top tips Tag

From zero to hero: the power of boosting

Establishing your brand’s social media presence takes a whole load of effort. By the time you figure out what you’re giving your audience and what you want them to give you, you can be pretty exhausted. So when it comes to considering a boosting budget, it can often seem like a task for another day. So to convince you how powerful social media tools can be we thought we’d share a recent Facebook success story.

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“Invoicing? Ain’t no thang”: advice for small businesses

I never thought I’d catch myself clapping for glee about… software. I also never thought I’d do chair dances about getting coding right. But here we are. Having your own business does things to you. When you start out, you have to do the best with what you have. We’ve grown over the past eighteen months so we decided to start investing in systems to help our business run better. For us, that meant investing in a good time-tracking and invoicing programme.

Like everyone except accountants a lot of people, Sarah and I feel like this about accounts:

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But we both feel like this about tax:

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So we did the best we could, which at that stage was accounts in Excel, quotes and invoices in Word and us in between. This system was fine but it was pretty laborious and we were pretty certain that we were working far more hours than we had actually quoted for on most jobs. As we grew, we wanted accuracy and efficiency and so the search began.

I looked at loads of software with invoicing and time tracking functionality and Zoho came out tops for us. It had everything we wanted (and loads more), it was affordable and it had the perfect balance of automation and customisation.

Here are my top five favourite things about it:

1. Logical navigation

Each client has a profile which you assign projects to. You time tasks associated to each of these projects. For example:

Client: X

Project: Website rebuild

Tasks: Content editing, website design, SEO implementation.

2. Simple, easy time tracking

The time tracking is simple: you name the task and hit the timer. What if you forget? You can input it manually.

3. Beautiful, automated invoices

Once you’ve decided how you want to bill clients, set up and customised an initial invoice design from loads of templates, it just takes one click to generate an invoice for a client. It pulls through all of your information, all of their information, the project information, the tasks and their descriptions as well as their logged times and puts it into a beautiful, professional-looking design.

4. Super slick process

From there, you can email off the invoice from within the Zoho or save it as a PDF and send from your own email programme. Once the client has paid the invoice, you mark it as such and all of that information is fed through to your reports. You can even design and automate a thank you email, which also allows for a personal message to the client.

5. Information-packed reports

The thing I get the biggest kick out of is the reports. You can set a budget of hours that you’ve quoted the client for and see how many you’ve worked through at any point in the project. This gives you great control on your investment in a project so you can pull back and speak to the client when you can see that you’re going to need more hours or add more services when you’ve underworked a project. The financial reports let you see the growth of your business and that’s the most exciting thing of all.

Five tips for a strong LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn may not be the sexiest social media platform, but it’s a really useful one. Apart from connecting you to thousands of professionals and potential clients, employers, employees, and/or associates, it helps significantly with your Google ranking as well as giving you or your business an added sense of legitimacy.

Here are five tips for creating a stronger LinkedIn profile:

1. Use an avatar – and keep it professional

Having a profile picture on your LinkedIn profile is crucial. Not only does the default avatar make your profile look incomplete, but LinkedIn will automatically move your profile to the bottom of the search results. Adding a professional photo gives you a definite advantage – that’s the key, here. A bikini beach pic, or you in your wedding dress, is not going to do you any favours on this particular platform, unfortunately.

2. Add media to your profile

Do you know what the three fastest growing apps of 2013 were? Vine, Flickr and Instagram – all visual platforms using photos and video. The “visual” is more important than ever, and your LinkedIn profile is no exception. Adding elements like photos, presentations and PDFs will make your profile stand out.

3. Have a strong summary

Your profile summary should be strong, punchy, and full of key words related to your industry that people are likely to search for. When someone clicks on your profile, they want to get a clear idea of who you are and what you have to offer within a few seconds. The moment they have to trawl through a jumbled concoction of your work history and qualifications to construct a picture of you, you will lose them.

4. Publish blog posts

LinkedIn allows you to share links – and the best way to take advantage of this is to share links to your own blog/business news feed. That way you establish yourself as a leader in the field, someone with thoughts and opinions on best practices, someone who offers valuable tips and information. This is content marketing 101.

5. Endorsements and recommendations

Endorsements are great on LinkedIn – they are very easy to give and it’s therefore quite easy to rack up a nice collection of them. Even more valuable, though, are written recommendations from previous employers or colleagues. While these take more time and energy than a click of the mouse (which is all an endorsement takes), they are worth asking for.

Our top music blogs

So you’re tired of hearing the same old thing on the radio and you want to hear some tantalizing new tracks? These four blogs are at the top of their game slinging you beats that might just lead you to your favourite new band.

1. Noonday Tune
First up, a well-established communal local(ish) blog that serves up a treat from one of its 14 contributors every day at noon. It’s a great way to discover new music and, because it’s only one track a day, it’s all about discerning listening. Each song feels like a beautifully wrapped treat – the ideal way to approach something new.

Noonday Tune

Noonday Tune also offers playlists of their previous daily offerings via 8tracks which are solid companions at work. Our tip: follow Noonday Tune on Facebook so that your midday treat shows up in your newsfeed.

2. Pitchfork
Fancy something broader? No problem. Check out Pitchfork: a Chicago-based site devoted to daily music criticism and commentary, music news, and artist interviews.

Since it started in 1995, the site’s focus has been on independent music and is now considered a barometer of public opinion. Our tip: use the extensive staff lists to broaden your musical knowledge. It’s the musical equivalent of poring through the annuls of the Bodleian library. True story.

3. Stereogum
Looking for something more newsy? I’ve got just the thing. Stereogum is a highly acclaimed daily music news and commentary site that covers the full gamut of the music industry.

