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Six of the best French Press Cafetieres

My six best french press style cafetieres

French Press Coffee Reviews

 

Nothing beats the welcoming aroma of steaming hot coffee as you wait for your breakfast toast to pop in the morning. Quicker than a filter coffee, and way more satisfying than instant, a French Press style Cafetiere delivers a consistently wholesome brew with minimum fuss and effort.

Here are the 6 best Fench Press style Cafetieres that I’ve found for family breakfast coffees, single coffee mugs, entertaining and dinner party servings.

 

Why choose a French Press Cafetiere for serving coffee?

Standing in a queue for your morning Americano may be fine at Starbuck’s, but it’s not ideal if your family are queued-up in the kitchen waiting for your mini Barista pod machine to gurgle out the next cup.

OK, I admit that a Cafetiere may not deliver that intense hit of caffeine and flavour that you get from a Barista served espresso, but it certainly comes close when you’re pressed for time in the morning.

For me, the great thing about French Press (Cafetiere) style coffee makers is the simplicity of adjusting the strength of the brew. As long as you use a standard scoop, it’s easy to adjust the strength of your coffee to suit your family, visitors, or your own personal tastes.

The other big advantages of a Cafetiere are the ease of cleaning and the lack of waste. Why throw away your cash (and a lot of paper) on disposable filters for a mediocre brew from a filter machine?

How to make great coffee with a Cafetiere coffee maker

This may sound like a sad case of OCD, but here’s my personal recipe for a piping hot pot of flavoursome Cafetiere coffee!

  1. Boil enough hot water to warm and fill your Cafetiere
  2. Warm the Cafetiere (and plunger) by adding just enough water to swirl around the jug with the plunger inserted
  3. Empty the warming water, then carefully measure the required number of coffee scoops into the jug
  4. Add just enough hot water to barely soak the coffee grains
  5. Wait for 30 seconds before swirling the grains, then topping up the cafetiere to the maximum fill level
  6. Cover the Cafetiere with an insulated ‘cosy’ coffee pot warmer
  7. While the coffee brews, warm your coffee cups or mugs with the remaining water
  8. Plunge, serve and enjoy!

What to look for in the best Cafetiere (French Press) coffee pots

Most modern Cafetieres are based on a simple design, with very few complicated parts. Although stylish nick-nacks and fittings may add visual appeal, they can make a French Press difficult to clean, or more prone to wear and tear.

Top of my list of essential Cafetiere features is an easily removeable jug. This just makes it much more convenient to clean – without leaving unattractive stains on the glass!

If you’re buying a high-capacity Cafetiere for dinner parties or entertaining, think about the weight of a fully-filled, 1.5 litre coffee jug. A big, stainless-steel French Press may impress your guests, but have you got the biceps to lift it?

With these buying tips in mind, take a look at these 6 top quality, French Press style Cafetieres. I’ve also added a few of my OCD inspired, essential extras for brewing the perfect cup!

 

VonShef 1.5l French Press Cafetiere for entertaining

Von Sheff French Press Review

VonShef 1.5l Cafetiere features:

  • BIG 1.5 litre capacity (12 small cups)
  • Stylish look with satin finish
  • Insulated, dual-wall stainless steel design
  • Easy to clean – no glass jug
  • Comes with a matching coffee measure / bag sealer

Rather than holding the coffee in a toughened glass jug, this high-capacity  VonShef 1.5l Cafetiere is made from dual-wall stainless steel with a satin finish. Just like a thermos flask, the insulating air gap between the walls of the pot helps to keep the coffee hot.

I’ve chosen this model as my recommendation for a high-capacity Cafetiere due to the design failings of most high-capacity coffee makers from other manufacturers. Most high-quality 1.5 litre Cafetieres are designed with a bolt-on handle. Over time, it can become difficult to remove the glass jug from the bolted collar or cradle. This makes it really difficult to give the glass jug a thorough clean. With this glass-free VonShef 1.5l Cafetiere, cleaning is quick and simple.

Click here for detailed pictures of this stylish coffee maker’s accessories and inner workings  (Amazon).

Also available in a RED stainless steel finish (link).

 

Classic Bodum Chambord French Press 1.5l Cafetiere for parties

Bodum Chambord French Press Review

Bodum Chambord 1.5l Cafetiere features:

  • Party-size 1.5 litre capacity (12 small cups)
  • Classic Cafetiere look with shiny lid
  • Heat-proof borosilicate glass jug
  • Insulated handle
  • Replacement jugs available (not included)

Marginally lighter than a 1.5 litre stainless steel French Press, this Bodum Chambord 1.5l Cafetiere is an all-time classic that’s become an essential kitchen accessory for sociable coffee drinkers worldwide. This model has a chromed cap with internal plastic insulation. The stainless steel plunger assembly follows the traditional French Press design.

The Bodum Chambord is a great coffee maker for entertaining. The only down-side with this model is the difficulty of cleaning – especially if there’s a build-up of coffee grains behind the chrome plated metal frame. Always take extra care if you need to loosen the handle screw to remove the glass. A little too much tension when refitting the screw can easily break the glass jug. Luckily, spare Bodum Cafetiere jugs are inexpensive and widely available.

Click here to view this 1.5 litre Bodum French Press on Amazon.

If you like your coffee piping hot, a coffee pot cosy is a handy extra for this BIG Bodum Cafetiere. The UK Kitchen Cookshop has a range of Cafetiere covers in stock. I particularly like their CKS Neoprene Insulating Jacket (link) for a big, 12 cup Cafetiere like the Bodum Chambord.

 

Le Creuset French Press Cafetiere – 750ml Stoneware

Le Creuset French Press Review

Le Creuset 750ml Cafetiere features:

  • Couple-size 750ml capacity (about 2 medium mugs)
  • Stoneware style jug with French Press plunger
  • Available in several colours
  • Holds heat quite well (warm first)
  • Wash with care!

With 6 colour options on offer, this Le Creuset 750ml Cafetiere can be colour matched with your kitchen decor. Though this link will take you to Amazon, this popular (rather posh) brand is also on sale at John Lewis and other upmarket kitchenware retailers.

Serving-up about two decent mugs of coffee, the Le Creuset French Press Cafetiere is ideal for cosy couples who enjoy a quality brew in the morning or afternoon. Afterwards, the pot is very easy to clean, though the finish can be prone to chipping. It’s best to wash this Cafetiere as a separate item.

