Category Archives: Internet Marketing

Zero Spend on Marketing since 2008

money-for-nothingI quit a well paid, pensionable job in WIT in 2007 to start my own business.  I was a principle investigator / lead researcher on various projects in the TSSG and brought in lots of funding based on my ideas.

I left the TSSG and went on the SEEPP programme, which was ideal as it offered a level 9 qualification as well as time to develop an idea and a small grant to cover the cost of the day we spent on the course each week.  During that time I developed slang.ie (which needs an overhaul), a book entitled ‘For Focal Sake‘ and a business plan to take the enterprise forward and globalise it. Sadly, I didn’t get the grant funding I required to progress my business afterwards from Enterprise Ireland even though I won the best startup at the South East Enterprise awards that year. 

Slang.ie made some money from google ads and through book sales but it wasn’t enough to sustain a family in Ireland so I had to supplement this with other work so I began contracting out my web development skills.  I had done some work previously obviously with my own projects www.upthedeise.com and www.slang.ie so I knew my way around SEO and viral marketing over facebook.  So I set up UTD Web Design and Waterford Web Design.ie

What I had that maybe some others in the industry did not have is a keen insight into Search Engine Optimisation, and a process that really works.  I implemented a basic SEO plan for both websites and since then I have spent absolutely nothing on marketing and yet I am constantly getting leads through my site.  On many occasions I have turned away business.

What I did was got to the best position for my main key phrases e.g. Waterford Web Design and a many others.    I’ve also blogged on non-related topics that get people in and aware of the brand too.  Only a week ago a client told me they picked my service because I was in the top position (on the advice of  a friend).  They reckoned that if my site was being found so would theirs.

I suppose the disadvantage of not needing to advertise is that it means that I don’t engage as much as I should with local businesses at networking events etc. but I find that any spare time I have is better spent focussing on my own fitness and vitality because I need to stay fit an healthy to provide for my family for the foreseeable future, unless my next big idea really kicks off.

To be honest, I am earning comparable money to what I earned in research, but my quality of life now is 100 times better.  I am not chasing any sort of different life to what I have, I’m thankful for every moment of it, for being healthy, strong and being able to enjoy moments with friends and family every day.  I really appreciate my clients, old and new and most of them understand that if I’m not available, I’m probably up jumping into a lake in the comeraghs or lifting kettlebells or enjoying a coffee in Kilmeaden Cake Supplies or the Holy Cross, or working hard on a niggly bit of code for another client or doing my tax returns (grrrrr!).

I am so thankful.

Urgent information for those seeking Financial Assistance for Website Development in Waterford

If you are interested in getting financial grant assistance to help you do business online then then you need to book a place at the information morning being held in Dungarvan on Thursday the 26th of June. As part of the National Digital Strategy the Local Enterprise Office are hosting a Digital Voucher Information morning in Dungarvan Enterprise Centre, from 8am to 1pm (free of charge).

The Digital voucher process is competitive and there are €62,500 worth of vouchers available in Waterford for this Pilot phase. In order to be eligible to apply for a voucher, you need to book a place on the Digital Voucher Information Morning in Dungarvan, Waterford.  Places are limited to 50 so book now.

Why the Initiative?

According to the LEO, there is an “ever increasing towards online spending it is estimated that only 23% of small Irish businesses are engaged in any meaningful way in eCommerce sales… It is now believed that of online purchases made in Ireland that 70% of these are done in overseas markets.”

With this in mind, The National Digital Strategy aims to get a further 2,000 businesses trading online by the end of 2015. The Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) has launched an Online Trading Voucher Programme and has teamed up with the Local Enterprise Offices to deliver this to Irish business. Following a successful first pilot phase in Dublin City, a wider pilot will now take place and businesses from Waterford can now apply.

Who can Apply?

Businesses in Waterford that wish to trade online or uprgrade their existing online presence are encouraged to attend the information morning to learn more about the scheme and to become eligible to apply for the voucher.

According to the LEO: “There is now an urgency to ensure that businesses recognise that this is happening and that they are encouraged and supported to correctly respond to this digital reality.”

What can the vouchers be used for?

  • IT consultation;
  • Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website;
  • Implementing Online payments or booking systems;
  • Purchase of Internet related software;
  • Purchase of online advertising (this purchase cannot make up any more than 30% of approved Voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase);
  • Developing an app (or multiplatform webpages);
  • Implementing a digital marketing strategy i.e. Social media marketing;
  • Consultation with ICT experts for early stage adopters of online strategy;
  • Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an on-line trading activity.

What Assistance is Available

  • Vouchers will be available to a maximum value of €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenditure (Net of VAT), whichever is the lesser;
  • Voucher approval must be gained prior to incurring any expense;
  • Own labour is not an eligible expense;
  • Third party costs only will be considered;
  • All third party/supplier invoices must contain proper business details (e.g. Tax and Business Registration details).

