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Stop Saying “ROI”

Did I ever tell you that I hate the word "ROI"? Yes, I do. People use this term day in and day out. It's like the word is used to say whatever you’re trying isn't working. But can you prove it isn't working?? It's hard to see if anything is working.

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Let's get technical here. "To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment. The result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio. In the above formula, "Gain from Investment” refers to the proceeds obtained from the sale of the investment of interest." GAHHH what does this even mean?!

Seriously. My head spins whenever people talk about ROI. It is hard to tell what is working and what isn't. I mean, you can see some statistics and understand... but ROI IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. In fact, it could take months or years. I am not kidding.

Being a business owner is a risk in itself. Right. If you aren't willing to take a chance, then you won't ever get ROI. You have to keep growing and pushing forward to really get the ROI you want. It only works if you put forth a consistent effort.

"That being said, one of the downsides of the ROI calculation is that it can be manipulated, so results may vary between users. When using ROI to compare investments, it's important to use the same inputs to get an accurate comparison." https://investinganswers.com/financial-dictionary/technical-analysis/return-investment-roi-1100

So now people can lie about ROI too? Breaking news, there is no real way to track a return on investment other than data. But even data won't show the full potential.

Check this out. I hired a sales coach and am a part of her mastermind. It was a "large" investment for me. But, I knew I had to do it. I thought by joining the mastermind that I would get ROI and would make so many sales. NO, I had to do the work and move forward to get ROI.


Now I am confident and can sell, so the ROI is 100% there, but the problem is it took time. Like anything does. So, you can not expect the ROI to happen magically. I always hear people tell me this for social media, branding, marketing, or whatever the avenue. But, you need to be patient and put in a lot of time and money up front before you can move forward and receive that return you’re seeking.

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Branding Helps Businesses Grow

Branding is one of those words that everyone cringes at when they hear the word. They either get it or they don't. They think it is merely a logo, but it is so much more than that. To understand branding, you need to grasp a few points about how to establish it first.

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DEFINE AND REFINE YOUR “WHY?”

Understanding and defining your purpose is essential. Why do you do what you do? What is your unique value? What makes you different than the person down the street from you?

OUTLINE YOUR VALUES AND STORY

Every brand needs a narrative story. Set the core values and tell a story about your brand. Live it, breathe it, embrace it. Think of the big name brands and how they convey the same story in every location, packaging, etc.

RECORD YOUR GOALS

These are business goals for the next six months, twelve months, etc. You want your target to include branding; get as specific as possible when developing these goals.


SET STRATEGIES

If you do not know how you are going to achieve those goals, then it won’t ever happen, and it is a waste of time and money.

CREATE MEANINGFUL CONTENT

Content marketing is critical for your branding, voice, and storytelling. It is what sets you apart. Be authentic, real, and true to your purpose.

BE CONSISTENT

Exhibit consistency not only with content, graphics, images, etc. but also in the way you conduct every aspect of your business. This action will improve the quality and value of your service, which will help you reach profitability quicker.

These quick tips can be used for your business and branding as you think about taking it to the next level. Be sure to let us know how you are bringing your brand to the next level in the comments below.


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FreshBooks Double-entry Perks!

** This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

I always dreamed of being a business owner, but what I didn’t dream of was all the accounting and invoicing that is involved with it. It is one of my biggest problems. I hate it…. Up until I started using Freshbooks. 

Freshbooks has been amazing… and puts my mind and finances to ease. Freshbooks has amazing customer service, and their product helps save your time and money! They know how much pain and expenses there are as business owner. It helps you to better serve your customers and be more efficient with your time. 

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Real quick… let’s talk about Freshbooks. They create professional looking Invoices in Seconds. Nothing is worse than getting an unprofessional invoice! FreshBooks makes creating professional-looking invoices for your business so easy and worth it! It’s even simple to create and customize your invoice: add your logo, and personalize your thank you email.Your customers will be amazed. 

Now here are some quick benefits to Quickbooks: save time and accept credit cards on invoices, put your business on autopilot, get paid upfront with deposits, bill for exactly what you’re worth. Doesn’t that make you so happy just hearing those things?? I know it does for me, who has time for extra steps? 

However, I am happy to share with you, their new feature “double-entry accounting.” This is such a great benefit to their program! 

What is double-entry accounting? It is an industry-standard method that bookkeepers and accountants use to track and manage a business’s financial records. 

FreshBooks’ double-entry accounting functions have eight new features that are part of the industry standard system, including Cost of Goods Sold, Other Income, General Ledger, Trial Balance, Charts of Accounts, Accountant Access, Bank Reconciliation and Balance Sheets.

All of that sounds like a headache to me, but it is super easy knowing that Freshbooks takes care of it for me. 

