Web Design

How To Start A Business in Pennsylvania

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How To Start A Business In Pennsylvania

The key to success is simple: do not give up. 

Starting a business in Pennsylvania can be a daunting task for individuals with no entrepreneurial or legal experience. As a matter of fact, hundreds of thousands of individuals with great business ideas fail to follow through and pursue them due to an inability to obtain the proper information and guidance needed to begin. I always tell people that the difference between a successful business and a failed one is that the owner(s) behind the successful business did not give up. To be in a position to succeed, you first have to get your business started.

Create a very detailed business proposal.

The very first thing a prospective business owner needs to do is come up with a business plan. While this business plan may be hammered out over many conversations and sleepless nights, it must be put down in writing. Your business plan should be extremely detailed, and needs to cover every aspect. At a minimum, your business plan should include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Overview: legal structure, type of business, location, means of doing business
  • Operations Plan: how the business will function
  • Market Analysis: overview of the market as a whole; define your target market
  • Products & Services
  • Sales & Marketing: pricing and sales information
  • Competitive Analysis: strengths and weaknesses of competitors
  • Management Team
  • Financial Plan
  • Projections

You can find a sample business proposal here.

Determine the type of business organization to use. 

Once you decide to establish a business, you first consideration will be the type of business organization to use. Legal and tax considerations, as well as personal needs and the needs of the particular business, will help determine your structure. There are four principal kinds of business structures: sole proprietorships, partnerships (general or limited), limited liability companies and corporations.

  • Sole Proprietorships:  Most small businesses operate as sole proprietorships. This is the simplest form of organization and allows the single owner to have sole control and responsibility. Some advantages of the sole proprietorship include less paperwork, few legal restrictions, owner retention of profits and ease in discontinuing the business. Disadvantages include unlimited personal liability for all debts and liabilities of the business, limited ability to raise capital and termination of the business upon the sole proprietor’s death.
  • Partnerships: Partnerships are similar to sole proprietorships except that two or more people are involved. Some advantages of partnerships include easy establishment and the ability to draw upon financial and managerial strengths of all the partners. Disadvantages include general partners’ unlimited personal liability for the firm’s debts and liabilities, termination of the business with the death of a partner and the fact that any partner can commit the firm to obligations.
  • Limited Liability Companies: Limited liability companies (LLCs) are popular because, similar to corporations, owners have limited personal liabilities for the debts and actions of the LLC. Other features of LLCs are more like a partnership, providing management flexibility and the benefit of pass-through taxation. Owners of an LLC are called members. Since most states do not restrict ownership, members may include individuals, corporations, other LLCs and foreign entities. There is no maximum number of members. Most states also permit single-member LLCs and LLCs jointly owned by husband and wife.  A few types of businesses cannot be LLCs, such as banks, insurance companies and nonprofit organizations.
  • Corporations: Limited liability companies (LLCs) are popular because, similar to corporations, owners have limited personal liabilities for the debts and actions of the LLC. Other features of LLCs are more like a partnership, providing management flexibility and the benefit of pass-through taxation. Owners of an LLC are called members. Since most states do not restrict ownership, members may include individuals, corporations, other LLCs and foreign entities. There is no maximum number of members. Most states also permit single-member LLCs and LLCs jointly owned by husband and wife. A few types of businesses cannot be LLCs, such as banks, insurance companies and nonprofit organizations.

Gather Documents Needed For Your Business Structure

If you are going to be a sole proprietor, you are all set. You do not need to file any paperwork, and you will not need an EIN, as all tax filings will be done using your SSN. If you are going to be operating as any other formation, right off the bat, appoint a registered agent for your business (typically, this is you, the business owner). To be considered as an agent, the agent must be a PA resident or a registered business entity with a physical street address in PA, not a P.O. Box, authorized by the Sec. of State.. Once that is decided upon, in order to legally conduct business through your corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania. You will want to follow all instructions carefully, and follow all publication requirements, if applicable.

