• SOP Library
  • How to Become an Adobe Affiliate: ULTIMATE GUIDE

    We found Adobe’s Affiliate Program to be a bit cumbersome to set up and some of the help files outdated, so we created this ultimate guide to walk you through the steps of setting your website up as an Adobe Affiliate.

     

    You’ll find all the steps included here (we update this on a regular basis) and we’ve also provided a free SOP Template that you can access by entering your email above. If you’d like to pass this task to a coworker or freelancer to have them set this up for you, send them the SOP.

    PERKS OF BEING AN ADOBE AFFILIATE

    You can find detailed information about the payouts for the Adobe Affiliate program in the HELP section of your affiliate account once you’ve applied, but here is a basic breakdown of what the program offers:

     

    Commissions:

    Month-to-Month subscription: 85.00% of the first month (yes, 85%!)

    One Year, prepaid subscription: 8.33% of the first year payment

     

    Cookie lifetime:

    Post View: 3 Days

    Post Click: 120 Days

     

    Adobe has a massive range of products which makes it pretty easy to find a good match for your audience. These products are professional-grade and used to be very expensive, but Adobe has since switched up their pricing strategy. Users can now get subscriptions that are much more affordable, even for individuals and small businesses. For example, for 9.99USD/mo you can now get access to Photoshop and Lightroom as well as get 20GB of free storage on Adobe Cloud. This new pricing model makes it easier to sell Adobe products to your audience.

     

    Regardless of your niche, your audience will likely find at least one of Adobe’s products useful and cost-effective for their business. Being familiar with Adobe products is key to offering the best solutions to your audience. Take some time now to take a look at what products Adobe is now offering and their price points.

    how to apply to become an adobe affiliate

    HOW TO SIGN-UP FOR ADOBE’S AFFILIATE PROGRAM

    Go to the Adobe Affiliate sign-up page and click the APPLY NOW button to create an affiliate account.

     

    Fill out the required information and then click CREATE ACCOUNT. Below is a list of the information that you will need to complete this section. If you are delegating this task to a coworker or freelancer, be sure to add this information into the SOP template before passing it over to them.

     

    A list of everything that you need to add to the SOP will be in the email we send you along with the SOP as both a PDF and DOCX file.

    application form for adobe referral program

    REQUIRED INFORMATION FOR BECOMING AN ADOBE AFFILIATE

    When you create a new affiliate account with Adobe, they will ask you for the following information:

     

    1. Country – where your business is located
    2. Language – your preferred language
    3. Business Type – choose from Individual, Organisation (non-taxable) and Company
    4. First Name – business owner’s or account manager’s first name
    5. Last Name – business owner’s or account manager’s last name
    6. Email – email address that will be associated with the affiliate account
    7. Username – create a username for your affiliate account
    8. Password – create a password for your affiliate account
    9. Your Website – provide your website’s URL
    instructions for activating adobe affiliate account

    ACTIVATE YOUR ADOBE AFFILIATE ACCOUNT

    Once you have filled out the information required by Adobe’s Affiliate program, check the inbox of the email address that you used to register. You should receive a welcome email from the Adobe Affiliate Team with an activation link. Click the link in the email within 15 minutes of applying.

    verifying adobe affiliate program for beginners

    HOW TO VERIFY YOUR WEBSITE

    After activating your account, sign-in to your affiliate dashboard. (Note that adobe uses an affiliate network called TradeDoubler, so the style of the login page may sometimes look differently from typical Adobe web pages.)

    Once you are logged-in you will see a big blue banner at the top of the page telling you to verify your site. You need to complete two steps in order to finalize the verification process. First, add your contact details by clicking the CONTACT INFORMATION link in the blue box.

    adobe referral application form

    Fill out the required information and click the SAVE button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

     

    Here is a list of the information that you need to provide in addition to the information you have already provided when signing up for the affiliate program:

     

    1. Reporting currency – what currency would you like to appear on your affiliate reports
    2. Address – including street address, postal code, country, etc.
    3. Market – choose the area where the majority of your audience is located
    4. Phone number

     

    After you have saved your contact information, click the HOME button to return to the affiliate dashboard.

    verifying your website for the affiliate program

    In the big blue box, you’ll now click the CLICK HERE link. You will see a list of your websites (at this point you will probably only have one site listed here).

    adobe affiliate requirements

    Click the text that says NOT VERIFIED next to your website’s URL to see the instructions for verifying your site.

    methods for verifying your website for adobe affiliate program

    You will now see a set of instructions with two ways that you can verify your site for the Adobe Affiliate program.

    WEBSITE VERIFICATION METHOD 1: ADD META TAG TO HOMEPAGE CODE

    Using this method, you will copy the meta tag provided into the HTML code of your website under the <HEAD> tag of the code. TradeDoubler (the company that manages Adobe Affiliates) has provided this video with more detailed instructions. It is outdated, but you will still be able to figure out how to do this by watching it. Here is the instructional video: https://hst.tradedoubler.com/file/20649/tdpull/tdDomainVerification.htm

     

    Once you have pasted the meta tag into the code and saved the updated version of your website, you can click the CLICK HERE TO VERIFY YOUR SITE button on the Site Info screen of the affiliate account. If you’ve accidentally navigated off of this page, you can get back to it by going to the homepage of your affiliate account and clicking the CLICK HERE button in the big blue box at the top of the page. From there, click the NOT VERIFIED text next to your website’s URL.

    WEBSITE VERIFICATION METHOD 2: ADD FILE TO THE ROOT OF YOUR WEB SERVER

    If you have already verified your site using the previous method, skip this step and move on to the next step. Here is an alternative method for verifying your site. Create an empty file and name it as the instructions say on this screen, example: 3018026.html. Then save this file in the root of your web server. You will need to access your hosting via your FTP or web browser to do this. If you’re unclear how to do this, you can find more detailed instructions here.

