June 2015

Squarespace vs. WordPress

Most people are unfamiliar with the HTML programming language, and as such are unable to build websites from scratch on their own. With the rising popularity of the Internet in the early 2000’s, website builders became the go to method for those who wanted to create a website, but simply didn’t know how. There are two commonly used website builders available today: WordPress and Squarespace. While both have their strengths and weaknesses, users often select one or the other based on the type of website they intend to create. Therefore it is essential to know the facts about each in order to choose which one is right for you.

Cost

The first thing that comes to mind when using a website builder is pricing. If you are using someone else’s tools to build a website, it obviously won’t be free. That is unless you use WordPress of course. You heard correctly; WordPress is 100% free. Squarespace on the other hand has two primary payment plans. There is a standard plan which will cost $10 a month, or an unlimited plan that costs $20 a month. If WordPress is free and Squarespace will easily run you $200 after purchasing themes, plugins, etc. then WordPress is the way to go right? Not exactly. WordPress requires you to purchase a host for your website, which is roughly around $10 a month. Next you will have to purchase a domain, a feature which Squarespace provides for free if you purchase an annual subscription. Expect to spend another $10 a year for a WordPress domain. Then like Squarespace, themes and plugins will have to be purchased to give your website that extra “wow” factor. So while WordPress might be free, there are several hidden costs that essentially make it the same price as Squarespace when you’re finished.

Themes and Plugins

I mentioned themes and plugins earlier, which are the factors that differentiate a good and a great website. Squarespace offers 19 templates after signing up for an account. That’s it. Yes these 19 templates can be customized, but it still isn’t enough variety for those who want to create an above average looking website. WordPress on the other hand has an entire community dedicated to themes and plugins, and there are thousands to choose from. Chances are you won’t have to do any customization and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in a website. From this point of view WordPress easily dominates.

Difficulty

When choosing either of the two website builders, it’s important to remember why you are using them in the first place. You either can’t code or you want a user friendly design template. Squarespace has only just become popular within the last few years, and with good reason too. Squarespace is very user friendly for beginners, and you need no coding experience whatsoever to use it. As stated before though, there is a limited set of designs and features in Squarespace, which is part of what makes it so easy to use. WordPress first launched in 2003, and over time it has become easier to use, but is still somewhat complex for the average user. Unlike Squarespace, there are so many customization options that some level of coding knowledge is necessary to fully understand what you want WordPress to do. Squarespace may seem like the prime choice for beginners, but this comes at the cost of flexibility.

Conclusions

Both Squarespace and WordPress are great website builders as a whole, but which one you choose depends on what type of website you plan on using. Squarespace is an easy to use platform for a simple business or personal website. If you are new to website building and don’t want to create anything too fancy, then Squarespace may be right for you. WordPress offers more variety such as the ability to create a blog with thousands of pages or even a complex business site. With this flexibility comes an increased amount of difficulty, but if you can handle the learning curve then the final product will be worth it.

How to Market Yourself on Social Media

Ten years ago social media was nothing but a tool used by college students to connect with each other across campus. Now it’s a juggernaut used not only for social interaction, but business and marketing as well. However, using social media as a means of marketing can be somewhat overwhelming initially, and many write it off altogether simply because they don’t know how to market themselves. Marketing yourself on social media is daunting, but with two simple tools it can be incredibly easy and successful.

The most important aspect of marketing on social media is content. An online survey by Cowen and Company found that on average people spend at least 42 minutes of their time on Facebook daily. This may or may not seem like a lot of time depending on your age group, but consider this: within that 42 minute span, users are scrolling past large amounts of content that had been posted throughout the day. The best way to make your content stand out is simply to create more of it.

