November 30, 2007

Two NEW Classes for Winter 2008



I'm excited to announce two brand new classes for our Winter 2008 calendar:

1. SEO for Everyone - In order to achieve high rankings on search engines, you need to know and use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Join us for this teleclass where we cover some of the most important things you can do to improve your search rankings.

2. Marketing To Women - In order to grow your business, you must understand women's lifestyles and what are their specific wants, needs and desires. In this teleclass you will learn to re-define your marketing strategy and re-design your marketing copy to speak directly to women.


November 28, 2007

Rate My Site: KenyonCoaching.com


Website Review for
Ignite Your Life With Kenyon Coaching

http://www.kenyoncoaching.com/



#1. Authority. In the business of coaching, WHO you are as a coach, your philosophy, and credentials are of the utmost importance to prospective clients. While you do have a "The Coaches" page, it doesn't have the power and focus it could have because there are too many options on the page. People have to choose between learning about Allan, about Barbara, seeing testimonials, and scheduling a complimentary session. A confused mind always says No and navigates away. Consider simplifying the choices; perhaps create a new page called "Success Stories" where you can house all your testimonials.

#2. Authority - Part II. Once you click through to About Allan or About Barbara, the information does not give the prospect a sense of who you are and what you’re about. It is a basic listing of credentials, education, people you’ve worked with, and hobbies. What about who you are and what makes you the right person for the prospective client? How can you make them feel more connected to you?

Consider a personal story or experience from your own life that drives home who you are and why you do what you do. Or expand the Life Changing Events section to really tell them what shaped you and why you are a coach.

#3. Benefits. Whenever a prospect visits a website, they want to know "What's in it for me?" That is, what are the benefits to me of what you offer and why should I hire you over another coach.

On your home page you only ask two questions: “Would I Like to Have Someone Totally Committed to My Success?” and “Is Kenyon Coaching for Me? While both are great questions, the information is far too general and brief to offer a prospect any really feel for what you do and the benefits your coaching offers. Expand upon the content so it is personally compelling to the visitor and uniquely answers the question "What makes Kenyon Coaching different and what will it do for me?" Answer the question: "What IS attraction based coaching?"

#4. Your Library Page. Your library page renders fine in Internet Explorer. However, in Firefox and Netscape, it looks like this:





It's critical that your website designer test your entire site using the most popular browser software: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.

A consistent look and feel throughout your website is crucial not only for branding but also for user experience. It appears that the library is attempting to use a blog format for information. Either make the library consistent with the other pages, or call it a "blog" and use the built-in features with proven blog platforms (Wordpress, Blogger, TypePad) to derive full benefit from these activities.


#5. Search Engine Optimization. You indicated that one of your keywords is "attraction based coaching." However, on your home page, this text is inside a graphic. Search engines cannot read text inside graphics, so you lose the opportunity for SEO if you place your keywords inside of graphics.

Because much of your site is in Flash, search engines may have a hard time reading and indexing the text into their database. To see how search engines "see" your site.

Also, read our article, Getting Your Site Seen by Search Engines:

#6. Copywriting. There is not enough description on the site about what coaching is and how coaching can benefit the client.

Tucked away on the Contact page, you offer a motivational workshop. You need more text around this offer. Describe the workshop, who should attend, and what they will get from participating in the workshop.

Finally, you have a page devoted to your book, but it says "coming soon." How soon? If you're not ready to sell it, remove this page from your site until you really have something to offer.


#7. Overall Visual Impression. The visual impression is one of darkness, the dominant color being black, combined with vivid contrasting colors (red & yellow for text and graphics). Such high contrast gives a jarring visual impression.

The website color theme doesn’t psychologically match how you convey yourself in "The Coaches" section. Barbara describes herself as "happy, sensitive, intuitive, supportive, friendly, funny, down-to-earth, warm…." Allen describes himself as "motivational, sense of humor, positive and realistic, high standards, patient…."

Think about what colors and design convey these positive, warm, friendly and motivational qualities.

#8. Text Color. White text on a dark background is harder to read than dark text on a lighter background.

#9. Header Logo Size. The header logo takes up a large portion of the screen, especially at lower screen resolutions, so losing valuable space on the webpage to the graphic. Consider shrinking the size of the graphic to allow more marketing text to be seen "above the fold."

#10. Navigation Bar. The navigation bar changes vertical and horizontal position between pages, which is visually distracting, as the bar appears to jump from page to page. Clicking on The Library link changes the theme, color and size of the graphics. Look for steady position and consistent navigation across all web pages.

