Back to Blogging! 5 Creative Ways To Optimise Your Business Blog

creating a blog

Monday to Friday, nine to five, weekly, monthly, yearly. We get it. Work can be exhausting, and life even harder. The last thing you feel like doing after a long, tiring day is to sit down and start writing a blog post. I mean it’s not even an important factor in business these days anyway, right? WRONG. Blogging for your business should be one of your top online priorities and can have a huge impact on the overall success of your brand. It’s definitely worth putting in the extra effort to get it out there. And here’s why.

What is a Blog?

By definition, a blog is “a regularly updated website or web page, typically run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” It’s a space that allows you to post and update your page with interesting and relevant content about your brand, connect with your readers, and help instil your brand’s presence.

Why Should Your Business Have a Blog?

Besides the obvious few reasons that your brand will grow its online presence and your business is likely to reach new potential clients; blogging allows a business’ voice to be heard. Everyone has something to say and blogging provides the perfect platform for you to say it.

Creating a blog establishes a business as an ‘expert’ in their line of work, it allows you to build trust with your readers, and show off what you know. Not only will you be building your expertise and credibility, but because people can post comments and interact with you, they can get to know your brand’s personality.

Search engines also love new content, and as a result, blogging is a great search engine optimization (SEO) tool. Remember, the higher up on the search engine your business appears, the more chance of it being seen. So keep that in mind when writing a blog.

How to Create a Blog

Now that the hard part is over, and you’ve agreed to start a business blog, we get to the fun part! We’re talking about choosing the look, feel and style of your blog and getting it started. Take note of these tips and tricks to help you along the way.

  1. Establish Blog Goals

Your business blog is an investment of time, energy and effort. Make sure you thoroughly understand exactly what it is you’d like to get out of having a blog, and why you’re starting it in the first place. Ask yourself some of these critical questions… your answers will assist you in highlighting key business goals for your blog.

Why am I starting a blog? 

What do I want to get out of blogging?

Who is my target audience?

What will make my blog stand out from others?

How will my blog grow my business and my brand?

  1. Consistency

Consistency is the key to having a successful blog. Whenever it’s the start of a new venture, you’re bound to be excited, motivated and oh so passionate about your new project. You make pages of lists and rules you plan to follow, and promise yourself all sorts of unrealistic expectations.

[bctt tweet=”Consistency is the key to having a successful blog” via=”no”]

You plan to submit a blog post a day. You plan to scour the news for an exciting industry breakthrough at least three times a week. You get the picture.

Yet, a month or two in (with some of us, it’s just a week or two), you adjust to the busyness that is everyday life and those rules begin to get broken.

With blogging, it needs to be different. Set yourself a blogging schedule from the get go. Get your work team involved, share the load, and assign different responsibilities to different people.

Example: Someone to come up with this week’s blog post topic, someone to write the post, someone to be in charge of posting the blog online and publishing it etc.

Without consistent blog posts going out, your blog is probably not going to have its best effect, or reach its intended target market.

  1. Keywords

Making keywords a priority in your blogging journey might seem like a strange topic to add to your list. But believe it or not, it’s one of the most important of them all! As mentioned previously, blogging is a great SEO tool that can help your blog (and essentially your brand name) place higher on the search engine… you know, like Google!

When writing a blog, make sure to identify your keywords and use them consistently throughout your post. Highlight exactly what the post is about and make sure it is easy to grasp just by reading the first two or three sentences. If any of this seems overwhelming, or you’re uncertain about SEO, speak to someone who’ll be able to help you utilise this feature for your blog moving forward.

  1. Develop Your Blog’s Brand

Appearance is everything! The way readers perceive your blog will determine the way in which your brand comes across. Blog layout, design, colours and overall style are all elements that need to be taken into consideration.

Take note of the tone of your blog posts and other details on your blog, such as:

  • Accessibility – Is your blog page easy to navigate?
  • As well as relevance – Are the articles you’re writing relevant to your brand or business ventures?

These are important factors that should be considered when developing and defining your brand through the use of your blog.

  1. Statistics

What’s the point of a blog if it’s not getting read? Make sure to monitor your blogging journey as you go to identify what posts perform better than others, and what your readers like. The more you blog, the more your audience will grow. Along with that, you’ll appeal to a wider range of people, on a wider range of topics.

