The Myths of Internet Marketing

April 30, 2016No Comments

If you’re aware of the existence of Digital, or Internet Marketing, you should also be aware of how successful it can be. If you’re looking to have a “slice of the cake” that is digital marketing, and are just venturing out for the first time into this confusing world which is littered with conflicting information, then make sure you ignore some of the common myths.

Done right, digital marketing can be the single most effective method of expanding your business, the growth can be simply amazing. We’d like to debunk the following myths to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes many do.

1. Results can be had with very little time input.

Many people expect to put in very little time and see amazing results, this just isn’t the case with digital marketing, you need to put a lot of time and thought into how you go about marketing your product or service online. Everything from writing content for your website, to maintining the site and dealing with advertisers all takes up time. If you value your time more than the cost of a professional then you should employ a reputable company such as Calgary SEO rather than trying to do the work by yourself.

2. It is too hard to track the results of a digital marketing campaign.

From the many years I’ve been in the online marketing industry, I can safely say that this is simply not true. There are many many ways to track how well a particular campaign is doing – have you published a new article? If that article is getting a lot of traffic, then that is one metric you can take into account when gauging the success of your campaign. Have conversions improved since you changed your landing page and simplified the sales process? Great – you can chalk that up as a success too – you know how your website performed before you started the campaign, you’ll also know how it’s performing during, and after the campaign, so you’ve tracked the results!

3. Digital Marketing MUST be expensive.

This is another common misconception – People think that digital marketing has to be expensive, we’re not saying it’s never expensive, of course it is, much like eating out can cost a little, or a lot – like everything, you do get what you pay for, but if you are careful and choose a company based on recommendations, then you can be fairly confident that the pricing is worth it.

4. SEO is a dying art.

We hear it every day “SEO is dead” or “SEO is dying” – that’s simply not true, parts of SEO are dead, yes – gone are the days of paying someone to fire 10 thousand links at your website and hitting rank 1 in a couple of weeks, but that’s a good thing, anything which is too simple quickly becomes saturated, SEO is not dying, but it is evolving, Google constantly change their ranking factors, their algorithms, and SEO companies also adapt their techniques to suit. Perhaps “SEO is no longer as simple as it once was” is a more accurate statement.

5. Social Media is the “Be all and End All”.

Whilst not strictly true, this statement does have some truth in it – Social media is HUGE in 2016, and to ignore it as a tool in the online marketing world would be downright silly. A Facebook or Twitter account with a large, relevant follower base can be a huge resource – think of it like this, some large companies spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions on television advertising, to get their product in front of a viewer base that suits them. Social media can let you place your product in front of your exact target market in seconds, with ZERO outlay – simply post a tweet, or a post on the Facebook timeline and you’ve accomplished what media companies charge hundreds of thousands for.

So there you have it, the next time you want to enter into the digital marketing game and someone misinforms you, you can either re-educate them or ignore them, but don’t let it put you off!

Save your hard earned money by taking out a warranty

April 30, 2016No Comments

Purchasing a new car can be an exciting time, and it can be easy to overlook any potential issues whilst getting hung up on the good parts, so what if you buy a car and it suddenly turns into an expensive money pit, requiring lots of unexpected repairs?

Well, it’s going to cost you a lot of money – but you can avoid this in one of 2 ways.

1. You can take someone with you to look at your potential purchase, preferably someone who knows about cars, and who has no vested interest in whether or not you buy the car – don’t take your mate who’s going to get a free ride to work every day when you buy a car, he has something to gain from you purchasing, even if it’s not in the best of condition. Taking a mechanic friend, or paying for an AA report is the best way to do it.

2. Failing the above, or if you’ve already purchased a car and are worrying about expensive bills in the future, it would be worth looking at purchasing an extended car warranty – similar to the warranty you would have got had you purchased a brand new car, with a few subtle differences.

So what are the differences? Well – it varies, but in general, an aftermarket warranty will use cheaper parts when repairing your vehicle, that isn’t as bad as it sounds though – we all know how expensive a part can be from a main dealer, as they use manufacturer parts, originals if you will. Non OEM parts are usually bulk produced by another supplier, and are often a lot cheaper than OEM parts, but they are often as good as the “real deal” so don’t worry too much about that.

