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Hello everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I am currently not taking any new clients. I am working on an exciting new project that is taking up most of my time!

I will continue to maintain this blog, so please check back soon for updates.

Sincerely,
Michelle

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I was recently asked how to go about adding credit card processing to a website (specifically adding a donations button). Since I just typed up my response, I thought I would also add my answer here on my blog in case some of you have the same question.

A simple and fast way to add credit card processing to your website is to use PayPal. A Paypal button on your site will allow your visitors to pay money to you online in a secure way. A Paypal button can be placed on a personal or business website.

Since the question specifically asked about accepting donations, this article will focus on adding a Paypal donation button to your site.

Step 1: Go to Paypal's official web page, PayPal.com.

Step 2: From the Home Page, click on sign-up to begin the process.
Note: You will need to set up a specific type of account with PayPal in order to be eligible to receive donations. Paypal offers various account options. If you are a non-profit organization, individual business owner or company, you must apply for a Premier or Business account in order to add a donation option to your site. Personal PayPal accounts are not eligible for dontation buttons.

Step 3: Select either a Premier or Business PayPal account. The premiere account is for individuals and the business account is for companies or group names.

Step 4: Fill out the requested fields for the account that you chose, and agree to the terms and conditions.

Step 5:  Apply for the payment process you prefer. If selecting a business PayPal account, pick a "payment solution" from the drop down menu, and then complete the process by selecting your business type and providing other requested information such as business name, address and telephone number. Click "continue" to process your request.

Step 6:  Wait for verification of your account. PayPal will verify and either approve or deny the premier or business account within a few days. Once approved, you (or your web developer) can create and install a donation button on your web site so that you can begin to accept donations.

That is it! Now all you have to do is encourage your visitors to use your donations button to send in their donations.

 

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

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Just Wanted to Share

I just finished a great project for a friend, Dr. Michael Rhett, who is running for Cobb County Commissioner (District 4) in July 2012. 

I was really moved by the video, "Remebering the Legacy of Rajaan Bennett", the McEachern High School football student who lost his life at 18 in February 2010. Many friends and family came out to the memorial ceremony. I am grateful for individuals like Dr. Rhett; coming together with other groups to make a difference in the lives of people in our community.

Check out Dr. Rhett's new site and be sure to vote on July 31st. 

If you want to know more about Dr. Rhett and how he is making a difference in the lives of people who live in the communities of Austell, Powder Springs, Mabelton and S.W. Marietta, you need to see the video and read more about his campaign by clicking here.

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Happy New Year from WebDesignsByMichelle!

I just wanted to take a moment to say Happy New Year!  

I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for a wonderful year in 2011, and I look forward to seeing you in 2012.

Wishing you all the best in 2012 and may this year be your best year yet!

 

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It is a known fact that Social Media helps build communities. And one of the most beneficial tools for small businesses to use is Facebook.  But there are so many social media tools to choose from, and many entrepreneurs and small business owners do not know how to use the tools to their advantage.

Well, since I have been learning a lot as I work together with my clients to improve their business, I thought I would share 4 quick tips on how to avoid the top social media mistakes.

The Top 4 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid (especially when using Facebook) are:

1. Self Promotion - Yes, I know this may seem a little backwards to some. But do you believe that your customers and prospects really want to hear about how great you are every day? They are not interested in how you are living the fabulous life in the fab lane.

So what do most site visitors really want, you ask? They want to know how we can help them solve their problems. That is what they are really interested in. So if you focus on how your products and services will help put out a fire that your site visitor is having, you will be on your way to obtaining paying customers and repeat clients very soon, if you haven't already.

To tell you the truth, that is exactly how my design and consulting business really took off a few years ago. A potential client asked a blog design question on some forum that I was visiting that day. I knew the answer to her question, so I decided to reply to her post.  She thanked me for helping her solve her problem that day. Then later that same evening, I received an email from her asking if I was for hire. I said sure, and the rest, as they say, was history. She is still a client of mine today and constantly refers new clients my way. She just happens to be one of my favorite people in the entire world to work with. :)

2. Seeking Popularity instead of Targeted Leads - My point here is that the number of Facebook Fans is not necessarily indicative of entrepreneurial success. Some entrepreneurs believe that getting 5,000 or more FB fans or "Likes" is the key to making a nice profit. What they may not know is, it is far better to have maybe 150 targeted fans that are truly interested in your products and services than to have 5,000 friends on your Facebook Fan Page who could care less about your brand or what you have to offer.

I have observed on my own blog, that the number of visitors and clients who request my design and consulting services this year have increased 4-fold. It happened when I started focusing more on how I can deliver real value to help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed. I also re-launched my brand at the beginning of this year and applied SEO techniques to improve the chances of someone finding my blog design and consulting services when they need it. I am getting more hits on my blog and a signifcant increase on people visiting my Facebook Fan page. The number of project inquiries and targeted leads that turn into clients are increasing, but not necessarily in proportion with the number of FB fans that I have. 

On the flip side, I speak to entrepreneurs often who are looking for guidance in setting better goals for their social media campaigns. Some of them are frustrated because they have over 5,000 fans, but the fans are not being converted into customers. I see it happen all too often. Once you decide what is important to you (popularity vs targeted leads), it is a practical approach to realign your goals to turn your Facebook Fans and "Likes" into paying customers.