Keep your blogging goals in mind when reviewing your reader stats, and move forward acknowledging what’s working for your brand and what isn’t. At the beginning of anything new, it’s usually a case of ‘trial and error’. So don’t be afraid to take a few risks, and learn from the mistakes. The rewards could be worth it!

Creating a blog can stereotypically be a terrifying, daunting process… But it doesn’t have to be. Set out your ideas and goals beforehand in detail and refer to them as you go. Have some fun with your blog and interacting with clients you may have never had the chance to interact with before.

When you get home from work today, you’ll probably feel tired and may not feel like doing anything more than watching the next episode of Game of Thrones. But we challenge you to start your blog! You’ll soon find that blogging won’t even feel like work, but rather, an enjoyable hobby.

About the Author: Kayleigh Ellis, Valoro Content Specialist

Come Closer! Collaborative Technologies to Improve Your Team’s Efficiency

tools for small business

What is 40?

40 is the number of hours in a typical working week. It’s also the percentage of time that our teams spend collaborating. That’s 16 hours a week, and 64 hours a month. 64 hours of meetings, communication, knowledge sharing, brainstorming, and project coordination – to name a few.

So for us, 40 is an important number. And team, client, and partner collaboration is something we aim to get the most out of.

How? Well it’s easy. We leverage simple but effective collaboration tools and technology.

Okay, we know what you’re thinking. “Oh no! Tools? Technology? Just another way to say EXPENSIVE!” But if this is what you’re thinking, we’re about as happy as a kid on Christmas to tell you that you’re wrong. And never will you be so grateful to find solid evidence of your wrongness!

Because collaborative technology can not only be affordable, but it can be free! In fact, you’ll find some truly innovative, intuitive and masterful tools for collaboration at the push of a button. Of course your biggest challenge is going to be finding the tool that suits your business best.

[bctt tweet=”Your biggest challenge is going to be finding the tool that suits your business best” via=”no”]

Yes. Tools for collaboration are available in leaps and bounds. Some are free, some are cheap, and others are simply unattainable for a small business budget. Their purpose, functionalities, features and formats come in such an array they can make your head spin.

But wait! Before you slam closed your laptop in hopelessness and dust off that flipchart you’ve been using for team meetings, we’ve got good news. You see, we’ve done a lot of digging, some experimentation, and exercised our evaluative skills to bring you nothing less than the world’s best* catalogue of collaborative technologies for small businesses.

We’ve selected our top picks for every collaborative need, and then listed their monthly pricing plans, features, compatibilities, and other useful stuff to help you decide on the best collaboration tool for you.

And the news gets even better. They’re all massively beneficial for small businesses, while being more than manageable for small budgets.

If you’d like a tip as you embark on this enjoyable read: Understand your business processes, your team culture, and your collaboration needs. Because the shoe’s not gonna fit until you know what size the foot is!

Meetings and Conferencing


Pricing structures: Free (up to 3 attendees), Pro for $18 (up to 50 attendees), Business for $30 (up to 250 attendees)


Features: This video conferencing tool enables professional and efficient meetings for dispersed teams and/or clients. Meetings can be accessed via VOIP, phone or online. Live chat tools, screen sharing and screen control capabilities create the full experience for the presenter and attendees. Meetings can be annotated, scheduled, recorded and locked.   


Pricing structures: Free (up to 3 attendees), $24 (up to 5 attendees), $39 (up to 25 attendees), $49 (up to 100 attendees)


Features: Dial in from anywhere, schedule meetings from your Google or Outlook calendars, record your HD video conference. Other features include screen sharing and drawing tools.

Fuze Meeting

Pricing structures: Free (per minute rates apply)


Features: HD audio and video-conferencing, document sharing, animations and multimedia make Fuze one of the coolest and most flexible collaboration tools today. Much like Join.Me, meetings can be accessed via most devices (VOIP phone, regular phone, computer). Scheduling can take place directly from Google or Outlook calendars. The flexibility and fun of Fuze makes this our choice for video conferencing.  

