SEMRush Review: Pros, Cons & Use Cases

This post originally appeared at SEMRush Review: Pros, Cons & Use Cases via ShivarWeb

SEMRush Review

SEMRush is a suite of digital marketing software covering organic search (SEO), paid search (PPC), social media, and more. The company has been around for more than 11 years, and is a mainstay among many marketing agencies & consultants.

See SEMRush’s Current Plans & Pricing

I’ve been and off & on user of SEMRush for more than 7 years. While I’m a current subscriber of Ahrefs, one of their semi-direct competitors, I’ve recently reactivated my subscription due to volatility and massive changes among marketing data vendors.

What is SEMRush?

SEMRush is a suite of tools for digital marketers, so it’s hard to say precisely what it is. It’s almost like a Swiss Army Knife – a general purpose data & analysis tool for digital marketing.

Background on SEMRush

Their tools revolve around their backlink index, their keyword index, and their domain database. Their tools mix, match & cross-reference all these datasets to help marketers make better decisions about building content, building links, running ads, and running social media campaigns.

For example, their Keyword Explorer takes keywords that people are searching for in Google and cross-references their backlink index & ads index to determine how difficult any given keyword will be to rank for.

Here’s their official overview of their products.

SEMRush has been around for a long time. They have seen their share of controversy and can generate some extreme opinions among the digital marketing community.

Their one thread of consistency (and the reason they are still around) is that they have a very good sense of their target market. They have always sought to be the best all-around, single toolset. This will be the general theme and tl;dr of the pros & cons below.

They are not the “best” for any single one of their tools, but their strength is that they are really strong across a bunch of different tools…and they bundle it all into one.

How SEMRush Works

SEMRush has three subscription tiers. The higher tiers are meant to almost exclusively appeal to agencies with more reporting options and sharing limits…which they helpfully explain right on their pricing page.

Once you sign up, SEMRush revolves around Projects. Your website would be a single project. All the tools revolve around auditing your current domain, finding domain competitors, understanding your current link profile, your current keyword targeting, and all your opportunities.

SEMRush works by pulling data and attempting to help you convert that data into actions that you can take to improve your marketing.

Their Dashboard is busy & cluttered – but does show all the tools that you have available. They show all the use cases & example tasks that you can do to prevent decision overload.

Like a Swiss Army Knife, their tools work best if you know exactly what you want to do. It helps to start small to solve a single marketing problem.

For example, I needed a way to audit and share local citation opportunities with a client. SEMRush not only has that dataset, but it also provides recommendations on what to do – and it will create an automated, white-label PDF report to send my client.

I’ll get into these examples in my pros / cons, but in general, SEMRush works by taking your problem request, pulling data, converting that data into potential actions, and letting you take those actions to improve your digital marketing.

Pros of Using SEMRush

The broad upside of SEMRush is that it’s a full toolset from dataset, to recommendation engine, to automation tool, to reporting tool.

They are consistently focused on being the *one* tool that any agency, freelancer, or in-house marketer can buy and dramatically speed up their marketing operations. Here’s how that general upside plays out.

Feature Breadth

SEMRush has an incredible breadth of features – much more than I can write out and summarize.

They really lean into the “but wait, there’s more!” vibe.

Usually, a customer (like myself) joins for a specific tool, but quickly finds out that they have much more to offer.

For in-house marketers, it’s useful to have SEO, PPC, Social, PR, and Content tools all in a single software suite.

You are likely running multi-channel campaigns, so to have PPC & SEO keyword metrics are useful…but also to have link building & prospecting tools.

For solo freelancers on a budget, it’s useful to have a variety of tools to solve whatever marketing issue that you’re dealing with at the moment.

It has all the tools from a social media scheduler to toxic backlink checker to site auditor so that you can solve & diagnose any marketing issue that a new client is having.

For growing agencies, it can be shared by your PPC and SEO team to cut costs. Additionally, the reporting tools are invaluable for saving time and money while increasing client value & transparency.

They even have a lead generation tool to help agencies recruit new clients.

Here’s what the SEMRush Dashboard looks like –

Here’s what their backlink tool looks like.

It’s interesting how they not only pull basic backlink metrics, but also categorize them for you. It provides a quick snapshot of whatever domain you’re looking at.

Their link building tool takes your existing backlink index and generates ideas for new link building campaigns.

Here’s what their CPC Map tool looks like to help you generate new CPC ideas.

Here’s their local SEO tool – which is truly a “but wait there’s more” tool for any agency or freelancer.

Local clients are very hard to work with & scale due to the limited (and usually expensive) tools on the market. The fact that this tool is bundled is huge. It competes with Moz Local, but I found it to be solid.

Here’s their Market Explorer tool to help gather a better picture of any given industry so that you know who to copy, who to avoid, and who to learn from.

Again, I could go on. SEMRush’s biggest strength is their breadth of tools. No single tool can compete with a direct competitor, but on whole, they are a solid fit for the people most likely to use / need their product.

Feature Depth & Accuracy

Now – SEMRush has a wide breadth of tools. But even on their own, their tools are solid and have industry-leading depth & accuracy to them.

With their SEO tools, their backlink and keyword indices are not necessarily the best, but they are industry-leading. Comparing backlink indices is notoriously difficult. I will leave the academic research to others.

But from a day to day keyword research and link building perspective, SEMRush is good enough to do almost any job.

They are at that point where the person using the tool matters more than the tool itself.

I use Ahrefs on a day to day basis. They consistently have a more useful, and more complete keyword and link database than SEMRush.

But I also know how to effectively use Ahrefs’ data. In fact, one reason that I pay for both Ahrefs’ and SEMRush is that I like to collate their data with my Search Console data. Having 3 indices is better than 1.

But either way – SEMRush is a solid #2 or #3 in keywords & link database world…and they have depth in their PPC, Social, and Content tools.

Their PPC tools have a universe of data that other SEO-focused tools like Moz and Ahrefs (or Majestic) simply do not have. It has data that only Google’s Keyword Planner has.

But again – it’s a top tier dataset & PPC tool that also comes with SEO and everything else.

Having a range of robust tools might not be the best fit for everyone, but it’s a good fit for many others. With a growing agency that cannot afford multiple subscriptions, SEMRush has everything all in an overall value bundle. And that’s a huge pro.

Consistency Over Time

SEMRush has been around since 2008. For a marketing SaaS company, that is positively ancient. And that’s a good thing. There are lots of marketing software companies with a good product, and a good culture…but don’t really make it.

They get distracted and overextended. They try to become more than they should. They take venture capital and try to go beyond what their core market wants.

SEMRush has always been focused on the same core market with the same core suite of products. I was using them as a freelancer in 2011. The agency where I worked at in 2013 used them for their PPC and SEO teams. A friend who runs an in-house marketing team uses them today.

Their software suite has gotten bigger and better through incremental improvement and customer feedback.

They have been a bit tone deaf in their product launch communications and their own marketing tactics, but it’s never been a distraction from their main product suite.

When I commit to a tool, I want it to be around for a while. The fact that SEMRush has been around is a solid advantage.

Reporting & Recommendations

Marketing data can be just undecipherable noise unless you’ve worked at an agency or spent some time learning from someone who does digital marketing for a living.

That’s a huge problem with a lot of tools. There are two responses to this. One is to provide all the education and training yourself. That’s what Ahrefs does. They have the best SEO & content blog on the Internet.

The other response is to build in recommendations and reporting. That’s the route that SEMRush takes. I’ll get to the downsides of this approach, but overall, it’s really helpful.

If you are an in-house marketer or freelancer who juggles lots of marketing responsibilities, it’s incredibly useful to have reminders, recommendations, and reporting built into your software.

It provides actions in addition to education so that you can make fast decisions and understand the value of the data.

Cons / Disadvantages of Using SEMRush

There are a *lot* of highly charged opinions about SEMRush online. They have certainly courted plenty of controversy in the SEO community with their own “gray-ish hat” marketing tactics.

But they do have some downside and negatives as a tool set. Most of these are simple tradeoffs that they’ve made to get the pros that they have. But it’s important to be aware of the downsides & tradeoffs to understand what you’re getting and whether they align with your own goals and needs.

Feature Excellence

Plenty of SEOs and PPCers have done analysis on who has the “best” backlink or keyword index. You can get really deep in the weeds here. If you want to go read about crawler analysis and behavior, go check out this post or this post.

But, in general, and in my experience, SEMRush’s tools are solidly great – but they are not the best in any single category.

Their backlink & keyword index is good enough to do all the SEO & link building you’ll need to do to be competitive. But I still don’t think it’s as high quality or as deep as Ahrefs’ links or keywords.

Their PPC tools are great, but they are nowhere as user-friendly as AdEspresso or WordStream. And with their PPC keyword research tool, well, they are competing directly with Google’s Keyword Planner.

Their social media tools are great, but again, they are not as useful or usable as HootSuite, Buffer, or Buzzsumo.

Their link building & outreach tools are great, but again, they are not as usable or as useful as Buzzstream or other outreach tools.

And their local SEO tools are also solid, but not as good as Places Scout or Whitespark.

Now – this is all just the flipside of Feature Breadth.

SEMRush is the jack of all trades and master of none.*

*but don’t forget the rest of the rhyme which is “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

Jargon & Feature Overwhelm

SEMRush has a lot going on. They have so many different features that they have them bucketed into different toolkits…even though the tools in those toolkits usually overlap.

The tools themselves are busy and present a ton of information.

And all that information is usually presented with industry jargon instead of plain language.

It’s confusing and overwhelming for me – and I’ve been in the industry for more than 10 years.

I’m not sure they could solve the user experience issue, but it’s a pretty big disadvantage compared to their competitors.

Automated Recommendations & Alerts

As mentioned in the pros section, one of SEMRush’s solutions to data overwhelm is to provide automated recommendations and alerts about what you should actually do.

Mostly, it’s a good thing. But any recommendation engine, no matter how smart, will only provide recommendations based on its inputs and parameters rather than actual knowledge.

And when you are working with human language and human knowledge, it gets tricky. SEMRush’s recommendations are great as an onboarding tool…but they can provide a false sense of security and accuracy.

This false sense of security could lead misinformed customers to make poor marketing choices.

For example, take their SEO content template tool.

In some ways, it’s great. In other ways, it just perpetuates some of the same old spammy tropes that have brought SEO down for years.

It is good to know semantically related words to your topic and it’s good to know about your competitors’ backlinks. And it’s good to consider text length.

