10 Reasons to use Canva – UPDATED

10 Reasons to use Canva – UPDATED

I simply love technology! The amazing things we can now do with the click of a button still amazes me and graphic design is one of those areas that has long been only available to professionals. BUT, with online services such as Canva, all that has changed.

Now, before you pop me a nasty email telling me that graphic designers are awesome please note that I love them and direct clients to them when they are needed. They can create designs that I would never conceive and have creativity and skill that can never be replaced. But let’s face it, no-one is going to continually hire a professional every time they want to create a social media graphic – so I believe there is room in this world for BOTH.

With that said, here are my 10 reasons (plus 1 extra) why you should give Canva a go…

#1 It’s easy to use

Before I discovered Canva, creating images for my social media posts and websites could be a long and drawn-out process. You either needed specialist software or the online interface was slow and difficult to use.

Canva changed all of that! Their user interface is drag-and-drop and there are so many templates for you to use that you can create a gorgeous image in just minutes. Whether it’s for social media, a poster, invitation or even business cards – simplicity and speed are second-to-none.

#2 Image Library

With the free version of Canva you have access to 200,000 royalty-free images to use in your designs and that increases to over 2 million with Canva Pro. You can use the inbuilt search feature to find the perfect image for your design or upload your own images to create something completely bespoke.

#3 Awesome Templates

No matter what type of graphic you are creating, Canva has a template already set up for it. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest graphics? And, that list is growing just as quickly as the online world. You can create a post with the ideal dimensions in one click right from your homepage. And if you have the Pro version, you can even resize a design to another template instantly. It saves hours of work and is great for all types of social media campaigns you may wish to run across multiple platforms.

#4 Fonts Galore

The free version of Canva offers you a large range of fonts that you can use to personalise your designs. If you upgrade to Pro, you get an extra 500+ exclusive fonts AND you can upload your own and save them within your Brand Kit to access for all of your designs.

#5 Brand Kit

This is a feature of the Pro version and definitely one I am pleased that I have. Here you can upload your company logos, fonts and colour palettes so that they are always on hand when you create a new graphic. My palette for this website is pretty simple, but it still makes it quicker to find the right teal colour by having it at hand…

And, because you can have more that one palette, I also use this if I’m doing a large website job for a client that requires imagery so I don’t have to go searching around and manually add their details each time I need to creat something.

#6 Store your designs in Folders

This is another Canva Pro option and one that I love. I can create folders for my own work and a new folder for each of my clients. As I can create up to 100 images a week sometimes, being able to sort these and find them easily makes my job just SO much easier!

#7 Design School

A resource open to all Canva users, Design School is a series of video courses on everything from graphic design basics to branding your business. There are also short challenge videos and quick tip videos to make sure you are getting the most out of this online tool.

#8 Animations & GIFs

You can now create animated images, videos and GIFs! I simply love this and created a simple animation for my Facebook page – so much fun to do and it creates interest in a way that static images simply can’t do…

#9 Collaboration Tools

As a Canva Pro user you can add Team Members to your account and share specific designs and folders with them. This is great if you are working with a group or collaborating on designs within a business. It may not be something that everyone needs, but to have it as an option for future work is worth remembering.

#10 Transparent Backgrounds

Hate the white background that appears around each of your designs when you create a graphic? Again, Canva Pro allows you to remove the background and save your design as a transparent PNG file. This automatically removes any sections of your design that are colourless (basically the background if you haven’t used an image or a colour) so they show up on your website or over other designs without the annoying white area showing. Cool huh?!

BONUS – BACKGROUND REMOVER

Since I first wrote this blog post, Canva have added and continue to add amazing new features – like the ability to remove the background from photographs with one click if you have Canva Pro. Yes, you can now upload your images with crappy backgrounds, and in one click Canva will remove them from the image. 

With all of these reasons to give Canva a go, it only remains to say that every single graphic that I create for my own website and my clients is done in Canva Pro – my job would be A LOT more difficult without it!