Project Contributions and Workflow


Pricing structures: Free (Basic), $9.99 per user (Business Class)


Features: This tool enables you to organise, allocate, and communicate tasks and projects using shared team boards. Teams that are invited to a project board are able to upload attachments, comment and tag other team members so that all progress is stored and visible in a central location. By dragging cards across lists, assigning due dates, and using checklists, Trello also enables your team to track progress. A selection of stickers, wallpapers, and labels create a further customisable experience. Unlimited boards, cards, lists, checklists, members and attachments (up to 250MB). Integration is available with Evernote, Github, Google Hangouts, Mailchimp, Salesforce, Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, and more.


Pricing structures: Free (up to 15 members), $9.99 per member, small team discounts can apply (unlimited membership)


Features: Asana is a central hub of projects, teams, and tasks. Unlike Trello, Asana provides less of an overview of all projects, and more of a tracking system for task completion and allocation within a project. Each team member views a list of their own personal tasks, rather than a board of all tasks and projects. The advantage is that team members can focus on those tasks that they are assigned to, without being distracted by those that they are not. Comments, member tagging, and attachments again allow for a central record of work. For small business use, we’d recommend the user-friendly and team-wide transparent Trello, over Asana.  

Team Building


Pricing structures: Free (Basic), $3 per user (Enterprise Network)


Features: This tool allows your teams to create their own private social networks, where they can share files, documents, photos and other fun things. With an intuitive “Facebook-like” interface, Yammer creates opportunity for improved team cohesion, no matter how far across the world those team members are.

Workplace by Facebook

Pricing structures: Free (Standard Plan), $3 per user for first 1000 users (Premium Plan with 90 day free trial)


Features: This, is Facebook for work! And it’s amazing. Connect your team members, your teams, and your business partners with live chats and videos, idea-sharing, and instant-messaging. Mobile friendly and fully integratable with so many of the other tools you’re already using… this, is the shizz!

Team Messaging and Communication


Pricing structures: Free (suitable for small teams), $8 (as an integrated business solution), $15 (advanced)


Features: A super easy but effective chat technology that enables your team to set up multiple chat rooms (or channels) focused around a certain project or topic. Group and private channels are available, along with the ability to tag team members and attach files. Great for quick, easy, real time interactions.

Google Hangouts

Pricing structures: Free (up to 10 participants), $5 (30GB storage), $10 (unlimited storage)


Features: Linked to Google+, Hangouts provides a quick and easy way to communicate in real time with other team members, especially when your team is already using Gmail. Private and group chats are available, as well as voice and video calling. Hangouts is compatible with iOS and Android, and provides a history of all conversations. Our preference is Slack for its central and user-friendly interface.

Ideas and Knowledge Sharing


Pricing structures: $8 (up to 100 users, unlimited storage), more advanced options billed annually and tailored to business needs.


Features: Offering forums, directories, and workflow tools, Interact is an intranet for connecting your people with each other in a way that encourage them to share, review and vote on ideas. Mobile compatibility makes the spread of creativity and problem-solving even easier and more convenient. Further features, like content management systems, teams, and intelligence stores create the informal knowledge management system that every small business dreams of.

Organization and File Sharing

Google Drive

Pricing structures: Free (15GB), $1.99 (100GB), $9.99 (1TB)


Features: Drive allows you to set up organised folders of all sorts of documents. These can be arranged by project, by team, or any other category, and shared with only the relevant people. Privacy and sharing settings (when used correctly) can protect sensitive information. But the best part is that documents and sheets can be collaborated on by multiple people at the same time. With the same functionality as Word and Excel, Google Drive allows members to comment and make track changes, or edit without the risk of multiple versions. This tool builds collaboration and filing into one, simple technology.


Pricing structures: Free (2GB), $9.99 (1TB)


Features: Much like Drive, Dropbox allows you to create and share folders for different teams and projects. There is an option for editing online, without having to download the document. But while this may be appropriate for storing information, when it comes to collaboration, the capabilities are limited. This is why we opt for the more collaborative and user-friendly Google Drive option.

All-in-one Solutions


Pricing structures: Starting at $99 for unlimited users and projects


Features: Basecamp is a pricy, but all-inclusive technology offering private ‘campfires’ for brief interactions, as well as space for formal announcements, FYI’s and other forms of team communication. The creation and allocation of projects, tasks, subtasks and deadlines assists with project management and tracking. Standard features include to-do lists, message boards, document and file storage, scheduling and automated check-ins, and campfires.


