4 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Free Website

I know, especially when you are starting your business or aren’t making a lot of money, paying for a website seems like something you would rather avoid. But a website is an important part of your business though. Too important to ignore in fact. Especially if you want to be seen as a serious professional and expert in your field. So I was shocked to hear that even some organisations that help businesses start up are recommending free website builders.

I know it is very hard to figure out who to trust and how much a good website costs. Mike Gingerich wrote an interesting post about this: How Much Does a Website Cost.
It breaks my heart when I hear about people that got over charged by a web designer. But I also see a lot of providers that sell websites for under $1000 using cheap and ineffective website builder tools.

So, you know you need a website but you’re not sure whether to build it yourself or hire a professional. You vacillate between the two on the hour. There are many online website builders that make it look easy, but is that right for your website? Commercials come on TV that offer free websites – are those okay?

 

Well, there are a lot of things to consider when you know you need a website but aren’t sure whether you should build it yourself or not.

Are You a Website Designer?

This might seem like a silly question. But, if you’re not a website designer there are so many factors about website design that you probably aren’t aware of. Sure, some of the online builders produce what looks like a perfectly decent website, but is it really providing for you all that your website can be? How would you know since you’re not a website designer?

There Is Skill Involved

Building websites is a very specific skill involving both artistic and technical skills. Website designers understand the difference between shared hosting, collocated hosting, and dedicated hosting, and what kind you need for your type of website. They also understand how the color wheel works and what will look best on different screens. In addition, they understand what search engine optimization is and what it means to your website’s success.

Website Builders Aren’t That Great

With website builders you’re stuck with their templates, and their idea of what makes a good website. They can be very limiting in terms of design as well as what you can put on the website. They have ultimate control and if you have a subject matter they don’t like, they will cancel you.

A lot of builders use something called “Flash,” but any website designer worth a grain of sand will tell you that you do not want a Flash website if you want your site to work well on mobile devices. The builders that claim to use HTML5 are still in their infancy and having issues.

How Do You Make Your Money?

If you don’t make your money building websites, why spend time building a site when you can spend time making more money? The fact is it’s going to take you a lot longer to build a working website without the right skills than it will take someone who is experienced to do it. During the time you would have spent on the site, you can likely earn enough money to pay for the website. As they say, time is money. Spend yours wisely.

When you invest in a professional website designer, you’re going to get a lot for your money. You’re going to get a beautiful responsive website that works. You’re going to have peace of mind that if something goes wrong you can call on a professional. You’re going to have a secure website that doesn’t give away private client information.

Finally, do not ever use a free website builder and expect to be taken seriously in the business world. You need a real website with structure internally and externally that works. Depending on your skill level and how you earn your money, it’s probably going to be better for you to hire a professional.

It's a trap

[clickToTweet tweet=”There is nothing like a free lunch…. errrr website pic.twitter.com/fy9sTf1bVK” quote=”There is nothing like a free lunch…. errrr website”]

I speak from experience

Before I became a professional Social Media consultant and website developer I built two sites with weebly. While the experience was not bad and the support superb, I quickly ran out of the options of the “free” plan. When I finally switched from weebly to WordPress I actually had to hire someone to delete all the references to the site builder. If you have a template website you are never really free from the platform you used to create it.

What now?

I hope this article saved you from falling into a trap. If you would like to talk to me about your options without any obligation to hire me please set up a time to talk!

Don’t worry – I won’t charge for a short conversation and I welcome your questions in the comments!
Some behind the scenes fun 🙂

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5 Apps to Help You Teach Online

Interactive learning is the new buzzword for learning via the use of digital technology. The aim is to make communication easier between students, and between students and teachers. The types of interactive technology that are used in interactive learning are email, webinars, whiteboards, discussion boards, social media, wikis and more.

Instructors facilitate learning using these technologies and help students absorb the knowledge. Interactive learning can be either synchronous or asynchronous through the use of learning management systems (LMS) online.

Let’s take a look at a few software options that you can use to teach others.

eLecta Live

Electa

This software offers the ability to teach unlimited live classes online. You can manage your students, collect payments, upload video, share your screen, remote control, use the whiteboard, and more with eLecta Live. You can even use your own domain name for access with your branded images. The price for this LMS is comparable to other online webinar software like Adobe Connect.

Packages start at $9.95/month

Digital Chalk

digital chalk

This online training software allows you to create and sell asynchronous and synchronous lessons for your students. This LMS has many features including branding, shopping cart, HD streaming video, iPad and Tablet compatible for students and teachers on the go, and so much more. This is a pricier choice but it offers professional level support and software.

Setup from $399 then $4.95/course

Skillshare

skillshare

This online software allows any teacher to upload project based, asynchronous courses to teach students. The main method of teaching via Skillshare is video. They only allow limited categories but they include Advertising, Business, Design, Fashion & Style, Film & TV, Food & Drink, Photography, Technology, and Writing & Publishing. With all those categories it’s likely you can find your place here. What’s great is these courses are then put on autopilot.

You simply market your courses, they take a small cut, and you make money.

Moodle

Mo

This open source course management system is used by individuals and institutions alike. It’s free, too. It has everything you’d expect from an LMS such as forums, databases, and wikis. It may take more to get it to work the way you want to, because since it’s free you will have to figure it out on your own via the tutorials. Or you may need to spend some money with a Moodle expert to help you set up your courses in the way you desire.

Free

Udemy

udemy

This all in one LMS is free for teachers to use, and you can make money selling your courses. Basically, you simply plan your course, create and upload the course content, publish the course to make it “live” and then you are responsible for promoting the courses through the links provided. You can teach anything that you want to.

Free for teachers

[clickToTweet tweet=”What would you teach?” quote=”What would you teach?”]

All of these online software solutions are fairly easy to set up and use. All you need is the desire to teach and the ability to create the courses to upload to the system that you choose. These LMS go beyond the idea of a one-hour webinar to teaching real courses that can have a huge impact on your students. Whether you’re a coach, information product developer, or you’re just looking for a way to pass on your knowledge and make some extra money, these apps can work for you.

Do you teach? What tools do you use?

How To Set Up A Facebook Group

In the last post Facebook Group Strategies we looked into the opportunities and strategies around Facebook Groups. From your reactions I know that this post was well received. I won’t leave you hanging – the following is a guide to help you set up a Facebook Group.

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Groups are a great way for businesses to connect and build lasting relationships. Facebook groups can be used in conjunction with a Facebook page since FB groups can be used as an additional marketing too, as a way to fuel your other marketing plans and a way to enable others to gather around your business.

Groups are often formed around things like books, business, swap shops, exclusive memberships related to hobbies or interests, or as support groups.

Setting up a Facebook group is straightforward. You’ll need to set up various options like the privacy settings and add a cover photo. Then you will need to know how to post and make certain posts pinned. You need to know how to invite new members and accept them in the group and how to moderate posts.

To get started you first need to set up your group.

How to create the group

Groups are one of the more popular features on Facebook. Setting up your first Facebook group can be fun and exciting. The group can be as narrowly or broadly focused as you want. For instance, it can be a group set up as an extension of your blog. It can be narrowly focused on a certain aspect of your business such as a certain type of diet or self-help for empty nester women. The group could be a place where your members share a hobby. Whatever the focus, keep the group true to it.

Create Facebook GroupBegin by logging into your Facebook account.

From your home page, go to the Groups section on the left side menu and click on Create Group.

Click Create New Group at the top of the page. A new window will open. Here you will add your group name, add members, and select the privacy settings for your group.

Choose a distinct but simple name to make it easy for people to remember your group. You can change the name later if you want or need to.

You must add at least one friend to create a group.
Name Facebook Group

The privacy setting options are:

Public – anyone can join

Closed – you are asked to join or are invited by a member

Secret – anyone can join but must be added or invited by a member[/twocol_one_last]

Facebook Group Privacy Settings

Click Create when you’re done.

Once the group is created, you’ll be taken to the group.

Here you can personalize the group by adding a description, photos, and posts.

Click on Add a Description to add a description about your group. Include what members can expect from it. This is a good place to add “rules” for the group.

You should include a destination URL link to your website in your description. Use the format of http:/www.URL.com so your link is live and clickable.

Personalize Facebook Group

Customize your group page by adding an icon or symbol that represents your group and adding a cover photo that helps tell the story of your group.

Options

Now that you have your group created, you’ll want to customize it. Your group page can be customized so that it relates to your topic and your members. You want your group to be easily recognizable and fun for members. The admin area is where you set permissions for privacy, users, add a description, and change photos.

Should you add a cover photo? That depends. You have 3 options for images:

  • Use images of your group’s members
  • Use a photo already uploaded
  • Upload a photo

The default for a Facebook group photo cover is a combination of the member’s profile photos. This gives a more personalized look to the page but many groups might opt to change the cover photo to an image that represents the group as a whole.

Here is an example of using members profile images for a group cover image:

Facebook Group Cover Image

If you want to add your own image:

Manage Facebook GroupTo add an image, click on the more icon (the three dots). Then click on manage your group.

Then click on the Add a cover photo. Here you can upload a photo, choose a photo already uploaded to the group

Adding a cover photo allows you to set the tone of the group by having an image that directly relates to the group’s subject matter.

Click on Upload photo or Choose photo. Choose whether you want photos from your photos or from the group photos.

Choose the image you want. Drag the image to the position you want. Click Save Changes.

You can change the group photo later by moving your mouse over the cover photo, clicking Change Group Photo button and choosing Upload a Photo.

The option to have a certain photo that shows what the group is about or to leave the default of having your group’s avatars show is purely a personal choice. When choosing your image, think about how it reflects on the message your group has.

Editing group options:

Edit Facebook GroupUnder the edit group options, you have several choices. To see them, click on the more buttons (three dots) and then click on Edit Group Settings.

This is where you can change your privacy setting for the group.

You can also set up a group address, change the description, and add tags.

The Group address is where you can give the group a custom URL as well as an email address where members can email the group directly.

Set Up Group Email Address

Add tags that help people find your group. Under Tags, add words that describe what your group is about (ex: soccer, music, travel) and then click the suggestions that appear in the dropdown. Click on save.

Choose the posting permissions you want. You may want to allow members and admins to post to the group. Another alternative would be to allow only admins to post to the group.

Choose how post are approved. Click Save.

Choosing the options that work with your group can help prevent spam posts, will keep people from uploading photos without your permission and help non-members find your group.

How to post

Once you’ve set up your group, you will need to determine how you are going to post and who will be allowed to post. It’s a good idea to have a pinned post that states your rules for using the group. Include the policy about members posting promotional items. Be specific about where, what, and how, if it is allowed.

To create a post:

Click in the area under Write Post to add a text post. Enter your text and click Post.

Post in Facebook Group

You can also add photos, videos, ask a question, or add files from your computer or Dropbox.

Add Files to Facebook Group

In a group, the latest post with activity will sit at the top of the newsfeed. Each time someone posts a post it appears at the top. When someone comments on another post, it then jumps to the top. This keeps information moving quickly, especially in large groups.

One way to keep pertinent information at the top is to use a pinned post.

Pinned posts

Pinned posts are posts that appear at the top of your groups feed, no matter how many new posts are added.

Admins can pin one post to the top of their group. Often this post contains information on how to use the group, what’s allowed and important links.

To pin a post:

Pin Post In Facebook GroupLog in to your account. Go to your group.

Click on the write post to create a post. It has to be posted before you can pin it. You may also go to a post that has already created in the group. Hover over the post and click the dropdown arrow. Click on the pin post link.

You can unpin a post easily. Repeat the above steps, selecting Unpin Post from the list.

Events

You can set up specific events in for your group members to attend.

To create an event for your group, go to the group and click the More-button, three dots, in the top right. Then select Create an Event from the dropdown menu.

You will need to choose the privacy option for the event.

To adjust the privacy settings for your event:

Choose a setting from the privacy dropdown

Click Save or Create

Facebook Group EventEvents have different privacy settings available to the host:

  • Public allows anyone to join the event without an invitation.
  • Open Invite allows friends of guest to join without an invitation.
  • Guests and Friends allows only those invited to join the event.
  • Invite only allows only people invited by the host to join the event.
  • Group only is an event created within a group by the admin or members.

Posting in groups is like posting on your Facebook timeline. You can pin certain posts so they are always at the top of your group so your members can easily find them. When creating events you need to select the privacy settings for who you want to attend the event.

Accepting members

Without members, your group will be stagnant. You should decide how you are going to accept members and who can invite members.

One way to get members is to invite them to join your group.

To add new members to a group:

Add People to your groupGo to your group.
Click on the more button. Click on the Add People field.
A new box opens. Enter your friends’ names and click on them to add them to the group.

For each of the groups—Public, Closed, and Secret, group members can add their friends. Everyone can request to join but each must be confirmed by the group admin.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Hint: Many people don’t like to be added to groups without being asked. Consider inviting people to join the group rather than “forcing” them.[/box]

Approving Members

As the admin for a group you can choose who you want to approve to join your group.

To get started:
Click on the more tab. Select Edit Group Settings.
Choose the Any member can add members, but an admin must approve them option.
Click Save at the bottom of the page.

Once membership approval is turned on, only admins can approve people’s requests to join the group. Members can still add friends to the group, but the friends will need to be approved by the admin.

You can invite people to join your group but try not to add members without their permission first. One way to invite members is through messages or email if you are friends with them already. Another way is to invite new members through your blog.

Remove Memers from Facebook groupAs the group admin, you can block abusive members.

You can do this by clicking on Members at the top of your group.

Find the member you wish to remove and click the gear sign beneath their name. Select Remove from Group.

To block a member you’re removing, check the box that says Block Permanently.

Click Confirm to finish.

[highlight]Note: Only admins will see the gear beneath a group member’s name. Admins are the only ones who can remove or block group members.[/highlight]

Getting people to join your group means adding them and inviting them to join. As the admin of the group, you have control over who joins as well.

Moderating posts

As the owner of a Facebook group, you want group members to post comments and photos regularly. One problem might be inappropriate content. The best way to avoid this is with moderation of the groups’ posts.

The admin status allows you to monitor and remove any harmful posts. You can assign other members to be an additional admin to help moderate the group as well.

  • Check you groups main page regularly.
  • Delete any abusive posts or those that aren’t relevant content to your group.
  • Remove comments that are abusive by clicking the “X” next to it.
  • Remove posts by clicking the down arrow next to the post and selecting Delete Post. You can also select Report/Mark as Spam to report spam or abusive posts to Facebook.
  • Set up additional admins in the group. To do this:

Click Members
Click the gear icon under the name of the member you wish to add as an admin.
Click Make Admin.

These people will be able to remove members or admins, add new admins and edit your group settings, so choose only members you know and trust to be admins.

Facebook Group notificationsYou can stay connected with what’s happening in your group by turning on notifications. Set it to receive all posts, highlights, or friends’ posts only.

Moderating your group will require you to visit your group page often and to follow up with comments.

What’s next?

Now that you know how to set up your Facebook group using this straightforward guide to setting up your first Facebook group, you can begin setting up groups for different areas of your business. You can quickly set up your group and add a description of what the group is about. Then, it’s a matter of inviting friends to join, posting relevant content, and enjoying being a part of the group.

I hope this guide helped you to set up your first Facebook Group!

Please tell us about your experience in the comments!

Start Your Facebook Group With a Solid Strategy

While Facebook organic reach is dying, Facebook is still the place where most internet users hang out, share and discuss products, services and preferences. I decided not to waste your time with rants about Facebook’s decisions. I think it is more helpful to think about ways to adjust to the changing environment and reclaim Facebook as a great tool for building productive relationships with your existing and future customers.

In my seminars I talk about the “Three faces of Facebook

  1. Profile (for personal connections – you have to approve friend requests. Not indexed by search engines)
  2. Page (A place to share news and materials around your company or cause – publically available, indexed by search engines)
  3. Facebook Groups – learn more below

Facebook Groups Strategies

Social media allows people from around the world to connect with other people. Facebook is one of the more popular social media platforms. As a business, you have different options for connecting with your fans. You can create a Business page, or you can create Facebook group.

What are Facebook groups? According to Facebook, Facebook Groups make it easy to connect with specific sets of people, like family, teammates, or coworkers. Groups are dedicated spaces where you can share updates, photos, or documents and message other group members. You can also select one of three privacy options for each group you create.

Groups are great for marketing your business. You can use groups to keep your customers who are members informed about upcoming products or services and to share information. You can ask your customers questions to get input.

Groups can be used to convert prospects into buyers or as a way to provide customer support.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Facebook Groups can help convert prospects into buyers (via @BlueBirdBC)” quote=”Facebook Groups can help convert prospects into buyers”]

Groups can be as narrow or broad as you want. For example, if you are a food blogger you could create a group for a specific type of food or a group for a specific type of cooking challenge or a wider niche like sharing recipes.

In this article you’ll learn strategies for using Facebook groups. These strategies include the benefits of a group and creative ideas for using them, running your group so you have less spam and more interaction among the group. You’ll learn strategies for balancing activity without bombarding members with too many messages. Finally, you’ll learn the difference between Facebook pages and groups as well as get tips for monetizing your group.

How groups work

Facebook offers both pages and groups as a way to connect with your followers. Facebook groups are recommended for connecting with smaller groups of people you already have a connection with. Anyone using Facebook can start a Facebook group.

Group Privacy
click to enlarge

Here are some basics of using Facebook Groups:

  • Group privacy settings can be open, closed, or secret. Open privacy means anyone can see who is in the group and what they post. Closed means the group and its members can be seen by anyone but the posts are not visible except to members. Secret is just what it sounds like; the group, its members and the posts are only seen by members.
  • You can be a member of a group and be friends with only one or two people yet you can interact with everyone in the group.
  • Photos are uploaded by any member of the group just like uploading photos to your Facebook profile.
  • Groups work a lot like a regular newsfeed, allowing members to post questions, comments, and photos. Important posts can be pinned, making them appear at the top of a groups page feed.
  • Members share documents and files. This is a way to distribute files for editing or sharing with many people without having to email each one individually.
  • Groups can create specific events and manage them in the Group calendar.
  • Group admins can assign moderators to respond to posts and monitor abusive posts.
  • Groups are created around common causes or interests. They can be used to collaborate around a certain project or subject, for example, a group that talks about fiction story ideas.
  • Groups can be used to coordinate local organizations, non-profit groups, and school functions.
  • Groups can be used to sell things or share items, for example, a group that allows you to share children’s books with other members.

Groups are a way to connect with a small number of people who you already know and have the same interests as you. Groups work a lot like a regular newsfeed and can be set up to have moderators monitoring posts and member activity.

Groups versus Pages

Facebook offers both pages and groups for businesses to use in their social media efforts. Both have a place in your marketing plan. There are differences in the way they should be used, however.

Facebook pages are more like a timeline for organizations, brands, and businesses. Page owners post stories, add a cover photo, share videos and photos, as well as host events. Anyone can like a page and be able to see that Page’s updates in their own newsfeed.

Facebook pages are good for promoting your company or raising your brand awareness. You can use it to make special offers, share new promotions, and make announcements while building your fan base.

Facebook Groups are better suited for smaller, specialized groups of people with the same interests. They can be created to connect family, co-workers, teammates, or people who share a similar interest.

Group members can ask or answer questions, post about upcoming events and follow conversations that interest them. Mass messages to your group members’ inbox can be sent though the group as well.

  • One difference between pages and groups is that Pages are mainly intended as a one-to-many show. You, as the page owner run the show. People who like your page can comment or posts on your page, but only you and a person directly visiting your page will see it. Their posts don’t appear in other newsfeeds of people who’ve liked your page.
  • Groups are more of a many-to-many type of gathering. Collaboration is the key to groups. In their own newsfeeds, members will see whenever someone posts to the group. The admin doesn’t have to moderate or be involved in any way if they choose not to.

Pages vs Groups – pros and cons

Facebook Page pros and cons

  • Pages allow you to promote using the promoted posts, advertising, and other promotion tools.
  • Pages include the insights, which let you see the analytics of your page.
  • Pages are good for communicating with large numbers of Facebook users.
  • When in the admin mode of your page, you can like another page to pull in that page’s content into your page newsfeed instead of your personal feed.
  • Building community spirit and engagement is more difficult.

Facebook Group pros and cons

  • Groups are more likely to show up in members’ newsfeeds.
  • Groups have better control over who joins due to its privacy options.
  • Groups don’t have the analytical functions that pages do.
  • Groups are ideal for providing more personal member conversations.

Facebook pages and groups both have strengths that will benefit your business. Pages and Groups are both visible to the Facebook community but Groups can set the privacy level of who sees the group. Pages are geared toward the masses while groups are ideal for a smaller more specific group of people.

Creative ideas for using groups

Now that you know the benefits of using Facebook groups, you might be wondering how you can use groups. What are some creative ideas people are using groups for? Groups can be created and used for just about any purpose you can think of. Think about the groups you already belong to. Are they for pleasure or do you belong to some for business?

Let’s explore some ideas.

  • Facebook groups are a great addition to your business. You can set up a group as extra support for your customers and certain products. If you don’t have customer support in place, a Facebook group can provide a contact point for your customers. Here they can connect, share, and collaborate with you.
  • Use a Facebook group to convert prospects into buyers. Create a group that funnels prospects to your products.
  • Create a Facebook group to keep in touch with your customers and others interested in your products and services. You can share information on the products, upcoming promotions and sales, and ask customers their opinions on your products or services.
  • Use a Facebook group to be more interactive with your fans. A Facebook page lets you post what’s going on to many people while a group is smaller and more specialized so you can interact with those who are truly interested what you have to say.
  • A group can be created as a way to collaborate with all your business locations or remote workers.
  • Facebook mentoring groupsCreate a group as a way to mentor others. Members can connect and share ideas, as well as support and inspire each other.
  • Create a group to post events and conferences. A Facebook group allows you to create buzz about an event and to continue the conversations, inspiration, and learning long after the event has passed.
  • A secret group can be used to brainstorm ideas and connect with other members of your team and clients when doing product launches or special projects.
  • Set up a group for committees and teams to bring people together and as a way to provide follow up to meetings.
  • Build your social media love. Build a blogging or social media group where you can keep in touch with like-minded bloggers. Post new content and help each other out with comments on one others’ blogs while building your community.
  • Use groups to create exclusive memberships. Use it as an add-on to your products or services. Provide content and updates to members they can’t get elsewhere.
  • Create a group to help customers learn how to do something. An example would be a craft group specializing in cross-stitch embroidery or a Cooking group specializing in how to barbecue or preserve food.

3-preserving

When creating your Facebook group, get creative. There are literally thousands of ways to use groups in your business to stay connected with your fans. Whether you want to narrow it down to a very specific topic or have broader group you can build a group that resonates with others.

Running your Group

Once you set up your group, you will want to set up a few rules so that members have a good experience. You want to avoid bombarding your members with too many messages and promotional posts.

Here are a few things to remember when running your Facebook group:

  • Set up a pinned post outlining group rules and expectations. In the Foodaplenty group, the admin has done this by sharing how the group operates as well as the rules for posting.

4-pinned post

  • Be respectful when adding members. Don’t add your friends without their permission.
  • Set up notifications under the settings tab. This can be set up to receive all posts or specific people or turned off. Just remember you need to stay on top of what is happening in your group. You want to be aware of any abusive comments or problems right away.
  • Set up additional admins to help control spam, give feedback on post relevancy, and be a greeter to new members.
  • Engage regularly with your group. Answer questions, post helpful information, and engage with members.
  • Reduce spam in your group by being mindful of who becomes a member. Set up rules for posting promotional information. For example, consider having one pinned post just for promotion. Another option is to limit who can join your group by setting the privacy settings to closed or secret.
  • Invite people to join your group. You can do this directly from your group by clicking on Invite by Email in the “About” group section.

Invite by EmailAdmin duties

The admin of the group has the option to assign other members of the group as moderators. This is often where many groups fail. An active admin keeps memberships current and monitors spam and offensive content.

Add more admins as your group increases in size. You want to have enough admins to monitor things in case one or more of the admins leaves the group, stops using Facebook, or gets hacked.

Choose people as admins that you know and trust. They should be familiar with Facebook, computer literate and know how to delete posts or ban members if needed.

6-make adminTo add someone as an admin for your group, go to the member’s page of the group. Search for the person you want to add. Click the gear icon and choose “Make Admin”.

 

Controlling the number of messages

The goal of your group will determine how often you send out messages. It’s best not to bombard members. You don’t want them to become frustrated with too many notifications.

  • Posting rights can be set to allow only admins or have any member post. You can allow any member to post, with admin approving each post. This lets you control what is posted and avoid spam messages from getting through.
  • As the admin, you should keep notifications on. This lets you know when important things need to be approved or spam dealt with. You can adjust it so you aren’t bombarded constantly.
  • Keep your group active and looking great. Choose the right name and photos.
  • Actively promote your group and keep the content fresh.
  • Keep posts varied. Include a picture in one, a question in one, and an event or poll in yet another. Add useful links and documents. Try to members of your group engaged and responsive.

Get help with running your group. Add other people as admins to help filter out spam and abusive members. Keep your content fresh and varied but don’t overwhelm members with too many posts.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]What are your tips for running a Facebook Group? Please share them in the comments or on my Facebook Page[/box]

Tips for Monetizing your Group

Having a Facebook group is great for connecting with members. If it’s a part of your business, you want to be able to monetize the group without being overly promotional. You may not be selling directly from the group but you want the members to see what you are selling.

Here are some ideas for monetizing your group.

  • Use the group’s cover photo as ad space. Charge a fixed price for someone to own that area for a month.
  • Charge a set price to pin other people’s posts so they get more exposure.
  • Promote your group to similar Facebook groups and pages. Take the time to post useful tips in these groups with a link back to your group.
  • Cross-promote your group on Twitter, your website, in other social sites, in your email signature, on YouTube and in any other marketing materials you use.
  • Keep your group active. Even a small amount of activity each week will remind people to visit and interact.
  • Provide valuable content for your group members. It can be funny but still be useful.
  • Create viral content for your group. Create meme images that your members can share on Facebook.
  •  Offer discounts to paid web events. Give group members a discount for signing up early for a paid event.
  • Build your community. A group is about providing value to members. Building your community means building relationships with them. It’s easier to recommend products that you are an affiliate for if your members already trust you.
  • Send members to your products that can help them when they have questions or need guidance.
  • Promote your website on your Facebook group post. It can be in a pinned post with links or occasionally mentioned in posts. Use images with your logo watermarked on them. Members can share these and broaden your reach.
  •  Include a link to your sales page/opt-in page in your groups’ description.
  • Post links to your upcoming paid events, sales and launches.
  • Create a smaller, inner circle group members can join for a monthly or annual fee.