But nothing about SEO is “paint by the numbers.”

It’s a bad idea to take a word salad, make a page full of those words, and throw a bunch of links at it.

That’s not what any professional SEO would recommend…but it’s the kind of thing that SEMRush’s automated recommendations would lead you to believe if you didn’t have any background or education.

It would be ideal to integrate some training directly with their recommendations. Until then, it’s a bit of disadvantage.

Workflow & Organization

SEMRush is not set up for a fast, efficient workflow…unless you really commit to the platform.

This downside can vary person to person, but it’s worth understanding. Some tools, like Ahrefs, just give you the data. The real analysis & work is done in a spreadsheet.

That’s how I like it and how most marketing professionals work.

SEMRush’s tool organization is setup to do analysis & actions within SEMRush. That’s great and can be super-handy…but only if you commit to using their workflow.

If you are the type of person who likes to work within SEMRush, it can have lots of advantages. But if you are like me and like to get the data into a spreadsheet, it can be frustrating.

SEMRush Use Cases

SEMRush has excelled by not trying to chase different markets. Here are the types of people that they are built for.

Solo Marketing Freelancer

If you have a wide range of clients & frequent projects, SEMRush’s tool variety will allow you to just have a single subscription to handle all types of clients.

In-house Marketer

If you are an in-house marketer that wants to run or knowledgeably assist your agency with multichannel campaigns, a subscription to SEMRush will give you the tool variety to effectively do that. Their pricing & reports will also be easy to sell to your boss.

Growing Agencies

SEMRush’s white label reports and team sharing options can help you provide value to clients while also controlling your overhead. It will also help you standardize agency processes with a single tool so that you don’t have a jumble of tools as your teams grow.

Next Steps & Conclusion

SEMRush is a solid all-in-one marketing tool suite. They aren’t the best in any one area, but they excel at providing a bunch of tools for a single subscription.

If you do PPC, SEO, Social, and/or Local – they are the tool to buy. You can see how they diagnose your own site with this tool –

If you are solely into SEO / Content, you should also look at Ahrefs. With a head to head comparison, they are better. And if you have the budget and clients…you should just pay for both. More data gives you a competitive advantage.

SEMRush

SEMRush is a suite of digital marketing software covering organic search (SEO), paid search (PPC), social media, and more. The company has been around for more than 11 years, and is a mainstay among many marketing agencies & consultants.

Application Category: Marketing Software

Editor's Rating:
4

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Stencil App Review: Pros & Cons of Using Stencil

This post originally appeared at Stencil App Review: Pros & Cons of Using Stencil via ShivarWeb

Stencil App Design

Stencil is a web-based graphic design tool built for anyone trying to quickly create digital design assets (aka social media & website images) with few to no graphic design skills.

See Stencil’s Current Plans & Pricing

I’ve been a Stencil customer for years – back from when they first launched as Share As Image. I got a lifetime plan from a re-brand promotion years ago.

Every “featured image” that you see on this website was made with Stencil. I’m a big fan…but I’ve also been a user for a long enough time to see & get frustrated with a few built-in limitations.

Stencil App Backend

Here’s an overview of Stencil along with some pros, cons, ideal use cases, and direct alternative tools.

What is Stencil App?

Stencil is a graphic design tool focused on creating digital images for sharing. Unlike direct competitors, they are focused exclusively on image sharing rather than ad creation, offline images, etc. Here’s a brief overview.

The core function of the tool is an editable image with clickable layers where you can quickly edit background, layout, text, color, typography, and visual qualities of an image, all while resizing it quickly for image sharing.

Stencil maintains a library of stock images, illustrations, icons, and fonts for free commercial use. They also have built-in storage for settings, uploaded images, and custom templates.

Background on Stencil App

Stencil started life years ago as Share As Image. It began in a super-crowded multi-purpose design tool market. There were hundreds of image editors in addition to desktop image editors.

But the web, and social media especially, were becoming much more visual. And every DIY tool out there focused on the image editing part rather than the *sharing* part. So resizing and resampling was a huge problem that was made much worse by every social network changing their image specs every month.*

*again, the emphasis is on DIYer. Adobe users had this functionality already, but even then you really needed some basic graphic design skills and an Adobe subscription.

Share As Image focused exclusively on creating images for social media and websites. I found them after spending way too much time on Pixlr, Mac Preview, and many others creating, deleting, and getting frustrated with basic website images.

After a surge in popularity, Share As Image re-branded as Stencil with an expanded stock image and font library along with a better pricing plan.

How Stencil App Works

Stencil is super-simple and intuitive to use. They offer a free plan with limited features for anyone to try.

After signing up, you can either use their web editor or use their browser extensions or use their WordPress plugin.

All three use locations use the same tool; it just depends where the tool is loaded. I prefer the Firefox / Chrome extension. It allows me to work quickly without closing out my window. The WordPress plugin is useful, though I would rather use my browser’s memory than my website’s memory with all things equal.

The tool shows a clickable image with layers. You click and edit on each layer. The layers all together make up your image.

You can save as a template (for images that will be used over and over) and/or download the image for use and/or share the image directly to a social media account.

Pros of Using Stencil App

There are a lot of Stencil reviews online. These are all based on my use over the past 5+ years.

Also, before getting to the things I like about Stencil – the biggest pro of Stencil is their free plan. You can sign up and test it out yourself. Everyone has slightly different workflows, so it’s great to get to use a tool with zero obligation. And they have a 7 day free trial of premium features.

Ease of Use & Onboarding

Stencil is super-easy for non-designers to use. Stencil uses an intuitive editing setup and avoids graphic designer language for plain language (“size” vs. “dimension” or “element” vs. “layer”).

Every feature has a little question mark that provides a pop-up help box so that you are never guessing, even with obvious features like the save button.

Stencil Download

When you sign up, there’s a useful tour and onboarding sequence. Each section of the tool has use cases, suggestions, and examples built-in. There is very little that is buried or a user bottleneck.

Stencil Settings

Versatile Features

Every editing feature is versatile with multiple uses. You have the ability to save an image as a template for future images. You can download it in different formats and share directly to a social network.

The editing tool syncs well with the stock image library so that you can quickly test different design ideas without committing to a single direction.

There are helpful suggestions throughout the editor such as element lines to keep the image centered & aligned. You can also upload and use your images and design assets.

Stencil Watermark

There has never been a time when I was trying to make a particular design edit and couldn’t because the tool was missing. So far, Stencil’s features are versatile enough to meet all the sharing image design needs that I have.

Pricing Value

Stencil has a free plan, a pro plan, and an unlimited plan. All three are a solid value, especially when you factor your time value into the equation.

Stencil Pricing

The free plan allows a surprising amount of use to be, well, free – especially since you can upload so many of your images.

The pro plan is a bit limited compared to the unlimited plan. However, it’s well crafted for users who have a predictable schedule of images that they need to create (50 social media images per month is a decent amount).

The unlimited plan is the best value…assuming you are actually going to use the tool. If you look at how much your time is worth or how much you’d have to pay for this type of design work, Stencil is an absolute no-brainer productivity tool.

And if you make social media or website images for a living, Stencil can dramatically increase your productivity – even if you do some design work in Adobe – simply with the resizing and direct sharing tools.

Included Graphic Assets

Stencil has a *huge* library of graphic assets. When I created the image for this post, it was up to 2.2 million images and illustrations.

Stencil Templates

I used to comb through the Internet to find Creative Commons images…but now I just hand that work over to Stencil and use their search engine to find commercial use, non-royalty images. It’s amazing.

Stencil Icons

Ditto with their icon and quote libraries. It saves a lot of time and makes for great images.

Product Focus

One of Stencil’s biggest pros is its product focus. They aren’t building an all-in-one do everything design tool to compete with Adobe. Instead, they focus on rolling out new features that make their existing product focus better.

They focus exclusively on helping DIYers make images for sharing on social media and websites. That’s it.

The newest features have all revolved around adding new stock images, increasing resolution, and tightening up the direct sharing tool.

Stencil Image Share

They deliberately disown any feature that would be out of scope (like links in image).

Cons / Disadvantages of Using Stencil App

Now, Stencil has a lot of pros, but I’ve also found a few downsides over the years. All of these downsides aren’t really negatives about the product. Instead, they are more downsides with a mismatch between the tool and the person using it.

In other words, Stencil isn’t made for everyone. And some people will be frustrated by some of the limitations.

Pricing & Caps

Stencil may be a good value, but their unlimited plan still costs more than $144/year, and their free and pro plans still have pretty hard limits.

Stencil Pricing

Stencil’s unlimited plans are a bit more expensive than some graphic design tools like Canva (see the alternatives section) that have even more features – and it’s not that much cheaper than an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

Now, some of these pricing comparisons are apples to oranges since Stencil is unique with its product focus. However, if you need something broader than Stencil, buying them plus another premium tool will add up.

And if you are using Stencil’s free or pro plan, you will likely hit the caps much sooner than expected due to how they count images.

Design & Branding Tools

On the same note as pricing, Stencil simply does not have an extensive feature set that includes things like palette makers, gradient editors, logo generators, and offline graphic designs.

I think that this product focus is a huge advantage, but for some users, it can be frustrating. There are tools out there (see Alternatives section) that include many of Stencil’s features plus some. They might be harder to use and/or have a steeper learning curve…but at least they have those design features.

Team Sharing

A Stencil subscription is for a single user (though technically a single login). While you can share a login with an assistant, there’s no real ability to share among teammates or collaborators.

You can’t login from different IP’s at once, and you can’t share work on one account with another account.

If you are on a team – or even in a situation where you are collaborating a lot, this limitation is pretty significant.

Again, this downside comes from Stencil’s product focus. It’s simple and straightforward, but if you need something that has these features, they won’t be a good fit.

Stencil App Alternatives & Use Cases

There are a lot of graphic design tools on the Internet. Here are a few alternatives to Stencil, along with a few use cases that I think are *perfect* for Stencil.

Solo Blogger / Website Operator

If you are a solo website / social media account operator, then Stencil is an perfect fit. It saves time, saves money, saves frustration, increases productivity, and creates a more professional image. There’s no need to balance work between assistants or multiple tools. It’s easy to add to your browser and quickly handle design work yourself. Check out Stencil’s plans here.