Pricing structures: Basic at $9, add on automated workflows and read-only access for $14 on the Plus plan, or Premium for $24 with reporting, dashboards and advanced workflow.


Features: Podio is your one-stop shop for working as a team, while managing workflow, tracking project progress, and communicating regularly and efficiently. It’s flexible, it’s customizable, it’s user-friendly, and it scales well with business growth, too!

[bctt tweet=”By just 2020, more than half of the workforce will consist of Millennials.” via=”no”]

Tricks to Optimize Your Collaborative Technology!

Okay, so you’ve spotted the tools and technologies best for your team’s collaboration. Maybe you’ve even signed up for a few. But having the right tools doesn’t matter if you don’t use them right!

So here’s a few tricks to make your technology work for you:

  1. Build your collaborative tools deep into your business processes. This means different things for different businesses. But make sure that daily tasks require the daily use of collaborative technology.
  2. Fit the technology to the talent, and not the other way around. If your business plays in the creative space, then make sure your collaborative tools make for the easy flow of ideas and innovations between your creative team members. If your core business is largely administrative, you’ll want to go for something that offers security and an easy-to-use filing system.
  3. Foster a collaborative culture, supported by collaborative behaviours. If your team doesn’t want to collaborate, or they’re encouraged to compete, then even the coolest of technologies won’t prove effective. Rally your team towards collaboration by helping them to understand the benefits, for them and for business.
  4. Collaborate with anticipation for the future. The future brings change. Change in the way people want to interact with each other. So identify the tools and technologies for collaboration that will evolve with relevance for the future.

By just 2020, more than half of the workforce will consist of Millennials. Millennials who started using technology to play and learn before they could say the word “dada”! As your team evolves, so they’ll be expecting new ways to collaborate with technology, regardless of whether they’re sharing an office or working around the globe. So the question is, are you ready?

*Disclaimer: This is our personal and biased opinion


About the Author: Lauren Neuper, Chief of Content

The Power of Collaboration: The Rise of the Co-working Space

coworking space

I know what you’re thinking.

Last week I told you people wanted to leave traditional offices and work remotely and now I’m telling you that they actually want to work in an office. Well, a different kind of office… a coworking space.

Let’s get one thing straight. Coworking spaces are not traditional offices. Think of them as something of a think tank. Where a group of diverse individuals meet to work, whether they’re working together or working on different projects – the atmosphere is one of collaboration.

Ok, you’re interested. So let’s look at what exactly a ‘coworking space’ is.

According to the Harvard Business Review, coworking spaces are defined as “membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting.”

In these shared spaces, individuals can rent a desk for a set period while sharing other facilities with their co-tenants. These spaces are also seen as more than just an office. They often boast a coffee shop, boardrooms and other facilities to rent as well as open-plan creative spaces and relaxation areas.

You pay a monthly membership fee (which is much cheaper than renting your own space) and you’re given access to basic facilities. Most coworking areas offer a range of monthly packages, with more expensive packages providing more exclusive benefits.

These coworking spaces are being designed to meet the needs of mobile professionals in the workforce – which has been attributed to the growing number of Millennials in the ranks of the employed. I know what you’re thinking, it’s always the Millennials! They have changed the game and they’re forcing companies to adapt. They’re looking for flexible work schedules and locations. The freedom to work from wherever, whenever.

[bctt tweet=”Millennials have changed the game and they’re forcing companies to adapt.” via=”no”]

Our parents told us we could be anything we wanted to be – so we chose to be digital nomads. We’re trashing the age-old 9 to 5 mentality and revolting against ‘traditional’ working rules. Hierarchy annoys us and we want to enjoy the work we’re doing. Not just kind of enjoy it, we want to really enjoy it.

It’s little wonder why these coworking spaces are growing in popularity the world over. A quick Google search brings up thousands of hits with suggestions for the best coworking spaces in New York City, Bangkok, Madrid, San Francisco, Manchester and our very own Cape Town.

The statistics speak for themselves really. In 2017, there were approximately 14 000 coworking spaces worldwide with 1.2 million people projected to have worked in a coworking space by the end of the year. This number is expected to edge closer to 4 million in 2020.

