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Dubsado – A Review

Creatives and designers who own run micro-agencies, or operate freelance, find themselves not only producing the designs their training and experience excels in but are required to be business owners.  Regardless of their experience. So, what would make it easier?

My business life is split between branding work and business coaching – which carries quite a chunk of crossover.  Just like the system, I’m about to suggest, there’s a strong need to present the corporate rigours alongside the creative talent; the tools we use make-or-break our work. Consider the version of Adobe CC you use or the calibre of the PC you’re operating – if you’re trying to bulldoze your way around Photoshop CS6 to achieve what you need, or having to wait for lags in the system, you won’t make progress in work.  Naturally, just as having better tools will enhance your daily life, those tools will not do it for you. But they help.

 

 

The system is Dubsado.  Their current tagline is ‘Run Your Business With Less Running’.  A nice sentiment – though one that is actually backed up with their work.  For the focus of this blog, I’m not going to list every purpose and use of the site – their versatility, automation, and integrations would make it go on forever anyway.  Instead, I’m going to highlight 4 key features they offer, which makes my life easier.

Projects

Simple – every job or operation you get becomes a project.  These projects have various Lead and Active Job statuses – as well as allowing you to invent your own. Each one is connected to a client – whose details you input and manage.  Each project has a huge range of details you can append, from simple dates through to full workflows.

This is their simplest and most powerful element, if for no other reason than many designers do not have a single, central resource that lists every job and its state, in a simple to manage format.  I can log on to my system, and see: 

  • every single job that I’ve got open
  • all the jobs that will be open in three weeks time
  • every active client
  • every former client, and
  • the history of every client and what happened on their projects.

In short, this client and project management feature becomes a unifying resource for your business!  I took on my first graphic design client in 2006. I’ve tried numerous systems and methods since then, but using this system is the first I’ve felt in control and like I’ve got no problem in collating this data.

 

Invoicing

A no-brainer.  The invoicing system is often something small businesses put into place before anything else, there’s no question. So why would you switch to this one?

Well, let’s start with the basics.  They have multiple payment processors – including Stripe, Square, and PayPal.  Though these are optional – you still can still easily accept bank transfer, cash, or chickens if you like and simply apply the payment to your invoice. (*please note, as chickens are not considered a legal tender, I advise against using them for design fees!)

 Then let’s throw in the extras you don’t always get with your invoicing systems, such as recurring auto-deducing payment (I have clients whose monthly subscription is taken automatically), the email send and reminder system you can set, the integration with accounting software such as Quickbooks, international processing, and 0 fees on your invoices.

 So you’ve got a clearly attractive invoicing system – but now let’s integrate it with the aforementioned clients/projects system, and we’re hitting Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct levels of attractive.  With my dashboard, I can go in and open a client – seeing every project listed and what invoices I’ve sent them over the past few years. Now in my days before Dubsado I could always sort my PayPal transactions by the sender, or export my bank statements to filter those – but this system collates everything regardless of payment type and date.

 The little things like accepting tips and tracking project expenses are boosts to the admin side of my business too.  Plus categorisation – if like me, you accept payments for print processes that you export to a specialist print house like Black Label, then you’ll know that your gross vs net profit figures are so wide that at £2’000 payment might give you a couple of hundred quid for your business, the rest is paid out.  By categorising my invoice items, I can see exactly what came in for design fees, exactly what came in as coaching/consultancy fees, and exactly how much goes to the printers.

 

It’s also worth mentioning there is a time tracker which you can apply to the project to track how many minutes you work on each element for charging.  Not to forget that expenses keep your outgoing costs clearly applied. 

 

Scheduling

Now we’ve got our clients and projects arranged, and invoicing sorted – let’s look day-to-day.  The built-in system allows you to assign dates to the projects you’re operating – I use that in 4 different ways:

  1. Open project dates
    Between Jul 4th and July 22nd, I’m working on a branding project for XYZ ltd.  It doesn’t mean that each of those dates is booked out for that project alone, but that’s the window for the project.
  2. Project activity date
    Certain dates within that range will be marked out for my work.  As Dubsado integrates entirely with my G-Suite calendar, everything is synced automatically
  3. Task Dates
    One of the projects I’m outlining below is tasks – being able to assign those to dates allows me to control what needs doing more than just list it.
  4. Clients
    My clients are able to book appointments with me directly – this is the best feature of scheduling.

I’ve set my Dubsado account up so that clients can book appointments with me.  As you may expect, it integrates with everything else! When an existing client books, the system recognises their email and links it all together.  When a new client books their client listing is created. But what’s that – for some reason, you DON’T want to allow clients to book out every free minute of your week? The best thing about it for me is that there’s nothing free about it!  When my client wants to book a coaching session, they head to my website where I’ve embedded the Dubsado scheduling form for my coaching. They pick a slot, get given an invoice and cannot reserve the slot until payment is made! My calendar dates are predefined so I have certain periods always free and buffers either side of the scheduled event.

