Blog Posted In Education, Lifestyle

How To Learn Something New Everyday In 15 Minutes (Or Less)


By | source: Apr 29th, 2019
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As children we were encouraged to learn something new every day.  We did experiments at school, took part in extra-curricular activities, and joined cultural and activist groups during our college years.

Then something happened:

Adulthood.  (Or really, adulting.)

We went from being curious children to adults dedicated to a 9-5 job (which the majority of us find unrewarding), adopting routines that rarely ever change.

Benedict Carey, author of the book How We Learn, says that routine limits our brain's ability to learn new skills and knowledge.  This is worrisome because learning new things is important for our happiness.

 

Why Learning New Things Is Crucial for Happiness

Image of Embroidered brain art as an example of how learning makes us happier

You may have heard that the “brain is like a muscle.”  Just like other muscles, you have to exercise the brain by learning new things.  Yes, there is ample research which shows that learning helps build neuron connections and can stave off diseases like Parkinson’s. But there is a lot more to learning new things than just making the brain stronger.  The act of learning actually makes us happier.

As Belle Beth Cooper writes about in her post on “Why New Things Make Us Feel So Good”, there is a section in the brain known as the SN/VTA.

The SN/VTA part of the brain is linked to the learning and memory parts, but it is best known as the “novelty center” because it lights up when exposed to new stimuli.  You experience a rush of dopamine, which is one of the chemicals that motivates us towards rewards.

Here is what happens:

  • You experience something new.
  • The “novelty center” of your brain is activated.
  • You get a rush of dopamine.
  • Dopamine motivates you to follow through with the new thing.
  • You get another rush of dopamine when you finish the activity.

It is no surprise then that research has found dopamine is closely linked to the learning process. In short, learning new things stimulates happiness chemicals brain.

Learning is fundamentally positive for your mental health.

 

Other Benefits of Learning Something New

relief sculpture of people floating on brain balloons

  • Learning Makes You More Interesting to Others: You’ll always have something to talk about at parties.
  • Can Relate to More People: The more you know, the more likely you are to find something in common with others.  Empathy also helps bridge gaps in communication.
  • Builds Self-Esteem: Practice makes perfect, and when we see ourselves mastering new knowledge and skills, we build self-efficacy.   Self efficacy is our own faith that we can succeed at a given task, which closely overlaps with self-esteem and confidence.
  • You’ll Make More Friends: Because of the benefits of learning listed above, you’ll find it easier to meet people and make friends. Social interactions are essential for our happiness, so learning really does pay off in the long run!
  • Sets a Good Example: If you want your kids and loved ones to reap the same benefits of learning, lead by example!
  • Earn More Money: Depending on what you learn, you might build both technical or soft skills to advance your career.

lady jumping between mountains to reach job

  • Find a More Rewarding Career: It isn’t money which motivates us –having a sense of purpose motivates. Learning new skills makes you better-rounded so you can more easily find what you love to do.
  • Empowering: Learning gives you the information you need to make better informed decisions in life.
  • You’ll Learn Easier and Faster: The more you practice learning, the denser the myelin white matter of your brain becomes and the stronger your neural pathways become.
  • Learning Fuels Creativity: As Positive Psychology champion Vanessa King says, ideas come from seemingly unrelated things. Learning new things can trigger ideas in other areas.

How to Learn Something New Right Now

Learning can be broken down into short-term and long-term learning.  If you don’t necessarily want to embark on a big endeavor (such as learning to play an instrument), your brain can still benefit from learning smaller bits of information on a daily basis.  Here are some ways to do that.

1. Watch Ted ED

Ted Talks are famous for bringing a huge amount of topics by innovative thinkers.  Ted Ed takes learning a step further with engaging video lessons.  Topics range from “the scientific way to cut a cake” to “how money laundering works.”

2. Play GeoGuessr

Americans are notoriously bad at geography, but the rest of the world probably isn’t too much better.  The game GeoGuessr takes a unique approach to learning geography.   You are shown a Google Maps photo and have to guess where it is.  You might just find yourself saying things like, “Huh, I didn’t know that Afghanistan has such green forests!”  It’s free to play.

3. Train Your Brain at Lumosity

Brought to you by scientists and game developers, Lumosity has a great collection of cognitive games you can play. You might not learn a concrete fact, but your brain will be challenged and grow!

Learning game screenshot from Lumosity website

4. Follow Curiosity

Curiosity is a website which inspires people to get smarter.  They do it by finding the most interesting news on a variety of topics.  Just click what topic you are interested in learning about and you’ll find fascinating articles and videos.

5. Build Your Vocabulary

A large vocabulary is not only impressive, but it allows you to express yourself better.  Remember the book 1984 and how they started cutting words from the language as a form of mind control?  Well, that’s the power of vocab!  The website Vocabulary.com has come up with an adaptive learning game to help you learn more words easily.

Image of lightbulb - how to learn something new every day

 

6. Follow Daily Infographic

No brainer right? Humans process visuals quickly: It takes less than 1/10 of a second for your brain to get a sense of a visual.  Absorbing new information using infographics is a quick and easy way to learn.  Visual learning not only decreases comprehension time, but sticks around longer in our memories.   On Daily Infographic you can spend 15 minutes per day perusing an infographic on a topic of your choice.

Screenshot of Daily Infographic where you can learn something new

Ways to Learn Long Term Skills

Ready to take on a bigger challenge? Learning new skills that require a longer-term commitment can be even more rewarding and stimulating for the brain.  Every day, you build on what you learned the day before until you reach a level of mastery.  Here are just some ideas of things you can start learning and where to start.

Online courses have the benefit of being comprehensive, guided learning experiences set at your own pace.  One of the biggest hurdles of signing up for online courses is completion.  Instead of finding larger blocks of time to power through courses, try to set aside a minimum of 15 minutes a day to work through courses.  Steady wins the race!

7. Hone Creativity with Creative Live

Art, photography, creativity get a boost with classes on Creative Live.  Whether you're a beginner or an established artist looking to refine your skills and even build a business with them, this platform provides courses in a simulated live format.

The approach focuses on learning via interaction, which means that the online classroom also features a studio audience that appears on camera. The in-studio students, usually ranging from three to 15 people, interact with the instructor the way a live classroom would, creating a rich virtual experience.

Browse Daily Free On-Air Classes!

8. Pick Up Career Skills With Skillshare

A January 2018 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that on average a person changes jobs 10-15 times, and that number is only increasing with increasing job mobility.  Better job mobility also comes from more opportunities to learn new skills.

Skillshare features personalized, on demand classes in categories like animation, graphic design, web development, business analytics, entrepreneurship, and marketing, to name a few.  Productivity and lifestyle classes help you to make those skills go even further.

Personal Development Category (English)234x60

9. Master New Skills at Udemy

On Udemy, you can find over 55,000 online courses on topics ranging from web development to music training.  Many basic level classes are free but there are paid courses as well.

10.  Learn Coding at Udacity

Udacity is one of the most popular places to learn coding for free.  They have videos, quizzes, and instructions so you can earn a “Nanodegree.”  The courses are made by expert programmers and big companies like Google so they are definitely relevant to today’s job market and tech trends.

