Do This to Protect Your Website

I woke up one morning only to find my website layout completely screwed up.  My right website column appeared to have slipped under some sections and over other sections of my left website column.

This resulted in my opt-in box for my free audio e-course and the text for the titles and intros to my blogs to be partially covered.

See below what I saw…


Website Layout Error

In addition, there was a strange link in white letters over my Chef in Demand logo on the upper left which is impossible to see in the above screen shot.

And then, to make matters even more confusing, a few people didn’t see the above layout issues but saw a completely normal website and others saw completely different layout issues.  Go figure!

I was about ready to throw in the towel and give up.  I started mentally preparing myself for building my website over again from scratch.  I couldn’t keep spending time and money to resolve my website issues without any sense of whether a solution would be found or not.   Web designers and developers had already spent a total of 8 hours of time to no avail.

Then just as I was going to give the go ahead for everyone to stop working on my website issue so I could spend my time and money on developing a completely new website instead, the solution was found.  Whew!

Here’s What Was Wrong

A lot of changed and offending codes were found in my CSS file.  A CSS file contains formatting information for the various page elements on an HTML or XHTML Web page, including styles for fonts, headings, lists, tables and paragraphs.

Here’s What You Can Do to Protect Your Website

Back-Up Your Website Regularly

This is a no-brainer and my biggest mistake.  I should have known better.  I know that you have to back up your hard drive and your email on a regular basis, but I never thought about doing the same thing for my website.

Your hosting company may back up your website for you, but they don’t necessarily keep older versions.  Therefore if you don’t notice your issue right away, you may not be able to re-load a problem–free version of your website because the most recent saved version has the errors.

A free software tool that makes it super easy to back up your website onto your hard drive or remote drive is FileZilla at https://filezilla-project.org .

Change Your Password Occasionally

I have no idea how the changed and offending codes got added to my CSS file.  Perhaps someone hacked into my site?  I really have no clue.  I can’t imagine that I inadvertently did something.  Very few people had my password information, and the people I gave it to I trust.  Still, I am now thinking it is a good idea to change your password once in a while.

Check Your Website after Making Any Kind of Changes

Just in case you are the one who inadvertently screws something up with your coding, check your website right away after making any kind of changes.  This way if something goes wrong, you know exactly what you did prior to the problem occurring.  This may make it easier for a web designer or developer to identify exactly where the issue is and why it might have occurred.

I hope by implementing these tips, you are less likely to have a major website issue cause you headaches.  Got something to add or say?  Post your comments below!

Social Media Is a Time-Suck So What Do You Do?

Timeline concept: Wasting Time on digital backgroundYes, it’s true. Social media does take up a lot of time for many of us, and way too often we don’t see the positive benefits of our efforts. It makes many of us wonder if the time we spend on social media is even worth it.

I happen to think that it is as long as you have an effective social media strategy in place. Just being on social media with no plan regarding how you are going to use it to build relationships and drive business your way is a waste of your time.

But even once you have an effective social media strategy in place, you still need to be smart about how you use your time.  You can’t afford to spend hours and hours just on social media because you have other things you need to do to keep your business going, right?

Here are my top ways to spend less time on social media without making it less effective:

Know your audience
This is key. It will help you choose which social media sites to participate in. You may not need to be active on all of them. There is no reason to spend time on a social media site if the people you want to do business with aren’t spending time there also. It’s just not the most effective or efficient use of your time. So think about who your ideal clients are. Where do they hang out on social media and spend most of your time on those social media sites.

Don’t lose track of time
It’s super easy to lose track of time when you are on social media. You have every intention to spend just a few minutes doing an update, posting a photo, asking a question, or commenting on something someone has said, but before you know it, hours have gone by. What happened to the time you wonder? Decide up front how much time you want to spend on social media, set a timer for that amount of time, and when it goes off, move on.

Automate (to a point)
Schedule updates ahead of time. By automating not all but some of your updates, you free up time to focus on such high-pay off actions like responding to your followers in real time. After all the whole point of social media is to build relationships and actually connect with people. You can also use plug-ins to automatically spread an amazing blog post you wrote across more than one social media channel.

