Using Facebook Ads to Promote Your Business for Beginners

Tips and tricks for beginners on how to understand your audience, optimize your ad, and properly set budgets for your business Facebook ads.

Now that you’ve created a website and Facebook page for your business, it’s time to promote your business using Facebook ads.

First things first – when starting a Facebook Ads campaign you need to decide if you are going to drive traffic to a website or a Fan page. This will make a big difference in your strategy, and there are pros and cons to each.

For example, if you choose to link to a Fan Page, it will be easier to get an ad approved because you are not driving visitors away from Facebook (and Facebook really likes that). But on a Fan Page, you won’t able to engage and create leads with customers like you would be able to on your website.

Generally speaking, it’s recommended to drive traffic to your website and not to your Facebook page. There is more flexibility when leading customers to your own website. Ultimately, the decision should be based on what your goal is – do you want to create more leads and drive people to your website, or do you want to have more Facebook followers and create social buzz?

For the purposes of this guide, we will focus on creating a Facebook ad that links to a website.

Understanding your Facebook audience

Before creating an ad, it’s crucial to first understand your audience on Facebook, and there are two great ways to do that:

  • By digging into competitor Facebook pages or pages related to your industry
  • By analyzing Facebook groups related to your product or industry

Take notes on the kind of language, messaging and imagery used, and find a way to incorporate that with your own ad. For example, when browsing through competitor Facebook pages, see what kind of content is included in the most popular posts from their page. When analyzing Facebook groups, try to get into their heads. Learn how to approach your audience and understand their needs and desires by reading the conversations in these groups. What are their issues? How are they currently dealing with them? What are their interests?

People are receptive to content that they are familiar with, and information from both methods will prove to be a tremendous asset when creating an ad that resonates with your target audience.


Optimizing your ad and website for Facebook traffic

Once you understand your audience, use that insight to brainstorm creative ad ideas. Leaving a first impression with your ad is vital, so be sure to stand out by using strong headlines and powerful images. Try to pick an image that represents the mission of your business or product, but also something that resonates with your customer base. You want people to remember you. Social Times has a great article on Facebook ad creative best practices if you need some inspiration.

Next, you’ll want to make sure the landing page your ad links to is optimized. Once a customer clicks on the ad and is taken to your website, there should be correspondence between the CTA’s in your ad message and the content delivered in the landing page. Having a clean and professional-looking landing page will also help you optimize your landing page. There are dozens of websites and resources out there with tips on how to optimize landing pages.


Facebook Ads campaign – step by step

The first step when creating a Facebook ads campaign is to choose an objective. There are several options, but for the purposes of this guide you’ll want to pick “Send People to your website”.

Facebook Ads

After adding your website URL, the next step will be to set your audience and budget. Here you will use the information you previously collected when you were researching your Facebook audience.


Setting a Target Audience

Start by selecting a location. If you are running a local business you should select your city and surrounding areas, but if not you can start by focusing on your country. Note: don’t target a super large area or multiple countries – this will hurt your targeting and your ads may not be hitting the right people for your campaign.

Facebook Ads

After that, you will be sent to select very specific parameters for your audience like gender, education level, consumer behavior, family information and more. Facebook ads allow you to get very granular with audience targeting, but don’t spend too much time going through targeting options or you will run the risk of jeopardizing the reach to potential customers.

If the purpose of your campaign is to lead customers to your website and create sales and marketing leads, then a good way to start is to target people that are spending money online (ex. above 24 years old, has a credit card, etc).

And now let’s put the pieces together. There is a field called “Detailed Targeting” where you will want to add the Facebook pages you used when researching your audience. Here you will find two important fields: Exclude People and Narrow Audience. With Exclude People you can select people who like page A and don’t like page B, and on Narrow Audience you can pick people who like page A and page B. This will be immensely helpful for your targeting efforts – the more defined and targeted your audience is, the higher the click conversion rate will be.

