How Stable Is Your FREE Online Photo Storage?

Being a photographer, I tend to back up my photos in multiple locations. I have them on my laptop, a backup USB drive, then another USB drive that is stored in a safe. I sometimes save my best photos online on Flickr since I have about 2 terabytes in storage, as well as my other online portfolio site of 500px.

All of these locations are part of my process to have some piece of mind if in case something goes wrong. Well today I saw in article on WebDesignLedger where they were claiming that Yahoo is downsizing. You can read the full article here. My concern with this feels falls first to my “free” account with Flickr. Yahoo purchased Flickr in 2005, so about 11 years ago. I won’t go into the changes and improvements of Flickr since, but the ability to store 2tb of photos online is great, I am aware that Yahoo’s financial performance has been declining so how they decide to deal with the picture website will be closely watched.

For those of you like me, it may be a good time to take stock of what you have loaded to Flickr, and be sure you have your originals saved somewhere in your library. If you don’t be sure to download your photos and save them as well as connect with your followers on other means like their other social media websites and online groups.

Here are a list of alternatives you may want to consider should you need another online repository:

Google PhotosGoogle Photos – While this offers unlimited “high quality” photo uploads. Uploading RAW files will count agains a 1.5Gb storage quota.

Amazon StorageAmazon Cloud Storage – Offers unlimited cloud storage for about $60.00 a year. There is an inexpensive option for still unlimited photos, but a 5gb limit on video files. This plan is about $12.00 a year.

DropboxDropbox – While you do get up to 5g of free storage, you will then need to pay for an upgraded annual account. $10 a month for up to 1tb, or $15 a month for unlimited storage and managed file and folder permission controls.

Have more questions on this? Or do you have some great other options for online storage? Let us know in the comments below.


4 Elements for Managing Client Expectations Successfully

Good morning all – Jean and I had a great discussion during our video blog yesterday and we hope you enjoy it.  However, if you don’t have time to watch it or take notes, we’d like to share some of the key points made.  The next time you take on a new client, consider these questions or issues to raise, dialogue about and seek answers to in order to successfully manage your clients expectations.

1st Element: Understanding Who Your Client Really Is

A. Find out the type of personality they have & how they best communicate (email, text, telephone or in person).
B. Through discussions, try to extract the purpose of the website and their business goals even if they aren’t clear on them.
C. Stress the importance of branding & being clear about their business identity & its goals so that the website and/or branding efforts are successful.

2nd Element: Brand Identity & Strategic Marketing Initiatives

A. What’s the vision of the company?
B. Who do they believe their customers & consumers are?
C. What do they think their consumers & audience want to see & expect from them?
D. Take the initiative through dialogue/research to get a firm understanding of their product or service and how they want to market it.
E. What are the goals they want their website and branding to achieve?

3rd Element: Setting Client Expectations for the Project

A. What is the projected costs & overall budget (with wiggle room)?
B. What are the time frames for benchmarks and completion?
C. Are you requesting and receiving all relevant content for each page of your website upfront? Consider how this affects time & workflow of project.
D. Are their images web-worthy (i.e. are clear, look professional), of high-resolution and large enough to scale down for editing if needed?
E. Have you established a good client relationship that can endure project delays and/or disappointments?
F. Can that rapport endure if there are issues with responsiveness from the client that affect workflow, benchmarks & completion dates?

4th Element: Clients Expectation for ROI

A. Make sure you set realistic expectations of the actual ROI and timeframe in which they might see the fruits of their investment.
B. What do you do with a client that has unrealistic expectations of ROI?
C. Explain why advertising their website is crucial once it is launched and the need for continued marketing efforts.
– They need figure out how they are going to notify current customers about their new website.
– Make announcements via Social Media platforms.
– Invest in marketing materials that reflect an online, worldwide presence.
D. Encourage them to think outside the box to market their website.
– If you’re a Mom & Pop, consider Small Business Association meetings, posting marketing materials in coffee houses & restaurant/business lobbies.
E. All businesses need to focus on and execute strategic customer outreach campaigns to see profitable ROI.

The Wrap Up 
Bullseye  It’s important to set the expectations from both parties from the beginning.
Bullseye  Set your workflow & do your best to stick to it.
Bullseye Hold your clients accountable for their website’s success.  Help them understand that the success of their website requires THEIR initiative, drive
& passion for THEIR business.
Bullseye Remember, good content does wonders for customer engagement and willingness to purchase the product or service.
Bullseye Understand it’s about client relationship & the longevity of that relationship.

Design Theory References on This Topic
They Trust Me, They Trust Me Not? A Client Relationship & Retention Discussion
Navigating Troubled Client Waters in Web Design

Great Ways to Market your Restaurant Online Successfully, Part 2-More Tantalizing Tidbits

Hungry for more?  Right on the heels of last weeks blog are more juicy tidbits for restaurateurs and the importance of having a website.  Whether a Mom & Pop or listed at the top of Zagat…tuck in the napkin and get ready for another serving!

