Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Real Costs of Working from Home

Working in sweats, skipping the commute and avoiding office politics. For the right people, working from home can increase productivity and decrease stress. And, it can be more cost effective than working from an outside office. But, working from home does not come without costs. Let's look at some of the real costs of working from home.

Maintain Professional Relationships
When primarily working from home, you need to actively build and maintain relationships with colleagues. Make sure you see your colleagues’ faces occasionally. Instead of phone calls and email, use video conferencing so that you can see the other people and they can see you. Also, don't skip small talk. When in an office, you have the Break Room to catch up with others. When working from home and speaking to others via the phone or video, small talk will help create rapport. Plan to join a conference call a few minutes early with just that intent.

While working from home is convenient and comfortable, it can also get a little lonely when you’re by yourself day after day. At times, the solitude of working alone at home may lead to feeling isolated or cut off from other professionals. To combat those feelings, try the following:
  • Take periodic breaks - Take a walk, go the supermarket or run errands.
  • Work outside your home office - Work from a coffee shop, book store or public library.
  • Get social - Be active in professional social media sites and engage with others to promote your business and professional brand.
Stagnant Innovation
Working from home can cut you off from spontaneous interactions with others that can spark new insights. Consider scheduling regular conference calls or virtual meetings with colleagues, clients or other professionals. Engage in discussions about challenges you and they are facing, and possible ways to overcome those challenges. If necessity of the mother of invention, your necessity is to stay connected.

Utility Bills
If you have a dedicated home office, you may be able to write off some of the utility expenses, at least for the portion of your house made up by your office. See a tax professional for advice for your specific situation. However, when you’re working from home your utility bills are going to increase. You can no longer turn the air conditioner off for eight hours a day in the summer. And even if you’re attentive to turning off lights and appliances in rooms you’re not using, you will still be using your office, kitchen, bathroom and other areas of your home a bit more.

Some municipalities (i.e. New York City) impose taxes on home-based workers whether they work within the municipality or not. For example, an out-of-state resident who works from home for a New York company will owe taxes to both states. While tax credits may be available on the multiple state tax returns, you will likely need to file multiple state tax returns - even as often as quarterly. Again, see a tax professional for advice for your specific situation.

Liability Insurance
When working from home, accidents at home by you or others may not be covered by your regular home owner's insurance policy. An example would be when a package delivery person trips and becomes injured on your property when delivering a work-related package. A stronger example is if you see clients at your home office, and a client becomes injured. You need to check the coverage in your home owner's insurance policy. If lacking proper liability protection, you may need to add a rider to your policy, or even acquire a business liability policy (Important: See an insurance professional for advice for your specific situation).

Whether you have a home-based business or work for another company, you may love the idea of working from home. Before you commit to doing just that, it's important to have a thorough look at the real costs for working from home, as well as the anticipated benefits. Doing so will help you determine just how you will be able to work effectively from home.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Worst Website

We may not always judge a book by its cover, but we almost always judge a business by its website. There are a lot of opinions about what goes into the worst website... Poor color selection, not mobile friendly, hard to read font and terrible images or content. While I agree those are big factors, for me the worst website is the one that is NOT found.
Just because you have created and published your website, it does not mean that people will be able to easily find it. If  your website is not found, then your business is functionally irrelevant online. So, you need to help the search engines know about your website and help them understand how the website relates to user search entries. In addition, you need to help your audience - the people you want to reach - learn about the existence of your website and business.

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic to your website organically and for free in the search results on search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. While this is a topic that is too large for a small section in a blog post, here is a summary of the 2 areas you need to focus on for SEO:
  1. On-Page SEO is the act of you optimizing different parts of your web site that affect your search engine rankings. It's stuff that you have control over and can change on your own website, such as page text, various HTML tags, and internal links.
  2. Off-Page SEO increases the relevancy of your website by getting links on other websites to your website. Essentially, it increases relevancy because if demonstrates how the "world" views your website.
While on-page and off-page SEO work together to improve your search engine rankings, On-page SEO is the one that you should initially spend time on. It's the one where you have the full control to make updates and improvements.

Get Social
It’s not enough to produce great content on your website and hope that people find it. You must be proactive. One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to use social media channels to promote your content and drive traffic to your website. Twitter is ideal for short, snappy attention getters called "tweets". LinkedIn is the number 1 social media platform for B2B* (business-to-business). Also, YouTube is tops for promoting video content. If you are a B2C (business-to-consumer) organization, you will get the most traction with Facebook*. Also use YouTube and Instagram if your content is largely images. Don't forget to include your website link in your social media channels and activity.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is a way of using search engine advertising to generate clicks to your website instead of “earning” those clicks organically via SEO. Every time your ad is clicked, sending a visitor to your website, you pay the search engine a small fee. You do not pay a fee when the search engine displays your ad, but the searcher does not click your ad. Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) ( is the most popular PPC platform. Although, other search engines and social media channels offer this service.

Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords. These are the words/phrases that people use to search in the search engines. When someone searches using the keywords that are in your campaign, your website ad will display in the search results. The most successful AdWords advertisers continuously refine their PPC keyword list.

Add a Blog Page
Search engines love fresh content. There's no better way to provide fresh and frequent content than with blog posts. You will build trust and clout within your professional community by providing valuable, expert information via your blog posts. Over time, you will become a trusted resource for helpful, informative content, which can ultimately lead to a higher customer conversion rate. If you are already blogging, then post more frequently. This is a form of on-page SEO.

Email Marketing
In today’s dynamic digital marketing world, email marketing tends to take a backseat to most online promotion activities. If you haven’t considered email marketing for your business, now may be the time to do so. Email marketing is a targeted, shareable, credible, measurable, and cost-effective marketing tool. Using email marketing, you can create deeper and more personal relationships with a wider audience, and at a very low cost. With a targeted approach and a strong message, your business is sure to benefit from email marketing.

While wanting more customers is the primary desire for business owners, then next desired item is increased website traffic. Implementing any of the above strategies can help increase traffic to your website. While some of these strategies won’t be a quick fix, you may be surprised how quickly some of them start to generate results for you.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.

* 2016 B2B Content Marketing Trends - North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs
   2016 B2C Content Marketing Trends - North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs