We are creative Website Designers offering affordable custom websites and digital marketing for artists, businesses of all sizes and non-profit organizations. We work to build long lasting relationships with our clients, and offer our expertise to help grow your business. We write about information geared toward helping small businesses and helpful hints to make your website a little better.

Follow us on Twitter @CakeWebDesign

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(Say that 5 times fast!)  In a previous blog entry, we had discussed the importance of interacting with your networks – aka engaging people, starting up conversations and developing relationships. We had suggested 3 easy steps to go about doing so, one of which was picking out followers on Twitter and engaging them, but how do you do this?  What do I talk about to people I don’t know?

Let’s say you want to tweet about photography. Naturally, you want to engage people that are interested in photography.  On the home page of your Twitter profile, click on “Followers”.  Scroll all the way down so your browser shows all of the people who follow you (If you have thousands of followers, scroll down a couple times to show at least 200-300 followers).  Use the “find” function (CRTL+F on a PC, Apple+F on a Mac), type in “photography” and hit enter.  This will pull up everyone following you that have photography in their bio section, making it easier to engage these people on both the topic you’re tweeting about and the topic they are interested in.  Let us know how it works for you! 

If you have any cool tips or tricks you use with Twitter, Facebook or any of the other social media networks you’re on, post them in the comments section!

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We’ve all been sucked into the Facebook, black hole or the YouTube vortex.  Whether you’re just starting out using social media for marketing and business or you’ve been doing it for what seems like forever, these 3 steps will help you stay focused and maximize your productivity… so you can get back to playing angry birds :)



1.       Get Your Read On

Always be absorbing new information.  Find blogs that cater to your interests, websites with great resources and tutorials, books by established authors, etc.  By doing this, you not only increase your knowledge and marketability but also stay current with trends and tools – something essential in the Social Media realm.

2.       Define Everything

It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with all your content, social media outlets, email lists, etc.  Before you start any kind of Social Media campaign, define your goals, something like this: “I am going to do (fill in the blank) so that (fill in the blank again) will happen. If you have your direction laid out before you, you can escape the social media vortex of frustration and get much more accomplished.

3.       Manage Your Time

Your time is your most precious commodity, and can easily be used up on tasks that have no relation to the goals you’ve set.  If you find yourself having trouble with this one, revert back to #2.  Set aside time in the morning to read your favorite blogs over a cup of coffee, get your outbound calls in before 11am and don’t forget to give a shout out to your favorite followers on Twitter every Friday (#ff) at noon.  Managing your time will keep you focused and allow you to create better content quicker.

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When it comes to putting up a new website, the exciting part is the design and the functionality.  You finally have your photography gallery up for the world to see or are drawing traffic and awareness to your Non Profit focusing on helping troubled youth.  In order for your website to work, you have to have hosting, but what does this mean?

Think of your website as a company selling shoes and your web hosting as a storefront.   In order to sell shoes to the local public, you must have a store to host your shoes.  Just like a shoe company to a shoe store, once your shiny new website has been designed, you have to have a place to put it in the digital expanse known as the internet.  This is what Web Hosting is, but not all hosting is created equal.

There are two things you should keep in mind when choosing your hosting: 1. How much traffic will my site be getting? and 2. How much content will I have?  If you have a lot of visitors clicking through your website, you will need more bandwidth and if you have a content-rich site, you will need adequate storage.

Bandwidth determines how fast (responsive) your website is and how many viewers you can accommodate without your website crashing.  We’ve all been frustrated browsing through or shopping on a website that takes forever for pages to load.  This is almost always caused by a shortage of bandwidth, and probably means there are a grip of people just like you getting on the same website and sharing your frustration.

Storage determines how much content you can upload to your website.  While pages and pages of text will not take up much storage, pictures, music, video and any other interactive content (.php, .css, Jquery etc) will.  This means any video you post on your website that exceeds your storage capacity will not appear until sufficient space is created; i.e. you buy more storage or remove other content.

If you’re still unsure what type of web hosting will best suite your website, you should be able to ask your web developer for guidance. 

