• 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
  • 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.

    examples of a few google play store graphics

    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.

    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 provided at the top of this blog post is a creative brief with all the instructions that your designer needs to create a feature graphic for Google Play. Pass the SOP to your designer and they will pass the feature graphic back to you. Good luck on your project!

  • 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 it is a competitor to your site. 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 be totally blind and find out after you’ve already sunk your blood, sweat and 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 the URL. The more organic traffic you get, the less you’ll need to spend on advertising to attract an audience.

    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 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.

    If you don’t have a freelancer ready, you can also click the link below to have us do it for you. Whichever way you choose, the information you gather will be extremely valuable for your business.

    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 unknown sharks out there nipping at your heels. That’s why we recommend getting into the practice of outsourcing this task using the SOP so that you can get it done regularly without sucking up your own precious time.

    Steps for Completing the Competitive Analysis Template

    The process in the SOP template above 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’ll be working with some great, free tools like the Moz toolbar (non-affiliate). Using these tools, you can find key information like your competitor website’s domain authority to determine how strong the website is. These tools allow you to peek behind the curtain of your competitors, rather than having to guess on your own.

    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 only free tools to collect the information that you need.

  • Content Creation
  • Complete These 10 Things to Improve Your Blog Post Ranking

    The blog post template that you can download above provides you with 10 areas that you should consider before, during and after you’ve written your blog post. It’s simple to use, just full in the details under each heading, and then transfer each section onto your blog. You can make one for to plan every blog post you write, not just to ensure you don’t forget to add these essential details that will improve SEO and readability, but you can also use it as a method to outsource your blog posts.

    We use a version of this template for our SOP Template blog posts, and you can easily customize this template to fit your own blog post requirements.

    Do Some Keyword Research

    Before you start writing your blog content, do some keyword research. Although keyword research is becoming more difficult, you can still get a good idea of a keyword or phrase by simply searching for it using google.com/ncr and the Moz Chrome plugin. You will be able to see how your competitors are ranked for that specific keyword and decide whether you are able to write something that is quality enough to rank higher.

    If you have a search bar on your site, you can use a plugin or service such as Swiftype to see what people are searching your site for. This may give you clues as to what to write about in future blog posts. You should also consider that certain content will be searched for in Google at different times of the year, so you may want to write content associated with a specific holiday or event.

    Write a Compelling Headline

    In order to persuade people to read your article, you want to craft a headline that will captivate your audience enough to click through and read more. To improve your SEO, try and use your chosen keyword or a variation in your headline.
    It can sometimes be difficult to know if your headline is catchy enough, and there are tools and resources that can help you write a headline that your potential readers will be interested in. Coschedule have a great tool, called the Headline Analyzer. It breaks down your headline and gives you a score out of 100 based on a variety of elements, including how ‘wordy’ your headline is and the emotional and unusual words you have included.

    Check that your headline does not exceed the limit for Google results, as the title will be truncated once you hit a certain amount of characters. You may do this on purpose to create suspense and add further interest to your content. Also take into consideration if you want to include your site’s name at the end of your title.

     

    If you’re using the YoastSEO plugin for WordPress, you can see a preview of your headline before you publish your blog post. You can also see a basic preview if you use Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer, but Yoast also allows you to edit your SEO title, post URL and metadata.  

    Include Optimized Images

    Having an eye catching feature graphic will help attract your potential readers attention, whilst also promoting and increasing the chances of shares on social media. Images help break up your text, and hold the reader’s attention as well as providing a relevant visual aid to your content.

     

    When choosing images either for your blog post’s featured image, or images that appear in your post, make sure to use royalty-free images, or include a citation if you have taken the image from another source. There are plenty of resources for royalty-free images, including Pixabay, Shutterstock and GraphicStock. Some of these resources offer free images, but many provide a yearly subscription of high quality, unlimited downloads on vectors, photos and video content, or a package of X amount of downloads for a one off payment.