Conclusion

If you are a local business and have an eCommerce/Booking/Sales element to your web site, you need to attend this information morning.  Book your place at the Digital Voucher Information Morning in Dungarvan, Waterford, today.

Please share/pass on this post to anybody you know that is thinking of building a site urgently as places are limited.  If you’re not in you can’t win.

Top 10 Tips for Self Publishing a Book

10-tips-self-publishingI was asked recently on Linked In some questions about publishing a book. Maybe you’ve made a resolution to publish the book that you’ve always had at the back of your mind?

The biggest decision you have to make when you wish to publish a book is whether to self-publish or not.  If you decide to go with a publishing company, and your book gets accepted by them a lot of the work is taken off your hands but so too is a lot of the profit, and rightly so because work should be rewarded through sharing profit fairly.

As a self published author of several irish slang books, I wanted to share my experience of writing and publishing my own books. The first book that I published back in 2007 was a book entitled “The Deise Dictionary of Waterford Slang.”

Here is the list of steps that I went through to get the book published and my tips for each stage:

  1. Research with Passion: Before writing a book you must research the topic adequately and become passionate about it, otherwise the book will not be written because the effort required is far more than you initially realise.
  2. Make a Plan:  You’ve got to have a plan for the book, content, chapters etc. etc.  In order to formulate a plan you should talk to others too.  I had great help from Tom Fewer of Ballylough Books to help me plan my first book.
  3. Write it:  Open up your word processor and begin writing.  It probably helps at this point if you format the page size of your word processor to match the dimensions of the book you want to write.  There will be less fiddling about at the end if you do.  Consider margins etc.  Perhaps even talking to a printing company at this point might be a good idea!  They will provide you with exact page dimensions and optimum margin widths.
  4. Review it:  You should get several third parties to go through the book to help correct grammar and other mistakes.  If it’s a novel you’re writing, this is especially important.  For me the most important thing was consistency.
  5. Design it:  Once you have the content written you need to design a cover, and maybe get some graphic design work done on the inside pages too. It’s probably best to employ a freelance designer for this or perhaps your printing company will have someone that can do this for you at a good rate.
  6. Get an ISBN number:  You need to apply to Nielson to get yourself an ISBN number. When I bought them I received a block of 10 that I can still use.  You then need to convert the ISBN number to a barcode.  Generally you can employ a company to do this for you, they will charge maybe €50 and you can pass it on to your printing company.  There are free tools online to create bar codes such as: http://www.terryburton.co.uk/barcodewriter/generator/
  7. Print It: You then need to go to a printing company and get the book printed and bound. Go to several as prices vary quite a bit.  They will help you choose the right format, paper quality and will give you a price. Normally the more you print the cheaper it gets per unit.   Before you print the final copy you will need to go through a proof of the book and fix any last minute mistakes.  If you’re sending physical copies of the book across the globe, consider the weight of the paper too.
  8. Publicise it: Once the book is printed you need to publicise it.  Create a buzz on social media, send copies to local media, papers, get a celebrity to champion it. I asked my school friend and magician Keith Barry (host of Tv3 show Brainhacker) to launch my book, which he graciously did for me.  In my case it was picked up by local and national media, including Ryan Tubridy, which was fantastic for sales.  The Deise Dictionary created such a buzz it actually sold out locally that Christmas (2000 copies). I managed to get a second batch printed quickly, and it kept selling well into January which is highly unusual.
  9. Get it on Shelves: I suppose publicity and placement in shops are a bit “chicken and eggish”  it needs to be in the shops before you publicise but it also needs to be publicised before shops will take it.  When it is in the shop, try and ask the shop nicely to position it well.  It will sell far more if it is more visible.
  10. Sell it online.  There are lots of opportunities to get your book promoted online via blogs, news sites, social media, youtube, discusssion forums and so on.  Consider your target market and where they are.  This is where you need to be.  You could create a site to sell the book via PayPal or get it on Amazon and other book selling sites.

Generating Profit

To make profit from a self-published book is difficult.  In order to get it printed you are looking at a cost of maybe 20% of the sale price.  Then you will need a distributor.  Argosy and Eason charged me in the region of 50+%, which included the shops commission.  If you are distributing yourself, typically, a shop will charge 20%-40% commission to sell your creation.

My advice on publishing therefore, is:

  • If you are exclusively selling locally and you can distribute yourself, then if you sell all of your books you can expect to earn potentially 40-50% of the the sale price.  If you go through
  • If you are selling nationally you will need a distributor, in this case if you sell all of your books you can expect to earn potentially 30% of the sale price.
  • If you go international, through a publisher, a lot of work will be taken off your hands in terms of publishing, printing, distribution, but you can expect a lot less than 30%. You will still need to do a lot of the promotion yourself.

