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The small things that make a difference


Senior Member
Moving into 2014 is going to be pretty exciting, but we all must make sure we are well prepared and pay attention to the small details. This post is something I have put together myself that I wanted to share with others on the forum. I have actioned most of these myself just before the new year, so that I can make my business more professional, reliable and sustainable. So here we go…

Welcome your clients - Show your clients how prepared you are for 2014 and how you really want to make a difference to their business. Last night I sent out a newsletter campaign going to each of my clients at midnight to wish them all a happy new year. Within this email I have mentioned what I will be doing to help them, what I will be doing to improve their business and online presence and how they can get in touch in the new year. I have also given information on my opening hours and availability. Something as simple can and will make a difference.

Check those dates - If you have built static HTML websites over the last year then the chances are you will have websites with old copyright dates at the foot of your websites. This needs to be changed right away and is most certainly something you can charge for. Advise your client of it’s importance and get the changes made.

[There’s some tips below on how you can automate this]
You can make your dates auto update very easily using small snippets of PHP. If your website files are currently .html, then the first thing to do is change those extensions to .php, your first step to making the page a little more dynamic.
In place of your static date you should then use the following.
Current Year Only
<?php echo date("Y") ?]]>
With Start Year
2008-<?php echo date("Y") ?>
Start Date with Error Protection
<?php function auto_copyright($year = 'auto'){ ?> <?php if(intval($year) == 'auto'){ $year = date('Y'); } ?> <?php if(intval($year) == date('Y')){ echo intval($year); } ?> <?php if(intval($year) < date('Y')){ echo intval($year) . ' - ' . date('Y'); } ?> <?php if(intval($year) > date('Y')){ echo date('Y'); } ?><?php } ?>
<?php auto_copyright(); // 2011?><?php auto_copyright('2010'); // 2010 - 2011 ?>
Reference URL: http://css-tricks.com/snippets/php/automatic-copyright-year/
Have your CV ready - This is something I had carried out in October when I was asked to send my CV to a potential new client. I had pitched for some work and had given my website portfolio as a reference to my past work projects, unfortunately this was not enough and had to provide my CV along side my portfolio. I had not updated my CV for years, in fact I hadn’t updated since I started my first Web Development agency 3 years ago. Make sure you have it ready, that it reads well and is fully up to date. You never know when a super awesome job opportunity is up for grabs!

Invoices - A simple one really, the tax man is coming! Get all of those invoice’s paid up to date, and make sure you are on top of your own invoices that are owed to you. We all work hard for our money and we all put in the hours. Do not leave others or yourself short!

Email Signatures - Do you have a date specific email signature? Are you telling people about something thats going on inside of your email signature? Maybe you have moved office or changed phone numbers? Make sure these are all up to date, you don’t want to be missing out on new client phone calls or emails. Having your social network ID’s in your email signature are a great idea, it allows people to connect and engage with your business.

Spell Checking - Something I really slacked on in 2013. It’s so important to be spell check your emails and content before it is published. It can be the difference in winning and losing a new project. Make sure you have your spell checker installed, make sure you re read your work, even give it to someone else to re read before publishing.

Social Networks - They are all pretty important. A place where we can have discussion, help others, get help from others, post and share awesome content and also meet new people. Whilst i’m chatting about social networks, i’d just like to mention how important it is to speak out, have your opinions but at the same time do it in the correct manner. Many of your clients will be watching, including the rest of the world, your have a business reputation to uphold so be sure to do it in the correct way.

Your online profiles - Make sure all of your profiles are up to date. This includes profile pictures, twitter backgrounds and Bio’s. Maybe you used a Christmas theme over the festive period? Make sure its not like that for the whole of January!

Backing Up keeping data safe - Probably the most important item on this list. Back up, Backup and then Backup again…no seriously..backup! Don’t get hit in the ass with data loss this year, we do not need it wrecking our day, our week or even our month after all the hard work you put in. I was hit big time this year when I lost a lot of development space due to a crash. Luckily I had the most recent work on GitHub and I could pull it down. There are some great services and methods of backing up out there you can use. These include Time Machine Backup, Removable storage (Be sure to place them in a safe place), CD or DVD Disk, RAID Storage with Mirrors, BackBlaze, CrashPlan, Carbonite and Mozy. And please make sure your using surge protection!

Keep your website up to date - This includes your online portfolio, making sure your contact form works, updating those articles and writing new ones.

Your health - Leave the house. Get some fresh air, hit the gym and maybe go for a run. Eat properly and take part in activities. I love getting out and taking part in MMA and playing Football. Keep fit and healthy, drink lots of water and read this, its so good! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Healthy-Work-Productivity-Reconstruction-Working/dp/0465028977

Save - Simple, save your work. Don’t lose hours of work by not saving every 15 minutes or so. Possibly setup some automation save feature in your software. Save, Save, Save and don’t spend hours back tracking on your work.
Keep reading, stay knowledgeable - As you all know, the creative and web industry is so fast moving. With emerging technologies and rapid advances in programming and change in design trends we must all keep up. Picking up books and reading in your spare time will make a massive difference, you’ll also find that its extremely relaxing and gets your brain away from the hustle and bustle of your working day. Go and read some awesome books. I suggest the band new Smashing Book #4

Set goals - It’s a new year, a great time to set goals not only for your business, but for your health and lifestyle as well. Start slow and don’t set too many at once. So what the heck are you waiting for? Get organised, be prepared for an awesome year.

……Go, Go, Go!
Thanks for the advice, a detailed post for the start of the New Year. It gives lots of ideas for thought and, of course, the copyright change of year is an easy thing to miss. Here’s to a healthy 2014!