Advance your robot autonomy with ROS 2 and Unity

Many of the emerging use cases for ROS 2 focus on autonomy. Introducing autonomy means the decisions a robot makes and the results of those decisions are not neatly predictable using only a state machine and a collection of mathematical formulae, as they may be in many industrial robotics use cases. Compared to industrial robots, an autonomous robot’s operating environment is exponentially larger. The permutations of inputs it encounters far surpasses what can be reproduced in a controlled laboratory environment. To fully validate that an autonomous robot behaves the way you expect it to, you can either do it on the robot, in your own personal pocket dimension where time has no meaning and reality is everything and nothing all at the same time, or you need the next best thing: a suitably robust simulation.

If a robot is expected to sense an environment, a simulation must be capable of accurately modeling those sensors without making compromises with respect to the accuracy of the environment’s simulated topology and physics. If there are other agents in that environment, i.e., people or other robots, then the simulation must be capable of modeling the agent behavior, while still maintaining the accuracy of its sensor simulation, topology representation, and physics modeling. To fully exercise a robot against all the scenarios it might encounter, this simulation needs to be run many, many, many times. This is all to say that simulation in support of autonomous robotics requires four things not often required by industrial robotics: flexibility, extensibility, scalability, and fidelity – all without sacrificing performance. Unity sits at the intersection of all these requirements, which is why we are building more features into our platform to support development of autonomous robots.

With Unity’s Robotics packages, you’ll have access to the interfaces we’ve already built to make communicating with ROS or ROS 2 easy. You will be able to import existing robot configurations directly from URDF files with our URDF Importer, and you’ll be able to start exercising your robot against Unity’s high-quality, highly efficient rendering pipeline and a performant and accurate physics simulation. Through Unity’s Asset Store, you have access to a great variety of additional, premade environments and props to help you model your robot’s specific environment and task. With a few clicks, the simulation you assemble can be built and deployed to any mainstream OS, be it Windows 10, Mac OS, or Linux. Using C# scripting, Bolt visual scripting, or any of the many scripting and utility toolkits available in the Asset Store, you can continue to customize the functionality of your particular simulation to suit your specific use case.

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4 Summer Cocktails to Help You Beat the Heat

Is there a better way to beat the summer heat than with a cocktail made with Virginia’s finest spirits? We don’t think so, and neither do our friends at Belle Isle Moonshine, so they shared some incredible cocktail recipes that will help you stay cool this season.

Please enjoy responsibly.


The cucumber margarita made with belle isle moonshine

The refreshing taste of cucumber? Check. The sweet heat of Belle Isle’s Honey Habanero? Check. Have we achieved summer cocktail perfection? Check and check. Sipping poolside, not required, but strongly recommended.

  • 2 oz Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  • ½ oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • ¼ oz Agave Syrup
  • 4 Cucumber Slices

Muddle together three cucumber slices in the bottom of a shaker tin. Top with ice and then add Belle Isle Honey Habanero, triple sec, lime juice and agave. Shake vigorously until well-chilled, and strain into a chilled glass (or on the rocks if you prefer). Garnish with a cucumber slice.


The harvest manhattan made with belle isle moonshine

This uplifting take on the Manhattan combines the fresh and earthy Strawberry Matcha infusion with a double dose of bitters and sweet vermouth. The result is a smooth and mellow cocktail that hits all the right notes.

  • 2 oz Belle Isle Strawberry Matcha
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2-3 Dashes of Orange Bitters
  • 1-2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Strawberry

Add the Belle Isle Strawberry Matcha, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters to a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a fresh strawberry.


The shockoe 75 made with belle isle moonshine

French inspired, Virginia perfected. It’s amazing how well sparkling wine compliments the lemon and lavender notes in this cocktail. Whether enjoying from the Blue Ridge Mountains, along the Atlantic Ocean, or from your own backyard – sipping on this will keep you feeling fancy all summer long.

  • 1 ½ oz Belle Isle Lemon Lavender
  • ¼ oz Lemon Juice
  • ¼ oz Simple Syrup
  • 3 oz Sparkling Virginia Wine

Add Belle Isle Lemon Lavender, lemon juice and simple syrup to a flute and stir to combine. Then, top with chilled sparkling Virginia wine. Garnish with a lemon twist and any fresh berries you have on hand.


The transfusion cocktail made with belle isle moonshine

The bright, floral notes of Belle Isle’s Lemon Lavender Moonshine pair beautifully with this golf course classic. It may not turn you into the next Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam, but it is guaranteed to make you think you can shave a few strokes off your game.

  • 1 oz Belle Isle Lemon Lavender
  • 1 can of Belle Isle Transfusion
  • Lemon Wedge

Take a big swig out of your Belle Isle Transfusion can and pour the remnants over ice. Top with Belle Isle Lemon Lavender Moonshine and garnish with a lemon wedge.

Click here to snag your Belle Isle ingredients and to check out many more inspired cocktail recipes!

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DIY Cupcake Gift Box: Great for Gift Cards and Parties!



Upload my cupcake box SVG file (design #313) into Cricut Design Space. If you’re not sure how to upload an SVG cut file to Cricut Design Space, watch this helpful video training series I made. If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, here’s how to download and upload SVG files to the Cricut Design Space app.

This is what the files look like in Design Space when you’re ready to cut:
import svg file of cupcake box

Adjust the size if needed. Right now, the cupcake box is the perfect size to hold party favors or a single homemade cupcake. Once you have the size adjusted to your measurements, you are ready to prepare the file for scoring and cutting.

We’ve already pre-set the score layers to the base layers, so you should be able to upload and go! Click “Make It” and you will be prompted to select your material settings and place your paper on your cutting mat. Follow the prompts to load the mat and tools into your Cricut.

Gently remove each layer from the mat. These are the pieces you’ll have when you’re done cutting:
jennifermaker cupcake box cut materials


Once your main pieces are ready, begin folding them along the score lines. Everything gets folded IN.

The main lid is folded along the score lines to create a cone shape. Then the rounded ends are folded down.
fold cupcake box lid

fold along score lines of cupcake box topper

Apply glue to the tab and glue the lid closed to complete the cone shape.
glue tab on cupcake box top

assemble cupcake box top

The cupcake icing layer is folded along the score lines to create a cone shape.
fold cupcake box icing

Apply glue to the tab and glue the icing layer closed to complete the cone shape.
glue tab on cupcake box top

assemble cupcake box icing

Align the icing layer on top of the lid along the folds. Be sure to line up the slits.
align the top slit of the cupcake box lid

Apply glue to the bottom of the icing layer.

Glue the two pieces together.
assemble cupcake box lid

Tuck the tab of the topper piece into the slit on the top of the lid.

insert topper in lide of cupcake box

This is what the lid will look like when it’s assembled:

cupcake box lid


Now let’s assemble the cupcake bottom. First, fold the sides and bottom tabs on the score lines as shown below.
fold cupcake box bottom

fold cupcake box bottom

Glue the sides together by applying glue to the side tab and holding it in place until the glue sets.
glue side tab of cupcake box bottom

assemble cupcake box bottom

Now, it’s time to attach the base. Apply glue to the bottom tabs.
apply glue to cupcake box base taps

Press the tabs onto the base, taking care to line up each tab to an edge of the octagon base.
attach cupcake box base

attach cupcake box base

This is what the base will look like when assembled:

assembled cupcake box bottom

assembled cupcake box


If you plan to use the box to hold a cupcake, you’ll want to cut and fold the optional cupcake holder.

First, fold the holder on each of the score lines.
fold cupcake box insert

Next, glue and insert the holder into the cupcake bottom like this:
glue cupcake box insert

assemble cupcake box insert

Now your homemade cupcake will be cradled inside the box.

This is what the assembled cupcake box looks like:

cupcake box by jennifermaker

assembled cupcake box

assembled cupcake box


You may want to further decorate your box by gluing on beads, ribbon or other fun items. Get creative!

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Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac System Requirements

The Parallels® Desktop 17 system requirements for hardware, supported host and guest operating systems (OSs), are fully listed below. We encourage every potential or existing customer to view the requirements for Parallels Desktop before downloading or making their purchase. Users may be pleasantly surprised at the incredible performance of Windows, Linux and other popular OSs on their Mac with Parallels Desktop. 

Supported Mac Configurations

Check your Mac hardware to ensure you can run Parallels Desktop on your system without experiencing compatibility issues. The Parallels team wants to ensure every customer gets the most out of Parallels Desktop and the virtual machines (VMs) they create. 

  Minimum Requirements To run most applications such as Microsoft Office, accounting, trading, SAP, Matlab and more.  Best performance For graphics-intensive applications, high loads, and running multiple virtual machines. 
Processor  Apple M1 chip, Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, Core i9, Intel Core M or Xeon processor  Apple M1 chip, Intel Core i5, Core i7, Core i9 or Xeon processor 
Memory  4 GB of RAM  16 GB of RAM or more 
Storage  600 MB for Parallels Desktop application installation Additional disk space for the guest operating system (at least 16 GB is required for Windows 10)  SSD drive 
Graphics  Apple M1 chip, Intel, AMD Radeon, or NVIDIA  Apple M1 chip, AMD Radeon Pro graphics card 
Operating System  macOS 12 Monterey (when released)  macOS Big Sur 11.1 or newer macOS Catalina 10.15.7 or newer  macOS Mojave 10.14.6 or newer  macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 or newer  macOS 12 Monterey (when released)  macOS Big Sur 11.1 or newer DirectX 11 requires at least macOS Mojave 10.14, but works best on macOS 10.15 Catalina and newer 

Please note: Internet connection is required for product activation, updates, and select features.  