Obtain an Employer Identification Number and Open a Business Bank Account

Employer identification numbers are used to identify the tax accounts of employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partner- ships, estates, trusts and other entities. If you are operating a business in Pennsylvania, you need to obtain an EIN for tax purposes. To get one, you can complete a form at www.irs.gov and it will be issued instantly upon submission. Once you have your EIN and articles of incorporation (if applicable), you should then obtain a business bank account. There are two primary reasons to open unique business bank accounts. The first of which has everything to do with the perks different banks/credit unions offer (local, state, national) with tons of different fee structures, incentives, kickbacks, and other business services. There are a fair number so be sure and check around. The second has to do with making your finances easier by syncing the single account with an accounting software and adding a huge layer of protection by being separated from any other business/personal accounts. Call ahead at your chosen bank. Most banks require the EIN document from the IRS and the Articles of Incorporation; some require additional documents such as a business license from the local city/county or the corporation’s Bylaws.

Obtain a URL and Begin Establishing an Internet Presence

Over 70% of consumers and businesses turn to Google to find a product or service. Therefore, establishing an internet presence is absolutely critical to the fate of a new business. As soon as a business is formed, at a minimum, the owners should be contacting web design companies to get information about having a website developed. A competent web design agency will not only advise on the steps that have to be taken in order to begin having a website developed, but they should also be advising on creating a comprehensive plan to establish an overall internet presence. As a business owner, you want to be proactive and create what individuals will see when they google your business name. The best place to start is by creating social media pages for your business; a Google business profile; and profiles on the major business directories such as yellowpages.com, superpages.com, yelp.com, angieslist.com, and more. By doing this, your business will become visible online and gain credibility by individuals who “Google” you.

If you have a startup, or are considering taking the steps to start a business, we would love to help. Give us a call at 215-621-8441 or submit an inquiry here and we will get in touch with you right away.

 

8 Ways To Write A Better Blog Post

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It’s no secret that blogging is a critical component to any content marketing strategy, and a blog should be implemented with the website design for every small business.

Google (and the other search engines, of course) love to see fresh content and blogging is one of the best ways to provide just that.

Plus, maintaining a regular blog on your website and using each blog post as an opportunity to target relevant keywords can be a great way to boost your SEO.

With all that being said, it’s safe to assume that blogging is important.

And it’s not going anywhere soon.

However, maintaining a consistent blog and creating regular blog posts can be a bit of a daunting task – especially if writing really isn’t your strong suit.

So, if you’re struggling to create solid blog posts on a regular basis, here are 8 of our favorite ways to write a better blog post.

How to Write a Better Blog Post_11. THINK ABOUT RELEVANT KEYWORDS TO INCLUDE

As previously mentioned, incorporating relevant keywords into your blog posts can be a great way to improve the overall SEO of your website. Pay attention to the things that people are searching for in your industry, or better yet, do a bit of keyword research and come up with a list of solid keywords to target within your blog posts.

2. USE HEADINGS AND SUBHEADINGS TO BREAK UP THE TEXT

Be honest with yourself – how often do you skim read articles online instead of reading the whole thing through from start to finish? I’m guessing this happens more often than not. And let’s be real – that pretty common. Using subheadings within your post (like the numbered list items here) helps to break things up and ultimately creates a blog post that’s much easier to read.

3. BULLET POINTS AND NUMBERED LISTS ARE YOUR FRIENDS

Continuing on with the same train of thought, bullet points and numbered lists are great for improving the readability (and skimability) of any blog post. So, for example, instead of writing a long-winded paragraph, try thinking about the key pieces of information being presented within that paragraph and arrange those items in a list format instead.

4. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE WITH SHORTER PARAGRAPHS

Lists are great, of course, but your entire blog post can’t be just one giant bullet-pointed list. Keep readability rates up by writing shorter, snippier paragraphs. Blogs posts aren’t supposed to be college essays. They’re meant to be informational, educational, sometimes entertaining, and always easy and quick to read. Using shorter paragraphs helps to achieve this.