11. Take Interactive Online Courses At BitDegree  

BitDegree differentiates itself through offering interactive & gamified courses, especially in the blockchain space.  Universities are already embracing blockchain courses on campuses, based on growing interest from students.  The cryptocurrency phenomenon is a global one, powered by bitcoin's meteoric rise.   Courses offered cover skills ranging from programming, marketing, machine learning to blockchain and cryptocurrencies.  

12. Learn Digital Marketing with Primer

All small business owners and entrepreneurs need to know digital marketing techniques if they are going to stay relevant.  Created by Google, Primer teaches marketing skills and delivers them in digestible 5-minute segments.

13. Take Online Courses at Coursera

Coursera is one of the best places to find free online courses in higher education on just about any topic.  The courses are offered by top universities in the US, helping you to extend your education from the comforts of your own home.  Certificates are available for a fee.  As an alternative, Iversity.org provides development courses from experts all over Europe. usually on very specific topics.

14. Learn Leadership Skills at MindTools

Today’s top companies aren’t just looking for skills like coding.  They want people with soft skills like leadership, team management, creativity, and decision-making.  MindTools has a great collection of mini courses which teach you these skills.

Screenshot of Mind Tools website where you can learn something new

15. View Instructables

Not sure what you want to learn today? Just visit Instructables and view any one of the great DIY tutorials to learn a new skill.

16. Learn First Aid from the Red Cross App

First aid is something that everyone should know and refresh regularly.  The American Red Cross has come up with a great app to help.  It isn’t a substitute for an in-person course, but it does have bite-size courses on basics accompanied by videos and instructions.

17. Learn a New Language with Duolingo

Duolingo is an app which makes it easy to learn a new language thanks to its interactive method and how it breaks down lessons into small chunks. There are dozens of languages to choose from and the app is free to use!

Screenshot from Duolingo app where you can learn a new language

 

18. Become a Better Writer with 750 Words

Writing is fundamental cornerstone of communication and remains one of the most in-demand skills that employers look for. The app 750 Words helps you become a better writer by having you write a minimum of 750 words of stream of conscious writing per day – a practice which is said to improve writing fluency and also help you learn about yourself in the process.

19. Further Career Goals With LinkedIn Learning

Formerly Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning focuses on career oriented subjects with like business, design, and technology.  These expert taught classes are meant to add skills to help you in your job.

20.  Learn Gratitude with Mojo

Gratitude is key for happiness in life.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that gratitude actually has to be learned and worked on.  The app Mojo helps you rewire your brain to be more grateful by encouraging you to write at least five good things per day, rate the day, and add photos.

 

Why 15 Minutes a Day?

Drawing of a person reading underneath of a brain tree

It doesn’t have to be 15 minutes a day that you dedicate to learning something new.  It could be 30 minutes, one hour, or even as little as 5 minutes per day.  What matters is that you:

  1. Dedicate a specific amount of time daily for learning new things.
  2. Hold yourself accountable.

The reason the time-frame unit is so important is because people are more likely to stay motivated and succeed if they break goals into smaller units.

Use Effective Learning Strategies

To reinforce skills, utilizing specific techniques can help you learn faster.  These include testing yourself regularly, finding ways to gain practical experience, rewarding yourself, and teaching others.  Here are a few other common strategies:

  • Dual Coding – This method most often represents using images next to text.  Or learning sign language as you're learning a verbal language.  Having 2 different codes for the message further reinforces learning.
  • Association – Grouping concepts together helps the memory keep related information together.  Sorting and categorization are the building blocks of cognition.
  • Spacing – Cramming is the mortal enemy of this technique.  If you plan ahead, chunking material into pieces and learning something over time offers more consistent results.  Then you have the chance to forget some information and actually relearn it.
  • Retrieval – After learning something new, whether it's from a textbook or online, put the material away and try to recall it.  Interacting with the material without actually having it in front of you is a form of testing yourself.

Learning is most effective when it enters long term memory.  The path to get there is best with a few twists and turns.  Trial and error often works well – just find what works best for you!

Implement What You’ve Learned!

jigsaw pieces - putting what you've learned to use in everyday life

Using these tools to learn something new every day is a great start.  But the reality is that we are already bombarded with information on a daily basis.

How much?

According to Niklas Goeke, we consume 74.92 gigabytes of data every day. That’s enough to fill 9 DVDs with data – or 74 pickup trucks filled with paper!

All of the information we consume isn’t helping us achieve happiness or wellbeing in life.  Instead, excessive info consumption drains us and fries our brains.

Of course, most of this info consumption is done during our (brain-killing) routines.  Simply by breaking routine and making a point to learn new things is going to help you retain and utilize the info better.

But, to really reap the life-changing benefits of learning new things, follow this one important tip:

Share what you’ve learned with others.

Using what you've learned to grow

It can be on a daily learning blog.  Or on social media. Or just make a point to tell your spouse what you’ve learned that day while you eat dinner together.

It may be difficult to find all that time.  But the simple act of sharing your new knowledge and insight will help it stick and make the benefits of learning even more life changing.

 

Image credits:
Grow” (CC BY 2.0) by crdotx
Blue Denim and Pink Brain Anatomy Mini H” (CC BY 2.0) by Hey Paul Studios
infographic world

Blog Posted In Business, Marketing

The Importance Of Visual Branding


By | source: Sep 18th, 2020

Your brand has numerous elements, all playing an essential role in conveying your core message to consumers, and none more so than your visual identity.

It's because visual branding is the most effective way of capturing your target audience's attention, and as images stay stored in our memory for years, they're also essential for building brand recognition.

As consumers gravitate further away from the traditional written content and move towards visual advertising, brands must know how to implement a consistent visual branding strategy if they want audiences to notice them. Consistency also creates familiarity, and this is what builds the trust between a brand and its community.

But how do you find the perfect visuals, ones that accurately reflect your written content, and most importantly, your brand's voice and core beliefs?

1. Know your brand voice and set the tone

Every visual you promote has to relate to your brand's voice; think of it as your DNA. It's only when you have your voice can set the tone of your visual branding. By doing so, you can apply it to everything you do, ensuring that all your content, especially your visuals, are connected.

Get this right, and viewers will instantly know the brand they're interacting with, and that element of trust will build.

Here are some strategies for finding and maintaining your voice:

  • Start by creating a brand voice chart: An essential tool for ensuring that your content consistently uses the same voice.
  • Review all your content to date: Are there any examples that could have come from a competitor? If so, remove them. You want content that's unique to your brand; then build on it.
  • Describe your brand in three words: These are your core values.
  • Describe your brand as a person: What's their personality?
  • Update your voice chart regularly.
  • Make sure your writers and visual designers are tuned into your DNA and know-how to implement it.

You can't fake your voice, or to be more precise, you shouldn't, because today's online consumers want authenticity; it's what replaces that lack of tactility; it's also why they'll trust to use your brand.

2. Your logo requires special attention

Think of three major brands that you use. Did their logos appear in your mind?