Why Are Coworking Spaces So Popular?

Networking: You’re good at many things… but you’ll admit you’re not creative. So what to do when you need a logo made for your new company? Wouldn’t it be great if you knew a graphic designer. Well, luckily for you, you just happen to be sitting at a desk right next to one. Coincidence?

In traditional offices, we know that all the accountants sit together, all the HR folk sit together and all the creatives sit together somewhere else. More often than not, collaboration between these different departments is minimal, if any. In coworking spaces, you may have a business consultant, sitting next to a graphic designer and opposite a future restaurateur. Using the space as a networking opportunity helps you build those professional networks that are so important for starting and running a small business.

You’re also frequently asked to describe what work you do, making your work seem unique and improving your work identity. This diversity in a coworking space has really boosted their popularity worldwide. Pulling on the unique skills of those around you helps to bolster a sense of community and belonging. Each person seems to have their niche.

Improved autonomy: You’re a freelancer, so you do you. Want to hit the gym before starting work? Do it. Want to take an extra long lunch break because you worked hard to meet your morning deadline? Do it. Want to come into the office at 3pm and working till midnight? Go for it. You make the rules and you work in a way that’s most beneficial for you. This gives individuals a much greater sense of autonomy – an attribute craved by younger members of the workforce.

Work-life balance: Many freelancers will tell you that cabin fever is real and can leave you feeling isolated and staying in your pyjamas for days on end. When you’re working from home day in and day out, the lines between the two become so blurred that you’re never really sure if you’re at work or at home. Waking up and heading out to a coworking space helps to create the boundary between the two, your work life and your home life.

A sense of belonging: I mentioned that being a freelancer can be lonely at times. And I don’t think this is something that people even think of when entering the freelance world. I mean, in the beginning days it’s great – you don’t need to hear Sheila drone on about her dog’s birthday party, you don’t have to sit next to that pen-clicking colleague. And gone are the days of those unnecessary 3-hour meetings.

[bctt tweet=”Being a freelancer can be lonely at times” via=”no”]

But after one week, you’re calling Sheila to find out how the party went, you’re missing that torturous pen-clicking noise, and you’re craving the feeling of mutual hatred towards 3-hour meetings. But I digress. So where do coworking spaces come in? Well, they give you a place. They give you somewhere to call ‘work’ and somewhere to feel part of a community.

You can still wake up everyday and head into the ‘office.’ Except here, you’re doing it on your own time, you’re working on things that you’re passionate about, sitting next to the people you want to, and you’re writing your own paycheck at the end of the month.  

Getting more for less: Renting a desk in a shared space is far cheaper than renting or buying office space. Shared spaces are often in easily accessible locations, so why pay more for rent of your own space?

The other benefit, is that being a tenant in a coworking space means that your responsibilities are fairly limited. Yes, you’re expected to perform basic human decencies, like washing your cup after your 6th coffee of the day. But beyond that, all administrative responsibilities (think cleaning and maintenance) are all taken care of by the owners.

The logic behind the success of coworking spaces is simple. Young professionals wanted a place to work where they could break free from traditional corporate structures. Where they could network with like-minded individuals in a collaborative space designed to build a community and create a sense of belonging for all who use it.

So get out of those pyjamas, get hold of your closest coworking space and give it a go.

Go Home or Go Remote: The Advantages of Remote Working for Small Business

working remotely

DING, DING, DING! Your alarm sounds at 6:30AM Monday morning – the new workweek is here! You roll out of bed, put on your work attire, wish your children a great day, and then you’re off to the office.

You arrive, have a quick chat with your co-workers over a cup of hot coffee, check your emails, and then get down to business. As the day continues you can look forward to your one-hour lunch break, and expect to end a good day’s work by 5PM.

This is a typical workday for most Tom’s, Joe’s and Harry’s (Mary’s, too). And some might even say that this is what people should expect for years to come. But a staggering amount of (other) people would say that the 8-hour workday is going to be obsolete sooner than we think. In fact, a 2017 survey conducted by PwC says that 68% of employees expect to work remotely instead of commuting to an office every day!