What’s included? This also varies, and can be from “not a lot” to absolutely everything, depending on the warranty you sign for. In general you can expect everything that can not be classed as “wear and tear” or a “service item” to be included, so exclusions would normally be things which wear over time and are expected to need replaced at some point – clutch, tyres, brakes, oil, air filters, oil and fuel filters etc, whilst items you would expect to last the lifetime of the car, such as the engine, chasis, steering system etc would be covered under warranty.

It is important you know what level of cover you are getting, because the only thing worse than having an expensive garage bill with no warranty in place, is receiving an expensive garage bill, thinking it will be covered by your warranty and being told that it actually isn’t.

Do your due dilligence when purchasing, try to find reviews from real users, and decide based on them (and the quoted price, and level of cover) whether or not you would be happy to use that company in the event of a repair being required. If the answer is yes, you would be happy, great! If it’s no, or even “maybe” then I would suggest walking away, and finding one which is 100% yes.

Good luck and happy motoring!

Party on the patio – block paving? A great choice

April 23, 2016No Comments

Decorative block paving is a type of paving commonly used to create driveways and patio areas outside residential properties. The main benefit of block paving is that it is made up of individual bricks, so should one become damaged or discoloured, it can be easily lifted out and replaced, instead of having to re-lay the entire driveway. The ability to lift and re-lay small sections is also useful if you need to perform any ground works under the driveway, lifting individual blocks means you do not need to dig up a large section of your driveway and patch it back together when the work is done.

There are many different paving contractors which are experienced in the area of block paving, one such company is Birmingham paving contractor, who have many many years of experience in all aspects of paving.

When looking for a contractor to lay block paving for you, you can search the internet for contractors in your local area, or you can check out the local telephone directory, or even ask friends, family and colleagues for recommendations of any companies which they have used, assuming they had a good experience with them.

Once you’ve chosen a contractor, they’ll be able to do an initial site survey and give your reccomendations on materials to use based on their experience. It is important that you choose blocks which will fit in with your home and the surrounding areas, a well presented block paved driveway or patio can increase the value of your home, and also make it look significantly more presentable. Choose a pattern which suits you, or your surroundings, and let your contractor handle the groundwork.

Some people attempt to save money when having block paving installed by doing it themselves. This is most common on the likes of garden patios – whilst DIY block paving is possible and can be done by someone who is relatively competent at DIY, it can be hard work and use a lot of energy, and can certainly be costly if you make a mistake.

There are certain specialist tools required to do a good job on a block paving patio or driveway, most of these tools will be available to hire from a local company on a per day or per week basis, it is important to factor in the cost of tool hire into the paving costs so that you know what your final cost will be.

Materials available are extensive, and can vary from area to area, many areas will have suppliers who supply local style stone, as well as more commonly available coloured blocks. You can look at completed projects on the internet to get a good idea of available colours, patterns and styles and even find guides on exactly what you’ll need and how to do the job yourself.

There are many many styles and colours to choose from, picking can be hard so take your time and be sure you make a decision you’ll be happy with for years to come, block paving is highly durable and will last for tens of years.

Once your project is complete, the paved are can be used for anything from a driveway to store cars, to a large patio area to have summer bbqs and parties.

Whatever you choose to use it for, you can rest in the knowledge that a block paved area was the right choice.

Selling on your website

April 20, 2016No Comments

Have you recently decided “It’s time to sell my website“? Are you unsure how to go about it and worried that you might sell it for less than it’s worth? If so, make sure you follow our short guide below.

What can you do to get the best possible price?

If you’re selling a website then it’s important that you don’t end up short changed – getting the true value of your website can be tricky as many people are out there to make a quick buck “flipping” websites – flipping is basically purchasing for a low price, and selling for more. It’s also not easy to value your website, you may think it’s worth more than it actually is, but you may also undervalue your work.

If you’re in doubt, you should check out recently sold websites and look for ones with similar income and traffic levels as yours, in a similar niche – you can adjust the price up or down if you feel that your site varies somewhat.

You can also pay a professional to value your website for you, either as a standalone service, or via a broker who will also handle the sale.

What do you need to show when selling a website?