Logos may be small, but their importance is unmeasurable.

It's because they are a summary of your brand and what it stands for.

A logo has milliseconds to engage the viewer, connect on an emotional level, and convey your brand's ethos! So, the type (Wordmark, Icon, Combination), the style (traditional, modern, minimalistic, bold), and the colors, fonts, and shapes you choose must all work together in getting your message across.

Here are some tips on how to start designing your logo:

  • Find inspiration for your design: Look at the leading brands in your market place; odds are they've done their research.
  • Decide on your design style: It's related to your voice. Are you a fun-loving or formal type brand? Do you sell surfboards or insurance? Choose a style that fits your voice.
  • Choose a logotype: You have three main choices (A Combination logotype – which can contain your name, a slogan, and an image. A Wordmark logotype – your name. And an Icon logotype – an image)
  • Give color a lot of thought: The design rule with logos is simplicity; this also applies to color. Great logos use no more than three; two is even better; also, the color you use will convey its own unique subliminal message, so it's advisable to research color psychology before you decide.
  • Use fonts that suit your voice: Just like color; you want to minimize your fonts; again, two is what works best. Using contrasting fonts for your name and slogan helps make your logo grab the viewer`s attention.

An excellent way of finding inspiration and designing a logo is by using one of the various companies, such as Tailor Brands or DesignCrowd, that lets you get a logo online. These innovative AI logo makers already know which designs, colors, and fonts work for each market and save you both time and money.

Whichever logotype, style, colors, or fonts you choose, they all have to be versatile (work for both online and offline on numerous materials) and scalable (so it looks just as good on your website header and your social media avatar).

3. Choose the right colors for your brand

An excellent way of giving your visual branding a distinct style is by choosing a color palette that suits your voice.

All markets have a range of colors that suit them; however, you can distinguish yourself from your competitors and create that all-important visual identity by carefully choosing a palette that your competitors aren't using.

Palettes generally have three primary and three secondary colors, giving you all the colors you need for creating a distinct and cohesive feel to your visual branding. A pro tip is to start with one color that suits your core voice and then find its related palette.

When choosing your palette, consider the emotions and feelings you want them to convey, as color is often the first visual viewers see. When asked, 85% of consumers said color to be the main driving factor when choosing a product, and 92% believe visual appearance to be the biggest motivator for giving their allegiance to a brand!

Fortunately, there's a proven method for finding the right color for your visual branding:

  • First and foremost, research color psychology, so you know the message each color sends.
  • Research your market; everyone has a color palette or at least two primary colors proven to connect with their target audience.
  • Next, look at your main competitors, find those primary colors.
  • Now make your color palette unique by identifying your brand's essence.
  • Finally, test your palette across all your branding strategies.

4. Create your identity with images

It pays to be mindful of all the images you use and not just your infographics.

But let's first talk about infographics:

Infographics are being used more today than ever before due to their visual impact. A consumer will learn more about your brand from a well laid out infographic than pages of content, and as most consumers now skim read, the only way to grab their attention is by using attention-grabbing graphics.

However, they're just a part of the general strategy of visual branding!

You also need to consider other equally essential visuals for your branding to work at an optimum level.

Here's where images have a starring role:

Images are now a driving factor in e-commerce, and brands need to embrace them in every way possible.

Consider Instagram for a moment. Brands are creating communities based on the high-quality images they're posting, but it's not just Instagram where they're needed!

Almost every social media platform now considers images as an essential element in any brand's advertising campaign.

But you must also use the same high-quality images on your website, merchandise, icons, and avatars; by doing so, you'll create consistency throughout your visual branding.

5. Choose fonts that speak your customer's language

Keep an eye on your fonts as they can have an impact on how your target audience and community perceive your brand. It's because every audience has their style of language, and your fonts must speak it.

You can find the perfect fonts for your brand by choosing ones that reflect its message and values; this, in turn, will attract the kind of customers that are right for you.

As with color, try to use no more than two font types as this helps build that all-important continuity.

Some tips for finding and using the right fonts:

  • Bold clean fonts work best for titles, headings, subheadings, and your call to action. They also attract the viewer's attention to what's most important.
  • Choose ones that suit your brand's voice and help to communicate its personality.
  • Only use fonts that are versatile and work on all platforms.
  • Ensure that they are legible at all scales.
  • Be as unique as possible.

Are you ready to get your brand on?

Trying to design your visual branding alone can be a daunting and confusing task, so don't!

There's a wealth of high-quality online information available, and you can find almost everything you need for creating high-quality infographics and eye-popping visuals.

You can also reach out and collaborate with designers; these can be hired on a task by task basis. But of course, you first want to build the design relationship so any team you use knows your brand's DNA and how you want to show it to the world.

infographic world

Blog Posted In Business, eCommerce, Marketing, Retail, Tech

Shopify Review: How To Start Your Online Business In 1 Day


By | source: Aug 31st, 2020

Technological advancements have brought on a new era of business ownership – the online business owner. Having an online business means that you get to save money on traditional business costs, like rent for a warehouse or utilities. 

So, let’s say you decide that you want to set up your online store. How easy, or difficult, is it really to start an online business? Can you go from 0-100 in just one day? You can, if you use an online store hosting platform like Shopify. Keep reading to find out how you can start an online business in just one day. 

What is Shopify?

home page of shopify website

Shopify is an eCommerce subscription platform where business owners create their website using the site’s servers. This means that you can build and manage your online store, without the hassle of maintaining your own domain. No need to upgrade servers or update software – Shopify is globally supervised, so the site is monitored 24/7. 

Shopify has over one million users in 175 different countries. And these users aren’t just small-time business owners. There are dozens of big-name companies, like Heinz, Red Bull, Harper Collins, Nestle, and Hasbro that have websites hosted through Shopify. Even these major brands understand the benefit of outsourcing website management responsibilities. 

How does it work? 

question mark written in white chalk on black chalkboard

Using Shopify is relatively simple. If you already have a domain name, you can connect your existing domain to Shopify using two methods. This is possible whether your website is fully operational or still in the developmental phases.

  1. Transfer your domain

A domain transferral gives Shopify full management of your site. Once transferred, you will pay for and renew your domain through Shopify, and not the previous host site. You also will be able to adjust your domain settings directly from your Shopify admin account.

  1. Connect your domain

If you prefer to keep your domain hosted elsewhere, you can simply connect it to Shopify without the need for a full transferral. The payment for your domain, its renewal, and settings will continue to be facilitated through the third-party.

If you have not already purchased a domain for your business, you can purchase one through Shopify. Your domain will be registered for one year and can be renewed yearly until you move hosting from Shopify or delete the domain. The domain is yours to keep, even if you decide to cancel your account.

How to set up your Shopify account in one day

red and white old-fashioned clock sitting on a wooden table

There are various ways to use Shopify, so it can be a bit difficult to determine which use is best for you. To decide how to utilize the site to its full potential, you can ask yourself a few questions:

  • What type of products or services am I selling?
  • Do I plan to sell only on my site or also in person, an online marketplace, and/or social media?
  • Will I be selling my own products or dropshipping?
  • What payment providers are available in my country?
  • Will I package and ship my items myself?
  • What is my budget for a monthly pricing plan?
  • How many staff members do/will I have?