Sole Team-member

Even if you are part of an organization, Stencil would be a good fit if you are basically a solo team member (or the person responsible for social media images). Similar to a solo operator, the simplicity and product focus of Stencil makes it worthwhile. Check out Stencil’s plans here.

Social Media Manager

If you are a social media manager with a team, Stencil might still be a fit if only for a couple of specific features like its resizing features.

Here are a few direct competitors with Stencil and how they compare.

Stencil vs. Canva

Stencil and Canva are both excellent web-based graphic design tools. They both have a different focus & different business model, though. Stencil is focused on social media and website images. Canva is focused on graphic design in general – it’s meant to compete with Adobe, but online. Canva has more features for a cheaper price…but also prices a lot of their images / assets at a $1/use. Stencil is unlimited and all inclusive. Canva is also more team friendly, but also has a steeper learning curve due to all the additional features. Use Canva if you prefer features & price. Use Stencil if you prefer speed & simplicity.

Stencil vs. DIY Tools

There are enough free design tools on the Internet & for download that you can easily get all of Stencil’s features for free. The catch is that you will likely be unable to get them all bundled together in a seamless experience. You will also need to search out royalty-free images & assets to use yourself. Use Stencil if you are looking to save time. Go DIY if you are looking to save money.

Stencil vs. Tailor Brands

Tailor Brands is part of a wave of logo design tools that automatically integrate your brand & look across all your graphic design assets. In many ways, Stencil and Tailor Brands complement each other. But Tailor Brands’ tool suite is made to create assets that align with your brand & logo. Stencil is made to create good looking images for social & websites. While Tailor Brands can do what Stencil does, they don’t have the library of graphic design assets that Stencil does. If you are more concerned about keeping your branding consistent across your social media & websites, look at Tailor Brands. If you just need to create images quickly, then go with Stencil (or both if you have the budget).

Next Steps & Conclusion

Stencil is not for everyone, but for a solo operator like myself, it has been a no-brainer not only in terms of time saved, but also in the presentation of a consistent, professional look.

  • If you fit any or some of the use cases above, be sure to sign up for Stencil.
  • And if you aren’t sure, then be sure to get a free plan anyway and see how it works.
  • Otherwise, check out my post on commercial images or my review of Tailor Brands or Canva.
Stencil App Review

Stencil is a web-based graphic design tool to help create images for social media & websites.

Application Category: Graphic Design

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Tailor Brands Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

This post originally appeared at Tailor Brands Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives via ShivarWeb

Tailor Brands Review

Tailor Brands is a suite of branding & design tools powered by machine learning for non-technical users.

They allow businesses, organizations, and individuals to create an entire “brand identity” with logos, typography, color patterns, and other elements across the web & print.

See Tailor Brands’ Current Plans & Pricing

In other words, Tailor Brands a toolset that makes your project “look good” everywhere from your Facebook page to business cards to website.

There are plenty of Tailor Brands reviews on the Internet – some good, some bad. This Tailor Brands review will look at how the software works, the upsides, downsides, and ideal use cases for the product based on my experience as a digital marketing consultant.

What is Tailor Brands?

Tailor Brands is a suite of tools to help you create & manage your business designs everywhere that your brand appears. They were founded in 2014.

They use software & artificial intelligence to not only create your business’ look and feel but also maintain that look and feel everywhere that you want.

Their main tool is their logo maker. Rather than use templates or quiz questions like traditional automated logo makers, they have you answer whether you like or dislike styles. Their AI does a version of NetFlix’s recommendation algorithm but with design styles.

Once you approve a certain design style, their software creates an entire brand identity and uses rules to apply it to applications ranging from a stand-alone logo to Instagram profiles to website headers to presentation headers.

Background on Tailor Brands

There has always been a plethora of DIY design tools on the Internet. I use Stencil for my Featured Images. I’ve used Canva for social images. I’ve used native tools with Buffer & social networks to customize my logos & images. I had a guy from Fiverr help edit my website CSS to match with my logo colors. I had a professional graphic designer on UpWork create a custom blog image for me. I’ve run contests for clients on 99designs.

In other words, the world of DIY design has been here for a while. You don’t need a Mad Men-esque setup of paying $$$ for graphic designers to create a pitch deck.

But the world of DIY design is also a bit of a frustratingly hot mess. It’s a world that’s good enough to be dangerous.

In other words, it’s accessible enough to let non-designers think they are designing a nice brand…when it’s a jumble of mismatched fonts, misaligned layouts, and conflicting colors.

It’s the difference between “Yeah, that’s nice” and “Damn, that is right on! How’d you do that?”.

Tailor Brands is an interesting product that is trying to use software, AI, and automation to take those details away from humans and just automatically apply it wherever you need it – to create a “brand identity with a stylebook” as it were.

How Tailor Brands Works

Tailor Brands works by moving you through its logo maker, which doubles as a brand identity developer. You are given options…and you can run the software as many times as you want.

Once you’ve approved your design, you’re taken to a studio with mockups & style guidelines. You then have a choice of 3 pricing plans*.

First, the $3.99/mo plan provides access to your logo, social media tools, and graphic design library. You can also connect your domain to a basic landing page builder.

Second, the $11.98/mo plans provide access to EPS vectors (for outdoor and print use) in addition to a full website builder and advanced design tools.

Third, the $25.98/mo plan provides access to social media schedulers and analytics so that you can bring your social media management under a single platform. You can also accept payments and run an online store.

*Note – you can cancel and keep all your design assets. So technically, if you just need a logo – you can get that for less than $50 (the $3.99 is billed for 12 months).

The plans all provide ongoing access to tools to manage your brand designs. You retain full ownership of all brand designs & assets even after you cancel.

Pros of Using Tailor Brands

For a relatively new product, Tailor Brands’ actual product is well-executed. There are few bugs or real complaints that I found with the actual core product.

Their real advantage (and disadvantage) is their unique positioning as a tool suite. Here are some of the main pros of using Tailor Brands not only for logos but as a design management tool suite.

Product Focus on Branding over Assets

As mentioned in the introduction, one big issue with the DIY design tool world is the focus on design assets. It’s easy to create a Facebook post on Canva or bulk generate Google Ads with Display Ad Planner. Those tools are easy and usually free. But they are inherently separate. *You* have to manage your images across different tools.

A huge pro for Tailor Brands is that they have an entire tool suite that focuses on unifying your entire brand everywhere. They focus on keeping that brand identity right on, rather than focusing on giving you the best kerning tool or biggest font library or the most intuitive CSS editor.

If you look at some of their design tools one on one with direct tool competitors, they may or may not be “the best”. But Tailor Brands can keep everything looking good everywhere, which is their main pitch to customers who would benefit from their product.

In my experience especially with small and local businesses, it’s a consistent brand identity (paired with a good product / service) that allows them to compete with established big name brands.

If you can just remove the infamous pixelated cover photo, you’ll probably beat your competition. And if you can ensure that your new assistant can quickly handle good looking Instagram posts…all the better.

That outcome is Tailor Brands’ main focus, and it comes off well in the product.

Pricing Structure & Cross-Sells

Every software as a service (SaaS) struggles with business models and pricing. You want your service to be accessible, but also profitable.

This balance is especially hard to strike with design assets where it’s usually a one-and-done proposition.

Tailor Brands runs on a subscription business model. But the subscriptions focus on the design tools rather than the design assets.

Tailor-Brands-Pricing

This structure creates a couple of of useful incentives.

First, it means that there’s no question of ownership of design assets. You own your brand, period.

In fact, it means that you can get a really cheap logo if that’s all you want. You can pay for one month, download your assets, and cancel. You’ve got a high-quality logo in a range of file types for less than $50.

Second, it means that while Tailor Brands has to keep optimizing their logo maker to bring in more customers, they also have to keep developing better design tools to keep customers around. There’s no disincentive to extort customers over their design assets or to drag their feet over product development.

Third, the subscription encourages use from customers rather than a one and done download. The real productivity boost for businesses is having a go-to design tool with everything in one place where you (or a new team member) can quickly create new designs & assets on an ongoing basis. And usually, the more you use a tool, the better you can get.*

*also you’ve got software that will adapt to frequent social media image requirements.

Ideally, there’s a virtuous cycle for everyone involved. Tailor Brands is one of the few companies where I think the cross-sells and upsells are not annoying, and generally useful.**

**also, small quibble, but do note that the prices are billed annually – so you are purchasing a full 12 months of access, even if you only pay monthly.

Turnaround Speed & Feature Versatility

Since Tailor Brands is fully automated, there are no constraints on time, speed, revisions, requests, or redos.

If you want to try graphic design a 2 AM Eastern, you can. If you want to completely redo your design, you can. If you need a mockup right now, you can get it. There’s no delay in turnaround or schedule to meet.

There’s no back and forth or waiting for your designer or virtual assistant. There’s just the software that is working 24/7/365. That’s a huge advantage for Tailor Brands. It works on your timeline.

And if you are trying to actually run a business, working on design any time means that it will get done. If you are running your business full-time, you likely don’t have time during business hours. And if you are working on a side project…you have to work on it outside business hours.

Additionally, since Tailor Brands has a whole suite of design tools, there’s no downloading or cropping or exporting or importing. Everything is just there to use.

Convenience generally beats everything. And when it comes to branding, Tailor Brands makes brand design convenient above all else.

Backend Quality & Usability

Even though Tailor Brands focuses on the branding aspect of design across their suite of tools, the tools themselves are high-quality and rock-solid.

They’ve built some tools in-house, but others they’ve high-quality 3rd party tools and customized them. For example, their website builder is built on top of the Duda website builder, which is one of the best website builders that I’ve used.

Same with their social media tools. It looks like they’ve white-labeled a 3rd party tool. But whatever it is, it’s legit and high-quality. Same with the design editor and others.

Each tool is solid & highly-usable on its own. But when they are all bundled within Tailor Brands’ suite, it makes each tool even more useful than it would be on its own.

Cons / Disadvantages of Using Tailor Brands

Every product has disadvantages, but especially a relatively new product like Tailor Brands.

Here are a few tradeoffs & complaints that I found with Tailor Brands. Some are simply the flip side of an advantage, but some are inherent to their approach.

Branding Process & Revisions

Tailor Brands’ fully automated, AI-powered design process leaves humans out of the process deliberately. That choice cuts costs, increases efficiency, increases choice, and makes the platform what it is.

But the tradeoff with this choice is that…it leaves out humans.

And humans are still critical to produce truly unique or truly outstanding brands. Brands are built on stories, and stories are what makes us human.