Facebook Ads

When doing this, you will notice that your potential reach will decrease in an icon to the right. The potential reach is an important metric because it will help you set lower budgets.


Setting a Budget

Facebook ad budgeting lets you start at $10 per day! Analyze how many clicks you are getting, how much you are spending per click and if your visitors are taking the desired action to change your budget as needed.

Facebook Ads

When setting your daily budget you will also notice that your “estimated daily reach” will change. At this stage, it’s helpful to experiment and try different parameter variables to see if you can reach more people with the same budget. You will notice that just by changing the age of your target audience you can increase your reach at no extra cost.


Creating your ad

Note: even if you are driving traffic to your website you are going to need a fan page to be linked to your current ad campaign.

This stage is pretty straight forward. And to create a great ad you must use the knowledge you acquired when researching your audience. You can start by selecting your image. Remember, pick the type of image that is popular on big Fan Pages and don’t forget to use your logo to customize the image. If you don’t know how to do that you can use a tool called Pixlr.com (among dozens of other internet tools) that can help you edit images to make them look more professional.

You are almost done! Just add a headline based on your promotional research (refer back to the beginning of this article) and use a text that relates to what you read on Facebook groups. This will help you to get a low cost per click and increase your click through rate. Those two metrics go hand in hand, so always keep your eye on this.

After that, you just have to choose the placement:

  • Desktop New Feed
  • Mobile New Feed
  • Instagram
  • Desktop Right Column

You should test each placement to see which will perform better. And remember: the main two metrics to control are CTR (click-through-rate) and CPC (cost-per-click). To optimize the campaign, always start by changing the image, then headline and only then should you change the text. This is one of the best methods to get started on Facebook ads. It will help you understand the platform, see how things work, understand your audience and give you a chance to improve your metrics in the middle of a campaign.

This article is a guest contribution from Felipe Kurpiel, an internet marketer with a passion for SEO and affiliate marketing. 

A 5-Step Guide to Manageable Tax Prep for Entrepreneurs

Not only are taxes time consuming, confusing, and a nuisance, but they can also be a drain on your wallet if you don’t prepare well. This is especially true for entrepreneurs who, aside from having to deal with the complicated tax filing process of running a business, also have to actually run the business.

If there’s one thing all entrepreneurs can agree on, it’s that they dread tax season.

In fact, a recent survey by the National Association of Small Business (NSBA) reveals that 38 percent of small businesses reported they spent more than 80 hours a year dealing with federal taxes. That’s two whole workweeks! That same survey found that almost 50% of small businesses spend $5,000 or more annually on the accounting process alone—before paying their taxes!

Not only are taxes time consuming, confusing, and a nuisance, but they can also be a drain on your wallet if you don’t prepare well. This is especially true for entrepreneurs who, aside from having to deal with the complicated tax filing process of running a business, also have to actually run the business.
Whether you choose to do taxes on your own or hire an accountant this year, here’s a quick guide on how to knock tax season out of the park:

1. Familiarize Yourself With the Lingo

One thing we shouldn’t complain to the IRS about is the amount of tax breaks they offer. Tax breaks give small business owners and freelancers a great opportunity to win back some of that money they’ve been spending on their business, and it’s a unique way to encourage entrepreneurship.

However, there is a small caveat to this: it’s hard to keep track of what’s what. There are important differences between deductibles, refundable credits, and non-refundable credits. Each can help you in distinctive ways, so it’s useful to know which expenses qualify for which tax break as you track your finances throughout the year. Investopedia and the IRS website are helpful tools that can break down tax vocabulary into simple terms.
 

Deductibles

Benefits: Lowers taxable income and total tax liability. Can help with items that represent reductions in ability to pay tax (i.e. casualty losses).
What Does That Mean: Because deductions cannot reduce taxable income below zero, their value is limited to the filer’s tax liability before applying the deduction. Value depends on the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate, which rises with income.
Examples: Health care expenses, mortgages, car loans, investment-related expenses
 

Refundable Credits

Benefits: Decreases a person’s tax liability. Same value for all taxpayers with tax liability at least equal to the credit.
What Does That Mean: Treated as payments of tax you made during the tax year. When total of credits is great than total tax owed, you get a refund for the difference. Credits are more appropriate for subsidies provided through the tax system.
Example: Earned Income Credit, Additional Child credit, Small Business Health care credit.
 