If you like the stoneware styling of this posh Le Creuset Cafetiere, the company produce a wide range of cups and crockery to match. Click here to start your collection with this attractive French style coffee maker!

 

Bodum Travel French Press Cafetiere – 350ml Stainless Steel

Bodum Travel Press Review

Bodum 350ml Travel Cafetiere features:

  • 350ml serving – about 1 large mug
  • Portable French Press coffee maker & mug
  • Trendy ‘Bodum’ branded rubber sleeve
  • Available in 3 colours
  • Double stainless steel wall insulation
  • Also makes great loose-leaf tea

I was given a Bodum 350ml Travel Cafetiere as a birthday gift a few years ago and it’s still making superb coffee and loose leaf tea! Combining a slurp-style coffee cup and a miniature French Press, this neat little coffee maker is ideal for a brew while you’re away from home.

Bodum’s Travel Cafetiere is incredibly easy to use. Just unscrew the top and drop a couple of scoops of coffee into the mug. After that add your water (milk and sugar), then screw the lid and plunger back on top. After a minute or so, press the plunger and enjoy your brew.

The airgap insulation keeps your drink warm much longer than you expect. For convenient portability, there’s also a neat seal that clips over the drinking spout. At the end of the day, you simply flush the mug and plastic filter under the tap to keep your travel press looking good as new.

Click here to check out the stylish colour options currently on offer from Amazon!

 

ProCook French Style Cafetiere – 600ml Stainless Steel

ProCook French Press Review

ProCook 600ml French Press Cafetiere features:

  • 600ml serving – about 2 regular mugs
  • French style conical Cafetiere coffee maker
  • Made from double-wall insulated stainless steel
  • Incredibly easy to clean
  • Keeps coffee nice and hot!

Love the traditional profile of this ProCook 600ml French Press Cafetiere – just wish that I could find one with 1 Litre capacity!

ProCook claim that this french style coffee pot will make 6 cups of piping hot coffee. In reality, you’re going to get about two standard mugs from this delectably styled French Press. Lots of buyers have confirmed that the double stainless steel walls do indeed keep your coffee nice and hot, so this Cafetiere could be perfect for two moderate coffee drinkers.

Close inspection of the manufacturer’s blurb highlights a warning that hot coffee can splurge out of the lid if you push the plunger too hard. One or two buyers have also mentioned this problem in their coffee maker reviews. Handle your ProCook French Press gently and you should have few problems.

Click here to see how the ProCook 600ml Cafetiere will look in your kitchen! (Amazon link)

 

Bredmeijer Leopold Vienna Cafetiere 1l Model LV01533

Leopold Vienna French Press Cafetiere Review

Bredemeijer 1 litre Leopold Vienna Cafetiere features:

  • 1 litre serving – about 3 large mugs
  • Lightweight, stylish family French Press coffee maker
  • Easily removable heat resistant glass jug
  • Large insulated handle
  • Excellent value for money

We’ve been using this Bredemeijer 1 litre Leopold Vienna Cafetiere for years and it still looks as good as new! The secret is the open chromed cradle that holds the heatproof glass flask. Apart from being ultra lightweight, it’s easy to slip the glass jug out of the cradle and give the whole coffee maker a fast, efficient clean. With no nuts and bolts holding the cradle in place, there’s no risk of cracked glass.

Bredemeijer is a Dutch company with a solid reputation for manufacturing luxury tea and coffeeware products. Bredemeijer aquired the German, Leopold Vienna brand in 2010. The company ethos is to design superior kitchenware products with exquisite form and functionality. Thankfully, their attractive, thoughtfully designed Leopold Vienna Cafetiere is available at a very affordable price!

This Leopold Vienna LV01533 Coffee Maker is absolutely perfect as an an everyday French Press coffee maker for the kitchen table. The one litre capacity flask holds enough coffee for 3 or 4 regular sized mugs. A couple of coffee addicts can expect 2 extra-large mugs (with warm-ups) from this 1l coffee pot!

Click here to view this stylish family French Press on Amazon – limited numbers available!

 

Orblue Professional Coffee Scoop Set

Orblue Coffee Scoop Set Review

Orblue Professional Coffee Scoop Set features:

  • 2 x professional stainless steel coffee scoops
  • Contains 1 x 15ml teaspoon + 1 x 30ml tablespoon
  • Long handles for reaching into coffee bags
  • Great design with deep bowl & hanging loop
  • Helps to ensure consistent coffee strength

An accurate measure is the key to consistent coffee making, and this Professional Orblue Coffee Scoop Set will ensure a consistent cup from every brew.

Well designed and manufactured, these stainless steel coffee scoops are just as accurate as the cheap plastic scoops that come with your cafetiere – but so much more stylish! The long handles make it easy to reach that very last spoonful in the bottom of the bag, and the deep bowl is ideal for holding the perfect ‘level’ measure.

Even if you’re not tempted to buy this professional coffee measure set yourself, how about ordering one as a birthday gift or Christmas ‘stocking-filler’ for a coffee-loving friend?

Click here to check out this Orblue Coffee Scoop Set on Amazon!

 

Thanks for reading my French Press coffee maker reviews and recommendations – more top quality homeware reviews coming soon!

Freelance Steve footnote

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The best men’s electric shavers under £100 for 2018

My quick, stubble free guide to the best electric shavers under £100 for 2018

FreelanceSteve Mens Shaver Reviews

I’ve been using disposable plastic razors for more than 40 years. This year, I decided to put an end to all that thoughtless waste and switch to a mid-range electric shaver. To save you a lot of time and hassle, I’ve drafted this quick guide to the best electric shavers under £100 for men in 2018.

I hope that one of the mid-price shavers on my shortlist will encourage you to switch to a more environmentally aware shave!

 

Why switch to an electric shaver now?

Let’s face it, whether it’s coffee cups or food packaging, we’ve created a throw-away society. Our beaches are littered with plastic junk, and our seas are polluted with plastic bags, bottles and polystyrene waste.

To stop this getting any worse, we all need to change our buying habits. As an average UK household, we’ve decided to cut down on our addiction to convenient, throw-away goods and packaging – including disposable plastic razors!

