The Online Trading Voucher scheme has been around for a few years now but I’ve been getting tons of emails about it and doing some jobs under it a lot recently for some reason. Here’s the layman’s guide to how it works if you’re not sure.
As the name suggests you need to actually trade online to avail of this grant and in terms of website design that means you need to sell something off your website so either a full online shop selling products or a payment/booking page for your services etc.. You can add a payment system to an old site or build a new one with it and still qualify. You will be repaid 50% of the cost of the work after it’s competition and after you have paid for it in full and shown receipts etc.. The maximum amount paid out is €2,500 so this will allow you to have €5,000 max worth of work done depending on your own budget.
Your local enterprise board administers the scheme so they should be your first point of contact but a web designer should be able to advise too. They will give you details of when the scheme windows are open and provide application forms and advice etc..
Here is a simple list of requirements you need to meet to qualify:
Over the last couple of years I’ve been busy learning new skills, gaining new qualifications and expanding my service list for clients. In addition to my 20 years experience mainly in Website Design and Photo Editing I can now confidently offer the following services:
Custom Packaging & Product designs and visuals,
Product scene placement,
Mobile App Prototyping,
Course & Tutorial Creation,
Custom screen recorded tutorials & help videos,
Online Course creation.
Advanced Audio & Video Editing.
For more information and Portfolio samples, view my main site at ReverbStudios.ie.
Ok, my title is a bit misleading..it’s not a competition and you can, and possibly should still market both online and off and in any other way you see fit depending on who, where and what your potential customers are. But I wanted to convey an important point I heard at a creative workshop I attended recently. I’ve talked about the virtues of online versus print marketing before but never included this particular angle. Print marketing is still relevant especially here in Leitrim where there are still plenty of people without internet access or even computers and where the local newspaper still has a decent circulation and where everyone seems to know everyone else however, there’s one important other thing print ads can’t do that online can.
No matter what kind of print ad you see whether it’s a glossy flier, banner stand or 2 lines in the yellow pages, the ad is static and paid for with no referral or organic value, ie – no one to say this is the company you need, they are the best. In a list of ads for companies offering the same service in the yellow pages for example, no one ad stands out above another unless the advertiser pays a premium for a fancier add or bold title. Organic Google ads for example on the other hand will put the best and most relevant results first based on your search term. Google will usually place at the top of the search results list the companies with the best website presence, ie – the one with the best traffic, most links in, best social media presence, etc.. It may be safe to assume in most cases that a website with all of the above has got to number one because of conscientious business owners and it should be a company you can trust to do a good job.
It’s this online dynamism versus the static nature of print ads that is perhaps the single most important benefit online has over offline marketing especially now that more and more people are turning to online reviews and referrals to help them choose the right company.
Just thought I’d compile a list of bodies that may be able to provide financial assistance to businesses wishing to build a new website or innovate online in some way. If anyone knows any more, please leave details in the comments:
Ideally, your website would come high up the list of results on page one for a large range of Google keyword searches. Each potential customer would click on your entry in the results, land on your website, be impressed and sign up to your service or buy your products with hesitation. This is getting harder and harder to achieve as more businesses go online, more websites exist and more competition ensues. Gone are the days when just having a website and sticking a few keywords on it would bring hits. You really have to work to get a website found these days. You can do it by:
Promoting your web address online and offline,
Blogging, writing news posts,
Doing all of the above should give you a good chance but it’s time consuming and not for everyone. I find it effective but I’m in front of a computer all day anyway! What about businesses or tradesmen who rarely get to go online?
If you don’t have time to market your site and it’s not getting hits and making you money and you’re wondering why you have one and whether to keep it or not, please bare in mind the following few important points:
For less then €100 per year (My prices!) you get to have as much information about your business as you like online 24/7. It would cost a ton more to have a tiny spec of info in something like the yellow pages,
A Website is a great informational resource you can send people to manually/offline,
A professional website is a mark of quality and trust for a business,
Analyse website traffic for customer intention and trends,
Customer service, support and information for existing clients and customers,
Easier for others to refer business to you, ie – a web address is easier to remember than a phone number,
So if you’ve spent a relatively large amount of money on a website, please don’t let it go to waste over a few euros a year because it’s not bringing in business. It can prove very useful in many other ways.
Every now and then a client expresses some surprise a year after I build their site when they get an invoice from me for Domain & Hosting renewal. If I don’t mention the yearly fees in person or over the phone when building the site then at least the initial quotation and invoice as well as terms & conditions that everyone receives will clearly mention the “per year” prices. As a result of this unexpected or forgotten bill there can be a perception among some clients that a web designer is trying to pull a fast one by continually requesting money even though the site is already built and complete. I’ve also had other web designers question the price I charge for my own domain and hosting services. I will attempt to justify both here.
First things first. No matter who you go with to build your professional website, unless it’s some crappy free web building service, you will require both a web address (Domain name) and Website Hosting which is basically storage space for everything that will display on the site including text, images, databases etc.. Hosting also includes professional Email services, ie YourName@YourWebAddress.ie. Both of these things are rented as opposed to purchased one off. That’s just the way the industry works. There’s no option anywhere to buy those things for a once off fee. But at least once you are renting them or they are in your name. no one else can have them.
So baring that in mind, there are two choices for you as a business when you are having your site built:
Purchase both the domain and hosting yourself which will enable you to shop around for the best prices etc. Then forward the details to your designer who will setup and work with the system you’ve bought, or
Let the designer take the hassle and complexity out of the process of purchasing domains and hosting by organising it all for you.
In my own personal experience whenever I used to suggest that the client organise their own domain and hosting I was usually met with the response “I wouldn’t have a clue how to set that up. Will you do it for me?”. In which case I say yes no problem but there will be a yearly fee because I will have to pay for both a domain and hosting on your behalf. Most clients are happy to accept this. There’s also the issue of you buying hosting that isn’t suitable for your website or one that the designer is not familiar with and can’t work with so it’s really best to let them use a system they are familiar with.
However, one thing I’ve realised recently talking to other web designers is that they don’t all want the hassle of managing hosting and domains for clients and many would actually prefer if the client done that themselves so that if any issues arise with hosting being down, limits exceeded, domains expiring etc the designer is not obliged to help out and the client will have to contact the hosting company they used themselves. I think this is poor service and laziness from the designers especially considering that most clients wont be technically savvy enough to explain the issues at hand or even remember who to contact about it.
With regard to my pricing. I would guess that my domain and particularly hosting prices are somewhere between low to mid-range compared to others. That is to say they are definitely not the cheapest but not overly expensive either. For €79 per year (early 2016 prices) you get modern, professional hosting with email and also local support from someone who knows the right channels to go down when something goes wrong. Also, because I buy hosting in bulk form a third party, I can sell it on at a price that’s cheaper for the client then if they went to the same company directly. Hardly expensive in my opinion?