Supported Guest Operating Systems that can be created as Parallels Desktop Machines 

Mac with Apple M1 chip 

Only ARM versions of operating systems are supported. 

  • Windows 11 (when released)***
  • Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview***  

Learn how to install Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview in this video. Additional information on the M1 experience may be found in this article. Windows ARM can run most of the regular  Windows x86 applications. You can download the Parallels Desktop trial and install the application of your interest. If it doesn’t work, let us know at Parallels Forum

  • Ubuntu Linux 20.10, 20.04 
  • Fedora Workstation 34, 33-1.2 
  • Debian GNU/Linux 10.7 
  • Kali Linux 2021.1 
  • macOS Monterey 12 (when released)

Mac with Intel processors 

Only x86 versions of operating systems are supported. 

  • Windows 11 (when released)
  • Windows 10 
  • Windows 8.1 
  • Windows 8 
  • Windows Server 2022 
  • Windows Server 2019 
  • Windows Server 2016 
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 
  • Windows 7 (SP0-SP1) 
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (SP0-SP2) 
  • Windows Vista Home, Business, Ultimate and Enterprise (SP0-SP2) 
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 (SP0-SP2) 
  • Windows XP (SP0-SP3) 
  • Windows 2000 Professional SP4 
  • Windows 2000 Server SP4 
  • Boot2Docker 
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8, 7 and 6 
  • CentOS Linux 8, 7, 6 
  • Fedora Linux 34, 33, 32, 31 
  • Ubuntu 21.04, 20.10, 20.04, 19.04, 18.04 LTS, 16.04 LTS 
  • Debian GNU/Linux 10, 9 
  • Suse Linux Enterprise 15 
  • OpenSUSE Linux 15.2, 15.1, 15 
  • Linux Mint 20, 19, 18 
  • Kali 2020.2, 2019, 2018 
  • Elementary OS 5 
  • Manjaro 21, 18 
  • Mageia 7 
  • Gentoo Linux ** 
  • Solaris 11, 10 ** 
  • openBSD 6 ** 
  • FreeBSD 12, 11 ** 
  • openVZ 7 
  • eComStation 2, 1.2 ** 
  • ReactOS 0.4 ** 
  • Android OS* 
  • macOS Monterey 12 (when released)
  • macOS Monterey 12.0 
  • macOS Big Sur 11.0 
  • macOS Catalina 10.15 
  • macOS Mojave 10.14.x 
  • macOS High Sierra 10.13.x 
  • macOS Sierra 10.12.x 
  • OS X El Capitan 10.11.x 
  • OS X Yosemite 10.10.x 
  • OS X Mavericks 10.9.x 
  • OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.x 
  • OS X Lion 10.7.x 
  • OS X Lion Server 10.7.x 
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server 10.6.x 
  • Mac OS X Leopard Server 10.5.x 
  • and many more… 

*Only the version downloaded with the help of the Installation Assistant in Parallels Desktop. 

**Parallels Tools are not available for this operating system. 

Note: Parallels Desktop for Mac emulates PC hardware, so operating systems that are not present in this list can work as well. You can download the Parallels Desktop trial and install an operating system of your choice. If it doesn’t work and you believe it should be supported, let us know at Parallels Forum

Parallels Tools for Linux require X Window System version 1.15-1.20 and Linux Kernel version 2.6.29-5.5. 

Moving your PC? 

PC system requirements to move your PC to your Intel Mac (using Parallels Transporter Agent): 

  • 700 MHz (or higher) x86 or x64 processor (Intel or AMD) 
  • 256 MB of RAM 
  • 50 MB of available hard disk space for installation of Parallels Transporter Agent 
  • Ethernet or WiFi network adapter for migrating over network 
  • External USB drive for migrating via external disk 
  • Supported Windows: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 * 

*To migrate Windows Vista or older, Transporter Agent from Parallels Desktop 13 should be used. 

Note: Parallels Transporter Agent is not available for Mac with Apple M1 chip. 

***Running VMs on Apple M1 Mac computers in Parallels Desktop 17 requires ARM-based operating systems (OSs). Customers who install guest operating systems in Parallels Desktop virtual machines are responsible for making sure that they are compliant with each OSs’ end-user licensing agreement (EULA).

We hope this resource is helpful for you to navigate your experience with Parallels Desktop. For 15 years, Parallels has been a leading choice and award-winning solution for more than 7 million Mac users to run Windows on Mac. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact our support team on Facebook @ParallelsInc; or Twitter @ParallelsCares

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The 16 best Zoom integrations for you and your team

In the first quarter of 2021, businesses and individuals spent over 2.6 trillion minutes in Zoom meetings and webinars.

Given the amount of time you already spend on the video conferencing app, it’s only fitting that you find a way to make the most use of it.

Fortunately, Zoom comes with integrations that allow you to connect other apps you already use and love — to make your remote work experience run smoother.

We’ll be showing you 16 of the best zoom integrations/apps and how you can navigate the Zoom marketplace to find these apps.

What is a Zoom integration?

A Zoom integration is when multiple third-party software applications with different uses and functions merge seamlessly with Zoom.

These integrations for Zoom meetings were created to “help improve productivity and create more engaging experiences.”

You can find these integrations available as plug-ins, extensions, or add-ons on the Zoom App Marketplace.

Why use Zoom integrations?

Imagine how frustrating and unproductive life would be if your phone had only one function — say making calls.

That’d mean if you wanted to take a quick photo, you’d have to get a new phone. Same with if you wanted to write a quick note or check your mail.

However, because phones come with an app store, you can easily download what you need when you need it.

Similarly, Zoom integrations offer the same convenience. With Zoom apps, you can now take full advantage of Zoom’s functionality to improve your productivity, collaboration, marketing, security, and so much more. 

So instead of hopping back-and-forth between different applications, you’d be able to simplify your workflow and freely pass information across your team before, during, and after the Zoom meetings.

How to browse the Zoom Marketplace

Whether you’re looking for a marketing, security, recordings, CRM, or some other type of app to integrate with Zoom, you can find them on the Zoom App Marketplace.

Here’s how to browse the Zoom Marketplace:

  1. Visit and sign-in.
  2. If you have an app or integration in mind, use the search option at the top of the screen to find it. You can also search by category or by filtering by compatibility and who can install.
  3. Once you’ve decided on the app you want, click and the app icon and install.

If you use a Zoom account with multiple users, you’d need to request pre-approval from the account owner or admin before you can install apps for the Zoom App Marketplace.

Now that you know what Zoom integrations are, why they’re helpful, and how to find them, let’s check out some of the best integration options.

The 16 best integrations for Zoom meetings for 2021

1. Vimeo

With this Vimeo integration, you’ll never have to worry about your videos getting into the wrong hands, as you have complete control over who can access your meeting recordings. In addition, you can secure your videos with a password and share your recordings using private links with team members.

The integration allows you to keep all your recordings in workspaces and shared folders that make them easier to find when you need them. Furthermore, you can organize the recording by topic and team. And you can even search by caption since all the videos are automatically transcribed.

That’s not all. You can customize your recordings to feature your brand colors and logo, edit and trim your clip, and add chapter markers that make it easier for anyone watching to jump through sections in the recording.

Vimeo’s app on Zoom also removes the need to download recordings on your computer before manually uploading it for back-up on Vimeo — as you can now directly back up straight from Zoom to your Vimeo account.

2. Hive

Zoom Hive Integration

Hive is a popular project management tool with in-built features that allow you to send emails, chat, manage projects, and share notes with different teams.

With Hive’s Zoom app, managing projects gets a bit smoother because you can quickly start meetings by typing “/Zoom” right in Hive messaging.

On the Zoom meeting or webinar, you can view the status report for the different projects your team is managing.

3. Google WorkSpace


To use this application, you’d have to install Zoom on the Google Workspace Marketplace or use Zapier to connect the two apps.

Once installed, Google Workspace’s integration with Zoom allows you to schedule, join, and view meetings from your Google Calendar.

The integration helps you improve your internal comms by allowing you to add detailed Zoom events on your team’s shared calendar.

4. Slack

Today, many organizations already use Slack to maintain communication, and it only gets better with this Zoom Slack integration. The integration allows you to start Zoom meetings with a simple “/zoom” slash command — similar to Hive’s command. 

You can monitor different aspects of your Zoom meeting, like how long the meeting has been running and who leaves or joins the meeting. Then, at the end of the session, you can share the recordings in different channels or as direct messages. 

We love this integration because you can set it to remind people in specific Slack channels of their Zoom meetings.

5. Eventbrite

The Eventbrite Zoom integration helps event managers optimize an event’s experience for their attendees. 

After promoting and selling event tickets through Eventbrite, this integration helps to synchronize attendee information into Zoom. With their information, attendees can receive automatic reminders days, hours, and even minutes before an event starts. 

Thanks to this integration, you can also set attendee limits and send personal links that registrants can use to attend an event or webinar. 