Established in 2002, the site has released six of its own albums comprised of commissioned covers of iconic albums. They’ve got music heavyweights to pay tribute to the likes of The Strokes’ Is This It?, Bjork’s Post, REM’s Automatic for the People and Radiohead’s OK Computer. Our tip: head over to the Music page to stream tunes right from their regular playlists: Latest Songs, The ‘Gum Mix, and Most Popular.

4. Consequence of Sound
More into a live jam? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. Consequence of Sound features news, album and concert reviews, and editorials with a bias towards live gigs, concerts and festivals.

In February 2012, the website launched a long form writing section, Aux.Out which is a refreshingly in-depth look at music and artists in a new industry of punchy news nuggets. Our tip: keep up with the moving and shaking in the US festival scene with the site’s Festival News and Rumours radar.

Enjoy!

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sceptical baby social media

5 simple ways to engage your audience on social media

Ever wanted to have your own shop selling stuff you love or be a radio presenter recognised and adored for your sense of humour? If you’re active on social media, you’re already taking on roles like these.

Social media is space we all curate – whether it’s our personal brand (of life being amazing all the time) or a business’s brand (of the business’s values, products, lifestyle). Visual platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr can be compared to custom magazines and you could say that Twitter is like having your own transcribed podcast beaming out to followers who are tuned in. So what are you doing with your curated spaces? Getting people to participate is one of the best ways to build loyalty. Here are five simple ways to get followers to engage.

1. Polls

Polls are a great way to get feedback from your community while not asking them to make much of an effort. There are plenty of apps out there to facilitate them – just be aware of your settings: pranksters can have (hilarious but) devastating effects when you allow the public to add suggestions.

2. Competitions

For as long as society has used pronouns, people have loved free stuff. Facebook recently slackened the rules for running competitions which has made life a lot easier. By using an entry mechanism where ‘liking’ your page is a condition, you can build follower numbers quickly. After that, it’s up to you to keep them around.

3. Videos

Generally, we’re a pretty lazy society and there’s no better example of this than our internet habits. We would much rather watch a short clip than read a paragraph of text. Film is a multi-sensory experience and, while it’s expensive in relation to writing text, the impression it gives is incomparable and you can get a lot of mileage out of it. A short, captivating clip to introduce your brand and a number of key points can be used in presentations, on your website, and shared on all of your social media platforms.

4. Links

Your curated space doesn’t have to be made up exclusively of original content. While a certain amount is crucial, your brand’s online presence can also be a hub for relevant and useful content. You can be the go-to place for all things [insert your field here].

5. Photos

Because they communicate immediately and powerfully, images are some of the most shareable content on the internet, especially when overlayed with text. There are plenty of easy-to-use, free tools out there such as PicMonkey which make creating this kind of content a cinch.

If you’d like to take your social media to the next level, check out 26 Facebook Fan Engagement Tips or get in touch about our social media workshops and social media management.

home office

Lock the fridge – and other tips on how to make working from home work

While Pomegranite is small, we have decided that it makes sense to work from home initially, rather than rent office space.

I’m not going to lie. When it’s cold and rainy and dark, there is something so-good-you-feel-guilty about not having to get up, shower and fight through immovable traffic to get to work. Instead, you carefully sit up in bed, reach for your laptop, sign into your email – and ta da! You’re at work.

While I have only done that once twice on a handful of occasions, and don’t recommend it on a regular basis, there are definitely some perks to working from home. There are also some cons – like checking your email at 11:05 pm because, well… your desk is right there.

The internet is full of tips on working from home. Having worked from home for four months now, I have tried ALL the things. Here are five things that I try and stick to to maintain some sense of normalcy.

1)      Have a designated work space

Ok – so this is a tip you will probably find on just about every article on working from home. You know why? Because it’s a true story. It gets pretty hard to separate work stuff from your home life (especially when you live in a tiny apartment). But if you don’t have a proper office to go to, it helps having a desk to “go” to. It’s easier to “leave” work when you get up from a work space at the end of the day.

2)      Try and stick to “normal” work hours

For me, it’s all about maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine when you don’t interact with the outside world as often as those poor humans with office jobs most people. It’s easy to sleep late if you don’t have a boss waiting to look at you disapprovingly, or to get caught up in a task and work late into the night. Try and stick to the usual eight to five where possible. It helps with sanity. And stuff.

3)      Install a lock on your fridge and kitchen cupboards

But really. When your “office” is basically your lounge and kitchen, and the fridge is five steps away (if you take small steps), it’s hard not to visit it every couple hours, just… you know… to see. I swear, sometimes my fridge calls to me softly across the room. SHUT THAT DOWN. Otherwise there will come a day when elves shrink all your pants. And that’s never fun.

4)      Get dressed (in clothes that are not pajamas)

So ja. I may or may not have worked in my pajamas for the first week. One day our business cards were delivered. In my excitement, I rushed outside to get them forgetting that I was in my dressing gown, moo cow pants, and slippers. I decided then that it was time to break the cycle. I’m not suggesting you wear a collared shirt and tie to your desk. But maybe some tracksuit pants, you know? Getting “dressed” for work helps get you into a work frame of mind. It’s also less awkward if your business cards arrive.

5)      Remind yourself of the outside world

When you’re in an office environment, there is stuff going on around you all the time – office gossip, people’s comments on the news, your colleague’s stories about her ridiculous flatmates. When you work from home, it’s easy to get sucked into your screen and forget that there are actual, three-dimensional people out there. Take breaks. Step outside and remind yourself what sunshine feels like on your skin. Go to the gym – and be shocked at how many people are there at 10am on a Thursday morning. (Seriously – who are these people? Are there that many freelancers/students/housewives in Cape Town?)

Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy those rainy days where your most stressful moment is trying not to let too much cold air in as you reach for your laptop.

work space

No, this is not my desk. Yes, I wish it was.
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