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We’ve all been there on the tube, in the car or maybe walking to work thinking I could do more with this time. Why not make the most of your commute, so you can feel you’ve accomplished a lot before you even get to work. Here’s a handy list of apps to get you on your way to more productive commute – you’re welcome.

1. Listen to a podcast – Stitcher

Although reading a book is great and we don’t want this pastime to die. It’s not always easy to get a book out or indeed fit one in your bag alongside your laptop, gym kit and your snacks for later. Also, Podcasts are great if your driving and don’t have four hands. You’re likely staring at a screen all day so why not give your eyes a break and just plug-in and listen. Some great podcasts: Tim Ferris Show, Stuff You Should Know, Ted Radio Hour to name a few. So what’s the app? Well, Stitcher is free and allows you to create a playlist of your favorite podcasts.

Image of Stitcher app on phone

2.Get some Buddha into your day  – Calm

We all need some head space and some time to just focus on our breath. Meditation is massively on trend and for good reason. There is a lot of research to say that taking time to just focus in the moment has wondrous effects on your health and mentality. So give this one a go. It’s free and has a range of things you can do from guided meditation to just focusing on your breath.

image of calm app on phone

3.Organise your food goals- Jawbone UP

Trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet, but always forget about that cheeky brownie at lunch or the extra glass of wine at the pub? Well, this app is great for helping you maintain a healthy diet or track your food to try to lose weight. They have a great feature to be able to watch your goals with friends and challenge them to a duel. Which is a race against your friend to do more steps in a set period such as 3 days. If you’re competitive this could be a great motivator for a lunchtime walk.

image of Jawbone UP app on phone

4.Catch up with what you couldn’t do earlier – Pocket

Ever too busy to read something but bookmark it for later and never actually get round to reading it. Well, all that could change with this handy app from Pocket. You can save articles from google (other search engines are available), twitter, Facebook, email, or almost anywhere else. Then, when you’re stuck on a train for 30 minutes because there is yet another strike; you’ll feel a lot more informed and motivated knowing you have had a productive commute.

Image of Pocket app on phone and tablet

5.Get your to-do list in shape –Wunderlist

Everyone loves a list, don’t they? I don’t know if it’s the numbered/listed thing of knowing you have objectives or maybe the satisfaction in crossing or ticking something off the list. Whatever your reason for making lists; there is a fantastic app called Wunderlist which allows you to make lists, add reminders, share with others ( i.e remind Tash to do her slides for that presentation). It also syncs with your computer – making life just that bit easier. So if you’re a list maker, write this on your to-do list to install.

Image of Wunderlist app on phone

6. Get everything connected – IFTTT

Ever get so confused by all the apps you have and wish everything could just be more synced and together? Well, this nifty bit of tech does this for you. IFTTT ‘gets all your apps and devices talking to each other’. The platform has a range of what they call ‘Applets’ which can bring services together to give you new options for making life easier.Image of IFTTT app on phone.

7. Zone out and concentrate more – Noisli

This app is fantastic at helping you zone out and focus which will inevitably increase productivity. You can create a custom sound scape to suit you by choosing a range of natural sound as well as brown, white and pink noise generators. Phone are used for lots of things and some apps stop running as soon you close them, however, this one keeps going meaning you can use other apps at the same time. Give it a try.

Image of Noisli app on phone

8. Personalise your typing – Swiftkey

We all do things a little differently. We have different preferences when using devices. This app allows you to custom your keyboard to suit the way in which you use your phone. It has the predictive abilities of Darren Brown. If this doesn’t make for a productive commute when you are getting through emails, I don’t know what will.

Image of someone using Swiftkey on their phone

 

 

 

 

You might think email marketing is the preserve of big businesses. Think again. Technology has levelled the playing field for businesses great and small, so it’s easier than ever to create slick email marketing campaigns that look as though you’ve paid thousands of graphic designers to help. But what should be considering when you start your campaign?

Keep it regular

Pick a day of the week, and a time in that day, and stick to it. That’s when your users should expect to hear from you. By giving you their email address they’ve basically trusted you. If you abuse that and send too many messages, or send emails when they’re not interested, you’ll find yourself relegated to the junk folder before you can say ’email marketing’. If you don’t have enough content to warrant a weekly newsletter, remember you could always just make it fortnightly or even monthly. It’s better to send one great message than five rubbish ones.