Humans can also ask pertinent questions, push-back on scope, implement creative deadlines, and invent completely new concepts.

Tailor Brands’s software can create a brand design and a brand style guide, but it cannot assign meaning or purpose of symbolism or even provide a reason why a certain design works over another – it only knows what “works” based on other user data.

The story / meaning part of branding is either your job or a job for another human. If you assign it to another human, that’s going to cost time & money.

And if you take on the job yourself, it’s something to be aware of and learn about.

Either way, it’s something to keep in mind when using Tailor Brands. There’s no process of “brand discovery” or mapping your customer’s psychographic persona. There are no revisions based on client feedback.

All that is for better and for worse. Before online design tools, agencies gave away the process and sold the assets. Now, you can get the assets affordably, but you still have to understand a bit about branding.

And that leads to the next tradeoff.

Customer Education & Brand Identity

Even though Tailor Brands does a lot of the branding & design work for the customer, they still leave a lot of creative work up to the customer.

The tradeoff of any service that claims to do “everything” for you is that the customer’s expectations are not set correctly. When it turns out that there is *some* work to be done, it’s easy to bail instead of figuring the work out.

A Tailor Brands customer still needs to be prepared to think through where, when, how they’ll need to use designs. The logo maker sequence is great, but after creating the logo, there’s very little guidance for a new customer.

Tailor-Brands-Dashboard

There’s a ton of options with no real onboarding guidance or customer examples. Their welcome email series is limited to deals & coupons rather than “here are common next steps” or “here are some common use cases”.

I can imagine that customers who don’t have a strong sense of direction would churn quickly after getting a logo idea.

If you do end up using Tailor Brands, do note that you should have an idea of what *you* need to get out of it, rather than just using it for using a new tool’s sake.

Platform Product Lock-in

Tailor Brands is a hosted platform that focuses on convenience. And there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control on the Web.

The more convenient a product is…the less control you have. And the more control you have…the less convenient the product is. Think about RSS vs. Twitter. Think about hosted website builders vs. self-hosted CMS’. Think about an Amazon Seller listing vs. your own ecommerce store.

Tailor Brands makes everything downloadable. And they ensure that you truly own all your intellectual property.

However, like a hosted website builder, your work is inherently tied to their platform in many ways. The longer you commit to their platform, the harder it becomes to leave.

That’s not a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a disadvantage that’s the flip side of their big advantage.

But it’s an important tradeoff to understand. If you use the Tailor Brands’ platform over your own copy of Adobe Illustrator, email or Paint, do ensure that you are downloading and backing up *all* of your brand assets on your own computer for the sake of preserving your own intellectual property.

Company Structure, Age & Competition

Tailor Brands has been around since 2014. They are still considered an “early-stage venture-funded” startup. In other words, they are privately held and using investor money to focus on the product rather than profit or market share.

Like the platform lock-in tradeoff, this disadvantage is more of a consideration. Right now they are still at a stage where pricing & product can change rapidly. They also probably have a small team with limited resources. They also will have copycat competition from publicly held competitors like Wix, Fiverr, Squarespace, Vistaprint, and others.

The upside to being a customer at a young venture-funded company is that you can count on more resources going into a better product. The downside is that there’s still a risk that they could get bought or “pivot” in the future.

Tailor Brand Alternatives & Use Cases

A product / service is only as good as its customer fit. Tailor Brands is not for everyone. But for some, it would be amazing.

Here’s 3 use cases where I think they’d be a really good it.

New Business or Organization w/ No Brand Assets

If you have a new business or organization with no brand assets and no large budget for a human-led design process, Tailor Brands would be a perfect fit.

Now, I would think through which features & tools that you’ll need from them. If you need a more robust website presence and/or email with lots of features, you might want to look at a dedicated website builder, ecommerce platform, or even shared hosting. You could use Tailor Brands strictly for design tools and social media. Either way, a new small business is their bread & butter. You can get try out their logo maker for free here.

Personal but Online Project w/ No Brand Assets

If you have a small personal project that you want to look just right – think resume site, hobby site, non-profit idea, family project, etc – Tailor Brands would be a solid fit. You can get try out their logo maker for free here.

Existing Business or Organization w/ Redesign

If you have an existing business or organization and you want to refresh your look without committing to a design firm or outsourcing to several providers, Tailor Brands would be a good fit. You can use what tools you need. You can also download & use the EPS file to get any signage or custom assets made offline.

Now, Tailor Brands is not for everyone. If you feel comfortable coordinating designs and brand assets across different platforms or if you have the budget to pay a human for graphic design, then something else might be a better fit.

Here are a few direct competitors to Tailor Brands and how they compare.

Tailor Brands vs. 99designs

99designs is a contest-led marketplace for graphic design. You set a budget and run a “contest” among human designers based on your design briefing. I wrote a 99designs review here. But in short, 99designs is sort of the halfway human point between Tailor Brands and an agency. 99designs is much more expensive than Tailor Brands, but you do get human ideas based on a design brief. 99designs also has a huge range of design contest options…but not the design management tools of Tailor Brands. Technically, you could (and should) check out both. See Tailor Brands here and 99designs here.

Tailor Brands vs. Fiverr

Fiverr is a huge marketplace for humans working on “gigs”. You think of a task that you need to be done, find a person to hire, and quickly get it done for you within Fiverr’s platform. Fiverr is also a halfway human point between Tailor Brands and an agency. The price ranges depending on skills and reputation. While you can great design assets from Fiverr, you are also in charge of managing all your design assets. You also have to expect to pay for several logos / designs before coming away with a good one. Tailor Brands would be a simpler, more affordable, and versatile fit.

Tailor Brands vs. Wix Logo Maker

Wix is the big brand name in the website builder world. I wrote a Wix review here. Technically Wix competes directly with Tailor Brands, even if they have a different focus. Tailor Brands focuses on how your brand designs are presented *everywhere*. Wix has similar tools, but really focuses their tool on website applications. In other words, Tailor Brands is a design tool with a website builder and Wix is a website builder with a design tool. Check out Tailor Brands here and check out Wix’s logo maker here.

Tailor Brands vs. DIY Tools

Between Canva, Stencil, and every other random logo generator on the Internet, Tailor Brands has plenty of competition for DIYers. If you have the time and wherewithal, you could get everything that Tailor Brands offers for free. The issue would be that all your designs would be dispersed among a bunch of tools…and you would be relying on your own design taste rather than a professionally built tool. In the end, I think that Tailor Brands is worth the money for the convenience and the designs. But for a quick sketch up of something you have in your head, Stencil is the simplest.

Next Steps & Conclusion

Tailor Brands is a unique and useful addition to the design world. In fact, for many businesses, it could do a full end around the traditional “upload your logo to a website builder” model.

By bundling design management tools, including a social media editor and quality website builder with an automated logo & brand designer, Tailor Brands has figured out something new & different.

If you are a non-designer trying to build a consistent brand identity across the Web & offline, Tailor Brands is worth a try.

See Tailor Brand’s Current Plans & Pricing

You might also be interested in my review of 99designs, my post on layouts, and my post on color palettes, and my post on hiring a web designer.

Good luck with your project!

Tailor Brands Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

Tailor Brands is a suite of branding & design tools powered by machine learning for non-technical users. They allow businesses, organizations, and indi

Price: 3.99

Price Currency: USD

Application Category: Logo Design

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FreshBooks Review: My 6 Pros & Cons of utilizing FreshBooks for Accounting

FreshBooks Review

I’ve been operating a business in excess of five years now. The final 4+ years, I’ve used FreshBooks for invoicing and bookkeeping. It is also one the businesses on my small Sources page that readers ask me most about. I figured I’d convert individuals emails right into a full FreshBooks review for reference &#8211 because here’s the factor.

I’ve had 3 bosses at 3 different companies let me know variations of the identical idiom. &#8220If it feels tiresome, you’re doing the work wrong.&#8221 Or, &#8220if you’re spending so much time, you use the incorrect tool.&#8221 Or, &#8220if you’re spending so much time, you’re most likely ignoring what’s important.&#8221

Boring things like invoicing and bookkeeping aren’t technically a part of marketing or enhancing your or perhaps your client’s website. However it does compete for the attention and time. It is also a simple-time suck.

By 2012, I used to be managing a freelance marketing &amp website design business for quite some time. I had been spending a significant amount of time attempting to keep costs lower whilst searching professional and legit. I had been using PayPal’s free invoice feature and Google Sheets. It had been a significant mess. And So I began searching an origin for bookkeeping, invoicing, and a little bit of accounting.

I began using FreshBooks. I’ve not used at all QuickBooks or compared QuickBooks versus. FreshBooks. It appeared feature overkill (and $$$) at that time. However I haven’t left FreshBooks even while business is continuing to grow and my career has altered.

BTW &#8211 I evaluated it by registering for a totally free plan and clicking around. Take a look at FreshBooks’ free trial offer &amp plans here.

I do not use FreshBooks for anything super-complicated. I personally use it to:

  • Create and send invoices to clients and advertising partners and track their accounts.
  • Track and manage expenses.
  • Fundamental accounting (also known as searching at P&ampL sheets &amp Schedule C documentation).
  • Simplify communication with my accountant.

So here’s my FreshBooks review with pros &amp cons. It isn’t for everybody, but it is also not intended to be either.

Disclosure &#8211 I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site as well as in this publish. All data and opinions aresite according to my experience like a having to pay customer.

Pros of utilizing FreshBooks

Before I recieve into somethings I love about FreshBooks, here’s the primary pro better than other things:

FreshBooks reduced time creating, delivering, filing, and tracking invoices &amp expenses from ~half an hour per client to ~a few minutes per client/partner. If you’d prefer that point in your hourly rate&#8230that quite a bit of money.

So whatever bookkeeping platform you utilize &#8211 I’d use that rule because the defacto standard. Here’s my 3 primary pros of FreshBooks.

User-Friendly

Like lots of trendy, web-only software &#8211 FreshBooks includes a simple, straightforward user-focused design. It’s colorful. It’s personality.

It’s giant eco-friendly buttons along with a well-considered interface. It isn’t overloaded with features just like a of desktop-based software.

Here’s exactly what the primary dashboard appears like &#8211

FreshBooks Dashboard

80% of time is spent clicking right through to Invoices. 10% is allocated to Expenses, and 10% on Reports.

Here’s exactly what a standard invoice screen appears like.