     

    Once you saved the file and updated your site, click the CLICK HERE TO VERIFY YOUR SITE button on the Site Info screen of the affiliate account. You can get back to the Site Info screen by going to the homepage of your affiliate account and clicking the CLICK HERE button in the big blue box at the top of the page. From there, click the NOT VERIFIED text next to your website’s URL.

    HOW TO COMPLY WITH ADOBE’S AFFILIATE PROGRAM CONTENT GUIDELINES

    If you scroll down on the Site Info screen of your affiliate account, you will see a form with some information that you need to fill out about your site (yes, even more info!). Though it doesn’t explicitly say anywhere in the instructions, you need to fill out this information before you can get approved for the program.

     

    This is the last set of information that you’ll need:

     

    1. Site description – give a brief explanation describing your site’s purpose
    2. Promotion type – choose from a list of options for how you’ll be offering the affiliate (we chose “Bloggers”)
    3. Traffic size – select the range that matches how many unique visitors you get to your site per month (at the time that we applied, our site was in the lowest tier but we still got accepted)
    4. Select website content – tick the boxes of different content types that match the content of your site
    5. Site type – choose from PC/mobile/mobile app
    how to finalize your application for adobe affiliate

    Once you’ve filled in the information, make sure to tick the box at the bottom of the screen to assure that your site doesn’t include any content that goes against Adobe’s content guidelines. Click SAVE to complete this section.

    HOW TO GET APPROVED FOR ADOBE’S AFFILIATE PROGRAM

    At this point, you must wait for approval to get into the affiliate program. Initially we foolishly thought that once our website was verified, we were ready to go with adding Adobe links and ads to our site. This is not the case, and you will likely get frustrated (as we did!) trying to navigate the Affiliate Dashboard attempting to find links to add to your site. You’ll have to be a little patient as you won’t be able to take any action at this time.

     

    We were not all that patient and decided to contact Adobe’s Affiliate Team after 24 hours of applying. We were approved pretty much immediately after doing so. It’s possible that we would have been approved that quickly anyway, but if you want to push things along, you could try sending them an email as we did.

     

    This is the text from the email that we sent to Adobe:

    Sent to: AdobeAffiliates@arvato.com

     

    I have verified my website and see the different ads available for the affiliate program, but how do I apply for one so that I can put the ad on my site? My website: www.soptemplates.com

     

    Thanks!

     

    They replied the same day with an approval for our site to enter the program. Again, this might have been a coincidence, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

    monitoring adobe affiliate referral program account

    NAVIGATING ADOBE’S AFFILIATE DASHBOARD

    While you are awaiting approval for your site, take the opportunity to get familiar with your new affiliate dashboard. Sign in to your affiliate dashboard using this link: http://reports.tradedoubler.com/pan/public?pvnId=1993633.

     

    Once you are logged-in to your account, you can have a look around before you’ve been approved to join the program. The main dashboard gives you a snapshot for how your affiliate links and ads have been performing. You’ll be able to see your impressions, clicks, account balances and more, directly on the dashboard when you login to your account.

    how to access adobe affiliate ads and links

    VIEWING AFFILIATE LINKS AND ADS FOR ADOBE OFFERS

    Even if you haven’t been approved for the affiliate program yet, you can take a look at some of the links and ads that are available for you to put on your website. You won’t be able to get the affiliate code until you have approval, but you can use the time while you wait to decide which ads/links you want to add to your site.

     

    Sidenote: The welcome email that you will have received from Adobe has some instructions for how to view/manage the ads available, but we found that it is not up to date. In fact, we got pretty lost trying to navigate the program, which is the whole point behind writing this article. In the end, it’s been worth it to figure it all out, because the program has great payouts. We hope these instructions help to make the whole process smoother.

     

    To access the list of ads and links available in Adobe’s Affiliate Program, click the TRACKING dropdown menu from the main affiliate dashboard page and then select BANNERS & TEXT LINKS.

    how to add affiliate links from adobe referral program

    While you’re in the Banners & Text Links section, click the SEARCH button in the bottom-right corner of the screen. You can also make the search more specific by adding details here, but we found that seeing ALL the ads and links available was the best method for us to find the ones that would fit our website and audience.

     

    Once you have tapped SEARCH, you’ll be able to see a list of all ads and links available through the Adobe Affiliate program. There are several pages of these ads and links, so make sure to page through everything that’s available.

    see what ads you can put on your website affiliate program

    Before your website is verified and before you have been accepted into the program, you can notice two things when viewing the ads on this screen. First, the box under “Adobe Affiliate Program” is blank. Second, you will see text that says “Not verified” on the right column of the table.

    finally adobe affiliate successful application

    After your site is verified and you have been accepted into the program, this same screen will look like the image above. Now there are two links in the box below “Adobe Affiliate Program”. The first is where you’ll be able to get the code for the ad and the affiliate link. The second is a preview for what your audience will see when they click on the ad from your website.

     

    Also note that in the rightmost column of this table, the text has changed from “Not verified” to “Accepted”. Once your table on this screen looks like the image above, you’re ready to start adding links and ads to your site.

     

    If you are still waiting for approval, use this time to map out which ads will work best for your site and decide where you would like to add them into your content.

    ADDING YOUR FIRST ADOBE AFFILIATE LINK TO YOUR WEBSITE

    If you have verified your site and received an acceptance email from Adobe, you are now ready to begin adding ads/links to your site.

    way to see all available adobe affiliate ads and affiliate links

    To insert a new ad into your content, go to the TRACKING dropdown menu and select MY ADS. You can filter the ads available by size or type or you can select LIST ALL AVAILABLE ADS to see a list of all the assets available to you through the program.

    how to generate adobe affiliate link

    Next to the ad that you would like to put on your website, you will see a link that says SHOW CODE. (If you don’t see anything in this box, you have not yet been accepted into Adobe’s Affiliate program for that ad.) Click SHOW CODE to view the options that you have to add the ad or link to your website.

    creating and tracking adobe affiliate ad and link

    For our site, we chose the HTML link and copied the code into a widget on our sidebar. We recommend you make sure NEW WINDOW is selected in the “Open link in” section so that your audience is still on your website after they have finished visiting Adobe.

    instructions for creating deep links adobe affiliate program

    CREATING DEEP LINKS IN YOUR BLOG POST TEXT CONTENT

    If you want to link to an Adobe product from within your blog post text, you can create a deep link to any page of Adobe’s website by clicking the CREATE DEEP LINK button on the My Ads page of your affiliate account. (Go to the TRACKING dropdown menu and select MY ADS to get to this page).

    instructions for creating a new deep link adobe affiliate account

    Steps to creating a custom deep link for your text content:

     

    1. Switch from Full Anchor Tag to PLAIN URL
    2. Paste the link on Adobe’s website where you want your audience to land from your text link
    3. Copy the code that gets generated in the “Deep link code” box
    4. Test your new deep link either by pasting the code into a browser window or by clicking the MY TEXT button

     

    You can now paste your deep link as the hyperlink for text within your blog post. This can be a great way to lead your audience into making a purchase with Adobe in a more organic way. If your users click on your deep link and don’t make a purchase the first time around, like with the other Adobe ads, there will be a cookie that lasts 120 days in their browser which will track whether they make a purchase within that time window. If they do, Adobe will credit you a commission.

    GETTING THE BEST RESULTS FROM YOUR AFFILIATE LINKS AND ADS

    The best performing affiliate links are those that provide a relevant tool that your audience actually needs. If you go pasting ads in every possible space on your website, you will end up losing your audience’s trust. Remember that you’re not getting paid for impressions, only for actual purchases. Make sure each ad or link is carefully calculated with your audience’s best interests in mind.

     

    You can put ads on any posts that contain relevant content, but we find that text links do especially well when used appropriately. Being honest with your audience that you collect a commission can be a powerful tool in gaining trust with your audience. If you decide to take that route, make sure to let your audience know that using your affiliate link will give you a commission without costing them anything extra.

    DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN DELEGATE THIS TASK

    We hope this post helps you start earning money with Adobe’s Affiliate program. If you struggled with any section or have questions, we’re eager to know what’s on your mind! Send us a message to: support@soptemplates.com

     

    Remember to grab the SOP template if you’d like someone else to do the grunt work for you and want the delegating process to be as smooth as butter. Happy delegating!

  • Research
  • SAVE TIME EVERY DAY WITH A GOOGLE DRIVE FILE TREE

    UPDATE: ORIGINAL FILE TREE TOOL NO LONGER WORKING!

    When this post was originally released, we used a tool created by a third-party developer. This tool is not longer being updated. We are in the process of creating our own tool for this purpose. If you are interested in accessing this tool when it’s ready, enter your email above. Cheers!

    The world is full of many different kinds of trees, but none is more useful for business than the Google Drive File Tree. If you’ve worked with Google Drive for any amount time, you may have become frustrated with finding documents and folders- especially with shared content within your Drive.

    Solve the Google Drive organizational nightmare with a file and folder tree that you can generate instantly. Get the simple instructions delivered to your inbox by entering your email above. Then you can follow them yourself or pass them to your virtual assistant/freelancer.

    USING KEYWORD SEARCH VS. SIFTING THROUGH FOLDERS

    Although Google Drive has a search bar which lets you keyword search for specific folders and files, this can cause confusion and be more time-consuming if you have similarly named files and folders or if there are multiple files within shared drives. The Google Drive File Tree will provide a clear overview of everything in your Drive.

    The File Tree is not meant to be a replacement for the search bar in Google Drive, but rather an additional tool to help you and any other teammates (current or future) to navigate Google Drive. It also helps you to consistently add new documents in more logical places within the folders instead of just randomly guessing where they should go. This can be an invaluable time-saving practice in the long run.

    Generating the File Tree is extremely fast (takes just a few minutes) and will also help you to restructure the folders in your Drive. You’ll also be able to pinpoint and consolidate duplicate folders which contain similar content.   Once the File Tree has been created, you can easily save or print the HTML file for your reference. Being able to print the tree makes it easier for you to adjust or restructure your folders and files. You may also want to hang your printed hierarchy tree somewhere in your office so that you and your team members can see at a glance the likely places where the content you are looking for will be. It will regularly reinforce the organizational structure that you have created.

    HOW ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES CREATE LESS HEADACHES

    While creating a sound organizational structure for your files and folders may make you want to get a lobotomy, it will make it so much easier for you to scale your business in the future by allowing new team members to quickly and painlessly sift through documents to find what they need. Like with any aspect of your business, get into the mindset that you’re creating a multi-million dollar business and do things right from the ground up. The organizational structure for your documents is no exception. In fact, you’d be surprised how much time is wasted in new businesses due to disorganized files and lack of structure.

    In this day in age, many of us are using freelancers and outsourcing many of our tasks. Once you’ve generated the tree, it will not only show you where files are located within folders but also provide direct links to those folders on the Drive. This gives you a great alternative way to navigate or help others find what they need within the Drive with ease.

    Follow the simple instructions in the SOP included at the top of this post. It’s one of the best time investments you can make early on in your business. Enjoy!

  • Design
  • THE OVERLOOKED BUT ALL-IMPORTANT ANDROID FEATURE GRAPHIC

    Once you’ve built an Android app, it’s time to think about the promotional materials that you’ll put together in order to get the app seen and downloaded in the Android market. Since you’ve spent so much time and effort on developing the app, many of these promotional details may have been pushed to the back-burner.

    The truth is, some of these details are just as important as how your app functions because they may be the determining factor for whether or not a user will download your app. One of these details is the feature graphic, which appears at the top of the screen when you look at the details for an app in the Google Play App Store.

    The feature graphic acts as a visual summary to describe your app’s purpose and its benefits to users who may not have ever seen or used it before. The image should be colorful and eye-catching in order to stand out in the sea of apps in Google Play or any other Android app markets.

    feature graphic example for android play market

    Android Feature Graphic Rules

    Feature graphics must follow the guidelines that Google provides in order to fit perfectly in the space provided in Google Play. It’s better not to take a graphic that you used for a different promotional spot, like on your Facebook page or your app splash screen, and stretch it so that it fits in the feature graphic space. The feature graphic should be specifically designed for use in the Google Play Store.

    That being said, you can certainly use elements or the style from other graphics you’ve created for your app. Just make sure that your designer creates the feature graphic using the dimensions outlined by Google. The design requirements can be found in the SOP document available for download above.

    feature graphic for localization of app

    When considering the design of your feature graphic, think about whether you plan to translate the app into different languages in the future. If this is the case, you should think carefully whether or not you want to include any text within the feature graphic. Google allows you to change the feature graphic for each language but this may end up being a an unnecessary use of your time, especially if you plan on keeping the style of the app updated with market design trends.

    If you can come up with an image for the feature graphic that describes your app without any text, it will simplify your work in the long run. Additionally, try to avoid using screenshots of your app in the feature graphic or you will need to update the graphic every time you make changes to your app.

    ANDROID FEATURE GRAPHIC SAMPLE GALLERY

    The Importance of the Feature Graphic

    The feature graphic is the very first thing that your audience will see related to your app after they click on the app icon in Google Play. They will see this graphic before they see the your app’s written description. They may even judge your app based solely on this graphic.  

    Creating the feature graphic for an app is often an overlooked or rushed task, but it’s important to spend a little bit of effort creating a graphic that grabs the attention of your target audience. Choose bright colors, simple messaging and make sure you don’t crowd the space with unnecessary images or text. This will encourage users to download your app which in turn will lead to a higher ranking in Google Play and more potential revenue for your team.

    take time to create a quality feature graphic

    As the design is so important for the feature graphic, outsourcing this task to a designer with a marketing background may be a good idea if you don’t have one in-house. Experienced graphic designers will understand the best layout for the space and will know which elements to include within the graphic to attract the attention of your audience. The designer can use some of the working files from your user-interface design and playfully incorporate them into a graphic which becomes an eye-catching ad for your app.

    The SOP document that will be emailed directly to your inbox is a creative brief with all the instructions that your designer needs to create a feature graphic for Google Play.

    You will get a PDF and a DOCX that you can edit yourself to add in your specific requests or details. Pass the SOP to your designer and they will pass the feature graphic back to you. Good luck on your project!

  • SOP Library
  • APOLOGY LETTER TEMPLATE FOR COMPANIES

    Uh-oh…Something happened in your business and it’s time to apologize. Even if it’s not your fault it is important to let your users know that you care about them and that you’re doing your best to right whatever wrong has happened.

     

    Sometimes this happens when you’re working with a 3rd party service and they make a mistake. You still need to take responsibility for what happened because at the end of the day, your users are trusting you to provide them with good service and take care of their needs.

     

    When you discover something unfortunate happened it’s best to get ahead of the wave of support emails that might come in by being quick to release an apology letter to describe to your users the details about what happened.

    infographic for damage control action plan

    COMPENSATING FOR A MISTAKE IN YOUR BUSINESS

    As an apology to your loyal customers you might want to offer them something for free.  If you have a subscription service that was suddenly not available to your users, you may want to offer them a free month of service or a discount on another product that you offer.

     

    If you have a blog and your blog was down over the weekend, you might want to offer them a freebie PDF or e-book. Although problems with your site or online services are a serious thing, you might want to try and be light-hearted about it and slightly tongue and cheek and offer them a “How Not to Let Your Website Crash” PDF based on what you’ve learned from the incident.

    PREVENTING ERRORS IN THE FUTURE

    It’s all about building brand loyalty. You want your users to trust. Even if you think most of your users will not even be aware of the problem, you still an use it as an opportunity to gain trust. Being totally transparent about what happened can make your company appear more personal instead of being just a faceless corporate structure that your users may imagine your company to be.

     

    When writing an apology letter, it’s best to have one person address your audience as themselves instead writing it from team’s perspective. For example, use the real name of somebody working in the company to sign the letter instead of signing it as “The Blah-blah-blah Team”.  

    MISTAKES ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO GAIN TRUST

    This is also a good opportunity to reassure your loyal customers that you and your team will try and prevent this kind of issue from happening again. This also makes you open to customer feedback and may help you find additional customer concerns that you may not be aware of.  

    The SOP Template provided includes suggestions for what you should add in your letter. Some sections to include might be a question and answer portion where you consider what a user might be asking about with regards to the incident. For example, What happened to cause this issue?, Why didn’t it get fixed earlier?, and What will you do in the future to prevent this thing from happening?.

    Blog post image apology letter template

    BE PREPARED FOR FUTURE MISTAKES

    Use this letter as an opportunity to remind your users that there are people behind the scenes who care about their interests and are on their side. Even if you haven’t had a problem happen with your business before, you may want to download a copy of this letter anyway just so that you can put it into your own SOP for the procedures that you will take when something like this happens. That way you are ready to go should an incident arise and you’re not scrambling around trying to think about how to deal with it.

     

    In fact it’s very important to have this kind of emergency plan in place. You should know who will handle the users and what responsibilities each person has in order to solve the problem. You may even want to discuss with the rest of your team about potential issues that they foresee happening in the future that you may not have thought of. Cover as many bases as you can so if something like this happens, you will be ready.

    You might want to go even further than this to prepare yourself by adding this apology letter into your email manager, such Convert Kit and then should the situation arise, all you’ll have to do is fill in the details and send it out.

     

    We hope you’ll never have to use this letter and that your business will run flawlessly, but should an error occur, we hope this letter helps you maintain and even gain more trust with your users. Get the letter template sent to your inbox by filling in your email. Cheers!

  • Research
  • FINDING YOUR COMPETITORS IN GOOGLE (so you can crush them)

    Let’s put the “anal” in Competitive Analysis! I nerdily just cracked myself up with that one. But seriously, competitive analysis is tedious and dull, and yet absolutely critical for you to do for your website. The competitive analysis template that is downloadable above will help you get this task done without the headache. Once you’ve finished, you’ll have a good understanding of your market position and have a wealth of new sources for content ideas, designs and social media strategies.

    It’s easy to get convinced that you’re the only person out there creating a website about a certain topic or product. Maybe you haven’t heard of or come across one before that provides the information or resources that yours will have. It’s time to put in a little elbow grease and find out exactly what’s out there and whether those sites are strong competitors to what you are offering. By the way, having competitors shouldn’t scare you out of creating your site. On the contrary, having competitors often validates your idea, proving that there is a market out there interested in your service or product.

    If your website is already live and you still haven’t done a competitive analysis, don’t worry. No matter what stage you’re at in your business, you can glean great insight and inspiration from understanding who else is out there working in a similar niche.

    You might be afraid to seek out your competitors, thinking that you’ll discover someone out there who’s beating you at your own game. Suck it up, soldier! It’s better to understand the threats facing your business and tackle them head on than to blindly find the competition after you’ve already sunk your blood, sweat and precious time into your project.

    There are various methods of doing competitive analysis, but the one we’ll be focusing on here is to find out who your competitors are in Google. Unless you have a massive marketing budget (congrats for you!), you’ll want to make sure that people are able to find your website when they search in Google.

    Blog image organic seo template

    People that find your website by searching in Google or other search engines like Yahoo or DuckDuckGo are called “organic traffic” because they naturally find you without being served an ad or visiting your site directly through your URL. The more organic traffic you get, the less money you’ll need to spend on advertising to attract an audience. Plus, organic traffic is often more valuable than traffic created through advertisements because the people that come to your site are those who actually want to be there!

    Determining Your Target Keywords

    Before you start this competitive analysis, you’ll need to know which keywords you are targeting for your website. That is, what would you want someone to be typing into Google in order to find your site?

    For example, pretend you run an e-commerce site that sells luxury dog beds. Potential customers might type keywords like “best dog beds” or “most comfortable dog beds” into Google in order to find your website.

    If you already know which keywords you are going after, great, keep going! If not, take 20 minutes now to learn some strategies for picking great keywords from the links of resources that we’ve wrangled up below.

    As a general rule, you should aim for keywords for which it will be possible to rank in the first page of Google. If all the links in the first page of Google are already being dominated by big names like Wikipedia, eHow, etc. for a keyword, then throw it out and go after some different ones. If you’re not sure about the strength of your competitors, you’ll know more about where you stand after completing the competitive analysis SOP available above.

    Here are some resources from trusted sources for choosing the best keywords for your website:

    1. Beginners Guide to SEO (non-affiliate)
    2. Keyword Research (non-affiliate)
    3. Niche Site Keyword Research (non-affiliate)
    Know your keywords blog graphic

    Once you have your keywords ready, you can collect thorough data about your competitor’s websites. This task takes a bit of time but it doesn’t require any special skills. If you are strapped for time, pass the SOP document to your freelance worker and they will handle it for you.

    Even if you’ve done a competitive analysis in the past, it’s best to run the research again every six months or so to make sure that there aren’t any new players on the market that you are unaware of. That’s why we recommend getting into the practice of outsourcing this task using the SOP template so that you can get it done regularly by a freelancer or virtual assistant without sucking up your own precious time.

    Steps for Completing the Competitive Analysis Template

    The process in the SOP template provided entails plugging your keywords into Google while using a special Google address that doesn’t skew the results based on your location or previous searches. This is all explained clearly in the SOP’s step-by-step instructions.

    Afterwards, you will record the websites that come up within the first 15 positions in Google. You’ll then evaluate each of these sites using a free tool that will help you determine how strong of a competitor those sites are and how difficult it will be to outrank them in Google.

    How to find google competitors template blog image

    You can find key information, such as your competitor website’s domain authority, using some great free tools. These tools allow you to peek behind the curtain of your competitors, rather than having to guess. In online business data is king, so use it to your advantage. 

    The SOP download includes simple step-by-step instructions that anyone with basic computer skills will be able to manage. It will take you or your freelancer through all of the steps necessary to finish a competitive analysis and uses some excellent free online tools to collect the information that you need to determine your position in the market.

    Get everything you need delivered to your inbox now by entering your email in the box above. Good luck with your business!

  • Design
  • FREE TEMPLATE FOR REPOSTING ON INSTAGRAM

    With Instagram there is currently no way to repost or share other people’s photos to your personal feed. There have long since been rumors that Instagram will be releasing a feature that allows for this capability but alas, we are all still waiting. So in the meantime, here is a way to cheat the system with Photoshop and a simple template.

    If you don’t currently have Photoshop or you prefer to edit your photos directly on your mobile we’ve also found that you can use our free PNG repost template with Adobe’s Photoshop Mix app. Scroll down to the “WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE PHOTOSHOP?” section of this blog article if you prefer this method.

    Info graphic for instagram repost apps

    A REVIEW OF REGRAMMING APPS

    There are a lot of apps out there that claim they can repost photos from other feeds to your feed. After testing several of these, we found the following problems:

    1. You can only post one photo at a time, so you’ll have to say goodbye to any multiple-photo posts, a.k.a. Carousels and videos.

    2. You don’t have much choice about the style of the repost tag. You may be able to move it around a little and change the color from black to white but that’s about it.

    3. The photos that get reposted are essentially screenshots of photos. Anyone can do that with a simple template and a little bit of knowhow.

    These regramming apps are essentially glorified Photoshop templates, without the ability to fully customize the output. Essentially what these apps seem to be doing is taking a screenshot of the post that you want to repost, cropping it so that other bits on the screen don’t appear, and finally putting a stamp with the profile photo and username of the original creator on it. There is nothing technical or specialized- so these apps are not necessary to accomplishing the repost.

    From what we’ve seen in our own testing, the apps out there that help you to regram a photo can only post one photo at a time. As we all know, people sometimes like to post a series of photos and you can’t do that with these regramming apps.

    This is not a very sophisticated way to handle regramming, in fact you can do it yourself. If you’re going to hack something together anyway, then you might as well have the freedom to make adjustments when necessary so that it fits in with the rest of the posts in your feed. All of this can be done by using the simple Photoshop template available for free above.

    If you’ve got a little design skills, you can also easily make your own from scratch. The SOP provided above has step-by-step instructions that you can use whether you end up using our template or creating your own.

    WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE PHOTOSHOP?

    If you haven’t used any Adobe products recently, a lot has changed. Previously, Adobe offered software with a massive price tag. I remember years back when Photoshop came out, my brother bought it with a half-price special student discount and it was still over $400. Yikes! Nowadays we non-millionaires can get it for $9.99 a month. Here’s our Photoshop affiliate link if you want to try it. Alternatively, you can use a mobile app. Whether you choose Photoshop or the app, the downloadable instructions have got you covered.

    Most people use their mobile devices to take pictures for Instagram so it makes sense to use another app without leaving your mobile, edit the image and share. If this is how you normally post and you’d like to do the editing all on your mobile, we’ve also included an extremely simple PNG template that you can use with Adobe’s free Photoshop Mix app. Be aware that you won’t have as much creative control as you do when using the full Photoshop template, but you will still have more options than using an Instagram repost app. Plus, Adobe’s Mix app is pretty rad and definitely worth checking out.

    USING THE SOP TEMPLATE

    The template provided is very simple to use and comes with an SOP of instructions. Having the instructions written out also makes it easy to delegate this task to a coworker, freelancer or friend. Pass them the documents we email you and then simply ask them to follow the instructions. This task doesn’t take any specific skills to complete so if you’re strapped for time and have some help, delegate!

    Using the Instagram repost template provided, you will have full control over the editing as well as the amount of photos that get posted your Instagram feed. You can post one of a series of photos or post two out of four instead of all of them. With the template you have all the freedom as if the Instagram post were your own.

    WHY YOU SHOULD USE A REGRAM TAG

    You might wonder why you would ever need to use this template. The biggest reason is that you should give credit to whoever created the original photo. I’ve had lots of experience where I’ve found my own images reposted on Instagram without any credit, and it’s extremely frustrating when you spend lots of time and energy creating a picture.

    Ideally, it’s good Instagram etiquette to ask someone if it’s okay to repost their photo before doing so. The absolute least you can do is to send them a little love by making sure you use this regram template so at least they get some credit. And of course, make sure you leave a link to their profile in your text content.

    TAGGING THE ORIGINAL CREATOR

    Another little trick that I like to do when reposting somebody else’s photo is that I like to tag them in it when posting. That way, they get a notification that their photo is on your feed. If you don’t tag the person, they’ll have no idea unless they happen to follow you and see the repost in their feed.

    Tagging them in the repost is also good etiquette because it allows your audience to see other work that they’ve done. It draws your audience to their profile page too and creates a more beneficial relationship for both sides: you are using their work while they are getting an opportunity to reach your audience with their content.

    DOWNLOAD THE SOP TEMPLATE

    While we’re all still anxiously awaiting Instagram to get itself in gear with this new regram feature that everyone has been whispering about for the longest time, you can get our free template sent to your inbox now. There are no watermarks or logos in the template, it is fully customizable. It comes with clear instructions for how to add a new user profile and username so that you can share other people’s photos onto your own Instagram feed.

    Get both the Photoshop and PNG templates to your inbox along with easy to follow step-by-step instructions for you, your freelancer, or a coworker by entering your email above. Enjoy your regramming!

  • Design
  • COMPLETE FAVICON DESIGN GUIDE WITH INSTRUCTIONS FOR PNG, ICO AND SVG

    A favicon is the tiny icon that appears on the left in the browser tab when somebody is viewing any of the pages of your website. Most website creators don’t spend much time creating and implementing the favicon. This tiny design element however, plays a great role in your brand’s identity. Consider how often you have multiple tabs open in your web browser. Even those of you out there who have sworn off multitasking know how often they have a multiple browser tabs open.

    A well-designed favicon can make it easy to navigate back to the pages that you want to view, even without reading the text on the browser tab. You can give your website a more solid brand identity by spending some time on this little bitty icon. After all, this icon appears on every webpage you publish!

    you can often recognize websites by their favicon image

    Back in the day, when Google analytics was still just a dream, many website owners used the favicon to estimate the traffic to their sites by tracking the amount of people who added the site to the their bookmarks. These days the favicon is more about the user experience.

     

    The favicon should be a graphical representation of your brand. While it may be tiny, it can help your brand stand out in a big way. Websites that don’t design and implement a custom favicon resort to using the default icon for the platform used to develop the website. Using this default icon can make your project look overall unpolished and unprofessional.

    Make sure you aren’t distracting the user from all the great content that you offer on your website by implementing the favicon in all of the necessary places of your site’s code. After you complete the SOP available for free above, you’ll not only have all the formats needed for your favicon but you’ll have the HTML code needed to implement the favicon on your website.

    FAVICON FORMAT GUIDELINES

    Due to the limited space for the favicon you shouldn’t just stick in any image, like your brand’s logo, and expect it to look good when made into a favicon. You should make sure you have a designer create the image specifically for the favicon space so that it looks great in all of the following places:

    • Classic desktop browser
    • Mac OS Safari
    • Windows 8 and 10
    • Android Chrome
    • iOS Safari

    All of the instructions and specifications for creating a favicon for each of these places are included in the SOP above and they are extremely easy to follow. We found a free tool that makes this daunting task quick and painless without you having to sacrifice any opportunities for brand awareness.

    make sure your favicon works for every device and browser

    Because this is an important but often overlooked aspect of your website, it’s important to have a designer take a specific visual feature from your website or logo to create a relevant and eye-catching icon. This isn’t a very time intensive task, and if the designer uses the SOP provided above then the task becomes even faster. While you may be on a tight budget, getting this done right should not break the bank.

    Pass this SOP directly to your designer and they will have all of the latest requirements and constraints of a favicon so that you don’t have to worry about assembling them yourself. Using the SOP, your designer will be able to create a favicon in all of the formats needed for the various browsers, tablets, mobile phones, etc. without wasting time.

    Once you or your freelancer has followed the SOP to generate your favicon in all file types and sizes needed, you can implement it on your website. Give the icon a final check to make sure it looks the way you want it to on every platform. This is fast and easy to do by using this free favicon checker tool.

     

    The checker will show you how your favicon will look in all places on the web, including on Microsoft’s tablet computer and Safari’s pinned tabs, both of which have more unusual favicon requirements.

    Download the SOP above to get started today. A good designer will get your favicon back to you in no time. Best of luck on your website!  

  • Design
  • EASILY FIND PROBLEMS IN YOUR WEBSITE UX

    You might have a good understanding about your target audience, but you can’t know know how a real user will view respond to your website unless you’ve had one test it out. Even if you’ve agonized over every detail, perfecting the layout and choosing your images carefully, there will always be some unexpected issues.

    Stepping back and watching somebody else look over your website can give you incredible insights into the potential usability problems or confusing information on your site. This kind of testing is addicting- once you realize how quickly you can gather valuable feedback this way, you won’t want to stop testing. The website testing plan example available for download above makes it easy and fast to gather information that will be of immediate value to your business.

    If you’ve been working on your website for a decent amount of time, everything on the site may seem obvious and easy to use from your perspective. The only way to see it from the point of view of a new user is to get someone who hasn’t seen it before to take a look. You’ll be surprised at what you’ve missed that can easily be fixed or improved.

    how to user test your website

    CAN I GET MY FRIENDS TO UX TEST?

    Ideally the person who looks at your website should have no connection to your project as this may influence their opinions and thoughts about the design and user experience. If the person has no vested interest in your project, you will likely get more real and honest feedback. Your friends may be hesitant to nitpick through your project.

    Someone who has no knowledge or understanding of your project will give you clear insights into how a normal user will feel when coming across your site. A person who is completely unfamiliar with what you do should be able to tell by looking at your website what your company does without any additional explanation.

    ux test your target market

    Do user testing with people in your target market, making sure to include a range of ages and backgrounds so that your feedback is more complete. You can experiment with a few testers from outside your target market as well. These people will likely add further insights about your website user experience.

    KEEPING COSTS LOW WHEN TESTING YOUR WEBSITE

    Keep in mind that your friends might sugarcoat their experience with your website so as not to offend you. It’s better to find a neutral party who can analyze your site from a real user’s perspective. Conducting user testing doesn’t need to be expensive. Using the SOP provided above, you can ask anyone in your target market without any special skills to conduct this test. You can find freelancers on websites like Fiverr (non-affiliate) or Upwork (non-affiliate) to do this test for you.

    Using third party platforms like Fiverr or Upwork can also be beneficial because the users testing your site may have backgrounds in design or user experience themselves. These freelancers have probably worked on a multitude of other websites and are aware of what does and doesn’t work, especially when it comes to design.

    how to choose your color palette

    If you tend to favor a certain color palette in your personal taste, it may help you to see those colors through the eyes of another person. You might find that some color schemes distract the reader from the actual content or make it more difficult for the reader to use the website.

    You may not have considered that some of your users might have some kind of color blindness which would make it difficult for them to distinguish between different shades of certain colors. You want to make sure that your colors don’t ultimately make it more difficult for someone to use your website properly. At the end of the day, you want to deliver your message clearly and with as few obstacles as possible.

    Take time throughout your development process to periodically do user testing. This will help guide your user experience as well as help you to avoid wasting time on unnecessary features and designs. Use the SOP at the top of this blog post to get started with some basic user testing.