People who are looking to purchase a website, whether it be to keep it and run it themselves, or to flip it for more money, will want to ensure that the site will be profitable for them.

To show this, you will need to explain where your income comes from, how much you make, and also provide proof that the information you are giving is correct and true – you can do this by showing screenshots of your adsense account, or Paypal receiving regular income or sales via your website. Some different website types may require more or less information with regards to the income.

Potential buyers will also want to know where the traffic is coming from – if all of the traffic is coming from another one of your websites, any potential buyer would risk traffic disappearing overnight should you decide to sell your second website, or be slightly dishonest and send the traffic to a new website in order to reap the benefits.

Generally, buyers of websites will ask for a little help in transfering the website to their new hosting, and depending on how specialist the website is, some help or instruction on running the site for the first 1 – 4 weeks, so that they can keep the income coming in – that is, after all, why they are buying your website.

So where are the best places to sell websites?

There are many potential marketplaces for your website, ranging form ebay (only really worthwhile for smaller or less profitable websites), to flippa which is a specialist website created solely for buying and selling websites.

Flippa offers some protection in that they do some due dilligence on both sellers and buyers to protect everyone involved from scammers and the like.

You may also choose to employ a website broker who can do all of the leg-work for you, leaving you to say yes or no to an offer, then sign off on the sale should you decide that it is the right move for you.

Android App Development – The Process And The Costs?

April 18, 2016No Comments

There’s no denying the popularity of Android as an operating system, whether it be on a smartphone, a tablet, a netbook, or even an Android TV box. Part of what makes Android so popular as an operating system is the massive range of apps that are available, but have you ever wondered how much it costs to create an app, and what’s involved?

So, what DOES it cost to create an Android app?

Well – the short answer is “how long is a piece of string?” and the long answer is, well.. long!

Basically depending on exactly what you want your application to do, whether it’s for an internal business use only, or will be released to the masses, how much development time the application will take, what skill-level of developer you use, and where the developer is based are all contributing factors to the price, so the answer could be anything from €100 to €100,000 – quite a price range, eh?!

So it can be VERY expensive, or quite cheap – what’s involved?

The process of creating an Android app has many stages, all of which should be carefully planned an executed to ensure you get it right first time.

The Concept

If you’re looking to make, or have made, an Android app, chances are you already have a concept, but have you thought about the practicalities, and whether your idea is even possible?

You don’t need to know exactly how the concept will be achieved if you’re paying someone to create an app, but you do need to make sure it’s achievable, if you ask someone to create an app which gives you unlimited money, it’s just not going to happen, but if you have a quirky game idea, then chances are a developer will be able to do it if you give them enough details, enough time (and probably enough money too!)

The concept is all on you, so shouldn’t cost you anything (apart from your own time!).

The Design

The next part of the process is to get a design on paper (and on computer) to lay out the UI (user interface) and check how user friendly it will be, making adjustments along the way, and ensuring all features are easy to find and use.

This part of the process is where you’ll brand your app, you’ll need an eye catching icon, colour scheme and matching layout that people will find simple and intuitive to use. Try to think of this as the completed app and see if it has everything you need easily accessed, if not then it’s important to sort this out before carrying on further.

The design process can cost a little, or lots depending on how big your app is – a game with hundreds or thousands of different graphics is going to cost significantly more to design than a simple app to open your website for a user.

The Programming

This is where things start to come together, the programming of the app takes your concept, and your design and makes everything work – this is one of the final stages in creating an Android app.

This can also be the most expensive step – if you can use photoshop, or have a creative flair then you can likely handle the concept and perhaps a large portion of the design (even if it is first draft designs) yourself, but you’ll need to be a skilled Java developer with a strong understanding of Androids framework if you wish to create an app from scratch.

The cost of the programming is likely to be a not insignificant portion of your overall budget, just how complex it is will depend on the concept, it’s hard to set a price on this, for smaller projects you may be better paying per hour for a developer, whilst larger more involved apps might work out cheaper if you agree a fee for the full project.

Testing

You can of course test your shiny new app by yourself, but people are strange creatures, and if there’s a way of performing some obscure action which will break things, you can almost guarantee that someone will manage to do it, and they’ll complain – if you’re lucky, or they’ll release the bug onto the internet and everyone will be abusing the bug in your app.