    Alternatively, you can create your own images using a graphic design platform, such as Canva and BeFunky or you could outsource image design to a freelancer, if you want something different and customized.

    If you optimize your images, which is explained in the SOP, your images may also help your SEO and drive traffic to your site if they’re found in a search engine. Don’t forget to resize and compress your images as big files will slow down your site and affect your SEO.

    Categorize and Tag It

    Your blog post categories should be decided before creating your content and all of the posts that you write should fit into one of these categories. There are some ways in which you can decide which categories to choose for your blog

    Consider the ‘tone’ of your category names, and try and make sure all the categories have a similar level of specificity (the category shouldn’t be too broad a topic, or too narrow). You should also try and have as few categories as possible.

    If you’ve already got your blog up and running, you may want to do a ‘cull’ of your existing categories, if you only have 1 or 2 blog posts under one category or rename those that aren’t self explanatory or too broad a subject.

    Tags are a way of narrowing down content that may overlap across several categories. They should be more specific than categories, and are also a great way to help your visitors navigate your site more easily. If you’re using WordPress, you can keep track of your existing tags from the Posts area in the menubar. When you’re adding tags to your blog post, you can choose from ‘Most Used Tags’. The larger the text, the more posts include the tag. You can also hover over the tag to see how many blog posts contain that particular keyword.

    External Links to Other Blogs

    Although you might think that linking to external sites will take your audience away from your site, this is a great way to improve your SEO, as it shows that you content has been researched and therefore more valuable. Linking to other sites that may be related to your content may also promote positive engagement between the sites and lead to further cooperation down the line.

    When you link to another site, you can have the page open in a new tab, instead of replacing your site with someone else’s. You can do this simply in WordPress by ticking the ‘Open link in a new tab’ box when adding a link.

    Meta Description

    Your blog’s meta description provides the reader with a brief overview of what the blog post is about, or what they will get from reading your post. If you don’t edit this before publishing, Google, or other search engine will pull the first few lines from your blog post and use that as meta. It’s best to customize this to ensure click throughs to your site. If you’re using the YoastSEO plugin, this can easily be edited and you’ll see a preview of how it will appear in a search engine. The meta description should ideally include your keyword(s) or a variation of them.  

    Call Your Readers to Action

    Your blog post’s call to action is probably one of the most important sections of your post after the actual written content. A call to action is meant to prompt the reader to take the next step or ‘action’ after reading your post. Your call to action might be a free PDF for your reader to download in exchange for their email address or a prompt to get a free trial of your product. Your call to action should combine an attractive image with text that is to the point and interesting.

     

    Get ideas for your next blog post’s call to action from HubSpot’s article, 8 Types of CTAs You Should Absolutely Try on Your Blog.

    As mentioned at the beginning, you can use this blog post template in a few different ways; fill it out yourself and use it to make sure elements of your blog aren’t forgotten about, outsource your content by handing the template to a freelancer for them to complete. You may even want to complete the template yourself and then pass it onto a colleague who put the content onto your blog.

    You can also use this Blog Post Template in conjunction with our Content Calendar Template.

    Download this Blog Post Template at the top of the page to start planning your blog posts today!

  • 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.

  • Research
  • FIND YOUR PODCAST’S TOP 5 COMPETITORS

    There are so many great podcasts on the market, so it’s no longer just enough to upload your podcast and then walk away and hope that people listen and subscribe to it. It’s important for you to know what other podcasts are out there that might be competing for a similar audience that you hope are listening to your own podcast.

    Based on my own experience of listening to podcasts I’ve often searched for one topic, for example “true crime”- that’s my podcast weakness. iTunes will give you other related podcasts that you can you can also check out. You may call it ‘judging a book by its over’ but even before I’ve listen to a podcast I’ve been turned on or turned off by the podcast cover art or by the level of information that the podcast gives me in the metadata. Look at your competitors and decided what you find attractive or off-putting about your competitor’s podcast.

