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Online Trading Vouchers Worth up to €2,500

Online Trading Vouchers Worth up to €2,500

You’ll be pleased to know that since May 2019 the Online Trading Voucher is even more accessible to SMEs than ever before.

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Previously, businesses had to trade for over 12 months and the grant was mainly for website design & development fees. Now businesses only need to be trading for a minimum of 6 months and the grant covers other online expenses too.

About the Trading Online Voucher Scheme

Grow your business with help from this grant that is designed to assist small businesses. It offers financial assistance of up to a maximum of €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade successfully online.

Cutting the cost of developing your online trading capacity by up to 50% can make the investment extremely affordable. For example, if the whole project costs €5,000 you will only have to pay €2,500. 

What is the eligibility criteria? 
  • Limited online trading presence
  • Less than 10 employees
  • Turnover less than €2m
  • Businesses have to be in the same county as the Local Enterprise Office
  • A Tax Clearance Certificate is required for partnerships & sole traders
What are ineligible projects for this scheme?
  • Companies with charitable status & commercial semi-state companies
  • Trade associations and company representation bodies
  • Non profit organisations and social entrepreneurship applicants
  • Professional IT type services who are already capable of trading online
  • Conferences and Seminars
  • Projects which are contrary to public policy
  • Agencies of EU funded Operational Programmes
  • Projects with 10 or more employees
  • Projects that are not viable
  • Projects essentially comprising of importation and distribution
What the vouchers can’t be used for:
  • Development of brochure websites (non eCommerce websites)
  • Purchase of non-internet related software
  • Anything other than online trading related activity

The Trading Online Voucher is part of the National Digital Strategy that is being run by the Local Enterprise Offices throughout Ireland on a pilot basis. So don’t leave it too long to apply just in case this scheme gets axed!

The Trading Online Voucher can be used for:
  • IT consultation
  • Development or upgrade of a current website to an e-commerce website
  • Installation of online payments or booking system
  • Internet-related software
  • Online advertising (maximum of 30% of approved Voucher costs)
  • Developing an app
  • Development of a digital marketing strategy
  • Implementing a digital marketing strategy
  • Training specifically to establish and manage an online trading presence

As a Digital Marketing Agency in Mullingar, we can provide all of the services listed above with the exception of building an app.

Conclusion

Businesses that have already participated in the scheme reported that, on average, they saw their sales increase by 20%.

2,000+ small businesses have received the Trading Online Voucher and some of them could even be your competitors!

There is a 14-page form that needs to be completed beforehand and I know that some of you would rather visit the dentist for a root canal treatment than fill it in, so I would be more than happy to run through the form with you.

The Westmeath LEO is located in Mullingar and all their contact details can be found here and a list of all the Local Enterprise Offices in each county of Ireland can be located here.

I would be happy to advise you which areas to invest in that would prove most beneficial to your business after some initial research into your industry and provide you with a competitive quotation.

So feel free to get in touch with me here, if you have any questions as I am only a few clicks away.

– Gary

Gary Gleeson

Gary is a web designer, videographer & digital marketer. He holds a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Host Your Own Website

3 Reasons Why You Should Host Your Own Website

Most business owners tend to leave the website hosting to their website designer as it is 1 less thing to think about.

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Although I can see the convenience in doing this, there are some advantages of looking after the hosting yourself.

What is Website Hosting?

Before I go any further I want to explain what hosting is.

Website hosting is a service that allows businesses and organisations to post a website onto the Internet. A web hosting service provider is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed online. Websites are hosted or stored, on special computers known as servers.

Most hosting companies require that you own your domain or site’s name in order to host with them. If you do not have one, the hosting companies will sell you one.

This morning I was at the Mullingar Chamber’s Annual Budget Breakfast where a local firm of accountants went through yesterday’s Budget 2020 and I got chatting to an HR consultant this is looking to self host her own site.