Some more tips on selling your book online:

for-focal-sake-thumbThese days you can sell your book online also.  Consider creating a web page or blog to go along with your book and selling it online via PayPal.  For one of my books “For Focal Sake-A 32 County Guide to Irish Slang” I created a website to collect Irish slang from across the country.  I then published the book on the site and it’s promoted to this day via search engine optimisation.  If someone searches for a slang term and finds slang.ie, they are possibly someone in my target market.  Through this I have managed to sell this and my other slang books quite successfully.  Of course paypal take a small cut of the sale price and you have to add on shipping costs, but generally you can absorb these costs a bit better for your customer because you are not paying a large comission to get the book onto a shelve and you don’t have to worry about distributing, besides sending the items at your local post office.

If your book is something that people can relate to and you can provide extra information on a blog, some of your content could potentially go viral through social sharing (like button, pinterest pin, linkedin share, google+ etc).  This is a really good way of getting the word out there, but it isn’t easy to be successful.  You have got to find a niche and it has to be sharable, and you need to find a way to get the sharing process kickstarted. Also, once your book becomes popular, don’t forget channels such as Amazon for selling and getting reviews.  Send your book to popular blogs in your target market for review.

Happy writing and best of luck!

Tips when Picking an SEO Consultant or Firm

If you haven’t built a site yet, then make sure you talk to SEO experts before building your site! SEO should not be an afterthought!

Lately, I’ve been asked to assist companies more and more with their Search Engine Optimisation. The first thing I ask is why they are not consulting with the firm that built their website? In most cases it comes down to price but also they want to independently verify the work that was done by their web development firm.

The first thing I tell clients is that they shouldn’t expect their website firm to have done much SEO work if they didn’t explicity ask/pay for it. Invariably it is the case that the minimum will be done and sometimes they just don’t have expertise in the area. Most firms put some basic effort into SEO but beyond that, nothing is done. However, if companies charge for it, I’d expect a little bit more and a report of what has been done.

If you are not happy with your site’s SEO and you are seeking an SEO consultancy firm then I suggest you follow these tips:

  1. Understand the basics of SEO yourself, read books, go online, do some research before meeting a consultant
  2. Ask your business networks do they know SEO consultants that have made a difference for them
  3. Ask SEO consultancy firms for the best examples of their work
  4. Be careful that the SEO firm doesn’t have other clients in your niche area, would there be a conflict of interest?
  5. Make sure the service they are providing is clear and what they will need from you
  6. Make sure and get clear reports based on your analytics data
  7. Make sure the price is not ridiculous. In Ireland I’ve heard of some companies charging 1500 per day! That kind of spend would get you a lot of clicks through PPC advertising

In my professional opinion an SEO consultant should be able to assist you with the following:

  • Keyword Analysis
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Website Audit
  • Suggest or make changes to your site (sometimes they might not be willing to update the site)
  • Link Building or Link Suggestions (sometimes best to do link building in house)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Advertising Advice
  • Deciphering Analytics and Monitor Improvements

Most of these tasks can be done in house at a fraction of the rates an SEO consultant will charge you, so in my opinion, do what you can yourself based on your SEO consultants advice, however if you do require expertise to fulfil a specific task outsource that aspect of it (e.g. link building, site re-build etc.)

What is Internet Marketing?

Internet Marketing is a buzzword thrown around today like an old basket ball. It’s important if you have a business website to understand the basics so that you can score three pointers on your competitors.

Essentially it is any activity performed online that promote your product or service.

Here is a list of the top most critical Internet Marketing Activities:

  1. Search Engine Optimisation: You have to ensure that your website has the correct keywords embedded within it to have a chance of being shown on the search engine results page.
  2. Google Pay Per Click Advertising or Google Adwords: Using Google Keyword Research you can pay for your site to appear on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Be careful here as you can pay a fortune for ads that aren’t optimised and remember to ditch terms that aren’t giving you a return. These ads can also appear on websites that use Google Adsense.
  3. Facebook Pay Per Click Advertising: Facebook advertising is very exciting for certain businesses as you can target customers by age, location, sex etc. It can be expensive but if you get a customer to join your facebook page you have access to them potentially indefinitely.
  4. Affiliate Marketing: Often there’s a website out there that provides information to your target market. It might be worth offering them a percentage of your profit if they can generate significant sales for you. There are many third party services that link affiliates with merchants such as TradeDoubler. If it’s a niche you could update your site to track who has generated sales for you.
  5. Social Media interaction: It is important to engage with your consumers in a non-salesy way so that they learn to trust you. Building up this kind of relationsip will influence a customer when it comes to future purchase decisions.
  6. Add facebook like button to your site: If people like what you’re offering they may well share it on facebook if you make it easy for them to do it.
  7. Google Places: Don’t forget to add your site to Google Places otherwise know as Google Local Business Centre. When people do local searches these results often do better than regular SERP entries.

There are lots more things that you can do to market your product or service online. This is just a taster of some of the more important Internet Marketing techniques that I use on a daily basis.