Is a mid-priced electric razor as good as a disposable?

Let’s put it this way, the best shave you’re ever going to get is probably from a steady-handed barber with a traditional cut-throat razor. For most of us that’s just not practical. For less than £100, there are a vast range of ‘wet and dry’ cordless shavers on the market that will give you a close, comfortable shave. Many of these  are now fully waterproofed, and fitted with long-lasting, Li-ion (Lithium ion) batteries – great as a convenient morning shower shaver!

The best water-proof electric shavers for men

When I decided to make the switch from a disposable razor to an electric shaver, I was bewildered by the range of models on the market. The ‘Which?’ best shaver guide wasn’t much help, as you had to pay to view their top electric shavers. That’s one of the reasons that I decided to post my own Top Ten electric shaver reviews free in this blog.

The two market leaders seem to be Braun and Philips. Both of these top electric shaver brands have models ranging from around £30 to £450. As a freelance product copywriter, I don’t earn enough to splash-out on a £450 razor, so my best electric shavers for 2018 are selected from the £40 to £100 rechargeable shaver ranges.

Rather than stick to the best selling electric shaver brands, I’ve also investigated models from the classic electric razor manufacturer, Remington. You’ll also find suprisingly good value shavers from China based Phisco, and Idaho hair-clipper trailblazer, J. Frank Wahl.

As you read these electric shaver reviews, you’ll find that they all have their pros and cons. What I can promise is that each of the models I’ve selected represents excellent value for money.

 

The Ultima Plus man’s rechargeable shaver from Wahl

Wahl Ultima Plus Electric Shaver features:

  • Dual foil, dry shaver
  • 45 min shave time from a 1 hour charge
  • Delivers a close, smooth shave
  • Built in trimmer + 2 to 4mm stubble comb
  • Easy-clean lift & wash system

Wahl have been my go-to hair clipper brand for about 25 years. Though their products can look a little dated, they usually have bullet-proof build quality and solid reliability. Their Wahl Ultima Plus Shaver was the first item added to my wishlist of top-ten shavers.

The Ultima Plus is a dry shaver, so it’s not designed  for daily use with water or shaving foam, and it’s definitely not recommended for the shower. This low-cost Wahl shaver does have a neat ‘lift and wash’ function that allows you to clean the dual foil heads by holding the razor under a running tap. Though this is a little more clunky than the Philips cleaning system, it gets a messy job done without too much hassle.

As well as a dual foil shaving system, the Ultima Plus also has a two-position trimmer for smartening-up sideburns or a moustache. It also comes with a clip-on attachment that will leave a trendy 2mm to 4mm length of manly stubble on your chin.

Wahl’s Ultima Plus shaver delivers a close, comfortable dry shave. This model uses lower capacity NiMH batteries, but it can also be used while plugged into a 2 pin bathroom mains socket.

Click here for more details and buyer reviews (Amazon).

 

Braun ProSkin 3040s Wet & Dry Electric Shaver

Braun ProSkin 3040s Electric Shaver features:

  • Wet & dry men’s shaver with triple foil heads
  • Dual NiMH batteries – 1 hour charge, 45 min shave
  • Comfortable shave – recommended for sensitive skin
  • Built in trimmer + 3 bar charge level display
  • Replacement Series 3 foil cartridge not cheap

The Braun ProSkin 3040s Wet & Dry Electric Shaver is a great wet & dry model that you can use as a shower shaver. Whilst Braun’s ProSkin series is recommended for sensitive skin, it’s worth remembering that it can take several weeks for your body to adapt from a disposable razor to an electric shaver. You may also find that you have to spend a few more minutes shaving with an electric razor.

With two tilting foil heads and a central micro-comb foil element, the ProSkin 3040s clears a lot of bristle with minimal discomfort. As with most mid-price elecric shavers, this model comes with an effective built-in trimmer. Dual NiMH batteries help to keep the price of this high-performance electric shaver lower than it’s Li-ion powered competitors.

Don’t miss this opportunity to buy a great value Braun wet & dry electric shaver well below the £100 mark!

Click here to check-out more than 2800 Amazon buyer reviews on this product.

 

Philips Series 3000 Men’s Wet & Dry Electric Shaver

Philips Series 3000 Electric Shaver features:

  • Wet & dry men’s shower shaver with flexible rotary heads
  • Li-ion battery – 1 hour charge, 50 min shave
  • Offers a smooth, comfortable shave
  • Comes with pop-up trimmer & protective cap
  • Easily cleaned by running heads under tap

There are two things that I really like about this Philips Series 3000 Wet & Dry Men’s Electric Shaver. First, is the high-capacity Li-ion battery. This delivers a slightly longer, 50 minute shave-time from a 1 hour charge. Second, is the simple, pop-open shaver head cleaning system. This makes it fast and simple to give the triple rotary heads a deep-clean under running water.

When it comes to rotary electric shavers, Philips have built a strong reputation as a market leader. Considering the very affordable price-tag, this Series 3000 Wet & Dry model exceeds expectations. If you’re switching from a disposable razor, you’ll need to spend a little more time going over some of your facial contours. The Philips multi-directional ‘DynamicFlex’ heads certainly help – but be prepared to put in a little more shave-time during the first few weeks.

To cut manufacturing costs (and RRP), this Philips Series 3000 electric shaver has a basic, single bar LED battery charge indicator. A pop-up precision trimmer is located behind the triple shaving heads.

Click here for product details, low-price, and more than 2000 Amazon buyer reviews for this Philips shower shaver.

 

Panasonic ES-RF31 4 Blade Wet & Dry Electric Shaver

Panasonic ES-RF31 Electric Shower Shaver features:

  • Wet & dry shower shaver with pivoting 4 blade head
  • Replaceable Li-ion battery – 1 hour charge, 65 min shave
  • 10,000 rpm motor delivers a superior electric shave
  • ‘Which?’ best buy in 2013
  • Excellent value for money but pricey foil & blade replacement

Still way under the £100 price-point, this Panasonic ES-RF31 Electric Shower Shaver has many of the features that you’d expect to find on a much more expensive model. Fully waterproofed, the ES-RF31 can be used with shaving foam or gel, and is perfect as a rechargeable razor for daily use in the shower.