    VALIDATING YOUR PODCAST IDEA USING COMPETITORS

    Identifying your competitors is also a way to validate your podcast idea. If there are no other competitors on the market today, it is more likely that this is a sign that your topic is not really something that people are interested listening to. If you’re truly passionate about the topic of your podcast however, don’t just use the lack of competitors to decide whether or not to do the podcast. This is not ultimately the deciding factor. The point is not to be scared off by the presence of competitors because it means that there truly is a market interested in this topic.

    That brings us to another key idea that you need to consider when looking at your competitors- who exactly is your target market? There’s a lot of information online which will help you to define your target audience, and you can use that to find the podcast which you believe have the same target audience. These are most likely your competitors.

    LEARN FROM COMPETING PODCAST BUT STAY UNIQUE

    Something that you should consider when you look at your competitors is that they may not necessarily be in the right. What I mean by this is that just because your competitors are following a certain format, you don’t necessarily have to copy the same script or set-up of those competitors. Let’s go back to my true crime podcast obsession. Some of those podcasts are narrated by a single person while others are acted out as the narrators recreate the true crime events. Both of these are successful formats and there may be other ways out there to present that would work as well. The purpose of studying your competitors is to collect ideas and make adjustments to find that unique offering that your audience will love.

    As Hollie mentioned before, identifying your competitors will help you to be aware of what kind of metadata they provide in the podcast marketplace that attracts their audience. Taking a look at the title of their podcast, the description and the cover art will help you to understand how your podcast fits into the market. In addition to that you’ll want to take some time to listen to some of your competitors podcasts to see if the actual content has elements that you are missing or is missing elements that you have so that you can figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your content.

    Identifying these competitors will also give you an idea for what types of advertising opportunities may be available once you’re ready for making money. Considering these other podcasts have similar target audiences, you may also want to contact some of these podcasts in the future for affiliate marketing.

    SOP FOR FINDING YOUR COMPETITORS

    You can pass the SOP provided above directly to someone else to help you identify your podcast’s top 5 competitors. Giving this task to somebody else will give you fresh eyes (in this case “ears”) on your own podcast and inspire you with ways that you can continue to improve. The SOP gives step-by-step instructions for how to use keywords to identify your competitors and will ask the person who is completing this task to sample those podcasts in order to find the elements that they like and don’t like about your competitors. Finding this information will help you to improve your podcast which should help you to reach a wider audience as you develop your show.

  • Design
  • PODCAST COVER ART THAT STANDS OUT

    Everyone and their mother has a podcast these days. You can find topics ranging from fixing your car to breast-feeding and of course much, much more. Podcasts are a great way to absorb information while you’re doing something else and as a podcast creator you know that most of your marketing is done through audio. Since there are lots of podcasts out there and the market is getting more saturated, you should think about spending a little extra time on your podcast cover art.

    What you should remember while when designing your podcast cover is that you should use images you use are related to your podcast. That might seem really obvious but this is a great with you to play on the name or brand of your podcast.

    For example, podcasters who interview successful or skilled people such as Tim Ferris have an image or photograph of themselves as Tim Ferris is his own brand. There are also podcasts such as those that I myself listen to like the Myths and Legends podcast that has an image of a castle on the cover art.

    Having a great image will definitely help your podcast to stand out in iTunes or wherever else you upload your podcast. Remember that often this image is just seen as a small thumbnail on people’s phones so you want to choose a graphic that is simple enough that it is clear when it’s really small.

    Likewise, you want to make sure that it looks good when it’s large because in some marketplaces you will see a full size image. You want a good balance between being simple and being informative enough to explain what it is that your podcast is all about. Keep in mind this is also probably the only image that your listeners will see related to your podcast so keep it general enough to cover any topic that you might discuss on your show.

    Because most of your listeners will only ever see a thumbnail of your podcast cover art, try not to add too much text.  Also try to limit your font types to two or less so that it doesn’t confuse or detract from the image of your cover art.