* Taking it to Go ~ Because Smartphones have almost become an appendage, it is essential for people to be able to look you up while on the go. When people hear about or pass by a fab restaurant which offers a favored cuisine, the first thing they do is get on the internet and look for more information. Whether that’s the menu or a recent review – if you don’t have a website chances are that those folks might pass you by or pass you up when making their selection. An important point to make here as well is to ensure that your restaurant is easily searchable. You want your entire menu online, dish by dish. Using a PDF may seem like an easy, cost-effective solution as they are easy to download on a computer/laptop.  However, in order for someone to find you using a search engine and make proper use of “tags”, you must have an itemized online menu.  If possible, you should also try to have a mobile version of your website which will make reading the menus easier if opened on a Smartphone device.

*Cater to the Customer ~ If you are one of the many restaurants that offer catering services in addition to your in-house offerings, people should know this.  But guess what, many probably don’t!  Aside from your physical menu or waiting for a catering gig call, your website should be used as another promotion tool and done so in a prominent area.  The goal is to build greater awareness of the expanded services you offer and generate more business.  This way the customer might come to sample some food initially for the catering gig, but might become a faithful fan for other times.  And the reverse has happened many times as well – someone comes in and loves a particular dish or your culinary style and wants you to cater an event.  It’s all about using each opportunity and tool available to build your customer base – to be in mind for dinner time or party time.

*The Bottomless Cup of Possibilities ~ There are so many layout and design options it’s like a never-ending cup of good Joe. The restaurant web design business has become big business.  WordPress designers have capitalized on this and it has become a great website option especially since it’s super easy to manage the content and update regularly.  This is “muy importante” for a restaurant with a changing menu and daily/weekly specials.  But keep in mind that clean designs are best and adding vibrant, crisp images will make customers eat with their eyes first. An attractive yet informative website with regularly updated content and promotions is a place where customers return time and again – good for their bellies and great for your pockets!

Measuring ROI From Social Media

Social Media BandwagonSearch the Internet about social media, and you’ll find a host of results on how to use it, what mediums are out there, making money with it, and how to use it best.  You’ve read all about Twitter, than Twitter makes updates and you don’t know where to begin. Same thing with Facebook. You hear all about how many millions of users are using it, yet you can’t seem to get your Fanpage past 50 fans. Let me tell you, they’re ever changing sometimes week to week, so if you’re not understanding them now, it could be harder to find the relevance to your bottom line.

Before I get into the return on your investment with social media, I’d like to first talk about the various mediums and some basic effectiveness. If you think that all it takes to be successful in social media is just a few minutes a day with thoughtful posts of inspirational quotes mixed with posts about your website, sales, and products; you’re seriously mistaken.  Don’t get into social media with the intent on trying to sell. You’ll quickly become frustrated with the lack of interactions and see it as a one way conversation.

Twitter is great for short conversations throughout the day. You can jump in any active conversation, trending topic, or subject. Its real-time so the chances of hearing back from someone minutes after your replies are quite high.

Facebook Fan Pages are best with fewer posts each day. Another words, you may come up with a great post about a subject, then concentrate on following up with your fans as they post comments to your original post.

Linked In has so many avenues to engage with people, you can literally spend hours on that site and forego any actual productivity. From answering questions, to posting in groups, to connecting with old colleagues or new prospective clients; there’s plenty to keep you busy.

YouTube can almost be seen as one directional since you are mostly posting videos. However that’s just the beginning. Once posted, you’ll have the opportunity to follow along with the viewers feedback via the comments below your video. So post a great instructional video and you’re likely to get comments and questions for more information or encouraging words to post more videos.

Return on Investment. Well this is a hot button that seems to change often. At first I used to say that there was no money in social media. Whatever efforts you put in, you wouldn’t find the same in profits. I’m starting to change my stance on that because I’ve learned that you can’t use social media to sell. At least not blatantly. What I mean is, think of it as a networking meeting. You can’t just walk into a room full of people screaming to the top of your lungs about the sales and services you provide. Instead you walk in and court each person you make eye contact with. You meet people and ask who they are, what they do, where they’re from; then engage in light conversation. Maybe they sound interested (follow) in what you do, but not enough to be compelled to purchase something from you on the spot. However what you say about your industry and brand intrigues them to keep you in mind (comment/@reply) to tell other people about. You leave them with a great impression (post) and move on to meet someone else. The more people you meet, they more impressions you make. With the increase in impressions, the more traffic your website and business phone starts to get. You then start to become an authority on a subject matter. When that happens more people start to pay attention to what you say and post. And now because you’re respected, when you do offer a special or a sale (not often) they share your offer with others or purchase some for themselves. You couple all of that with analytics to gauge where you were most influential each day of the month and you replicate your best efforts the following month. All while keeping track of your lead performance, site traffic, and other metrics.

I know this sounds like a lot; and to be honest it’s all of this and more. Sure anyone can do this. Not everyone will be as effective or as diligent so choose your mediums and efforts wisely. The worse thing you can do is start and abruptly stop.

Have some other tips on social media and how to bank more for your buck? Please share in the comments below.