FreshBooks Invoice

There’s lots of options. There’s pre-filled fields. I love the power pre-set rates for various projects and billing products. For instance, single Hour Consultation is definitely $200. To bill a customer, I simply select them in the drop lower. Click Consulation and click on send.

If you want to line-item you are able to. Things are pre-filled without having to be locked lower and defined.

Here’s exactly what the Client screen appears like &#8211

FreshBooks Client

Whenever you generate a new client, you simply enter their information plus they end up part of the machine.

One quick note is the fact that FreshBooks&#8217 plans element in your quantity of clients. If you have lots of small one-time clients (and wish to remain on the two cheaper plans for some time longer), it’s worth &#8220hacking&#8221 FreshBooks with an editable general client. I’ll reach that within the cons.

In either case, FreshBooks’ concentrate on simplicity and user-ambiance includes a very short learning curve. Its not necessary to consider a training course to obtain began and becoming value.

It’s an enormous pro for me personally.

Integrations

Each and every business has a variety of random needs and requires. And FreshBooks’ doesn’t play the role of something to everyone. However, they’ve been attempting to quickly grow outdoors their original wheelhouse of freelancers billing hourly time.

FreshBooks has contacted these needs through the opportunity to integrate simply with a variety of other platforms, payment systems as well as third party users.

FreshBooks includes a flexible API &#8211 meaning it may “talk” to numerous other software. That list includes time tracking software, ecommerce software (like Woocommerce), payroll software (like ZenPayroll) and help-desk software.

They likewise have plenty of internal add-ons like project time-tracking that you could add or leave off for the way simple you would like to help keep you have FreshBooks’ setup.

I’m also keen on how good they integrate with PayPal. Most everybody is familiar and feels secure with PayPal, so collecting invoices is straightforward. FreshBooks also offers their very own payments gateway to be able to collect credit/debit directly via FreshBooks (minus transaction charges).

The final integration which i like is third party user integration &#8211 also known as the invite an accountant functionality. Although FreshBooks does lots of fundamental accounting, it clearly can’t construct your business tax strategy or other proper accounting plans.

Typically, discussing tax strategy together with your accountant means gathering a lot of documents and providing an accountant a untidy look at the company (also known as wasting everyone’s time).

With FreshBooks’ invite an accountant functionality, my accountant not just got quick remote access, but additionally had use of all of the right documents out of all right format. Time-saving for everybody.

FreshBooks Accountant

In a nutshell, FreshBooks’ integrations provides me with versatility and keep the general software easy and uncluttered.

Customizations

On the related pro &#8211 I’m fan of methods well FreshBooks enables for personalization.

Like I pointed out within the intro, I had been visiting FreshBooks from the weird combination of PayPal’s free invoicing software and Google Spreadsheets.

It wasn’t only a mess, however it didn’t look particularly professional. In hindsight, it labored it keep me within the type of &#8220freelancer&#8221 rather &#8220consultant.&#8221 PayPal enables you to definitely incorperate your emblem, however it still appears like PayPal.

FreshBooks invoices could be edited and customised a lot more fully to resemble a professional invoice.

FreshBooks Invoice Example

However the personalization goes past that &#8211 like I pointed out in the last section, you are able to personalize all of the pre-filled sections within the invoicing. You are able to personalize expense rule &amp groups. Using the integrations, you may also personalize the procedure to produce invoices.

Cons of utilizing FreshBooks

Apart from carrying out a couple of free trials of competitors (see below in Next Steps), I do not come with an overall knowledge about various bookkeeping platforms. Although I’ve stuck around with FreshBooks &#8211 I believe there’s a couple of stuff that eliminate FreshBooks from as being a fit for everybody.

Prices

I believe the greatest disadvantage for FreshBooks is the prices. Yes, it’s reasonable. And I’m sure it’s worthwhile. However, the every month charges can also add up rapidly during the period of annually for functionality that you could technically have for free or cheaper.

Side note &#8211 FreshBooks really includes a free invoice creator for just one-off projects.

FreshBooks’ prices is fairly simple &#8211 however it relies upon one factor &#8211 your quantity of clients. If you’re a freelancer or business getting projects from many different clients, then you’ll rapidly get put into the Evergreen tier of ~$30 USD monthly.

If you’re still somewhere where you stand getting established &#8211 that $30/mo is definitely an attractive cost to chop. After I scaled my company lower while employed by a company, Used to do exactly that. I did not leave, however i did delete my client contacts and created a single, generic, editable “Advertising Partner” to trace revenue in my (not client) website projects. Used to do exactly the same in my couple of one-off clients. That put me within the $10/mo tier.

That stated, if you’re carrying out work with a lot of clients which are having to pay well, the $30/mo is okay. It’s greatly justifiable according to time saved. However if you simply are becoming established or carrying out work with a lot of clients with small individual invoices&#8230FreshBooks’ prices is really a disadvantage.

Bulk Editing &amp Creation

Another disadvantage that I’m still positively trying to puzzle out how you can solve is bulk development of invoices inside the FreshBooks’ interface.

It’s my job to have a lot of greater than a dozen invoices to produce in the finish of each and every month all at one time. The amounts and projects are unpredictable, and so i can’t set them as recurring invoices. Additionally they aren’t associated with any “trigger” just like a website purchase will be able to set to instantly generate a bill (something that i’m trying to change).

In either case &#8211 each month, I must click to produce each invoice by hand. There isn’t any method to batch create them, or perhaps open all of them in new home windows. I must create each one of these individually completely through.

The ironic factor is when I’d a trigger or something like that to sync using the API &#8211 it might be super simple. But in the centre area where I’m at &#8211 plenty of custom-ant invoices all at one time &#8211 FreshBooks causes it to be a little awkward.

One-offs

FreshBooks also offers a few one-off cons. I’d give them a call bugs when they had only happened once. However I generally have a problem with them once every couple of several weeks, so I’ll include them here.

Email click-throughs don’t always work

Every couple of several weeks, I’ll come with an invoice which goes towards the client. They notice (something which is awesome about FreshBooks &#8211 a customer can’t say they didn’t “see” your invoice). However they click on to pay for&#8230and it crashes.

Freshbooks View In Email

I haven’t had the ability to recreate it myself. However it has happened enough with a variety of clients &#8211 with lengthy-time clients which i trust and also have used FreshBooks &#8211 that there’s something happening. It’s pretty annoying if this does happen.

Automated Expenses Aren’t Right

FreshBooks is able to sync together with your bank and charge card company to instantly get expenses. You may also set rules and custom groups. However, FreshBooks’ also attempts to instantly tag expenses&#8230.and it is not too smart there.

FreshBooks Expenses

You are able to solve this problem to some degree with rules, but editing expenses continues to be likely to be a handbook task, about as tiresome like a spreadsheet.

Pro Tips about Using FreshBooks

Here’s a couple of from the training I’ve learned over 4+ years to obtain more from FreshBooks.

Keep an eye on advertising revenue like a self-client

Many freelancers have a side-project with ad revenue from Adsense, affiliate partners or ad buys. In FreshBooks, everything is to establish as “client.” To keep an eye on ad revenue, I produce the partner like a client but use my information.

After I obtain a payout, I create and save a draft invoice from that partner. Then open the invoice and measure the level as compensated entirely. The revenue will appear inside your books just like you invoiced them for charges that you simply were compensated out &#8211 just like a reverse invoice system.

FreshBooks Billing For Ads

FreshBooks Payment

Pre-fill all of your projects

I undervalued this selection of FreshBooks for some time. However if you simply perform a certain service for any defined rate &#8211 include that into FreshBooks. After that you can just select it when billing out a customer.

Have a generic &#8220Client&#8221 then make use of the Invoice label to recognize small projects.

Like I pointed out in prices &#8211 FreshBooks bases prices on the amount of clients you have. For those who have less than 25 regular clients along with a couple of miscellaneous projects included &#8211 here’s things i do to avoid wasting money. Give a client and refer to it as “Project” &#8211 some placeholder. Just edit and re-use that “client” for that miscellaneous projects. Whenever you complete the invoice, make use of the description label to mention and differentiate clients.

Next Steps

My knowledge about FreshBooks continues to be great. It’s not perfect also it isn’t for everybody. I’d recommend &#8211

  • Writing lower exactly what you’re searching for, the number of clients you’ve, and just what your present bookkeeping product is.
  • Register for a totally free trial (it normally won’t need a charge card) at FreshBooks.
  • Spend fifteen minutes clicking around. You’ll likely obtain a quick feeling of whether they are what you’re searching for.

If you are searching for options to FreshBooks, I’ve heard a great deal about &#8211

  • Xero &#8211 A current startup getting lots of press.
  • QuickBooks &#8211 The company within the space. Lately re-did their platform to become located in the cloud.
  • Invoicera &#8211 A different one which i attempted.
  • Toast Invoice &#8211 A little startup in Louisville. I loved it after i attempted it.

Whoever you hire on &#8211 cut back time bookkeeping and much more time marketing and enhancing your website.

The publish FreshBooks Review: My 6 Pros &#038 Cons of utilizing FreshBooks for Accounting made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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RescueTime Review: Using RescueTime for Personal Time Management

RescueTime Review

RescueTime is a a part of my working existence in excess of 6 years, but I’ve never sitting lower to create a RescueTime review until only a couple of several weeks ago.

A couple of several weeks ago marked my first twelve month of self-employment. I required time to re-evaluate my tools and dealing ways to make certain I’d a good time balance of all my priorities.

In the end &#8211 regardless if you are compensated hourly or otherwise, your time and effort is the only non-renewable resource. If you are planning to handle anything, it ought to be your time and effort.

Since just about all my professional priorities take presctiption a pc &#8211 personal time management software (ie, RescueTime) is really a core a part of that.

Take a look at RescueTime&#8217s Plans here.

Here’s my RescueTime review with pros, cons, use cases and then steps according to my experience.

What’s RescueTime?

RescueTime is really a personal time management &amp productivity software company founded in 2008. The RescueTime application runs without anyone’s knowledge of the devices tracking, calculating and instantly categorizing your activity.

RescueTime Dashboard

RescueTime is really a free application having a premium upgrade that enables more specific reporting featuring like offline time input. It provides a reporting dashboard with your data sliced, diced and sorted into helpful charts that will help you manage your time and effort.

The application is dependant on Peter Drucker’s (the famous management consultant) maxim that “what will get measured, will get managed.”