    If you’re not a designer, in order to look more professional you might want to outsource this task so that people see your podcast as professional. Often people will judge your podcast content based off of your cover art rather than taking the time to read the description of what your podcast is about. Make sure your designer adheres to all of the requirements outlined by iTunes or wherever you planning to upload your podcast.

    The SOP provided outlines all of these requirements. You can pass this document directly to your designer or freelancer.

  • SOP Library
  • Simple Steps to Setting Up a Domain Name on WordPress

    A domain is a URL or website where you can place your written content or products for your customers to access online. In order to write your blog posts, or sell your products, you need a platform to host it on. We like using WordPress, because it’s pretty simple to use, even for beginners, but is still versatile enough to allow for customisation. Take soptemplates.com for example, we started with a template, but found that we wanted something quite specific, so we hired a freelancer to implement the design we wanted. Although there are many custom features on our site, we are still able to add our own content with our limited knowledge of coding websites.

    The SOP that you can download above will instruct you or your freelancer how to ‘point’ your domain at WordPress. WordPress allows you to self host your website. This means you purchase a domain name, such as soptemplates.com, but use WordPress to create and publish your content. The other option, which is more popular with casual bloggers, is not to purchase a domain, but use a WordPress subdomain instead. This means that while you choose your own name, the end of the domain will include wordpress.com.

    Buying a domain is an important step in creating a professional image for your website. While WordPress and other blogging sites also allow you to use a free domain, it will have the name of the blogging platform within the URL, and it will make your blog appear less professional. If you purchase your own domain, you can then also set up your own email address, which includes the domain name. For example, hollie@soptemplates.com. You can set up your own email address by following this SOP Template for Setting up a Custom Email Address. Having your own domain will also protect your identity and ideas, especially if you choose your own name as your domain url.

    If you haven’t settled on a domain name yet, now may be a good time, to think about doing some keyword research in order to take advantage of free organic traffic from Google. Google tends to put a lot of weight on the URL of a website when it comes to their search results. Although you might want some jazzy name for your business you might consider choosing a website domain that is keyword rich, in order to reap the benefits of free traffic from google.

    Choosing a name that contains keywords that many people are searching for means that you are not only extremely lucky, but maybe have a higher chance of ranking well in Google and being found by your potential customers.

     

    Check out these 10 Tips for Choosing Your Domain Name.

    When purchasing your domain name, you should not also consider buying your.com but also .co.uk and other TLDs (Top Level Domains), especially if you trying to build a reputable brand.

    Many domain name providers will allow you to buy the TLDs for your chosen domain as a package, so if you are sure about your domain, you will want to protect it from potential competitors. Buying them as a package will also be cheaper, and safer in the long run.

    However, this isn’t something you need to agonize over. It may be better buying one TLD domain to begin with and testing it out before putting more money into your site.

    Occasionally, a domain is bought by someone who have the intentions of creating a site but the domain ends of sitting empty. Other times a ‘squatter’ will purchase a domain that looks as though it will become popular so that they can sell it, or make a site when the keyword is more in demand. Godaddy offers a service that will contact the domain owner on your behalf, but if you’re interested in buying a domain from someone yourself, take a look at the following articles:

     

    What to Do If the Domain Name You Want Is Taken

    What Do I Do When Someone Has a Domain Name I Want?

    I want to add here that you should probably stay away from trademarked brands that get a lot of traffic, such as iPhone and Apple. To learn a bit more about this, you can listen to episode 0714 of Pat Flynn’s podcast ‘Ask Pat’ here.

    Now you have your domain name, you need to create a WordPress account. Just go to WordPress.org and follow the instructions. If you want to make a simple blog without self-hosting you can visit WordPress.com and signing up for an account.

    This SOP will show you how to direct your domain to WordPress. This can be quite a complicated procedure, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before. You may want to hand it over to a freelancer, who will be able to complete the task quickly.