We’d recommend that you allow your developer to run your app through their own quality assurance process if they have one, this way it’s on them to fix it if there’s a major issue.

Final Thoughts

That’s roughly the process involved, in a very simplified manner. Depending on the complexity of your project it could take anything from a day, to months or even years, and that’s just the creation of the app. Once your app is working, the distribution, marketing and advertising, the support, customer acquisition, billing etc are all things to consider, but that’s for another day – get the app ready to roll first and foremost, and then build the hype!

Relax in a hammock after a hard day’s coding

March 30, 2016No Comments

Hammocks are great for spending a relaxing time at home. These primal beds are not only comfortable they are also affordable for most people too. Possibly one of best things about hammocks is the fact that you don’t really need that much space to use one. If you’ve got enough space for two sturdy posts in your garden, you’ll be able to hang a hammock between them and use it for sunbathing or a nap, or simply to relax after a hard day at work.

Hammocks come in many different forms, including hammock with stand sets, camping hammocks, hammock swings, portable hammocks and good old standard hammocks. Portable hammocks are usually made from lightweight materials making it easy to carry around. Although lightweight, the material is strong enough to take the weight of a person with no risk of breaking. Many portable hammocks come with hammock posts, which means you don’t need to search around for suitable trees to hang your hammock from to get that all important nap!

Hammock chairs can be used both indoors and outdoors, hanging from a door frame, or the ceiling in a corner of a room, or out on your porch – like a conventional hammock they are often of open weave design, but unlike a standard hammock, as the name chair suggests, you sit on them rather than lay on them, they make a great gentle swing too!

Hammock stands are made out of wood or metal, such as steel or aluminum. When buying a stand for your hammock, it’s important to make sure it’s strong enough to hold your weight, and the weight of the heaviest person who’ll be using the hammock. Be sure to make sure it’s also the correct type of stand for your hammock. Hammocks which have spread bars require a different style hammock stand than hammocks which come without bars.

Hammocks are generally constructed from cloth, or rope. The rope style hammocks are usually made out of either nylon or cotton rope which is weaved together in the shape of a large net. This type of hammock is fairly inexpensive and can last for years if properly maintained. The open weave also allows air to circulate easily which helps prevent excessive sweating. The only problem is that the ropes can be slightly uncomfortable on your skin. However, this may be easily avoided by laying a sheet of cloth or a towel onto the hammock before you lay down.

Hammocks can last for many, many years, if properly looked after. Hammocks can absorb sweat and moisture due to the materials they are made out of, and can stay wet for a long time. This can cause the growth of mould and mildew. Because of this, you should be sure to wash your hammock every now and again. The cleaning process is fairly simple, just place your hammock in a gentle detergent and warm water mixture and move it gently around. Once clean, ensure your hammock is completely dry before storing, or using again.

Hammocks are ideal for chilling out after a long day at work, or for having a day napping in the sun on your day off. With careful usage, and a little maintenance, a hammock will give you relaxation and joy for years to come.

A new website, a new domain?

March 29, 2016No Comments

If you’re planning to build a website of your own, whether it is to sell a product, promote a business, or even just post your general thoughts and stories (a blog) then it’s an excellent idea to start out straight away by registering your own domain name. Whilst there are many ways to have a website online for absolutely no cost at all, you won’t own it and you won’t be able to move it to another webhost if you want to. Buying a domain name and web hosting is best no matter what type of website you wish to make, the benefits this will provide will far outweigh the cost.

So what exactly is a domain name?

A domain name is like your home on the internet – it’s an address which people can visit to view your website, much like you would tell someone your home address to visit you, you tell them your web address – your domain name, to visit your website. A domain name is that series of letters and dots you see at the top of your browser when you visit a website, such as right now on this website, the domain name is swra.ie you may have got here by searching on another website such as google.com – google’s main domain name.

Whilst your domain name can be anything, completely random letters and numbers, it is best to make it relevant to your website, that way people will know what your website is about just by glancing at the domain name.

So what should you do before purchasing a domain name?