Centralize
Set things up so that you go only to one place to manage all of your social media so you don’t have to jump back and forth from one social media site to another. Hootsuite is one such platform that enables you to do this.

Choose when to do social media
There is no need to respond to posts and comments as soon as they are posted. Instead, set aside specific times and days when you plan to do social media. For instance, once a week I set aside 1 hour to schedule posts and then the rest of the week I spend no more than 15 minutes in the morning and later in the day to comment on what others are saying or to post something live myself.

What strategies do you use to keep your social media time to a reasonable level?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Use this Checklist to Ensure Your Website Works

Check listIt’s the new year, and many of us start out determined to make it a good one especially on a personal front.  We are re-motivated to get our bodies in shape after feasting and celebrating.  We vow to be better organized. We commit to spending less and saving more.

But what do we plan to do to make 2014 a good one from a business perspective?

Why not commit to reviewing and updating your website by using the following website checklist as a guide.  By making just a few simple changes to your website, you will increase its effectiveness at turning viewers into clients so 2014 can be one of your best years yet.

2014 Website Checklist

√  Review text for spelling mistakes and fix if found (you’d be amazed at how many times I still find a spelling mistake even after something I have written has been reviewed more than once by me and others)

  Get rid of any old and outdated information and add any new and updated information

 Is your bio boring and “you” centered?  Make sure you focus first on how your background and skills will benefit your ideal customers and then mix in some personal information about you.

√  Do you have an opt-in box so people can give you their names and email addresses so you can build your list?  If not, get one up on your website right away.  If you do have an opt-in box, increase your opt-in rate by offering a juicy, free giveaway.  If you already have a juicy, free giveaway, review it and make sure it is still relevant and effective.

  Check all links and your contact form (sometimes links and forms that used to work don’t anymore so it’s good to check them occasionally)

  Be sure any photos of you and your food are of high quality and if not, schedule time with a professional photographer to update them.  If your food looks enticing and you look personable, trustworthy and approachable more people will want you to cook for them.  If you don’t have a photo of yourself on your site, get one.  People are inviting you into their homes, they need to have a sense of who you are

  Don’t use plural “we”, “our”, “us” if you are the only one running your personal chef business.  Instead use first person “I”, “my”, “me”.  There is no need to pretend to be bigger than you are. If you are the only one running your business you have the advantage of making things feel personal, a plus as a personal chef

  Review your Google Analytics stats and do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t working.  If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your website yet , get it set up now (this is an action I need to take too)

  Do you take your website viewers through an easy-to-follow process so they know what steps and actions to take with you next if they are interested in learning more about you or working with you?

  Update your copyright  dates (mine still says 2012!)

  Give your site a once over and look at it from the perspective of your ideal client.  Is your site too cluttered and poorly laid out?  Does your message make you want to sign up for your services?  Is everything clear and easy-to-understand?  Is there too much text and not enough white space?  Does your site look and feel professional?  Do you clearly communicate your ideal clients’ problems and how you can solve them?

A well-constructed and written website will help you get more clients and income in 2014 so take some time this week to get your website up-to-date and in shape.

Did you find this checklist helpful?  Is there anything else I should add to the list?  Do you plan to implement any of these checklist items?  If yes, which ones?   Share your comments below.

3 Simple Ways to Get More Clients Using LinkedIn

Social Media concept over blueGetting clients from LinkedIn doesn’t have to be all consuming or hard.  By implementing the following 3 simple actions you will be on your way to generating more leads and interest in your personal chef business.

Create Website Links that Motivate

Instead of using the default phrase “Company Website” which can be found when you click on “Contact Info” on your LinkedIn profile page, re-name this link so that it motivates viewers to click on the link to learn more about you and your business.

Ideally, you should change the “Company Website” text so that it communicates benefits or calls your viewers to take action.

For example, one of my website links focuses on benefits and is titled “5 Ways to Boost Your Biz”.  This link leads to a website page that gives details about my free audio e-course on how to keep your calendar fully booked.

My call-to-action website link is called “Click for Marketing Support” and it leads viewers to my Personal Chef Marketing Network LinkedIn Group.