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How about our readers? Do you have any comments about this site? Please post them below and help our business owners create the best site they can.


Want your site reviewed for free? Visit our blog entry on our Rate My Site - Website Reviews for Charity to learn more.
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ABOUT OUR REVIEWERS

Karyn and Aly Greenstreet are the owners of Passion For Business. They offer full website reviews as well as business and technology consulting to the self-employed small business owners.

Using her signature down to earth and "plain English" approach to website design, Paula Gregorowicz works with small and solo business owners to make the web work for them so their online presence is a true reflection of who they are.

November 20, 2007

What Should You Pay For Help?


A colleague recently asked me what she should expect to pay a Virtual Assistant. Another colleague asked me the going rate for a Website Designer. Someone asked me if they could get a Copywriter for less than $10 an hour.

As your business grows it become apparent that you can't do it alone. Finding skilled consultants and assistants greatly increases your efficiency and your revenue. This is one area where the maxim "You get what you pay for" applies.

Before worrying about the cost of getting help, first decide what you want your help to do for you. I've written two articles that may help you with this process:

While these are just two of the possible types of consultants you'll want to hire, the process is the same for thinking through what work you want them to do, what skills you want them to have, and what personality type you work best with.

Then you can begin thinking about what to pay them. It's natural for a small business owner to want to save money, but you'll be disappointed if you hire someone at a low hourly rate only to find that they either can't do the work or their quality and timeliness suffers.

Think about it this way: these sub-contractors are small business owners, too. If they charge $30 per hour, they have to work many more hours in order to make a living. Will they give you and your projects the attention they deserve? If they can't make a living, will they go out of business?

Here are some of the common fees you can expect to pay for help. As skill level rises, so does the hourly fee. Often sub-contractors will give you a discount if you commit to a certain number of hours per month (a "retainer"). Others will charge you by the project, or in the case of copywriters and transcriptionists, by the page or by the word.

  • Virtual Assistant: $35 - $70 per hour

  • Website Designer: $50 - $125 per hour

  • CPA: $125 - $150 per hour

  • Attorney: $125 - $250 per hour

  • Technology Consultant: $65 - $100 per hour

  • Business/Marketing Consultant: $100 - $200 per hour

Here are some other people you already hire, though you may never have thought about their "hourly rate" in this way:

  • Car Mechanic: $80 - $125 per hour

  • Massage Therapist: $60 - $120 per hour

  • House Cleaner: $30 - $50 per hour

  • Doctor: $200 - $300 per hour

Decide up-front whether the person you hire is an "expense" or an "investment." An investment implies that the work they do for you either directly increases your income or indirectly saves you time.

Having a support team around you can grow your business. Choose wisely and watch your business blossom!

November 14, 2007

The Importance of Kitchen-Tested Recipes


When a cook is writing a cookbook, he tests each recipe in his own kitchen to make sure the instructions are 100% accurate. He may also have friends and colleagues test the recipe, as ovens, ingredients and altitude have a sneaky way of affecting a recipe's success.

Let's relate this back to selling services and products. Regardless of your industry or area of expertise, have you "kitchen-tested" your services and products? Do you write and speak about what you know based on your real-life experience, or do you merely base it on something you read in a book? Have you tested your ideas yourself and have you asked others to test them too, before bringing these ideas to the public?

Too often I've seen small business owners rush a new service or product to market before really testing to make sure it's accurate. They use their first customers as guinea pigs without warning those same customers that they're actually testing the product or service for the first time.

Recently I signed up for a class. I was so excited to learn more about this particular topic! The class was through 100% self-paced multimedia online content. Yet, after I paid and entered the website, more than 50 percent of the content wasn't available yet. Of the content that did exist, much of it was weak and watered down, too simple for most students. Cries of "Where's the Content?" were heard from all the students.

Had the teacher told us that we were to be guinea pigs, had the teacher told us that the content was not tested and that new content would be rolled out over time, we could have chosen whether we wanted to be testers. In addition, much of the content was not based on the teacher's real-life experience but on what was read from books. When asked questions, the teacher didn't have adequate answers. The teacher came off as "not an expert," bad news for their reputation. I definitely won't buy another class from them again. Worse, I won't recommend them to others.

I know when you have a brand new product or service that you're very, very excited about it and you want to launch it immediately. Just take that little extra time to kitchen-test your ideas before you birth them into the world. It will save your reputation and your revenue for years to come.