Once you have these base questions answered, you can choose the Shopify pricing plan that both suits your budget and your needs. But – let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Follow the four steps below to kickstart your journey to a fully functioning online store.

Getting started

Step One: Signup for a free trial

signup form for shopify free trial

Shopify starts off every user with an automatic 14-day free trial. This means your first two weeks will be commitment-free! All you have to do is head to the Shopify homepage and click the Start free trial button in the top right corner. 

You’ll be directed to enter your name and email address and sent an email confirmation. Confirming your email will open a separate window where you’ll have to answer a few questions to help Shopify customize your store.

Step Two: Answer basic store queries

shopify's 'about your business' questionnaire

This section is critical for your store, so take your time as you answer each question. Shopify will ask you questions such as ‘Are you already selling?’, ‘What is your current revenue?’, and ‘Which industry will you be operating in?’

Some answers will cause additional options to pop up, some of them about your logo, brainstorming names for your business, and signing up for business webinars. If you are interested in any of the additional options, you can click to select them and move on to the next question. 

Step Three: Add your address

shopify address questionnaire

The next page is where you’ll need to enter your address. Even if you only plan to work online, without entering your address you can’t be paid. So this part is important! If your business is already registered, you can click the box in the lower-left corner to indicate this.

Step Four: Explore your admin page

admin page of a sample shopify store, Jane's Flower Shop

After you’ve entered your address, your administration page will load and appear. This page is directly reflective of the way you answered the questions in the first step. You’ll see prompts offering to help you complete actions such as finding products, customizing your store’s theme, setting up local delivery, and adding online tipping. 

You’ll also have access to Shopify Compass, a free training offered (one-on-one!) to help you set up your store. Using Shopify Compass will help speed up the learning process and make your one-day setup goal all that much easier.  

Customizing your store

free customizing theme options for a shopify store

Once you’ve made it to the admin page, you’re well on your way to finalizing your store. Shopify will automatically create a domain name for you that will look something like your-store-name.myshopify.com. Your next big step will be to add a customizing theme to your online store. 

Shopify has 70+ beautifully designed themes in its Theme Store to choose from, each of which is fully customizable. If you’re tech-savvy and feeling a bit creative, you can even edit your theme using HTML and CSS codes. All you need to do is choose a template, add some unique personal touches, and then you’re ready to launch! 

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about your store’s inventory. Adding your products and services is the next step.

Adding your inventory

shopify product addition page

After you’ve designed your store to your liking, you’ll need to add your products. This process may be the most time-consuming, so block out a few hours – just in case.  

First, you’ll need to upload your product images. Thankfully, many of the nitty-gritty’s of this section (like resizing product photos) are automated for your convenience. After upload, fill out the item’s detailed description, like its title, price(s) and available size(s), and color(s). You can even import your inventory in bulk from eBay, Magento, and/or an Excel or CSV file.

Indicate in the shipping section whether your product is physical and if so, its size and weight (if you know it). This section is also where you’ll need to state if you plan to ship your items yourself or use a fulfillment center. 

If you need to add a dropshipping option to your site, you can do so now using the Shopify App Store. There are over 200 dropshipping apps and services available! Just create an account on the dropshipping platform of your choice and head back over to Shopify to integrate the platform’s app. 

Setting up your payment processing

shopify payment provider explore page

You’ll need to add a payment provider to your site so you can receive customer payments. The way to do this is to enable the payment providers you wish to accept. Shopify Payments is a payment system that removes the need for adding a third-party provider. If you’d like to use Shopify Payments, you can create an account with your business details and banking information.

Since PayPal is one of the most trusted global payment providers, Shopify has made it default for each store. Another perk to setting up Shopify Payments? If you have a Shopify Payment account, you won’t be charged any additional fees when transacting through PayPal. 

Not interested in using Shopify Payment? You can deactivate this feature and accept credit card payments from over 100 credit card providers. If you decide to do this, just note that this may decrease your customer base, since credit card use is limited in some parts of the world.

Managing your domain

two woman seated and pointing at laptop screen

A vital part of your business lies in establishing a domain for your site. Although Shopify generates a generic URL when your site is created, you’ll want to get a little more personal. Having a personalized domain also assures customers that your business is trustworthy and credible. 

shopify domain explore page 

As mentioned previously, you can buy a domain through Shopify or connect or transfer an established domain. If you have a subdomain, you also add this to your site. A subdomain is essentially a part of your primary domain and can direct your customers to your website’s store. 

Rather than directing to a page on your primary domain, a subdomain allows you to create an entirely new website subsection for your store. An example of this is store.yourwebsite.com – the ‘store’ portion is the name of the subdomain, hosted on the ‘yourwebsite’ section. 

Editing your site’s Content Management System (CMS) 

shopify 'add page' section

The ‘About Me’, ‘Contact’, and ‘Home’ pages of your site shouldn’t be overlooked. You can get creative with the way you title these sections of your site. Instead of an ‘About Us’ page, you can have a ‘Getting to Know Us’ or ‘What We’re All About’ page. 

These small changes can help set your site apart from your competitors, in originality alone. You should add descriptive text and links and visually appealing photos and videos to these pages to aid your customers in understanding your brand. 

Setting up shipping details 

shipping and delivery options with shopify

How you set up your shipping will depend on where your store’s items are shipping from. If you are in the US or Canada, you have access to Shopify Shipping. Shopify Shipping can be managed from within your admin and provides you with predetermined rates and shipping labels for your items. With Shopify, you don’t have to worry about managing shipping once your business grows. You can ship items from up to 20 different locations!

If you are outside of the US or Canada, you can add your local shipping option instead. Just head to the Shopify App Store to find shipping providers in your country that meet your criteria. Remember to create shipping zones only for locations you are willing to ship to. Want to attract more customers to purchase items? Consider using basic shipping strategies, like free shipping over $100, to encourage customers and help finalize sales. 

Understanding taxes and billing

black calculator and pen resting on paper with numbers and calculations

As an online business owner, you are responsible for maintaining your own tax information. You may be new to handling your own taxes, but the Shopify Compass portal can help guide you in the right direction. Shopify helps to automatically calculate these taxes by using default tax rates from around the world. 

You’ll do well to check with your local tax authority or an accountant to ensure that you are complying with your country’s tax laws. Making a mistake on your taxes can cost you greatly in the long-run, so be sure you are well-informed about the payments required of you.

Launching your store!

woman standing next to shelving on homepage of shopify store

When you have finally made it through the last stages of site planning, you are ready to launch your site! Shopify has a “test order” option where you can simulate a real order to ensure that all your features are functioning. You’ll need to activate a paid Shopify plan to actually do the test order, so now is the time to choose one. We’ll talk about the options for plans in the Pricing section of this article a little later. For now, let’s cover the launch essentials. 

There are three ways to create your test order: using Shopify as a ‘bogus gateway’, using an actual payment provider, or using Shopify Payments. You’ll get further guidance for this test order when you get towards the end of the Shopify Compass video guides.

