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My Tips for Dealing with Stress and Self-Doubt

stress, self-depression, self-doubt, mental illness, blog

I don’t always like to talk about this topic. It’s not something everyone knows about, and I’m not very good at being vulnerable. While I’ve never been officially diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I’ve had small tastes of it. Feeling like not doing anything because what’s the point? As if there’s nothing that can change your situation. Like the whole world is caving in around you. Like you’re the reason it is. It sucks. It really sucks. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one to deal with it either. And most likely, you know a few people who deal with it too, or maybe are one.

I specifically deal with really bad self-doubt. Things go wrong in my life, and I immediately jump to the “it’s my fault” conclusion. Being a pessimist/realist/barely optimistic doesn’t help. Working on it is a long and hard process, and I’ve been blessed with understanding and supportive friends. I’m nowhere near qualified to offer professional help, but I thought I would offer a few tips to how I help calm myself and cheer myself up. So here’s a few that I’ve found the most helpful to me.

1: Taking Deep Breaths

I know it’s cliche, but it really can help. Regulating your breathing can bring down your heart rate and forces you to focus on something other than what’s making you anxious, stressed, or upset. While it may not distract from it completely, it can divide your attention, which can still help.

2: Removing Yourself from the Situation/Distract Yourself

One of the things I try to do is remove myself from the situation, if I can. Staying in the stressful or upsetting situation can make things worse, so removing myself and distracting myself with other environments allows me to get a fresh perspective. But since, I’m still in college, removing myself from a stressful class or from people I know I still see everyday isn’t always possible. So instead I distract myself. Focusing on a different task like another assignment, trying to think of something else entirely, or if I can, just browsing the web. Whatever helps keep me from thinking about the situation can help a lot.

3: Do Something You Enjoy

One of the best ways I distract myself is by doing things I enjoy. Watching videos, reading, writing, playing video games, listening to music, things like that. This really helps get me away from thinking about whatever’s making me stressed or upset. Recently, I had a whole episode of self-depressive thoughts and self-doubt, and it took a little longer to bounce back from it than usual. I ended up going back and watching videos from some fandoms I had previously been a part of, which helped a lot with calming me down and distracting me from my thoughts. Doing things you enjoy, even little things, helps a lot with distracting from stress and upsetting thoughts.

4: Remembering It Isn’t True/That Bad

 Not everyone will find this last step easy. Heck, I don’t find it easy either. But if I’m able to calm myself down enough, I can usually talk myself down from the thoughts or the stress-induced panic. Again, it can take a little while to get there. That’s why this is the last step after calming down and distracting yourself. Reminding yourself that sometimes you can overthink things or that something you thought was true ended being wrong (which happens naturally a lot anyways) can help be the further push out of panic. Again, this isn’t an easy step, but if it can be reached and done, it can help as well.

I know for a fact that not all of these steps will help everyone. I don’t deal with chronic anxiety or depression, so my tips probably won’t help someone who does. But they can help someone who deals with situation or stress-induced anxiety or self-depressive thoughts. If you do suffer from chronic anxiety or depression, or other types of mental illnesses, I would strongly advise seeking counseling. Some of the best advice I got was from my counselor here at school, and her help was a blessing to me. So definitely try to find counseling.

Stress can be a nasty trigger for mental illnesses, but knowing how to handle stress can help make things a little easier. Again, my tips won’t help everyone, but I do want to share them for anyone who might want them. Until next time, readers. And know you aren’t alone.

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A Winter Wonderland?

winter, blog, college

Going to a college in the northern part of the country can be a bit of crapshoot. Sometimes winter is really cold, and sometimes it’s weird. Now maybe that’s just the state of Pennsylvania, because as anyone living here can tell you, the weather’s pretty weird in general. Most of the time, it’s freezing cold by the time mid-January hits. We typically get no snow for Christmas, but next week there’s a good three inches on the ground. And then winter goes through this love-hate stage where it can’t decide when it’s going to leave come March and April. Last year, winter stuck around a good while, till the first week of April, before it finally said goodbye.

So January 2017 starts, I come up to school early to get a class out of the way before the spring semester starts, and I’m prepared for the worst. Icy conditions, a foot of snow, and anything from 20 degrees to 20 below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. And it looks like at first, that’s how this two week class period is going to go. And then it reaches 50 degrees. 50. Degrees. And back home, a few hours south of my school, it was in the 60s. For January weather, that’s ridiculously warm. Not the warmest it’s ever gotten, but definitely unusual for this time of year.