6. Microsoft Teams

Like Zoom’s integrations with Google Workspace, the Microsoft Team Zoom integration allows you to start, schedule, and join Zoom video communication directly from Microsoft teams. 

The integration comes with four different chat commands that start with “@.” For example, you can use the “@Zoom” command to create or join a Zoom meeting. 

7. Coda

If meetings are an integral part of your life, and you’re looking for a tool to help you manage all your notes, then you need this Coda Zoom integration. With just two button clicks, you can install and integrate Zoom with Coda and be well on your way to enjoy more productivity.

With this integration, you can easily take notes during Zoom meetings and easily organize the thoughts you want to share with other team members.  

8. JotForm

JotForm helps users create simple online forms. And with JotForm’s Zoom integration, you can now easily collect your webinar or event attendees’ data into Zoom — taking out the stress of manually collecting data. 

After integrating the two apps, all you have to do is share your form link with the audience you intend to attract. 

9. Gong

If you’re a salesperson, then you’d love Gong’s integration with Zoom. With the Gong Zoom app, you can record and transcribe all the Zoom meetings you hold in G Suite or Microsoft Office 365. 

In addition, Gong’s AI analyzes every sales meeting and offers pointers that’d help you and your team close more deals and better your sales performance. You also get to review recordings of each session that are automatically uploaded to Gong.


Not every member of your team might enjoy watching recordings of a Zoom meeting or webinar. Instead, some might prefer to read the meeting transcripts — and that’s where comes in. 

With’s Zoom integration, you can quickly transcribe videos and create notes for those not at the meeting. The integration also has the Live transcription option — that comes with the paid plan — where you can share notes in real-time and get live meeting captions.

11. Zoom for Hubspot

Managing your contacts in HubSpot’s CRM gets an upgrade when you integrate it with Zoom. Integrating Zoom with HubSpot helps you easily arrange a call with prospects booked in your HubSpot CRM.

The integration also allows you to use HubSpot workflows — in the form of reminders and follow-up emails — and contact properties to promote your webinar and monitor your contact’s activities during the webinar.

12. Obsidian Security

Obsidian’s Zoom integration helps you monitor who uses your company’s Zoom accounts and how they use them. With the Obsidian Zoom app in place, you can prevent inappropriate meeting recording, check for poorly set up accounts, identify meetings created without passwords, and many other security threats. 

13. Calendly for Zoom

Calendly’s Zoom app is a time-saver as it helps you automatically populate your calendar events with your Zoom meeting info. And if the need ever arises to reschedule an event, this integration allows you to adjust your meeting details and calendar in real-time. 

14. Zapier

Zapier makes it easier to connect two or more web apps. And with this Zapier Zoom integration, you can create Zaps that automate specific actions once you schedule a new Zoom webinar or meeting.

Since Zapier has many app integrations, there are a ton of automated workflows you can create. 

15. Superhuman

Superhuman’s integration with Zoom assists you in seamlessly adding Zoom meeting links to any calendar event you create. In addition, when you connect Zoom to Superhuman, the app sends out automated reminders, so you never miss a meeting.


IFTTT connects mobile and smart home devices to applications. And with IFTTT’s Zoom integration, you can connect Zoom to these other apps too.

For example, you can create a workflow in IFTTT to play a specific song from Spotify when you end a Zoom meeting. 

Final thoughts 

The Zoom App Marketplace overflows with useful applications and integrations that’d make your work and business run better. Although we’ve mentioned these 16 as the best Zoom integrations, you’d still need to look at your organization to find a Zoom integration to meet your specific needs.

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A Good Choice for Freelancers in 2021?

Clientjoy bills itself as a sales CRM for freelancers and agencies.

But with so many CRM options for freelancers, you might find yourself asking: which one is the best for me and how do I pick the best one?

In this Clientjoy review, I’ll break down a few of the top features you can use as a freelancer to better manage your clients, your projects, and other elements of your freelance business.

(After conducting a full Clientjoy review, I’m also happy to say it works well for people growing an agency or moving from freelancer to agency.)

In full transparency, you should know that we are affiliate partners with ClientJoy and ClientJoy has paid for sponsored placement in the past. However, as always, we strive to publish unbiased reviews regardless of current, prior, or future relationships.

With all that in mind, let’s dive into this Clientjoy review to answer the question: should freelancers use it to manage their business?

The short answer: should you use Clientjoy?

If you don’t have time to read this full Clientjoy review or you just want to get an answer quickly, here’s a very short answer for you:

Psst… Can a text message help you reach $100K as a freelancer? Find out here…

YES, you should sign up for Clientjoy IF: You’re a freelancer or agency looking to streamline your sales process. This is where Clientjoy shines—in their CRM and sales pipeline.

They do a lot of other things really well (keep reading for all the details) but they definitely stand out in the market when it comes to their CRM and sales pipeline.

So if you’re serious about better tracking your sales and stabilizing your revenue (and let’s face it, you should be) then definitely give Clientjoy a try for 14 days.

What is Clientjoy?

To get started on the more in-depth Clientjoy review, let’s outline exactly what Clientjoy is.

On the Clientjoy homepage, we learn that Clientjoy is a sales CRM and growth engine for agencies and freelancers.

At the time of writing, they have around 3,000 customers—which means they’re very new—but have a great handle on what freelancers and agencies need in their business.

A Sales CRM

Clientjoy’s biggest strength is found in its CRM capabilities. Instead of using 3 different Google spreadsheets or some mix of other apps, Clientjoy allows you to put all of your client information in one place for easy access.

Here’s a high-level view of the CRM home screen:

As you can see, it makes a client’s information readily available and clear.

I’m not just talking about contact info either. With Clientjoy, all of your clients’ contact info, invoices, proposals, and lots more are stored in one, easy-to-access place.

When I click on a client, you can see I not only get lots of contact information and my history with the client, but I can also see proposals, contacts, and lots more information when I add it in. I really love this particular feature. Very clean and nice to use.

You can also grant Clientjoy access to other interested parties (like the client themselves or subcontractors/employees) so everyone has the full story every time they review a client’s progress.

A “Growth Engine”

Identifying what ClientJoy means when they say they’re a “growth engine” is a bit more complicated than identifying their CRM capabilities.

What seems to stand out, above the proposals, invoices, payments, etc. (because lots of apps can help you send invoices and all that) is the sales pipeline.

I’ve used lots of “pipeline” tools in the past and I find them either lacking in features or way too complicated.

What I like about Clientjoy’s sales pipeline feature is its initial simplicity paired with deeper-dive details where you want them.

Here’s what the Clientjoy sales pipeline looks like:

You can see a few key pieces of information here that I want to point out:

  • Simple Kanban-style columns I can easily drag and drop leads based on their progress.
  • Estimated client/project value in the top right of each “card” so I know where the biggest opportunities are.
  • Total client/project value in each column so I can forecast for the future and understand where my revenue is headed.

There are a few things I don’t quite understand at first-glance which I think the Clientjoy team could improve.

For example: what is the date? Is that the date I first added them? The most recently updated date? Or the date I hope to close them by (a deadline of sorts?) It’s not a deal-breaker, but there are a few things like that which could be clarified to create an even more powerful experience with Clientjoy.

More Clientjoy features

Now that I’ve reviewed Clientjoy’s top-billed features—the CRM and sales pipeline—let’s see what other tools Clientjoy has to offer. I’ve selected a few of my favs (the ones that really stood out) below:

Email integration

If you choose to sign up for Clientjoy, you’ll also have the option to connect your email directly to the app.

That means, Clientjoy will keep track of all conversations you have with your clients and allow you to interact directly from the app—instead of switching back and forth between Clientjoy and your email software.

That can be a big deal when you’re sending lots of email outreach and want to keep track of it all, but gmail or other email software just don’t handle the data as clearly.

Creating custom proposals

I was blown away by Clientjoy’s proposal workflow. Very clear, clean and easy-to-follow.

Sidenote: creating a new lead/client

When I went to add my first proposal, Clientjoy prompted me to first add a new lead (which is then added to my sales pipeline kanban board mentioned above).

First, it asked me to identify what stage the lead is at, and what the conversion probability is, reminding me that not all leads are created equal. Some are obviously more likely to convert than others.

It also asks for “deal size” (above) to keep everything in perspective relative to all the deals in your pipeline.

The other detail I appreciated was the lead/client “source” field which will allow me, over time, to identify my most fruitful marketing channels for getting new clients so I can lean into them.

Okay, back to proposals.
Sorry for the detour. Back to creating a proposal.

First, I expected a very simplistic, minimal proposal like I’ve seen with a few other tools I’ve reviewed. Not so for my Clientjoy review. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see LOTS of proposal templates to choose from when creating a freelance proposal for my clients.

Once you pick a template, it gives you some helpful boilerplate text along with a few pages you can fill in with custom information for your client and the specific proposal you’re creating.

Invoicing clients

I was really impressed with Clientjoy’s invoicing technology. There are tons of apps that let you send invoices—so this alone isn’t enough of a reason to sign up for Clientjoy. However, it integrates really nicely with the rest of their tools.

I also appreciated how many payment options I could include. I’m personally a big fan of Stripe and Paypal and do 99.9% of my payments with those two apps exclusively.

With Clientjoy, you can connect whichever apps you prefer to receive payments with. Currently, they have at least 8 options (the ones pictured below + standard wire transfer) and I’m sure they’ll continue to add more.