  • Design
  • HOW TO UPDATE YOUR APP UI WITHOUT THE HEADACHE

    After your app is on the market, the job is far from over. You probably already know that with every new update to iOS or Android that you have to make sure all functions of your app continue to work. While making sure that the functions work is a critical part in continuing to work on your app, make sure that you’re not neglecting the design or user interface. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the the designs in the app market evolve and how easy it can be to start to look outdated.

    One reason why you may update the user interface of your app is to match your website or vice versa. This is really crucial to your branding so that you are users understand that there is a connection between your website and also your social media sites. Make an obvious visual connection between all of your marketing content and your product.

    When updating your app UI, don’t neglect to also take a look at your app icon. It may also need to be given a facelift to connect with your slick new brand image. Get the App Icon Creative Brief here.

    PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION TO MARKET DESIGN TRENDS

    Having an outdated design will affect your brand image more than you may realize. Because the market is so saturated with millions of apps, you must make sure that you don’t lose out on a large part portion of your audience because you are turning them off with your design.

    Often a lot of the cost of developing an app goes into the code and backend which is something that the user never sees. The user is not going to appreciate how many hours you spend to create an algorithm that works flawlessly. They only care about how the app looks and feels as they use it in their day-to-day life. This is why the design is so crucial though it is often overlooked by a lot of app companies. Putting a new face on your existing app can help improve your downloads and can give your users the feeling of more value when they download your app.

    If you are not only considering updating your app UI, but the UX as well, you should consider doing these things in separate updates. Sometimes doing both of these things at once can overwhelm the user and they may feel too confused to continue using your app which can cause a decline in app retention. There are examples of companies in the past that have updated the UI very gradually in order to prevent the audience from feeling scared and not using your product anymore.

    eBay is a classic example of a website which previously created completely new UI and adjusted the UX all in one update. Their users freaked out and there was major uproar so they quickly reverted back to the original interface and then slowly started implemented the new changes bit by bit so that their users wouldn’t be shocked. This is an important lesson to learn: Always keep your current users in mind when creating dramatic changes to your products.

    UPDATING APP UI VS. UPDATING APP UX

    When it comes to updating the app UI, the best practice is to first leave the majority of the buttons and functionality in the same relative location on the screen and just change the style first before making any large adjustment to the UX.

    The SOP that you can download above makes this process much simpler by providing your designer with steps that they’ll need to take in order to update app. This will take a lot of the headache out of the full process and allow you to focus more on the design instead of on telling your designer what to do. If you currently have ideas for how you imagine your updated app to look, you can add them to the SOP in the spaces provided.

    Also make sure to check out your competitors apps on the market and even some of the top apps in your category in order to get inspired with the design trends.

    Updating your app UI is an ongoing process and you should consider doing touchups and design reviews on a regular basis. Doing this at least once every six months will help you to make sure that all of your development work to create a great app hasn’t gotten lost on the user.

  • Content Creation
  • UPLOAD PODCAST EPISODES TO AMAZON S3

    Once you’ve recorded your podcast, the a job isn’t done yet. There are quite a few bits and pieces that you have to remember to add before you upload new episodes to Amazon or wherever you host your podcast.

    By now you should have already created your podcast cover art, but if you haven’t you can download the SOP for that here. Make sure that your cover art is ready to go before you upload your first episode to the servers.

    GATHERING THE INFORMATION TO UPLOAD YOUR PODCAST

    Before you upload your podcast, you need add your podcast information into iTunes. The information you need to add are things like the title, album artist and other metadata that will be pulled from the MP3 that you upload. This information will be seen by your listeners and subscribers of your podcast.

    Most of you will also have a page on your website that contains information about your podcast. It’s important to keep the titles and other information the same on both so as not to confuse your listeners. If you’re interested in creating podcast show notes, you can take a look at our Podcast Show Notes Template.

    If you’re using WordPress, you can use a plugin called “PowerPress” that will help you publish your podcast once you’ve uploaded it to your hosting server. This is simple plugin that also pulls the information you write in your blog post show notes into the iTunes description of your podcast.

    One of the things you need to have prepared for uploading other than your podcasts cover art, is the MP3 file of your episode which should be 100 MB or less so that it doesn’t take your listeners a long time to download it. If your MP3 file is much larger than that, you should definitely consider shrinking it down so it’ll be easier for your audience to access it as well as take up less space on their phone.

    Once you have the audio file in the correct size, you will edit some of the text content that appears in the information section of the files, such as the title of the podcast. This title should clearly explain what the current episode is about. Hollie and I have experimented with the titles of our podcast Two White Chicks in China and found that stating the topic directly is better than creating a clever title that sounds cool. People just want to know exactly what the content is instead of having a clever sounding title.

    Another piece of content that you’ll need is the show name of your podcast. Make sure that you use the exact same show name for every episode. You may also want to include a brief description of the episode in your metadata. To be honest I don’t know where this shows up, but I imagine that it helps with the keyword search in iTunes so it’s best to just stick a few lines in there to take advantage of this space.

    QUICK CHECKLIST FOR NECESSARY PODCAST INFO

    1. Title of the current podcast episode
    2. Episode number
    3. Shortened name of the podcast (example: Two White Chicks in China podcast would have a shortened name of “TWCC”)
    4. Creators of the podcast (this will appear as the artist/composer in the MP3’s metadata)
    5. Official show name of the podcast (this will appear as the “album name” in the MP3’s metadata)
    6. Episode summary (Write a few sentences to describe what topics are covered in this podcast)
    7. Podcast Cover Art

    You can upload your podcast to any hosting server, but the instructions provided in this SOP will give you a clear step-by-step procedure for how you or your freelancer can upload episodes to the Amazon S3 server. You can modify this SOP if you are hosting somewhere else before passing it to your freelancer.