Panasonic is a long established Japanese brand, and this particular model has been on the market for several years. This is probably why you get so many premium shaver features at an incredibly low price! Only around £10 more than the Braun and Philips shavers, the Panasonic ES-RF31 features an ultra-fast, 10,000 rpm motor, along with enhanced blade and foil technology.

Unlike other models in this electric shaver review, the ES-RF31 has a replaceable Li-ion battery. This means that the shaver’s life expectancy can be extended way beyond the usual number of charge cycles that you can expect from a built-in rechargeable shaver battery.

Panasonic’s ES-RF31 gives a great shave, particularly with an 8mm pivot on the head. Though a full set of replacement blades and foils is quite expensive, it may be worth paying a little extra to keep this quality wet and dry shaver operating at peak performance!

Click here to check out the latest Amazon price for this Panasonic shower shaver and trimmer.

 

Remington F7800 Traditional Man’s Dry Electric Shaver

Remington F7800 Dry Electric Shaver features:

  • Traditional dry electric shaver with dual Titanium coated foils
  • 60 min shave time from a 2 hour recharge
  • LCD display of remaining shave time
  • Classic genleman’s electric razor from Remington
  • Affordable Titanium-X foil & cutter replacement

I couldn’t resist taking a closer look at this classic gentleman’s F7800 Dry Electric Shaver from Remington. This US based brand was big in the 1970’s, and it looks like the company is still capable of producing a top-performing dry shaver with a stylish look and feel.

Apart from the LCD shave-time countdown, and pop-up ‘tache-trimmer, this is pretty-much a no frills electric shaver. The dual Titanium coated foils and central comb deliver a close electric shave – it’s a style that seems to be particularly popular with more mature buyers.

Click here to view this stylish gentleman’s grooming accessory on Amazon.

 

Remington PF7600 Comfort Series Aqua Shower Shaver

Remington PF7600 Waterproof Shower Shaver features:

  • Wet & dry Remington shower shaver with dual foil head
  • Li-ion battery – 2 hour charge, 60 min shave
  • Great performance for much less than £100
  • Simple, single bar battery charge indicator
  • Reasonably priced replacement head & cutter

With a shave performance that matches Remington’s dry shaver, how about this shower friendly Remington PF7600 Waterproof Shower Shaver?

Remington’s fully waterproof PF7600 ‘Comfort Series’ electric shaver can be used in the shower with your favourite foam, gel or other pampering products. A high-capacity Li-ion battery helps this capable shaver to deal with the meanest stubble. Expect around 60 minutes of shave-time from each two hour charge.

To cut the RRP to way less than £100, Remington have replaced the fancy LCD timer of the dry-shave model with a no-frills LED battery level bar. No fancy gizmos on this value for money shower shaver – just the usual, pop-up sideburn trimmer.

This surprisingly good shower shaver is well worth a closer look! Click here for the latest Amazon price reduction.

 

Phisco Rotary Wet & Dry Electric Shaver

Phisco Rotary Waterproof USB Shaver features:

  • Wet & dry pivoting triple head rotary shower shaver
  • USB quick charge capability – 120 min shave-time from 1 hour charge
  • 2800 rpm motor drives 3 x doubled rotary cutters
  • LCD remaining % battery charge display
  • Low-price shaver with high specification

Currently retailing at less than £50, this Phisco Rotary Waterproof USB Shaver is clearly a low-price Chinese re-make of a contemporary Philips rotary shaver. What sets this Phisco shaver apart from the other models in my electric razor review is its USB charging capability. Coming with a standard ‘Android’  style phone cable, this shaver can be recharged from a PC/Laptop USB port, or fast-charged from a USB mains adapter (not included).

This Chinese Li-ion shower shaver not only looks good, a 2,800 rpm motor and double blade, floating head system also ensures that you get a clean, comfortable shave.

Out of all the waterproof shavers listed in this post, this cheap Phisco model was the one that I finally bought. It gives a superb shave and runs for ages between battery charges.

Click here to view the latest Amazon price for this value for money waterproof shaver.

If you’d like to give this low-cost, high-spec shower shaver a try, there’s no need to be concerned about finding replacement parts. The Phisco rotary shaver uses low-price PH-BC09 replacement rotary heads. Just click this link to order replacement Phisco PH-BC09 shaver heads from Amazon.

 

Braun WaterFlex WF2s Wet & Dry Electric Shaver (Red)

Braun WaterFlex WF2s Red Electric Shower Shaver features:

  • Wet & dry shower shaver with Braun OptiBlade dual foils
  • Li-ion battery – 1 hour charge for a 45 min shave
  • Ruberised non-slip grip in Red
  • Simple, 2 bar LED battery charge indicator
  • Cool electric shaver but costly foil & blade replacement

This sleek Braun WaterFlex WF2s Red Electric Shower Shaver is all you need for a no-frills wet or dry shave before work. Featuring dual Braun OptiBlade foils which are specially designed to cut long and short facial hair, the WF2s offers a close, high-comfort shave. The shaver also has an easily deployed trimmer for stray hairs and sideburns. As well as giving the shaver a distinctive, dynamic look, the Red non-slip sleeving also helps you to grip the shaver if you are using foam or gel in the shower.

The Braun WaterFlex WF2s Shaver comes with a two-pin, bathroom style plug and extending lead for charging. A built-in Li-ion battery is capable of powering around 45 minutes of shave-time after a 1 hour charge. Li-ion batteries are much less prone to the gradual decline in performance that you experience with other types of rechageable cell.

Click here to check out the latest Amazon price for this distinctive Red shower shaver from Braun.

This Red version of the WaterFlex WF2s electric shaver is currently on offer at a much lower price than the Blue model.

 

Philips AT890/16 Rotary Wet & Dry Electric Shaver

Philips AT890/16 Rotary Shower Shaver features:

  • Wet & dry shower shaver with 3 x dual blade rotary heads
  • High capacity Li-ion battery – 1 hour charge = 50 min shave-time
  • 3 minute quick-charge for an emergency shave
  • Smooth shaving & trimming experiece with a light touch
  • Under £100, but very expensive head replacement

This Philips AquaTouch Plus AT890/16 Rotary Shower Shaver is close to the upper limit of my budget. Is the extra £20 to £30 outlay worth it for a smoother, lighter touch?

