7 Things That Are Making Your Home Business Look Unprofessional – And What You Can Do About It
If you are running your empire from the comfort of your home, you are living the dream of many, but there are a few ways you can make your home business look more professional.
There are plenty of benefits that come hand in hand with working from home.
My favorite being getting to stay in my PJs all day while getting to be my own boss and raise my son without having to worry about daycare. Running a career from home as a blogger has allowed me every freedom I could ever dream of. If you are thinking of starting a blog that is capable of earning thousands of dollars per month, read this.
Having the freedom to control your own schedule is a huge benefit when you work from home. You can choose what hours you work, what time you finish, when you want to take breaks, and even rearrange your working week around major events or opportunities that arise.
You can also say goodbye to the daily commute. Rather than sitting on packed public transport each morning and evening, or sitting for hours in rush hour traffic, you simply have to roll out of bed (or not even!), and you’re ready to get started with your projects and tasks.
However, most people’s downfall when it comes to working from home is losing their professional appearance.
While most people will carry out work to the same standard from their house, many people feel that things will not be completed or up to snuff in the same way that they would be from a purely professional workplace like the office.
But not to worry. There are certain ways to ensure that nobody (including your clients) will know where you are working from and to make your business come across as professional as possible. Make your home business look more professional by fixing these common problems.
Here are 7 things that are making your home business look unprofessional, and how you can fix it.
1. Lacking A Custom Domain
Customers and clients tend to trust websites that have their own web domain. This is the difference between http://novasalon.com and http://novasalon.blogspot.com.
While many ‘free’ blogging sites will offer you a free domain, they tend to incorporate their own name into the address, making your business look incredibly unprofessional as a result. A custom domain removes this and gives the impression that you are truly invested in your site and are happy enough with it to buy its domain.
You can register your custom domain when you set up your hosting. Here is a guide on how to do that.
Nowadays, the web is more saturated than ever, and you may find that your first choice of the domain has already been taken. In this situation, you can either barter with its current owner or opt for an alternative.
Try including your location, dashes, or numbers in the website address and see if these are available. This also helps to direct as much traffic to your domain as possible. Many people will go with a hunch and type your brand name followed by “.com” or “.co.uk” into their search bar. Alternatively, they will search for your brand name in a search engine.
You want to direct as much traffic directly to your site or appear as high in the search results as possible. A custom domain name will help you to achieve this!
2. Inconsistent Branding
To make your home business look more professional, branding is very important. Consistency is key when it comes to creating confidence in your brand and company. This is where you can use UX design to your advantage. UX design ensures that people who do access your site have the best experience possible. It’ll ensure that your website looks good, is easily navigable, and guides potential buyers through the browsing and check out process easily.
Be sure to use a professional theme for your website, one that is secure and bug-free. I recommend the Genesis Framework themes from StudioPress, and the feminine, boss-lady themes at Pretty Darn Cute.
Using the same 2 colors and fonts across your website, graphics, social media, advertising and email marketing will keep a consistent, memorable and attractive look to your brand. Purchase some affordable photo packs from professional photographers, or take your own.
If you are opting to take your own photos, here is a list of ultimate photography resources for your home business.
3. Using Your Personal Email
Using your personal Gmail or Hotmail email to send messages to your mom is great, but using it for your business is not, and is considered very unprofessional.
To make your home business look more professional, you will want to set up a custom email account for your business that uses your domain name, such as “email@example.com”.
Usually, you will be given a free email address when you register your domain and hosting. If not, you can use Zoho mail, which is a free tool that allows you to set up a custom email address.
Once you have your professional email account set up, it is important to use a professional email marketing service provider to handle your newsletters, subscribers, and list building. You won’t look very professional if your newsletters include Mailchimp’s branding at the bottom, will you? I recommend using ConvertKit as the best tool for this, as it is a completely professional, white-labeled email service.
For more tips on email marketing, see this guide.
4. Using Your Home Address As Your Business Address
When you work from home, you’re likely to have a whole lot of correspondence coming your way. But do you really want your personal address to be available to the whole world? And do you want your personal mail being mixed up with your business post?