5. ALWAYS INCLUDE AN INTRODUCTION AND A CONCLUSION

The introduction of your blog post is extremely important, as this is your one and only opportunity to ‘hook’ your reader and try to keep them reading on into the meat of your post. The best way to do this is by creating an engaging intro section, something that is interesting and really resonates with readers. Equally important though is the conclusion, as this is your opportunity to sum things up and segue into a call to action.

6. TRY INCLUDING A SUMMARY SECTION AT THE END

Chances are good that most people will be skimming your blog post – at least upon first read-through. Including an organized summary section at the end of your post that briefly touches on what you’ve previously discussed can really help to draw the stragglers back in. This is especially helpful if you’ve written quite a lengthy blog post and want to end on a high note.

7. DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE EVER-IMPORTANT CALL TO ACTION

It’s always important to include some sort of call to action at the end of your blog posts. Now, this doesn’t have to be something salesy or promotional. It can be a simple as asking people to respond to a question in the comments or share your post on social media. Whatever it is, the important thing is that you’re giving your readers a ‘next step’ – something to do immediately after reading your blog post to keep them engaged with your content.

8. KEEP AN ONGOING LIST OF TOPIC IDEAS GOING

Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts on the fly. That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep a notebook handy (physical or digital) to record blog post ideas when you happen to think of them. And if you’re planning to post regular blog content, creating an editorial calendar can be a great way to organize your thoughts and keep track of your content ideas.

IN CONCLUSION…

So that’s it. Hopefully, you’ve found these blogging tips helpful and can use some of them right away in your own blog posts.

And if you still need some help, don’t worry – we love writing blogs and creating content marketing strategies for our clients.

If you’d like us to help, feel free to shoot us an email at hello@janismarketing.com, give us a call at 215-621-8441, or fill out our contact form here.

Four Steps To Creating Better Content

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Content marketing is one of the most buzzed about terms in the marketing game. For what reason? It works! I should say, it can work with the right strategy and execution. Even with highly-budgeted distribution, poor content is at a disadvantage against great content when it comes to quality conversions. So what does quality content look like? How do we create relevant content for our audiences and how do we measure success as a Philadelphia web design agency?

Hold onto your seats, we’re going to break it down in 4 simple steps:

1. Clarify Objectives And Performance Metrics

A first and critical step to any good marketing strategy is to get crystal clear on your business’s objectives and the desired outcomes of the project. Understanding what key performance indicators (KPI’s) to track and what conversion you are after will be very helpful in deciding both the medium and the message. Here are some examples of potential content marketing objectives and KPI’s to get the ideas started:

  • Increase website traffic by ____%.
  • Create ____ new sales leads.
  • Add ____ more users to our email newsletter.
  • Create more awareness & conversation around our brand.
  • Increase our social media following on the ________ platform.

Work through these exercises with your team before diving into content creation, it will help tremendously with the direction of your content and measurement of your success.

2. Define And Empathize With Your Audience

Now that you have gotten clear on the objectives and performance metrics of your content marketing campaign, what audience will help you get there? Make a list of potential audiences that your content can serve and decide on one or two critical audiences for your campaign.

Try stepping into their shoes and working through a role-playing exercise. Try writing out questions or content topics that they would seek out on their own. What would this individual research on their spare time or in the workplace? Now is the time to start brainstorming content ideas making a priority list.

3. Finding A “Home” For Your Content

After you define the objectives, metrics, and audiences for your campaign, it is time to distribute and get your content seen! Now is the time to decide the primary medium of your content. Will it be a Facebook Post? Website Blog? YouTube Video?

Social networks and other marketing channels shouldn’t only be thought of as distribution tools but as individual platforms to create compelling content natively. This part is actually so important that we actually wrote another blog about it.