This model does seem to be a hit with loyal Philips rotary head razor fans. Though the AT890/16 doesn’t get rave reviews as a dry shaver, it does get a lot of praise from sensitive-skinned wet shavers. This is probably due to a combination of smoothing lubrication, and the Philips dual-blade, floating head system. Unfortunately it’s those floating heads that put me off this smooth-running shower shaver. Replacement heads are pretty expensive, but you can find them at a lower price if you shop around on Ebay etc.

If you don’t mind paying a little extra for replacement heads every 18 months, this is a great buy for anyone with sensitive skin. Just take it easy for the first few weeks while you make the switch from your disposable plastic razor to your swish AquaTouch Plus!

Click here to get the latest price, specifications and reviews (Amazon).

 

Braun 3010BT Wet & Dry Beard Grooming Shaver

Braun 3010BT Wet & Dry Beard Grooming Shaver features:

  • Wet & dry beard grooming shaver with 3 element foil head
  • NiMH battery – 1 hour charge for 45 min shave/groom time
  • All-in-one shower shaver, beard groomer & trimmer
  • Comes with 5 comb sizes for 1mm to 7mm stubble length
  • Great multi-purpose shaver but costly foil & blade replacement

If you’re the kind of guy that can grow a full beard in a day, why not work with nature and order this Braun 3010BT Wet & Dry Beard Grooming Shaver? As well as being a fully functional shower shaver, this grooming package includes a full set of clipper style combs to tame a backwoods beard.

The engine powering this beard tamer is Braun’s standard, Series 3 motor with a built-in NiMH battery pack. Whilst this is more than adequate for a daily shower-shave, serious beard trimming is likely to put a little more strain on battery capacity.

Even without the accessories, this is still a top mid-price razor. The colourful, non-slip grip on the 3010BT shaver makes this model particularly easy to handle in the shower. If you’ve gone all-the-way and adopted a fully shaved head, this multi-purpose shower shaver could transform your regular shaving routine!

Click here to check out the latest Amazon price for this Braun shower shaver and beard grooming package.

 

Thanks for reading my electric razor reviews and recommendations – more top quality product reviews coming soon!

Barbershop shave image created by V.ivash – Freepik.com

Freelance Steve footnote

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Choosing the best baby monitor for 2018

Choosing the best baby monitor for summer 2018


best baby monitor for 2016

As an online sales copywriter, I spend a lot of time each day researching background information and reviews on all kinds of products. Recently I’ve been taking another look at baby monitors. Easy eh? You would think that the big names in the industry like Samsung, Tomy, BT and Motorola would have a vast range of superb monitors to choose from.

Surprisingly, that’s not what I found.

 

The baby monitor market

There are hundreds of different types of baby monitor on the market. These range from cheap audio monitors, right up to really expensive, high definition video systems. It’s incredible to find out that, no matter how much you spend, many baby monitors have poor reliability and basic design flaws.

The best value baby monitor

Some of the most reliable baby monitor systems are simple, audio only, parent and baby units. Why is this the case? My guess is that there’s simply less to go wrong with a basic, audio system. If you’re looking online for the best value baby monitor, I’d recommend a simple audio monitor as the best option.

The best video baby monitors

If you do prefer to see that baby is snoozing safely in the nursery, you’re going to have a tough time trawling through the hundreds of video baby monitors currently on sale.

Two of the most popular brands for online baby monitor sales are Motorola and Summer Infant. Generally, many of the video monitors in their respective product ranges are well received by most buyers. I’ve selected two of the best, based on buyer feedback and reviews on sites like Amazon, Which Magazine and Mumsnet. I also went through the technical details of each product to check things like battery life and range.

You’ll notice that there are no WiFi baby monitors in my list. What some buyers don’t realise is that many WiFi cameras feed their video and audio content to external servers. As we have no idea where these servers are located, or who operates them, I personally don’t feel 100% confident about their reliability, privacy or security.

All of the baby monitors that I recommend below have been chosen for their simplicity, reliability and security. Oh … and excellent value for money too!

 

Philips Avent DECT Baby Audio Monitor System SCD560/01

Philips audio baby monitor features:

  • Simple audio baby monitor
  • Portable parent unit
  • Nursery temperature monitor
  • Nightlight, 5 lullabies & two way talk
  • ECO battery power saving feature

Without the added complexity of a video screen, this simple Philips ‘Avent DECT’ Baby Audio Monitor System is easy to set up and use. A portable, battery operated ‘parent’ unit can be carried with you around the home.

The system is sensitive enough to pick up every sound from baby. Along with the sounds of baby’s movement and breathing, the parent monitor also displays the nursery temperature on a basic LCD screen.

For comforting reassurance if your baby wakes, you have the option of a nightlight, five lullabies, or two-way conversation.

Although a little pricey, many buyers find the Philips Avent DECT Baby Audio Monitor System to be highly reliable. Philips is a trusted manufacturer with a reputation for quality.

Click here for more details and buyer reviews (Amazon).

 

Motorola MBP36S Digital Video Baby Monitor

 

Motorola video baby monitor features:

  • High quality audio/video baby monitor
  • Portable parent unit with 3.5 inch colour monitor
  • Nursery temperature display
  • Lullaby & two way talk features
  • Displays optional extra cameras on split screen

Great sound and video quality, along with easy setup, make this one of the most popular video baby monitors currently on sale. The Motorola brand is often placed high in ‘Top 10’ style baby monitor reviews.

The Motorola MBP36S Digital Video Baby Monitor comes with all of the popular features. These include superb infra-red night vision, a bright, 3.5 inch colour video screen, lullabies and a two-way baby talk facility. Nursery temperature is also displayed on the parent unit.

This baby monitor system offers excellent remote control of camera pan, tilt and zoom.

With a very affordable price tag, many buyers appreciate the quality and reliability of this Motorola video baby monitor. The parent unit will also display optional extra cameras in a special ‘split screen’ mode.

Click here to read genuine buyer reviews (Amazon).

 

Summer Infant Wide View Digital Video Monitor

Summer Infant video baby monitor features:

  • Wide-angle view of the nursery
  • Big 5 inch colour screen on portable parent unit
  • Nursery temperature check displayed
  • Two-way talk with baby
  • Simple troubleshooting checklist

If you’re expecting a summer baby in 2018, how about this ‘Summer Infant’ baby monitor? With simple, easy to use design, this digital baby camera kit gives a wide angle view of your nursery. A basic digital zoom feature allows you to take a closer look while baby sleeps or plays in the cot.