 

Forms

This is what sold me on Dubsado when they first started a few years back before many of their current features were even dreamed.  They have a form section which allows you to tack a form onto a client’s project. They use the heading of Forms but they’re so much more and come under 5 main categories:

  • Lead Capture
  • Proposals
  • Questionnaires
  • Sub-agreements, and
  • Contracts

 Their breadth of versatility is huge – build whatever you want or use one of their templates!  Let me give you an example of the process for a website client. They’ll fill out the lead capture form on my website (now I should note here that the Workflow feature Dubsado offer can send a thousand things into action just from this one step – way too much for me to discuss in this blog, but check it out!).  I’ll get an email saying that Joe Bloggs has filled out my form, that a project has been set up and a client created on my system – with a copy of his message.  

 If I’m incredibly lucky, Joe Bloggs knows exactly what he wants and would like me to get started immediately.  So I’ll log on and create the PROPOSAL. He’ll receive an email with a link to this proposal which as you might expect will open up with the pitch – displaying whatever versatile content is needed, followed by a form and package options.  I ask for his basic website details, go live dates etc, and present him with a few website options to choose with their prices listed. Joe selects some, leaves others and clicks next.

 That takes him to the CONTRACT tab.  As you may have read in the contracts blog I wrote for TDL, they’re crucial for all our work so the integration here is perfect.  The smart-fields option automatically fills in his details and package information, plus I’ve already counter-signed the contract so he just reads it through, adds his details and signs (this is legally recognised as a digital signature in the UK).  After signing he clicks submit! This process takes him to the next tab of the INVOICE. It calculates his price based on the options he selected at the start of the proposal. My payment terms for web work are 50/50 – so Dubsado takes the 50% deposit from him immediately (he pays via credit card through Square or PayPal etc) and shows him the remainder that is due on whichever date he just selected as his go-live date.

Thanks to their workflow system, two things happen automatically after this – 1) he gets a SUB AGREEMENT emailed automatically, in this case, it’s a non-disclosure agreement which I like to keep separate from the website contract. 2) he receives the QUESTIONAIRE of Content.  As you might expect, this is a form that asks for everything I’ll need to build the website.

 So to recap – on this day, I received an email saying Joe wanted a website, in turn, I sent him my basic proposal in a few clicks (can be automated but I like to monitor and adapt sometimes).  I then received a completed proposal stating what he needed, a signed contract, a 50% deposit, a signed NDA, a completed content questionnaire, and a timeline for completion. (I don’t need to point out that Joe is a mythical client – but should such a wonder ever happen, the Dubsado process is easy!  Even with the average client who needs more handholding, it’s got everything saved and ready to be sent).

I’m way over on my word allocation – because there’s so much to share and I’ve barely scratched the surface!  But at a risk of readers growling at me… I shall also point out…

  • All my clients get a client portal
    to login and see all their forms, appointments, invoices, and workboards (part of the project that allows you to create multiple workboards and lists that can be private or viewable by the client, each displaying aspects or tasks within the job).  
  • Dubsado can also host multiple brands for a good discount if you’re running as two or more identities.  
  • It can be fully branded to your business – my clients have no clue what Dubsado is
  • There are Zapier triggers – so you can work with anything
  • They have a live help chat, great docs and a Facebook group!
  • You can book a free 1:1 demo, to get a feel of how it’ll help you.

 

I’m not claiming they are perfect!  There’s no app as yet and the mobile browser version isn’t great.  You need to dedicate time in setting it all up to your needs (totally worth it, and they’ll absolutely help, but it’s a few hours you could be designing in).  It’s not the cheapest option for your agency – currently $35 per month or $350 per year (It’s cheap for something so self-contained, but there are free versions of each individual element you could work with).  Whilst you can add staff users and assign items to them – you can only get 3 for free, after which further prices apply 

 

If you are interested you can use my affiliate code: ORANGEREEL and get a 20% discount – though you can totally sign up without it.  I also benefit from this

WordPress Security & Maintenance

Securing & Maintaining Your WordPress Website Together

WordPress is one of the worlds most popular web platforms.  In fact, they estimate that 1/3 of ALL websites on the internet, is built on the WordPress CMS.  Whilst I’ve always built websites using a range of options, I increasingly find myself drawn to WordPress. 

However, WordPress sites are also the most targeted for malware, SQL Injections, spambots, viral attacks and more.  Their universal code spread over 30% of the internet means that unethical elements of the online community only need to write a programme to attack a site once and it’s suitable for all equal installations of WordPress.  There’s very little targeting in these attacks – think of it like a normal cold-and-flu virus.  It will simply bounce from one person or website, to the next it comes into contact with, infecting all who have weakest immunity.

WordPress are very good with keeping on top of these evolutions in malicious code though, and routinely bring out updates and security patches to keep websites safe.  The same can be said for the most popular elements of WordPress Plugins.  A plugin is an element built into WordPress to perform a specific function – some plugins are as complex as a shop, whereas others are very simple text buttons added.  The world of plugins is vast and deep, ranging from high-priced top-quality development work in action on millions of websites, down to poor quality and ineptly built cheap plugins.  Just like WordPress itself, credible developers bring out updates and security patches on a regular basis to defend your website.

So far, so good, right?  The WordPress community is targeted often (purely because of its visibility) but the frequent updates and patches from the core and credible plugins should continue to keep your site safe.  That’s entirely true – provided the malware doesn’t reach your website before the update.  However, websites are built on layers – thousands of them integrating with each other (think Tetris!). When one of those layers is updated, it affects all of those around and above it.  If one of your plugins is set to automatically update with a fault – your layers are as useful as a house of cards in a hurricane.  Even the most stable of updates on the WordPress platform can modify a layer one of your plugins uses, preventing them from integrating and working correctly.