In complete honesty, I really don’t mind it. The only time I like the cold is when there’s snow on the ground, so for it to be warm is a rather nice change. Some folks might get worried about global warming and climate change, but I don’t think that’s the case. Usually, the temperatures balance out here. If the winter is colder, the summer is warmer. If the winter is warmer, the summer is cooler. Weird weather is also pretty typical for Western Pennsylvania. And given that the Southern half of the US was hammered with snow a few weeks ago, I’d say this is following the weird weather trend on the East Coast.

While I don’t mind the warmer weather, it’s making me realize the cold isn’t all that bad. You don’t need an excuse to not go out when it’s cold. You can stock up on snacks and soups for the days you don’t want to cook anything. It’s an excuse to wear cute and comfy clothes all day. And you can go play in the snow, if there’s snow to play in. But with warmer weather, you can’t really use the weather as an excuse to not go out, unless it’s raining. You can still wear cute and comfy clothes, but you can’t play in the snow. No matter what winter is like, it seems to be a give-and-take. You either get really cold temperatures, but can stay indoors and snuggle up with yummy food. Or you get mild temperatures, but can’t escape going outside or play in the snow.

I’m hoping that the weather will get a little colder since I am starting to miss the snow, but I’ll enjoy the warmer temperatures while they last. And hope desperately that temperatures don’t touch the single digits during daylight hours at all this winter. I’ve been through that the past few winters, and I want nothing to do with them this winter. For now though, I’ll kick back, wait for the spring semester to start, and enjoy the warmer temperatures for the weekend with my friends.

So what’s your favorite part about winter? Are you someone who loves the cold, or do you prefer the milder winters? Let me know in the comments, and I will see you lovely readers in the next post. Until next time!

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7 Tips for Every College Senior’s Nightmare

blog, jobs, career, college, senior

Since I entered my senior year of college last semester, one thing has been nagging me. The dreaded job search. It’s the one thing every graduating student worries about. Where am I going now? What is the next step? For me, it’s especially difficult. I like writing, especially creative writing. But I’m also good at marketing and managing social media for companies. So where do I fit? Should I look for a marketing position or a writing job? Should I combo and go for a content creator? But I also want to do an MFA in Creative Writing. And a company hiring me for marketing might not be too keen on me skipping out on a few weeks of work to go write fiction at a low residency program. Maybe a writing job, but most of those are technical or professional writing. So what’s a girl to do?

While I may not know the direction I’m definitely going in, I have picked up some tips from websites and other adults about what I should be looking for. So here are a few of the general ones just for you guys.

1. Know where you can search: The first big step in the job search is knowing where to look. If your college has a job search site, that’s always a good place to start, but it won’t have everything. Another place to look are your favorite companies’ website’s “Careers” page or check their LinkedIn page. This allows you to see the jobs offered at a place you know you like. It’s also important to be familiar with the major job sites employers use. The top three are Indeed.com, Monster.com, and CareerBuilder.com. These are good spots to find jobs you can’t find looking through your college’s jobs site. That said…

2. Be aware of Fakers: There are a lot of “companies” that try to “hire” you to get your personal info and scam you. Sometimes these companies can slip through screening at the big sites since they can’t keep track of everyone (especially if they appear legitimate). Best thing to do is research the company that has the job you want before applying. Make sure they aren’t scams or companies who scam their customers. People often fall for this, and you don’t want to be the next victim. It’s also recommended not to post your resume on your account as many companies, legit and illegitimate, can see it. Instead, just attach it to the actual application when you’re applying. Now that we’ve talked about safety…

3. When searching, don’t limit yourself by location: Location is always something to keep in mind, but don’t let that define your job search. Use the job type for your main search, and keep location in mind without letting it rule your job search. With that in mind…

4. Be aware of all the keywords under your job type: There are plenty of different words used to describe any one job. Like typing “writer” into a job search can bring up “Content creator,” “Editor,” or “Publishing assistant.” It’s the same for all jobs. So be sure to make a list of all the keywords attached to your job type and explore them as well. You never know what you might find, and what you might never have thought of might be the perfect fit.

