Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This blog has moved to www.nopun.com

I am proud to say I have launched my custom wordpress theme.

My blog now resides on my company site. http://www.nopun.com/

I have enjoyed using blogspot. But wanted to have a blog that integrates within the look and feel of my company site.

This blogspot tool has been great, because when I started the blogging concept I wasn't sure that I would stick to it. And or if it would have been worth while. Not only has it proven to be worth while, I enjoy doing it and look forward to many more years of this form of communication.

So please follow the conversation over at nopun.com

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Thanks and Regards

Noel for Nopun.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

static websites suck

Websites can be many different things, from ecommerce, to brochure site and to entertainment. And so much more, I believe that we really haven't even really figured out the internet as a medium on its own.

Is it a book thats translated online, or is it a tv that we interact with or is it "fill in the blank".

this fill in the blank part is the part I don't think we (as people) haven't really harnessed the power of this new medium.

But if I could break it down to two types of categories we have a static website and a dynamic one.

A static website is a website you spend some time on and launch it then come back from time to time to make updates to.

Whereas a dynamic site is one that you can update content on the fly and or is integrated with a blog to help you deliver fresh content. When I read topics that surround the idea of a dynamic site its usually focused on the technology that creates the dynamic site, but the reality is that the technology is the easy part. The challenging part is add all that new fresh content.

We all know that content is king with ranking well in search engines, but content is also king with your customers. I want my website to be "real" conversation with my visitors. I want to try and connect with each visitor on a personal level.

The new site that I will launch for nopun.com will be death of this blog, because I want this blog to be integrated visually with in the look and feel of my site, which blogger is limited in doing.

The new no pun site is dedicated to interacting with the visitors more, with not only samples of past work but I would like to keep the conversation going through the blog, and links to a regularly monitored twitter account. In fact you can even connect with a designer directly from the website via skype, and can share screens of professional designers directly online, where you can design your project together in real time.

With the launch of the new site I am wanting to introduce a "youtube" video blog to the creative process where client can review and see first hand what a designer has to go through to get their final look and feel. Demystifying the creative process and letting clients see first hand what their money is being used for.

I feel that this interaction and dynamicness of the new site will help in my business relationship with each new client.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

attend trade shows

Here's an article to help kick off a marketing strategy with a shoestring budget.

I particularly like the idea of attending trade shows.

I once was involved with having a booth for a marketing company I worked for.

And me and the owner prepared our pitch and got as many assets together as we could to prepare for the event.

Participating in a trade-show is awesome, as you lead up to the event you make sure your 30 second pitch is nailed down, you promotional items are designed and printed, and your website and such is the best it can be.

In fact many businesses use the trade-shows as an excuse to motivate them to update all their marketing material.

Manning the booth is great too because you really do get to harness your pitch and begin to put your own "personality" to it.

But the cost was crazy with the printing of the promotional pieces, the trade-show backdrop, and the actual fees for having the booth the expense was well over $10,000.

Which wouldn't have been that bad aside from the fact that not one lead came from the show.

Most people at the show where actually pitching us on their services. So when this article suggested that you should simply attend the trade-shows. Brought me right back to that experience and yes I agree that much good can come from attending a show, if anything you can save a ton of dough and probably make just as many "connections" as being a spectator instead of a vendor.


--

I have some more ideas on how to do this trade-show marketing idea.

The trade show I was talking about above was ad-tech. which wouldn't you know it just finished up last week.

It must have been an omen!

anywhoot.

What I think would be effective for my concept for trade-show marketing as an attendee, would be to go to trade shows and attend marketing ideas for industries that aren't directly related to my industry. For example my biggest case study is for a moving and storage company, so my time would be best spent in moving and storage trade-shows.

But what is exciting about my business is that any industry would be an ideal candidate.

So I asked myself the question where does one find which trade-shows to go to?...
And it hit me why not go to the venues that host the tradeshows.

ie: jacob javits center in new york.

each venue has a calendar of events with links to the events website, where I can find if they have marketing seminars and such, it will also show the fees needed for attending.

I would really like to give this approach a try.

So I am going to be tunnel vision on getting my new website done, my promotional material ready and then gear up for getting down...




80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers

So which 20% will it be.

It's no surprise, that marketing to your existing customers, is easier than attracting new ones.

I came across a blog today that will help give some ideas on how you can stay in touch with your client base, and help try and uncover which 20% of your customers your new business will come from.

I was proud to when I read the first two suggestions, having a blog (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) and an email campaign which I try and send out bi weekly.

Next would love to print out a newsletter mailer. And T-shirts

Give it s read and let me know which ones stand out to you...

Do your customers like it when you redesign your site.

As a graphic designer needing more work whenever a potential customer says that they are thinking of redesigning their website, I am one of the first to jump on board saying of course we can enhance the site. I have to admit that I am pretty honest though if I see a sight that seems to be working I will make it known, and on the same token if its bad I will also let that be known.

I have recently experienced a website that I use on a daily basis that has recently gone through s design change. You may have herd of it its linkedin.

Whenever I write a new blog that I want people to know about I like to submit a link to that blog on my "updates" section of my profile. And a couple of days ago I noticed it was gone! The update was still visable but where to change the status was moved somewhere elese. after a few curse words I found it and was back on track.

later I came across a linkedin's blog that discussed how proud they where of the new look and feel. And yes I agree that the design has improved. But this functionality change was frustrating.

The designer in me will always say a redesign is good, but the "user" in me says that a redesign means change and I don't like change.

it was a great insight into what a redesign means, and in most if not all cases regular visitors to your site will get frustrated once the new site goes live.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

offline marketing ideas

I want to spend more time recapping these ideas and expanding on how they can work.