A big, 5 inch (12.7cm) parent unit offers clear daytime viewing. Switch to black and white, Infra-Red mode for night-time operation. The monitor also displays the nursery temperature. This could be useful in hot summers or cold winters. As with most dedicated baby monitors, two-way talk with baby is a basic feature.

The Summer Infant baby monitor comes with a very clear troubleshooting checklist. Most buyers seem to be very happy with their purchase. Naturally, the large LCD screen on the portable parent unit will drain the rechargeable battery quite quickly. With a little forward planning this shouldn’t be a big problem.

Click here to check out the BIG LCD SCREEN on this wide-angle baby monitor (Amazon).

 

Motorola MBP8 Digital Audio Baby Monitor

Motorola audio baby monitor features:

  • Simple, cheap baby monitor
  • DECT technology for audio monitoring only
  • Plug & Go mains powered – no wires!
  • LED display of sound level in the nursery
  • Extremely safe, reliable & convenient

Here’s a really simple, audio only monitor from Motorola. The great thing about this MBP8 model is the price. The Motorola MBP8 Audio Only Baby Monitor retails at less than £30!

This is probably one of the cheapest baby monitors that you’ll find online. Most of the monitors in this price range have poor reliability, or other fundamental problems. With ‘Plug & Go’ wireless operation, you simply plug the master and baby units into the handiest wall sockets for battery-free audio baby monitoring!

The Motorola MBP8 works exceptionally well to give a simple LED display of the sound level in the nursery. You can see when baby is crying – even with the volume turned down on the parent unit. Battery-free, mains operation means that the MBP8 baby monitor runs without attention 24/7. It’s also environmentally friendly!

Click here to check out the latest Amazon price for a Motorola MBP8 Digital Audio Baby Monitor.

Thanks for reading my reviews and recommendations – more top quality baby products coming soon!

 

Cute baby image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Freelance Steve footnote

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Maintain your Google pagerank with organic SEO

How to maintain your Google pagerank


Google pagerankSince the launch of Google’s Panda search algorithm large numbers of online traders and entrepreneurs have seen a fall in their site’s Google pagerank. Site owners regularly voice their bewilderment and anger on Google search forums. Sadly, the bottom line is that some site owners just don’t understand Google’s basic philosophy and terms of service. In this post I’ll spell out the key factors that can help you to maintain or improve your Google pagerank.

 

The lawless frontier

In some respects, the Web has been a lawless, unregulated frontier, where opportunists found it easy to make a fast buck at the expense of a naïve punter. Over recent years, Google has taken steps to level the field by introducing the Panda search algorithm. Their focus is now on ‘high quality, relevant content’ that needs to be honest and up-front. In this new ‘organic’ SEO landscape, your content needs to offer real value to the users who enter more than 3.5 billion Google search queries every day.

High & low quality content

OK, I hear you – your site is full of high quality content, right?

Let’s take a moment to list the types of low-quality content that have the potential to damage your Google ranking:

  • Keyword stuffed content that sounds unnatural
  • Duplicated, scraped and unoriginal content
  • Content which is generated automatically
  • Insufficient content to provide any value to your site visitors

Expect your Google pagerank to fall over the next year or two if you are using any of these techniques. In severe cases, Google may post a ‘Thin content with little or no added value’ warning in your site’s Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) account. Ignore the warning and you may find that your site is removed from Google SERPs  (search engine results pages).

Use natural organic keywords

Well written content is usually rich in natural, organic keywords. Problems arise when content is written specifically to manipulate search results – a breach of Google’s guidelines!

Without relevant keywords in your content Google won’t be able to position your site in SERPs. Remember that Google’s indexing robots scan your content for organic keywords. The page’s Meta “keywords” tag is no longer used by any of the main search engines for keyword indexing.

The number of times that an organic keyword or key phrase appears on your page should be natural and not ‘stuffed’ or forced. The total word count of your page should be just long enough to contain all of the the information that you need to get across, in natural, readable language.

Avoid duplicated content

Many online stores still use duplicated manufacturer’s product descriptions for their catalog. While the ranking penalties for this seem to be insignificant right now, it’s likely that content duplication will result in lower rankings in the years ahead.

While Google currently have quite a relaxed attitude to ‘non-malicious’ duplication, the penalty for deliberately setting out to dupe users can be severe. It can even result in your site being removed from SERPs.

Auto-generated content sucks

At this point you should have a pretty good understanding of Google’s quality guidelines. The use of non-curated, automatically generated content is another example of a deceptive technique which is often employed to generate hits. These types of pages often feature affiliate product feeds, or some form of automated search results pages. Under Google’s guidelines, if the pages have little or no value to the user, they’ll either be reported as spam, or plummet down to the lower rankings.

No Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy?

We’ve already mentioned that Google needs content to be able to crawl and index each page. It’s surprising how many site owners fill their pages with cool images, sliders and graphics, but only feature a few paragraphs of text on the whole site.

As well as making life difficult for the search providers, ‘thin content’ can also affect the user’s trust in a site. A website with no ‘About us’, ‘Terms of Service’ or ‘Privacy Policy’ pages immediately arouses suspicion for many users.

There’s a lot of discussion about the ideal word count required for a webpage to gain the best Google pagerank. Again, Google would prefer that you focused on user experience rather than SEO. Write just enough to inform or entertain the reader. Write for your readers and not for Google.

The SEO landscape in 2016

Hopefully, you will now have a better understanding of the way that the SEO landscape is changing. While it may require a little extra work from site owners and webmasters, most search engine users will be pleased to see the spammy, exploitation sites gradually disappearing from their search results.

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines provide a simple, easy to understand explanation of the post-Panda world of web design and content creation. This link is a great place to start:

 

Google Webmaster Guidelines

 

Freelance Steve footnote

Using meta description tags for better CTR

Using HTML meta description tags to improve your click through rate (CTR)


html meta tagsOften ignored or duplicated, the simple meta description tag is actually vital for maintaining your site’s click through rate (CTR). 
In this post I’ll highlight the importance of the tag and explain how it works – and why it sometimes doesn’t!