November 7, 2007

The Green Home Office: Library Books


When was the last time you visited your local library? Remember that feeling of being surrounded by thousands of books and knowing you could take any one of them home with you?


I rediscovered my local library when we moved to the countryside two years ago. Sure, I can order business books through Amazon, but the nearest bookstore to us is 25 minutes away. So instead of trudging over to the bookstore when I wanted to see the latest business book, I went to my library. Not only did I discover a wealth of business books there, but I discovered something even more precious: I didn't really want to own all the latest business books.


So now, I go to the library, check out the business books that interest me, read them for three weeks, then decide if I want them in my personal library. Most business books can be read in a couple of evenings and don't have enough real "meat" in them to warrant needing to read them again. In the past two years, only 10% of the business books I read do I go ahead and purchase for inclusion in my personal library. I love the idea of being able to preview books at my leisure.

They also have a full stock of books-on-tape and DVD movies, everything you could want for both your business and personal needs.

This is great for the environment, too! Why waste the paper and processing of a book for each person when it's so much better for the environment to share a book among many?

November 1, 2007

Rate My Site: RedResource.com


Website Review for
Red Resource: Red Coach
http://www.redresource.com/







#1. Let's start with SEO – Search Engine Optimization. You say that you want to be known for these phrases: Professional Coaching, Executive Coaching, Work Performance Coaching, Workplace Coaching. However, the only phrase I see consistently throughout your website is Work Performance Coaching. According to Overture's keyword tool, 465 people searched on this phrase last month; but if I type that phrase into Google, your site is rated #11 (page 2) of the results. There are many other SEO techniques that you are not using which could move you to page 1 of the results. If you want more traffic through search engines, you'll need to significantly bolster the SEO work on your site.

#2. The About page. I expected it to be all about the services you offer. Instead, one-third of it talks generally about coaching services and two-thirds talks about you. Keep in mind the well-known "marketing test" of any website: What's In It For Me? (WIIFM). Visitors want you to focus on them, not on you. They want to know that you understand their needs, challenges and dreams, and that you offer a specific approach to getting what they want. I would recommend that you move some of your "Want To Do Your Job Better?" text and your "Want To Be Your Best Self At Work?" text to the About page. (It might help to remember that pages titled "About" are almost always about the company or individual who is the owner of the site. Perhaps a better navigation title for this page would be "Coaching," not "About.") In fact, I would create a new navigation at the top called "Coaching" and move the "Costs" section under "Coaching." The new navigation across the top would then be: Home, Coaching, About, Contact.

#3. Testimonials. I like that you have testimonials scattered throughout your site. However I noticed that they are not on every page. In addition, is there any way to use full names instead of the client's initials? Using a person's full name attached to their testimonial leads to a deeper sense of trust. Also consider highlighting these testimonials in some way so that they stand out from the main text.

#4. Color. I found the white text on a black background very difficult to read. I know you're going for a specific "look and feel" with your black and red color choices, but ease-of-reading must be a consideration if you want people to stick around your site. In addition, red and black are associated with these emotions



  • Red -- excitement, strength, sex, passion, speed, danger



  • Black -- sophistication, elegance, seductive, mystery

Are these adjectives part of the brand and image you're trying to portray?

#5. Your Coaching Page. First, it's too long. Second, it's too complicated. Third, it needs formatting help. Consider condensing it, taking out anything that's not necessary for your visitors. Focus on the actual benefits of coaching to an individual and to a company, and how coaching sessions work. Remember: WIIFM.

#6. Logo. I found this logo very distracting. I had to wait for it to change from "Red Resource" to "Red Coach," and I never got to see the full name of your business in this banner area – Red Resource: Red Coach. If you don't already have one, I suggest you get a logo for your business that includes your full business name. Also, there is no need for the website address in the top left corner of your site; they're already on your site. Instead, use the entire banner area to help brand you and your business.

#7. Page Not Found – Stranding Prospects. When someone types in the address to a page on your site that does not exist or when an internal link within your site is broken, it is called a 404 Error. That means the page cannot be found. For your site, your "Page Not Found" page is blank. This leaves your visitor, a potential customer stranded with nowhere to go. This is a fine time to use a custom 404 error page which would either give the user worthwhile information and a means to click back to your site and/or simply redirect the user to your home page.

#8. Contact Page. You indicate that the purpose of your website is to help prospects find and contact you. However, on your site, prospects have to work hard to contact you. While you do have a contact page, it is complicated and intimidating.






