How to Choose an Online Printing Service for Business or Personal Needs

Ordering you personal or company printing work online is the best way to go these days. Companies like Vistaprint and others have refined the ‘web to print’ business model to the point where offline providers find it difficult to compete. Online printing is not only more convenient than other options but it is also more affordable and offers most people a better product selection than they would otherwise get.

Whether you need business stationery and promotional materials or wedding invitations and greeting cards, you’ll find that the range of product offerings with online printers is huge. However, with the growing number of firms out there online offering printing services it can be hard to know which one to choose. In the following articles we have set out some ideas to help you make an informed decision.

Firstly, you want to find out some basic details about a printing company and who is behind it. Look for information on their site relating to how long they have been in business and where they are operating from. Do they have decent telephone support if things go wrong?

Pricing is the most important consideration for many but don’t let this be the only factor to influence your decision. The companies that offer the best products and services are usually a little more expensive. You may get better value with them than you would with a low cost provider that will mess you around or rip you off entirely. You can easily compare prices as most online printing companies feature a price estimate calculator on their site. You’ll find that there is a considerable range of prices for many commonly printed business and personal items so it is worth checking out at least four or five companies to get an idea.

The selection of products and services on offer is important. A printing company must be able to provide what you need in terms of the product type, specifications and volume. If you need a wide variety of printed materials for your business then it will be convenient if you can get everything from one supplier.

Many offer additional services like the popular mailing service where they will send your printed materials directly out to your clients, hot off the press. Some will even sell you a targeted mailing list if you don’t have your own database.

Find out if a printer offers offset or digital printing. Offset is usually the better of the two when it comes to quality although you will pay more for this unless you order a decent volume. Most online printing companies give some details on their websites about their printing operation and the kind of printing they are capable of.

Give some though to the design of the materials that you need printed. At a minimum you will have to be able to upload your designs to the site. It is also nice to work with a printer that offers you DIY options like design tools and templates. Some also have their own in-house designers if you need something specific.

Some online printers will charge you to proof your artwork to make sure that it is ready to go to print. Others offer this service for free.

Requesting a sample is usually made easy as most online printing companies have a form on their site for you to complete for this. If you have time you may as well have them mail samples out so that you can verify the quality.

Make sure that you are aware of the turnaround time for your order. This is the time that it takes for your order to be printed and ready for shipping. Delivery time is how long your order takes to arrive at your address from the time it is dispatched. Allow plenty of time if you need your printing done before a deadline on the off chance that there is a delay with your order.

Before hitting the order button make sure that you are aware of a company’s refund and satisfaction guarantee policies. Read the find print on their site and make sure that it is fair. Most printers on the web will avoid issuing refunds or doing complimentary reprints unless the order had errors that were their own fault. It is therefore critical to ensure that your order is proof read and checked several times to ensure that it is correct in every way.

Lastly, you should do some research online to find out what other customers have said about a specific company. There are numerous blogs, forums and consumer feedback websites out there that people will turn to if they feel that they have had exceptional service from a printer. There are also consumer complaints websites and the Better Business Bureau for those that feel that they have not been treated fairly. If the printing company that you have in mind has a lot of good reviews then go ahead. If, on the other hand they have had a lot of complaints posted about them then you should think twice.

7 Small Business Marketing Tips

Small businesses do not often have large budgets. Thanks to the Internet, small business marketing can be a huge success, even without big dollars behind it.

Small business marketing can benefit from new trends in general marketing. These trends point to methods that are inexpensive, innovative, and online.

One of the key online options for small business marketing is search engines. The cost of submitting your Web site to a search engine is minor, but there are some considerations to be made:

1. Your site must be optimized with keyword phrases. Search engine optimization is achieved by including keyword phrases that apply to your company. These phrases must be present enough times to draw the attention of the search engines to your site.

2. Since most small businesses focus on their local market, you should aim your advertising efforts at your local audience. Users have recently begun pushing for better local search capabilities and most search engine companies are responding. Statistics have shown that 74% of Internet users perform local searches. Your keywords should reflect your locale and you should look into local search engines and directories, like your local Yellow Pages, Google Local, Citysearch and others.
If you are a local merchant and your intention is to sell products on the web, one of many tactics is to build your online ads around local content to increase your click through rate.

3. Speaking of local searches, newspaper Web sites have become the top portal in their local areas, especially among the coveted 18-34 demographic. Traditional newspaper advertising is generally beyond most small business marketing budgets, but the online versions offer more affordable ads on the “back” pages – those that are not visited as often but are rich in content.

4. Another exciting small business marketing method is the weblog, or blog. A blog offers your business a good way to have an inexpensive, two-way conversation with your customers. Write a blog for your Web site to give your customers and prospects an additional reason to visit your site.

5. Podcasts are among the newest small business marketing techniques. A podcast is a multimedia file (think radio broadcast) distributed by paid or unpaid subscription over the Internet. Podcasts offer you a direct way to tell your prospects how your product or service can benefit them.

6. Many small businesses can use online seminars or demos, also known as webinars, to demonstrate and promote their latest products. Online demos are an ideal tool for small business marketing because they are relatively easy to produce and allow you to reach a wide audience without ever leaving the office.

7. A strong online presence is a critical component of any small business marketing campaign. Why? Because the Internet offers advertising options that are relatively inexpensive. Because 87% of consumers research purchases online before they buy. Because 63% research online and then visit a bricks and mortar store to complete a purchase. And because demographic trends show that the most desired customers are most accessible through online means.

The Top Apps, Software and Online Services for Organizing Your Mind

A lot of us blame technology for the constant stress that we’re under and for the fact that we feel constantly so wired. We’re continuously bombarded by notifications and messages and we seem to spend half our time looking at screens – is it any wonder so many of us are burned out?

But just as guns don’t kill people – people do, so is it true that apps don’t make you tired – you do.

The key is just to use the right technology. Actually, there are plenty of apps out there that can help you to feel less stressed and that can reduce that information overload. Likewise, there are also a number of online services that can do the same. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Headspace

Headspace is an app that can teach you how to practice mindfulness meditation. The app does cost money if you intend to keep using it but the first few sessions are free and provide a great introduction.

Fabulous

Fabulous is a beautifully designed app for Android that can help you to take on new habits and routines and that will guide you through your goals and objectives. It makes setting new challenges for yourself fun and encourages you with motivation and tips along the way.

Standing Orders

Here’s a great way to use technology to make your life easier – set up some standing orders with online services. There are actually tons of companies that now offer there services on an automated recurring business:

  • Clothes companies that send you a new outfit every month
  • Supermarkets that let you have your weekly shop delivered to you
  • Diet companies that send ready made meals/ingredients to you on a daily basis
  • Flower shops that send flowers to someone on their birthday every year

Consider if something like this could help!

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is an assistant that works for you via the web. They tend to be based in India and are very affordable but their services cover anything that can be done online. That could mean doing research for your work, or it could mean helping you organize a holiday!

Todoist

Todoist is a great ‘to-do list’ app that lets you set to do lists and then receive notifications and reminders about them.

Google Calendar

Any calendar app can be a great way to check your availability and to avoid over booking yourself. It syncs with other apps and even lets you share your schedule with others too.

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