Non-Refundable Credits

Benefit: Lower tax limit as low as it can go. Represents the majority of credits.
What Does That Mean: Credit cannot be used to increase tax refund or to create a tax refund when you wouldn’t already have one. Savings cannot exceed amount of tax you owe.Example: If you only owe $200 in taxes, and the only credit you’re eligible is for $500, the $300 difference is non-refundable.
Example: Child and Dependent Care Expenses credit, Saver’s tax credit, Adoption tax credit, Foreign tax credit.
 

2. Don’t procrastinate

Unless you want to have a very stressful week, don’t wait until right before April 18 (note – usually tax day is April 15) to prep and file your taxes! Last year, the IRS reported that 28% of Americans waited until the last few weeks before tax day to file their return. Sure, you can file for an extension if you can’t make it before the IRS deadline, but there are drawbacks to this, like late fees. And, just because you file late doesn’t mean you get extra time to pay taxes if you owe the government money.

Plus, when you take your time to carefully approach a tax filing, it won’t seem as stressful or time consuming. You’re more likely to make an error or miss out on a deduction if you rush the process.
 

3. Stay organized

By far, the easiest way to minimize the hassle of tax season is by staying organized and keeping updated records of receipts, payments, and expenses. The IRS demands documented proof for claims, so having everything stored and accessible can reduce a substantial amount of time and pressure.

Organization also helps maximize deductions and reimbursements without the hassle of scrambling to find misplaced financial records. It also makes it possible to file taxes at the earliest possible time because paperwork is readily available at your fingertips.

Shoeboxed’s mission is to streamline this process so that you can focus on more important things during tax season, like running your business or taking care of your family. We process and organize your receipts so that vendor, total amount, date and payment type are extracted and available in a searchable online account—without you ever having to lift a finger. You can also tag receipts as reimbursable or deductible so when you file taxes, your documents are already catalogued appropriately.
 

4. Stay informed

There’s a lot to swallow these days when it comes to tax codes, especially since the IRS makes changes on a yearly (and sometimes, even seasonal) basis. It doesn’t hurt to take some time researching professional blogs and news sites that can keep you informed on the latest tax changes. The extra initiative will take a few hours of time on your end, yes, but not nearly as much time it would take to prep taxes with little to no knowledge on how to maximize returns. This is especially helpful for entrepreneurs who do not have their own accountant.

Without a guiding hand, it’s easy to make misinformed decisions with tricky nuances (like filing status, for example). Some helpful sites that give excellent pro advice are Don’t Mess With Taxes, TaxGirl and AICPA.
 

5. When in doubt, ask a pro 

With an endless supply of information, the Internet of things can answer any question you may have related to taxes. Sometimes though, having 10+ pages pulled up with an overwhelming amount of information can make material difficult to digest. If your questions are very intricate and situational, it may be best to approach a tax expert or CPA. Examples of these questions may include:

  • Do I have a limit for my charitable contributions?
  • Should I itemize deductions? How in-depth?
  • When should I contribute to an IRA?
  • Should I file jointly, as single, or as head of household?
  • I have all these miscellaneous business expenses and reports, but which ones should I keep for reimbursements and deductions?

Sometimes it’s easy to do a quick Google search for these common tax questions. Other times, the answer depends on your business situation, among other variables.

If you have an accountant, keep in touch with them throughout the year. There’s no reason you should wait until tax season every year to speak to them. CPA’s are experts in their field and they’re a great resource that can put you up to date with all the latest changes in tax policy. Stay organized, plan ahead, and you can get the most out of your tax season.