But I am adding this link here as a place holder because I think there is some great stuff here.

In my business its clear that traditional forms of marketing may be better than online marketing being the online audiences that are looking for professional graphic designers are more tech savy and can find the cheap low balling solutions. Where as the non tech savy customers that will learn of my business through traditional mediums are more likely to spend more dough and will be more impressed by the work.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't build it yourself leave it to the pros!

I came across a blog today that was a really cool read.

In a nutshell, the author stated that she didn't know how to program a website nor had any desire to! She was very adamant on saying that she doesn't care about anything computer related especially html and programs to help design her websites.

She is a professional writer for main stream novels and writes a series of erotic novels as well, but her statements about wanting to hire professionals to do her website was the sexiest thing she could have written.

I believe that this is the perfect type of website design client there could be. She sees the value in hiring professional designers to do her work, while knowing she doesn't have to give up "creative" control, which is the fun part. We professional designers will bring our expertise to your project but by no means are we a standoffish bunch of people that think they know best and you shouldn't even dare question what we designed. We are simply folks, who've gone through the hard knocks training and practice to harness technical skills of creating professional websites, email campaigns, print ads, brochures, and even youtube videos, and commercials.

Why spend all your time wondering why you can scale an image properly in powerpoint, when your time would be better spent on practicing your presentation!

I hope this inspires more professionals out there to realize that by trying to do this work on your own isn't saving money. Time is money, and if your time is wasted on learning technology then you are wasting your own money....

Please weigh in on the subject. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts.

Also please visit the original author's post on the subject.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Starting a business doesn't have to be risky

I came across an article that tried to demystify the idea of starting your own business, they try and point out that starting your own business doesn't have to be "risky" or so doomed to fail as people would like to think.

The biggest takeaway I have is that the "big idea" has to be simple.

Nothing new there, everyone knows less is more, and Keep It Simple Stupid and (insert your favorite saying here).

But I believe it's worth considering, I so desperately want to create the next greatest thing that I might be over thinking, over working, or simply trying too hard, whereas, if I relax try a little less and try and see if the simple idea comes out then maybe I will discover the next big thing that can help pick my business up.

I believe the ideas and topics are worth considering so please check it out.

Friday, October 30, 2009

why open source can harm your SEO Ranking

I came across a video tutorial and blog post outlining the negative effects a "template," specifically a wordpress template, could have on your search engine ranking.

Something I am very interested in because I have achieved a great page ranking for a specific keyphrase and I am about to launch a new version of my site using wordpress as my back end technology.

Here are my issues.
I need to be able to custom design a website from scratch;
meaning I can design a site to look the way I want it to look,
ahem, or the way the client wants it to look.

Usually, a website from scratch is something very difficult to do with an open source template.
These templates are usually made for people who don't know how to code or don't want to pay a designer to code. So for designers it's difficult to use the "convenient" back end functionality and then "skin" the templates to look the way we want.

I am getting a handle on this challenge and will post the process in a series of you tube videos once I am completed with the project.

But my next issue is this concern with my SEO ranking.
A lot of hard work, time, and energy has gone into my page ranking. Although I would love to have my new sight up and running with wordpress driving the technology, I don't want my page ranking to suffer from the upgrade.

This article that explains what could go wrong, is coming from a company that claims they have the "solution" if you pay the $90 bucks for their template. Which technically I think is a great value, but...

It seems to have the same issues as normal templates, the inability to customize the site the way I need to.

What I learned from the "explanation" is that google loves clean code, so as long as my sight "validates" I should be good.

In addition, I have not yet put the new site's design through my SEO optimizer tool to see if all the SEO techniques are fully functional.

I hope that my original approach works; but, if not, I will probably have to look into this for a solution.

I think now is a perfect time to point out one of the "drawbacks" to using a templated open source solution. Some nopun potential clients lose because they think they can save some dough by using these free readily available solutions. Actually these free templates could be doing more harm and cost more to correct than hiring a professional graphic designer from the start.

check out the demo and great explanation here;

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Doing your own SEO work to save money

There is no doubt that having your website show up in the first position on the first page of the website directory is a great way to drive new customers to your business.

Even if your business doesn't do business online you can benefit from an online presence.

I mean, as early as last weekend, I needed to find the address to a pumpkin patch located in River Head Long Island. A pumpkin Patch! And wouldn't you know it, I found it by googling.

Any and all businesses need to be online!

And having a professionally designed website is not enough, you need to have a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy in place that will help you achieve the first page ranking for your company.

Researching SEO techniques isn't that hard to do and there are plenty of reputable software solutions that can help you achieve a great presence in search engines.

To save money, many businesses would prefer to research how to do this work internally without having to hire a professional company. But I'd like to point out that unless your business is website design or website marketing, you should not waste your time trying to learn how to do it on your own. Instead, focus on what you do best, the money you would spend with a professional will be less than the money you save by trying it on your own. You will save on the cost of the software, save on the time spent researching topics, and save on the time it would take to even see if your techniques actually work or not.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What content management system to use

When choosing a content management system a web developer is faced with a ton of choices.

Lately I have been diving into "wordpress." I think it's a pretty cool platform and seems to be widely used. Also it seems like there is a lot of opportunities for a wordpress developer on twitter. I recently jumped into wordpress with both feet, and I am about to launch a new version of nopun.com using my new-found knowledge.

The challenge I face as a developer and or designer is that it takes quite a bit of energy to learn a new content management system's ins and outs. And I don't want to waste a lot of time learning something that will either; not do what I aim to do, or will be outdated by the time I catch up with the learning curve.

Because of this doubt on which platform to use, I forced myself to learn php which is the programming language a lot of these open source content management systems use. But I cringe at the thought of having to develop every new project from scratch. So using a system like word-press is attractive to me.