Make sure it looks appropriate

You say a lot about your company before you’ve even said very much in the body of your email marketing. The look of your newsletters can give your mailing list an idea of exactly what your business is like, so make sure it suits what you. For example, if you sell floral vintage china and your key demographic is grannies, your emails probably don’t need to look slick and minimal. Appeal to your demographic.

Make it engaging and informative

Try to let some personality come through in your emails. You might always include a link to a funny news story, or always have something motivational to say. It’s a little thing, but it makes people more likely to read your next message. On the flip side, don’t send out a marketing email for no reason. Keep things informative. Let people know about company updates, new products, or any press. Don’t email ‘just to chat’. That’s a bit weird.

Don’t be too ‘salesy’

Picture the scene: Someone turns up at your house trying to sell you something. You’re not interested. You close the door in their face. You feel a bit guilty, but there was no other way to deal with them. Email marketing has the potential to be a bit like that, except without any guilt about getting rid of you. If you’re emailing people and trying to aggressively sell something, you’re going to rub them up the wrong way. There’s a big difference between saying ‘here’s some things you might be interested in as a previous client’, and saying ‘Hey. You’ve shown a vague interest in me before. Buy all of my stuff. BUY IT NOW.’.

If you’re still on the lookout for a way to make great email newsletters, we recommend Mailchimp, which is versatile enough to do pretty much anything and also has a free subscription below a certain number of subscribers. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

 

Blogs. These days it seems like the world and his wife has one. They’re a great way to earn a bit of extra income, and can even lead to a full-time career. They’re a great way to show off your expertise and attract followers and job offers. But if you’ve never been in the blogging game before, what should you be thinking about before you begin your blog? We made a list of some of your key considerations:

 

1. Set a goal

Back in the day, the most common way to monetise a blog was to sell advertising space on your site. There’s less demand for that these days, so you need to be thinking differently. Is your aim to find clients through demonstrating your expertise? Perfect. Do you want to sell products through an online shop? Great. Basically, just know what you’re aiming to achieve. You don’t have to make the knowledge public, but it’s good to bear in mind.

2. Pick a niche and stick to it

The internet is packed with beautiful lifestyle blogs featuring minimalist design and perfectly-Instagrammed pictures of lattes. Unless you have something very different to add to that field, there’s not much to be gained from producing more of the same kind of content. The more specific your subject matter, the quicker you’ll find you rise above the noise. If you’ve got lots of passions, pick one. If you’re a dog groomer looking to attract new customers with your blog, keep your writing about dog grooming, rather than all of the cafes you visited when you went to Paris.

2.5 Know your audience

This is too similar to point 2 to warrant it’s own number. Once you’ve found your niche, you also need to know who you’re writing for. It’ll make it much easier to target your content. After all, you won’t get anywhere if your writing is littered with ‘LOLs’ and ‘YOLOs’ and hashtags and you’re writing a blog for retirees who like waterskiing (it could happen).

3. Don’t take shortcuts with your content

Yes, SEO is great. You need to understand it if you want to bring people to your site. But once you’ve got them there, they won’t hang around if the content isn’t great. And the chances of them making a repeat visit are even less likely. Once you’ve honed your SEO skills, they won’t really change, while reader expectations for great content will keep shifting. So make sure you’re keeping up with what’s trending in your field, and which kinds of articles are popular.

4. Don’t live your life by pageviews alone

It’s easy to get disheartened if your pageviews don’t match up to those of the superbloggers everyone knows and loves, but try to remember that that’s not the be-all and end-all. If you blog about the paintings that you sell and only have 10 followers, but they each spend £1000 on your art, that’s way more valuable than 1000 followers who don’t engage. So when you find yourself comparing yourself to other people (and you will), remember the goal you set yourself and chill out.

 

5. Get involved

It’s all very well to write a killer blog, but how will anybody know you’re doing it? If nothing else, you should be engaging with other bloggers in your area of interest by reading and constructively commenting on their posts. You’ll also need to be sharing your content on social media so at the very least a Facebook and Twitter account wouldn’t go amiss. If you’re creating business-related content, you might benefit from being on Linkedin, and if you’re all about fashion or lifestyle, Bloglovin’ is a great place to be. The benefit of social media is that you can do so much more than simply share your own content – you can discover new people to follow, join conversations, and maybe even pick up a few new contacts.