 

How is the HTML meta description tag used?

Whenever you see a list of search results in Google, Bing or the other major search engines, you’ll notice a little snippet of information about each page below its link. If the page has an effective meta “description” in its HTML code, the description will often be displayed prominently in the snippet.

Even better, if the site page meta description contains the search phrase or  keywords that the user entered as a search term, those phrases and terms are likely to be shown as bold text in the Google snippet.

Investing a little time and effort in creating a great meta description snippet will help your site to stand out in the search results pages (SERP).

How does the meta description snippet boost CTR?

It’s simple – a good meta description snippet is often your first direct communication with a potential site visitor. You need to tailor that little Google snippet to speak directly to your potential client, viewer or buyer.

To beat the competition, it’s vital that your snippet shouts out, “Hey, look at me – I’m exactly what you were searching for!

Keyword confusion

Don’t get the idea that your meta description tag has anything to do with keyword ranking SEO. This is a common misunderstanding. Google doesn’t rank your site based on keywords that it finds in the meta description! It simply marks any of the visitor’s search keywords found in the description snippet in bold text.

Remember that this tag is about increasing your click through rate, not boosting your rankings with keyword SEO.

How to check the meta description on any web page

This is easy! In most browsers just right-click in the page content and select “View page source” (“View source” in Internet Explorer) from the pop-up menu. This will show you the raw HTML code that builds the page.

Look through the lines of code at the top of the page for:

<meta name=”description content=”

Actual code looks something like this:

Meta Description Example

The quoted information after content=” is often displayed as the snippet below your site link. This can’t be guaranteed – the search terms entered, along with the quality of your snippet and site content are all part of the equation.

Don’t worry too much if the meta description is blank on your pages – most search engines will extract relevant content from your page and build an informative snippet for you. Unfortunately, these machine-created snippets sometimes look a little garbled and confusing in the search results listing.

By writing your own, tailor-made meta description you can attract more attention to your page link!

What are the rules for creating great meta descriptions?

The first rule is to create meta page descriptions for all of your main pages. Good webmasters will have handled this already.

Rule number two – don’t duplicate your meta descriptions. While small-scale duplication is likely to be ignored, large scale duplication may damage your search engine ranking.

Don’t go crazy with the description. The recommended length is 156 characters, including spaces.

A recommendation … put important keywords at the front of the description. This isn’t for SEO – it’s just that they’ll show up in bold text if they match the phrases entered by the searcher. It just has more impact if the keywords are at the beginning.

A final recommendation … make the description ‘human’. It should appeal directly to a real person who is looking for your special page, product or service.

Editing your HTML meta description tags

If you have any kind of HTML editing experience it’s pretty easy to create or edit the tag with your usual plain text/HTML editor.

WordPress users have the luxury of a superb Yoast SEO plugin that will guide you through the whole process. Oh … other SEO plugins perform equally well!

Many other content management systems and online stores have their own facilities for editing meta tags. It’s often pretty simple and straightforward.

If HTML edits seem a little too complicated you can speak to your site webmaster about updating the tags for you. It’s a quick, simple exercise that could help to increase the number of clicks on your site!

 

Freelance Steve footnote

Get more from your freelance copywriter

Hiring a freelance copywriter can be a smart investment!

freelance copywriting thumbnailHiring a good freelance copywriter can be a smart investment that will save your time, improve your site’s readability and boost organic search engine rankings. In this post I’ll show you how to find a good freelancer writer online, then manage your working relationship to ensure a pain-free, prosperous outcome for both parties.

First steps – setting your budget

Website content writers are actually pretty easy to find. Their rates are as diverse as their abilities, ranging from a few dollars per item, up to … well, how much can you afford to spend? As with most B2B services, the quality of the work that you can expect to receive is directly proportional to your cash investment.

A low budget will give you access to online copywriters on sites like Fiverr, Copify and Freelancer.com. There are good freelance writers working on these sites – but expect to spend a lot of time trying to find them. There are a whole lot of copywriters here offering low-quality content for a few dollars.

In the mid-budget range you’ll find independent writers with their own websites, along with a broad range of freelancers working sites like PeoplePerHour and Elance. Again, standards vary alarmingly, so it can be quite time-consuming to check each writer’s profile to ensure that you get the biggest bang for your bucks.

Top of the range are the larger agencies like StickyContent and BJL that cover everything, from product descriptions to full marketing strategies. We’re really looking at ‘corporate’ budgets here – these guys have a lot of overheads to take care of.

Choosing your freelance writer

With a rough idea of your budget and expectations, it’s time to go fishing for your freelancer! As with most purchases, customer feedback is a good place to start.

Client feedback is a standard feature on all of the freelancing websites, but it’s worth noting that the star ratings are sometimes a little generous. It’s down to basic psychology – nobody wants to downplay a freelancer’s efforts – unless they were really bad!

Most of the independent freelancers will have customer feedback on their websites. Just make sure that there’s lots of it, and that it’s fairly recent.

With the client feedback box ticked it’s time to check your potential writer’s portfolio. While a good freelancer should be able to adapt their style and tone to meet your needs, you really need a writer with some natural ability and authority. No portfolio? Just move on to the next candidate. There’s no excuse for not having an impressive portfolio to ‘wow’ potential clients!

Now it’s down to the fee … as we saw earlier, it’s basically a case of choosing the best freelancer that you can afford within the range of your budget. It’s quite unusual for independent freelancers to quote rates on their websites. With so many variables to consider, and the keen competition within the freelancing market, this is no big surprise. Before providing a quote, most professional freelancers will need to see some kind of project brief or scope of the work involved.

Your freelancer’s brief

Every successful project starts with an excellent brief, so it’s worth taking a little time to prepare a detailed package of instructions for your freelancer. As a minimum, it should explain what you need written, the expected length, tone and your target audience.

It’s also essential to be specific about your timescale. Most successful freelancers will have a busy schedule, so a clear deadline sidesteps a lot of potential problems.

If you’re commissioning a journalistic style piece with a detailed back story, it may involve extensive research, telephone or Skype interviews. This will increase your freelancer’s fee. For sales copy, your freelancer may ask for JPG’s and specifications of the products. Keep the fees low by providing as much up-front information as possible. Generally, the more information that you can provide, the sharper and more focused the article will be.