Level One

secured from hosting
  • Automated cPanel Backups
  • Updates on Request
  • Captcha form and login protection
£20 p/m

Level Two

includes all from level one, plus:
  • Entry level versions of iTheme Security plugin

  • Entry level SSL
  • Protected login links
  • Updates implemented every 4 weeks
£42 p/m
Plus £45 setup if purchased without website

Level Three

includes all from level two, plus:
  • Professional level versions of iTheme Security plugin

  • GoDaddy SSL
  • Daily Malware Scanning
  • Google Blacklist monitoring and removal
  • Updates implemented every 4 weeks
  • Database & file optimisation every 4 weeks
  • Maintain Audit Logs
  • One hour of integration resolution
£59 p/m
Plus £45 setup if purchased without website

Level Four

includes all from level three, plus:
  • WAF malware prevention
  • CDN performance accelerator
  • Advanced DDoS mitigation
  • Daily Malware Scan
  • Advanced DDoS mitigation
  • Advanced DDoS mitigation
  • 2 hours of integration resolution
  • Updates implemented every 4 weeks
  • Database & file optimisation every 4 weeks
  • Staging site on request
£115 p/m
Plus £45 setup if purchased without website

Level Five

includes all from level four, plus:
  • 2-factor authentication logins
  • Premium DNS to prevent Domain Hijacking
  • 4 hours of update integration resolutions
  • Weekly updates
  • Weekly database & file optimisation
  • Uptime monitoring
£155 p/m
Plus £45 setup if purchased without website

What’s your website worth?

Website security isn’t just an issue of stopping the site going offline. Malware attacks frequently add content to sites as it’s easier to do that edit existing content. How would your brand’s reputation cope if there was pornography, credit-card fraud, or viagra ads on your site for two months before you noticed?

What’s more, the site will constantly be scanned by Google and other search engines.  This can have your company linked permanently to whatever type of spam is advertised on your site, or worse can get your website blocked from search history – prevent users from visiting it, and send all your emails to spam.

It’s so much more than going offline.  So how prepared are you?

This website page is constantly being updated and modified as we adjust to threats in the online community.  Keep checking.

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5 Ways Small Businesses Can Utilise April Fools

April Fools Day is a huge day for small businesses and marketers. If you’ve never really made the most of it in past years, now is the time to change that. With April Fools Day just around the corner, your business should be plotting how to utilise it and advance the interests of your business in doing so. Here are 5 ways in which your small business can utilise April Fools Day

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  1. Have Some Fun with Stereotypes

If you know that there are certain stereotypes associated with your business or the industry you operate in, you can have some fun with these on April Fools Day. When you do something that’s over the top yet still kind of possible for a business like yours, you’ll make people laugh and get people talking; that only be a good thing from a marketing perspective, so embrace it.

 

 

  1. Introduce a (Fake) New Product or Idea

One idea that works well is creating a new product or idea that your business launches on April Fools Day. Of course, you won’t actually launch it but it can increase interest and get people talking before you launch a real product that you actually do want to sell to people. You get people’s attention with a comical, joke idea before unveiling a real product that you want them to buy.

 

 

  1. Find a Way to Go Viral

Getting your content picked up on social media can make a huge difference for your brand. When it goes viral and people start sharing it in huge numbers, suddenly a whole lot of people who had previously never heard of your company will know all about it. Use a trend and find a joke that really lands; it’s not easy but it certainly can be done.

april fool

 

 

  1. Let the Business’s Personality Come to the Fore

One of the things that matter most when coming up with an April Fools Day prank is letting your business’s personality come to the fore. This helps people to know your company better and feel more attached to it. People don’t feel loyal to companies that are bland and faceless, so show the human side of your business and don’t be afraid to show some personality.

 

 

  1. Aim to Surprise and Increase Engagement

When you surprise your audience, you drive engagement with your brand on social media platforms. Do something that people really won’t expect because that’s what gets people interacting and engaging. For small businesses trying to succeed in the Wild West of online digital marketing, more engagement is always helpful when you’re trying to grow and improve, so make the most of it.

 

 

April Fools Day is a great opportunity for your business to do something new and make your brand better known, so be sure to make the most of it. Achieving the right tone and getting the humour right isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but if you work at it and take it seriously, the results will be incredible.

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How IR35 Will Affect UK Small Business Owners?

IR35 is nothing new and was first introduced in the year 2000 as a way for HMRC to clamp down on the threat of employees posing as contractors for tax avoidance reasons. After years of ambiguity regarding the issue, Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget confirmed plans for a reform that is to be implemented from April 2020.

 

One of the most notable factors is that it is set to extend to the private sector too, which will naturally mean big changes for small business owners that work with freelance contractors and agencies. Here’s all you need to know.

 

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UK Business Owners Need To Take Responsibility

IR35 isn’t designed to scare small business owners, especially those that are running their ventures with honesty, transparency, and integrity. However, those that are caught bending the rules or failing to comply with the new reforms by getting caught up by a contractor’s shortcoming, you will face fairly severe fines as HMRC come for the money that should have been paid at source.