The task of monetizing your Facebook group can seem daunting when you are trying to keep the tone of the group from being overly promotional. By building a relationship with your members with valuable content, you are building trust. You members will be more open to buying your recommendations when they trust you.

 

The Next Step

More than 500 million people are using Facebook groups every month. Thousands of groups are being created every day. Groups are perfect for specific sets of people to get together to share photos, links, updates and inspire each other.

Facebook groups can connect coworkers, family, and like-minded people who share the same interests. Groups are a great addition to your business. You can use the group as a way to keep your customers informed about upcoming products or new services and as a way to offer great customer service.

Use groups to convert prospects into buyers or provide additional customer support for specific products. Create a group around a specific event to continue building relationships with those who attend the event.

Your group niche can be narrow or broad. A craft blogger could create a group that focuses on a specific type of craft, such as cross-stitch. The blogger could also narrow the niche down to counted cross-stitch on linen.

Facebook groups are different from pages. Facebook groups are smaller and usually for specific members while pages are for anyone who likes the page.

When you are considering creating your group, consider what you want to use the group for. Is it to help members in some way or is it to promote your event?

Create a good description of what the group is about and why members should join.

Set up a pinned post with group rules or guidelines. This helps members know what they can and can’t talk about. It’s also a good idea to have specific areas where members can self-promote as well.

Have at least two people set up as admins to help moderate posts and respond to problems.

A Facebook group’s privacy setting can be open, closed, or secret. Open privacy means anyone can see who is in the group and what they post. Closed means the group and its members can be seen by anyone but the posts are not visible except to members. Secret is just what it sounds like; the group, its members and the posts are only seen by members.

This article gave you strategies for using Facebook groups, including the benefits of creating a group and ideas for using them. You also learned how to run your group to keep it active and avoid spam.

Share and Search With Listly

20minute.academy is my way of sharing interesting, educational audio and video content in 20 minutes or less.

[media_video fw_shortcode_id=”1″]

Listly is a great tool that has a lot of uses. You see it on my blog often because I use it mostly to create resource lists that allow you to add items and to rate the items on the list.
Listly’s co-founder Nick Kellet is one of my longest Twitter-friends and we talked about listly often during the development of the tool.

Nick is also a master of Slideshare and published this interesting deck recently:

The recipe utilizes the Chrome extension that makes it very easy to add to a list you have already created in Listly.

Listly browser extension
click on the image to learn more

 

I have started a list of my favourite cross-platform searches – go ahead – add yours!

Do you use Listly? Please share a link to your favourite list in the comments!

What To Do If Someone Steals Your Content?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. ~Charles Caleb Colton

Imitation maybe, but stealing content is no flattery – it’s plagiarism. In our new sharing society the boundaries between sharing and stealing sometimes seem blurry. I will write about the difference between sharing and stealing content in one of my next posts. This one deals more with these three questions:

  1. How do I find out if someone stole my content?
  2. How do I prevent people from stealing my content?
  3. What to do if someone has stolen my content?

Content is king on the internet and on your website. But what happens if you see your content on another site? How can you prevent your hard work from being stolen by someone else? Keep reading to discover some of the best practices for protecting your content.

It’s called “scraping.” Someone takes the content from your website and uses it as theirs by posting it on their website. Most people don’t even know that they have been scraped until they see the duplicate content or they have problems with search engine rankings because of it.

Find out if someone stole your content

Images

Sometimes I see an image online that I would love to use in my website. In these cases I use Tineye for a reverse image lookup.

tineye

I use it to find out if I can license the image to use. But you could also upload your own images to see if and where they have been used. Tineye often even finds copies of images after they have been altered.

Text

To find if your text has been used you can use one of these tools:

Copyscape is a utility that lets you enter a url and then shows if and where the same content appears on the internet. If you just want to check one or two links out of curiosity the free version will do the trick. If you want something more serious Copyspace offers premium plans.

Plag Tracker is mainly used to find plagiarism in academic documents. But you can upload your text into the tool and find out who stole your content without attribution.

Google Alerts especially if you are using unique words like your business name you can set up a Google alert to send you an email every time it gets mentioned on the internet.

Protect yourself from the beginning so you don’t become a victim yourself. You’ve worked too hard to build your reputation and your optimized content to have it tampered with.

Protecting Yourself and Your Content

The reality is that you can’t stop someone who is set on stealing from you with any reliability unless you put safeguards in place. Even then, they can still steal but you will be able to track the perpetrator and find some satisfaction for yourself.

Here are some tips to get you all set up.

Image Watermark

Protect Your Content with Image Watermark

You don’t want anyone to steal your images either, especially if they were created by you in the first place. This plug-in adds a watermark to any image that is uploaded. It tells people where the image originally came from and where they can find it. Watermarks can be applied to different size images as needed.
While the plugin directory says it hasn’t been updated in 6 months it works well on a website I built recently: winkiwear.com

Protecting your web copy is a little more difficult. But even if you are not prepared to actively pursue content scrapers that might have stolen your text it wouldn’t it be nice to at least be mentioned with a link back to your original content?

WordPress SEO Yoast

My favorite SEO plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast has an often overlooked feature built in: RSS enhancements allow you to add a footer content and a link back to your site. This content gets added every time your RSS syndicated content is used anywhere. This happens regardless if someone reads your content in their favourite RSS reader app or someone falsely claims your content as theirs.

Protecting your website information is vital to your reputation and also making sure that someone else doesn’t profit from your hard work.

What to do if someone has stolen your content?