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We’ve all said the wrong thing at the wrong time and if you’re like most people, you felt a little sheepish at the time of your blunder, but then moved on with your day.  Of course it’s a little different when you’re trying to appeal to the masses as Rick Perry found out in a recent GOP debate, but what can we learn from his moment of awesomeness? 

1.       Irreparable Damage to His Campaign – it’s no surprise Perry’s ratings took a nosedive over the days following the debate, swinging tens if not hundreds of thousands of voters to the other candidates running against him.  Think of your website as a political campaign.  In order to capture more votes than any of your competitors, you have to appear flawless, be sharp when it comes to answering questions, and well liked by voters.  Viewers finding your content current, appealing and easy to absorb can be the difference between a client going with you versus one of your competitors.  Just as Perry hit the off switch on droves of his supporters, your website holds the potential turn your potential clients on, or off.

2.       Millions Tune Into Political Debates – making a good impression over and over is vital when running a successful political campaign, especially when you have millions listening to what you have to say.  But the mere fact that you have an audience tuning into your station doesn’t mean you can say anything and win their admiration.  You can have a significant amount of traffic to your website, but that doesn’t necessarily mean people are absorbing your content or leaving with the impression you desire.  If you are drawing a high amount of traffic to your website, then top notch content is im-Perry-tive. 

3.       I Can’t Remember the Third – While most people will remember Rick Perry for the wrong reasons, he will surely be forgotten once the chase for the Oval Office tightens into a two horse race; one horse being most assuredly not Perry’s.  You want people to remember you when they visit your website, and for the right reasons! Your subconscious mind is activated by both pictures and by strong affirmative statements. Each time you say something strongly (to yourself) your subconscious mind accepts these words as a command.  Having content that flows, imagery and video that spark intrigue and interest and a reason for them to interact are all components of a successfully functioning website. These sure-fire techniques will insure your viewers remember you, and aren’t left saying “I don’t remember, oops.”

Much has changed in the SEO world with the release of Google Panda.  SEO experts have been using white hat and black hat tactics, as well as link building in order to improve a website’s rankings.  Most of these techniques have been geared towards catering to what search engines want to see in order to rank a website higher, that is, until Google’s release of Panda.

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If your company was brand new to marketing, had no budget other than manpower where would you start and focus? Many emerging companies are faced with this question, so we asked some small business owners on LinkedIn what they had to say…


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So you’ve spent countless months and marketing dollars to build up a decent sized network, and if you’re lucky, a vast majority will stick around because hey, they like you.  But for those of us that aren’t a major brand or don’t have a cult like following, we might notice our fan and follower numbers fall and rise like the tide.  So how do we keep those numbers constant and people in the folds of our social networks? 

While there’s no one simple remedy to plug a leaking circular hole with a square peg, there is one easy way to limit the amount of followers that slip away – interaction.  Once individuals and businesses start listening in on what you’re offering and saying, engage them!  

Start out Small - daily pick 5 new followers on Twitter, 5 friends on Facebook, and a few blogs or individuals in your groups and read a little bit about who they are and what they do.  Take this information and turn it into a conversation.  This may take a little extra time every day, but it’s bound to spark a deeper interest in who you are and stick your brand in the minds of your targeted followers.  

Add/Follow Back – market tests have shown that followers on Twitter that receive a follow back are 65% more likely to stick around than not. 

Focus – do you have people in your networks with common interests?  Of course you do, so develop content (i.e. write blogs, develop infographs, create contests, etc) that are geared toward these individuals and link this content on their pages. 

You don’t need to limit yourself to online interaction either.  Call up an old client to see how their business is doing or go to that friend’s networking event you’ve been blowing off for months.  If you’re a small business, you never know where your next big lead is going to come in from, but you do know why you network is the size it is – because people like you. Duh.  So get out there and remind them of it!

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Writing a blog is a simple yet effective way to put information out that is relevant to your customers’ interests, but it also creates another platform for you to stay in touch with them.  Did we mention it’s also free?  Many smaller companies, especially niche companies, have trouble coming up with ideas for blogging, so we’ve put together a couple suggestions for you!