5. Understand you might not get the dream job right away: You’ve taken classes, done the research, and prepped yourself your entire college career for THE job. The one job you’ve always wanted. And you go out and apply to several (legit) companies offering the job. And get rejected by all of them. Well, it’s definitely not uncommon. Sure, some people get lucky and find their dream job, but don’t count on that luck. Instead, apply for positions you know you have at least some experience in and can learn from. If one of those includes your dream job, then go for it. But always have backup plans, just in case. However…

6. Don’t let your “lack” of experience stop you from applying: Say you find a few jobs you know you can do very well, but the company requires 3-5 years in ___ category. Guess you shouldn’t apply right? Wrong. When companies list out requirements, most of them should be taken at face value. But also understand that they’re looking for the ideal candidate, i.e. the PERFECT candidate. Which doesn’t exist. So if you see a (legit) job where you meet all but one or two requirements including years of experience, don’t let that hold you back. Apply for the job and see what happens. Obviously, you don’t want to do this with a high-level job like Senior or CEO or jobs you have no experience in whatsoever. But do apply for the ones you know you can do that “require” under 10 years of experience in something you know.

7. Use your college’s resources: Every college should have some way to help their students brave the job search. Be that a job search website companies can add to, getting in touch with alumni, or even interviews with companies on campus. Even your professors can be a big help if you ask them to be references. No matter what, be sure to look at the resources your college offers on jobs. They can be invaluable.

These are just a few of the tips I’ve learned from visiting websites and talking with others who’ve been in the workforce for a while. There are plenty of other folks out there who know the ropes of the job search, so I would definitely recommend check out other blogs and articles for tips. Whichever job search option you use, be it major site, college site, and/or your favorite companies’ sites, I wish you luck. Let’s rock the job search!

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As the New Year Begins: A Reflection on 2016

2016. I think most people can agree this wasn’t the greatest year we’ve had for the 21st century. Many people were taken from us, from beloved celebrities passing too early to friends and family members in many horrible incidents across the globe. Fights, anger, shootings, war, terror attacks, the presidential election, all of these have left their mark on 2016. The bad news: 2017 might not be much better. The good news: it doesn’t have to be.

2016 wasn’t the greatest year for most people. But it still had it’s bright moments. It brought us some fantastic movies. It was a chance for college students to show what they’re made of as they entered the work force. And it was a chance to start over, even if the next president-elect isn’t who anyone wanted (even those who voted for him). There were still holidays to celebrate with family. There were still new memories, new life, and constants throughout 2016. Many people I know celebrated a new addition to their family. They celebrated the chance to spend time with friends and family throughout the year. Despite the anger, the hardships, and the general negativity towards one another, people still found reasons to get up every morning and keep moving.

But what does this say about 2016 as a whole? There were no doubt some really nasty parts. The year starting off with several beloved celebrity deaths paved the way for heartbreak and mourning. The election primaries finishing with two candidates many didn’t want. ISIS’s grip on Europe slowly building up anger at refugees and hostility between both parties. And Syria’s situation becoming more and more messed up, horrifying, and confusing for those outside of Syria and Syrian civilians. Not much can be immediately thought of when it comes to good things in 2016. But doing a little digging provides a few victories in 2016.

Endangered animals like pandas and tigers are slowly regaining numbers. The money from the ALS Bucket Challenge was used for ALS research, which found the gene responsible for the disease. Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar (warning: there’s a video). Pokemon Go brought not only the world of Pokemon to life, but also encouraged a lot of people to go outside and interact while playing a virtual game. Harry Potter fans were transported back into the wizarding world with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And millions of students worldwide entered their last year at university or high school/secondary school before they start the next chapter of their lives. All of this happening with the 12 months that were 2016.

Yeah, 2016 did not look good for a lot of people. Unfortunately, there aren’t high chances that 2017 will be much better. But that doesn’t mean it has to be. The good things that happened last year happened because we decide to make them happen. We decided to put in the effort to help endangered animals. We managed to raise that money, even though it was a few years back, to research the gene for ALS. And we decided to take charge of our lives, enjoy the entertainment given to us, be it Pokemon or Harry Potter, and start preparing for the next chapter in our lives where it takes us. And that’s what the new year is for.