Making a prospect answer numerous questions is off-putting. A confused mind always says no and does not act. In addition, the phone number is hidden at the bottom of the contact page and no indication is given as to the general geographic location of your business so people don’t know where you are located.

#9. Contact Information. In addition to improving the contact page itself, it pays to have your contact information visible on every page of your site. At a minimum, have a way for prospects to contact you via email on every page within your site. Ideally, include your phone number in the footer as well. Even if you simply have an “Email Us” or “Contact Us” link on the footer of each page, it minimizes the effort and resistance a potential customer feels when they get the urge to learn more and contact you.

#10. Design Consistency and Ease of Use. As already mentioned, the white text on black background with bright red bolded text is very difficult to read and deters visitors from reading and learning more. Your site uses an external stylesheet (CSS) to keep the formatting consistent across the site which is a good "best practice." However, the use of bold red to emphasize words and then the regular red with underline to indicate links is very confusing. I found myself hovering over red words everywhere, hoping they would link to more information -- but they did not. Consider reworking the color and design scheme in a way that enhances readability, makes it clear what is/is not a link while maintaining the brand.







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How about our readers? Do you have any comments about this site? Please post them below and help our business owner create the best site she can.

Want your site reviewed for free? Visit our blog entry on our Rate My Site - Website Reviews for Charity to learn more.

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ABOUT OUR REVIEWERS

Karyn and Aly Greenstreet are the owners of Passion For Business. They offer full website reviews as well as business and technology consulting to the self-employed small business owners.

Using her signature down to earth and "plain English" approach to website design, Paula Gregorowicz works with small and solo business owners to make the web work for them so their online presence is a true reflection of who they are.


Free 10-Point Website Reviews for Charity


If your website isn't giving you the results you want, you've come to the right place! We're instituting a FREE 10-point website review for small business owners.

Your only cost is a donation to the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Your 10-point website review will include ten specific suggestions to improve your site, including usability, page layout and design, copywriting and marketing message, SEO, color choice, logo design, and technical compatibility. Reviews are conducted by three website and internet marketing experts:

– website designer and internet marketing expert
Paula Gregorowicz – website designer and technical expert
Aly Greenstreet – usability, readability, and technical expert

Your website review will be posted publicly to our Passion For Business Blog, where our readers will give you additional comments and feedback.


We do one website review per month on a first come, first served basis.

THE CHARITY

Donations will go to the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (http://www.nfte.com/), where they help young people to find a pathway to prosperity through teaching small business skills.

NFTE works in the USA and worldwide to accomplish their mission. Here is a definition of their work from their website:

"Through entrepreneurship education, NFTE, which is also referred to as Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, helps young people from low-income communities build skills and unlock their entrepreneurial creativity. Since 1987, NFTE has reached over 150,000 young people, trained more than 3,700 Certified Entrepreneurship Teachers, and continually improved its innovative entrepreneurship curriculum."




HOW THE WEBSITE REVIEWS WORK
[Note: Thank you for your interest in this project. We've had a huge response to this project and lots of requests for free website reviews. We are now accepting review requests for February and March 2008.]


1. Send an email to us, answering the following questions:


  • What is the URL of your website?

  • Briefly, describe your products and/or services.

  • Who is your target audience? Be specific: gender, age, location, income levels, profession, education, challenges, needs, dreams, etc.

  • What 3 search phrases do you want to be known for? What phrases do people type into search engines to find the types of products and services you offer?

  • How many visitors per day do you currently receive to your website? (Check your actual website statistics for this number.)

  • What are the business goals for your website? (Be specific and concrete; give us numbers for visitors, phone and email leads and requests, and revenue generated from your site. Even if it's an "educated guess," take some time to calculate your desired goals.)

  • What three adjectives do you want people to use to describe you and your business?


2. Once we review your request, we will email you to notify you when your site is scheduled to be reviewed. When you receive our approval email, donate to NFTE here: www.nfte.com/donate/. Click on the text that says "Proceed to Secure Donation Page." DO NOT send money directly to Passion For Business.


3. Forward us a copy of your email receipt from NFTE so we know the donation went through.
You will be notified when your website review has been added to our blog. You can see your review on our blog.


Full Website Optimization Reviews Available


If a 10-point review simply wets your appetite to know more about your site's pros and cons, you can get a comprehensive Website Optimization Review from Passion For Business.