How do people explain using BB plugin and theme to clients? When comparing to other agencies who buy [heavily-advertised commercial theme company] themes and use demo content…
I usually say “well, I’ve found that commercial themes seem to come with a lot of extras that tend to slow things down. A lot. In practice, though, when I use the popular, well-reviewed Beaver Builder plugin and a “blank slate” theme (also from Beaver Builder.) I can reproduce anything theme you care to show me.”
Then I say “A lot of times those themes only look good if you first import all their demo content. But then you have to go back through and replace it with your content. That’s often more time-consuming than adding your content to an empty page.
Next I’ll say “In the past I had years of experience working with graphic designers and building custom themes from their Photoshop or Illustrator files. Reproducing an existing theme with a modern page builder is child’s play compared to that.
And finally I’ll say “So if you’ll show me an example of a theme you like I can quickly match it, and give you better overall performance with less bloat, more security, and more long-term flexibility as well.”
Most of our clients seem to understand this explanation. It’s been years since we’ve used anything else.
Reverse disclaimer: We don’t get money or brownie points for recommending JenniferBoylePhotography.com. Instead we wholeheartedly recommend her work because we get awesome complements for client sites that use her photos. We can take credit for sites running quickly, securely, responsively, and sustainably. But what people really notice is design, the text, and especially photos. Jenny’s portraits and “business documentary” photos make our work look great! We can’t recommend her enough.
We particularly appreciate that she’s got plans specifically for businesses, including
- Basic Session for $175, for a full-size, free-to-use studio portrait
- Full Session for $395, for an hour-long session ($40 more for on-site) for three full-size, free-to-use photos
- Branding Lifestyle for $535, for a 90-minute on-site, possibly multi-location session with 30 full-sized, free-to-use photos
It’s almost 2020 (already!) but according to a quick Google search there are up to several million websites that still have phrases like “this site is under construction” somewhere within their pages.
Now the good news is many of the top results are other people cataloging and making fun of sites that still use that 1990’s flair. The bad news is that some of the results are from people who are still offering new ways to say it on your website! Unfortunately plenty of other results are sites that… still say that. In dead earnest. Sometimes years after their site was built!
Not to beat our own horn here at RealBasics but if your site still says “under construction” somewhere we’ll be happy to fix it for you in one of these ways
- Delete the page for you — if you haven’t “constructed” the page by now then you probably never will. Let us take care of that for you.
- Finish constructing the page — maybe you’ve always meant to finish constructing the page but haven’t had time. We’ll be happy to do that for you!
- Do a full-scale assessment of your website and make recommendations for building a new one — if your site is old enough that someone wrote “under construction” on the pages then it may be out of date in other ways. We’ll be happy to help you with that too!
This is a plug for a paid-for online video blogging course. This post includes a direct link and an affiliate link to the course (you can choose either.) I recommend it highly to clients who are interested in a safe, supportive environment for learning how to do video blogging. If you’re not into that you can scroll down.
Earlier this summer I told quite a few clients about a great video-blogging course called the Ignite Video Challenge. It runs a few times a year on Facebook and she’s offering it again.
If I did mention it I probably also said that based on almost 10 years working with instructional designers at Microsoft it’s the best run and most useful online course I’ve ever seen.
The course is only $20 for four weeks. It’s all done on Facebook, in small, private groups where you get to see each other’s work, and where only positive and encouraging comments are welcome. Because everyone is nervous! I may also have mentioned how sorry I was it’s only offered a few times a year.
The good news is the course is back. Signup is this week.
Niamh (pronounced “Neve”) is unbelievably reassuring, supportive, and informative in her video instructions — her videos are usually about three minutes long with another minute or two where she practices what she’s just preached to give you an idea what she has in mind.
The main thing, though, is it’s actually really fun! And only takes maybe 10 or 15 minutes a day at the most! And you really do learn all the essentials for how to record a video, how to be yourself in front of a camera, and how to upload it to Facebook, YouTube or other video platforms.
If you’re interested you can sign up one of two ways:
You can sign up directly here
Or if you’re ok with me getting a very small commission (the price to you is the same regardless) you can use this link to signup instead
Here are the other details
- Sign Up Week: Thursday, September 5th to Wednesday, September 11th
- Closes at midnight Pacific on September 11th OR when they sell out all spots, whichever happens first.
- Challenge begins: Monday, September 16th to Tuesday, October 8th.
- Cost for the Challenge is only $20.
Let me know what you think!
Of course we do office consultation for maintenance clients. When we say you get one hour a month for standard site maintenance we mean it. Sometimes that involves fixing something that wasn’t working quite right on the back end. But sometimes it involves a one-hour strategy consultation on how to blog effectively. No, we won’t wash your car or water your plants for an hour a month, but if it’s related to your website we’re more than happy to help.