However, today, while browsing my articles on website design, I came across probably one of the biggest "recommendations" or "testimonials" I've ever seen for any website technology company.

The White House is now using drupal for its website, The White House!


I'm not sure you'll get a better recommendation than this. And, my attention is now looking more into my drupal knowledge. I've played around with it in the past, but can't say I completely understand the ins and outs of it. But, I think it is worth putting on deck as the next piece of technology to look into.


why search engines want your page to be relevant

I have never thought of why a website needs to be relevant from the perspective of a search engine.

But I believe the latest "bing" campaign that showcases the goals of search engines from their perspective. The commercials showcase conversations and possible un-relevant results that could come up.


If a search engine constantly sends people to pages that do not make sense, then these people will stop using that search engine.

Therefore, when you design a site you should be sure to have all of the necessary code added to the sight. This code will make sure search engines can help identify what your website is about, and can help show your site in conversations that make sense to your company.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Can the entrepreneurial spirit live in a temperamental graphic designer.

When I come across fellow business owners, I hear the conflict that many of them feel, I often hear them "complain" that having their own business is a lot of "sales" work. And that's not what they signed up for, they signed up for sharing their passion about their product or service. And in my case I feel I have a similar challenge.

I am a graphic designer "a commercial artist," in my industry even though we deal with ads and marketing through our work, we rarely see ourselves as "sales" people. In fact, many designers take a pompous attitude with their careers and feel that they are the 'say all' and 'end all' to anything to do with design. This temperament leads to bad customer service

But something snapped in me since the recession that makes me believe I am an "entrepreneur" more than a designer, being a designer is the "service" I hope to be sought out for. But my effort and energy is to try and train and nurture my entrepreneurial spirit.

Hopefully through a different way of thinking, I will curve my design approach to be more "helpful" to my clients instead of taking offense that they want to change a design I presented to them.

Hopefully this change will head me in the right direction for success. Or at least try and help me get through these troubled waters, and be better prepared for the "next economy."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Free Keyword Research tool from Google

I came across this solution provided for free from Google.

I have used solutions like word tracker, and currently Internet Business Promoter, but I think this is a valuable tool that should either be a part of or replace some of these forms of keyword search term research.

Check it out here and test drive it for your self...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

5 year business plan

I have read many articles from business experts saying you need to have a long-term and short- term business plan.

With me wanting to make sure I try anything and everything I can to ensure my business will be successful, I set out to try and put a plan in place.

And boy, do I feel like I am missing something? The ultimate goal is to be comfortable, I'd love to get my safety net back, and a nice flow of projects coming through the studio that is fueled by "new" blood. But how does one put that into a plan? Then be able to break that plan down to yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily?

So, I put the plan to the side and focussed on how to get new blood. I realized today that I may have a plan in place that makes me feel confident to say I have a plan! Wo hoo, a plan is better than standing in the dark saying where do I go next?

I have made a marketing-tier strategy for my business. The tier starts with some free (free to me at least because I don't have to pay for my creatives) free in money but not "time." If I charge $80 an hour and I spend an hour on one of my projects that's $80 lost. If no projects are in the studio it's not really a loss, but my challenge is keeping up with my plan while active projects are in the studio. (OK, so maybe it's not so "Free.")

Back to my topic, I start with "low hanging fruit."

1) Website design keeping my portfolio up to date with recent work, monitoring my web analytics every Tuesday, and making tweaks and adjustments to the site trying to address any falling statistic. (Probably 20% of my work week.)

2) Google Alerts, Blogging and blog commenting (2 hours a day)

3) Twittering (I have a schedule to check in with my twitter activity three times a day.
If I am in production mode on a project I let this slide, but if I am in a hunting mode, I can be on this all day!)

4) Press Releases (I'd love to do one a day "5 days a week" but it takes me three drafts to come up with an idea, which is about 2 hours plus take two to three rounds with copy writers helping me put spins on the article and editing my bad grammar, so this is limited to once a week.)

5) Eblasts (They say 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Sending a bi-weekly eblast to my customers helps me know who the 20% is.)

6) Splash Page (I try and convert the eblast into a targeted landing page that can help convert the casual traffic to a more focussed conversion.)

7) Digg (I am looking for a name to call this concept. All I can think of is "Digg," it's basically a collection of sites like http://digg.com/ and http://www.stumbleupon.com/.)

I submit these landing pages to these social networks, hoping to get some traffic and link popularity from google.

8) Podcasting and Vlogging (I love documenting my work and creative process.) In an effort to help prospects understand where their money goes when they hire me, I have developed a strategy where I document a project as I work on it. Then, I convert this process into a padcast that will launch in itunes, and vlog, and a video version of the process that I publish on my you-tube channel. (This strategy has three distinct benefits to them: a) Increases exposure, new prospects can come from these channels; b) Helps provide some insight to a prospect who is considering hiring me and my company, but does not understand why it costs so much; c) Helps me stay on track. I do so many types of creative projects, by documenting my process as I do it, I can refer to it in the future to save time relearning something that worked and/or to give me an opportunity to figure out a better way to do the project this time.)

This last item is probably the most time consuming part and along with everything else, I am hoping to get a handle on it soon and add it to my weekly task list.

Boy, with all this stuff, when do we have time to do the work? That is my biggest dilemma, but it's important that I keep up with it. This strategy is the source for new blood, and new blood is the only defense, if existing customers decide they have enough design work to last them a while.

Hopefully this strategy will yield enough rewards with new business that I will be able to fund next tiers which would include, banner ad campaigns, google ad words, direct mailers, trade publication ads, Vehicle wraps, SIgnage, and trade shows.