Every platform offers a unique user experience and typically serves a specific content style best. For example, here are a couple campaign goals and distribution strategies you could take:

  • Website Traffic: Try hosting your content on a website blog and then distributing teasers on social or email.
  • Educational Whitepaper: Experiment with LinkedIn Slideshare or Medium blogs.
  • Increase Email List: Offer a valuable e-book in exchange for an email opt-in.
  • Product Sales: Create YouTube videos where specific problems are solved with the use of your product.

While it may be tempting to create a general piece of content for all platforms, know that there is a big difference between personalized and targeted content. Make sure your content has a home base that is in line with the mindset of your audience and your campaign objective.

4. Publish, Measure, Repeat.

Now that your content is out there, it’s time to collect data and develop insights for the next round! The more narrow your content topic, the longer it may take for it to gain traction and show results. Make sure to be patient and keep an eye on your performance metrics that were defined previously in step 1.

Is your content not getting enough attention? Consider incorporating your content into your digital advertising budget or refining your keyword strategy. Having a hard time converting your audience? Consider revising or experimenting with your calls to action or conversion funnel.

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While there are several content marketing strategies and tactics out there, we hope this four-step process helps you simplify your idea generation and create better content!

Looking for even more help with your digital marketing? Get in touch with Janis Marketing  today.

Top 10 Reasons To Use WordPress For Your New Website

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WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world and is responsible for over 60% of the sites that use CMS on the Internet. In fact, it powers one in every 5 websites on the Internet and helps 100,000 new sites come online every day.

As a web design company, we love WordPress, and every website we develop is on their platform. So what are the top 10 reasons why using WordPress will benefit your website too?

#1 : WordPress Is Open-Source

It means that there are thousands of WordPress developers all around the world working day and night to improve the system. And none of what they do costs you a penny. Free security and feature updates, every quarter? You bet. Can you say that about your CMS provider?

What used to be WordPress’s biggest disadvantage – its open-source nature (in other words, no-one owns it, so no-one is obliged to support it) — has actually become its greatest strength. The community of WordPress developers all over the globe who continue to improve it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is hard to compete with.

#2: WordPress Suppliers? Not A Problem!

When you use WordPress, one of the things you will realize is that you’ll never be locked down to a particular provider again. You will never have to go through the same “hostage” situation where your website is developed on a unique, bespoke system and you can’t move it to a new provider.

With WordPress, you have access to an almost unlimited pool of developers.

#3: WordPress Makes SEO Easy

 WordPress started life as a blogging platform, but has evolved into a robust content management system that is flexible enough to be used for far more than blogging. The amazing heritage that WordPress is famous for and which has made it loved by bloggers and marketers alike is its highly effective search engine optimization (SEO) features, which are baked into the core of the CMS. And you can’t put a price on good SEO optimization!

#4: WordPress Is Easy To Use

 Time and time again, our clients get awestruck when we show them their new WordPress website for the first time and walk them through how straightforward their new administration will be. They just can’t believe how easy it is to publish articles and change content. Because WordPress is so incredibly popular, one recent benefit for you is that a lot of people have experience with using it, so it becomes much simpler and faster to train new employees or editors when they join your company.

One of our clients summarized it best when he said:

“The thing with WordPress is that it’s simple — almost idiot proof! — and that’s what you want. Anyone can log in and start using it.”

#5: WordPress Has Lots Of Extensions (Plugins)

Given the popularity of WordPress, it’s not surprising that a lot of developers have created extensions for it. In the WordPress world, those extensions are called “plugins”. They’re pieces of code — very often free — that extend the core functionality of your website and save your developer time (which saves you money).

#6: WordPress Is Mature

WordPress is over ten years old. It’s not buggy and it won’t crash your site or erase your data. During the past decade, WordPress has been refined, tested, and enhanced. In the process it has evolved into a world-class web publishing system.