When you’ve done your checks and balances and your store is ready for launch, the process is swift and easy. Your site is automatically password-protected so that it can’t be accessed by customers while you’re still constructing it. To remove the password protection, head to Online Store, Preferences, and then Password protection. Click the check next to Enable password to turn off the feature and save the changes to complete the action. 

And, just like that, your new Shopify site is officially launched and live to customers! You can keep updating and editing your site as needed, but customers can now browse your site and place orders while you continue your site’s evolution. 

Five reasons why eCommerce shop owners use Shopify

numbers one, two, three, four, and five on a red background sitting above legos

#1 – You don’t have to worry about choosing the ‘perfect’ server – Whether you choose to transfer your domain or buy it through Shopify, your hunt for the ‘perfect’ server is over. Unlike with many third-party servers, Shopify is designed to be the optimal online store hosting platform. Shopify has features for every site detail you can imagine – you’re guaranteed to have the best server possible for your online business.

#2 – The Shopify App Store connects you with 1,200+ useful app integrations – The Shopify App Store is utilized by over 80% of Shopify users to integrate different applications to their stores. These apps often make managing your store much easier, and help you focus on growing and building your business. 

Install apps for everything from social media marketing, to dropshipping, to inventory management. Apps are both paid premium and free, so you can choose which options fit both your budget and your needs.

#3 – Server security and reliability are almost guaranteed – When you manage your own site, its reliability is completely up to you. Many business owners know nothing about website management, and have to hire costly web developers to handle the more tricky, technical aspects. Security updates, software upgrades, and data analytics are all handled with Shopify – which leaves you free to manage your business.

#4 – The size of your online store isn’t a factor – You don’t need to have 100,000+ site visitors or hundreds of inventory items to have a successful online store. Shopify gives you all the tools you need to thrive as a business owner, even with a smaller-size store. You may only be selling three or four products and you’ll still have access to all the same amazing features, and benefits as larger stores. 

 #5 – Shopify’s interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate – Your customers need a website that isn’t overly complicated. No matter how great your product is, if your customers have a hard time navigating your site, they’ll likely never make it to the ‘submit payment’ stage. Shopify stores are all optimized for mobile use, so customers can comfortably shop from any of their devices.   

Shopify pricing vs Competitor pricing

woman counting money in her hand while sitting at a black table with a notebook and pen

Before you decide to put all that effort into setting up your Shopify account, let’s compare its pricing plans to those of its competitors.

So, who are some of Shopify’s major competitions? There are quite a few, but we’ll be focusing on the top three most popular options: Wix, BigCommerce, and Squarespace. 

Here’s a quick table breaking down the three main tiers of pricing at each platform (in USD). 

 

Shopify Wix BigCommerce Squarespace
Basic $29 $17 $29.95 $26/annual

$30/month

Standard $79 $25 $71.95/annual

$79.95/month

Premium $299 $35 $269.96/annual

$299.95/month

$40/annual

$46/month

 

As you can see, the Shopify and BigCommerce plans are comparable in cost, while Wix and Squarespace have similar pricing. This is likely due to the fact that both Shopify and BigCommerce cater to customers interested in scaling their businesses. 

Online store owners who intend to increase their revenue without increasing costs (which is what ‘scaling’ entails) need specialized support and features to do so.

Wix and Squarespace

Both Wix and Squarespace are website hosting platforms that allow an online business website, but neither is directly designed for eCommerce. Their pricing is much lower than Shopify or BigCommerce to reflect less advanced features. A less complicated interface is certainly a positive for beginners, which is why both platforms are still solid Shopify competitors.

A significant downside? Both platforms offer less backend control than Shopify. This means that while your site may be easier to create, you have decreased flexibility in terms of your site’s functionality. 

BigCommerce

BigCommerce has a complex interface that both attracts and deters users, depending on how tech-savvy they may be. As an eCommerce platform, BigCommerce is formatted for online business owners that want a more streamlined start-to-finish service. In contrast to Shopify, BigCommerce is a fully integrated platform – removing the dependence on apps.

Although it sells itself on integration, BigCommerce has a complex interface that isn’t suited for beginners. The learning curve is a bit steep, but if you are more advanced or willing to put in the effort, it can be worth your while. 

Are there cons to using Shopify?

frustrated woman sitting in front of laptop while throwing her hands up

No platform is without downsides.  Shopify is no exception to this rule. If you are looking for a cheap online store-building option, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Shopify also can be a little complicated to navigate without the help of its many tutorials and guides. Other platforms may offer more design themes than Shopify, which are easier for you to customize and add your own personal flair. 

Here’s a shortlist of some of the main points of contention that users have expressed about Shopify:

  • Shopify Payments is only available when selling from certain countries
  • Transaction fees are unavoidable when using third-party payment providers
  • Only nine of Shopify’s 70+ design themes are free – the rest require a one-time payment of $180 for use
  • The apps in the Shopify App Store often come with their own associated fees
  • No free version available, only a 14-day free trial
  • 24/7 tech support is available through live chat and email, but some users find these services slow and have to rely on community forums 
  • Changing your store’s theme requires you to reformat your site since many of your formatting is not automatically integrated

So, is Shopify the right hosting platform for you? 

hands scrolling on laptop with assorted photos on its screen

In the grand scheme of things, the downsides of Shopify are minor when compared to its benefits. You’ll need to be comfortable investing more money into your company than the average eCommerce platform might require, but the payoff is a powerful platform at your fingertips. 

Do you need to start an online business in just one day? Then Shopify is the easy, hassle-free, user-friendly eCommerce platform for you. There are plenty of other online business hosting platforms, but Shopify wins in the areas that matter. It continues to outperform its competitors in design flexibility, help and support, sales features, and customer satisfaction.

Your online business deserves the best backend and frontend development possible. Shopify offers you amazing, state-of-the-art web development services, perfect for setting up, launching, and growing your online store. 

infographic world

Blog Posted In Education

How To Boost Your Brain Power With Puzzles


By | source: Aug 21st, 2020

Did you know that the first jigsaw puzzle was invented in 1767 by John Spilsbury, an engraver and cartographer? Or that the first puzzle video games were around as early as the late 70s?

Whether done as a hobby or for personal development, there is no question that puzzles bring with them a sense of satisfaction once completed. The same can be said for other popular brain teaser puzzle formats, such as the number-based soduko and crosswords – and even digital puzzles!

Your favorite pastime, however, is more than just slipping the right pieces into the right places or filling in the right numbers or letters. It unlocks a world of possibilities by boosting your brain power and cognitive abilities, shaping your problem-solving skills and helping you to work out complex problems and concepts.

Curious to find out more? Have a look below for our list of key brain-boosting benefits that puzzles have for kids and adults.

Puzzle Benefits For Children

Brain boosting benefits of puzzles for kids

Source: Teach.com

Physical, real-life puzzles are usually the first encounter that little ones have with the concept of building and solving these games. It plays an important part in educational playtime – but, luckily, it comes with a lot of fun and enjoyment too!