 

Given that synthetic self-employment can cost as much as £1.2bn per year, HMRC does take this seriously. As such, small business owners need to accept that employees need to be treated as such, and not contractors using agencies.

 

UK Business Owners Forced To Increase Pay

 

UK business owners will need to subtract National Insurance Contributions from the wages of contractors deemed to fall inside IR35. Experts have forecast that public sector workers could lose around 30% of their home takings as a result, and those figures are likely to be very similar for freelancers in the private sectors.

 

Consequently, then, freelancers will feel forced to increase their charges to compensate for the loss. In turn, small business owners using these forms of employment could be set to see their staffing costs increase without necessarily gaining increased productivity.

 

UK Business Owners Required To Investigate Agency Agreements

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While the employee/contractor is responsible for investigating whether they fall under IR35 or not, business owners will need to take greater responsibility when dealing with agencies. If you are paying an employee who is not classed as self-employed through an agency, you will need to pay their National Insurance Contributions.

 

The agency will still be tasked with making those calculations relating to PAYE and NIC deductions. GOV UK has provided an online tool to help business owners (as well as workers and agencies) check the employment status regarding IR35 regulations.

 

The Good News

 

Owners of genuinely small businesses may be exempt from the IR35 reforms. As per the Companies Act 2006, companies are deemed small if they have a turnover of under £10.2m, fewer than 50 employees, and £5.1m or less on its balance sheet (or at least two of those three elements) they will be exempt from the changes. However, the criteria could change in regards to IR35.

 

Nonetheless, this is major change ahead and even the small companies that feel as though they don’t need to worry should use the next year or so to conduct the necessary research. Moreover, they should still take responsibility when hiring freelance contractors and agencies.

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onlinesales

How Seasonal Branding Helps to Increase Sales?

“Holiday spending” no longer refers to products that are purchased during just the winter months. There is ample evidence which suggests that spending on other holidays of the year such as Mother’s Day or Easter is slowly climbing.

If you look at sales figures for all holidays in question, it is quite obvious that consumer-based holidays generate large spikes in sales. While running promotions during the holidays at the end of the year can be extremely beneficial for creating hype, brands are starting to realize the importance of creating the same kind of hype for other holidays. While UK consumers are pressured with rising inflation, that doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on the online sales, which can be gauged by the graphic given below. In fact, online sales are expected to account for around 21.5% of the retail industry in 2018 in the UK.  Companies wanting to be part of the supply for this demand need to be aware of how to adjust their own brands to best fit the consumers’ search.

onlinesales

What is Seasonal Branding?

Before we can get into the benefits of seasonal branding, we need to understand what it is. Seasonal branding or promotions are those special discounts, offers or limited-edition items that are tied to a specific event or back to school season. The whole idea of creating a seasonal marketing campaign is to attract the attention of a target audience towards your brand.

Seasonal branding isn’t a complete makeover of an existing branding strategy, but rather an extension of existing marketing efforts to attract customers and increase sales during important holidays of the year, for instance, the eight bank holidays in England and Wales, not to mention Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Types of Holidays

There are three types of holidays that marketers have their eyes on from the start of the year.

  • Recognized Holidays — These are well-known holidays such as Early May Bank Holiday, Spring Bank Holiday, Summer Bank Holiday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Black Friday, etc.
  • Annual Events —These are those periods of time when certain cultural events occur. A good example of this type of holiday would be the back-to-school season, which occurs between August and September.
  • Non-Traditional Holidays — These are the holidays that are not considered real holidays but can be classified as such nonetheless because they serve a particular purpose. For example, there is National Craft Month or National Coffee Day.

Before a business can take advantage of seasonal branding (i.e. adding a Santa hat on the logo or adapting colours in the brand to an autumn leaves pattern), they must first understand what roles a holiday plays in their promotions. That’s because not every holiday or annual even will apply to a particular product.

Are You Providing a Satisfying Online Buying Experience?

This brings us to the most crucial part of any online sale. According to a survey by Barclaycard, the average British online shopper abandons baskets worth £29.37 every month. Why is that?

To find out the reason for these low conversion rates business need to ask what the recent report from Qubit asked more than 4000 customers the following question:

phonepurchase


Knowing which Season/Holiday to Target

Continuously latching on to each and every holiday of the year with a full-fledged promotional campaign will cut into your profits. On the other hand, depending on the product you are selling, certain holidays or seasons in the year could really add value to your branding efforts. A great example can be given of Autumn when there’s a spike in gardening appliances and products, such as grass lawn seeds, weed killer, hedge shears, and leaf rakes. They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In the case of e-commerce businesses, the seasonality of the shopper is something that is counted on.

Seasonal branding can help create a stronger connection between the customer and your brand because brands that cater to seasonal wants and needs of the consumer seem more personable and relatable. While the total average eCommerce spend per consumer is estimated at £1,600 over the course of the year in the UK, according to Barclaycard, nominal spending was 4% higher [ft.com] between November 19 and December 23 in 2017, as compared to previous years, which also happens to be a span which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Tying your brand to those events at a core level helps users connect the brand with the holiday in the minds of your shoppers. 

christmas store branding

The Offline Experience

Much of this is targetted towards the online market – but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant to the high street brands and face to face traders.  For most of these, social media and online communications are a crucial component to interacting with their demographic.  This is where a customised and seasonal brand helps entice your client and solidify that connection between the holiday and the company.  For all of living memory, we’ve seen shops deck their aisles and fill their windows with seasonal and festive displays.  As shoppers start to understand the concept of branding more and more, it’s only natural that this seasonal acknowledgement spreads.  Social media, in-store posters, and staff nametags are just three great ways to make your brand seasonal.