6. Keep it regular

You keep followers by being trustworthy. Once people have discovered that your blog is great and has the exact kind of content they’ve been looking to read, they want to know when to come back for the next pearl of wisdom. They’re not going to keep coming back if they’ve seen nothing new for three weeks, so you need to make sure you’re regularly rewarding them for their loyalty with brand new posts. It’s sometimes worth making clear on your ‘about’ page when new content is posted, or even starting a newsletter so people can have your latest material sent straight to their inboxes.

7. Have a great ‘About’ page

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Now that you know your audience, what you’re writing, how you plan to write it, and how often, you need to think about introducing yourself to your readers. Why should they trust what you have to say? Make sure your ‘About’ page lists all of the reasons that your readers should consider you to be an expert in your field: Do you have a lot of experience? Did you study the subject? Are you working in the industry you’re writing about? Have you won awards? If you’re learning as you write, that’s also good, it just helps to add context to what your saying if people know where you’re coming from.

8. Stick with it

Picture the scene: It’s been two months. You’ve been posting regularly, SEO-ing everything, writing high-quality and original content, and you’ve set yourself up with a shiny new Twitter account. But you’re not seeing much action. Don’t freak out, and do not quit. In those first few weeks when nobody’s heard of you and you’re struggling for followers, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are blogger reputations. It takes time to start getting noticed. Keep at it, and it’ll happen in the end.

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So, what will you be blogging about? We’d love to see once you’re up and running, and don’t forget to keep browsing HowNow to find some amazing experts who can help you along the way.

For this article, we’re going to go ahead and assume you know the basics of online marketing. If not, you should make sure to check out our tips for increasing your Twitter follower numbers as well as this one. After all, we don’t want you to be doing half a job when it comes to social media. And we especially don’t want you to be doing half a job on our say-so.
It’s all very well to have great social media accounts for your brand, as well as engaging with other people and linking to sites you love. However if you’re relying on having a Facebook page and a Twitter account ticking over and nothing else, you might find that it’s difficult to speed up the growth of your channels or reach the engagement targets you set yourself.
We’ve put together a list of other things you should probably be thinking about. These options may not work for everybody, but they’re certainly a good place to start.

Paid ads

One of the main mediums that have proved to be successful in terms of promoting a brand online is paid advertising over social media. On Facebook you can choose your audience by age, location, interests, and even relationship status. It’s creepy as hell if you think about it too much. In fact, it’s best to focus on taking everything you know about your demographic and using that knowledge to build the perfect audience. You can choose what outcome you want, from gaining followers to getting clicks to a website. Twitter operates in a very similar way and, since you can set your own budget it’s definitely something worth experimenting with.

Twitter Cards

With just a few tweaks to the HTML of your site you can change how content looks when it’s shared on Twitter. That sounds complicated but there’s hundreds of tutorials for this online, or you might have a friend you can bribe. Or you could try learning some coding basics on HowNow. If you’re a photographer you can make sure your photo shows up front and centre when you share a link. If you’re selling physical products you can share a listing which features an image alongside the price. There are 9 different Twitter Card iterations to choose from, and the best thing is that if the public share your content it’ll show up the exact same way.

Competitions

If you want to foster a sense of community and get more engagement amongst your existing followers social media competitions are a good way to go. They’re also great for engaging your existing followers. It’s pretty simple – you offer a prize in exchange for a comment from a follower, and then pick a winner. That might be out of the hat or it might be based on merit, but either way it’s a great way to start a conversation. After all, engaged followers are much more likely to stick around.

Pay attention to analytics

Facebook, twitter, and most third-party CMS systems have inbuilt analytics which are can be incredibly useful. Did you post something that got a lot of engagement? Awesome. It’s probably worth posting similar stuff again. Have you noticed that there are times of day when you get more impressions? Again, that’s information you can use to dictate when you should be posting your best content.