2017 is a new chance. Sure, it’ll be scary. There are opportunities for failure. But so is every year. So instead of getting worried about what the new year might bring, let’s hold strong and not just hope things will get better. Let’s make things better. Here’s to you, 2016. Thanks for preparing us for the road ahead.

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What I’ve Learned about Digital Marketing

marketing, blog, digital marketing

For the past semester, I have been taking a digital marketing class. Hence, the majority of these posts being about digital marketing. It’s been a semester of learning new things and reminders of older things that I learned from a basic marketing class I took last year. Marketing itself isn’t super easy, and adding the extra dimension of digital can mess with people’s understanding of marketing.

Traditional marketing focused just getting your name out there and was a one-way trip: company to customer through advertising. Usually, marketing was supposedly sell you something. A product, a service, something you could buy and use. Word-of-mouth was also helpful in getting more customers in. But marketing’s specifics have changed recently. Now that marketing has moved online, a new dimension appeared: customer to company.

With the new addition of customer to company, companies now had to be aware customer response to them. Social media especially forced the change, since the point of social media is to connect with others. So now companies not only had to be aware of what they were saying, but how customers were responding.

For people like myself, who’ve grown up in the digital era, this isn’t nearly as tough as for those who grew up with the traditional advertising practices. But that doesn’t guarantee that millennials are fantastic at digital marketing. It just means we’re familiar with the social media side of the Internet. That doesn’t mean we’d know exactly the way to reach customers for an industrial company or a hardware store though.

But the biggest thing I learned from this class isn’t that digital marketing is the next step in marketing. It isn’t that we as millennials are best equipped to become marketers in today’s digital world. It isn’t even that mobile is the newest platform everyone should be focused on. It’s that marketing is constantly evolving. New stuff appears every day and then falls away the next year. It’s hard for even millennials to keep up with the changes. And as these changes keep coming, every marketer needs to be alert.

Tomorrow, there might be a whole new social media platform. In the next decade, the Internet might not exist in the same way or at all. Mobile might disappear. The future of digital marketing isn’t set in stone, so we have to stay alert to the changes in the digital world as time goes on. In the end, it’s up to not just marketers, but other company employees and even customers, to keep an eye on the changing digital world. After all, who knows where the next change will take us?

(Well, that ends a semester of digital marketing posts. It’s been a good past few months, and while I’ll be focusing on non-marketing related content from here on, I’m hoping to make a few posts on social media as time goes on. For now though, it’s onto the next adventure! Until next time, readers!)

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How to Build a Website for Beginners Part 4 – Marketing

blog, social media, marketing, website, building

In this series, I’ve covered the initial terms of website builders, the features every website needs, and the overall design of a website. Obviously, there were some gaps in the information since it’s hard to cover everything in just four posts. This is why I spoke a lot about doing research on your own when you’re building your website. But there’s one more category to go over: Marketing.

Marketing allows you to make sure your website is seen by others, whether they’re customers, readers, or followers. Even the perfect website isn’t much without visitors.  Social media is the best way to market a new website, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on. Some other methods exist, but most of them use social media in some manner. Since it’s different depending on whether you’re creating a personal/individual website or a company website, I’ll be splitting this up into those two sections, though there is some overlap between the two.

Marketing Company Websites on Social Media

For marketing company websites, you need to focus on where your audience is and what they’re expecting. The first thing you can do is include your website URL in your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. If you haven’t yet, you need to create social media profiles to reach your online customers. LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media platforms for businesses. Creating a LinkedIn, a Facebook page, and a Twitter can greatly increase customer interaction on top of putting a place to market your products, services, and website. These are the main social media platforms, where are large chunk of people are. YouTube is another important main platform, but it’s best to use if you know for sure you’ll be making company videos. You can share the videos you make on the platform to Facebook or Twitter to increase your company’s reach online as well.

If you run a fashion, travel, or crafting company, Pinterest is an excellent platform to post products, blog posts, and photos from your site. Pinterest caters to a specific group of women who enjoy or want to learn about cooking, sewing, crafts, and makeup. Users also pin clothing items and accessories that they want or pictures from places they want to visit. Instagram is another good platform to use if you’re in any of these businesses as well. You can link your website in both social media platforms and post/pin pictures from your site.