RescueTime takes the manual tracking of your time and causes it to be painless and automatic so you really track your time and effort to ensure that &#8211 you may be conscious of time use.

That stated, you will find tons of productivity &amp personal time management tools on the web. Do you know the actual pros &amp cons of RescueTime? Here’s what I’ve observed through the years.

Disclosure &#8211 I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. Data and/or opinions derive from my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Pros of RescueTime

Here’s a few of the benefits of using RescueTime over other solutions.

Set Of Features

At its core, RescueTime do you factor &#8211 track time. If your perception this way, it isn’t super special. Technically, you could do this by using a spreadsheet or the a large number of free apps online.

But RescueTime’s set of features is special due to the way it tracks some time and what it really does using the data (also known as, one you’ll really use).

RescueTime watches which home windows presently have activity, compares the window name, and occasions the game for the reason that window. It’s usually running without anyone’s knowledge &#8211 always watching.

RescueTime Running

Unobtrustive, 100% tracking makes RescueTime useful. There’s no friction or hurdle to tracking time.

Since RescueTime’s tracking feature solves this problem, you’ll have data that’s complete, correct &amp helpful.

RescueTime’s additional features concentrate on making their core feature better. It normally won’t consider adding on complementary features like time-tracking &amp billing for freelancers. It normally won’t try to get involved with any side companies.

They are doing possess a couple of features which use the tracking feature within an interesting way. For instance, the Get Focused! feature blocks distracting sites and/or apps from running when selected.

They’ve goals and alerts where you can decide what you would like to occur when X happens &#8211 and RescueTime is going to do that according to what it’s tracking.

I additionally love how RescueTime does Offline Time Tracking. Rather of getting to look and add it in 100% by hand, you decide on a period period that’s unlogged and complete the blank.

RescueTime Offline

You may also personalize the buttons to create logging offline time simple and quick.

It’s a minimalist set of features &#8211 but that’s exactly important great. It’s simple, straightforward and well-done.

Prices

RescueTime operates on a Freemium business design. It’s free of charge with compensated upgrades funding the program. I really like e-commerce model for any couple of reasons.

  • There isn’t any ads cluttering in the experience.
  • The program is really funded and really earning money &#8211 so it’s less inclined to disappear.
  • It’s free of charge more than a lengthy time period.
  • You choose to only pay when it’s benefitting you.
  • RescueTime comes with an incentive to construct in helpful upgrades.
  • So RescueTime is free of charge to obtain began but the Premium plan’s only $9/month or $72/year.

The Premium plan creates several helpful upgrades, but my top picks are &#8211

  • More in depth reports &#8211 I’m able to drill lower towards the *most* productive/distracting occasions.
  • Limitless report history &#8211 I’m able to match it up time for you to last year and appreciate everyday changes.
  • Add Offline Time &#8211 I’m able to add offline activities it isn’t typical for me personally, but helpful to possess.
  • The Get Focused! feature isn’t as helpful in my experience (I’ll cover within the Cons section), but it’s often a favorite of some other clients.

RescueTime Premium

In either case &#8211 RescueTime is really a no-brainer prices-wise. It’s free of charge.

And when the reporting/advanced features help you save just one hour monthly then it’s compensated by itself even if you’re only causing us to be minimum wage.

RescueTime is definitely an investment which makes sense.

Application Quality

A typical trouble with tracking apps of all types is they always need to be on. The “always on” feature may cause performance issues on laptops &amp personal computers. It may cause battery problems on cellular devices.

But in my opinion, RescueTime causes neither. It’s running from startup on my small Macbook Pro, my Home windows PC, and my Nexus 5x phone. I’ve never tracked any performance or battery issues towards the application.

It’s lightweight and well-built.

I love the truth that the mobile application doesn’t demand a large number of absurd permissions. It takes use of usage data, but doesn’t attempt to track location, contacts, emails, or the typical privacy violating permissions other apps request.

RescueTime Mobile

It’s quick to set up and syncs by having an online dashboard. It pulls in data all sources simultaneously, and crunches the information rapidly if you are around the Premium plan or by following day around the free plan.

Reporting

What’s the purpose of data should you can’t interpret it or apply it?

RescueTime’s reports solves this problem &#8211 and in lots of ways may be the whole idea of utilizing the application more than a spreadsheet.

RescueTime’s Dashboard uses colorful bar graphs and cake charts to exhibit exactly what you’re (and aren’t) doing.

You are able to choose to receive emails reports every single day, week or month.

RescueTime Email

And on top of that, you are able to search hard in to the reporting with assorted filters and overlays to discover your habits.

It’s really eye-opening to determine the particular period of time that every task takes.

RescueTime Categories

After I employed by an advertising and marketing agency in Atlanta &#8211 time tracked to Messages and Gchats was astounding. It altered processes not just for me personally, but additionally my project managers.

Since I’m by myself without any full-time employees &#8211 I can tell the precise time which i dedicate to tasks that matter. I’m able to build my day around individuals.

And merely to reiterate &#8211 all of the reports are made-to the software. The Dashboard is on my small default &#8211 as well as advanced reports are pre-built.

It’s all fast, seamless and efficient so you aren’t ironically putting things off while analyzing your time and effort.

Integrations

Among the key selling points of RescueTime is the set of features minimalism. They are doing one factor plus they get it done well.

That stated &#8211 nearly all people utilizing their product have enough time-based software needs. Whether it’s project management software, billing, team time tracking or anything else &#8211 your time and effort needs usually don’t stop with tracking, calculating and categorization.

To resolve this problem, RescueTime’s software integrates having a large range of other software. They’ve a wide open API and direct integrations with common software.

RescueTime Integrations

Regardless if you are a freelancer attempting to integrate time tracking into invoicing software like FreshBooks or perhaps a project manager that should collate team member’s time, RescueTime will most likely integrate by using it.

Cons of RescueTime

Like every software though &#8211 RescueTime is neither perfect neither is it the very best fit for everybody. Here’s some disadvantages that I’ve observed through the years.

Default Get Focused! Groups

Generally, RescueTime’s groups are very good. Sites like Reddit, Twitter and facebook are “Very Distracting”&#8230for many people. As well as for general tracking, RescueTime’s groups are quick &amp simple to fix.

But RescueTime’s groups could be served by general news, research sites and distracting sites’ subdomains.

I can’t make use of the Get Focused! functionality for just about any task that needs research (also known as visiting a lot of different websites).

Ironically, time which i need smart blocking functionality happens when I’m doing research for any publish

There is a thin line between this really is productive which is distracting when I’m researching. It’d do well to make use of RescueTime, however the groups aren’t accurate enough for results.

The main problem would be that the Block Sites function isn’t obtainable in reverse (ie, add specific sites to bar). I’m able to only add sites to unblock.

RescueTime Focus Time

And when I’m visiting several dozen blocked sites &#8211 by hand adding them rapidly becomes time wasting.

If you’re searching to have an application which will block only specific distracting sites &#8211 RescueTime isn’t it.

Effectiveness versus. Efficiency

RescueTime (or whenever keeper) heightens the bias towards efficiency over effectiveness.

Should you choose the incorrect factor for 18 hrs each day, every single day with perfect focus &#8211 you’re still doing the incorrect factor.

The most crucial element in personal time management would be to focus on the best things &#8211 the main 20% of your time input which will generate 80% of the outcomes.

And that’s an issue that’s 100% for you. RescueTime can’t solve this problem.

Actually, somewhat, RescueTime can hurt your time and efforts by pushing you towards better efficient doing over strategy, planning and research.

RescueTime Effectiveness

If effectiveness is the core issue, then RescueTime isn’t for you personally. It’ll only worsen.

Rather, I’d recommend studying a few of these books.

Conclusion &amp Next Steps

RescueTime continues to be an excellent tool for me personally. It isn’t for everybody and it has some feature quirks and downsides.

That stated, the very best factor it’s found here is perspective. It’s very easy to consider that you simply “work a lot” or are “not hooked on your phone” or “spend a lot time writing” or are “seldom on Facebook.

However the data doesn’t lie. And taking advantage of RescueTime to obtain accurate time data in your digital time will help you literally save your time and effort and set your existence in perspective.

If you feel RescueTime sounds helpful &#8211 go take a look at their plans here.

Whether it sounds too in-depth or otherwise what you’re searching for, take a look at these books or read this podcast episode on my small project management software system.

The publish RescueTime Review: Using RescueTime for Personal Time Management made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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My 99designs Review: Using 99designs For Blog Emblem Design

99designs Review

You will find loads of free choices for graphics on the internet. I really like using from Hipster Emblem Generator to Canva to Stencil to Pixlr. But with regards to blog or website emblem design &#8211 or really anything associated with graphics which makes your site stick out &#8211 you&#8217ll need expertise.

And professional graphics expertise isn&#8217t cheap. So how will you help make your blog or website really stick out &#8211 provide that extra &#8216pop&#8217 it needs without turning getting a professional artist directly?

One choice is crowd-sourced design. It&#8217s a method to help to make good graphics available to all budgets, while giving freelance graphic artists an exciting marketplace.

I&#8217ve personally used 99designs for a few this site projects. I&#8217ve had clients use their design contests feature too. According to individuals encounters, here&#8217s my 99designs review with how it operates, together with benefits and drawbacks&#8230

*Editor&#8217s Note &#8211 this publish was initially printed in April 2013. It&#8217s been upgraded and re-printed for September 2016.

Disclosure &#8211 I receive referral charges from the companies pointed out. All data and opinion is dependant on my experience like a having to pay customer.

How 99designs Works

99designs is mainly based on design contests.

Design contests are in which you submit an request a design, and dozens to a large number of designers submit suggestions for your request, and you choose. The larger your financial allowance &#8211 the greater your request is searched for after (and also the more choices you receive).

Design contests are 99designs&#8216 bread and butter. You are able to operate a contest for everything from your blog emblem design to some book cover design to some custom WordPress theme design. You place your budget you receive ideas within the next couple days, and you choose. Not so difficult, and delay pills work very well.

A number of my clients happen to be happy using the design direction they were given from 99designs.

After I initially printed this review, I centered on 99designs&#8217 other (and fewer publicized) offering &#8211 Ready-made Logo store. In my experience it had been a jewel of the idea for website proprietors and graphic artists.

