When was the last time you backed up your website? If you had to think about it, it’s been too long ago.
Backing up your website regularly is absolutely vital. Every experienced website owner knows this. Unfortunately, many new website owners do not take backing up as seriously as they should. This is sometimes down to the assumption that everything will be OK and other times they’ve looked into backing up their files and decided it was either too time-consuming or too costly. But reality, if something with your website goes wrong, you could lose everything. That brand-spanking new responsive website you just shelled out a chunk of change for? It would be gone. That blog you’ve been laboring over and building up over the past year? Gone. Just like that!
Some larger businesses can afford to tempt fate and not back up their website as they can simply get another one built – but if they are that large a business then usually they make regular backups. But, can you, as a small businesses, afford not to back up your website? Can you afford to pay out for another website to be built if your current site vanishes?
No hosting company in the world can offer 100% uptime and reliability. Even the best premium hosting companies have had severe problems with their data centers. Your website can experience irregular downtime and problems during this time for days.
When a server does go down, the hosting company usually (but not always) can retrieve the data. However, even if your website data can be retrieved, you might have to return to a version of your website that is a few days old. Therefore, when your hosting company goes down, you could potentially lose a few days of work.
WordPress Websites are Vulnerable to Hacking
As we all know hackers have become commonplace on the web. Whilst we here stories that hackers steal credit card numbers and other sensitive information, but more than often people hack websites simply to prove to themselves or others that it is possible. If your website is online, there is always the chance that it may become compromised. Even simple blogs get hacked.
Plus, WordPress is by far the most used CMS for business websites and blogging. This is perhaps why it’s often a target so often for hackers and spammers. Even if you use a security plugin on your website, there is still the risk of a malicious script injecting malware or a virus onto your website.
We all make mistakes. It’s perfectly possible that yourself or a co-worker/employee might click a wrong button or delete a necessary file by accident. When you backup your files, you have a fresh copy of your site to pop back on the server if any thing goes wrong. Mistakes are not something that happen every day, but when they do happen, you will be glad of any recent backups you have.
Updates Gone Wrong
Regular updates to features/plugins and increase security are important and recommended, but they don’t always go as planned. This is why WordPress always tells you to perform a backup before updating. Websites have numerous components, including plugins, themes, software, and back-end programming. An awry update to any of these can take your website offline.
Backing up WordPress for the technically minded
The WordPress website has a handy little guide on how to back up your website properly, although you do need to be a little technically minded.
Backing up WordPress for the non-technically minded
Not too technically proficient or simply don’t have the time/want the hassle? We offer a WordPress Management service to ensure your website is always backed up. Our service features regular backups, virus and malware checks, aswell as SEO Analysis. Check it out!
The Growth Voucher programme is a government initiative that provides businesses access to expert advice and guidance that will make them more successful.
Businesses can apply for business advice of up to £2,000. You will have to match the value of the voucher with your own funds. You will be asked to take part on surveys so that the government can monitor how the Growth Voucher programme has helped your business.
Is my business eligible?
Growth vouchers are available for businesses who meet the following criteria:
- Businesses who have 250 employees or less (including any employees of companies that own a stake in your business).
- Businesses who are registered in England.
- Businesses who turnover less than €50 million.
Accredited Growth Voucher Advisor
Chips & Gravy Studios Ltd is one of the few accredited UK advisors in the Growth Voucher programme who provide a vast array of digital services to help improve your business, including Web Design and Development (including eCommerce), Video Production and Branding.
We can help you to make the most of digital technology, including improving productivity, developing a digital strategy, enhancing your online presence and marketing your website.
Growth Vouchers can be used to obtain strategic advice and used with Chips & Gravy Studios on the following categories: –
- Making the most of digital technology.
- Marketing, attracting and keeping customers online and with software.
Time Is of The Essence
Unfortunately, the window to receive your Growth Voucher is closing and if you are interested then you need to apply by 31st March 2015. If you’re successful you’ll have until 3 months from the date of issue to claim the voucher.