My only complaint with Clientjoy invoices is that you can’t change the invoice number.

This is bad for two reasons:

First, nothing screams “amateur” like sending invoice 0001 to your client. I prefer to customize my invoice numbers when sending to a client.

Second, if I’m already established as a freelancer, I probably already have an invoice 001 on record. And 002 and so on. This can make referencing invoices a headache for my accountant, my clients, and myself.

Final answer: should you choose Clientjoy?

When I started this Clientjoy review, I was honestly undecided. We’re constantly being introduced to new freelance software and, often, they fall short of my expectations and many of them don’t survive.

Clientjoy, in my opinion, is different.

I think Clientjoy is going to go on to become a staple in the freelancer/agency community. It reminds me a lot of powerhouse tech tools like ClickUp which have exploded in popularity lately.

So should you choose Clientjoy? If you like what you’ve seen in this Clientjoy review, then yes. You should sign up right away.

By my best guess, you’ll be happy with the various sales tools (we freelancers don’t focus enough on sales) in addition to the cohesive nature of everything else you have to manage.

Honestly, I think you can’t go wrong here. I recommend you try it out FREE for 14 days and see if you agree with me.

A few Clientjoy alternatives

If you’re still not sure after reading this Clientjoy review, then I recommend you read this list of CRM for freelancers to explore a few more options.

Here are a few solid contenders from the list:


If you’re looking for an all-in-one tool, Bonsai is a pretty good Clientjoy alternative. However, I haven’t seen the sales pipeline aspect I love so much in Clientjoy within the Bonsai ecosystem yet. I’m not sure it’s in their pipeline.


AND.CO (by Fiverr) is another option if you’re interested in having all your invoices, proposals, contracts, etc in one place. Again, I don’t see a sales pipeline feature, but they have a few more automation options from what I can see.


Finally, if you just want to keep track of leads (and forego the invoices, email integration, proposals and tons of other tools Clientjoy offers) then I recommend a free version of Trello. I used it for years to track my lead status and it works great.

What did you decide about Clientjoy?

If you made it through this full Clientjoy review, way to go! I’m curious to know what you’ve decided. Click the link below to share with me (and the community) any more questions you have or what decision you’ve made.

Keep the conversation going…

Nearly 10,000 of us are having daily conversations over in our free Facebook group and we’d love to see you there. Join us!

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20 Best Quick Loans WordPress Themes 2021

Here you will find all the best quick loan WordPress themes for your lending company. All themes come with a beautiful design and loads of customization options that make website building easier than ever.

Life is full of surprises indeed. Some of them are pleasant, and some are less pleasant. Modern society makes every possible effort to soften strokes of bad luck. As a result, we can see a fast-growing insurance and the money credit industries that promise to become our airbag upon is thorny and fraught with difficulties road of life. Once you get a decent insurance package, you feel much more pretended. However, the market becomes very overcrowded with insurance companies, so we don’t really know which one we can trust for our wealth and health.

This situation makes the lives of the finance niche representatives even more complicated because there are not many ways to impress a client anymore. You have to be credible and effective, share the most attractive and inspirational content that will calm your potential buyers down and give you a chance to build sincere relationships between you and your customer.

It does sound difficult, but if you have serious intentions and a premium WordPress theme, your entrepreneurship big breakthrough will come. Pick a template that comes crafted in accordance with the specific requirements of your finance niche. Such templates have all the needed functionality such as loan calculators, pricing tables, various plugins for schedule organization, and much more. It will help you to promote your business productively from the first day of your online existence. Today’s selection of WordPress templates is dedicated to quick loans & finance business and will help you to build an efficient online business in 2021.

QuickLoans | Loan Company WordPress Theme


QuickLoans was designed specifically for loan firms and has peculiar features that will cover its specific corporate needs. It includes a drag-and-drop website builder so that you can easily spice up the website look. Besides, you get 3 HomePage layout options that are quite handy for those who are running of time and need a fully-fledged professional-looking website immediately. More than 50% of the Internet community explore the WEB using their mobile devices. With Retina Image Support and the mobile-friendly feature, you will experience a cutting-edge mobile performance. This template will save you and your visitors time, as a neat Ajax search displays results while typing the request in the search bar. Do not forget to set up a blog. So you can boost the level of visitors and make your website even more SEO-friendly. QuickLoans template will turn your unknown loan agency into a revenue-generating online business.

More info / Download

Quick Cash | Loan Company & Finance Advisor WordPress Theme


The creation of a financial-related website requires specific web tools and a serious approach. As this template has been made by Envato Power Elite Author, you can rest assured you get everything to build an effective online promotion for a loan firm, broker, loan advisor, and tax assistance agency. It comes with a loan calculator and payment info form, covering specific needs of the niche. You can use pre-made layouts or create a unique one using the WPBakery page builder and modifying the page look in accordance with your preferences. Also, the template is coded with HTML5 and CSS3 and comes easy to understand for the most popular search engines.

Moreover, you have a chance to set up a blog of any complexity and style. And with advanced blog settings, you can monitor post views, organize likes, and sharing buttons. All these elements will help you to build a connection between you and your customer.

More info / Download

Gordon | Investments & Insurance Company WordPress Theme


With the Gordon theme, you can create an unlimited number of HomePage layouts. Simply use a WPBakery page builder that allows creating pages on a drag-and-drop basis. Using this precise and clever tool, you can make a custom design, show off your personality without touching a single line of code. Also, you can use the advantage of advanced blogging opportunities, as this template has a variety of blog styles. You can share some useful and unique finance content, in this manner, a search engine will give you a better ranking, and you gain more random visitors that one day will turn into your clients. This template has amazing mobile responsiveness. So, once your visitor decides to explore this website via a mobile device, all the content, including text, images, and logo becomes a nice, high-quality and mobile-friendly copy of the full-size website. Build a strong presence with the Gordon template.

More info / Download

Insurance Agency & Business WordPress Theme


The insurance industry requires from its representatives’ demonstration of high-level professionalism and reliability, otherwise, you won’t beat any of your competitors and your agency will stay unnoticed. If you want to prevent such a bitter end of your business, take good care of your online representation. Pick a clean, easy to install and navigate template that has a bunch of customization tools, so you can organize a beautiful online business card for your business.

This theme has an incredible visual composer, full of options for designing and editing the page using no coding skills. Besides, you get a huge pack of shortcodes, which includes such elements as Content Slider, Video List, Scroller, Timeline, Testimonials, Team, Google Maps, and it is not even half of the list. With an interactive Ajax Search mechanism, your visitors will get search results while typing. Thus, you can show off you really appreciate your visitors’ time and always do your best to solve their issues as fast as possible.

More info / Download

Insugroup | Insurance & Finance WordPress Theme


Need a sleek WordPress solution for your insurance firm? We have one for you that you can get in one click and use it right away passing the customization process. It already has a gorgeous and modern default HomePage layout that stuffed with everything you might need to make a decent representation of your insurance business. However, if you feel like its design lacks something and you know how to add that special glow, use the drag-and-drop page builder to switch template elements and drag your content around.

Only in experimenting can you arrange an efficient and unique page look that will catch visitors’ attention and positive feedbacks. This template goes automatically updated, so you don’t need to surf the Internet searching for the latest version of whatever you might need. It is designed and functionality made with huge care for client’s requirements and attention to every detail, so you could relax and stay focused on the quality of the content you share.

More info / Download

ShieldGroup | Insurance & Finance WordPress Theme


ShieldGroup is a superb WordPress template with a sophisticated layout designed to spread the atmosphere of loyalty and competence. Its core features include drag-and-drop functionality, meaning you can craft an exclusive website look using a precise page builder. This template has a well-structured HTML code, which meets the highest standards of all modern search engines. With such features as Sticky Menu and MegaMenu, your visitors will uncomplicatedly find all the needed information. The ShieldGroup theme supports the MailChimp plugin, so your business correspondence will be conducted expertly. Even though the template customization process is completely codeless, you still might meet some questions while the theme management, that is why you get a pack of template documentation and free support. Hence, you have no more excuses to hesitate with the creation of your insurance website.

More info / Download

Antverp | Insurance & Financial Advising WordPress Theme


The Antverp template suits both business consulting companies and individuals that provide their services. This template has a powerful admin interface full of options to make your website look unique and classy. It goes compatible with an Appointment Booked plugin, meaning you can settle your schedule and provide your clients with an option to book a consultation session online. With its Retina-ready and responsive layout, your website will look impeccable on a desktop, tablet or mobile screen. The insurance business requires an SEO-friendly web solution and this template, with its clean and valid code, gives you the best chance to make it to the top of Google. It is easy to guide your clients around the website with the handy MegaMenu plugin. Invest your money in an easily operated, fully customizable, visually polished business template and get your business to the next level.

More info / Download

The Finance | Payday Loans, Finance and Business WordPress Theme


The Finance is an outstandingly customizable and responsive WordPress template crafted for all kinds of finance-related establishments. It combines a vast experience of professional web designers and developers with complete compliance with niche representatives requirements. The responsive and mobile-friendly design adjusts utterly to any device and provides your visitors with a fast loading speed. This template comes with 3 Homepage Layouts and 7 Header options, which you can personalize via manageable drag-and-drop builder. With its advanced page settings, you can organize your sidebars’ looks, change the background, and set a slider for any page. It also has unlimited color options, so you can choose combinations that will fit best with your brand attitude. Pick this SEO-friendly template and expand your clients’ list with ease.