Web Goddess

 

Note: this post contains affiliate links to Canva Pro and I may receive a commission when you click one of these and make a purchase. However, as with everything I recommend this does not impact my review of this product. My 10 reasons listed above are based on my own continued use of this product and this post is written to help you make the best decision for your own business.

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There is No Magic SEO Bullet

There is No Magic SEO Bullet

Sorry, I hate to burst your online bubble, but there is no magic bullet for improving your website SEO and getting you to the top spot on Google. There is no ‘trade secret’ and no way of paying someone to simply bump you up there in one day, or even one month.

Whilst I have not doubt that spending £500+ a month on an SEO service will see you rank higher and may even lead to some extra business (let’s hope it does), most small businesses simply don’t have that cash to throw at SEO. And even if you do pay for that service, do you actually know what your money is being spent on? I’m guessing the sales pitch was all a little vague…

How do I know that? Well, because I get pitched to all the time and so do my clients. No wonder it’s confusing.

You see, SEO is a really hot buzz word in the world of websites and online sales and ‘Experts’ are popping up all over the place. Why? Because everyone wants to be seen – why else would you have a website – and everyone has heard that SEO is the only way to go about it.

In a recent post I busted 5 SEO Myths and upset some of these ‘Experts’ charging HUGE amounts for SEO services in the process. I also took some of their prospective clients. Sorry, not sorry…

That’s all well and good you say, so what am I meant to do instead?

 

What’s the solution?

You need to get your business name out there and let people know what you do, but here’s the thing:

“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” – Wendy Piersall

Well said Wendy. Getting your name out there (in terms of backlinks from other sites, on social media and within your physical networks) leads to more site visitors and that makes Google sit up and notice.

So here are 3 things you can do to improve your business:

 

1. HAVE A STRATEGY

If you aren’t clear and focused about what you offer, how is anyone going to buy into what you offer too?

Get clear on what it is that you are actually selling so that when visitors find your website they are compelled to buy from you.

It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.” – Jeff Eisenberg

Spend time creating a kick-ass strategy that converts visitors into customers. Create offers, opt-ins and deals they can’t refuse. Allocate time and money to this rather than just SEO and you’ll see results that SEO alone can’t replicate.

 

2. TALK, TALK, TALK

Then, talk to anyone and everyone who will listen to what you have to say.

  • Shout about what you do on social media
  • Join an awesome business network and turn up regularly
  • Share your expertise in online groups
  • Write blog posts about what you know
  • Do a great job for the customers you already have and ask for reviews
  • Tell your friends about your business

If you’re not shouting about your business, then you can’t expect anyone else to. Get out there and get seen.

 

3. Measure your impact

Do you actually know how your website is already performing? If you don’t then how do you know if the money or time you are spending on SEO or promotion are actually working in the first place?

“You can’t just ‘SEO’ your website and be done. It’s a forever moving goal post.” – Stoney deGeyter

Get involved. Learn what your metrics are actually telling you and keep working on your site. You have to know what’s working and what’s not in terms of all aspects of your business and SEO is no different.

Remember, there is no magic bullet to SEO, but with some SMART goals and smart thinking you can have a successful business both online and offline.

Web Goddess
Is SEO really that difficult?

Is SEO really that difficult?

It’s been almost 5 years since I first posted about SEO (search engine optimisation) and gave you 5 Simple Steps to Improve your SEO. In that time, not surprisingly, things in the SEO world have moved on as technology has improved and the number of websites has increased exponentially. And along with it comes an explosion of SEO myths.

But what hasn’t changed is the constant diatribe of some so-called experts who want to keep the whole SEO world shrouded in mystery and would prefer to talk down to their clients and treat them like children, rather than actually explaining what SEO is and how THEY can make changes to improve their website ranking on search engines.

Note: when I refer to so-called experts I am NOT referring to the real experts like Neil Patel who will gladly share resources online for all of us. I mean the thankfully small group of business owners who scare their clients into buying packages they don’t need so that when those customers come to me they are wary of SEO and feel that it is beyond them.