Where Can I Get a Voucher?
To apply for your Growth Voucher head over to the Growth Vouchers programme website and apply.
I’ve Got a Voucher, Now What?
Then get in touch!
For the past few months i’ve been waking up early. For those who don’t know I run my little creative design studio from a home office which means I can simply fall out of bed, grab a shower, make a cup of coffee and start working straight away. No commute, no problem! Most business operate from 8:30-9:00am which is when my phone usually starts ringing and my inbox starts to fill up with client queries. This means that mornings when I have a lot of work to do can get rather congested with a combination of emails, phone calls and of course the project i’m working on. Mornings like that are never good and set you up for a bad day. But I found a little solution.
For the past few months i’ve been waking up around 5:00 – 6:00am.
One morning I was rudely awaken by my cats who thought that 5am was a perfectly good time to demand breakfast. So, begrudgingly, I woke up, went downstairs and fed the little idiots. But, instead of going back to bed and struggling to get back to sleep I decided to fire up my Mac and do a bit of work. Being a ‘non-morning’ person I hated it. Sitting there in the autumn moonlight, I nursed a hot cup of coffee and went through my morning tasks. I should have hated it, however, by waking up that little bit earlier I realised that I was able to get a fair few bits done that if done after 9:00am would probably take me 3 times as long. So I’ve started to get up a little early most days and my productivity has risen. I don’t get up early every day but I do it most days and it’s become a habit. Here are a few benefits i’ve found from waking up early.
First thing I do when I start my day? Go through my emails. I’ll spend a little while going through my inbox reading anything interesting, unsubscribing from nuisance emails and replying to clients. The beauty of replying to emails early is that my clients have response’s in their inbox when they get into the office at 9am.
I’m in the process of writing a book and a couple of ebooks (that will be given away free for newsletter subscribers) and i find the best time to write is in the mornings before the world wakes up. With a good cup of coffee in hand and my scribbled notes that I make during the previous day, I spend an hour or so writing. Being uninterrupted by phone calls means I can really keep my train of thought and get a fair bit of work done.
Get S–t Done
Quite simple, by getting a 2-3 hour jump on the world I’m able to spend an extra 2-3 hours a day on client projects or my side projects, if needs be.
Work Hard, Play Hard
Adding an extra 3 hours to the beginning of my day means I get an extra 3 hours during the day to do whatever I want. Whether that be taking an hour off to go for a walk or run, take a long lunch with my Fiancee or even finish work 3 hours early. I don’t always take the 3 hours off but it’s great to have that guilt-free option.
I firmly believe we should never stop learning. As a creative designer I personally feel I should keep myself educated on the latest design techniques or I should be learning new coding languages when I have a bit of spare time. I’ll sometimes spend a couple of hours in the morning on Treehouse teaching myself a coding language when everyone else is fast asleep.
Twitter has definitely transformed the way businesses are responding to customers, reaching new audience, offering new products and services and even converting followers and visitors into buying customers. If your business is not already on Twitter, chances are you’re missing out and will be crushed by competition in no time. Here are five reasons why you should be using Twitter for your company.
The main reason anyone should use Twitter for their business is to connect with customers. You are able to connect with almost every customer due to the simple fact that they are also on twitter and probably using it for all their communication and interactions, both with friends and other businesses. Most people check their feeds at multiple times during the day just to stay in the loop of what the accounts they’re following. Chances are if there is a customer that is angry with your business or a happy one, you will hear him or her on Twitter.
Every business always wants to know how its competition is doing and what it’s up to. This is one of the most important reasons why anyone with a business needs to use Twitter today. Twitter gives you a chance to use its search for free to spy on competition and learn a lot of things about your competitor. You can see what customers are saying about your competition and exactly what the competition is doing concerning their complaints, if any. You can then approach these customers with solutions the competition has refused to provide, connecting with them further. It’s also worth checking out the feed of a couple of companies you admire, whether they are providing a similar business to you or not, just to see how they interact with their followers.