  • PRODUCTS/SERVICES – what products/services does your company offer?  What makes you unique or sets you apart from your competition?  People appreciate details with a personal touch, and blogging about these could lead a new client in your direction and away from your competitors. 
  • SOCIAL RELEVANCE – there’s always something big going on that people are talking about: The VMA’s, ObamaCare, the NFL game this Monday.  The list goes on and it changes every day.  Find a way to tie in one of these relevant topics to what your company does or offers and you may see yourself reaching a completely new demographic. 
  • RELATED TOPICS – You may have a limited range of topics to blog about directly related to your company, so what do you do then?  Ask yourself what your customers are interested in.  If you’re a company offering SEO, chances are you’re working with several small or independent businesses.  Blogging about different resources and strategies that can help grow a small business will give your customers more reasons to follow you and even refer your services.

ARE ALL BLOG SITES CREATED EQUAL?

There are many blog sites out there, so how do you know which one to pick?  We here at Cake Web Design chose Tumblr to host our blog so we may be a little biased, but the data backs it up! 

In the past year, Tumblr has grown from 100 million to over 300 million visits per month, which is about 30 times more visits than its close competitor last year.  Additionally, Tumblr is getting 12 billion page views per month, about 8 times more than Wordpress. How’s that for an audience!

Source: readwriteweb.com

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One of the key factors in increasing your website ranking on search engines is links pointing back to your website, or content. Facebook and Twitter are the two heavy hitters in the social media realm, and the most popular mediums where people love to share information, and links.  Among these combined 950 million plus users are droves of people that share content voraciously, and chances are you have some of these link-fiends in your network. 

When you post interesting, keyword-rich content, these link-fiends take it and spread it like wildfire both in and out of your social networks, improving your reach and likelyhood of someone else seeing and sharing links to your content.  Links posted in Twitter updates, content in blog posts, information shared on Facebook – think of this as a giant pool of people who can link to your content.  The number of links back to your website (or content) grows, thus improving you website rank, and the higher your website ranking, the greater the posibility of you coming up higher in an organic search.

Source: blog.hubspot.com

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You can spend thousands on marketing to get your name to the doorstep of your consumers.  So what if you’re a small business with little to no marketing budget?  Word of mouth is probably your most powerful ally, right?

A referral from a friend or someone your potential customer knows can make the difference between them going with the cheapest option and going with your brand – just ask any attorney, painter, real estate agent, etc.   You can’t control how many people refer you to someone else, or can you?

In a recent survey, 50% of businesses said word of mouth was a “must have,” and 2 out of 5 stated it was their main source of generating business.  While greater than 50% said they use some social media outlet(s), only 12% cited social media as an integral part of their marketing plan.

Social Media is basically one giant sharing frenzy, and while people don’t communicate audibly with one another, the propensity and ability to share information is far greater than that by word of mouth.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google + are prime examples of people sharing information and interacting with one another and with businesses.   Getting a link up on a page can go viral within hours, expanding your network from a couple hundred to literally tens if not hundreds of thousands.  How’s that for marketing!

The greatest thing about these tools is that they are FREE.  With Facebook surpassing 750M users, Google + topping 25M and Twitter cleaning up with 200M, it’s no wonder more than 50% of companies use social media.  Now we just need to get serious about it.

Source: blog.hubspot.com

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These days it seems like everyone is on a budget, and launching a new website doesn’t initially do your pocketbook any favors, just like any other business investment.  There are several “free” or economical options out there, but these options may end up costing you in the long run.

If you need a website up yesterday and have zero budget, then a free site would be the quickest way to get your brand out there, so long as you don’t mind putting up with ads or not being found on Google.  Some have no upfront hosting or design costs, a 30 day trial period, and access to hundreds if not thousands of templates.  Nicer templates may cost a little bit, but hey, it’s worth it, right?  Here are a couple things to keep in mind when going this route:

DOMAIN:

Some sites like Wix will use a combination of your name with a backslash, meaning a nice tidy “www.youresitehere.com” URL is out of the question, unless you’re willing to spend anywhere from $5-$25/mo.  Creating a custom domain through a site like this also means they own your domain, so if you’re ever thinking about upgrading to a custom website, you can… with a new domain.