It had been literally an outlet of pre-made logos for each industry imaginable. Each emblem might be customized by color and text to suit your company/blog/website. And the majority of them offered for $99 &#8211 that was an excellent deal thinking about the moment credibility you receive from getting a pixel perfect emblem in your website.

Regrettably, they closed the ready-made 99designs emblem store at the begining of 2016.

But together with closing the ready-made store, 99designs restructured their design contest prices and reorganized them to pay attention to specific elements of design (including bundled options).

99designs is design contests. You select a category, a financial budget along with a design brief. Waiting for designs in the future in. When they are available in, you receive a special connect to view them. If you want one, you select it and also the designer will get compensated.

99designs Process

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&nbsp

To ensure that&#8217s how 99designs works. It&#8217s good &#8211 but in no way perfect. Let&#8217s dive into things i say is some pros and 4 cons of utilizing 99designs (specifically for blog or website emblem design).

Pros of 99designs

99designs isn&#8217t for everybody, however it does perform a many things right. Here&#8217s why I loved about the subject in the projects that me and my clients have run together.

Affordability

Graphics usually represents the lion-share of any website design budget. Even though many software programs (for example WordPress) could make creating a website cheaper, and premium WordPress styles (for example from ThemeForest or WooThemes) makes getting a website design affordable &#8211 graphic design still isn&#8217t something to can definitely educate a pc to complete.

It&#8217s a skill to change an abstract brand into something visual. You can spend considerable time &amp cash on that transformation. However for most startups and small companies &#8211 an expert look only goes to date, also it doesn&#8217t seem sensible to place money right into a custom brand look.

Rather, you’ll need a service that puts that professional look within achieve without an excessive amount of expense or hassle.

So while 99designs could easily get belittled by a few &#8211 the affordability certainly puts professionally designed logos within achieve of much more companies. Affordability is the main pro to presenting 99designs for blog or website emblem design.

Choice in Context

You will find thousands (otherwise millions) of designers to select from on the web. But unless you’re offered on the specific designer because of portfolio, relationship or desire to have a design process &#8211 you likely desire a choice of designs not designers.

99designs&#8217 contest format provides a great deal of designs to select from. Plus &#8211 it solves the paradox of choice since all individuals choices in context of the design brief.

When you are getting your personal preview link, you’ve got a straightforward screen of choices.

99design selection of choices in context is really a solid pro.

Turnaround Time

Additionally to choice, 99designs&#8217s format enables for fast turnaround time no hassle. Whenever you submit your brief, you&#8217ll likely receive submissions within 24 to 48 hrs. You receive a special connect to notice &#8211 or solicit feedback from colleagues or buddies.

When you pick one, you&#8217re already within the revision phase.

Hardly any wait for customized product having a straightforward process.

Guarantees

The good thing about getting 99designs run industry is the fact that they could guarantee each side an even experience. They contain the cash is escrow til you have recognized the ultimate product. There&#8217s no sketchy designer running served by your hard earned money or fighting over the number of revisions are permitted (or perhaps a designer getting to handle a demanding client for instance).

Furthermore, you&#8217re guaranteed to possess a design that you simply love. When you get back some bad designs, you don&#8217t pay. That can take lots of risk from the equation.

Cons of 99designs

Every company has room for improvement, and 99designs isn’t any exception. Here&#8217s things i would like to change for a much better experience.

Writing Briefs

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Designers require a beginning place. Regardless if you are dealing with a company or with 99designs, which means developing a &#8220design brief.&#8221 A design brief essentially provides in your words exactly what the design will communicate. You&#8217ll mention colors, examples you want, meaning, and also the general &#8220look&#8221 that you would like to speak.

99designs provides guidelines along with a template for any good brief &#8211 but writing a great brief continues to be your decision. Along with a bad brief will more often than not produce bad designs.

On 99designs, it may be especially frustrating as you are likely dealing with designers that do aren’t native loudspeakers of the local language. You need to write a really literal brief to speak abstract ideas.

You are able to usually solve the problem with increased examples (explain that which you like a good example) with more details. But writing a short could be daunting nevertheless. It&#8217s one good reason which i loved browsing their old ready-made emblem store &#8211 sometimes I’d look for a design that labored, however that might have never had the ability to communicate.

Writing briefs really are a somewhat unfortunate requirement in design, however it&#8217s something which will make 99designs a poor fit for somebody searching to browse concepts or explain complex meaning.

Relationships

Area of the expense and expertise of getting a single artist is you reach set up a client/agency relationship where they pay attention to greater than a brief or a summary of preferences, and really attempt to tell the storyline of the brand with higher design.

That relationship, and backwards and forwards can be difficult to recreate when managing a design contest.

Now, clearly this comparison is extremely evaluating apples and oranges, but It&#8217s a disadvantage that needs to be taken seriously. Are you currently attempting to go affordable since you must, because you need to, or since you really think you&#8217ll obtain a good design?

There’s no right answer here, but be aware of precisely what 99designs is providing. For several people, it&#8217s the key they need. It brings design within budget. For other people, less. It&#8217s a purposeful disadvantage with 99designs, however a disadvantage nevertheless.

On Spec &amp Not Local

To begin &#8211 this isn’t a disadvantage in my experience, but it’s for several people, and so i&#8217ll include it. 99designs is operated from Australia. It’s designers from around the globe. I acquired certainly one of my designs from the designer in Bulgaria, and the other from China. I believe that’s really awesome.

Furthermore, an natural trouble with a tournament would be that the &#8220losing&#8221 designers have produced something &#8220on spec&#8221 &#8211 and also have basically labored without pay. This, again, isn’t an problem with me because it&#8217s a totally free platform &#8211 and also the designers have experienced to sort out processes and business models to really make it work. As somebody who has freelanced and created lots of spec work, it&#8217s just area of the setup.

But others aren&#8217t so awesome by using it &#8211 they&#8217d rather begin to see the money flow to their local economy. They&#8217d rather see designers get compensated for work they&#8217ve done. Now, I&#8217d reason that you having the ability to launch an expert searching business within budget helps the local economy much more, however i totally comprehend the sentiment. And That I&#8217d reason that taking part in an contest isn’t an exploitive type of spec work which you may see elsewhere throughout the economy. If this sounds like a disadvantage for you personally &#8211 awesome, whether it&#8217s not, then awesome let&#8217s proceed to a genuine disadvantage of utilizing 99designs.

Conclusion

If you’re searching to create your blog or website really pop &#8211 you’ll need a little graphics, specifically for you blog or website emblem design. Getting a custom web design will probably be costly. 99designs puts quality graphics within achieve. Despite a few drawbacks, I&#8217m an admirer &#8211 and recommend them.

You need to checkout their their Contests page here&#8230

If you’re searching for alternatives, crowdSPRING is a direct competitor.

If you’re searching for any designer, I&#8217d use Dribbble (a portfolio site for designers) to sort for local ones for your taste.

Best of luck!

99designs

99designs provides blog emblem design, and crowdsourced graphics for websites, banners, and much more.
99designs Emblem and Graphics
Compiled by: Nate Shivar
Date Printed: 09/09/2016
99designs has some drawbacks – but is great for affordable blog emblem designs, or website graphics which will really allow it to be pop having to break your financial allowance.
4 / 5 stars

The publish My 99designs Review: Using 99designs For Blog Emblem Design made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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MailChimp E-mail Marketing Review w/ Pros & Cons

MailChimp Review

MailChimp continues to be among the fastest growing e-mail marketing providers for a long time now. They’ve built an huge base of consumers varying from small personal accounts to probably the most esteemed enterprise brands on the planet.

I’ve used MailChimp solely in excess of 6 years. I’ve explored different providers and become contact with alternatives via my clients, but haven’t found grounds to change.

That stated &#8211 they aren’t the very best fit for everybody and also have some disadvantages together with strong advantages. This MailChimp review will break lower what I’ve discovered to be pros which i especially appreciate personally and my clients combined with the cons that MailChimp hasn’t improved dramatically in the last 6 years.

One for reds note &#8211 My home is Atlanta, GA. Sometimes downtown and consider myself being an Atlantan. MailChimp is among Atlanta’s best corporate citizens and something of (otherwise the) our very best technology companies. I’ve a substantial amount of hometown bias that I’ll attempt to put aside (but to fellow Atlantans &#8211 go begin using MailChimp &#8211 it’s virtually your social duty).

Let’s dive into this MailChimp review!

Disclosure &#8211 I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All data &amp opinion is dependant on my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Pros of utilizing MailChimp

Status &amp Deliverability

In the realm of email, status is all about greater than branding and customer support. Status is all about whether you may also exist like a business&#8230because, Junk e-mail.

Junk e-mail filters have evolved by a lot previously many years. They no more consider a couple of spammy triggers. Rather, they consider a selection of factors which are graded instantly.

Probably the most critical factors is status score. If the email recipient (e.g., Gmail) understands that a sender is delivering lots of tagged email junk e-mail &#8211 all of the emails from that provider become suspect.

Around the switch side, if the emailer is actually delivering “good” emails (ie, emails that will get opened up or untagged) &#8211 the status its that sender’s mail will get better grades.

Quite simply, delivering good email using a good provider is important to get your email delivered. In 6 many years of delivering email, I’ve didn’t have a problem with deliverability or reports of junk e-mail at MailChimp.

Around the nerdy recipient side &#8211 I’ve never witnessed a MailChimp-powered email land within my personal junk e-mail folder.

But it isn’t just anecdotal. Here’s a business report from ReturnPath.

MailChimp dedicates huge sources to fighting junk e-mail. They’ve probably the most restrictive delivering policies. When you are crafting an e-mail, they provide you with repeated ideas to send better email (ie, types of non-spammy subject lines types of adding clean, opted-in addresses for your lists, etc).

MailChimp Subject Lines

All of this effort appears to repay. Their slogan is “Send Better Email.” I love this &#8211 not only being an benefit to delivering email &#8211 but because a citizen from the internet wishing at a lower price junk e-mail.

Dashboard &amp Learning Curve

MailChimp states they launch a brand new form of their software every four days. There is a lean support team (for much better &amp worse, see cons), and therefore are dedicated to growing the usability of the software.

I believe that you could really tell that they’re shooting for usability. All software may have some learning curve, but you will find couple of email software suppliers that enables you to move from signup to transmit within a few minutes.

Their Dashboard is very large, simple, full of useful tips along with a straightforward workflow.

MailChimp Dashboard

When my Mother (who wouldn&#8217t call herself tech savvy) needed an e-mail e-newsletter provider, she used MailChimp without many questions for me personally.