Basically, everything I offer clients but can't afford the production.

The point to this is this: having your own business doesn't mean you get to slack off and call it a half day just because you 'wanna' kick back. To me having your own business means you don't mind making yourself work 60 to 80 hours a week. I am hoping to balance my family and social life a bit more, because I don't want to miss my kids growing up. But, I need to be able to protect them and provide for them, so I am "nose to the grindstone," and determined to make this business work.

At last with this plan I am starting to see "new blood" and I am beginning to see rewards from these efforts. I believe I am heading in the right direction, and can't wait to see where I will be 5 years from now. Like the Adam Sandler movie click has taught me, "I ain't in no rush and hope I can enjoy every minute of it."

Let me know what you think on the subject, I'd love to hear your experiences.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Getting Your business ready for the Holidays

I came across this article giving some tips on getting your business ready for the holidays.

I love it when at the beginning of October, we start thinking of Christmas! And how frustrating that is as a consumer, but, as a business we are actually behind the eight ball...

Here is a document I put together to try and get you prepared for seasons well enough in advance so you have time to think of seasonal promotions and have time to develop the creatives.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Writing Content

It is no surprise that I don't like writing content.

Next to cold calling, writing is one of my most dreaded things.

This reaction is due to a lifetime dedicated to communicating "visually."

I would rather illustrate the cover of a book than to actually read the book. (Of course you can't illustrate the book without reading it.)

But like cold calling, copy writing is a necessary business evil.

If I plan to succeed with my "professional graphic design studio"
I must advertise it and promote my business any way I can.

In the last few months, I have seen how effective blogging and press release writing has dramatically increased traffic to my site, resulting in leads that turn into customers.

So I see that writing content for these mediums is a must. And, I am determined to get over the hump and be able to write quality content that helps folks become aware of my design studio.

I came across an article today that has inspired me on the subject of content writing.

Its notes how "Screenwriters" go about writing a screen play. The author of the article points out the similarities of the screenwriting process to the goals of effective marketing campaigns for businesses.

I have to say I am inspired by the topics and will put into play some of the ideas.

Check out the article here and let me know your thoughts on the topic...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Serial Entrepreneur !

I just came across an industry term "Serial Entrepreneur" and I gotta say I got such a kick out of it.

I am a big fan of Dexter these days and I get a kick out of Dexter's "need to kill", he lives by a code that he must obey to keep him "on track".

And when I herd this term I could envision myself as being a "Serial Entrepreneur" and the code is basically my marketing strategy and design approach. No matter if I am promoting a pet project of my own or I dive into one of my clients businesses, I get the biggest thrill out of getting the next kill, ahem, business deal.

How many other Dexter type Serial Entrepreneurs are out there I'd love to hear from you...



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Recap taking your site from 1 to 1 million users

I came across this really awesome video snippet from some geeky web app conference.

I was intrigued by the title taking your site from 1 to 1 million users

Now I don't build web apps nor do I plan to. But what I find valuable here.

is to look into the techniques to build users, and think of it in terms of how you could build traffic or prospects to your business's website.

While taking the notes from the video and placing it here I could immediately see how I could utilize some of these ideas to help my design studio website.

Check out the video and place your business into the concept and see what you come up with.

Share your ideas here, I'd love to hear your spin on them

1) Ego
ask yourself does your feature stroke the ego in any way

what emotional rewards do they walk away with, gaining reputation (badges) showcase

a) followers
like twitters (number of followers)
more followers the better contest who can have most followers
gives the appearance of an audience.

b) leader boards
every one wants to see their name in light!

2) Simplicity
Don't overbuild features.

focus on 2 to 3 and try and do them well
is there anything we can take out of this?

cleaner design and faster page load

3) build and release
stop thinking you understand your users.
learn from what they are doing on your site
decide what your going to do and do it, don't get into analysis paralysis

get it out there see how users use it then tweak it

4) Hack the press
invite only system?

limited number of available slots available
talk to junior bloggers (find the greenest blogger and tell them about your story)
attend parties for events you can't afford make a list of people you want to be partnered with, follow them on twitter (bring an iphone with you with the DEMO) and have a 30 second pitch ready with how your pitch could work for them.

5) Connect w/your community
start a podcast through itunes
throw a launch party then yearly or quarterly parties.
tell everyone you'd like to be there and then try and find their friends and tell them.
reserve a spot at a bar, tell them its a bday party of about 20 people and don't worry if 75 plus show up
try and schedule the party when conferences are near

6) advisors
collect a resource of advisors
people that are smarter than you, that won't charge you
give them stock compensations

7) leverage the user-base to spread the word

a) thank you page tweet to complete, instead of a simple thank you page have a tweet to complete call to action that has a generic message of Just visited (http://www.yourcompany.com) Can't wait to see how they can help me out...

then give them something for promoting you by adding keywords that pertain to that user "keywords" that they are passionate about (note you may have to add keywords to your contect form to find this out)

then add a send and add yourself to your twitter account

b) add a welcome window to your website make sure this is a first time visitor
welcome to your website.com
then a nice "green-light" button to have the user do your most desired call to action
then give the option of no thanks I am just browsing

9) analyze your site
google analytics

10) step back and look at the big picture

Website Usability

I came across this article talking about the importance of website usability particularly with 50 and up age group. Which I would typically think they'd be using out of date technology and slow internet connections. According to this Author this isn't so. This demographic has the most time to browse the internet, and they prove to be useful in focus groups.

The stuff often overlooked in web design

I came across a recent blog my a back end developer "venting" about the clients he has, usually over look some critical aspects of website design. They seem like little things but I can see his frustration, a developer shouldn't be forced to make these design decisions at the site build out phase.