CONTENT:

There are so many options when it comes to choosing a template, and most of the time, you can find one that is close to what you’re envisioning.  Again, the “cooler” ones aren’t usually free, but any content used in the design process is proprietary.  This means when your custom clothing business starts to take off and you need to upgrade, that cool design you picked out will stay with Intuit.  But why would you need to upgrade…?

PACKAGE DETAILS:

Two things people rarely consider when going with a free website are bandwidth and storage.  When a new client clicks through your website, that uses up bandwidth, and your free Webs.com site doesn’t come with much.  What does this mean?  If you reach your bandwidth limit in the middle of the month, your website will become unavailable until the following month or you decide to buy the next package.  If you plan to incorporate photos, video or other content on your site, your web design party might be cut short due to insufficient storage space, which could be as little as 10MB.  Furthermore, if selling items directly from your website is in your future, you may only be allotted a few items, if any.

INFORMATION:

When you sign up for these “free” websites, you’re required to enter your credit card information, along with several other bits of personal information and your email address.  Curious as to why all of the sudden you’re getting a little more spam than you’re used to?  Don’t think for a second these companies aren’t selling your information and information about your web business to marketers.

FREEWARE:

One question that always arises concerning editing options and design is, “Wait, isn’t Wordpress freeware?”  Quite simply, yes, however, on their own, Wordpress and others of its like are rather useless.  In order for Wordpress to be functional, it must be uploaded to a server and connected to a database.  Once set up properly, you can upload Wordpress templates (sometimes free) or design a custom website around it.

OVERALL COST:

A great handful of these sites charge “setup fees”, which are usually minimal, but everything is on the monthly.  Having a website that you don’t even own can cost up to $1500 over a 3 year period, but initially is more economical.  If being creatively limited is a good trade for financial freedom, then by all means free websites are your Godsend.  For those of us that understand the necessity to make the best impression possible, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. 

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Making changes to your website isn’t always easy but is almost always necessary, and we here at Cake Web Design want to give you a helping hand.  When it comes to editing your website, changing out photos, text or other content, there are 2 ways to go about it.  Both methods can effectively give you the same result, and it really comes down to preference and knowledge.

FRONT END EDITING:

Also referred to as “in-context editing” or “live-site editing”, front end editing requires the use of a web editing tool and knowledge of HTML.  We suggest using Adobe Dreamweaver, but there are several other tools out there, just not as cool :).  This method is great for making changes to existing web pages; however, if you are looking to create new pages or move existing pages around, you’re going to want a Content Management System, or CMS.

BACK END EDITING:

If you’re just getting started out, or do not have someone that is a coding genius, then back end editing is for you!  This is the easiest way of making changes to your website, much like you would to your Facebook page.   Back end editing employs the use of a CMS, and easily allows you to swap out photos or text, rearrange images, and even move webpages around without using HTML. 

We strongly recommend using a CMS for those of you who are constantly making changes to your website, such as photographers and musicians, even if you are fluent in HTML.

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Facebook and Skype announced yesterday that they have partnered up to release a video chat feature that allows Facebook users to video chat without the need to download any 3rd party software.  This, in addition to Facebook also releasing a group chat feature, overshadowed the “not-so-important” 750 million user mark, a milestone which Mark Zuckerberg believes is just a stepping stone to their coveted 1 billion users goal, which he feels is close at hand.  Considering it was only a year ago that Facebook released their Groups feature, having a Skype video chat client built into Facebook with no need for any 3rd party programs or downloads is a pretty big deal.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

On Facebook alone, 4 billion “things” are being shared everyday.  Images, videos, articles, information - anything that is shareable.  The amount of people that regularly use Facebook is growing and the ease of communicating and sharing information is becoming more prevalent and accessible.  

This is where people are, and where people are, is where you want your business to be.  This is a huge resource and means of keeping in touch with your customers and clients personally, without having to address each one individually.  Facebook is steadily growing in popularity, having already partnered up with Microsoft and now Skype, we know the stability of this forum is there, and the potential of capturing your audience is just a couple clicks away.

Whether you’re an online business, a local business, or a nationwide chain, staying relevant and current is key in capturing and keeping the public’s attention.  We all see where the market trends are pointing, as sharing information has increased steadily over the past couple years, and will only continue to do so exponentially.