So, I wanted to bust some SEO myths once and for all so that you can take control of your online empire and feel empowered to manage your SEO with an understanding of it rather than a fear of it.

Here are my Top 5:

Myth #1 – SEO is hard

Attitude over Aptitude - Marie Forleo quote on technologyListen, everything is hard when you don’t understand it or have no knowledge of how it works – and SEO is no different. If you are willing to dedicate some time learning what it is (and what it isn’t) and implementing even the simplest of steps, then it is just like anything else.

Don’t be put off by someone spouting technobabble at you – the key here is your ATTITUDE not your APTITUDE, as Marie Forleo so eloquently puts it…

Myth #2 – It costs thousands of pounds

Yes, you can spend lots of cash on the premium SEO plans – but that’s the same with any service. However, you don’t NEED to spend thousands of pounds on your SEO to see results.

Learn some of the basics (like those 5 steps I talked about earlier) or get an SEO Review done and get on and do the work yourself. There are also plenty of free SEO tools online that you can use to perform a basic check of your site and go from there. My favourite is Neil Patel’s UberSuggest, but there are plenty of others.

Myth #3 – The free tools are crap

I’ve heard this one before and straight to my face – by someone trying to sell me a super expensive SEO package! Funny that…

Trust me, if you took action on all of the advice from the free tools your site would be performing better and that’s what this is all about.

Myth #4 – Focus on SEO above all else

Really? Yup. Heard this one recently too. Whilst I argue that SEO is important, trust me, if your website content, message and other business skills aren’t up to scratch, all the SEO in the world isn’t going to bring you clients (or keep them).

Do what you can when you can and make sure you are putting as much effort into building professional relationships with people as you are into your SEO. In my own business, 90% of my clients come from recommendation and networking and only 10% as cold enquiries straight through my website. So, making sure that I am showing up in person (or on Zoom as it is these days) as well as online is really important.

Myth #5 – SEO is a one time deal

Nope. SEO is not a one time thing. You can’t just add keywords to your site and then leave it forevermore. As with all technology, the online world is moving at supersonic speed, and SEO requires your regular attention. Every time you create a new page or write a blog post you need to have SEO at the forefront of your efforts.

But that doesn’t mean it will take hours of work. It just means that you need to think about your message and take the time to ensure the key points associated with SEO are addressed – such as keyphrases, metadata and structure. After all, why go to all the trouble of writing something if it’s just going to disappear into the internet void. You want people to read it right?

So, there you have it, 5 SEO Myths well and truly busted. My advice is if you are interested and have the time then give it a try. Run your website through a free SEO tool and find out what needs to be improved and read up on SEO and become engaged in the success of your own website.

And if you need a hand, then give me a shout. Translating technobabble and empowering my clients to shine online is what I do.

Web Goddess

It’s Time to Change the Way We Sell

It’s Time to Change the Way We Sell

Is it just me, or are you also sick of the way that businesses try and sell to you based on fear and lack rather than focusing on ethics and value?

It has definitely been something I have rallied against since I became self-employed way back in 2003, raising a middle finger to the corporate ickiness I hated being a part of.

Still wondering what I mean? Here are some just some examples that I have come across:

Let me be your Mentor

Being offered a place on an ‘exclusive’ mentorship programme, only to find out that it’s actually a sales funnel for a network marketing gig and they expect you to sign up with them first!

I’ve got the Answer

Seeing an offer for a super-secret solution to something you know isn’t super secret and anyone can learn, or knowing there are different options which are all just as valid.

Let’s Connect

Connecting with someone via social media and then finding out you’ve been added to their email list without giving express permission.

Once in a Lifetime…

The offer that is advertised as a one time only deal, selling to us through the fear of missing out and only to be repeated again next week, next month or next year.

How do these make you feel? I know they really piss me off!