Tumblr is an option if you can angle your content for a younger audience. Tumblr is a micro-blogging site where many folks from age 13 to late 20s and older post about what they enjoy and respond to posts by others. Denny’s is one of the few companies to efficiently use the platform. You can share posts and photos from your website and link to it on your profile as well. If you have a younger staff member familiar with tumblr, it’s worth trying to start a tumblr blog. Just know it’s not for everyone.

Marketing Personal/Individual Websites on Social Media

For personal websites, especially blogs, marketing on social media is a little easier. Obviously using a Twitter and Facebook help the most, considering the large number of people on those sites. Once again, if you focus a lot on images, food, fashion, DIY projects, or travel, Pinterest and Instagram are two excellent platforms for sharing your website content. Tumblr also works a lot better for bloggers and individual websites than business, so getting a tumblr can help market your website. If you’re into vlogging, YouTube is another good platform to try. Sharing videos from YouTube to your other social media can boost your online presence as well.

Another thing to do with social media is find groups and communities to connect with other bloggers or individuals in your industry. This can help you gain followers and credibility as an individual online. Many groups exist on Facebook for this exact purpose, and following those people on other social media like Twitter and Instagram can help you build connections in your industry.

Social Media Tips for Both Website Types

No matter what type of website you’ve created, you need to remember to share/pin/post product images, blog posts, photos, and other text from your website. Posts linking back to your website will help get your website name out there on top of your content. Plus, it’s an added bit of free advertising when others share your content as well.

Another tip is, after setting up your social media, to get the business versions. I did this with my Twitter and Pinterest, and it’s been very insightful to what performs well on my profiles. I’m looking into changing my Instagram into a business account as well, and Facebook pages are made for business interactions and data. Facebook pages can be used by either companies or individuals looking to promote themselves without cutting into their personal profile. That way it doesn’t look preachy to post a bunch blog posts, especially if you don’t use your personal profile often.

Conclusion

And thus ends the last part of me “How to Build a Website for Beginners” blog series. I know I haven’t been very specific in most of what I’ve written, but that’s because there’s far too much information to include in just four posts, even ten posts. This is why I constantly stressed doing outside research on the type of website you’re building. Look up websites within your industry of choice. What are they doing with their website design? How are they marketing their page? Is there something they’ve done successfully that you can try?

In the end, there are many subjective or complicated answers to these and other questions. While I can’t definitely answer them for you, I can at least try to point you in the right direction. And that’s what the purpose of this series is. To point you, the website owner, to where you need to look next. Wherever that next step is, I wish you luck. And remember to keep trying no matter the struggle. Thank you, readers. Until next time!

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Twitter and Its Hidden Marketing Power

Social media is the backbone of digital marketing. It has become the most integral part of marketing companies, products, even people groups. With many different social media platforms to chose from, companies have a wide range of content they can produce to reach a wide range of people. Of these platforms however, there is none more brutal and more honest than Twitter.

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows users to post 140 character tweets. The content is up to the user, as long as it’s under or exactly 140 characters. The restriction creates some very interesting results, forcing users to be quite witty with their words. Memes especially start on Twitter, with users photoshopping photos with funny text and posting them with a short, extra caption. With a wide variety of users, there’s many chances to meet new customers. At the same time, companies have to be careful of how they interact with Twitter users and how they handle press, especially after creating a Twitter account.

Twitter is easy to market on if you can be witty and smart about what to post. But it can also provide very humbling experiences. Twitter’s community is notorious for mocking and destroying companies who make bad PR and marketing moves, particularly on Twitter. Because the site focuses on in the moment news, and things become viral very quickly, a bad marketing decision can make the news fast. If your company makes a bad move, by either newsjacking inappropriately, making a bad joke, using a hashtag incorrectly on Twitter, Twitter can quickly use the opportunity to bash and make fun of your company.

While most companies try to avoid these circumstances because of the bad rep they get, these can also be good marketing experiences. Yes, your company will be portrayed negatively, but within this is a second chance. A chance to show that you can own up to the mistake and come back from it. If you look at most of the companies that have made gaffs on Twitter, they’re still alive and kicking.