As a personal chef, think of a simple phrase that will motivate your ideal clients to click on your website links to learn more about you.  Here’s a phrase you could use:  “Click to Get Home-Cooked Meals”.  Now I bet you can think of something much more engaging than this, but I am hopeful my example helps clarify the point I am making.

Showcase Your Fabulous Food

LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to add your videos, images and documents.  You’ll find this under the “Summary” section of your LinkedIn page.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to include mouthwatering photos of your food or add a video of you preparing a dish and sharing cooking tips and techniques.

You might also want to consider including a short presentation that outlines the details and explains the benefits of your service.  Think of something you can add in this section that will help you to stand out from the crowd while enticing your viewers to hire you.  This is something I too need to do on my LinkedIn page.

Participate!

Your LinkedIn profile will be nothing more than a resume if you don’t become an active LinkedIn member.  To drive as much traffic as possible to your LinkedIn page so you can connect with new leads regularly and to get your current followers to check out your website and services, you need to get involved by doing the following things…

  • Post updates at least weekly by sharing links to interesting articles written by you and others
  • Start a group and invite your ideal clients to participate or join a group and become an active member
  • Comment on other people’s updates
  • Write and give recommendations and endorsements
  • Send targeted messages to leads and ask to connect with them

And as an added bonus, be sure you occasionally invite your followers to take further action with you by inviting them to a cooking event you are hosting, letting them know about a networking event you are attending or by telling them about a new service you are offering that you think they’ll love.

Do you want more ideas to help you figure out the best ways to use social media and other marketing methods to attract more clients?  Register for a Client Attraction Phone Consult today.   I look forward to talking to you!

Critical Tips to Improve Your Website and Grow Your Business

upgradeOne of the most sited ways that personal chefs get clients is through referrals that come from their websites.  This way of getting clients is second only to getting referrals from people who are what I call warm connections – friends, family, acquaintances, networking contacts, colleagues, current and past clients.

If you aren’t getting many clients from your website or you want to increase the number of leads that come your way through your website, seriously consider the following simple tips to make your website a client-attracting magnet.

Tip #1:  Add an opt-in box

Every website should have one.  An opt-in box is a way to collect names and email addresses so that you can build a list of people who are interested in your services.  To entice people to give their names and email addresses, offer them a free, juicy giveaway that they will absolutely love.  Be sure your opt-in box appears on every page of your website and position it above the fold so no one has to scroll down to find it.

Tip #2:  Don’t have links to other websites or advertisements

If you want more clients, the goal of your website is not to promote other websites, products, resources or services.  Your goal is to drive the people who land on your website to contact you directly, sign up for your list, or register online for a program, product or service.  When you have links to other sites or ads, people are more likely to navigate away from your website without taking the action you desire, and they are less likely to come back to your website.

Tip #3:  Keep it simple

When people land on your website you don’t want to present them with too many options.  For instance, don’t have a bunch of navigation tabs in the menu bar and don’t invite people to do too many different things, i.e. take a class, buy a cookbook, join a membership program, sign up for a newsletter.  If you do, you dilute your efforts.  In addition, when there are too many choices, people are less likely to take action because they feel a sense of overwhelm.

Tip #4:  Less is more

I’ve seen websites that are so packed with text and information that I zone out when I look at these websites.  Has that ever happened to you?  Most people have very short attention spans, and they aren’t interested in reading a book.  Help the people who visit your website by providing concise, easy-to-understand key points about the benefits of your services.  Keep paragraphs short and have a lot of white space.

Tip #5:  Make it about them

Too many websites I see focus on the details of how a personal chef service works and the information about the personal chef’s background and love of cooking.  Instead, focus first and foremost on WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  You want to make sure that what you say on your website focuses on the struggles your ideal clients face and how your services will help them overcome their struggles.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask about your website to make it into one that will convert more visitors into clients?  If yes, post your question in the “Speak Your Mind” section below, and I will respond.  Other comments about this post are also welcome.

If you are tired of struggling to attract a regular client base, and you haven’t signed up for a free Client Attraction Phone Consult yet, schedule one with me here so we can talk!