I want to point out that it doesn't matter if its the designer or the developer that comes up with the "marketing" spin on these minor website elements, But someone should whether its a copywriter, pr person, vp of marketing or whomever. All aspects of your website design should be geared towards giving a unique experience to your visitors.

I agree that there are a ton of little things that rarely get considered. That in my opinion would make a difference. For example a custom 404 page that is kinda funny like http://www.problogdesign.com/inspiration/35-most-creative-404-pages-around/ or a thank you page that isn't a generic message of a rep will contact you shortly. Like mailchimp inviting the visitor to share a banana with them by linking to the original Chiquita banana commercial And details like a favicon, and even page titles, & seo descriptions and keywords. There are a lot of things that go into developing a website, that goes beyond the design of a few pages, and everyone should be aware of the impact they have on the impression of your website...

Check out his rant here and share your opinion...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Using Analytics to influence your content

Here is an excellent example of why its such a great time to be in business.

Using the technology available, businesses can cater their marketing , messaging and branding to level never before seen. Instead of launching on a gut feeling, with Google Analytics you can pay attention to what your visitors are doing and give them what they want as it happens.

Awesome!

http://www.foliomag.com/2009/how-web-analytics-influence-content-production

Awesome ideas on offline promotion

http://www.youthedesigner.com/2009/10/08/10-way-to-promote-your-tee-designs-in-print/

The Power of Blogging

I recently experienced first hand how a well written blog converted me into a customer.

I am a die-hard fan of overnightprints.com an online business that prints designs I upload to their website. But recently I came across a blog that was a how to guide on how to promote your T-shirt business. At first I was interested because I love print and the designs they showed were awesome. Next I noticed it was teaching how to market your t-shirt business, which I just launched a t-shirt business this week. http://www.unique-t.com/

But the thing is this, they gave great ideas, and mentioned that you can do these ideas on your own, or you could hire UPrinting.com Because the article was informative, and has inspired me to do these things, my two options are one go and try and do it myself, "attempting to save money" or hire the pro's. Money is tight so I might try certain things by myself but I could also see myself doing this with Uprinting. Which has now made me less of a die-hard fan for overnightprints.

There are two things I would like to point out here that I think makes this concept a successful one. One they aren't afraid to tell "Trade Secrets" if you hold your ideas to yourself, then your prospects won't come up with them on their own. So don't be afraid to tell somebody how or what you are doing, they will hopefully find what you share useful, and some may try and do it on their own or find some place cheaper, or may want to save time and come to you directly.

The next point is that they were focussed, they geared the article to someone promoting a t-shirt design company, when in fact this could apply to any company. So staying focussed on a niche will inspire the other applications, instead of trying to cater to everyone speak to just one...

Check out their blog here.

Get inspired and weigh in on the subject I'd love to hear from you...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Laid off ? Start your own business!

Ah ha!

I have found an article that backs up a belief that I have had since the recession hit. Why throw yourself at the mercy of an employer? Someone you give your 110% for to only be told after many years of dedication that your position is no longer available. I feel that the only real security anyone has is the security in themselves. By having your own business you have complete control over your success.

Tips for building your online business

Although I feel that you should have a passion for your product or industry then consider marketing that business online. This article talks about you selling a product online and developing a business around that.


I disagree with this approach I think you need to tap into what you're passionate about then try and build a business around that.


However, the article boasts that it is a perfect time to be in business, especially using the internet as a marketing tool. That I couldn't agree with more. Also there are some encouraging words helping you to stay focussed on your business goal and to never give up. And during this recession that is a hard thing to do but it's key that we never give up...


Read the article get inspired and weigh in on the subject.


http://www.ausbusiness.net/review/four-tips-for-the-online-business-entrepreneur/

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Flash is SEO friendly!

I had to pinch myself this morning, because I really felt like I was "dreaming" when I read that google now has an algorithm to index flash files! http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/06/improved-flash-indexing.html

This adds to my thought of there has never been a greater time to have your own business, and be marketing that business with today's technologies. I can't begin to count how many arguments I have had in conference rooms when I wanted to add flash to a website for the "wow" factor to only be told by the consulting SEO firms "flash kills SEO rankings."

Well not anymore. So now we can "flash" away. I am not convinced that a full flash site like http://www.nopun.com/Flash_Website/Mana_Fine_Arts/ would be the best way to go, because the article talks about how "text" in a flash file will be indexed, but there really isn't anything else you can do to increase the rankings. So things like alt tags and bold text and h1 tags and a few other SEO techniques that you can use with simple html sites still may be the best way to go.

But this does mean you can have a flash element within your html site and even grow your optimization positioning because of it. Instead of it hindering your chances of ranking well.

A site like this would work well

To me this is exciting news because I can go back to designing sites that aim to entertain the visitors, without hindering the SEO chances.

I'd love to hear you weigh in on the subject, post your comments today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

How to launch a business on twitter

Ever wonder what the buzz is about on twitter.

Why is it that everyone is talking about it?

Well here is an article about a guy who launched his business on twitter and has documented his process from start to current on his blog. He showcases the ups and downs of this medium.

If anything it gives you a clear perspective on how you can launch a business 144 characters at a time.

20 questions to ask yourself before you start a business

I came across this article that has some tremendous suggestions or "questions" to ask yourself before diving into an idea you have for a business.