More info / Download

Cash Bay | Loan & Credit Money WP Theme


Cash Bay is a bright, clean, and minimalist template that has a perfect range of options for an online loan firm. An amazingly configurable template skin gives you a variety of ways to showcase your services. Use a pack of splendid Portfolio Types and Blog Layouts, in such a way you can boost your SEO level by sharing useful and entertaining articles. With a Loan Calculator, your clients will save lots of time and apply for loan requests using a simple online form. Get more than 99 shortcodes and build content blocks in a playful way. Besides, all the content comes gathered into sections, which you can manage and highlight the top priority one. Moreover, Cash Bay comes plugin-friendly and supports the most popular plugins. Hence, you can enrich the functionality of your website at once. Take the advantage of a premium WordPress development with Cash Bay.

More info / Download

Autema | Quick Loans, Bitcoin, Business Coach and Finance Consulting WordPress Theme


Build an impressive design in no sweat using state-of-the-art features of the Autema template. This is a multi-purpose web solution, as it has more than 6 demos and more than 32 inner pages. Check out the video tutorial on how to install the demo. We have a spoiler for you—the demo import process requires a single mouse click. With this template, you can sell your products and services online. Your clients will meet no difficulties while using your website because its navigation capabilities enhanced by a Multi-level menu. Also, set up an Event Calendar and let your clients know the date of the upcoming business conference or financial lecture. Moreover, it has more than 20 custom Visual Composer elements that you can adjust in a drag-and-drop manner. A simple color customizer coupled with Google fonts will help you to emphasize the philosophy of your brand.

More info / Download

Borrow – Loan Company Responsive WordPress Theme


Are you running a small loan agency and you want to go online with your business? Pick Borrow and demonstrate your services in the best light. It has a polished and responsive layout that aims to give you the highest online performance and help you collect a bunch of likes, shares, and positive feedbacks. It has such neat features as The Loan and Amortization Calculator and EMI Calculator so your clients can easily calculate their needs.

Moreover, it comes with 3 Homepage layouts, Contact Us page, Location page, Loan Compare page, and Loan Details page. Also, the theme is coded with a robust and clean HTML code, which has an easily readable and Googlebot-friendly structure. And thanks to the intuitive page builder, you can make it look more dedicated and personalized. Furthermore, this template allows your visitors to relish a beautiful Parallax scroll effect. Import all the demo content in one click and enjoy the responsiveness and effectiveness of a Borrow template.

More info / Download

Payday Loans | Banking, Loan Business and Finance WordPress Theme


Contribute your cash payday loan services in a chic manner. It has all the needed niche functionality and immaculate template design. Payday Loans theme comes with exceptional calculate options that will impress your clients with its simplicity and accuracy. You will find Layer Slider and Revolution Slider plugins inside this theme; the best part of it is that you get these premium plugins for free.

Use Google fonts and make your website look exceptionally. You can fit some valuable information into your sidebars, so use this space wisely. If you don’t want to stuck with multiple pages customization, you can create a one-page website. Valid HTML code is the key to your success, and this template comes with an optimized structure to prevent any search engine ranking difficulties. The good news for those who barely familiar with web design—Payday Loans includes premium support via personal tickets, so all your probable issues will be solved.

More info / Download

BiziPress | Finance & Insurance WordPress Theme


BiziPress is a top-level WordPress template for finance companies and insurance bureau. Your rushing clients will stay calm and satisfied, as this template has the highest speed performance. It also lets you experiment with colors, style, and pick different header and footer options. You will get cutting-edge functionality, as buying this theme, you get lots of custom widgets, such as BiziPress Recent Post, BiziPress Contact, BiziPress Social, and Services Menu. A MegaMenu plugin will simplify the website navigation, so your clients always find the needed information making minimum efforts. With Visual Page Builder, you have a flexible codeless way to organize your content. Moreover, BiziPress comes coded with an excellent quality HTML5 code so that you can stay assured of its responsiveness and productivity.

More info / Download

LoanShop | Loan Company & Finance Advisor WordPress Theme


Spread vibes of independence, integrity, and credibility. The LoanShop template will help you to look elegant and reliable. LoanShop comes with a bunch of specific loan-related features, such as precise Loan EMI Calculator, where your clients can quickly change the currency symbol and all the text. You will get 2 Header and Footer styles, 3 layout options for a Service Detail Page, and lots of inner pages. You can change the template font and experiment with its size using enhanced typography options. What’s more? You will also get an easy-to-understand package of documentation with a detailed step-by-step guide. The developer provides all customers with effective support and regular updates. Thanks to a MailChimp compatibility, you can practice the efficient promotion tool and send a weekly newsletter with hot offers to your dear customers.

More info / Download

Disclosure: This page contains external affiliate links that may result in us receiving a commission if you choose to purchase mentioned product. The opinions on this page are our own and we don’t receive additional bonus for positive reviews.

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A Typeface For The Visually Impaired

Over a million adults in the USA are affected by blindness, and a much larger number suffers from various forms of visual impairments. The Braille Institute, which has a century-long history of helping people with visual issues, decided to take its experience to address the problems its members face when reading and writing on digital devices.

For that, they partnered with Applied Design, a New York-based design agency, to create a typeface for the visually impaired. The font was named Atkinson Hyperlegible, after the Braille Institute founder Robert J. Atkinson.

Atkinson Hyperlegible was designed to focus on letterform distinction instead of aiming for uniformity of shapes. It comes in 4 weights and supports the accented characters of over 25 languages and mathematical symbols. It has already won an award of Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards in the graphic design category. You can download it for free on Google Fonts.

About the Author

author photo

Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.

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7-Steps Guide To Create A Content Marketing Strategy

You can’t sell it if it’s a secret!

Are you reading this to put a legit blog content marketing strategy in place? If yes, then WELL DONE! You are part of only 37% of bloggers who have a documented plan in place! This means you’re well on your way to making your blog, and business, a huge success!

How to start a WordPress blog

The quintessential ingredient for a successful blog is knowing how to create a content marketing strategy. It has to get your explosive content into the line of fire and blow the minds of your target audience, good and solid! A concise content marketing strategy helps you to deliver outstanding content consistently. This article will lead you through the process of setting up your blog’s content marketing strategy for the next twelve months.

So who is this article aimed at?

It’s for everyone who wants to start their own blog. Most bloggers want to create successful blogs that make money. Maybe you’re a business person who needs to add a blog to your website or perhaps you’re a newbie blogger who doesn’t yet have the budget to hire a digital marketing company. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain, without promoting and advertising your content, your product is dead.

Content marketing strategy definition

I’ll start by explaining exactly what a content marketing strategy is. And why it’s important to the success of your blog. You’ll get a clear idea of the basic strategies you need to create. And then you can get started on developing a creative content marketing strategy that will hook your buyers and brand your product with a bang!

The heart and soul of content marketing strategies are content and customers. One would not exist without the other. Who you are creating for should always remain at the forefront of your brainstorming sessions. Always create content for your target audience. Your content must solve problems, teach, inform, and entertain.

The quality of your content, and the effectiveness of your marketing strategies, are going to:

  • garner business relationships,
  • establish you as an authority on your topic,
  • build an online community,
  • give your audience confidence in your brand and product, and
  • increase traffic, leads, conversions, and ultimately, revenue.

This article will show you how to create a content marketing strategy that covers all the bases. When you have your basic outline in place, you can then formulate actionable schedules, with short and long-term goals for each strategy, within the main content marketing strategy.

Let’s jump straight in!

how to create content marketing strategy

Why do I need content marketing strategies?

You’ve all heard the saying, “That book/bag/dress/won’t sell itself!” And this is why marketing exists; to sell products. Marketing defines a product better than the product defines itself. But marketing is more than just advertising. In the next section, I’ll explain the differences.

Digital content marketing is not confined to blog content alone. Content marketing uses many channels for promotion. And all these channels get used to promote your blog content. Blog content is the most popular form of content marketing at the moment, so it makes sense to use these channels for your blog.
Channels that get used to promote blog content, as well as the other types of content, include:

  • Google Ads,
  • PPC (Pay-per-click),
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Podcasts
  • Video channels (like YouTube)
  • Tutorials
  • Webinars
  • Blogs

Your content must sell your product but your marketing must sell your content. So when we talk about content marketing we refer to the processes and methods needed to promote and advertise the content that will lead to building an audience and selling a product.

What are content marketing strategies?

A content marketing strategy is made up of smaller strategies. Common strategies include:

  • A selling strategy – to increase revenue.
  • A content strategy – to plan and create content.
  • A marketing strategy – to create awareness of your content, brand, and product. So you will have three sub-strategies here:
    • one for content – a content strategy
    • one for the brand – a branding strategy
    • and one for your products – an advertising strategy. They will interconnect and overlap. Or it may be one strategy that covers all three aspects. You get to decide on the structure.
  • A promotional strategy – this strategy will cover things like promotions, give-aways, campaigns, competitions, etc. Your promotional strategy must promote your content (blog) as well as your brand, products, and services.