Ending Note

Since consumers are already going to be thinking about upcoming holidays and seasons, putting your seasonal campaign up front with a solid marketing campaign surrounding that product can create a nice buzz around your brand that will help feed that seasonal excitement. According to A Marketer’s Paradox of Strategy VS Practice, two-thirds of consumers expect a same-day response to queries about a particular product or service, and 43% expecting a response within an hour, so companies need to have their finger on the pulse at all times if they want to stay ahead of the curve.

Why Do We Suggest GoDaddy?

Why We Suggest GoDaddy

Hosting is an essential element for all website providers. In the past, we offered direct hosting for client sited – but in a world of intensive malware, that’s become more of a vulnerability than an asset, to protect against which is too expensive to warrant. So we hunted our a provider that would work for our clients…

Hosting Providers

There are hundreds.  Thousands.  And that’s just from a cursory google search.  For obvious reasons we are unable to investigate and support them all, but after great research we’ve chosen to assist our clients with GoDaddy hosting.  This doesn’t mean they must choose GoDaddy – we will offer our services for any provider, but it will work out the most cost effective to work with a company we’re already familiar with.

Why GoDaddy?

  • 1. Size. It matters. The scale GoDaddy operates on allows them to provide a vast range of solutions to hosting, domains, and web security. Their prices are competitive and their reviews overall positive. They wont be right for everyone, but the same can be said for any business.
  • 2. 24-7 Support – phone and email. Regular support is a very important step in hosting. It’s one of those areas where things can just go wrong. A server update at 6pm on a Friday could cause downtime until your hosting provider opens the lines Monday morning. Of course, it’s no guarantee that speaking to someone immediately will provide a solution but it offers far more information than waiting would.
  • 3. Orange Reel support. GoDaddy offers features which allow you to authorise Orange Reel to act on your behalf. That can be as simple as helping you edit the site, and change the features of your hosting to better support your sites, or as far as ordering extra services you request, setting the options so that it debits your accounts directly. We also know, and can advise, on the range offered by GoDaddy. These vary between businesses, so it’s an extra head start.
  • 4. Native English call centres. They operate in the UK and USA primarily – whilst worldwide call centres operate fine, when it comes to technical support for hosting any language barrier can become a severe one fast.

Services

The absolute basics each of our clients need are the domain and an entry-level hosting account. The domain they generally own already, but if not GoDaddy offers virtually every conceivable domain extension available. The hosting account will depend on a number of things, but generally, GoDaddy’s “Essential” Plan works, it offers:
  • Award-Winning 24/7 Support
  • 1 Website
  • 100GB Storage
  • Unmetered Bandwidth
  • New PHP 7.0, 7.1, 7.2
  • Free Business Email – 1st Year
  • Free Domain* – with annual plan
Now you don’t need to understand all the details, it’s just what is included. Those with multiple websites, much higher visitor numbers or more demanding website features may benefit from upgrading to the Deluxe or Ultimate ranges. One of the benefits of working with GoDaddy is their payment structure. They offer a monthly package for convenience, as well as 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year options – usually the further in advance you order, the cheaper the package works out to be.

Checkout GoDaddy Hosting

SSL Certificates

As you can see in our Standard Vs Hosting blog from last year (Outdated in terms of our service but still relevant information) you’ll see an SSL is essential to reassure users that the website they’re looking at matches the domain they’re viewing.  This helps prevents phishing attacks whereby the site you’re logging into may look like Facebook or PayPal but is, in fact, a fake, just stealing your information.

As of the latest Chrome update,  users are now told a site is “Not Secure” if it’s displayed without one of these certificates.  GoDaddy sells SSL Certificates from £50 per year, but for the time being Orange Reel is going to continue offering an entry-level SSL for £15 per year.  This is likely to cease as of June 2019, because more secure features will be required, but for now should help our clients save a notable amount per year.


Website Security

Protecting your site from Hackers, Viruses, and Malware is an important, though sometimes costly undertaking.  It will depend on your day to day use as to whether this is an important task for you, but GoDaddy offers you such services just in case.

GoDaddy’s Deluxe Malware scan, removal and prevention. Plus, performance boost offers the following

  • 12-hour response time
  • Unlimited malware removal
  • Google blacklist monitoring & removal
  • WAF malware prevention (basic firewall)
  • CDN performance accelerator
  • Advance DDoS mitigation

There’s plenty of information about each of these features on their website, on the wider internet at large, or available through us; but understanding the details isn’t crucial to using them.  In short, this is a round-the-clock level of protection – a basic firewall to protect from malware, hacker and virus attacks, along with a clean-up solution for removing any that get through.  This service costs approx. £192 per year or £15.99 per month – See More

If you’d prefer to avoid this service, certain steps such as enforcing regular updates, maintaining security standards on the website, and performing regular backups can be significant assets. They’d require you to keep a close eye on the website of course, but nothing too time-consuming.  Maybe browsing it twice a week.