Well – because domain names and the internet have been around for such a long time, the chances are, the domain name you want to register is likely to already be taken. You’re going to have to do some research and try to find a domain name which suits your needs, is available for registration, and is still relevant to your website – whilst this might seem like a near impossible task, it certainly isn’t. Try to avoid hyphens and numbers if possible as this can make it harder for people to type, and can also cause confusion when you are telling a friend or family what your domain name is – we’ve seen people type the word “hyphen” instead of simply using “-” which obviously sends them to the wrong (usually non existant) website.

Don’t despair if you can’t find an unregistered domain name that suits your needs though, in this unlikely case, you can then look at recently expired domains or domain names which are expiring soon. These are domain names which were previously owned by someone else and they have forgotten or chosen not to pay the domain name renewal fees.

When choosing a domain name, there are many different extensions to choose from – from .com to .org, .net to .biz, or a country specific extension such as .ca for canada or .co.uk for the uk. Did you know that .org was originally intended for non profit organisations to use, as they could be instantly recognised by the domain extension – this was not an enforced requirement however, and .org is used for many different types of websites now, whether for profit or not.

Once you’ve found a domain name you wish to purchase, it’s time to register – you can use any registrar you want, whether you select based on price or reputation, it doesn’t matter too much. For a new or fully expired domain name you can expect to pay anything from 5 to 15 dollars, whilst an expiring domain name at auction could cost you anything from 10 to thousands, depending on the value of the domain, and the amount of people bidding against you.

Hiring in the big guns

February 20, 2016No Comments

Most large building or construction projects will require the use of a crane at some point during the project. Building companies generally avoid the cost of purchasing a crane, due to the costs involved in not only buying the crane, but maintaining and running it too – with the need to have a licenced operator on the books. Instead, the majority of building contractors hire their cranes from specialist crane companies, who will provide mobile crane hire or even tower crane hire depending on the specific needs of the builder, and the project they are undertaking.

The majority of crane hire companies can supply most types of cranes, with mobile cranes and tower cranes being more popular. The mobile crane is a lot more convenient, as it is mounted on a truck, can be driven to the building site, extend its outriggers and begin work straight away, however – a mobile crane has a lower weight limit and less reach than a tower crane. If a building site is building a particularly large structure, or a lot of smaller structures which all require crane lifting, they may choose to hire a tower crane – these are generally delivered to the site in multiple pieces, and then need to be built by a licenced operator, the crane hire company will generally assemble the crane and also provide an operator for the duration of the work. Conventionally, tower cranes are assembled with the help of smaller, mobile cranes, although a newer generation of tower cranes are self assembling and do not need a specialist operator.

Finding the best crane hire company, and the type of crane you need can be a tricky task. Most construction companies will have a list of prefered operators and hire companies which they will use, or will select a company based on a recommendation from a trusted source, however, most crane hire companies now have a presence on the internet – a website which on which you can read about their services, and sometimes even their rates – this means that you can select your crane hire company from the comfort of your office, without ever having to pick up the phone.

When choosing a crane hire company, be sure that you know exactly what you are getting for the price – if you are hiring a tower crane, does the cost include delivery, erection and disassembly when the project is finished? Is the price of the operator included in the hire cost, or do you need to hire the operator separately? Check for delivery costs, cost of hire, cost of assembly and cost of the crane operator – be sure you know of any extra charges up front to avoid your project going over budget.

Be sure that the companies fleet is relatively new and well maintained – a failure of a crane could be catastrophic, or at least cause major delays to your project.

Get more exposure for your Android app

February 18, 2016No Comments

Creating an Android App can be a costly and time consuming process but once it’s done, it’s done – now you need to put all that hard work to good use and get people downloading, installing and using your app, but how?

There are several ways to promote a new Android app – and they need not be expensive, after all, chances are you’ve spent quite a lot on the development of the app, so if you have some spare time you can tackle some of these on your own, and hire someone to perform the rest.

Word Of Mouth

Perhaps the simplest, and most effective way to promote your app (or anything for that matter – assuming it is good enough) is to tell people about it, friends, family, colleagues – the idea is that they will download your app and use it, and hopefully love it.