Even if you make a mistake on Twitter, it doesn’t mean the end of your company on social media. Again, most companies who end up making small mistakes on Twitter continue to exist on the platform. Mistakes are only detrimental if you respond badly to being called out. There’s many ways to come away from a social media mess up and remain okay. Get back up, laugh with everyone, admit the mistake, apologize when necessary, or (if it’s small enough) ignore it and move on. If you’re worried about the mark on your reputation, think about it from the customer’s viewpoint. They see it as you messing up and losing their trust. Admitting there was a mistake lets the customer know you as a company want to improve. You can ignore the mistake if it’s small, though. If it’s extremely inappropriate, then it should be addressed and apologized for.

While there are many ways companies can make right what they’ve done wrong, there are many more ways companies can further mess it up. Namely, refusing to admit a mistake was made or making a similar mistake later on. These can really make a company look bad because it looks like they don’t care. The customers see a company that messed up and lost their trust. And then flat out said nothing was wrong and perhaps made the same mistake later on that year. This brings down reputation far more than admitting the mistake and learning from it.

In the end, you have to be careful of how you handle marketing gaffs on Twitter. Mistakes aren’t super common on Twitter, but they can still happen. When they do, you have to weigh out how you’ll react. Will you decide to admit the mistake and apologize or laugh it off with the others? Or will you refuse to admit the mistake and risk making it again? The choice can decide your company’s reputation on Twitter. Choose wisely.

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How to Build a Website for Beginners Part 3 – Design

blog, website, building, design

The last two parts have covered the basic lingo of website building and the basic features every website needs and some that might be wanted. While these two topics contain elements of subjectivity, depending upon what site you’re creating, this post covers a more objective topic: Design. Design is crucial for making your site look legitimate. Now if you’re basing your website off of another site that is well-designed, chances are your site will also be well-designed. But what makes a well-designed site?

Design can be tricky to maneuver for someone unfamiliar with the terms and function of details. Some important terms to keep in mind are fonts, headings, ad placement, and sidebars. These terms refer to specific details tied to your website and how it looks. These are necessary parts of a website, and if they aren’t used correctly, can make a website look unappealing. Each element impacts a website differently but still holds the same weight. There’s a lot to cover, so bear with me.

1: Fonts

Fonts are the backbone of the site’s content. Fonts refer to the style the text is written in on the site. There are many different types you can use, but they generally fall into two categories: Serif and Sans Serif. Serif fonts are often used in books and as titles, and are characterized by extra details in the letters. Times New Roman, Georgia, and Garamond fall under this category. Sans Serif fonts are popular online fonts that are characterized by minimal and simple details. Arial, Helvetica, and Calibri belong to this category.

Of these, it’s generally best to use Sans Serif fonts, especially Helvetica if you can get access to it. Serif fonts are best for headers and heading text, though it can be used for blogs depending on its style. Using extremely fancy script fonts should be kept to a minimum unless it serves the purpose of a super header, like the title on my website. Even then, script fonts don’t belong on every site, especially if you’re making a site for an industrial company.

One rule stands for sure: Never. Use. Comic Sans. That font had it’s time, and that time has long past. The font is universally seen as unprofessional and childish and has no place on a website.

2: Headings

Headings as a feature is a little more forgiving. You can use more elaborate fonts for them, especially as titles for pages or the homepage. For post headings, you want something in a similar font to the main body text that is larger and slightly flourished. Title headings can be a little more elaborate, sometimes in script depending on the website. Normally, an elaborate or strong serif font works best, like Times New Roman or Perpetua or Garamond. For more industrial-type websites, a Sans Serif font like Helvetica or Arial works for headers.

In terms of content, headings should short and sweet. Using long and drawn out headers can bore readers and and contributes to poor performance on the website. Instead, use short and straight-to-the-point phrases, but don’t be deceptive. If a heading needs to be a little long, than that’s okay. Just don’t make a habit of it. Headings are sign posts after all. No one wants to read sign posts as long as a dictionary entry.

3: Sidebars

Sidebars are the parts of a web page on either both or one side of the page. Usually these contain ads, recent blog posts, blog categories, blog tags, page links, short bits of information about the website or website author, or links to specific pages. The exact content depends on the type of website you’re creating, blog or business or informational. However, there are a few things necessary for sidebars.

While most website themes and builders, especially if you use WordPress, will allow you to choose which side the sidebar is on, many website creators choose to have the sidebar on the right side of the page. I have it like that, and most of the websites I’ve visited (besides maybe some academic websites) have sidebars only on the right side. Some academic and business sites will have sidebars on both sides, but the typical choice is the right side.