#7: WordPress Has A Bullet-Proof Reputation

Thinking of making your website a WordPress one? Then you’re in good company. WordPress is trusted by Fortune 100 companies from Time.com, Forbes.com and CNN to government organizations, who all run their businesses and services on the platform.

#8: WordPress Is Scalable

If you are a publisher or event organizer,  you might need more than one website to promote various parts of your business. With WordPress that’s never a problem. WordPress, with its multi-site capabilities and theme-based structure, will allow you to create new sites within a matter of days and fraction of the initial investment.

#9: WordPress Loves Multi-Language Sites

If you have offices in more than one country, you probably need localized sites for every one of them. WordPress sites are easy to duplicate and customize so managing various different sites in a variety of languages and time zones is a piece of cake.

#10: WordPress Is A Powerhouse

Large sites with millions of views per day use WordPress. Here are just three of the biggies: Mashable, Techcrunch and Metro. Impressed? We are!

Wondering if WordPress can support your website too? Contact Janis Marketing to learn more by calling 215-621-8441 or by email at hello@janismarketing.com.

Simple Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Website’s Rankings

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Look closely and you’ll find when it comes to ranking high in SERPs, quality makes all the difference.

It’s still true that the first page in the search engine results pages (SERPs) gets the most traffic and the most clicks. Many times, if searchers don’t find what they need fast, instead of looking through dozens of pages, they’ll input new keywords and search again. The good news is that ranking high is doable. Take a proactive approach to getting your business to place in a top SERP position. Leaving it to chance is like putting money on the table and then walking away.

Frequently Update Your Website with Relevant Content

Relevant content, updated often, tells your audience you’re serious. From a ranking standpoint, search engines notice the frequent activity. This increases your brand awareness and placement as an authoritative presence.

Display original, high quality content as often as you can. Long-form blog posts and articles outrank shorter pieces. A 600- to 2,000-word range is optimal to keep visitors engaged on your website longer. Google pays attention and may improve your SERP ranking. Two more benefits to keeping fresh quality content on your website are (1) current and potential customers appreciate the information, and (2) they may share it with others.

Improve Keyword Relevancy

Select a primary keyword that describes your niche industry. Be careful not to overstuff. Opt for organic, natural-sounding keywords and phrases. These tend to rank higher than forced keywords.

Find Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. LSI keywords are words and phrases that have the same meaning. Gather ideas by conducting an internet search on your primary keyword or phrase. Take note of the results shown in the drop-down list. Use the ones that are pertinent to your particular type of business.

Remove Intrusive Interstitials

Interstitials are pop-up ads that cover up at least a portion of readable content on a page. These ads may also all of a sudden show when a visitor scrolls. Some ads take up the entire area above the fold leaving the original content the searcher was looking for below the fold. Most, but not all interstitials are intrusive. The exceptions are login dialogs, age verification queries, and other private pop-ups.

If an interstitial appears in mobile search results, Google penalizes that website by giving it a lower rank. The bottom line: It’s best to skip the shortcuts and optimize your website the correct way.

Complete Metadata Information

Fill out the Title, Description, and Keyword metadata fields for each webpage. The Title metadata appears in the browser window. The Description metadata describes a particular webpage so visitors understand what it’s about. The Keyword metadata is crucial for the webpage to appear in SERPs. Try to limit your total amount of keyword phrases to eight. More than that may look spammy and search engines might not index your website.

Organize, Categorize, and Promote Important Pages

Structure your site in a logical way. Define and highlight your most significant pages. Identify the pages that generate the largest amount of traffic and profits. Promote those the most. Place some inbound links inside a body of content on your home page for extra ranking boost!

At the end of 2016, there were more than one billion websites. Some consistently rank high. Your’s can too. The steps above are great starting points, but there’s so much more to it. We, at Janis Marketing , can help. We’ve improved website rankings for businesses nationwide and we’re ready to do the same for your business. Get on the exciting path to improving your company’s website’s rankings now!