Social media

These are just a few pointers, but the world of social media is vast and constantly changing. If there’s something we haven’t quite covered here, it might be worth getting one-on-one help to iron out any issues. Keep an eye on HowNow – we might have just the expert for you.

Twitter is a great platform to help you market your brand, show off your expertise, or find new contacts. It has a reputation for being the place people go to discuss the sandwich they had for lunch, but that’s doing it a disservice. After all, any opportunity to network is a worthwhile one, and Twitter has the added bonus of allowing you to work in your pyjamas. But how can you make Twitter work for you?

Twitter tip No. 1

Get Involved. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised. Twitter is a conversation, and not just an opportunity to post all of your opinions for the world to see. Reply to what people are saying, and get involved with conversations surrounding trending hashtags (for example #CraftHour). You might find that people with similar business to yours hold Twitter chats you can get involved in. And if not, you could even consider running one yourself.

Twitter tip No. 2

Use images and links. research shows that people engage more with Tweets that include images and/or links than they do with plain text. On a very basic level, it’s probably because there is actually something to engage with, but whatever the reasoning it’s a good thing to bear in mind. It also makes your profile page look more interesting to stalkers/prospective future clients.

Twitter tip No. 3

Know your audience. Who are you aiming to reach? That should influence the kind of content you share, the tone you use, and the people you follow. If you’re writing content for a new vegan cafe, it’s probably not worth sharing an image of the awesome steak sandwich you had for lunch. It’s a common-sense point, but it’s an easy place to start alienating people if you don’t have your audience in the forefront of your mind when you start posting.

Twitter tip No. 4

Consider using ads if you’re a business – If you’re ready to kick things up a notch, consider using ads on Twitter. You’ll be able to get your tweet into far more feeds than by just tweeting alone. Assuming that you know your audience and how best to appeal to them, it could pay dividends to make sure you appear in the newsfeeds of your target demographic.

Twitter tip No. 5

Tweet regularly. Twitter is the kind of place where both quality and quantity count. There are hundreds of tweets every day on the timeline, so if you want to attract attention you have to rise above the noise. Interesting tweets which get lots of interaction will help you do this, but the odd one or two here and there isn’t enough. Consistency is key. If you have to, investigate the use of a scheduling tool like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social. We won’t judge you.

Twitter tip No. 6

Make sure people can find you – Social media is an immediate thing and if you have an existing off-Twitter following you should be making the most of it . Make sure you link to your Twitter everywhere you can. We’re talking on your website, in your shop, in email newsletters, on other platforms… Nobody has ever made a mental note to follow somebody later and then actually remembered. Help your current audience to strike while the iron’s hot.

Twitter tip No. 7

Post a variety of content – It’s great that you like the full back catalogue of Gandhi’s inspirational quotes, but you need to be adding something original to people’s’ newsfeeds too. If you come across relevant articles that you like, share them. Cool and relevant images? Share them. Retweet other people, maybe add in the occasional GIF (the internet loves GIFs), and your profile will be interesting before you know it.

Twitter tip No. 8

Realise it takes time – Once you start engaging with Twitter and keeping it consistent you should start seeing a difference. The thing is, it might not happen as fast as you want it to. Resist the urge to buy followers, because it’s always obvious. Resist the urge to start using ‘automated’ following programs, because it’s generally pretty inaccurate. Resist the urge to use automatic ‘thanks for following!’ DMs, because it’s a big turn off. There’s no shortcut better than posting consistently great content, sorry.

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We can’t wait to see what you get up to on Twitter – don’t forget to give us a follow at @GoHowNow, and keep an eye on the website for some awesome experts who want nothing more than to help you along the way.

There’s loads of brand new ways of marketing your business using the internet. Email marketing is a classic, though. While some companies have moved away from it in favour of advertising through social networks, we think it’s definitely still worth doing. But why should you care what we think? We put together a list of reasons you should probably consider email marketing if you don’t already do it.

Pretty much everyone has an email

When considering online marketing, Facebook is always a sound choice. They have 1.7 billion monthly active users worldwide. However, email greatly surpasses that with 2.5 billion users around the world. There’s a chance that some people in your demographic might not be on Facebook, but they’re very likely to have an email.