Let’s talk about each item real quick.

Accountant Access: You are able to share your information with your accountant or CPA. It is super easy, and you both can see everything at the same time and same way. It’s a win-win. 

Chart of Accounts: This helps you stay organized and has a complete listing of every account in your accounting system such as assets, liabilities, equity, revenue and expenses.

Balance Sheet: Sometimes we need to have a big picture of our business financial position and this does that for you. You can factor in the company’s assets, liability, and equity. Stop stressing about business finances with this simple snapshot. 

Bank Reconciliation: You will be able to automatically connect payments and income into your Freshbooks account. You will be able to see any new expenses, payments, or income. It helps make sure your records and reports are up to date. 

General Ledger: This tells your business finances story. You will be provided with a complete record of all accounts a company uses. 

Cost of Goods Sold: As a business you will need to get equipment and supplies to run a successful business. However, you might need to get a type a good that is essential such as a particular tool for a contractor for a specific client. This is different than expenses. 

Other income; You might get income from other places, you know those small jobs that you hustle for. You can record the extra ways you make money so that your taxes will be smooth. 

Trial Balance: You will be able to double check your accounting to make sure your list of debits and credits match up. 

Sign up for a FREE trial 

You can always read more about Freshbooks https://www.visions2images.com/blog/2019/1/10/benefits-of-freshbooks


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THE BEST ENTREPRENEUR BOOKS

Being an entrepreneur has a lot of up’s and down’s. It requires a lot of knowledge and up keep. You have to constantly be growing each day, otherwise you might fall behind.

I do enjoy podcasts and audio books, but every now and then I do enjoy a nice reading book., It’s a great way to sit down at night and unwind. Reading really is good for the soul.

Here are some of my top favorite entrepreneur books.

  1. Start Your Own Business, Sixth Edition: The Only Startup Book You’ll Ever Need 
    Tapping into more than 33 years of small business expertise, the staff at Entrepreneur Media takes today’s entrepreneurs beyond opening their doors and through the first three years of ownership. This revised edition features amended chapters on choosing a business, adding partners, getting funded, and managing the business structure and employees, and also includes help understanding the latest tax and healthcare reform information and legalities.

  2. Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur  Women around the world have responded to Cara Alwill Leyba’s Girl Code with a resounding YES. Companies like Kate Spade and Macy’s have brought her in to teach “the Code.” Inc. magazine named Girl Code one of the “Top 9 Inspiring Books Every Female Entrepreneur Should Read” alongside Lean In, #Girlboss, and Thrive.

  3. The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage  The instant New York Times bestseller from Shark Tank star and Fubu Founder Daymond John on why starting a business on a limited budget can be an entrepreneur’s greatest competitive advantage. Daymond John has been practicing the power of broke ever since he started selling his home-sewn t-shirts on the streets of Queens. With a $40 budget, Daymond had to strategize out-of-the-box ways to promote his products. Luckily, desperation breeds innovation, and so he hatched an idea for a creative campaign that eventually launched the FUBU brand into a $6 billion dollar global phenomenon. But it might not have happened if he hadn’t started out broke – with nothing but hope and a ferocious drive to succeed by any means possible.

  4. Get Over Your Damn Self: The No-BS Blueprint to Building a Life-Changing Business Romi Neustadt is passionate about helping others build lucrative direct sales and network marketing businesses that help create lives with more freedom and flexibility, greater purpose and a lot more fun. In this book she offers you the same direct, no-BS coaching she’s given to tens of thousands to help you acquire the skills to build this sucker and teach your team to do the same. And, equally important, she’ll work on your mindset so you stop over complicating it all and stop letting the negative voices in your head win.

  5. She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur  Are you ready to turn your ideas into reality and build a wildly successful business?There has never been a better time to say yes! With a computer and an Internet connection you can get your ideas, messages, and business out there like never before and create so much success.In this book, Carrie Greenshows you how.Carrie started her first online business at the age of 20—she knows what it’s like to be an ambitious and creative woman with big dreams and huge determination . . . but she also knows the challenges of starting and running a business, including the fears, overwhelm, confusion, and blocks that entrepreneurs face.

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What is Branding?

Branding is a term that many people do not understand. It is more than a logo. We need to understand more of what branding is so that our businesses can be successful and grow. Your brand is how your audience portrays you. It is everything from your voice, colors, logo, fonts, and so much more.

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So what is branding?

1. Influence: It is how your audience feels when you work with them and the feeling that you give them.

2. Visuals: This identifier is the logos, icons, patterns, and images so that your audience can identify you and create brand awareness.

3. Foundation: This mark is the mission, vision, and values that are behind a brand. Audiences like to feel a connection whenever they invest.