Viral nature of Twitter
In case you have some popularity on Twitter you might understand the viral nature of twitter today. Big brands such as Nestle, Nike and Dell for instance, has been able to transform tweets into viral content through their promotional messages on the social networking platform. If you can do the same, you will have a marketing strategy you can always rely on, today and in the future. One thing to consider is that it’s never easy to predict what will and won’t become viral – remember the blue and black/white and gold dress debacle?
The beauty of social media, especially Twitter, is that no business needs to have the budget of Starbucks, Nike, Coca Cola and Dell to market their product and build an audience. Twitter allows average businesses or individuals to brand themselves on Twitter with ease. For those whose companies or brands are not recognised, it’s very important to add a little personality to your tweets to show there is a person behind the keyboard.
You are on Twitter to gain a large audience, transform customers into brand loyal visitors as well as helping to convert curious individuals into buying customers. Twitter is a great tool to help increase sales and make a lot of profit in the process. Since the messages are really short, the coupon codes, discounts and deals shared on Twitter are acted upon directly by readers and even retweeted and shared on other platforms in more ways than you could even imagine. Many companies out there will testify that Twitter is the main source of their paying customers – including us!
SEO is for any website is important. Aside from the content you create and the sites design, SEO is probably one of the most important aspects of your website. Without up to date SEO your website will gain almost zero organic traffic from search engines. Our friends over at Inmotion Hosting put together this infographic to help you conduct an audit of your websites SEO in 20 minutes. Bookmark this page and revisit it every month or so, grab a coffee and check you SEO in 20 minutes. Your website will thank you.
(If this is too complicated for yourself, drop us a line and we’ll conduct a thorough SEO check for £30)
Infographic Courtesy of InMotion Hosting
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links
So, the new year is looming and your sick and tired of your current job. Are you reading article after article about people running their own businesses? Does the prospect of being your own boss outweigh the prospect of listening to your line manager whinge at you yet again.
I was like that. I was sick of working my backside off and not getting the credit (or financial gain) i felt i deserved. So, i left my old job after 10 years and started my own company. I didn’t have a clue what i was doing and, to be honest, i still don’t. One year on i’m still going strong. I survived the first year of business and the second year is looking really promising. My finances are starting to look more positive and – most importantly – I’m happy.
I think you should start you’re own business; a business centered around your hobby or area of interest
Now, i’m not going to tell you what business you should start because that’s not my field of expertise, but i will tell you how to get your business online and looking professional. I’ll also be teaching you how to find your first few potential clients online using tools you’re already using and how to run your business efficiently and effectively using software that will make your life easier.
Through a series of posts this month i’ll take you step by step so that you can be ready to launch you’re new business online on the first of January.
OK, so let’s say you have your idea for a business. Perhaps you do a little painting and decorating for friends and family, then why not start your own decorating business! Are you an avid horse rider? Maybe you’re looking to start your private riding school? Love to plan a party? Start your own event organising business for weddings and birthdays? Whatever your idea you need to do some legwork before hand – do some research into what insurance you need, if you proficient enough to create a business from or whatever.
Once you know what you’re doing with your business then, go and see a company to help you start your business. My friends over at Restwell Business Services will help you to register your business and help to find funding should you need it.
Build yourself a Website
I may be prejudice but I think every business needs a website. Whether it’s a simple single page site or a more complex multi page website, you need an online presence of some description. At the very least you need to let potential customers know that you exist, what you do and how to get in touch with you.
Don’t use a free Website Builder
If you’ve just read the above, you might be thinking of going to a one of the ‘build-your-own-website’ providers that are popping up everywhere. Don’t!
Why, you ask? Because those builders are the microwave meal of the website world. The image on the packaging of ready meal shows a mouthwatering meal that will tantalise the taste-buds but what you’ll actually get is a pile of slop on the plate that provides little in the way of nutrition. Would you buy from a business with a website that’s the equivalent of a pile of slop? No? Neither would I. Plus, you’re website may not rank to well either – meaning you don’t get any business.