Another thing to realize is that if you don’t include a sidebar on a page, you’ll need to find a way to turn sidebars off for that page. Most WordPress themes have an option to switch sidebars on and off. For Wix and Weebly, you can simply opt out of adding sidebars. If you’re using WordPress, and leave the sidebars empty, the website will have empty space where the sidebar is supposed to be. This can look unappealing to visitors, so you need to either use the sidebar or turn if off/don’t add it where it’s not needed.

4: Color

Color is usually dependent on the color scheme of the company you’re working for, but in general there are several colors you want to avoid. Neon and bright colors especially don’t show up well on computer screens, unless they’re either part of a gradient color or placed against a black background. Also, colors of similar hues can be used, but not side-side-by-side. If one color is placed against another that looks very similar, it’s hard to distinguish between them, especially is one is text and one is background.

It’s preferable to use either a light background and dark text or a dark background and light text for websites. Adding gray tones to colors can also make them easy on visitors’ eyes and looks better in general. It’s also preferable to only have two or three, maybe four, main colors for the website. Having more than four can clutter a website’s screen, and the colors will often clash with one another. The extra colors will also take people’s attention away from where it should be on the page.

5: Advertisments

The last one might be one of the most important parts of website design. If you’ve created a website as a means of revenue, then you’d most likely use ads as one way to earn money. This an incredibly popular way of earning money online, usually on blogs, news sites, and pretty much any type of website made to earn money. There are two things to note with this section: ad types and ad placement.

Ads can be created for all sorts of organizations and businesses from banks to groceries to video games to technology to appliances to hardware stores. You name it, there’s most likely an ad out there for it. When choosing ads, you want to make sure they match the audience your blog attracts. So if your website is for an industrial company or a blog on food and recipes, video game and technology ads might not be the best choice. You also want to make sure the advertisements are coming from legitimate sources. Many fraudulent people will create fake ads to scam people or download viruses.

Ad placement is also crucial, especially if a fake ad makes it onto your site through the ad source. Poor ad placement is detrimental to a website’s design. Poor ad placement intrudes on in-page content and makes ads huge. This makes it hard for visitors to read content and makes it easy to click on ads with a finger slip on mouse or touchscreen.  Instead, put ads on the sidebars, where they don’t disrupt visitors’ view of the page, and don’t make them pop-ups. For mobile, you can place small ones at the top and bottom of the page content. Above all, make sure ads take up no more than about a sixth of the width of the page.

Conclusion

Website performance depends a lot on the design and presentation of the front page. Many visitors come through the shiny gates of the front page, so making sure it’s presentable a good way to make sure they stay to visit for a while. That doesn’t mean the rest of the website can be left in disrepair. Make sure colors and fonts are consistent through out the entire site. Make sure sidebars perform properly or don’t existent. Make sure headings don’t take up too much of the page and are clear so readers know where they are. And make sure ads won’t sneak up on anyone through pop-ups or from within the page content.

Design is incredibly important for a website’s performance. Without it, a website can be brushed off as cheap and behind the times or simply ugly. Keeping an eye on the above sections and  following the above guidelines can help your website look appealing and well-designed. And that’s it for Part 3 of “How to Build a Website for Beginners”. Next post in this series will cover the final step: marketing your website. Until next time, readers!

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Why I Considered Quitting Facebook Pages

When it comes to marketing, there are many social media platforms to use. Twitter offers a place for quick, in the moment, posts. LinkedIn offers a place for professional or industry specific posts. Instagram offers a place for visual posts. YouTube offers a place for video posts or vlogs. Snapchat is a more private instant photo and video-sharing platform. And Facebook offers a place for… all of the above? Most social media platforms have a niche type of posts, but Facebook is different. There is no particular niche. Just whatever the user decides to post.

Facebook is one of the older social media platforms, with YouTube being the oldest of the ones mentioned. Originally, it had been created specifically for text posts. Pictures and videos could be added, but that wasn’t the sole point. Eventually, photos became more prominent on the site, since it was an easy way for users to show what they were up to with friends and family. More recently, Facebook added live video-streaming to their features, as well as making it easier for users to upload videos.