If they do find it good, then hopefully they will tell their friends and family too, if you tell 10 people and only 2 people install it, and they tell 10 people each, and so on, you could have hundreds of installs in no time.

Social Media / Website

By far the biggest reach you’re going to get to promote anything is online, whether that be through a social media network such as Facebook or Twitter, or through a website dedicated to the app, it’s certainly a resource you should NOT leave untapped.

It’s easy enough to create a Facebook page, and you can put together a basic website with very limited knowledge within a few hours – showcase your app, really sell its key points and make sure it sounds like something people MUST have.

Of course, having a Facebook page or a website doesn’t guarantee people will visit them, that’s where you might like to bring in an SEO consultant to look over your site or profile and make (or carry out) recommendations on how best to build your traffic.

Some SEO work can be expensive, however an initial consultation is often free, so you can get an idea beforehand of what would be involved in getting your presence known.

Google’s Play Store

Perhaps the most targeted market you will reach is users of Google’s Play store, but with more than 1.5 million apps to compete with, your app will need to stand out from the crowd, be interesting, or provide a solution to a problem.

To get your app onto Google’s Play store is a fairly simple process, you’ll need the completed, error free source code, or a compiled, fully working APK, at least 2 screenshots of your application (make these interesting – use them to sell your product!), a Google account, and the fee to sign up as a publisher, this is a fairly modest fee, around $25. Once you have all of these, you can upload your apk and be live within a few hours!

That’s all there is to it, if you’re wondering which of the 3 options you should use to promote your Android app, the only answer is “All 3” – each method brings it’s own audience, and it’s own PROs and CONs, you can never have too much publicity, so get out there, get known and reap the rewards from all of your hard work!

The success of Android

July 18, 2015No Comments

Android. We all know what it is, or at least know of it – with TV advertisements every day showing off the latest and greatest smart phones, If it’s not an iPhone then chances are it runs on Android, of course, there’s also Windows for smartphones, but Android’s market share far dominates all of the others. In 2013 almost 70% of all Smartphones were Android based. But why is Android so popular?

Google created Android operating system many years ago, some claim, to compete with iOS, although it has now far surpassed any expectations of how well it would really do.

Open Source – simple development

Android is an open source, and more importantly FREE platform, and this may be one of the major contributing factors to its success – along with Android smartphones being in general a lot more affordable than the Apple equivalent.

Android is also popular among developers – with no exotic hardware or software requirements in order to get into Android development (unlike Apple’s whereby it’s a major pain in the rear trying to get any device other than an Apple device to run their development suite).

There are several different development suites available for Android, with Android Studio being an excellent option for many, with a simple interface to download required SDKs and plugins.

Not all Android users are developers though, right? Right. In fact, the majority of Android users are NOT developers, in fact many Android users don’t even have access to a PC or laptop, nor do they understand how to work them – that brings us to Androids next big selling point;

Ease of Use

Android is very simple to use, which is helped along by the fact that it is used primarily on touchscreen devices – want to send an email? No problem, just touch the email app and off you go. Want to browse Facebook? Just touch it.

Did you know that a massive amount of Facebook users use it exclusively on an Android smartphone, and probably never log in on any other type of device?

Whether you’re a technophobe who’s not one for learning new things, a young child looking to learn and play games, or a grandparent looking to video call their grand children without having to learn a whole complicated process, then an Android smartphone has you covered.

Amount of uses

With millions of apps available, Android provides a solution to hundreds of thousands of problems. It can act as a personal assistant, a web browser, a music player, a media streamer, and much much more – if you have an issue you need to solve, chances are, there’s an app for that!

Track your fitness levels, navigate your journey, and record your cherished moments, Android has got you covered.

Affordability

Android is based on the Linux operating system, which historically has required very little resources to run in a fast, smooth manner.

What this means is, the sheer amount of devices capable of running Android, and the cost of these devices have allowed a huge market to access them. If you compare to the likes of Apple who, although they sell hundreds of thousands of Smartphone handsets, laptops and other devices every year, have a prohibitive price point, you’ll see just how easy it is to obtain an Android device.

Whether you’re looking for a new phone, a tablet PC, a netbook style laptop (such as the Chromebook) or even a TV set, chances are, Android will be running in the background of at least some of your range of choices!

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