20 questions to ask before you invest;
#1 what problem does your product or service solve?
#2 how big of a market is there for this problem? This pain and or need?
#3 how are those who have this problem solving it now?
#4 clearly articulates your secret sauce, other words what is your unique selling proposition?
#5 is there replacement products in existence that could solve the problem?
#6 who is the market leader in the space you plan to enter?
#7 how many other competitors are there in this space?
#8 what is your level of understanding of this market?
#9 is your idea a product or IP that can be patented?
#10 what stage is this market in terms of its lifecycle? Infancy, growth, mature..?
#11 what level of support will be required to serve this market? Do you personally have expertise in running a business?
#12 what are the distribution channels of this market?
#13 what is the buying cycle?
#14 what is the common payment terms for this market?
#15 Do the potential buyers of your new product have the ability to pay for it?
#16 is there any legal and or compliance issues this product must pass prior to launch?
#17 what do you estimate is the total costs per unit of sale, transaction
#18 what is the anticipated number of units sold in year one? What % of the market opportunity does this represent?
#19 what is the number of units needed to break even with your upfront investment?
#20 How much cash will you need, based on the buying cycle, the costs, payment terms and distribution channels to launch this product or service?

get inspired by the article here. and see if you can answer them all, the more you know the better off you'll be. Or will save a bunch of dough by not wasting your money in an idea that never looked good on paper...

How many pages you should write for your SEO Campaign

Today we have a helpful tip on how many pages you should write for your desired key phrase for your SEO campaign.

I have always know that if you use googles site search you can see how well a competitor is doing with google. However, I have never thought of adding the desired key phrase to that search string. Which results in the exact number of about how many pages you will need to conceptualize, optimize and add to your website to try and get close.

We are talking about the "tricky" subject of SEO here, I love to hate this part of marketing because it feels like voodoo magic. With all the work you do, as potentially doing better with no real guarantee that it will work at all. But it is a necessary evil and we keep trying until we get the results we need.

check out the article here and post your comments thoughts and reactions!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Design from the heart | Pro-Bono Work

I have a topic that I feel is important to share.

While reading it I couldn't help but agree with a lot of the comments they made in terms of feeling like great causes deserve to have professional branding and graphic design even if their budget can't afford it. I couldn't help but to remember an award winning agency that I worked at after college, they did a bunch of pro-bono work, it felt good working on it, we usually did the "best" work because the client was grateful and really didn't fight us on the creativity. I remember thinking this was a great way to do "award winning work."

And now as I struggle to try and get my business back off the ground from the results of this damn economy, I can't help but to question well if I did more pro-bono work could I generate more business? By having the exposure from these causes and elevating the quality of work in my case studies.

My only fear is that this work takes a tremendous amount of time to do, and without any "real" money coming in how am I supposed to survive?

I'd love to hear everyones take on the subject.

Pro-Bono or Not to Pro-Bono that is the question?

This topic is inspired by a design firm's blog about them doing pro-bono work for non profit organizations.



Now here is an article talking about a volunteer or pro-bono concept that I could see being beneficial. It's a grant to help the homeless to become business owners. Which to me is an awesome idea, if I donate or discount my fees to the point where we can help these start ups become successful, once they become successful they could become customers...


Thanks to thesoulawakener for weighing in on the subject here is the link to the blog they referenced

What is Facebook and Why Should I Care?

Here is an article that discuss the benefits that facebook can bring but I just feel like I am missing something.

http://webdesign.com/what-is-facebook-and-why-should-i-care/

Please way in on the subject...

--

I agree with the statement that facebook is where the people are. But unlike twitter I still can't see the connection between how facebook can connect my business with customers. I feel as though I am missing something. Just like twitter I kept saying what is the big deal about this, but what I have learned is that through searching topics that interest me and my business I can find conversations to drop my two cents into, But on face book I can't see the ability to do that. I have a fan page and am trying to connect with people to help build a "network" but without a strategy to try and find related people I am at a loss. I also tried an advertising campaign which was appealing people because of the "targeting" feature but not one bit of activity came from it. Heres to hoping I can find what the hubbub is about...


Friday, October 2, 2009

Client Feedback and Criticism

I have often struggled with how to handle client feedback in a way that doesn't make me look "difficult" or "pompous". The stereo type of a designer, "if its not my idea then it's not a good one". On the contrary I believe that often a clients feedback could actually elevate a design to a better level.

But with that said I can't help but to get my panties in a bunch when I here "did you think about doing this" or "I love it but..."

I pour my heart and soul into every design I do. Trying to hit the mark for the client and their target audience. But before we can launch a project we have to get the sign off from the client "who doesn't have a design background". It seems as though a lot of times a client will see a design that is leaps and bounds better than what they are used to, and then they begin to nit pick or remove all that is creative in the design. "It is no wonder why there is so much bad design in the world".

I wish that all clients would just trust the designer instead of trying to put their two scents in.
But with that said graphic design is a business, if I wanted to be a pompous ass who could have complete creative control I would be a fine artist who would try and sell painting through galleries. A luxury only few in the world get to live on.

So for me to be successful in this business I need to continue to try and be more helpful, and not so defensive with client criticism. And try and be "easy" to work with so they keep coming back, and recommend me to their friends and colleagues. Who intern will only bring even more un educated, creative stomping criticism. So the key as a professional graphic designer is to do the best work I can but not be so attached to it, and focus on how to "work with the clients better" and help them through the process.

I came across this article that has some great insights on what is going through my mind when hearing criticisms and how I should react.

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/10/01/how-to-respond-effectively-to-design-criticism/

Check it out and please feel free to way in on the subject I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The importance of putting news releases on your website

No Pun does a weekly analytic report every tuesday. Where I check and document all kinds of great information. Such as page visits unique visitors, which keywords are beginning to show up in search engines, where traffic is coming from and where do the visitors go.

Each week I take note of new things I have tweaked so I can try and zero in on what makes my website "sticky".