She initially had a paid Wix site and wants to upgrade her site to a WordPress one (big thumbs up from me) and she was quoted €130 to host the site for 1 year from Irish based Lets Host. I told her that that was expensive and I could find her a much better deal, which I did.

Now I am a big fan of Carlow based Blacknight and have been using their hosting for multiple sites and buying domains from them for just over 2 years now. Customer service is great and I haven’t experienced any instances of any of the sites that I look after crashing.

But then I stumbled upon a great deal by Blue Host which is at today exchange rate only €129 for hosting for 3 years that includes a free SSL cert. Compared to Blacknight’s hosting for 1 year is €30+ VAT and another €30 +VAT for the SSL cert.

 

 

After delving a bit further I discovered a few more benefits for hosting with Blue Host:

– WordPress actually recommends hosting with Blue Host and that is good enough for me
– I have also seen reports saying that Blue Hosts has very fast loading speeds
– The control panel is really easy to use in a non-techy way

Both are good but overall Blacknight’s dashboard is very technical and is more suitable to website designers and Blue Host’s dashboard is much easier to use and would be easier to use for newcomers.

3 Benefits of Hosting Your Website Yourself

Save Money

The going rate that web designers charge for hosting for 1 year around €100 + VAT.

€129 for 3 years with Blue Host compared to €100 per year is a significant saving.

Easier to Switch Website Designer

If you are in charge of your hosting and you want to switch web designers at some point down the line you can do so without having to have that awkward chat asking for hosting and login details as your new web designer needs them.

You are not Left in the Lurch

Website designers come and go and they usually move on once work dries up, sometimes without letting their clients know.

Hearing the phrase “I can never seem to get hold of my website designer” is all too common. Sometimes they decide to go travelling or just upskill to earn more money learning a specialised computer language that pays more.

So if your web designer does go AWOL at least you have full access to your hosting.

 

 

 

You’ll find a good website here, to check out to see what hosting a WordPress website has and to see if a website is, in fact, a WordPress website. So if you input my website name you will see that I am currently with Blacknight, but I will move to be with Blue Host next year when my current deal with Blacknight expires.

Final Thoughts

Whether shelling out €100 per year for website hosting and letting your web developer take care of all your website hosting issues or looking after it yourself is your best option, is up to you.

But if you do decide to go down the DIY route with Blue Host do make sure that you let Google know in Google Analytics that your business is located in Ireland because it will assume by default that it is located in America because that is where Blue Host is based. Keep on “The Big Gs” side is always a big plus to climb up their rankings!

Blue Host doesn’t sell .ie domains but they will still host a .ie domain. You can buy a .ie domain from several domain providers such as Blacknight.

Personally, I will jump ship to Blue Host next year because of fast loading times and getting an endorsement from WordPress.

I hope that this wasn’t too technical but if you need any further clarity, let me know.

Gary

 

Gary Gleeson

Gary is a web designer, videographer & digital marketer. He holds a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design.

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3 Reasons Not to Use Stock Photography

3 Reasons Not to Use Stock Photography

I understand that most of you don’t have the time to be taking pictures for every social media or blog post so using the many free stock photography sites is such a time saver.

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But unfortunately, there is a downside to them if you use them on your website or social media accounts.

3 Disadvantages of Using Stock Images Online

1) Google states that they are looking for unique content so that means images that haven’t been used online before. The more you toe the Google line the higher up your website will appear in the search engine results pages. So if SEO is important to you, stay away from stock photography.

2) Social media news feeds have algorithms too and if they see images that have been used before they will consider your post to be spam and show it further down user’s news feeds. If your business is on social media appearing high up your follower’s news feeds is quite important, isn’t it?

3) I see stock photography used time and time again on websites and I think they have a really unauthentic feel about them because most of them look cheesy & fake. Visually, I think they are OK for blog posts, but not your main pages. If I see a website that uses stock photography I can only assume that the website has been rushed.