4. Words: This step is the copy that you convey on blog posts, videos, podcasts, and even advertising copy. This part consists of how you speak to your audience and connect with them!!

So why is branding so important?

1. It Tells Your Story: It is a visual way of storytelling and a way to communicate with your audience. It defines who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Think about the brands that you invest in and see every day. You buy into those because of their brand.

2. Increases Your Value:

This action lets your audience know that you are professional and have values in your business. Are you willing to invest in a brand if they haven't even invested in their branding?

3. Gives You Direction:

It doesn’t matter where you are with your business; you need to have a clear vision for your audience and employees. This measure allows all your vendors and employees to be successful and keep the branding on track.

4. Promotes Recognition:

Think about your favorite brand and how it has elicited recognition. Mine is Apple. I get super excited and butterfly feelings with any product associated with their brand. A strong brand will be remembered and shared with others.

5. Generates Leads & Increases Revenue:

Isn't this everyone's goal? This factor is the biggest that you need to have for your branding. You want people to share and shout to the world about your business, and this will happen when you provide good branding and customer service

Branding is the single most important element for any business to be successful. Let me know, does your brand have all of these things? If not, click below and contact us for a free consultation today.

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Why Stock Images Don’t Work

As a brand strategist, I know what works and doesn't work. But more importantly, why doesn't it work? The biggest factor that I notice is stock images on websites and social media. This element can downgrade your brand.

I take time each month to create my images and take pride in doing so whether it is the creation of digital images or photography. Performing this task helps keep my brand on point and cohesive like I tell my clients about all the time.

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Here are the top reasons why stock images don't work for your brand.

1. I thought I just saw that image. Chances are they have seen it somewhere else and just got your brand confused because they are thinking of the previous picture they just saw, possibly from a competitor. It now sticks to their mind that it wasn't original, and they are left confused.

2. Stock images won’t connect your audience with your brand. If it doesn't match your brand and audience, you are leaving everyone puzzled. You have just wasted time and money when you could have done it correctly the first time.

3. I don't know about you, but before I invest in any company, I do research and make sure that I see brand awareness and consistency. Stock images don't make you look authentic. Let's be real. People sitting at a conference table with a white background seems fake; get creative and fun and show your personality.

4. Too many stock photos make you seem fake. Have you ever visited a website with so many stock images you didn't even know what they were offering? Does it look like a fake rather than a “real” company? Maybe, maybe not. I would back away, though.

There are plenty of other reasons why stock images don't work well for any business. I understand that it might be pricey to have a brand specific photoshoot, but it will be well worth it to stand out. Not to mention, if you don't even have copyright releases to these images, are they even worth using? Invest your money on custom photography so that your audience will mark you as professional and genuine.

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One Tool I Use Every Day in My Business

Dubsado is the best tool for the productive business owner. They build software that allows you to take back your time, money, and attention and reinvest it into your business, family time, or whatever else you're hoping to do in life.


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3 Easy New Ways to Double Blog Traffic

Everyone wants traffic to their blog and website, right? The problem is how do we get the numbers there? It might seem like social media is the key, but there are numerous other opportunities out there.

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3 Easy New Ways to Double Blog Traffic

  1. Do a Massive Vanity Post:: This way is when you create a massive round-up post of the best advice or tips from a minimum of 25 other relevant bloggers, experts, and influencers. You will want to make sure it is a good quality article, and that the contributors have a good audience. From there, of course, ensure your SEO is on point. Then comes the fun time. You send the link back around to everyone who has contributed and see if they’d also like to share this amazingly useful content. It's a win-win for all involved. You can boost this blog post and tag the others on social media to truly help gain traffic to your website. It's super easy!

  2. Create A Mega Pin For Your Best Post: Graphics are a huge item to create to help get a flow to your website or offerings. The best step you can take is to create infographics, excellent and informative infographics. (You should always have pinnable images on every blog post, but for this one specifically, make a nice infographic to interest people.) You should know your audience and know what they want. So, create a few different infographics, and schedule the images on Pinterest. Keep it simple and picturesque.

  3. Guest Blog:Guest blogging is a great way to increase exposure. You literally write for someone else, and they publish the piece. It links back to your website and social media as long as THEY promote it for you. You want to check that you have unique and fun topics, but always with heavy SEO keywords throughout the composition. Here, you are the expert, so have an editor review the article a few times so that the internet can be 'wowed.'

Do you find other ways to help gain more publicity organically when it comes to your blog posts? There are many fun and free ways to do this; these are merely my top three ways.



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Influencer Marketing - Top Five Elements in a Media Kit

If you desire to work with a brand of any sort, you will want to have a media kit. You should make sure that you have everything covered and it is top quality. A lot goes into a media kit, and I am going to break down the top five elements a media kit should include.