“Psychological tactics are designed to create false demand by feeding the fear that there will not be enough. This fear has us trapped in a cycle of consumption that is uninspired, unethical, and supremely harmful to the planet and its inhabitants.” – the ethical move

So, when I started Web Goddess in 2014, I knew that I needed to build my business around my authenticity and ethics and only sell in a way that I felt comfortable selling.

And that’s when I found the ethical move – an organisation devoted to changing the way we sell. Their original idea was to ask people to pledge that they would stop charging ‘charm prices’ – you know, the £297 price tags when we all know it’s basically £300! And because that kind of thing  really pisses me off, I pledged my support!

the ethical move

Now, the ethical move have increased their pledges against the outdated sales and marketing tactics we are bombarded with every day including countdowns that have no meaning, false scarcity (FOMO) and bait and switch techniques – and I am thrilled to re-pledge my support.

The full list of new pledges can be found on their website.

“Together, we are making the ethical move to create a new marketing standard based on transparency, trust, and honesty.” – the ethical move

So why is this important for your business?

Well for me, authenticity is EVERYTHING when it comes to creating business relationships with people – and if you start on the wrong foot then it’s pretty difficult to undo that initial mis-step!

Clients remember how you make them feel – and if you make them feel used, tricked or scammed then they are not sticking around for very long.

The alternative to following these ‘tried and tested’ sales and marketing techniques is to create a new, HONEST way of doing business – and I’m all for that. Putting people first and selling with integrity is in alignment with who I am – and I hope it resonates with you too.

I’ll leave you with these final words from the ethical move team:

“Small businesses are the largest growing sector of our global economy; how we operate will inform policy. There are a lot of us, we are courageous and adaptable — which makes us uniquely qualified to change the status quo.” – the ethical move

Stay true to what you believe in,

 Web Goddess

 

7 Free Tools to Grow Your Business Online

7 Free Tools to Grow Your Business Online

Running a small business (or any business for that matter) can require costly investment in everything from premises to products – not to mention the costs of being online and running a website. But, there are TONNES of awesome free resources out there to help you get the message out to potential customers and keep existing customers happy. Here is my list of 7 Awesome Free Tools that you can use NOW:

#1 Google My Business

Even if you don’t have a physical location that customers can visit, registering for Google My Business is a must. As you keep your listing updated your online ranking will improve and your clients can add Google Reviews straight to your profile. This helps you appear in map searches too.

#2 Facebook

Facebook is still alive and kicking and is a great place to build a community for your business – as long as you post and interact consistently. Try giving 80% information and only promote products or services 20% of the time so your customers aren’t constantly bombarded with icky sales messages!

#3 Instagram

I recommend upgrading from a personal account to a business one (it’s still free) if you are using Instagram for business. You can use your Insta feed to update your Facebook page as well as your website so your images are always online in multiple places.

#4 Email Marketing

Social media is amazing, but you have no control over your online reach or when the platform algorithms change. So, having an email newsletter is still one of the best ways of getting news out to your clients. I use MailerLite now and can track insights for all of my email campaigns. It’s important to set a schedule and figure out your reason & vision before sending emails but it can be a wonderful way of connecting for free.

#5 Blogging

Don’t have your own website yet? No problem (although I would recommend that you have one). You can’t use that as an excuse not to start writing & sharing it online NOW. Sign up for a free account with a Blogging site such as Medium or Blogger and start writing. You can always move and update your posts later when you have a website!

#6 Google Search Console

This option is only available if you already have your own domain and website, but being able to track your visits and search queries is a great way of understanding your online reach. You can sign up to Google Search Console for free and improve your online ranking.