As you can see, there are many components to a content marketing strategy. For this article, the focus is on how to set up a digital content marketing strategy for your blog.

Before we get to the 7 steps needed to build your complete strategy, let’s quickly identify the main differences between marketing and advertising.

What are the main differences between marketing and advertising?

  1. Marketing prepares a product for the market while advertising makes your product/service/brand known to an audience/marketplace.
  2. Marketing involves studying market research and studying consumer behavior. Advertising is a component of marketing, a specific step in the overall picture. Advertising is a creative endeavor that includes design and multimedia production (content formation). It uses the data and research collected by marketing strategies, to best communicate the brand.
  3. Marketing is a more controlled and wider-reaching process, while advertising is specific to “brand communication”.
  4. Marketing is both research and practical application, while advertising is just practical application, or putting into practice what you learn from your marketing efforts.

What areas are bloggers and marketers most lacking in?

  • Market research indicates that over two-thirds (over 66%) of marketers feel they need to be educated on how to use the technology available to manage and market content, as well as how to scale their content strategies.
  • Almost half (almost 50%) need to learn more about mapping the customer journey. And over a third (more than 33%) want to learn more about:
    • AI (using bots for customer relations, automated processes, analytics, etc)
    • How to develop workflows,
    • How to communicate their vision to their employees and/or upper management,
    • and how to set up and manage a content team.

And now let’s get into the exciting part!

Are you ready to plan your blog’s content marketing strategy for the next year?

Get out your colored pens, some sheets of blank paper, your notebook, a pot of strong coffee, and let’s begin.

How To Create A Blog Content Marketing Strategy: In 7 Steps

As you work through these steps, have your paper, notebooks, and pens on hand. Go through each step, write down your goals, take your time. If you can’t think of everything, come back later and add to your list, as the ideas come to you. At the same time, on a separate sheet of paper, write down your “to do” list. For instance:

  • Create an “About Us” page. See my article on “How to create an “About” page.”
  • Buy or try out software to automate emails.
  • Get AI to improve CRM (customer relations management).
  • Create a Facebook page.
  • And so on. Jot down whatever comes to mind. You can refine the list at a later stage.

The 7 main steps in Content Marketing Strategy are:

  1. Set up goals and define intentions
  2. Review your previous content and results
  3. Identify and know your target audience
  4. Calculate your budget and resources
  5. Plan your content strategy
  6. Plan your marketing strategy
  7. Measure results

Step 1 – Set goals and define intentions:

content marketing strategy step1
Content marketing strategy step1

Write up your mission statement, identify your KPIs, and draw up a list of goals:

1. What are your goals? Write down your short and long-term goals.

Use SMART goals. Goals must be small, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. You can use this formula for both short and long-term goals.

Goals can include:

  • Increase traffic and leads generation
  • Increase sales
  • or increase revenue from other various income streams
  • Increase social media presence and followers
  • Install software to increase conversions and sales from leads
  • Improve brand awareness
  • Educate yourself in areas you feel you are lacking
  • Start a podcast or YouTube channel
  • Create free downloadable digital content
  • Create an ebook
The key performance indicators

To help you set goals, you must identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) you will be using. The KPIs are the aspects and factors you can measure and track, based on analytics and data.

KPIs can be anything from:

  • Number of page visits
  • Time spent on page
  • ROI from campaigns, CPCs, CPLs, etc.
  • Number of inbound links
  • or downloads
  • Number of new subscribers
  • Number of shares
  • Comments and interactions from social media platforms
  • Leads generated
  • Conversions from leads
  • Identifying the most effective platforms so you will know where to spend more and less for your next round of advertising and promotional campaigns
  • Which content gets the best results, both in terms of topic and format. Look at factors like; time of year posted, day posted, frequency of posts, repurposed posts, how it was marketed (if at all), etc.

2. What drives you? Introduce yourself, your brand, and your ethos.

Make sure your ‘About” page is exceptional, catchy, dynamic. This is the space you use to tell visitors and customers about:

  • Your brand.
  • Your backstory.
  • Why you are so passionate about your product.
  • What you and your product can do for people. What problems can you solve? How you can make their lives easier. Why they need it.
  • What your values are. For example, do you give a percentage of profits to a cause or back to the workers? Are you “green”? Do you feel strongly about fair labor practices? Is your product plastic-free, organic, non-GMO, educational, etc.

Step 2 – Review your previous content and the results

Step 2
Content marketing strategy step 2

Step 2 is part of step one but also separate. You will need to gather all the information using your chosen KPIs and analytics to set your goals. But you also need this information so that you can plan your content calendar for the next twelve months. The results will show you where you are doing well and which areas are falling short of set goals. From here you will be able to tweak and adapt your content strategy to hit your mark on your next set of goals.

You should be reviewing and asking things like:

  • How much has organic traffic increased?
  • What digital content was downloaded the most?
  • Which content has the best results and how did you promote it?
  • How is your content being received across social media platforms?
  • Which content performs the best? For example; listicles, how-to posts, tutorials, interviews, reviews, mixed media, video content, etc.
  • What are the best days to publish and promote on social media? Remember, different platforms have different demographics and therefore will show different results.
  • How are your competitors comparing?
  • What results are you getting from email marketing?
  • Are you targeting your niche audience to the best of your abilities?

Step 3 – Identify and know your target audience

content marketing strategy step3
Content marketing strategy step 3

Marketing to a specific group of people narrows the playing field but if done correctly, increases your ROI and sees a marked increase in sales and revenue. When you target people highly likely to want what you are offering, the organic traffic generated will result in more leads that convert to actual customers and sales. The people you are connecting with through your various marketing channels will be more engaged. This creates a busier platform, builds an online community, and cements your reputation as being an authority on the content you are promoting.

Read about how to find your target audience.

Step 4 – Calculate your budget and resources

Step 4
Content marketing strategy step 4

Recognize the strategies you must put in place.

As a new blogger, you may not yet have $2,000 to spend on hiring a digital marketing company. A digital marketing company offers the following services:

  • PPC
  • SEO
  • Email automation and marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Web design and development (back and front end)

But you can do all these things yourself, at a fraction of the price, just by getting the right software. Check out my article on “How to promote your blog.” And also “How to promote your blog on social media.”

Basically, when you calculate your budget you must list the channels you will be using, list the software you want to buy, and calculate the monthly costs of implementing your chosen brands for specific services, like email automation, SEO, and analytics.

Step 5 – Content Strategy

Content marketing strategy step 5
Content marketing strategy step 5
  • Consider your niche
  • your target audience &
  • your pillar posts and topic clusters
  • Create evergreen content
  • Repurpose content that does well, by changing the format or just updating
  • Do keyword research
  • Identify your KPIs (key performance indicators)
  • Add share buttons that make it easy for readers to tweet, pin, or share across social media. (This point is more marketing strategy than content strategy, but remember everything is interconnected and the end goal is to create content that flows and consolidates at the same time.

Your content marketing strategies must be innovative and cost-effective. Learn from veteran bloggers who are willing to share where they went wrong when they started out. Many bloggers throw money at the wrong marketing strategies, spend too much advertising on the wrong channels, and don’t use the data and the analytics they have at their fingertips. According to Disruptive Advertising, only 5% of bloggers don’t use analytics but of those that do, an astounding 97% are not analyzing the data effectively.

When you start out, the most important strategy is your content strategy. This will include an SEO strategy with keyword research. Analyzing your metrics and KPIs helps you decide what topics and formats of content to create.


Organic traffic is the unpaid traffic generated from Google’s search engines. SEO is probably the most important marketing strategy of them all. Why? Because you want people to find you through Google search queries. The second most important is the marketing of your actual blog. SEM is also vital. SEO is organic (unpaid) traffic, SEM is paid traffic.

Your WordPress dashboard has SEO settings for you to fill in when you compose your blog posts. And most SEO software will come with a free basic package or a trial period. When you use SEO tools, by the time you are ready to publish, you get to see how good your SEO efforts are. If it’s in the green you’re good to go. Get familiar with the free plugins associated with your blog’s CMS (content management system).

We recommend the free, open-source WordPress CMS.

When you create your content you have to do so with SEO in mind. If your content is not getting picked up by the “crawlers”. Crawlers are spiders and bots (robots) that trawl the web for keywords, based on search queries from users.

If you can’t afford all the automated processes needed for email marketing, SEO, and SEM, then choose the free versions until you can afford others. See my articles on identifying target audiences, keyword research, blog promotion, and more right here in our best content section.

Keyword research is very important. Again, you can use free resources or paid versions to get the right keywords into your posts, titles, images, and URLs.

How To Create A Content Calendar

Get a large piece of paper, mark out 12 sections, one for each month. Do the same using one piece of paper for each month, and block in the days. Use your PC instead of paper if you prefer doing it that way. (I just prefer using paper because I can stick it up on my noticeboard). Or use an actual calendar with separate pages, and empty blocks, for each month. Decide how often you’ll be publishing. For this article, I’m going with one blog post per week. So that means I’ll need to come up with 52 blog posts for the year.

Take holidays into account and reserve those times for articles relevant to each holiday. This is not so important if your product is not seasonal. But it’s a good time to advertise promotions, specials, discounts, etc. This planning happens in the next step (Step 6 – blog marketing strategy).