If you would like a malware solution at a more affordable price, their “Essential” package offers:

  • 12-hour response time
  • Unlimited malware removal
  • Google blacklist monitoring & removal

Essentially speaking, it will scan the site for malware every 12 hours or so and allow you to submit clean-up requests if it becomes infected.  This service can be brilliant if you find your website getting re-infected with malware on a regular basis.  However, this isn’t a fool-proof option, as the infection can permanently damage your site – preventing a repair.  In such a case it would need to be restored from a backup (providing you have a recent backup of the site which does not contain the infection) or you’d need a site rebuilt/built from scratch.  This is around £5.99 per month (though drops to £3.99 per month If you buy for periods of 12 months or more).

Website Security on GoDaddy


Website Backups

Backups are essential.  Whether you use included or paid extra services for those is entirely up to you.  Within the hosting account is an application manager – which will manage and maintain your Joomla.  One of the features it offers is daily backups which can store those backups either on your hosting account or your Dropbox (for off-site security).  These are great but not fool-proof. If a malware infection occurs, the site backup can include the infection.  If the infection goes unnoticed for a week, all of your current backups will have the infections, too.

A managed version of website backups is available at a small cost from GoDaddy.  This starts at £2.99 per month (with 5gb space and discounts for longer term contracts), with the following services: 

  • Automatic daily backups
  • Built-in daily malware scanning
  • Back up a file, folder or an entire database
  • Scheduled or on-demand backups
  • Continuous security monitoring
  • Downloads to local storage
  • Easy one-click restore
  • Secure cloud storage
  • Expert 24/7 customer support
All of the site security and backup options are optional – much like insurance. Whether or not you feel they’re worth the money is entirely your decision. But most truly notice how valued they are when something goes wrong and you don’t have them. That said, as with every aspect of your business you need to balance to financial risk against the financial cost.

It’s important to note, that regardless of the information given here, hosting and web security are constantly evolving fields and you should familiarise yourself with. 

This information is here for two reasons: 1st most of our clients haven’t needed to deal with hosting before, so we want to provide a background. 2nd, clients will now be responsible for their hosting and it’s consequences, so we don’t want to throw anyone out into the cold

Orange Reel Support Will Continue

You’ll be able to hire our support services for frequent little jobs or one off issues you need help resolving. However it works best for you.
Affiliation – we work on the GoDaddy Pro service. Basically, we get reward points for any of our clients who purchase GoDaddy services. Does this mean that beach-house in Aruba is days away? Sadly not. It’s a minimal benefit which mainly provides discounts on the services we buy ourselves – but as there’s a vested interest we’re disclosing it. If you have any concerns about this clouding our judgement, checkout the service and you’ll se it’s not much incentive to steer clients. But we’ll still happily assist you if you’re not listed on our Pro account.

Our Basic Branding & Web Package

Creating a strong brand is essential for your business to stand apart from others and dominate your industry. Effective branding will help your company gain a competitive edge and grow revenue. However, brand building is a challenging task that requires an investment of time, effort, and resources. 

 

In order to build a strong brand, you need to partner with an experienced branding agency. That’s where we come in. 

At Orange Reel, we don’t just do logos independent of a brand. We find that over time, the logo becomes a “stick-on appendage” on a range of different items, which dilutes your brand efficacy and begins to cheapen the business overall. As such, we provide an all-around brand creation package. We will help you draw your target audience through an integrated branding strategy. 

Our basic branding and web design package provides everything that is required to create a memorable and recognisable brand. 

Branding Package:

Branding Design

Our branding package includes custom logo design with variations. We focus on creating a brand logo that will resonate with your audience. We provide brand logo guidelines — fonts, exact colours, design etc. — that will help you to position your brand consistently and develop a unique brand identity. 

Print Design

We also provide a variety of print design services to our clients. Our experienced graphic designers use their creative magic to come up with targeted brand design ideas. We include the following print designs with our package. 

  • Business Cards design 
  • Contact Card (thank you note/correspondence card) design 
  • Invoice Template 
  • Letterhead design 
  • Flyer designs 
  • Banner Design 

We aim to create a consistent branding experience across different print media. This helps in creating a unique brand image that is at once recognisable and captivates the target market.

Social Media Design

Social media is a goldmine for companies looking to enhance their online presence. We make sure that your company portrays a professional image in different social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and others. 

Our social media contingent includes profile & cover pictures with 3 x promotional images.

The Branding Design, Print Design, and Social Media Designs make up our standard branding package (though we can add elements to this) and costs just £380 

Website Creation

A solid branding strategy starts with your website.  Before creating a website, we get to know your business and what it stands for. This information is translated to create a website with a distinctive brand image. 

We make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Also, we include Google integrated tracking code so that you can find out website performance through Google Analytics. If needed, we can include social media retargeting code so that you can create targeted ads for visitors who visit your website*. To integrate all elements seamlessly, our graphic designers can add tailored video and graphics to build brand awareness and increase conversion rates*. 

We create websites with self-edit capabilities. Using the content management system, you can easily edit text, images, videos, and other information on the website. Regularly updating the website ensures that the content always looks fresh and up-to-date. 