For the sake of your own privacy and organization, it’s generally best to invest in a PO Box. This will cost you a little, but it also means that people will have a secure, independent business address to post their queries, complaints, and returned items to.
You can opt for cheaper services where you visit your local post office to pick your mail up, or pay a little more to have it sent directly to you. If you opt for the first, just make sure to check your PO Box for mail regularly. You don’t want to leave your customers waiting for prolonged periods of time for a response or a refund to be processed.
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5. Not Having A Separate Phone Line For Your Business
Just as you don’t want your personal address being known to the world, you don’t want your personal cell phone number being known either.
Having a separate phone line for your business will also make your home business look more professional. Getting a second phone line, or a second cell phone for your business is one way to keep your personal number private, but that tends to be a bit costly.
A more affordable solution is to use Grasshopper, which is an app that will create a business number from the cell phone you already have. You can even create a 1-800 toll-free number routed through your phone. This is a great way to make your small business look bigger, national, and more established. The app also provides you a custom voicemail and the ability to make calls showing your Grasshopper ID.
6. Your Social Media Profiles Are Ghost Towns
How do people discover your business? The biggest source of potential leads exists on social media and that is a fact that isn’t going to change anytime soon. You need to be where the people are if you want your business to thrive.
Setting up a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account for your business is step one, but you actually have to be active in them for it to work to your advantage. You don’t want people to find that your social profiles are ghost towns, void of any information and activity.
Or even worse, your social media profiles are super active with several customer and potential customer comments, questions, compliments, complaints, and mentions, but you are nowhere to be found, leaving threads unanswered.
People will be going to your social media pages to get information about your business, often before they ever visit your website. You don’t want people seeing a bunch of unanswered mentions to your company, as that will only make them assume that you are unresponsive and don’t care about your customers. They will be quick to move on to the next company who appears to have a better, more active and engaged social marketing ethic.
It is so important to respond to all mentions on social media, especially complaints a soon as they happen. Your professionalism in your response sets the tone for your business.
Handling your social media as if you are a big company with a dedicated social media marketing department will make your home business look more professional and will give potential leads confidence to become customers.
Keeping up with every mention across the entire web would be impossible on your own, but there are a few ways to manage it effectively.
Setting a Google alert for your business name, your name, and any keywords you want to be kept up to date on is a good place to start. This is a free service where Google will send you an email whenever any of your alerts are found, and then it’s up to you to respond accordingly. It doesn’t track social mentions though, and that is crucial so I recommend using Sendible.
Sendible is a very powerful tool that will send you an alert whenever someone mentions you, your brand, social profiles and your hashtag(s) from anywhere on the web so that you can respond right away. The app is a full social media marketing tool that will help you in many aspects of your social media growth. From monitoring your accounts, engaging with your followers, finding and setting relevant re-share-worthy content to post, and much, much more. Read more about what Sendible can do for you here.
Keeping your social media active with constant daily posts is also very important. It is recommended that you post to Facebook at least 2 times a day, and to Twitter at least 15 times per day to ensure that you are being seen and discovered by new leads. You should use an evergreen content recycling tool like SmarterQueue to handle this for you. It will auto-post and re-post your content on repeat forever, without you having to do a thing. Read more about why SmarterQueue is a must-have, and try it free here.
7. An Outdated Footer
This is such an easy one, but surprisingly one that gets forgotten by many. A new year starts, and yet your footer still reads © 2017, making it look like you don’t care enough to keep your website current.
Most themes will update your footer automatically, but if yours doesn’t it is a simple fix to change it yourself. In WordPress you can usually go to Appearance -> Customize -> Footer Widget to make the update, but not all themes / plugins allow this function. In that case, go to Appearance -> Editor and select the footer.php file and make the edit to the code there.
Use caution when editing any files here, as a wrong click could break your site. Be sure to copy the code and paste it into a text document before making any changes, in case you make a mistake need to go into your cPanel to fix it.
Remember that while there are plenty of benefits from working at home, but you are going to have to take a few extra steps to ensure that you always come across in the most professional manner possible.
These are just a few things for you to do to make your home business look more professional, but they could have a profoundly positive effect, so give them a go today!
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