#7 Canva

This online graphic design platform is my favourite tool of all! You can sign up for free to create any type of graphic you can think of – from social media to posters to ebooks – Canva lets you do it all. And, if you need a little more (like extra stock images, premium fonts or a brand kit) then you can upgrade to Canva Pro at any time. I create all of my graphics (including the infographic for this post) using Canva and use them for my website, social media, business cards and even presentations.
With all of these tools, all that remains to be done is to learn how to use them! Set aside some time and choose ONE to work on first. Give it some time and energy (and have a PLAN) and see how you can improve your online reach without spending a penny. And, if you need help, pop along to one of my Digital Workshops to help you get started! Web Goddess Note: this post contains an affiliate link to Canva Pro and I may receive a commission if you sign up through the link. However, as with everything I recommend, I do so because I use it and bloody love it!
Why I Love Create.net

Why I Love Create.net

My niche market is designing websites for clients who want to manage and update their sites themselves after they are launched but simply don’t have the skill or motivation to build the initial site themselves.

I’ve been designing websites professionally for 5 years and as a favour for myself and for friends and groups for much longer. In that time I have used many website builders for simple websites and Create.net is definitely my favourite.

My Top 5 Reasons Why I Love Create

#1 Free Trial & Great Pricing

All new Create accounts start with a 14-day free trial – and there is no credit card required so it truly is free. That makes this a great platform to have a play with if you’re looking to test it out before parting with your cash.

When you are ready to sign up, Create’s Website Builder package is just shy of £70 per year and is one of the best value sites on the web – especially as this price includes SSL (something most other companies add on).

#2 UK-based Customer Service

Yes, there are real people based in the UK that you can email or call to get your problems solved! Although my clients generally take over the management of their site once I have built it for them, I can still communicate on their behalf to sort out issues if I have to and the Create.net team are always swift to reply and get any issues solved.

#3 Up to Date Templates & Technology

The templates on offer are fresh and can be customised to match your brand. New templates are added often and you can move between them or see what your website would look like with a new template at any time.

Also, I love using WordPress, but you need to constantly ensure that your plugins are updated (or pay extra for dedicated WordPress hosting to do it for you). Create.net is always evolving to meet new online requirements such as GDPR and mobile responsivity so your site always looks great – and if you do have to manually upgrade then they give you heaps of tips and help to do it.

#4 Shop Facility Included

The built-in Shop facility on Create.net is amazing. I still sell some of my wares through a site I built over 10 years ago and the whole package is simple to use and has many of the options of bigger WordPress builds. You can upgrade your account from a lower package at any time to include a Shop and the annual cost is just under £150 for their Shop Builder package at time of writing and that’s all you pay (apart from your Domain Name).

#5 WYSIWYG Editing

Last but definitely not least, ‘What You See is What You Get’ editing makes updating your Create.net site a dream! Many of my clients are technophobes and if faced with strange looking codes would freak out at having to change their sites. But with a WYSIWYG interface, my clients can simply edit text and view their changes as it will look when published. It’s something my clients really appreciate and even the least technical of them can deal with – without having to call me to make small changes to their site.

What’s Not-so-Good?

All website builders have limitations, so it would be remiss of me to avoid these. In my opinion, the two biggest issues Create.net has are:

No Email

While Create doesn’t provide mailboxes – you can forward emails to your current address using alias addresses which is great for most clients, but you’ll need to add on your own email through G Suite or similar if you want to have a dedicated business email address. This isn’t hard to solve, but is something to be aware of.

Blogging Feature isn’t Great

If you’ve used WordPress or similar and are used to creating gorgeous blog posts with the ability to share them to different parts of your site, then Create.net can be a little disappointing. Whilst there is a blogging feature, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of WordPress and you get a simple chronological feed of articles. There are still categories and tags, but it feels more clunky than other blog-focused builders.

In summary, Create.net is still my preferred solution for clients who want something stylish and simple to self-manage and I recommend you take a look at what they have to offer if you need a new website and feel happy building it yourself. Take a look at my post ‘Can I Build My Own Website?‘ to see if this is right for you.

And, you know where I am if you need my help!

Web Goddess

Note: this post contains affiliate links to Create.net and keep in mind that I may receive commissions when you click these and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my review of this product. My review above is based on my own continued use of this product and I try my best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

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