During early childhood development, puzzles play a key role in a toddler and preschooler’s development. One of the first instances where children get their first taste of puzzles comes with puzzle shapes that they need to fit into a matching slot – which teaches them about shape recognition and looking for similar shapes to match up, such as circles, triangles and squares. This, in turn, builds their vocabulary too.

Puzzle building also teaches kids about logic and problem-solving. Whether they are slotting little dinosaur shapes into a puzzle board or figuring out an easy 12-piece puzzle, they are boosting their concentration skills to figure out solutions for this “challenge”. They are inspired to think about how they will finish their puzzle and how they need to get there.

At the same time, they are improving their fine motor skills as they grip each little puzzle piece, which will help them with their pencil grip and handwriting as they get a little older.

Older kids and online puzzles

Once kids reach their primary school years, they without a doubt are getting more interested in computers and, even more so, digital games. Puzzles are a great way to help them make the most of their screen time – plus it can help them broaden their minds if there is an educational element such as word recognition and reading associated with the game they are playing.

Perks Of Puzzle Time For Adults

Brain boosting benefits of puzzles for adults

 

As adults, we might not always have the same amount of time we had as when we were kids to enjoy completing puzzles. But this doesn’t mean not making the time for this activity.

Building puzzles, or engaging in crossword and soduko puzzles are perfect for brain stimulation. It can help you exercise your mind to be more productive at work and stay in your groove by strengthening your brain.

Just like its big benefits for kids, adults can also improve their concentration skills through puzzles and work on their cognitive ability and memory. However, an even more important brain-boosting benefit is lowering stress levels by enjoying a puzzle activity, which allows you to be more relaxed and better equipped with handling difficult tasks and problems.

Why You Should Do Puzzles Often

The benefit of doing puzzles every day

 

According to Marcel Danesi, author of The Total Brain Workout: 450 Puzzles to Sharpen Your Mind, Improve Your Memory, and Keep Your Brain Fit, “specific types of puzzles can be used to stimulate particular areas of the brain”. Some of his examples include language-based puzzles such as riddles that would, for instance, fuel the language areas of the brain, and logical thinking-based puzzles like symbols in grids.

Considering how doing puzzles often give your brain a full workout, it is more than enough reason to do puzzles often – and inspiring your family to do the same! Have a look below at some of the real-life and digital puzzles that we recommend for kids and adults.

Puzzles For Toddlers And Preschoolers

Best puzzles for kids

When it comes to puzzle games and brain teasers for kids, the brighter and more colorful, the better! Especially younger kids are easily drawn to vibrant puzzles and familiar shapes, so keep this in mind if you are considering a puzzle activity for your child.

  1. Let them have fun with knob puzzles

Knob puzzle pieces are easy to grip and place, which makes it easy for younger children to handle. Parents can invest in character or animal shapes that will captivate little imaginations. For a little extra brain boosting, it is a great idea to chat with a child about their animal or character shape – such as where a giraffe comes from or what a zebra eats. This will add an extra element of imaginative play too, which is great for cognitive development!

  1. Teach them about shapes and color

Colorful shape puzzles are perfect for pre-schoolers and will boost their brain power as they develop their special awareness and creativity.

  1. Learn with letters and numbers

Toddlers who are introduced to letters and numbers to prepare them for eventually making the move to primary school will love these types of games that teach them number and letter recognition. Plus, they will have fun slotting in the different shapes where they fit in!

Puzzles For Older Kids

Best puzzles for older kids

Older kids are usually more comfortable with puzzles that need a little more grit to solve. Here are a few picks that are suited for kids who are ready to for the next challenge.

  1. Big, colorful puzzles

Once they are comfortable with puzzle building, kids can work themselves up to a puzzle size that they are comfortable with. Older kids are also able to work more independently and can build puzzles on their own without supervision. They are also more equipped to tackle difficult patterns like a night sky, forest or ocean that requires more concentration and persistence – something that working on puzzles like these will definitely help them with!

  1. Explorer puzzle

Curious little explorers will get a kick out of explorer map-type puzzles. With the chance to delve into interesting trivia, it is a great activity for them to learn about the concept of geography and a sense of place as they build the different cities to form a whole. This will also help them expand their knowledge of the world.

If you're lucky, kids may even start to grasp that they aren't always the center of the universe!

Puzzle Games And Brain Teasers For Adults

Best puzzles for adults

There are many puzzle activities for adults to enjoy and become engrossed in. Whether real-life or digital and mobile-friendly, getting that all-important brain boosting fix every day can be easy if you choose puzzle and brain teasers that suit your schedule.

  1. Jumbo puzzles

Doing a 1000-piece puzzle can be the ultimate challenge for any adult – made all the more fun if it becomes part of a family activity. Many designs offer contemporary imagery such as famous artworks

  1. Soduko smarts

Whether easy or hard, soduko is an approachable brain teaser to figure out number sequences. Some books also include free digital downloads, which means you can take your puzzle play on-the-go.

  1. Jigsaw Puzzle World (online puzzle games)

This android and desktop-friendly app offers bite-size puzzle games of various playing level (9-pieces, 25-pieces, 100-pieces and 225-pieces). It is perfect if your time is limited during the day but you would still love to get some puzzle play into your day.

  1. Crossword Puzzle Free (online)

Crossword puzzles needn’t be limited to newspapers or magazines – you can complete many of these popular brain teasers from the comfort of your mobile device! Crossword Puzzle Free offers thousands of crossword puzzles from indie and industry leader crossword constructors for free, which means wherever you are, you will be able to finish a crossword puzzle – at home or during your lunch hour.

  1. Rubik’s cube


Twisting, pulling apart and putting everything back in sequence again makes playing with a Rubik’s cube one of the most fun puzzle activities. With many varieties available, such as the standard square, a triangle or hexagon-shape, it is a great activity for exercising problem-solving skills.

Just don't let your kid google the answer before trying.

Make Puzzle Play A Part Of Daily Lives

Do puzzles every day

Puzzle play and brain teasers needn’t feel like a chore – it can become a fun learning activity that you and your family engage in daily. The most important thing is to keep things entertaining and light – don’t make it just another task to tick off on your to-do list!

With many families and couples currently limiting movement and social distancing, these brain boosting activities are perhaps the best answer to offer respite from the demands of everyday life. So, why not start your puzzle building ritual today? There are so many rewards for when you do!

infographic world

Blog Posted In Business, Marketing

8 Online Marketing Mistakes That Small Businesses Are Still Making


By | source: Aug 4th, 2020

Setting up a business used to be a cumbersome process, requiring a commercial lease, sometimes even before the first customer comes in the door.   Now setting up a business online can be done in less than a day, and more brick and mortar businesses are turning to the web to find customers.

The numbers are growing.  64% of small businesses now have a website, which is up from 46% in 2016.  What’s more, the majority of small businesses without websites plan on building one.

Despite this positive trend, there are still a few common mistakes that small businesses are making in their online marketing efforts – ones that can be voided.

Taking the DIY Approach

Any pro will tell you that the key to productivity is delegating. Yet, for some reason, many small businesses still try to tackle digital marketing entirely by themselves.