The Compromise

I actually use stock photography for my main images in ALL my blog posts because like everyone else I don’t have the time to be taking fresh pictures or knocking up graphics in Adobe Illustrator. So I put a filter on them at around 80% opacity in Photoshop and in most cases that does the trick.

If you reverse search an image online you will find out if this has worked. So all you have to do is:

Visit www.google.com/imghp, then click on the camera icon.

Click on the “upload an image” option.

Then click on “choose file” and upload your image.

Wait for the results and in this case, you can see that my previous blog post image has only appeared on my web page.

Originally, the first layer of the image from my previous blog post was a stock image, then I added an orange layer on top of that with an 80% opacity and the final layer was the text.

However, I do have 1 image on my home page that hasn’t passed Google unique image test, despite using a filter, but it is only temporary. Because for now, it serves a purpose because the appearance of the home page is more important than SEO. I will be replaced in a few weeks or so when I will take a “real” photograph and use that one instead.

Final Thoughts

You have to be practical here and decide if having unique images that haven’t been seen before online is important to you or not. Perhaps you don’t have the luxury of being that pedantic with images and you aren’t that fussed about appearing higher up in social media news feeds or in Google’s rankings.

Personally, I think appearing higher up in social media feeds and higher up in Google’s search engine results pages is very important and is in fact what digital marketing is all about. So I will make the extra effort.

But at least you know the downside and you can make the decision that is right for you.

Gary

Gary Gleeson

Gary is a web designer, videographer & digital marketer. He holds a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design.

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How to Protect Your Website Against Hackers

How to Protect Your Website Against Hackers

Warning, an infamous hacker group that was thought to have retired earlier this year are back with a new wave of worldwide website attacks.

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Researchers at Secureworks, a website security company, claim that after analysing this new strain of computer virus the GandCrab crew are behind these cyber attacks. They were initially active between January 2018 – May 2019.

The gang is thought to be from Russia and previously sold customised ransomware to other criminal gangs too that are jumped on the cybercrime bandwagon.

They demanded blackmail payments to decrypt scrambled data on victims’ computers and it’s estimated to have affected more than 1.5 million computers including hospitals.

In May 2019, the group had surprised many in the cybersecurity industry when they announced that they were retiring after earning over $2bn (£1.6bn).

An insider claiming to be part of the gang claimed they had “cashed out” their earnings and quit the business while they were ahead.

But Secureworks has linked the group to a new strain of ransomware known in IT circles as REvil or Sondinokibi.

This new malware has caused major disruption to thousands of dental practices in the US as well as over 20 Texas municipalities.

Researchers say that the code is very similar to that of the earlier attacks but that it also contains some of the same coding errors too.

Don Smith, director of Secureworks Counter Threat Unit, said that he wasn’t surprised that the group resurfaced.

“GandCrab offered a good return for criminal gangs and it is very unlikely that such a talented group would just walk away from this cash cow.”

Whether it’s GandCrab again or maybe they sold off their “secret sauce” to another criminal cyber gang, it’s time to pull up the drawbridges to protect ourselves.

Website Security Precautions

It is also worthwhile pointing out that if you don’t have any website security in place and you have a security breach where customer’s personal data is stolen, you are liable to be fined under GDPR that came into force on the 25th May 2018. Failure to comply can lead to fines of up to 4% of your turnover or up to €20 million, whichever is greater! This is very harsh I know, but personal data is sacred these days.

I will be blogging next week about 5 easy to implement website security tips for your WordPress website that will be sufficient to cover you for GDPR.

But if you want to put your website security on steroids against the current viruses out there, get in touch as our prices start from under €100 + VAT. We will initially do a website security audit, only then can we advise you what preventative measures that we recommend.

Unfortunately, we only work with WordPress websites.

It could be the best €100 that you’ll ever spend. Better to be safe than sorry!

Gary

Gary Gleeson

Gary is a web designer, videographer & digital marketer. He holds a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design.

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