The first thing to know is how important it is to you that your content is removed. Pursuing scrapers can be a big energy drain. On the other hand these methods should not succeed. We produce quality content and in some cases even art. It is not right that some thief with the right software gets away with theft.

I know that photographers often use a service like Getty Images to act on their behalf. While I am sure that this is quite efficient I think this is more an option for professional photographers. (Please correct me if I’m wrong)

Option 1 Email the offender directly.

If someone steals your content, I suggest you try the direct way first and attempt to contact the offender directly. If caught they might either take down the content or you can settle for a compromise and add proper attribution with a link to your original content. If you don’t receive a satisfactory answer you can always consider further actions.

Option 2 Report the offense to search engines or hosting providers

The Digital Millenium Act  requires hosting providers to actively remove material that infringes on copyrights. Then you can also contact the search engine providers like Google, Bing and Yahoo! with a removal request. These processes can take anywhere from a couple of hours to weeks.
Most content thieves are very afraid of takedown proceedings so they will likely take down your content if you threaten them.

Have you ever found your content stolen somewhere? Please tell your story in the comments!


Find more information about the topic on the Hubspot blog

Featured image licensed at Depositphotos.com

Is Cross Selling Creepy or Smart?

I’ve had a busy weekend adding a proper online store to my website. With every product I add one question arises:

“Should I cross-sell or up-sell any other of my products or is that too pushy?”

Cross-selling consists of offering related products and services to your existing customers based on current or former purchasing history. Cross-selling to existing clients is an excellent way to increase your bottom line but like with anything where you try to increase revenue, there are risks. However, with risk can come great reward, too. Ultimately, it’s up to you to understand the pros and cons of cross-selling before you implement it within your business model as part of your sales funnel.

Definition of Cross selling at Businessdictionary.com

Encouraging a customer who buys a product (gasoline, for example) to buy a related or complementary product (engine oil, for example). Cross-selling is generally illegal if there is a tie-in between the two products; where the customer must buy one in order to buy the other.

It may take time to determine whether your customer base is accepting of your cross-selling tactics or whether they’re turned off by it and move on to other businesses. When attempting cross-selling, be sure that your offerings don’t water down your own brand. If you want to be known as the best place to go for gardening advice, for example, be careful how far out of the gardening realm you travel as you offer additional items that relate to the products your customers are purchasing.

An undeniable pro to cross-selling is that it generates increased sales. People tend to buy from those that they know, like and trust, and if they’ve already purchased from you and had a successful experience they’re likely to do it again. In addition, even if you do the cross-sell right at checkout, they’ve already made a choice to purchase from you, so they’re likely to add on something else if it’s within their means and you recommended the right product.

That brings up a tremendous con of cross-selling. If you recommend confusing products and services to your customers, they may not understand and they might get irritated. Let’s say that you customer has already purchased the item you’re recommending. He or she might feel offended and annoyed that you don’t know what they’ve already purchased and that you are now recommending something completely different. They may view the cross-sell as just an additional money grab in that case.

[clickToTweet tweet=”When adding cross-selling, be sure to look at everything from your client’s perspective” quote=”When adding cross-selling to your business sales model, be sure to look at everything from your client’s perspective.”]

Items that you choose to recommend should solve your customers’ problems and benefit them, not just you in terms of generating revenue. Ensure that the products that you offer are truly complementary products and services, and not competing products and services.

A good example of a complementary product to an information product about “How to Lose Weight” would be to offer them a pedometer, a water bottle or both as a cross-sell. These items will be talked about in the book, so it makes sense to offer them to the buyer. A bad cross-sell would be to offer other diet books. They’ve already chosen the one they want to buy; don’t confuse them by offer them competing books.

Another example that would work well is if you sell handmade baby clothes. You’ve sold a nice outfit to the customer and you have more items that match that outfit, like matching shoes or a hat. These items, while not technically complementary items, are in the same family because they match the items that were being bought to start with. Recommending these matching items is a great way to encourage your clients to buy more without turning them off.

The trick to avoiding the cons of cross selling is to be very clear about what your target audience needs to solve their problems, and to have the right technology in place to recommend the correct items based on their purchasing and searching habits.

Be sure that your cross-selling tactics don’t come off as “bait and switch” by offering your customers a totally different high priced item instead of the one they wanted. Put the client first and foremost in all your decisions when it comes to cross-selling.

Weigh in: Do you find cross selling annoying?

How To Remove Tags on Facebook

In Facebook (and Instagram and Twitter) you can “tag” someone in a picture so they get notified. These pictures go into the “Pictures of you” stream on Facebook and depending on the users’ privacy settings, everybody can see them. Tagging others in pictures is a great way of sharing pictures with your friends.

I really like it if my friends tag me in pictures I am actually in. I would have missed many of the shots my friends took of me at Dragon Boat festivals without this feature. But of course this can also become a nuisance. If you can’t stand being tagged in posts and pictures you can turn this off in the Facebook settings:

Facebook Tag setting

As I said, I like my friends to tag me and during events I encourage people to tag themselves in the event pictures so their friends see how much fun it was.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Encourage people to tag themselves in event pictures so their friends see how much fun it was” quote=”Encourage people to tag themselves in event pictures so their friends see how much fun it was”]

One pet – peeve of mine has fortunately pretty much died out: Tagging a whole bunch of people in a product picture so they see it. 🙁 Even if this happens it is quite easy to remove tags on Facebook.

If you are tagged in a picture or a post you don’t want to be associated with, it’s pretty easy to “untag” yourself.

