proposed idea or campaign:

Slack Screenshot

  1. Start a doc in Dropbox Paper with additional details, comments, copy, etc:

Dropbox Paper Flow

  1. Create a project within Asana and assign tasks to team members across the organization:

Asana Project

These three tools are invaluable for transparent and cross-functional collaboration and communication among teams within your organization. They’re especially important for us at Buffer as a fully remote company!

Distribution

Without a solid distribution plan in place, your messages may never reach their intended audiences. Having the skills to not only create the assets, but efficiently deliver those assets across multiple channels, is an important quality for any marketer.

Here’s a quick look at some of the tools and workflows we use to distribute consistent content:

  1. WordPress for hosting and creating blog content:

Buffer Blog

  1. Discourse for internal distribution, information, and announcements:

Discourse Overview

  1. Buffer for social media planning, scheduling, and analytics:

Buffer - Social Media Tool Dashboard

At the core of any great team collaboration is trust. Trust is the willingness and openness to intentionally communicate with teammates on your direct team and across the company.

It’s up to you to make space (physically or virtually) for people to meet and share ideas. Pixar is a perfect example of this in action – they designed their offices so that artists, designers, programmers, and marketers would purposely bump into each other.

4. Visualizing

Humans are, by nature, very visual beings.

In the brain itself, there are hundreds of millions of neurons devoted to visual processing, nearly 30 percent of the entire cortex, as compared with 8 percent for touch and just 3 percent for hearing.

In other words, the most successful marketing teams are not only able to communicate messages in written form, they’re also able to create stunning designs that aid in telling a compelling visual story.

Social Media Design Principles

We wrote an article in 2017 titled, “Why Every Marketer Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer” and the general theory still remains true, even more so, today in 2018.

The best part is there are tons of free resources our there to get started! Here are some of our favorites:

Visual storytelling is one of those marketing skills that often goes overlooked, but plays a massive role in the success of every single piece of content.

5. Experimenting

Have you ever wondered how some marketing teams come up with so many great ideas?

Their secret…

Behind every one successful marketing idea or campaign, there were dozens (if not hundreds) of little failures along the way.

It reminds me a lot of what is known as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in product development. A MVP is a product that has the minimum amount of features required to validate if people want it or not.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The same theory holds true for marketing experimentation and testing.

A marketing team that is unafraid of failure and willing to run hundreds of different tests in order to quickly validate ideas will often succeed over a marketing team that puts their eggs (ideas) into one basket (channel/campaign).

The Information, for example, might have hundreds of potential story ideas in Asana at any one time — prioritizing experiments and ideas based on competition, importance, opportunity costs, and lots more.

Although there isn’t a true scientific way of running marketing experiments, this is the formula we’ve come up with at Buffer to systematically test ideas:

How to Run Marketing Experiments

We start with setting clear goals and then work backwards from there.

Let’s say we wanted to increase Buffer blog traffic by 10% in one year (goal).

Our marketing team would start by getting together and brainstorming all of the different ways we could accomplish that – SEO, social media, affiliates, etc.

We’d then prioritize ideas based on impact (Warren Buffett Framework / ICE Scores) and begin testing.

Then, we’d constantly measure and analyze results along the way while making incremental improvements.

Approaching experimentation and testing with a growth mindset, similar to developing a product, is a marketing skill that will help take your team to the next level.

6. Analyzing

As marketers, we’re all somewhere on the analytics expertise scale (whether we know it or not!) From the analytics wizards to those of us just starting to dip our toes in data analysis, we all have a base layer to work from.

Our Director of Marketing at Buffer, Kevan Lee, puts it perfectly:

“The great thing about deepening your skills in analytics is that we all have a base layer to work from. We all know how to build intuition. And intuition is just an absorbed history of data. Add to that the ability to ask good questions, and you’re well on your way. (The tools themselves matter far less than you’d think.)”

Asking good questions, when it comes to data and marketing analytics, is an invaluable marketing skill to have on any team.

This graphic from Moz shows just how many BIG questions there are to ask:

Moz - Asking Great Data Questions

At first, asking all of these questions can be a bit intimidating.

What if I don’t know the answers?

That’s okay!

One way we like to think about approaching analytics is this idea of “Crawl, Walk, Run” – It might look something like this if you’re just starting out:

  • Crawling: Which channels get the most engagement?
  • Walking: Which tactics and/or strategies are contributing to this engagement?
  • Running: Which channels, tactics, and strategies should we implement to increase engagement?

Data Analysis - Crawl Walk Run

Another great way of thinking of analytics is the “Hierarchy of Analytics” model made popular by data wizard Christopher S. Penn:

Hierarchy of Analytics - Christopher Penn copy

In the beginning, you might experiment with various analytics platforms and tools in order to get a feel for the basics of marketing analytics. Understanding what data is available, its limitations, and what you can report is a great start.

Then, as you become more skilled and confident with data, you might dive into things like understanding why something happened or what might happen in the future based on your findings.

There are some incredible data analysis tools out there from companies like Google, IBM, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft that can help you do just that!

7. Learning

I like to think that the path to becoming a great marketer is a lifelong journey and never truly complete.

Knowledge, passion, and expertise are intangible qualities that we usually don’t acquire overnight. These are often developed as result of years (even decades) of hard work, mistakes, self-reflection, and personal growth.

Even a virtuoso like Michelangelo was quoted as saying, “I am still learning” late into his career.

Michelangelo quote on Learning

At Buffer and Asana, we aim to build our marketing teams around folks who are naturally curious, hungry to learn, passionate, and open to new ideas.

“A love of learning is one of primary skills we look for in marketers because it tells us a couple things: do they love what they do, and are they curious about the world?” explains Kevan Lee. “Those two factors alone can take you quite far!”

Just like food nourishes our bodies, information and continuous learning nourishes our minds.

But where do you start on your learning journey as a marketer?

We’ve found that having a framework in place allows us to identify opportunities for growth. We call it the T-Shaped Marketer Framework:

Buffer T-Shaped Marketer Framework

T-Shaped Marketing at Buffer. Feel free to grab a download of the Sketch file or Canva template we used to build this, if you’d like to customize it for your company.

I encourage you to create one of these templates for yourself. It’s an incredible, eye-opening activity that will provide you with a clear path forward.

Then, we suggest forming habits around the marketing disciplines you’re most excited about:

  • If you want to get better at data analysis, try taking a course on Udemy or Skillshare to expand your skills
  • If you want to dive into video marketing, experiment with creating a video in Animoto or take a free Adobe Premiere tutorial on YouTube.
  • If social media is your passion, we’ve got a ton of great learning resources on our Social Blog, Skillshare, and the Buffer Podcast.
  • If you want to improve your organization, workflow, or project management skills, Asana has created a ton of great resources and best practices for work management on their blog.

If you’re curious, inquisitive, genuine, and if your intent is sincere, there will always be people who will support you in your journey.

Experiment and try out new things – some of them might even scare you! Once you gain some momentum, keep it going. That will set you up for a lifetime of success in marketing.

Over to you

Thank you so much for checking out this post!

If you’re interested in learning more about career and marketing skills from some uber-talented professionals in the industry, feel free to check out the Asana blog. It’s packed with some incredible insights.

We’d also love to continue the conversation with you below!

What skills are we missing from this list? What has helped your team create consistently great content? What would you suggest to those looking to hire marketers?

from Social https://blog.bufferapp.com/marketing-skills