  • Website Mobile first creation
  • Google integrated tracking
  • Self-Edit Capabilities
  • Tailored Video/Graphics
  • Social Media Integrated code
  • Extras:
    • Blog*
    • Shop*
    • Facilities*
    • Video creation*
    • User Accounts*
    • Booking Facilities*
    • Landing Pages*
    • Custom Development*

The web package is priced at £380 

*items marked with an asterisk are at an additional cost

For more information about our customised branding package, you can send an email at [email protected] or call 01442 780 600.

How Small Businesses Can Ensure Compliance with EU GDPR Laws

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on May 28, 2018. If you are a small business owner serving customers in the European Union, you need to be aware of this law. Not complying with it will have serious consequences — including a fine of up to 24 million Euros.

 In this post, you will learn about this legislation and also what steps you can take to comply with it. 

GDPR Law: An Overview

GDPR is a piece of legislation that was passed by the EU to ensure data privacy of its residents.  The regulation imposes strict restrictions with regard to handling personally identifiable information (PII) — information that can be traced to an individual’s identity such as name, age, address, and other personal information. 

This legislation applies to all businesses that hold, process, or use any sort of personal data of any EU resident, regardless of their geographic location. It represents a radical shift in data transparency as it would give residents more control over their personal data. The law dictates that companies must provide control to residents over who, where, when, and for what purpose personal details will be used or shared. 

So, how can you ensure that your small business complies with the GDPR rules? Here are four simple steps to ensure compliance with these new EU data laws. 

1. Analyse Your Data

How do you obtain, process, store and use your data?  Knowing this is an important part of arranging your GDPR preparation.  It’s also important to discover whether you’re required to register your business with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).  It’s worth taking the Self-Assessment questionnaire, even if you don’t think it’s something your business needs.

2. Craft a New Data Policy 

You need to create a revised data policy for EU customers. The policy should inform customers about the collection and use of data. It should tell customers about the type of data that will be collected and whether the data will be shared with any third party. Also, the policy should inform customers about their right to consent or decline the use and sharing of personal data. 

3. Find Out What Data is Regulated

Make sure that you know which data falls under EU special category. The special category data includes information that is personal and confidential. This includes the following. 

  • personal information such as name, date of birth, address, race, age, gender, religion
  • biometric data
  • genetic data
  • criminal conviction data
  • health data

You must conform to GDRP rules in processing the above data. It’s important to obtain a consent before using the above data. The customer should also have an option to later decline consent regarding sharing of sensitive data. 

4. Obtain Data that is Necessary

Small businesses should obtain only that data which is necessary to avoid legal trouble. You should only collectdata that you require for execution of the contract, or to protect the interest of your customer. Minimizing exposure to your customers’ identities will reduce the likelihood of a violating the GDPR law. 

5. Due Diligence

Lastly, small businesses should take steps to assess risks to the privacy of data and diligently address them. It’s important to carry on a comprehensive risk assessment regarding data privacy. In addition, firms should proactively help partners ensure full compliance with the EU data protection laws. 

Failure to comply with the EU GDPR laws can result in a serious penalty. The fine for the misuse of personal data of the residents can be up to 4 percent of annual global turnover or 20 million Euros, whichever is greater. So, complying with requirements of the law should be a priority for every small business. 


Now, this is just an overview – a little information to help you get started.  We suggest you read up on the subject with the ICO and Gov UK website

ICO Self-Assessment Book Website Privacy Updates Business Coaching  

Secure Hosting vs Standard Hosting

 In the last year we’ve added secure hosting as a solution to the rising cost of SSL Certificates and their maintenance.  This blog aims to set out what this means, and why it’s important.

What’s the Difference?

In short – an SSL Certificate.  When we put you on a secure hosting plan, it includes a basic certificate. SSL (Or Secure Socket Layer) Certificates form a cloak of protection over your domain and website.  It creates a level of encryption between the user and your site – away from prying eyes.

 

Why Is It Needed?

Your website info is open and public – everyone can see it, as we want.  However, the user’s info is not and should not be so easily available.  If you have an online store it’s incredibly important to have that level of security in place to protect your users from outside influences.  But it is just as important for a website without e-commerce systems because they often use forms, login facilities, email sign-ups, social media integrations – which all take users information

 

What If I Don’t Go Secure?

This will depend on your website and your business type.  Three possible options:

 

    • Nothing:  If your website has no contact forms, has no sign-ups, shops or integrations, and your business also prevents cookies and blocks 3rd party cookies then you’re not in any actual trouble.  That said, Orange Reel strongly advises everyone to use Secure Hosting.
    • User Warnings:  No matter what your business and site, it’s not uncommon for users to be told a website is insecure and/or unsafe due to the lack of SSL.  If you carry out ANY financial transactions on your site, then users will find it tough to access your site at all without the security.  But that doesn’t mean sites which are not e-commerce are free and clear!  Certain browsers (iPhones are a big culprit) expect them as standard, and see a lack of security a sign of bad things

 
  • Data Protection and GDPR Breach:  This option comes complete with legal ramifications!  Depending on your business, you may well have found yourself redesigning half of your business to ensure you’re compliant with the forthcoming GDPR regulations!  But if you’ve been hiding under a rock, it comes down to this – client, customer, and personal information is private and protected!  It is considered negligent and legally questionable to have unprotected client information.  Having a website that collects client information without an SLL is akin to leaving client financial and personal information lying around the shop for anyone to copy and steal!SEO Security and Protection

 

Is it worth the cost?