 

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remove tagAll you need to do is go to the picture, click on “Options” and select “Remove Tag”.
If you find the image offensive or spammy you can report it to Facebook and they might take it down.

Here is a little video that Facebook posted on their page about how to untag on the mobile app:

For Facebook Page owners tagging can become a problem.

In my coaching practice I suggest asking clients or visitors to an event to tag themselves in pictures. That way we know that everybody is ok with showing the world they were there. Because only a percentage of people will actually do this, the post will not gather as much attention but at least you don’t appear to be violating privacy rights.

Do you have a “Tagging Story”? Please share!


Image and video by Facebook

10 Ways to Get Maximum Results From Email

Some people think that email marketing is passé, but nothing could be further from the truth. Email marketing is still more effective than any other type of Internet marketing. The money is still in the list. But, are you doing everything you can to get the most from your email marketing efforts?

How can you achieve maximum results from email?

In fact, you should be using all the tools available today, from social media, to PPC, to blogging to get more people to sign up for your email marketing campaigns. Email marketing, when done well is still the most effective form of marketing there is.

To do email right follow these tips:

  1. Get Targeted Subscribers — Research your target audience so that you can build a list full of people who are truly interested in what you want to talk about. You don’t just want anyone on your list, you want people who are right for your products and services.
  2. Double Opt-In — Always use a double opt-in feature that comes with your email marketing software such as Constant Contact. This will ensure that people really want to be on your email list. Make it easy for them to disqualify themselves by putting the unsubscribe links at the top and the bottom of all emails.
  3. Do What You Say You Will — Tell new readers exactly what you will deliver to them, how often, and about what topics, and then do what you say you will. Don’t waver in how often you said you’d send them information, if you go a long time without sending information they’ll forget about you and think you’re spam without ever reading what you have to say.
  4. Write Effective Subject Lines — The subject lines of your emails are very important because without learning how to write effective subject lines even those who signed up for your list will not open your emails. This is not the place to be tricky or use puns. Be personal, and be direct.
  5. Write With Authority But Be Real — The email itself should be written with authority and knowledge that you have a lot to offer your readers. They signed up for this and asked you to send them regular emails, don’t apologize. But, use a casual tone as if you’re talking to a trusted friend.
  6. Get Personal — Sending generic emails without personalization is not a good way to get people to want to read what you have to say. Use their name (the software helps!) and make them feel like you are speaking directly to them.
  7. Be Trustworthy — If everything you recommend turns out to be top notch, and everything you write is well researched and true, your audience will learn to trust you so much that they will become your biggest fans.
  8. Tell a Compelling Story — If you can get to your audience’s emotions you’ll be able to achieve overwhelming and unstoppable results. One way to do that is to share your own story and /or those of other people with whom they can relate.
  9. Deliver Quality Targeted Content — Send the right emails to the right people by segmenting your audience using the email marketing software. You want each piece of content to speak directly to the reader.
  10. Figure out the Right Timing — Each niche has a specific time of the day they’re more likely to open emails. Try a few tests sending out emails with the same subject line to find out what time of day and what day an email is most likely to be opened.
  11. Include a Call To Action — Whether it’s asking your readers to share, vote, like, join, buy, or what-have-you it’s important to always include a compelling call to action that they can’t miss. By including a CTA in every email you’ll get more results.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Purge the [email protected] from all your #email communication” quote=”Purge the [email protected] from all your email communication”]

Summary

If every email talks to your ideal client, gets to the point, tells a relatable story and includes a CTA you can’t lose. You may need to test various subject lines, and edit until your email is clear, but if you do these things it will be effective and your email will achieve maximum results.

What is your strategy for successful emails?

First Rule of Email Boot Camp
Click on the image to learn more!

 

Featured image credit Jairo. Flickr unaltered

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How To Add Links in Images – WordPress Plugin Recommendation

In my work building websites for small businesses and individuals, I come across some awesome WordPress tools. The posts in the “WordPress Plugin Recommendation” series are meant to show you the options. Some are free, some are premium and some links are affiliate links. Even if I make a small commission from the fee you pay I will not recommend tools I don’t believe in.

 

The challenge on winkiwear.ca was to create a collage of images that encourages users to get excited about the designer brands offered and then be able to access more information. We tried different options including building mapped images and embedding the HTML into the page. The results were unreliable and didn’t work consistently across different browsers and on mobile.

The solution: Adding links in images with the Image Map HotSpot WordPress Plugin

Winkiwear designers page

 

The setup works like in a slider plugin; you add the title and description of the content to be embedded and pick the options.

HotSpot backend
click image to enlarge

You can add all kinds of content: links, video, images and text.

This plugin would also be great for interactive maps, team pages or any other image that you want to make more interesting.

When you are done, the image can easily be placed in any page or post on the WordPress website with the use of a shortcode. You can find the code conveniently placed in the sidebar of the development screen – ready to cut & paste.

screenshot winkiwear
click to enlarge

Of course every option has to stand the test of working well on all screen sizes. Here is a screenshot from my android phone showing that the image is responsive and still functional on a small screen.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Thanks @flashstack! I really like your HotSpot #WordPress plugin!” quote=”Thanks Sike! I really like your HotSpot WordPress plugin!”]

Summary:

I am thrilled with this plugin. It allows me to create a great user experience and add more functionality on a web page. Considering that the importance of images on the internet continues to grow, options like this are a great asset for any website developer.

The Image Map HotSpot Plugin is available on CodeCanyon for a $18 one time license fee.

Have you used this or a similar solution?


featured image by envato

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