You can engage customers

Sending emails can open up a dialogue with your customer base. If you send messages from an email address they can reply to they’re likely to do so. It probably won’t happen so much that you feel inundated, but it’ll happen on occasion. Whether your email list have questions, comments, or complaints, it’s a great way to get feedback. You’re also contacting people who have at one point or other willingly (we hope) given you their email. That implies that they’re probably already interested in what you’re doing, which is a great place to start.

People expect promotions

Email has been commonplace for a lot longer than social networking. As such, the idea of receiving promotional messages is something we all expect and largely accept. At this point it basically feels the same as getting pizza leaflets through the door. Paid marketing through social networks like Facebook and Twitter has been around for a lot less time and is still seen by some as an annoyance, which means email can be the better option if you want to find a receptive audience.

You can personalise it

If you create a Facebook ad, for example, there are very prescriptive rules about what you have to have to include. The same can also be said of Twitter and Instagram. When you’re sending promotions directly to inboxes you have the freedom to present your company however you would like – the only restriction is the limit of your imagination. Although do avoid sending unsolicited giant files to people. Nobody likes that company.

There’s more chance of being seen

According to ReturnPath, 18% of emails were either blocked or undelivered last year. Similarly, 4% went straight to junk folders. That means 22% of emails don’t reach their destination. On the flip side, organic reach for a post on a Facebook page is likely to be less than 7%. That means that without spending money to promote your posts you run the risk of 93% of your fans missing your content. Basically, email can prove to be a much more cost-effective way of reaching more interested people.

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If you’re still on the lookout for a way to make great email newsletters, we recommend Mailchimp, which is versatile enough to do pretty much anything and also has a free subscription below a certain number of subscribers. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

SEO is a complicated beast. Google is constantly changing their parameters in order to weed out people who take shortcuts to rank higher. This means that the requirements for good SEO are always changing. However, there are a few basic things you can do to give you the best possible chance of ranking.

Have a high-quality site

Google’s definition of exactly what defines a ‘high quality site’ changes a lot. However at the very least they want to know that the people visiting your site will be satisfied with what they find. That might involve lots of additional content, or just straightforward information displayed simply. It depends on each individual business. You’ll be penalised for not making sure everything is mobile friendly. You should definitely avoid naughty things like hidden backlinks and too many forced third-party ads.

Use keywords

So you want your post to stand a chance of ranking when a user searches for a certain topic. You need to be using keywords associated with that topic (shock, horror). For example, if you were writing about baking, you need to make sure you actually use the word a lo. It’s not something that should cause much panic, since you’ll mention what you’re writing about when you write about it. Google’s bots tend to scrape the first few lines of each piece of content, so make sure you make a few references to your subject matter in the first few lines. However, you also remember to keep it sounding natural.

 Have your keyword in your URL

In much the same vein as the previous point, make sure that your keyword appears in the URL of the page. Whichever CMS you’re using, you should be able to edit your URL to make it say what you want it to. It also helps to bear in mind that once you’ve settled on a URL, it’s best not to change it, because it goes without saying that you’ll be sharing it across your thriving social media channels. Don’t have those yet? No biggie. Check out how to get started here.

Use Plugins to help you

If you’re using WordPress there are plugins that can help guide you through the process of implementing great SEO. For each post you write, plugins like Jetpack will keep track of how many times you’ve mentioned your keyword. They’ll also remind you to add in anything you’ve forgotten, like those pesky pictures. You’ll be able to update your meta description so that you can make it something attractive to your demographic, rather than simply the 160 characters that just happen to get picked up by Google’s bots.

Keep your site active

We’ve mentioned that you could benefit from having a good level of extra content on your site, and that’s one way to keep it active. If that’s not something you’re going for, you at least need to be keeping all of your information up-to-date. This allows the the powers-that-be (Google) to see that you’re still maintaining the site. If they don’t see any signs of activity they’ll question the quality of the UX, and if you’re not careful you might see your account slipping down the rankings.

seo

Like we mentioned at the beginning of this, the rules for SEO are constantly changing, which makes it difficult to stay on top of everything. The thing to bear in mind, though, is that Google are ultimately looking for high-quality sites with good information. As long as you have one of those, you’ve got off to a great start with SEO. If you’re looking for a more in-depth insight, check out HowNow to find experts who can teach you.