So what’t the alternative? Spend hundreds or thousands on a professional designer? Nope! For a small layout of less than $80 you can build a stunning website of your own. And we’ll show you how.
For clients looking to update their website themselves we always recommend WordPress. WordPress is a Content Management System, or CMS from here on out, that essentially lets you add content as and when you like. It’s a very powerful tool and in combination with a range of powerful plugins you’ll be able to create an effective site that can turn visitors into customers. You can download WordPress for free and it take 5 minutes to install. Some hosting providers do offer a one click installation of WordPress which is very helpful so keep an eye out for it!
Is that the only tool available?
No, not all. There a plethora of options open to you but if it’s good enough for The New York Times, Ebay and Sony then it’s good enough for us! In fact, we run our own website on WordPress.
Is WordPress easy to use?
Like learning any software on a computer it can take a few minutes to find your way around but i always tell my clients that if you can use word processing software or you can upload photos to Facebook then you shouldn’t have any issues with WordPress.
Secure Your Name
Your domain name is important. It needs to represent your business and should match your business name, but at the same time it shouldn’t be too long or difficult to spell. Try to go for something catchy that people will remember and will easily be able to navigate back to.
.com or .co.uk?
The age old question of .com or .co.uk is a tough one but personally i would buy both if possible and simply redirect one to the other. Of course, if your business is solely running in the UK then a .co.uk is sufficient enough but .com does give the air of being a larger, international company in some cases.
There are numerous ways to go with a domain name and i think the best thing is to go to a domain name registrar and see what’s available (it’s a free service). But which domain registrar to use? Here are some of my preferred and trusted domain registrars.
Domains from £3.49
1&1 is definitely a front-runner when it comes to low prices, but they’ve also got tons of added value bonuses that come with registration. Buy a one-year registration and you’ll get a five-page domain parking package, an email account with 2GB of storage, and free private domain registration to shield your personal info from prying eyes. They also offer free domain transfers if you’re looking to switch over from another registrar. Learn more here
Domains from £3.49
Perhaps the most well-known registrar in the business, GoDaddy is both loved and hated. On the one hand, people love it for it’s relatively cheap package deals and abundant promotional codes that can be used to get deep discounts. On the other hand, some users criticize the service for its aggressive advertising and upselling practices. Regardless, we like them for their fast customer service and wide variety of domain registration/web hosting bundles. Learn more here
Domains from £4.83
If their name didn’t already give it away, you probably gathered that this site offers simple domain name registration services for relatively low prices — but that’s not the only reason they made the list. They’ve also gained a reputation for providing excellent customer service, and they offer a wide range of different package deals to suit just about every user. Learn more here
So you’ve bought your domain name and now you need hosting. Many domain registrars offer hosting for a little extra but you need to be wary of this as sometimes there are limitations such as bandwidth, storage space, security, etc. I personally recommend to use a dedicated hosting company as in the long run, it’s more effective. Plus, do you have or want two websites or more? Some hosting companies allow you host multiple websites on a single account – perfect if you and a family member or friend both need to hosy a website
There are numerous hosting providers available but i’ve highlighted 3 great hosting companies that we recommend to our clients.