In the past, remote working was a unicorn of an idea. This is because the common conception was that an employee must be in a supervised office for 8 hours a day in order to be productive. But how do we know that those employees are really performing at consistently optimal levels throughout the day? That’s the question we should be asking!

With advancements in technology and online work platforms there’s evidence to suggest that remote working (both full or part-time) could lead to both higher productivity and employee satisfaction.

If the concept of remote working is still fuzzy, that’s okay. I’m going to explain what remote working is and why it’s a topic of discussion. I’ll also discuss how it can benefit employees and employers, potential drawbacks, and what to expect in the future. So I ask you now to remove any preconceived biases, open your mind, and read on…

Remote What?  

Remote working (remember the term telecommuting?) is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel to a centralized place of work. You know, like an office, warehouse, or store. Instead, they work in the environments best suited to them, which could be home, coffee shops, or even co-working spaces. Often, their working hours are not pre-specified, either.

It’s important to note that there are positives and negatives to both forms of work. And there’s no right method for a company to choose. The US and the UK are trailblazing their way into this new form of work while many other companies are slowly learning to adapt.

But, why is remote working suddenly the “trend”? That’s a good question. The answer to this is somewhat obvious – there’s a generational shift in the workplace. Many digital nomads are now entering their 30’s, and are earning more responsibility in their respected organizations.

This new wave of responsibility also enables them to set the foundation for their corporation’s culture. These digital nomads understand that a portion of the work that needs to be completed can be done from a home office, coffee shops, or really, anywhere with strong Wi-Fi. The Millennials entering the workforce realize this as well, and have come to expect at least a portion of their work to be remote.

Is This Beneficial?

There are two sides to this argument. Company success is directly correlated with the satisfaction and productivity of the people they have working for them. So, what does remote working have to offer employees? In a series of interviews conducted by the biggest advantages of working remote are the flexibility and freedom they are granted.

When workers are given the option to work from wherever they want, whenever they want, it can benefit their overall work-life balance and helps them feel in charge of their own work. It’s also a way for employers to show the trust they place in their employees, which can help foster stronger relationships.

At the same time, we’ll admit there are benefits of having a centralized organization structure, where employees come into the office every day. When employees work from home they don’t get to interact with their co-workers and they can begin to feel isolated and lonely. Also, with less people in the office, culture can suffer and there could be a decrease in the amount of innovation and collaboration among co-workers.

The most attractive attribute about remote work is that it is not an all or nothing ordeal. Employers have the power and luxury to give their employees the best of both worlds by offering them a few days remote and a few days in the office. The best way to find out what your employees would be happy with is to broach the topic and get their opinion on it.

If you’re an employee and want to test the waters of remote working, then chat to your employer about the possibility of one day of remote work in the next week – so that they can gauge your productivity. If it’s something you enjoy, then you could seek to work out an organized schedule with a healthy combination of both.

The Potential Drawbacks

It’s important to be cognisant of the risks involved with remote working, especially if you’re new to the game. Working so much that you forget to take breaks and causing yourself to burnout is a reality for a lot of people who attempt to work remotely.

At the same time, if you are lousy at time management (which we can all be at times) then you may not be able to handle working from anywhere other than the office.

The presence of family interruptions could also be a reason for reduced productivity. Many employees with families love the fact that they’ve been granted this freedom. But many soon realize that their family is distracting them from being a productive member of their organisation.

As alluded to, the most impactful drawback is the feeling of loneliness throughout the day without normal human interaction.

The Future

With the trend of remote working still being in its infancy, it’s got great potential to be implemented throughout many organisations. Unfortunately, not everyone can work remotely because of the nature of their position, but Millennials are coming to expect remote work to be part of their work agreement. To be able to attract top talent, employers are going to have to be aware of the upsides, as well as the risks, and find a happy medium for their workforce.

Existing platforms such as Slack, Skype, and Trello, are great ways to drive work and communicate professionally with a remote workforce. With the shift in the workforce changing so quickly, it’s to be expected that remote working will offer companies the opportunity to retain talent without location as a barrier.

The trend is here and it’s an exciting time to be a part of the workforce. If you have any further questions about how we drive our business through remote work, then leave us a comment below.

About the Author: David Maimone, Valoro Intern and Student at James Madison University

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