Forbes reports that upwards of 70.8% of small businesses do ALL their marketing in-house.  Only about 4.4% of small businesses are outsourcing to a third party, agency, or contractor.

Yet it’s the small businesses who outsource who are happiest with the results for both increasing sales and bringing in new customers.

Yes, finding an affordable graphic design service and reliable SEO company can be tricky – but spending time getting up to speed on marketing, if you haven't done it before, takes away time from your primary business.   Getting help will almost certainly beat taking the DIY approach.google my business listing

Not Utilizing Google My Business

Sometimes businesses think they can get away with a local listing on Google, but the opposite is also true.  Sometimes businesses invest purely on a fancy website and forget to optimize the local business listing.

Trends show that consumers aren’t following local searches with website visits as frequently as in the past.  Instead, they are relying on the plethora of information given right in the SERPs as part of Google My Business Listings.

Google My Business (which is a hub that replaced Google Places) provides opening hours, phone numbers, addresses and directions, and reviews of local businesses.  It can even provide wait times for restaurants.

With all this information given right in the SERPs, there’s less need for consumers to bother with a website visit.

A Bright Local study found that, after a local business search:

  • 17% of consumers are visiting the business directly after reading positive reviews (up from 7% in 2016)
  • 10% of consumers contact the business directly from the search results (up from 3% in 2016)
  • 37% visit the business’s website as the next step (whereas 56% did in 2016!)

With Google My Business replacing local websites, why are so few local businesses using it?  Bill Hartzer reports on a review of over 9,000 local businesses.  It found that:

  • Only 68% of local businesses claimed their GMB listing
  • Fewer than 0.1% have a virtual tour
  • Nearly 12% of claimed listings don’t have a website
  • Just 1.4% of businesses on GMB respond to reviews

It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to optimize a Google My Business listing. So, there is really no reason for local businesses to be missing out on this marketing opportunity.

people searching internet icons

Not Claiming Other Listings

Google My Business isn’t the only platform replacing websites.  There are many online directories and review sites where consumers go to find local businesses.  Yet, many businesses missing these opportunities.

Bite Size Media reports that only 33% of local businesses have a Yelp listing, 21% have a Yahoo listing, and just 19% have a Yellow Pages listing.

 

Not Securing the Website

Hacking isn’t just happening in the political sphere with elections.  The MIT Technology Review warns that cyber threats are something website owners need to worry about in 2018.  The threats that small businesses should worry about include:

  • Data breaches
  • Ransomware attacks
  • AI weaponization

According to Inside Small Business, hackers love small businesses because they have fewer security measures in place. Research shows that anywhere from 43% to 61% of breaches are targeted at small businesses.

Despite the risk, 51% of small businesses aren’t allocating any budget to reduce the risk.

Cyber attacks cost businesses revenue – 38% of those attacked lost more than 20% of their revenue.  The attacks also have other costs, such as losing reputation and customer loyalty.

Small businesses should look at investing in better security can be viewed as insurance against potentially devastating losses.

hand offering credit card to computer

No HTTPS Certificate

This goes along with the “not securing website” mistake.  As Google writes, an HTTPS certificate is an internet communication protocol.  It allows data to be sent through three layers of protection.

Google announced that, as of July 2018, all websites without HTTPS encryption will be marked as “not secure.”

According to EuroDNS, fewer than 30% of websites are using an HTTPS-encrypted SSL certificate. These websites face many risks, including:

  • Drop in SEO
  • Fewer sales (84% of consumers won’t buy online from insecure websites)
  • Breaching General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Higher risk of security breaches
  • Lawsuits and fines

It’s possible to get a free HHTPS-SSL certificate, so there’s no reason for small businesses not to take this step.

 

Long Page Load Times

A Google report found that the average mobile web page takes 22 seconds to load.  Note that this is for all mobile sites.  It is likely that small business pages take even longer to load than their big-business (and bigger budget) competitors.

This statistic is alarming because 53% of visitors will leave a mobile site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.  For online retail, a one-second delay can decrease conversions by up to 20%!

Practical Ecommerce backs up these findings.  They report that a 100 millisecond delay in load time can decrease conversions by 7% and bounce rates increase by 103% when load time increases by 2 seconds.

Slow load time is particularly devastating for ecommerce, but local businesses are also impacted.  The same Google report found that consumers are more likely to abandon a mobile site if it takes too long to load.  Small businesses could be losing 53% of mobile traffic if their site takes more than just 3 seconds to load!

 

Not Meeting Web Accessibility Standards

Because of strict laws, virtually all small business owners know that their storefronts must be accessible to people with disabilities.

Yet, few realize that their websites should also be accessible.

People with disabilities use various tools to help them access the internet.  For sight-impaired people, for example, this could mean using a screen reader.  People with motor impairments might use tools like mouth sticks or voice commands.

If a website doesn’t meet certain standards, it could be difficult or even impossible for people with disabilities to access the website.

Not only is this bad for business (approximately 20% of online users have some sort of disability), but businesses could find themselves hit with a lawsuit for not being accessible.

The best practices include meeting WCAG 2.0 standards and performing manual testing to ensure everyone can access the website.

social media icons on keyboard

Focusing Too Much On Social Media

There is no denying that social media is important for small businesses.  Being present on social media can boost branding, customer loyalty, sales, and new leads.

But social media isn’t the end-all of online marketing!

According to stats at Blue Corona, 32% of small businesses are only investing in social media.

What about all the other methods of digital marketing – like local SEO, email marketing, Adwords, content marketing, or coupon deals?

As Entrepreneur notes, diversifying digital marketing methods means benefits like:

  • Reaching more customers
  • Cross-pollinate to drive better results
  • Better optimization
  • Reducing risk
  • Having more data to analyze
  • Providing more relevant content
  • Reducing dependency on one channel

So, while small businesses certainly don’t want to stretch their budgets to cover all digital marketing methods, they should think outside of social media to get better results.

inside a small business

Conclusion

The sheer number of platforms and tools for online marketing can be overwhelming,  but the key to remember is that you have to start somewhere.  Marketing drives the continuous growth of businesses.

What mistakes do you think are the worst in small business marketing?

infographic world

Blog Posted In Internet, Marketing

Top Affordable Online Graphic Design Services (and How to Maximize Them)


By | source: Jul 12th, 2020

*Post contains affiliate links, which if used may result in a trickle of commission(at no extra cost to you) to help support Daily Infographic.  Thanks!

Today’s marketing world is increasingly visual. No matter how great your product or content is, it won’t get noticed if it doesn’t have stunning visuals to accompany it.   Luckily, there has been a surge in affordable graphic design services.

Whether you need a logo, infographic, website layout, brochure, or something unique, these platforms are great places to go for graphic design services on a budget.

 

1. Fiverr

Fiverr graphic design services

If you still haven’t heard of Fiverr, then you are missing out on a platform for finding dirt-cheap graphic design services. Yes, a lot of the services actually do cost just five dollars – especially jobs like logos, business cards, and simple banner ads.