Maximizing 2016 Tax Deductions: Tips & Tools for Millennial Freelancers

The earlier you organize expenses and keep track of potential deductions, the more money you’ll save in the long run.

Millennial freelancers are a force to be reckoned with and the numbers are there to prove it. According to a national survey from Freelancers Union and Upwork (formerly oDesk), 38% of millennials are freelancing — more than any other generation. Considering that they now make up 45% of entire workforce, this group of 20 and 30-somethings is taking the freelancing industry by storm.

It’s clear to see why. The benefits of being a freelancer align with the lifestyle that millennials seek. They want flexibility, independence and creativity – a perfect formula for a rise in freelancing jobs. But while there are many perks to being a freelancer, there are also stodgy downsides such as complicated taxes and the responsibility of tedious administrative tasks.

Luckily, there are ways to overcome these drawbacks. Tax season may be months away, but that doesn’t mean millennial freelancers can’t start prepping now. The earlier you organize expenses and understand tricks and tips to maximize deductions to make tax season a breeze, the more money you’ll save in the long run. Start sooner rather than later with these recommended tools and tricks:

Research Deductions in the Freelancers Union Tax Blog
One thing freelancers shouldn’t complain to the IRS about is the amount of tax breaks they offer. Tax breaks give freelancers a valuable opportunity to win back money they’ve been spending on their business. It’s also a unique way to encourage entrepreneurship. There’s only one problem: it’s hard to keep track of what’s what, and deductions often change on a yearly basis.

Learn about which expenses qualify for which tax break by reading the in-depth tax blog written by the awesome folks at Freelancers Union. Freelancers Union is a nonprofit organization and insurance company that advocates for the rights of freelancers. Their blog posts are written by freelance veterans and include everything from how to calculate hourly rates to how to write client contracts.

Freelancers Union Shoeboxed

Don’t procrastinate! Use IFTTT for Important Date Reminders
Unless you want to have a very stressful week, don’t wait until right before April 15 to prep and file your taxes! When you take your time to carefully approach filing your taxes, it won’t seem as stressful or time consuming. You’re more likely to make an error or miss out on a deduction if you rush the process.

Eliminate the risk of filing late by using IFTTT. Simply set a receipe that sends a email and/or text reminders on certain dates leading up to the April 15 deadline. This nifty web tool can also help with QET deadline reminders.

IFTTT Shoeboxed

When in doubt, ask for help using sites like NerdWallet
With an endless supply of information, the Internet of things can answer any question you may have related to taxes. Sometimes though, having 10+ pages pulled up with an overwhelming amount of information can make material difficult to comprehend (which is especially true for taxes). Depending on the complexity of your question, it may be best to approach a tax expert or CPA. Tax deductions change often — stay ahead of the curve and make sure you’re taking advantage of ways to save money by asking for help.

Enter NerdWallet, an educational blog that helps millennials make smarter financial decisions by breaking down complex financial information into simple terms. The writers at NerdWallet can tell you exactly which expenses qualify for which tax break as you track your finances into tax season. They also have on-demand financial professionals available to answer your tax questions directly from their homepage.

NerdWallet Shoeboxed Freelance

Organize Your Receipts and Expenses by Tax Category with Shoeboxed
One of the easiest way for freelancers to maximize tax deductions is by staying organized and keeping updated records of receipts, payments and expenses. The IRS demands documented proof for claims, so having everything stored and accessible can reduce a substantial amount of time and pressure. Organization also helps maximize deductions and reimbursements without the hassle of scrambling to find misplaced financial records.

Apps like Shoeboxed let on-the-go freelancers snap pictures of receipts using their phone, which are then digitally stored as IRS-accepted images. Receipts are processed and organized so that vendor, total amount, date, tax category and payment type are extracted and available in a searchable online account. Simply make a note that the receipt is deductible and boom – you have a digital archive of everything you can write off for taxes.

Shoeboxed Freelancers

Use these tools and tips to help make your freelance tax season the smoothest (and most time-saving) yet!