Preparing your content calendar:

  1. Make a list of problems your target audience needs help with.
  2. Address each problem with a listicle post, a “how-to” post, and any other formats you want to include.
  3. Research what’s trending in your niche.
  4. Then start brainstorming, on a separate sheet of paper. Use mind mapping and try to break up your posts into pillar content, followed by topic clusters
  5. Examine your products and decide how to introduce them without being too promotional. Focus more on educating and solving problems. To find out what problems are priorities, do thorough keyword research. See my article on keyword research here.
  6. For each pillar post, you can mind map your next 5-10 articles. This helps you to create your content calendar for 12 months at a time.
  7. If seasonal, break your content calendar down into four seasons. This means you’ll have 12 weeks for each season.
  8. If you break content up into seasons, you could have 4 pillar posts with 11 topic cluster posts for each pillar post. And an extra 4 posts to make up 52 weeks of blog posts.

An example of a content calendar

Here is an example of a content calendar based on the medicinal benefits of herbs (Gardening is another passion of mine, after design.)

* * *

Pillar Post – Week 1
  • Topic: Seasonal Herbs with Medicinal Benefits
Then Topic Cluster posts like:
Week Topic
2 Top Ten Culinary Herbs with Medicinal Benefits
3 How to Grow Ten Herbs with Medicinal Properties
4 Best Recipes using Top Ten Easy-to-grow Herbs
5 Best Summer Herbs for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress
6 Try These Herbs to Improve Memory and Cognitive Function
7 What Do These Ten Herbs Have in Common?
8 Winter Herbs for Common Ailments
9 Cooking with Seasonal Herbs
Pillar Post – Week 10
  • Topic: Guide To Growing Medicinal Herbs
Next Topic Cluster posts:
Week Topic
11 How To Grow Your Own Herbal First Aid Kit
12 Ten Easy Herbs to Grow in Pots
13 How to Care for Your Potted Herbs: Includes List of Common Pests and Diseases
14 How to Harvest and Store Your Homegrown Herbs
15 Drying Herbs for Herbal Teas
16 Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
17 List of Medicinal Weeds you’ll Find in Your Garden
Pillar Post – Week 18
  • Common Herbs for Health: Herbs for Cleansing and Boosting Liver, Heart, and Immunity
And again Topic Cluster posts:
Week Topic
19 Health Benefits of Dandelion
20 Herbs To Help Diabetics
21 How To Flush Liver With Herbs
22 10 Herbs To Boost Immunity

* * *

And this is how you create your blog posts for the next twelve months. Along the way, you may find that certain posts are doing very well. Ask yourself why. What problems are you solving? Do the listicles fair better than the how-to articles? Have you created evergreen content that you can repurpose and repackage? For example, you might decide to convert a popular “how-to” post into video format. Or update the content and repost.

But all your efforts to create informative content are wasted if nobody knows it exists. And so we move on to Step 6.

Step 6 – Marketing Strategy

Step 6
Content marketing strategy step 6

How will you promote your weekly blog posts?

Once again, you will need a calendar for your marketing strategies. And remember there’s software, like, to help you keep track of your team and the tasks everyone is working on. Set deadlines, arrange meetings, and coordinate dates to publish various content in various formats.

Use AIDA principles when selling and be aware of the different stages of the buying journey. The marketing funnel is crucial to catch users at the different places they are in when they do their search queries and land on your page organically.Refer to the results of your previous content, analyze the techniques you used, and the success you achieved. Marketing strategies need a budget and allocated publishing places and times. Choose Pinterest and Instagram for highly visual content. Use Twitter to tease and intrigue your target audience into clicking on links to your blog (organic traffic).

By linking all your social media platforms, from LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook to Pinterest, and Instagram, you can track and keep tabs on what and where you are getting the most traffic from. This information helps you to decide where to spend money and where to utilize free options.

How To Create A Marketing Strategy

Use your analytics to compile daily, weekly, and monthly campaigns and advertising. Each platform has tools and resources for marketing content. Read my article on “How to promote your blog on social media platforms.”

Find out which are the best days to post ads for content. For example, according to, the best day to post on Facebook is Wednesday. The worst day is Sunday. The best times to post are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, at 5 p.m. And on Fridays between 8 and 9 a.m.

Will you use free tools or pay to boost your posts to get better reach? Facebook has Facebook and Google Ads have useful tools and resources to help you market content.

Twitter has a different time frame. Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 a.m work the best. And the favored days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The most interactive times for tweeting are between 8 a.m and 4 p.m. The worst day for engagement is Saturday. And the worst times are daily from 10 p.m to 4 a.m.

Part of a digital marketing strategy includes getting social. The more you engage with your target audience the faster you’ll gain a reputation as an authority on your topic. How do you do this? Join Quora and Reddit. These platforms are popular for FAQs and researching what problems your target audience needs help with. Join Facebook groups and forums. Engage on these platforms. Not only will you gain a reputation as an authority, but you will also build relationships with your target audience. Building an online community that introduces people to your brand and product will also fall under your branding and promotional strategies.

Step 7 – Measure Your Results

Content marketing strategy step7
Content marketing strategy step 7

The final step, in your overall content marketing strategy, is to keep up with your results. This is invaluable when planning your next round of promotions and campaigns. You must pinpoint where you had the best ROI and which campaigns had terrible results. How successful has your SEO and SEM marketing been? Where can you afford to spend next and where did you waste your money?

How much of your content can be repurposed and updated. How much evergreen content have you got? Should you start a YouTube channel or a podcast?

These questions will help you to budget. Don’t forget to compare your results with those of your competitors. Can you afford to pay for AI and automation software? Time is money, so the more tasks you can automate, the more time you’ll have to craft kick-ass content. Maybe you want to hire a content writer or a person that will promote content via Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

Stay informed to stay relevant. If you have the passion behind your product, it’s easier to stay motivated. Continue to educate yourself, as well as your customers.

The Final Outcome About Content Marketing Strategy

Has this article helped you to understand why a documented content marketing strategy is important? If so, please leave a comment in the section below.

It is virtually impossible to store all this information in your head. So the extra time and effort you put into your content marketing the better off you’ll be in terms of increasing traffic, generating new leads, and ultimately, getting leads to convert to paying customers and subscribers. These people are more likely to share your posts because they are getting value from your content.

Please subscribe to our mailing list if you want to be kept up to date with our latest content. And I hope you enjoyed this article.

How to create a content marketing strategy that works is easier than you thought, right? Keep up the good work! And keep on striving to make your blog a success story!

Happy Blogging!

The post 7-Steps Guide To Create A Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Blog On Your Own.

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How To Develop Your Business’ Technology Roadmap — Smashing Magazine

Quick summary ↬

Software development without a roadmap is akin to driving off a cliff — an undertaking that seriously jeopardizes your product’s life. Here’s how to develop a business technology roadmap that ensures your project safely reaches its final destination.

When people have an idea for a piece of software or an app, they tend to be pretty energized about getting it to market as quickly as possible. It’s exciting to create an app or piece of software no one’s ever imagined or built before. As software developers, we’re usually right there with them.

At some point, though, we need to sit down with clients and give them a sometimes sobering reality: software development without a business technology roadmap can be a lot like driving aimlessly from point A to point Z. Sure, you get to discover new worlds and experience unexpected adventures, but you also frequently get lost, spend more money, and can lose enthusiasm for the journey.

“Agile” And “Fast” Are Not The Same In Software Development

Many people think an Agile approach to software development discards long-term planning. Perhaps it’s because we so often use the word “sprint” in conversation. In reality, all good software development must flow from a business technology roadmap, as it:

  • Provides context around the development team’s daily work.
  • Responds to shifts in, among other things, the competitive landscape.

So, what is a business technology roadmap, and how can one be developed to support software development? That’s what we’re here to talk about.

What Is A Business Technology Roadmap?

Unlike detailed blueprints that lay out all tasks, deadlines, bug reports, and more along the way, technology roadmaps are high-level visual summaries highlighting a company’s vision or plans.

In an Agile approach, a technology roadmap feeds the sprint and grooming processes, providing insight into how the product will travel from start to finish. It makes it easier for development teams to:

  • Understand how the product will evolve.
  • Make near-term decisions that don’t compromise future work.
  • Gain awareness of which features are or aren’t working.

Companies can use technology roadmaps to review their internal IT, DevOps, infrastructure, architecture, software, internal system, and hardware procurement policies and procedures with innovation and efficiency in mind. The roadmap helps them define how a new IT tool, process, or technology supports their business strategy and growth and aligns projects with short and long-term goals.

There are hundreds of templates companies use for their tech roadmaps. A typical IT roadmap covers everything from requirements to testing and integrations. A dev team’s work dictates software or development roadmaps, highlighting tech initiatives, epics, and features while communicating the team’s primary goals.

There are hundreds of templates companies use for their tech roadmaps. That’s what a roadmap could look like. (Large preview)

For a typical client, a roadmap follows the following structure.

  • We created a list of all the features based on competition and wish list,
  • We narrowed that down based on what we wanted to be and what our beta users wanted,
  • We used that narrowed list to start technical planning and user stories,
  • As new features came up, we ran that through the roadmap to know if it fits in or how it should be prioritized,
  • We adjusted the roadmap if needed every 3-5 months.