For anything more time-intensive or creatively demanding, you’ll need to pay more than five dollars.  Most sellers offer a variety of options and add-ons (such as paying extra for more revisions or certain file formats).  You save money by paying only for the design services you actually need.

Even the “expensive” graphic designers on Fiverr can be relatively cheap, since the platform taps into global talent.  You can typically find a professional quality logo, brochure, banner, book cover, or even custom illustration for under $50.  The platform has more of a product focus, where design services are offered with a focus on the product and the price, for example “$20 professional logo”.  As a result many of the freelancers operate under screen names and you're often not sure of the identity of the person hired.

*Be wary of any graphic designer that seems too good to be true.  It's impossible to completely verify the freelancer's portfolios showing examples of their work.   Since gigs are cheap, it is also easy for service providers to build up fake positive reviews.  Luckily, Fiverr has a dispute policy and money can sometimes be refunded when the work is not up to par.

Pros:

  • Very cheap
  • Thousands of graphic designers in one place
  • Huge variety of services offered
  • Platform is easy to navigate

Cons:

  • Some graphic designers may have fake portfolios
  • Quality varies drastically
  • Many amateur designers to sort through

 

2. Upwork

Upwork graphic designers

Formally known as Elance, Upwork is one of the largest platforms of freelancers marketing their services.  As expected, there are plenty of affordable graphic design services to be found.

Using Upwork is fairly simple.  You create a public job, set the budget, and wait for freelancers to apply.  Or, you can create a private job and invite only selected freelancers to apply.  Either way, you’ll have a large pool of candidates.

Upwork has a freelancer based focus, as opposed to a product based like Fiverr.  Real names are used and Upwork may required identity document verification.  Freelancers upload work to their portfolio and even have tests to prove skill knowledge.  You may still have to weed through lower quality freelancers, but Upwork also has a “job success score” that helps to rate freelancers based on past work.

The reviews on Upwork tend to be more reliable.  Especially if project costs are higher, it would be costly for a freelancer to get friends to write fake reviews.  You can also check the history of the reviewer, which means it is easier to spot fakes.

Pros:

  • Most designers are professionals and provide good-quality work
  • Reliable reviews (very few reviews are likely to be fake)
  • Escrow system for payment
  • Uses methods to weed out spammers
  • Hourly and fixed rates

Cons:

  • High freelancer fees are passed on to client
  • On-site messaging system needs improvement
  • Payment protection doesn’t extend to poor quality work

3. PicMonkey

Picmonkey DIY graphic design platform

Hiring a graphic designer online can take a long time.  You first need to narrow down the candidates, and after hiring spend time communicating with the designer to make sure the parameters are understood.  For simple jobs it might make sense to just do the work yourself.

PicMonkey is a good solution for people who want to take a DIY approach to graphic design, but are intimidated by Photoshop.

You won’t be able to create stunning logos or visuals from scratch with PicMonkey.  However, the service does allow you to easily touch up existing photos, make collages, create album covers, and create social media ads using templates.

The platform is heavily marketed towards small business websites and bloggers, particularly ones who want to expand their social media presence without having to add an additional member to their staff.

Pros:

  • Low monthly cost
  • Free trial offered
  • Tutorials and help offered
  • Lots of effects and overlays
  • Templates pre-sized for social media

Cons:

  • Ongoing cost
  • Limited to very basic graphic design tasks
  • Might be better off learning Photoshop
  • Free trial lasts only 7 days and credit card is required

4. Canva

canva

Canva is a popular design tool that’s free and easy to use without any design experience. The site offers templates and is popular among bloggers, content marketers, small business owners alike.  Designed for work, school, and play, it even offers design tips for non-designers.

The interface is intuitive and easy for anyone to use.  Whether it's creating presentations, magazine covers or simple marketing materials, you can create beautiful graphics with the provided layouts.  Even for designing mockups this would be a great place to start.

For more efficient teamwork, Canva offers a paid service called Canva At Work which allows integration with several team members.

Pros:

  • Free service meets most basic graphic design needs
  • Low monthly cost to upgrade
  • Templates pre-sized for social media

Cons:

  • Standardized features
  • Requires upgrading for resizing images

5.  Design Pickle Design Pickle

Design Pickle graphic design service review

Design Pickle offers an innovative flat rate approach to affordable graphic design services.  Instead of charging you on a per-project basis, they offer unlimited graphic design services for a flat monthly fee.  They were created for the average non-creative small business.

After signing up for the service, you are matched with a graphic designer who will be primarily responsible for your designs. They've pre selected a team of designers trained for high volume work.   If that designer goes on leave, another one will fill in, ensuring on call design services.

While you do get unlimited work each month for the fixed price, the jobs are queued up in your dashboard.  You set which ones have priority and these are done first.  Turnaround depends on the total request volume and complexity.

The service fits people who can answer yes to the following question: “Can I reasonably explain or show what I want in an email?”  If you have an eye for design and know exactly what you want, or you only need simple tasks done regularly, you may find these services valuable.

Pros:

  • Flat-rate price for unlimited work and revisions
  • On call graphic design services cheaper than a full time designer
  • No need to search for your own graphic designer
  • Ideal for business owners who know what they want
  • 14 day free trial to test the waters

Cons:

  • Not for extensive design jobs
  • Pays off better if you have many regular requests

 

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Affordable Graphic Design Services

tips for graphic design services

While some platforms are better for certain types of design work, it is ultimately about how you use the platform.

Whether you want to use one of the affordable design services listed above or another, make sure you follow these tips.

 

1. Be Specific in Your Project Description

graphic design project specs

Don’t think you can ask for a “design for XYZ industry” and get great results.  For graphic designers to succeed, they need details about what you want.

This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to give details about color psychology and contrast ratios.  However, you should include in your project description:

  • Information about your company and its mission
  • How/where the design will be used (especially if conversions are important!)
  • Examples of design work that you like
  • Examples of work that you don’t like
  • Any relevant market research
  • Copy, CTA, or other text that needs to be included in the design

 

2. Look for Long-Term Relationships

working together

Finding a good quality, affordable graphic designer can consume a lot of your time.  So, when you do find one, you don’t want to let him or her go.  That is why it is so crucial to look for long-term relationships.

How can you tell if a graphic designer is interested in long-term working relationships?  Look for:

  • Established profiles: This shows that the designer is a professional. They also don’t want to waste time applying for jobs and will happily build long-term relationships with clients.
  • A frequent rehire rate: Some sites will show you this; with others you have to look for multiple reviews from the same client.
  • Full time freelancers or services: If the designer has another full time job, there may be other demands on his/her time.  This is one of the challenges of working with freelancers in general though, you won't always know if your preferred designers are available for quick turnarounds.  Some of the productized services or agencies can help solve his problem.

 

3. Pay Bonuses for Great Work

It might seem counterintuitive to pay more than necessary within a competitive market.  But once you've invested in a freelance hire, monetary incentives can often pave the way for a more productive relationship. As with most employees, designers enjoy being rewarded for consistent work that exceeds your expectations.

What are your favorite sources for affordable design work?

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