3. Using the Wrong Social Media Tools - It is important to know that there are many social media tools that you can use to build a community around your brand. However, it does not mean that you should use every one of the tools to promote your business. As an entrepreneur or small business, you need to spend some time up front to determine which tools will provide you the most benefit. Determine what your goals are and decide what will be the most effective tool to achieve your objectives. It may take some trial and error to determine which methods are connecting with your targeted audience. It is better to use a few Social Media tools that work to your advantage, than to use too many tools and not achieve your objectives. Remember that the goal of your Social Media activity is to engage and interact with your audience, not to just talk "at them" or to just always listen. It is a two-way street.

4. Not having a customized Facebook page – It is a great start to have a facebook business page. But I recommend that you go to the next step and make sure you have  a customized, professional fan page. You should also have a custom landing page that tells your visitors what to do once they land on your page. Also you need to make sure your Facebook page is consistent with your website. For example, your colors, logo and brand message should be the same throughout your social media platforms. Consistenency is key…it will keep your brand memorable and make it easier for your customers to recognize your business.

I hope you found this post helpful.  In closing, I would say to focus your efforts on things that drive a positive return on your investment. If it doesn't work, then stop doing it. My goal for going into the New Year is to work smarter, not harder! 

What about you? What other social media mistakes would you add to this list? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments below…

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Today I received a Hostgator email announcing their biggest sale since they have been in business. For those of you are interested in Excellent Hosting at a Great price, this is the deal of the year. The promotion starts at midnight tonight and will run for 1 day.

Follow this link to take advantage of their 50% Off Sale.

This promotion will bring their already competitive hosting packages as low as:

  • Shared hosting: As low as $4.95 Now only: $2.48/month (pre-paid)
  • Reseller Hosting: As low as $24.95 Now Only: $12.48/month (pre-paid)
  • VPS Hosting: As low as $19.95 Now Only: $9.98/month (First Month)
  • Dedicated Servers: As low as $174 Now Only $87/month (First Month)

Simply sign up and get your 50% discount automatically applied.

Visit Hostgator and learn more by clicking here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day to all who have served! We salute you.

Also, congratulations to my client Quest 35 Housing on their recent news feature on CBS Atlanta News!

Leonard Adams and the great folks at Quest35 in Atlanta, GA make it their mission to develop and implement affordable-supportive housing programs that service the special needs of homeless and/or low income populations.

Several months ago, I had the pleasure of doing a website redesign and building a custom Facebook landing page for them.

Recently, I helped them expand their brand by creating a custom logo for their latest project. Click here to see the news feature on their latest project: Quest Veterans Village. Also you can see the logo that I designed for them (on the background screen at the beginning of the newscast below the American Flag), that's if you don't blink at the beginning of the news feature. :)

Enjoy! Hope everyone has a blessed weekend!

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Do Not Wait; The Time Will Never Be Just Right

Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. – Napoleon Hill

The quote above makes a good point: the time will never be just right. If you are putting off something until tomorrow that needs to be done today, you are procrastinating. Tomorrow is not promised. Go after your dreams today. Do not let fear hold you back.

To Your Online Success!

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If you’re wondering if your online marketing plan is working, then this article is for you.

Before you can know if your internet plan is working, you must first have a way to track on a regular basis your marketing campaigns for your business. There are several metrics that you can use on your website or blog that will let you know how well you are doing. Then you can decide what needs to be changed or what you need to stop doing altogether.

There are several metrics that I use in my business and/or have set up successfully for my clients. I’ve put together a few of these metrics that you should know in order to analyze and successfully observe your online marketing campaigns and plans.

1. Google Analytics - this is a free service that provides basic analytical tools for SEO and marketing purposes. It tracks the number of visits to your site, pageviews, average time spent on your site, referring sites and more. You can create custom reports and it integrates nicely with other Google services such as Adwords and Website Optimizer.

2. Google Adwords – lets you create and run ads for your business. You can find out the percentage of people who click on your advertisements. You only pay when people click your ads. You can also find out the conversion rate, the rate at which your visitors are converted to actual buyers.

3. Email Campaigns – I’ve had pretty good success with a few email marketing tools to run campaigns for my business and for my clients. Most email tools will tell you how many of your visitors opened the email, forwarded it, or if it was sent to an incorrect email address.

4. Blog and Website Metrics - You can track the activity of your visitors on your website, blog or squeeze pages. You can find out how many times visitors come to your site, what they are viewing, how long they stay on your site, how they found your site (referring links) and much more. One of the tools already mentioned that accomplishes this is Google Analytics.

5. Social Media – You can measure the number of visitors and sources of traffic you have from the free reports from these tools. You can also measure the size of your following by the number of fans, followers and members that you have. And then finally, you can measure the quality of interaction you have with your visitors by the number of comments and posts that they leave on your social media sites.

It is up to you as to which type of metrics you use. It really depends on the type of campaign that you are trying to run. Or, if you decide to hire a web design or internet marketing company to do all of this web analytics for you, it is still good for you to have a basic understanding of what some of these metrics are.

But, the most important thing is that you actually look at your reports and analyze them.  Then follow-through and make the necessary changes to your site or campaign based on the results that you are getting.

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Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a process; working together is success.

- Henry Ford

 

Whether you own a business, work in a ministry or are in a personal relationship, it is important to work together in order to accomplish your goals. If we are not willing to compromise and see things from the other person’s perspective, we will never be able to work together successfully. We must come together in honesty, work together with clear goals in mind, and have respect for one another. If we can do this, everybody wins!

Have a blessed day everyone!

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