For the average user, these features are fun and can be used interchangeably for an all-around experience. But what about for marketers managing Facebook pages? There is no set function for Facebook pages besides to keep customers up-to-date on the company. Which is the primary function of all businesses accounts across social media For the larger companies who have marketing teams geared towards social media, this isn’t as big an issue. But for smaller companies who have a few individuals or perhaps only one person dedicated to doing all the marketing or social media, it can be a lot harder.

I fall into this second category. For the past year or so, I’d been using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to promote myself as a writer and personality. Well, I’ve been trying to anyways. Twitter, I’ve found to be the easiest. You write a quick blurb about the day or a random thought and send it out. Easy-peasy. Instagram, you take a picture of what you’re doing, caption it with something insightful or funny, and send it out. Simple and straightforward. But that’s not the case for Facebook. Sure, you can share all your posts from other social media to Facebook, but you can do the same with Twitter, too. So what’s Facebook’s catch? How do you effectively use a social media platform where you can post whatever you want?

One way you could approach it is focusing on text posts like articles and blurbs. Another approach is focusing on photos and videos, especially live videos. The best approach does seem to be mixing text and photos, and maybe a few videos. For companies, this is pretty straightforward. You share posts from your website, new products, and press releases while posting pictures and videos or new products and things that happen within the company.

For personalities though, it isn’t as intuitive, especially when my current audience was only family members and a few sparse friends. Was I supposed to share blog posts on my website? Was I supposed to post pictures of my everyday life? But that’s what I had used my personal account for. Videos maybe? But that’s what I was using YouTube for. So what was my Facebook page for besides sharing blog posts? There was some type of barrier between Facebook pages and my own posting style. And this barrier was, and still is, having a large impact on how I was using Facebook pages. Or not using it.

In the end, I have decided that since I knew I hadn’t been using Facebook pages to the best I could, I would keep with it. Facebook isn’t the most intuitive platform, but that doesn’t mean I should give up on it. Marketing is about taking risks and figuring out what works. I still haven’t figured out how my Facebook page will work, what types of posts to, well, post, or how to attract other friends to visit and like my page. But I’m willing to stick with it until I’m able to discover my niche on Facebook and how to market on it properly. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters.

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Holiday Marketing in the Digital World

With the holiday season upon us, the need to promote one’s business or product is important. Among all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, companies need to be aware of where their customers are shopping. So how does a company do this in the digital realm?

There are a variety of techniques marketers can use to promote their companies. There are some obvious techniques, but they are still effective and worth using. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s unusable. At the same time, some techniques might need to be tweaked to fit the new marketing tools and strategies. So what still works? Obviously, there’s the advertisements on TV and plastered throughout the Internet. But what are ways companies can really use digital marketing during the holiday season? Turns out, there are quite a few.

1: The Giveaway

One of the most well known marketing techniques, for holidays and the rest of the year, is giveaways. Many companies will provide a contest or sweepstakes to win a gift set of products, particularly jewelry, clothes, or makeup. Others who sell entertainment or services might create a giveaway for a discounted or free account/service/package deal from themselves or a different company they’ve partnered with.

2: Video Series

Another way to market during the holidays is doing a video series. This particularly applies to digital service companies providing lectures, books, or other ways of learning to customers. The video series can be used to highlight the holiday season or announce free or discounted lectures or books. Sometimes companies selling products will create a video series specifically for marketing their products during the holidays.

3: Online Discounts

This one is pretty obvious. Many times, companies will offer holiday sales on products or services. This is the most common practice, which isn’t surprising. One of the most persuasive things for customers is getting what they want for cheaper than the original price. Sales are the most popular form of marketing during the holiday. But adding the incentive of online purchases can also boost prices, considering many people now shop online rather than in stores. So online sales often boost the overall sales for a company.

4: Sharing/Following

Some companies market by asking followers to share a post or encouraging new fans to follow their page to get a discount or enter into a giveaway. Some companies simply promote following their pages to continue getting discount codes and notifications when sales occur. It’s an easy way for current customers to keep up with the company, and combined with holiday sales and discounts, can provide an extra marketing boost.

Stepping up marketing strategy during the holidays can really give companies a boost in sales, followers, and performance later in the year. The digital marketing realm offers a lot of other opportunities beyond the traditional means. While not all company can use every the strategies above, just using one can still give companies a boost, especially around the holidays. The holidays are among of the busiest shopping times of the year. With so many current and potential customers shopping and looking at stores in the digital, marketing to these customers is especially important.