More after jump! Continue reading below ↓

The Role A Technology Roadmap Plays In An Agile Approach

In practice, a technology roadmap in Agile software development:

  • Facilitates planning activities by recognizing the journey is just as important as the destination. It forces teams to “come out of the weeds” and think more strategically.

    How this might play out: Your dev team suggests that the product needs built-in calling, meeting scheduling, and multi-layer reporting features. That forces you into planning activities like grooming meetings and getting outside feedback where you dissect each feature and come up with scenarios for setting them up. You might also discuss things like vendor selection for each feature. Conversations tend to follow an “or” pattern, as in “are we going to do this, or this, or that?”

  • Highlights key focus areas and works as a navigational tool to help the entire team succeed.

    How this might play out: Putting a spotlight on the areas the team needs to focus on forces you to decide who you want to be and what you want to become. Put another way, if you’re tailoring your product to a specific group, say inside sales reps, highlighting core features that matter to this narrower group of users helps eliminate tasks that might be used in other projects.

  • Works as a critical communication tool both within the teams and with other key stakeholders.

    How this might play out: As your project progresses and team members remind you about particular features stakeholders said they wanted, you can easily refer back to the roadmap to see if it was there in the first place. You can see where you chose to make certain development decisions, i.e., “we chose to be an inside sales rep tool,” and “we chose to be this or that.” This acts as sort of a forcing function, helping you revise the roadmap and rearrange the order and priority of tasks based on how they affect your schedule and deadline goals.

Different development companies and teams use different charts to construct their agile product roadmap, but they all tend to include:

  • A “longer-term strategic theme,” which points teams in a specific direction based on their assigned tasks.
  • A list of quarterly outcomes or objectives and key results (OKR) goals that each team will focus on to achieve the strategic theme. These goals basically answer the question, “what are the things we may build?” The answer lies in how you define success. Each team gives their best guesses as to how they’ll achieve each quarter’s goals.
  • Additional columns contain OKR goals, but with fewer and fewer “things we may build” listings. That’s because teams don’t know what they’ll be working on three or four quarters out so there are fewer best guesses. As the project moves forward and goes through testing, the boxes for the later quarters fill up.

More detailed software roadmaps cover milestones like player launch, product details like user profiles, UX/UI such as desktop icons and wireframes, and dev goals like press-to-play and performance enhancements.

Unlike traditional software development approaches, Agile focuses on the strategy, not the plan. That means outcomes, not outputs, are prioritized; tactical plans are left for backlogs. In a way, they’re designed to communicate uncertainty and provide transparency into what stops along the way are likely to remain as is and which might be in flux. For this reason, it’s crucial to update Agile roadmaps often as priorities shift and change.

How A Technology Roadmap Feeds The Agile Sprint And Grooming Processes

Sprints frequently go off track, which can have a negative effect on downstream operations. A technology roadmap helps teams run more successful sprints by setting a foundation and identifying how work should be organized so activities can be finished in a short time period.

  • A sprint goal refers to what can be delivered in the sprint.
  • A sprint backlog is the list of tasks to be completed during the sprint to achieve the goal.

To illustrate, let’s say you want to develop a new product feature. During the sprint planning meeting, team members need to “groom” the backlog and say which tasks they’ll work on. This is where many teams are led down the wrong path. They assume planning for the next two weeks is easy-peasy. They overlook or forget the work they’re planning must also satisfy the established goal.

A good backlog:

  • Lists each work item in order of importance.
  • Includes full-developed user stories the team can begin to execute on.
  • Has a current estimate for each work item.

Because it’s easy for teams to get bogged down in the details of a project, a technology roadmap helps them stay focused on high-level objectives and true customer needs.

The Role Of A Technology Roadmap In Digital Transformation

Today’s digital transformations focus on three key areas: customer experience, operational processes, and business models. Whether it’s for a small company or multi-national enterprise, a well-developed business technology roadmap helps companies reach short and long-term digital transformation goals by allowing them to:

  • Remain agile enough to accommodate course changes.
  • Build long-term value in the product.
  • Avoid roadblocks and other obstacles.
  • Because digital transformation is a relatively new concept, it’s often a journey filled with blind spots. What does it mean in terms of the scope and intensity of change? What will the repercussions be of pursuing and implementing it?

On the one hand, the digital transformation process is seen as using technologies to create new or modify existing business models. On the other hand, it’s about companies needing to embrace new cultures, structures, and processes that align with their IT architecture. One thing’s for sure: digital transformation is a fundamental change for any company.

A technology roadmap assists overall digital transformation goals by answering some key questions:

  • How is digital changing or poised to change the business and its industry?
  • What new offerings, operating models, and business models can it enable?
  • How is digital affecting the business’s competitive advantage? Where does the company remain well-positioned, and where is it disadvantaged?
  • Which digital opportunities are consistent with a company’s strategy based on value potential? In what order should the business pursue them?
  • What gaps in systems and capabilities need to be filled to succeed?
  • What are the targets, timelines, and accountabilities for individual projects and programs? What steps are needed to finance the journey?

Just about every business can benefit from developing their business technology roadmap as part of their digital transformation plan. New digital advances and the opportunity to improve traditional technologies to change customer relationships and employee experiences put businesses on a clear and rewarding path for turning technology into transformation.

Creating A Technology Roadmap To Drive Successful Innovation

Many businesses already have a technology roadmap. The question is whether that map is pointing to where they want to go, or has it only carried them to the present leg of the journey? Are they focused only on existing projects, or are they anticipating future breakthroughs?

The best technology roadmaps continually evolve, adding new destination points and aligning all resources and capabilities behind long-term goals. It’s not an easy process, but a methodical approach helps.

1. Identify Goals

Technology roadmaps must integrate long-term goals and visions. It’s often best to start at the end and work backward. For instance, in software development, milestones are often thought of as software releases or new versions of a project. But with a business roadmap, goals and initiatives also include things like hitting revenue targets or launching in a new region or market, basically anything that’s a significant result of combined efforts.

2. Seek Input From Stakeholders

For smaller businesses, this often means involving everyone. Including all pertinent stakeholders and decision-makers brings different views and priorities to the table and helps establish a clear direction for where the company’s headed. As collaboration is key to most business success, it also increases the chance of the roadmap being implemented. For specific projects, it weighs all pros and cons and ensures the new technology meets everyone’s particular needs.

3. Evaluate Current Systems And Chart A Course

All business technology roadmaps include negotiating a budget. Now’s the time to question previous decisions to see if they still align with the company’s vision. For example, a company has the goal of doubling customers, so assumes it must increase hardware capacity to meet it. That can cost significant sums of money. Another approach might be to make strategic changes to the software or combine current tools with custom software, typically a far less expensive strategy.

4. Be Open To Change

Clear vision and a revised budget in hand, it’s now possible to view the business landscape with a critical set of eyes looking. Perhaps a company previously developed a custom app because no existing product satisfied its needs — but now that software exists! The custom software could possibly be retired for the new software that will be supported by someone else.

That makes it possible to use in-house staff to develop new, potentially more profitable products. Sometimes bringing in an outside consultant to audit systems, processes, and teams help identify changes a business can make to support improvements and future initiatives.

5. Set Priorities

Up next is determining what’s critical, blocking, or simple. Items should be prioritized, and continuous feedback should be solicited from stakeholders. Project management tools can simplify the process and ensures items are linked to their dependencies and what needs to be done first is clear.

6. Build Out Timelines

Each task or initiative comes with its own level of effort. It’s critical to pull in the right technical people so to get an estimate around each effort. This should not be a long, drawn-out endeavor. Instead, it should be a quick activity that verifies how everyone’s on the same page. Often leadership has items it believes can be implemented quickly, but the team is of the mind it will take much longer to pull off.

7. Devise A Budget

Once there’s a clear view of what can be worked on, when it can be worked on, and how long it might take to implement, there’s enough information to fashion a budget for each item. Each item’s details should be worked through fully to get an as accurate as possible estimate for what’s needed. Budget decisions can also affect how urgent or necessary an item truly is. Some businesses find they’re better off putting something on the back burner or investing in a service that solves the same problem.

8. Visualize The Roadmap

Finally! Project implementation planning can now begin. Each project should be laid out and overlaid with the resources needed for project delivery. If working in an Agile software development environment, there’s no need to write out every detail of every feature. Simply focus on high-level component delivery, marketing dates, and other top-level deadlines. While building out the software, Agile teams can pull in features on a different schedule, but they should always work towards the company’s high-level schedule.

Many businesses find that creating a steering committee or oversight committee helps to see if initiatives are following a steady path or are veering off-course. These committees can be helpful in that they’re not involved in the day-to-day delivery of a product like development teams are.

Doing What’s Best For The Journey And The Destination

Rushed software development projects don’t save time or money, and they often negatively affect quality — the greater a company’s rush to launch, the greater the risk. Before starting any software development project, a business should take the time needed to develop a technology roadmap.

Decades of experience have taught there is a lot of truth in the adage that “prior planning prevents poor performance.” Moving too fast can cause enormous problems for software development, dooming them to failure.

Creating a business technology roadmap gives enterprises the best of all worlds. It drives digital transformation while being agile enough to accommodate course changes. By the time the final destination or launch is reached, long-term value has been built into the product, roadblocks have been avoided, and other obstacles that often run other development projects into a ditch have been overcome.

Smashing Editorial(vf, yk, il)

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