YES!  As mentioned above, not having an SSL is enough for browsers to block access to your website – regardless as to what’s on it.  The standard cost of an SSL is £60 per year.  There are cheaper options and more expensive as there are with anything.  The cheaper ones usually require a high rate of experience to manage or are simply unreliable (think plastic padlock from a Christmas cracker securing your cash-box!).  More expensive ones brag greater level of protection, large green banners in the browser to promise impressive security to users – or simply inflate profits of the SSL sellers!  We utilise those which need more experience along with bulk client purchasing to combine affordable SSLs with your hosting at a mere £15 increase per year!  These are low-end – but they tick the box, and if for any reason your site needs advanced security, we’ll let you know!

 


Hopefully, this gives you a good insight into Secure Hosting and why we advise it.  If you have any concerns or questions don’t hesitate to contact us!

SEO

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation – it’s the process of adjusting elements on the website and supporting online elements, to increase the ranking of that website – ideally to the coveted top spot of Google.

Each search engine uses a different method of collecting and ranking pages on the net – an algorithm, the most secret aspects of which are valued in the millions!  The way these algorithms rank pages has nuances to each search engine but follows the same broad strokes:

Content

It should surprise no one that the first measure of any website is its content.  The greater and most accurate content available, the better you will rank on the website.  A mistake many websites make is providing minimal information with a “Contact Us For More” call to action.  Depending on the site’s demographic that may be enough to get a few potential sales to make contact, but limiting the content available, limits the number who find the website, to begin with.

Take Joe’s Gardening Services as an example.  Joe wants to increase the number of regulars he has, so one of the four pages on his site has some images of lawns he cares for and a sentence reading: “Our lawn care is second-to-none and offers discounts to regulars – get in touch to learn more”.   His page data mentions he operates in Hertfordshire and a few keywords about his business name.  But when Google crawls that website, and indexes the terms of this page – it doesn’t see “Grass Cutting and Maintenance in Watford”, so when someone runs that search, Google won’t know to put the searcher and website together.

Adding a blog is a good way of adding lots of functional information.  Learn more about blogs here.

SEOBacklinks

It’s true, you never leave the school popularity contests.  Backlinks are links to your website in other websites.  Sometimes they’re the simple and obvious choice like Yell or Trust a Trader.  Other times they can be links to blogs or articles in your website, products in your shop, or links as preferred suppliers.

Be Careful

Warning – don’t spam forums and websites with backlinks where they’re not relevant and appropriate – Google will penalise and downgrade your site.  Many cheap SEO providers and offerings in places like Fiverr and People Per Hour do this as their “SEO Service”.  It may work for a couple of weeks, but then your site will be dropped down the list by Google.

Social Interactions

As of 2015, almost ⅓ of all referral traffic came from social media.  It’s a hard statistic to soundly quantify, but we can be assured that this number has only gone up in the last two years.  Because of this, search engines monitor social networks as much, if not more, than the average website.  Sharing your content, and links to your website is a great tool for benefiting from this.  

Be Careful

Be careful though – drown your feed with links may help your google, but not your social network following.

Searches and Results

Google alone processes over 40’000 search queries every single second – that’s over 3.5 Billion daily!  Needless to say, when it comes to data, they have plenty! This information is used to help refine search results – the more your website is clicked when shown in a page of results, the more search engines will rank you higher.  The inverse is also true, if you show up on hundreds of results but are never clicked, then you drop.  The best way to ensure this works in your favour is to refine your page descriptions and titles, so users know exactly what your page has to offer.

Hits

Don’t underestimate the traditional way of arriving at websites – type in an address.  These methods are also taken into consideration along with referral links. 

Website Construction & Code

Websites have evolved so much over the last two decades – and they continue to do so.  At this point, the value of the code and behind-the-scenes content is just as important as that which is visible.

The most basic and understood is metadata – which has been around decades. The top 3 types are Page Title, Description, and Keywords.  The data must always be accurate as incorrect data – using unrelated data in order to entice people to click will cause your website to get penalised and downgraded by google.

Then there’s a lot of structured content which tells search engines about specific things on the page.  These can be things like Products (with product info, price, data, options), Recipes, Reviews, Books etc – in many cases, the information also shows in search results.  This is a great way to improve your SEO.

 

There are many agencies who offer SEO services.  The quality of output can vary widely and the prices can be steep.  In an area where it takes a long time for results to be seen, and the day to day works are intangible, it can be difficult to find the right company to entrust.

We recommend utilising an SEO Audit and Improvement service before a monthly commitment.  This is a service we offer to our existing clients where we help refine the content, behind-the-scenes code and online presence of the website based on their current marketing objectives.  Following this with a Google cpc campaign is a strong and efficient way to improve your search engine rankings. 

Not everyone can commit to any large one-off or long-term SEO campaign, so for them, we offer one piece of advice – avoid stagnation!  Keep your website updated, add content to your page and give search engines the proof that you’re active and engaging with clients.  

 

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Based in Hertfordshire, Orange Reel is a branding and graphic design agency focused on bringing companies all the tools required for communicating effectively. 


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