While MailChimp has lots of enterprise-level features, all of them appear only on screen in which you need them. Their Dashboard &amp design concentrates on creating &amp delivering email instead of tweaking a large number of settings on this page.

Template &amp Designs

Email design could be incredibly complicated. Whenever you consider all of the variable from devices to email clients to the time &amp situation that individuals see emails, getting design from the recipient’s perspective is difficult.

And you include the sender’s needs, for example branding, messaging, content, etc, &#8211 yeah &#8211 email design is difficult. But MailChimp’s email design atmosphere is really a strong suit.

Those are the only provider that I have seen which has true drag design builder. There is a built-in, live previewer. This combo implies that anybody can use an intricate email design without getting to get involved with the actual process of HTML.

Furthermore, there is a large range of email templates to obtain your design began with. I printed a publish regarding how to use &amp choose MailChimp templates here.

MailChimp Templates

Their designer includes a library or “merge tags” which will instantly get information from your bank account database (ie, your site, the recipient&#8217s’ name, regulatory info, social info, etc).

And also the designer will instantly convert many designs into plain text way of elevated deliverability.

Lastly, MailChimp is continually upgrading the look experience. Compared to other competitors (also known as Aweber), their design interface looks completely different of computer did 6 years back.

It’s 2017-contemporary with classic elements of design and classy ones, for example “hero” images they folded out a couple of days ago.

Company Culture

I had been a business culture skeptic. Like a customer, I figured that the company speaking about its culture was whether company recruiting new employees or perhaps a company attempting to whitewash an average product.

I believe both can nonetheless be true, but culture may also indicate how &amp in which a clients are investing. Like a customer searching to select a vendor for many years, how &amp in which a clients are investing determines the kind of product you’re likely to have inside a couple of years.

MailChimp is known in Atlanta tech culture for his or her creativeness, branding, design, generous benefits and community sponsorships.

Normally, you’d believe that an e-mail company will be the most boring, staid company locally. MailChimp is really not.

Their Chief executive officer is famously anti-direct response marketing. He evangelizes a global where it isn’t just email that’s better &#8211 it’s marketing that’s better. For those who have fifteen minutes &#8211 I recommend this talk their Chief executive officer gave a couple of years back.

Prices

In 2009, MailChimp began rocket-like growth due to their new prices.

Their compensated plans will always be affordable, however if you simply tight on than 2,000 subscribers and send less 12,000 emails monthly &#8211 you have to pay $ monthly.

Unlike other providers, it normally won’t possess a free trial offer. Rather, there is a free account. If you’re a small company, it’s no recourse with no payment.

If you are a enterprise brand, it’s very easy enough to setup a forex account by having an email segment and operate a more than 14 day test to determine what provider meets your needs best.

Above free, MailChimp’s prices is rather straightforward. You have to pay a regular membership fee for features, a tiered level according to subscribers.

For advanced email marketers, MailChimp includes a $199/mo plan to assist with automation, multivariate testing, etc.

Regardless if you are in the free level, business or enterprise level, MailChimp’s prices is competitive.

Integrations

The special moment of a lot e-mail marketing involves other apps cooperating. Many website proprietors uses one application (ie, SumoMe or LeadPages) for email collection. They’ll use another for publishing.

They’ll use another for planning marketing automation or retargeting. They’ll use another for social networking management. And ecommerce stores uses another for customer management.

In the center of these apps will probably be your e-mail marketing software. It’s almost needed for the e-mail marketing provider to integrate with each and every single application.

If you’re copy &amp pasting or doing something by hand (like delivering email promotions) &#8211 it is possible doing the job wrong. Rather, you need to enable your apps integrate together with your other apps to speak to each other.

I understand by using my e-newsletter, not just is my register process automated, but my send process is automated from this site.

MailChimp isn’t just one of the most popular email apps, they’re also probably the most developer and integration friendly. If you work with MailChimp, you instantly have much more freedom using what apps you should use for other tasks, since MailChimp most likely integrates or will quickly integrate.

Native Apps

But not just does MailChimp integrate with lots of other apps &#8211 they likewise have a whole suite of native apps for various kinds of customers. Here’s the present listing of free, native apps.

  • MailChimp Mobile
  • MailChimp Snap
  • MailChimp Subscribe

Regardless if you are delivering, managing or collecting emails personally &#8211 MailChimp’s mobile phone applications work and work nicely. Even though you don’t do big occasions, getting mobile being an option makes a significant difference when ever you need to do require it.

Cons of utilizing MailChimp

Like every product/service &#8211 MailChimp isn’t for everybody. When they perform a better job than most at serving everybody from personal to enterprise accounts &#8211 you will find stuff that MailChimp doesn’t prosper that you ought to consider.

MailChimp-ose

MailChimp’s brand isn’t just cosmetic &#8211 it’s engrained through the product. For much better &amp for worse, MailChimp includes a unique language because of its features &amp processes.

MailChimp Groups

If MailChimp is the first email provider, you will not notice. Actually, you’ll likely think it is fun and simplifying.

But for those travelling using their company email providers, you’ll likely think it is a little confusing. The training curve is a bit steeper.

For instance, most email providers have lists &amp segments. MailChimp has lists, groups &amp segments. In lots of ways, I love MailChimp’s setup. But it is also not industry standard.

MailChimp no more does “autoresponders” &#8211 rather, they are doing “automation flows.”

There is a whole reference of MailChimp / email terms at http://kb.mailchimp.com/reference

It feels similar to Starbucks where it normally won’t have “small, medium, large.” They’ve “Tall, Grande &amp Venti.”

Again, it’s great from the marketing &amp branding perspective, but may it may be tedious to determine what MailChimp means in usual language.

Hidden Defaults &amp Data

From the beginner’s perspective, MailChimp’s default setup rocks !. They pull in the guidelines that they’ve documented using their enormous body of information.

From their forms to lists formatting to key metrics to tracking to designs are have default settings. Additionally they instantly consolidate metrics into readily available &amp simplified ratings.

But to find out &amp alter the specific defaults or find out a really specific bit of data could be frustrating. It’s all hidden on second screens and/or specific workflows.

For instance, “member ratings” consolidates deliver/open/click rates for every subscriber across all of your campaigns. But if you wish to locate an open rate for any subscriber in one past campaign, it takes a substantial amount of digging.

MailChimp Member Ratings

Same manner with altering the written text on default signup forms. You cannot rapidly edit it. You need to enter in the develop a form workflow and visit Translation Settings then re-save the shape.

Signup Forms

The majority of this comes from the truth that they bias their processes towards making the first setup super-easy. However that results in a situation where it’s harder to return later to create a quick change.

It isn’t an enormous consideration, but it’s something which If only I possibly could edit after using MailChimp in the same manner for many years.

Very Frequent Updates

MailChimp is continually improving their product. They’re famous within the web design community for rebuilding their product every tk-info days.

Which makes for any very clever, fast &amp leading edge product.

It is also a little maddening for any non-frequent user.

It sometimes seems like when I determine all of the shortcuts to everything&#8230MailChimp completely re-configures everything.

Actually, as i was penning this publish, MailChimp folded out a totally reconfigured Dashboard.

MailChimp New Dashboard

I’d favour MailChimp’s setup than the usual setup that appears like it’s circa 2002. However I do wish MailChimp would slow lower a little on design changes.

It jogs my memory of application updates on my cell phone. Within the lengthy-run, the frequent application updates are wonderful, but the next day my personal favorite application updates, it appears like things are wrong.

Fiddly Native Forms

MailChimp provides several native forms that you could copy &amp embed in your website/social networking.

MailChimp Embeds

They’re fine. But they’re extremely fiddly. You still need know CSS to obtain them *exactly* right. There isn’t any drag or drag to regulate functionality.

And also the default appears like a default form. I discover their whereabouts everywhere online &#8211 and it is apparent the web site is using MailChimp.

Furthermore, for those who have an HTTPS website, you need to make sure implement some very specific changes to result in the form work (despite the fact that MailChimp signifies that they support HTTPS automatically).

(Emergency) Customer Care

MailChimp strives to get rid of the requirement for customer support. Their product simply works. It’s intuitive. And they’ve an unbelievably thorough knowledgebase.

Their customer care team can also be great.

However they only work business hrs within the Eastern time zone. If you’re managing a campaign around the weekend or during the night &#8211 there isn’t any customer care.

Somewhat, I admire their choices. It’s labored on their behalf for a long time, and it is best to visit a company prosper outdoors of the obsessive 24/7 operating schedule. But in case your company absolutely requires a 24/7 on-call customer support, you’ll wish to component that inside your decision.

MailChimp Alternatives

I’ve been loyal MailChimp customer for a long time. But I’ve had connection with another companies within my career in internet marketing.

If you’re within the research stage, here’s the industry’s top competitors to MailChimp.

Aweber

MailChimp’s most direct competitor. They’ve a classic-school interface &amp feel. But they’re extremely popular among marketers and small companies. See their plans here.

Constant Contact

The large brand within the email industry. They’ve existed for a long time. They’ve a lot of sources, and also the backing of among the greatest tech companies on the planet. See their plans here.

GetResponse

Among the earliest brands in the market. They concentrate on usability and supplying a complete marketing suite with email, webinars and squeeze pages all bundled. See their plans here.

Emma

A quick-growing direct competitor to MailChimp. See their plans here.

MadMimi

They concentrate on *only* email &#8211 and which makes it as easy as feasible for small companies &amp websites. They belong to GoDaddy. See their plans here.

MailPoet

Another quickly growing email-only simple provider. They concentrate on websites using WordPress. See their plans here.

TinyLetter

They belong to MailChimp. It’s MailChimp’s super-simple, e-newsletter-only service. See TinyLetter here.

Next Steps

Like every bit of business, productivity or hosting software &#8211 consider just what for you to do, and just what your main goal is.

Since MailChimp is forever free with less than 2,000 subscribers &#8211 go register here and check out MailChimp yourself.

Otherwise, take a look at a few of the alternatives pointed out above or about this dedicated MailChimp Alternatives page.

You could also find my publish on MailChimp templates to become helpful &#8211 or join my very own e-newsletter to obtain curated marketing posts delivered each week.

If you’re searching to have an email service provider, take a look at my quiz on email hosting.

The publish MailChimp E-mail Marketing Review w/ Pros &#038 Cons made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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