For the most part I think I have found a pretty good strategy. But just as quickly as "yesterday" I started my very first press release campaign. You can read more about this campaign here but what I have found to be interesting is that today tuesday the very next day. One of the most popular pages to my website was this first press release. I didn't even think it was all that great, besides, having this release on my site was an afterthought the main reason for the press release campaign was to submit them to online publications to help with SEO and drive traffic.

But what I have found is by adding the link "In The News" and adding even just "one" release, it became one of the most looked at pages on my site. 54 unique people looked at this release, with only 4 people exited out of the site on this page. While my most desired page "Get Started" page was viewed 19 times. My ultimate page I want to see is my thank you page, because that meant they took the time to tell me about their project they wanted to get started. At least 19 people saw my "pitch".

What I find exciting is all of the activity that simply adding this release does to the traffic on the site. There are many benefits to writing press releases, it gives your visitors something to read and experience about your company, it can ad SEO relevance and exposure through online distributions, and can even generate interest in your company by this distribution. I guess what I was waiting for a reason to say that writting a press release was a waste of time, but the out come is that there is no reason saying that, even the most minute benefit is worth the effort.

So if you do not have a press release strategy in place start one, I would like to say hire no pun and we can help you but unfortunately we do not want to offer this as a service to our clients but I feel its important that you start it for your self. If you do have any design needs or help with promoting your business with graphic design please look us up, and fill out that get started form so we can increase that top page contact on our analytics...

PLease feel free to comment and share your thoughts and experiences

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No Pun In The News


Today was a good day.

I just completed a major hurdle I have been struggling with for a while. I have always been convinced that one of the most major aspects to marketing your own business is through press releases. But ever since the first time I was told I should try it I have been intimidated.

I am an artist a designer a graphic designer extraordinaire, not a journalist nor a copy writer. I am so bad at writing I often misspelled graphite as a kid. I chuck it up to my attention is solely devoted to the aesthetics of what I am doing instead of what it is I am doing.

Since the recession hit the studio and my workload was diminished to nothing I realized that I needed to do for my business what all my past clients did for theirs. Ie:

Website "check"
Google Ads "check"
Eblast Campaign "check"
Blogging and Social Media "check"
Press Release Now I am proud to say "check"

Once I get momentum back again I will then move into
Banner Ads
Print Ads
TV spots
Tradeshows

But I have to admit this press release concept was the most difficult to struggle with.
I can't say I have it in the bag, but I have at least an idea of how I can try and start it and keep up with it.

I created a "In The News" section to the website where all the articles will be published first.

Then I submit the articles to five online pr publication

Free

http://www.articlemaniac.com

http://www.theopenpress.com

http://www.pr-inside.com


Was free for the first time but don't know about future ones

http://www.newswiretoday.com


$6

http://www.onlineprnews.com/


The good once I will use prnewswire.com


What I found interesting is that as I was building this section and trying to finalize my first press release I kept thinking oh I need to design this better or I need to incorporate that to make this better, so much that I was beginning to get overwhelmed and was seeing that I was stopping myself from pushing through.


I don't even think that the first release I did was all that "hot" I have tons of more ideas of more that I think could be better, in fact I think this one could be done even better, But I realized I was suffering from analysis paralysis. SO I just put my blinders on and pushed through.


I realized now after doing it that once you submit a release you have to wait until it gets "approved" and I am not sure if my release will get approved, But I hope I will learn what it will take to get them approved in the process.


The key lesson learned through this process, is to be diligent with writing the releases then submitting them. It needs to be apart of my everyday operations and I hope now that I have journeyed through the process from concept to completion the hard part is over and it will all be down hill from here...


If you would like to see my in the news section and or the first article please visit

http://www.nopun.com/news/



--


Viola just like that pr-inside has included my release

1 hours, 24 minutes and 20 seconds.. form the moment it was submitted

http://www.pr-inside.com/no-pun-intended-a-website-design-studio-helps-small-organizations-achieve-a-large-scale-look-r1500053.htm


and just 20 minutes later it was added to Online PR Newswire which was the $6 one

http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/7292-1254072936-no-pun-intended-a-website-design-studio-helps-small-organizations-achieve-a-large-scale-look.html


I did a search for "website design" which is my most desired key phrase for my company, and at this moment of about 2 hours after submitting my posting is 4th from the top on the google "news" results page complete with my companies logo and link to the article wo hoo!


I took the plunge!

I rewrote my press release to a much better level, a level I believe was good enough to put some money into.


So I submitted my article through PR newswire for Around $500.

Pr Newswire service was able to distribute my release to every "physical" newsroom and magazine in the NY metro area, and about 40 something specific people I was able to target based on demographic information and types of publications they where. with in minutes I am beginning to see the article show up in google alerts from online publications that appear to get their news feeds directly from PR newswire, So I am beginning to see this coverage immediately without the need of approval. Now I am keeping my fingers crossed to be contacted by a major publication or to be published by a major publication. My fingers are crossed but I am not holding my breathe.


In addition, I am told that PR newswire will give me some cool visibility reports which I can't wait to see.


Also I just got a "pitch list" of the contact information and publications for all the people that where in my "custom" list so I can follow up in a day or two to see if they would be interested in having me as an expert they could quote for a future article.


cool


I hope that the benefits of this service prove to be worth the money to do again...


--


3 days after the release was published with PR newswire.


I got the report on how many places the release was published, which was a lot, over 200 online publications published it.

The only thing I noticed which was weird was the locations of these articles I paid for the NY metro area and not one of them where from the NY Metro Area, they where nationally and mostly small towns.


I did get traffic from these releases. about 40 a day. which is about average for my site, so no real improvement there, I didn't receive any leads or calls based in the release. Which in this economy I guess there is no real surprise there...