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1 ABOUT ME: People want to know more about you (especially if you are an influencer). Throw in a little backstory about how you got started, and add in some of your interests or passions. People want to know that you are human and want to be able to relate to you; this helps you stand out from the crowd.

2  STATS: This information is hands down the most important you’ll include in your media kit. You need to add your social accounts, media outlets (like a blog, podcast, writing credits, etc.), and your analytics for each. Numbers don't always mean everything; they just want to check that you are active and have a following of some sort. High engagement rates can sometimes beat out a larger amount of followers.

3: FOLLOWER DEMOGRAPHICS: You need to have many followers that fit your niche and interact. So, find insights to show them who your audience is made up of (like real data). Get as specific as possible here! This info is super important for brands trying to target their ideal market.

4: OFFERINGS: You should also incorporate what sorts of collaborations you can provide to your potential partners. There are a ton of possibilities for this section. Will you do social posts, videos, stories, write sponsored or guest blog posts, write recipes, create freebies, host takeovers, contests, etc.? Define as much as you can and add in the rates for these charges.

5: CONTACT INFO: Include your email, phone number, and anything else they might need to reach out to you. Make sure to enter links to your blog, website, podcast or any other social media profiles as well.

So, ready to get your media kit together? Hit the contact us button below, and we can help start the process to put this together both visually and content driven.



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Why Your Website Needs a Wireframe

Let’s back up and talk about what a wireframe is first. For those looking to build a website of any size or shape, wireframes are the foundation on which to begin building. Wireframing usually comes after the site architecture has been determined by a sitemap or flowchart of the website’s pages and before the creative design phase.

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What is a wireframe?

Wireframes are simple black and white layouts that outline the specific size and placement of page elements, site features, conversion areas and navigation for your website.

They are devoid of color, font choices, logos or any real design elements that take away from purely focusing on a site’s structure.

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We often say that they are much like a blueprint to a home, where you can easily see the structural placement of your plumbing, electrical and other structural components without any interior design treatments.

Here is an example of what a wireframe looks like:

Overlooking this step to get to the look and feel is a huge mistake that would prove disastrous for any website or any contractor building a home. To reinforce the importance of this phase in a web process, I have outlined seven fundamental reasons why you need to wireframe.

1. Wireframes display site architecture visually

A sitemap can be a bit abstract, especially ones that are quite large. Taking the sitemap to wireframe starts the first concrete visual process for a project. Wireframes turn the abstract nature of a flowchart into something real and tangible without distractions. This step ensures that all parties are on the same page.

2. Wireframes allow for clarification of website features

In many instances, clients may not understand what you mean when you say “hero image,” “google map integration,” “product filtering,” “light boxes,” and hundreds of other types of features. Wireframing specific project features on a website provides clear communication to a client about how these features will function, where they will live on the particular page, and how useful they might be.

Sometimes you may decide to take out a feature once you see the wireframe because it just doesn’t work with what your goals are for the site. Observing the components without any creative influence allows a client to focus on other equally important aspects of the project and clarifies any expectations about how to execute features.

3. Wireframes push usability to the forefront

This step is one of the most critical points of the entire wireframing process. Creating wireframes pushes usability to the front in showcasing page layouts at their core.

It forces everyone to look objectively at a website’s ease of use, conversion paths, naming of links, navigation placement, and feature placement. Wireframes can point out flaws in your site architecture or how a specific feature may work. And this is a great tool.

4. Wireframes identify ease of updates

For clients who purchase a content managed website, this point is especially vital. A wireframe will immediately identify how well your site will handle content growth.

For example, if you only have ten products offered right now, but in six months you may have 100, you will want your website to accommodate this growth without impact to the website design, site architecture or usability. Wireframes will identify these crucial areas of content expansion.

5. Wireframes help make the design process iterative

Instead of trying to combine the functionality with the layout and creative with the branding aspects of the website in one step, wireframes ensure that these elements get taken in one at a time. This method allows clients (and other team members) to provide feedback earlier in the process.

Skipping wireframes delays this feedback and increases the costs of making changes because reworking must happen on full design mockups, not just simplified wireframes

6. Wireframes save time on the entire project Wireframing spares time in a multitude of ways Your designs are more calculated. Your development team understands what they are building. Content creation becomes much clearer. You avoid hacks later on in the process. Everyone from the web team, the agency and client are all on the same page about what the website is supposed to do and how it should function.

7. Experience shows it works

Building a website is a process. Wireframing is one of those parts of the web process that you should not skip, just as you wouldn’t construct a house without a blueprint, or live in it without decoration. Each step has an essential place in a larger process.


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