Hosting from £1.95
HostPapa is an affordable hosting provider who are geared towards small businesses and personal websites. Boasting 99.9% uptime (meaning you’re site won’t go offline pretty much ever), offering unlimited storage and fantastic customer support means they are worth every penny. Also, Hostpapa were one of the first hosting providers to offset all of our power consumption with eco-friendly, green energy sources. Learn more here
Hosting from $3.24 (Business Plan)
Hostgator is a well-known web host with years of experience & recognition in the web hosting world with a large base of customers that love them. HostGator offers a variety of plans suitable for any website, which makes them a great, all-purpose web host. HostGator can be a bit pricey, but has lower pricing tiers with longer term plans, such as 3 years, which are great for small businesses. They also have solid performance and features, plus have shared hosting capabilities meaning that you can host multiple sites on one subscription plan. Learn more here
Hosting from $29 a month
WPEngine is VIP WordPress hosting. Their hassle-free hosting offers fast and robust servers that can handle anything. Your website is pretty much hack proof, and their customer service is second to none. They offer automatic security updates, daily backups, one-click restore points, automatic caching, top-tier security, and more. WPEngine is like having an army of WordPress experts on your side for assistance. If you simply want to upload your site and not have to deal with to much technical stuff, then WPEngine is the for you. Although more expensive that the other solutions, it’s probably the best solution for a business. Learn more here
Make your site look good
So you’ve now you’ve got your domain name and you’re hosting sorted. Now you need to install WordPress (if you haven’t already) and find a suitable theme. WordPress comes with a preloaded theme or two but they are hundreds of thousands of themes that can be used.
Don’t use free themes!
There are plenty of free themes out there and each one is ok for your website, but you don’t want an OK website, you want an amazing website. Anything that helps you to stay ahead of the competition is a bonus and so investing a few shekels in a premium theme will ensure you’re website will more than likely look better than a rivals. Plus, with many themes providers you get fantastic support should you have an issues.
Who would we recommend?
Themes from $28
Since it’s founding in 2007, ThemeForest has gone on to become the most popular WordPress Theme marketplace with around 4800 Premium WordPress Themes available for all size budgets. The WordPress themes are built by world-class developers so you know your paying for a durable, well built theme. Learn more here
Themes from $59
Head up by Brian Gardner, a self-taught web designer, Studiopress is a pioneer in the premium WordPress theme industry. They dedicate most of their time updating and upgrading their existing themes to fix bugs and compatibility issues so you can be assured of the quality of their themes. As well as the quality theme you also get a solid support community that can help you quickly customise your theme and fix any problems you might encounter. Learn more here
$69 a year
ElegantThemes have been around since 2008 has been sticking to their principles of creating top notch WordPress Themes. They are the only provider which is ranked in the top 3 in all 3 categories (coding, functionality, and graphic design). With over 80 Themes to choose from at a price of $69 per year, it certainly is a the best bang for your WordPress buck. ElegantThemes are out theme providers of choice. Learn more here
Logo and Content
Once you have you website you’ll need to fill that website with content and of course you’ll need a logo. I always advise people to invest in their logo by employing a real designer to create you branding but of course. For the moment you probably just need something simple. Ask around, you may have a family member or friend who can design a simple temporary logo that will be suitable for a few months until business picks up. But then please, please, please go to a professional to work on your branding. A business without branding is like a burger without the bun – incomplete.
You also have to be mindful that you’re website needs content (or copy). You need to write about you’re company and why you’re better than everyone else – basically. For the moment you could just pop up a single page (or landing page) that has a bit of blurb, your new logo and a way for them to contact you. Further down the line you can start to fill up the other pages but for the time being just get you’re site online. If you’re not too confident with the writing copy side of things (like myself) then employ someone to do it. A good copywriter will be able to sell your company to customers better than yourself. You can actually find cheap copywriters on websites like Fiverr, Elance and PeoplePerHour for very little.
We’ll set you up for free…
Once you’ve chosen your hosting plan, bought your domain name and picked a professional theme you can start to piece the site together. It shouldn’t take more than 2 hours all told and it’s not all the difficult. But, should you run into difficulties drop us a line and we might set it up for free. As long as you chose one of our preferred partners from above we’ll assist with setting up your blog/website. If that sounds of interest or you have any questions then drop us a line
Sounds like too much effort?
If this sounds like too much effort then why not take a look at our pay monthly website deals starting at £25 a month.
Coming in Part 2
How to get noticed online and finding your first customers…
*There are affiliate links in this post.