One thing I did notice that was a great improvement was my "Alexa" rating I went from a rating of 1,370,415 to 1,364,339 which has been the most dramatic increase and change I have ever seen.


I have a google alert email sent for the search term website design and never one saw this release come up through this alert, which was personally frustrating, because I really wanted to see that happen.


But the search term for website design in Googles News section, the article stayed at the top for 2 days and now on the 3rd day is starting to fall in rankings.


So unless I get a lead that brings in enough to cover this cost I don't think I will be doing the PR newswire approach again. But at least now I know. The other concept of writing the releases and submitting to the cheap 5 will be the better route. That route is easier on the budget and packs almost as much SEO and traffic building as this $500 solution has.


--

4 or 5 days after pr newswire launch


I keep checking the positioning on a google search in the news section and I feel to the 6 position but I have now gone back up to the 4th position.


Which is interesting I was suspecting I would have fallen off the first page by now.


Still no leads or increase in web traffic though...


Like always I encourage you to share your experiences and comments to this post...


Thanks for reading.




Saturday, September 26, 2009

Do you have a Blogging, Brochure Website and Social Media Campaign for your business?

Maintaining a Blogging website and a social media campaign is the new buzz for marketing big companies these day.

Major companies are beginning to pull away from traditional forms of marketing and putting more importance on developing a social media campaign

This phenomenon is global, a recent UK design firm reported how an American “e-tailor” has increased its web traffic by using a social media strategy, proving that the effects are global.

http://www.officialwire.com/main.php?action=posted_news&rid=26866&catid=409

The success to a Social Media Campaign is consistency, this type of campaign isn’t like an ad campaign you strategize about, come up with some concepts then launch and wait to see the results. It’s a proactive campaign that gets “nourished” on a daily bases several times a day to try and keep the campaign working. The downsize to this is the time and resources it takes to keep the campaign effective, so hiring an outside firm to handle this work may be the best answer, but at the same time, this can be a great way for you to get your hands dirty and feel like you are actively doing something with your marketing.

A social media campaign is proactive not reactive, here you are actively reaching out to customers who are discussing your product or service as the conversation is happening, instead of reactive, where you throw a bunch stuff out into the world and hope people scoop it up.

A blog website is very different that that of your corporate or brochure site. Your brochure site is one that tailors its branding and message to convert your traffic into visitors, where a blog is tailored towards giving out useful information hoping to attract visitors to your brochure site.

What I personally love about this approach is that a blog is the place where I can engage in conversations about what I am most passionate about, which is my companies graphic design services we offer customers, this is the place I can go into great details about topics that are hot, and to hear what my customers think about these topics. Where my brochure site, I would like to keep clean elegant and free of clutter I am able to do so, because of all my content gets pushed through my blog. This fresh content is gobbled up by search engines who just love fresh content, and I publish links to these topics through all my social media outlets. The goal is to drive traffic to my blog that then drives traffic to my brochure site, and then the brochure site drives business to our production schedule.

Blogging is a no-brainer, it’s a great tool to promote through your social networking while giving search engines fresh content helping your ranking.

So why not use my blog to voice your opinion on the topic, and let me know what you think, then ask yourself are you using a blogging social media strategy for your business? If not you should get one started why let all these other companies have all the fun. Contact nopun.com today we can help show you a new way to market your business.

Understanding Technical Jargon

David Risley is a pro blogger from www.davidrisley.com http://www.davidrisley.com/2009/09/24/blogging-technology/

Wrote a post about the importance of other bloggers understanding the importance of understanding technical jargon.

Most Bloggers are faced with the dilemma of technology, they need to get a blog up and running and the only way to do that is to either try and figure out how to do it on their own or to hire a designer to build it for them.

No matter how many technical resources there are out there on the subject it is difficult for a technical novice to follow along or know how to react when a technical problem occurs. Ending up with them giving up and not actually getting to the fun stuff.

Reading this article gave me the opportunity to see the end product, I am a developer so this jargon and the technical challenge is what I thrive on. While reading I was able to put my shoes into my actual customers and prospects and see how frustrating it could be to need something done but not fully understand what they need and how to go about doing it, then a designer comes along and say yeah I can get that accomplished for you then ba ba blah, which may sound good at the moment but really have no clue what is being said.

I would say this probably happens with every type of graphic design project, not just the development of a blog. I see when someone says they want a 6 page brochure… When reality is a brochure can’t have siz pages, it has to be divided by 4 being that one page folded in half is four side. But then realize they wanted a “trifold” a page that is folded into 3 side 3x2=6. AS a designer I don’t mean to sound arrogant or make the customer think they are ignorant to the jargon, they just don’t know, just like I would have no clue about the jargon of their industry.

I see that if I could slow down and try to help my clients and prospects fully understand the jargon, and help guide them through the process, I may be more successful as a designer and business owner. I have a hunch that if I can guide the client thought the project that that interaction and customer service will be more valuable than the actual finished project. No matter how great it looks.

I can’t wait to put my new practice into play, so bring your next project to me, and allow me to help guide you through the technical jargon. Feel free to read the original article and let me know what you think...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Design your home page and forget about it

I just came across this article from Dzine it out of manhattan.

They point out that companies no matter their size makes the common mistake of launching their website then forgetting about it. And its so true. What is fascinating to me is that the internet is such a modular advertising medium. Something that can be updated and maintained with little cost.

And especially with the Google optimizer service offering, a company should really take advantage of this service and try and design test and tweak a site until it converts the best or forever, making sure that the goals of the company are being improved on.

In addition if you want google to rank you higher then you need to constantly need to be updating your content, the spider really love fresh content.

Check out the article here

Get inspired then hire a professional graphic design firm to redesign and keep redesigning your site to prepare for the "next economy"...