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Consider the Huffington Post, which on average produces 400 blogs per day. Granted they have 28 full time bloggers, but stick with me here. The Huffington Post attracts 43.4 million page views per day from their social media. Now compare that to the New York Times which produces 350 pieces of content per day, and attracts 17.4 million page views per day. Go one step farther to Business Insider which produces 300 pieces of content and attracts 2.5 million page views per day. Notice a trend? The less content you present to your audience the less online traffic you will receive. While this relationship may seem redundant, too many people believe that they can honestly attract a web presence without producing content on some sort of organized schedule. You may not have the sort of full time staff that some of these major news corporations have, or even come close to the amount of content they publish, but creating large amounts of content on a regular basis is the best way to bring users to you.

Bringing users to your content is your main objective, but the question is how you should do it. When most people think about social media they are usually thinking exclusively about Facebook. In order to market yourself effectively however, your outreach must include broader forms of social media. According to a recent survey done by the Pew Research Center back in September, 74 percent of adults are on social media, with some unique breakdowns by the types of social media they use.

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About 71 percent use Facebook, 23 percent use Twitter, 26 percent use Instagram, 28 percent use Pinterest, and 28 percent use LinkedIn. Why is this breakdown important you might ask? Three years ago, all other social media sites besides Facebook had roughly half as many users as they do today. This trend tells us that Facebook’s rise may be slowing down, while other forms of social media are growing exponentially. When you begin your marketing campaign, it’s necessary to consider which platform has the most users for the content you are creating. A Facebook page is necessary solely because of the number of users that are already established there. From there you may consider a Pinterest or an Instagram based on the growth trends of the past few years. Marketing is all about bringing your goods or services to where the people are. Everyone is on Facebook so naturally you start there, but other sites are beginning to grow in popularity so it is essential you tap into that popularity in its earliest stages to establish yourself.

Marketing yourself on social media can be hard, but by no means is it impossible. The trick to making the whole process easier on yourself and more successful in the long run is to do your research. How much time do you have to write a blog or post original content? Can you do it daily? Weekly? Stick to a schedule and always make sure you are producing as much content as possible. Finally, find multiple platforms for your content that are both established and up and coming. Look for growth trends, talk to people in younger generations to find the latest social media craze, and overall stick to the platforms that you feel most comfortable using. By following these steps, marketing yourself on social media should feel less like work and more like a fun an effective way to connect your goods or services to the users everywhere.

Your Own Slice of the Web

In this day and age, having an online presence is becoming more important than ever. Over 80% of millennials have Facebook pages, and 120 million of LinkedIn’s users are aged 18-35. So, if you aren’t branding yourself online yet, now might be a good time to think about doing so (regardless of your age!).

One of the easiest ways to create your digital image is to have a personal website. This can be anything from a professional blog to a digital resume to a portfolio of your creative works. If your website is related to your profession, that’s even better! Having an online space to show your strengths and passions is becoming more beneficial in the digital era; employers will be impressed, especially if you update or add content frequently. According to a survey conducted in 2014 by The Professional Website, most millennials thought that it was somewhat important to have an online branded image for professional success. Yet most millennials were split on whether or not to actually have a personal website, with many people citing that they didn’t know if the cost was worth it, or that they didn’t want to promote themselves too much. Additionally, most people surveyed would want a personal website for free, and about a quarter were willing to pay $5-10 a month.

Personally, I think the cost is worth it, and if all you need is a self-contained website, there are free hosting options available – you just need to be able to design your own site, or find someone who can do it for you. No need to get fancy though – your resume doesn’t need to be an online video game, although I do believe novel sites that present information are most memorable! I designed my own website earlier this year (more of a page really, it’s just an online resume that looks pretty). I think having my own site provides some sort of professionalism, based on the content I’m hosting. It’s certainly something I’m proud that I have. With regards to potentially pushing your ego too much – in the professional world, you have to be assertive. And honestly, having your own space that celebrates your achievements or passions is pretty fun. This is your space, and you shouldn’t be afraid to share what makes you an awesome/amazing/totally cool person. So the question is, do you want to own your own slice of the web? What will you share?