If you have really terrible hosting it can cost you
- Lost leads
- Lower search engine ranking
- Abandoned site visits
- Lost sales
- Lost customer
If you have “Inexpensive,” but really terrible hosting it can also cost you…
- Additional hours of development time
Because somebody’s got to spend time on the phone with your host’s tech support, doing extra profiling, cutting back out cool features that were added but then must be removed, lowering the quality of images so they’ll load faster, and…
Long emails explaining why your nice new site still takes forever to load on your $4.95/month hosting.
That’s going to cost you money. Up to an additional $500!
There are some very good hosting companies that cost $5 – $10 a month more… and are 5 and sometimes 10 times better than bad “cheap” hosting.
We have to care what you choose though, because we’re likely to keep working with you and supporting you. Imagine how we’d feel having to apologize month after month… like the techs at really bad hosting companies must.
We’ve been making weekly backups and software updates for our maintenance clients for a very long time. Since sometime back in 2012. We started officially in late 2013 or early 2014. We always watch for malware and software vulnerabilities and run updates as soon as developers release fixes.
When we upgrading our hardware and software earlier this year we started experimenting with doing daily off-site WordPress backups and daily WordPress plugin updates… well… daily!
We’re still doing our weekly backups, and we store those securely for at least three years. We make our daily backups separately from the weekly ones. We keep the daily backups for 14 days because, combined with our standard long-term backups, that gives us enough coverage.
We’re not yet ready to announce daily backups and updates as a guaranteed feature for our maintenance clients. Promising it would mean having someone always on standby on weekends and holidays to run software updates and to troubleshoot or roll things back in the unlikely event problems come up. If you’re one of our maintenance clients, though, or if you become one, you might like knowing that we’re taking even more care of your WordPress site… even if we’re not telling everybody about it.
I have an embarrassing fondness for Dad jokes and general nerd humor.
Also, web developers hate bugs and spiders and spiders eat bugs so… professional courtesy!
“An egotist is someone who wants to talk about themselves instead of about me.” — Ambrose Bierce
Since we tend to write alone it’s sometimes hard to remember our readers have their own ideas, intentions, wants and needs. When we forget this we’ll tend to write in terms of our wants, needs, insecurities, and interests. But as business bloggers (or any blogger for that matter) we’ll always be more successful if think instead about what our readers are thinking.
While of course we welcome readers or clients from everywhere, it turns out the most effective way to reach everybody is to write with one audience member in mind. Not because you only want to reach that one person but because it helps you focus your own writing.
Here’s an awesome checklist to help build a mental picture of who you’re writing for. It’s from Nick Schäferhoff of Torque Magazine from a larger post called Why and How to create a Content Style Guide for Your WordPress Blog
Define Your Target Audience
As mentioned, like pretty much everything on your site, the content is aimed at connecting with your audience. Of course, this is much easier, if you know who they are. So, in order to write a blog style guide, this is a good place to start.
Marketing Persona Template
Here is a short template for creating a customer persona:
Name – In order to distinguish your different personas
- Size and type of company as well as the industry they work in
- Job description and details about their role
- Responsibilities and people they answer to
- Age – Are your ideal visitors teenagers, twenty-somethings, or silver surfers?
- Gender – Does your topic or product appeal more to a male, female, straight,
LGBTQ, etc. demographic
- Income – Think of this also in terms of buying power
- Education – Also think about this in terms of computer literacy
- Family – What other roles do they fulfill, such as parents, grandparents, etc?
- Hobbies – How do they like to spend their free time?
- Interests – Blogs they read, where they get their news and so on
Goals and Challenges
- What are their life goals
- What challenges are they facing on the way?
- How can you help?
Values and Fears
- What is important to them?
- What keeps them up at night?
Even if you’re not a full-time professional blogger Nick’s entire post is worth a read since the real intention behind a blogging “style guide” is to hone your… well… blogging style. But an extra bonus for business website owners is that this and other exercises in the post can help with your marketing decisions, your customer care decisions, your product design decisions, and of course your personal interactions with your clients.
Every year SignalReview runs a series of long-term benchmark tests on a wide array of hosting companies, ranging from bottom-of-the-barrel shared hosting to very high-end enterprise hosting. I particularly appreciate this in-depth review because so many others focus entirely on the bottom-of-the-barrel, cheapest offerings from every provider. That might be fine for hobby, personal, or maybe HTML-only site owners who don’t really care about losing visitors to slow performance or losing ratings from search engines. But cheap commodity shared hosting is almost always a bad idea for businesses.
Most of our clients will be interested in the results for the $25/month and less tier. Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean “cheap.” And some of these inexpensive offerings perform very well.
It was good to see a lot of our favorites do well, and good to get confirmation about some of the stinkers out there. (Sometimes “cheap” doesn’t mean inexpensive either!)
It was also good to see some new entries. Over the next few months we’ll be reviewing some of these and adjusting our own recommendations accordingly.