By providing a first-class brief you’ve proved your professionalism to your freelancer. It’s clear that you’re going to be  a good client to work with, and that there may even be a possibility of more work in the future.

Getting more from your freelance copywriter

Once you get the quote it’s a great time to negotiate a few little extras. How about some free SEO keyword research? If your freelancer is promising to write an SEO friendly article or blog post then it must be based on some kind of research?

If you’re paying for product descriptions, how about getting SEO optimized titles and 5 ‘Feature’ bullet points thrown-in for the fee.

Some free promotion is always useful too – ask your freelancer to publicize the piece through their social media connections, after it’s published!

Keep your freelancer

Once you’ve found a good freelance copywriter it pays to keep in touch. Your freelancer will appreciate advance notice of your up-coming writing projects and may even offer a little discount to win the gig!

 

Freelance Steve footnote

Google Chrome installation causing slow running of Windows 8.1 64-bit OS

Make sure that you install the right version of Chrome for Windows 8.1 64-bit OS!

chromeRecently I spent about 3 days trying to work out why Windows 8.1 had suddenly become unusable on a Sony Vaio i5 laptop. The main symptoms included slow running applications, “Limited internet access” error reports, and the computer being unable to shut-down or restart properly. I was surprised to find that Google’s Chrome browser was the source of the problem!

Early investigations

I’d been told that the problem appeared after adding a new email account in Microsoft Outlook. Right from the start, I thought that this was unlikely to be the cause of what looked like a serious Operating System failure. I was convinced that that laptop had suffered a ‘forced’ shutdown halfway through a Windows update.

My early efforts involved trying to resolving the “Limited internet access” error. My plan was to re-establish an Internet connection so that the suspected faulty updates could be removed and re-loaded.

I found a pretty good YouTube video that explains the process at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8fzdSNTF6Y

It was quite easy to follow all of the steps advised in the video. Unfortunately, this just didn’t work.

Disabling Fast Startup on Windows 8.1

A few minutes on Google led to the discovery that a LOT of Windows 8 users were having startup and shutdown problems. Disabling the Windows 8 (and 8.1) “Fast Startup” feature was offered as a possible solution.

I found this post which explained the whole process:

http://winaero.com/blog/how-to-disable-or-enable-fast-startup-in-windows-8-1/

Even with the Fast Startup feature disabled, the laptop was taking about 30 hours (yes 30 hours!) to shut down and about 45 minutes to restart – still with all of the applications running dead-slow.

By now I was seriously thinking about wiping the hard-drive and re-installing the Operating System.

The simple solution

While most of the Windows applications were running incredibly slowly, I noticed that there was one application that wasn’t running at all … Google Chrome! For some reason I decided to uninstall Chrome – even though the laptop was a complete wreck.

It was pretty amazing to see the laptop spring back to life as soon as Chrome was removed!

I ran through 3 or 4 reboot cycles – all of the problems were solved, even the “Limited internet access” error.

After a little more investigation I found that the laptop was running in Windows 8.1, 64-bit mode. Right now, it looks like the default, 32-bit Google Chrome browser for Windows 8 causes a catastrophic failure of Windows 8.1 in 64-bit mode. Maybe in future updates Google or Microsoft may resolve the problem.

Right now, if you’re using Windows 8.1 64-bit and you’ve been experiencing any of the problems that I’ve described above, you can download the fully compatible, 64-bit Chrome browser, directly from Google via this link:

https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/?platform=win64

 

Freelance Steve footnote

Writing product descriptions for increasing sales

Five easy tips to improve your online sales copy

Thinking about product descriptions thumbnailGreat product descriptions are the key to conversion, transforming those hits on your store into steadily increasing sales. In this post I’ll provide 5 easy tips to help you write unique, SEO optimized product descriptions that will boost your revenue.

 1) Know your buyer

Even now in 2015 one of the oldest marketing rules still applies!

Apart from the basic demographics like gender, age and income, it’s vital to understand your customers’ buying behavior before you set out to write your product descriptions. For example, do your buyers take the time to study and compare product specifications? Or do they make rapid, impulsive purchase decisions based on an emotional response to seductive styling, images and content?

A detailed understanding of your desired customers’ purchasing profile will help you to make a decision on the tone and length of your product descriptions. A brief paragraph with bulleted technical data may be great for selling a jet washer, but not so hot for a new line in lingerie.

2) Know your products

I don’t need to tell you how competitive the on-line market is in 2015. How can you draft your product descriptions to get ahead of the competition?

A little research or inside knowledge can often help to add a glowing spark of originality to an otherwise dull product description. Share a specialist tip or a little known fact about your product with your potential buyer. This personal touch might just help to tip the balance in your favour when it comes to hitting the ‘add to cart’ button.

Even if it doesn’t convert the sale, the added originality will help to boost your product’s SEO.

3) Keep it Simple

Recently I had a client contact me asking if I could remove the ‘fluff’ from his product descriptions. Smart move! Just like a bestselling book, good product descriptions have a one or two line ‘hook’ to draw the reader into your page.

In some cases the ‘hook’, possibly with some tech-spec’s and user reviews, may be all that you need to reach your conversion goals. This is typically the case if you’re selling utility products in large numbers.

For more sophisticated products you’ll need to do a little more work.

4) Get psychological

Psychology is a critical element in the copywriting process. A few carefully chosen words can often work at a subliminal level to help casual visitors to your store develop an emotional response to your products. Even a quite subtle response can help to convert hits to sales.

Smart content writers are taking it even further by writing product descriptions which involve their readers in stories and journeys which appeal directly to their subconscious desires and aspirations. This is an exciting, imaginative approach if you have the flair and confidence for it.

With this approach it’s wise to leave your newly written content for a few days before publishing it on your store. A second opinion is helpful too. Don’t be too precious about your work!

5) Don’t forget the keywords

One of the most frustrating things about working in ecommerce is the phenomenal rate of change. The rapid evolution of Google’s search ranking algorithms is a particular pain: the latest development being their push to improve the originality and relevance of content with their ‘Panda’ search algorithm.

In 2015 the keyword debate is becoming increasingly heated, but the general consensus is that keywords still have significant value in SEO.

With a little common sense and research you should be able identify the main keywords and search terms that are likely to bring visitors to your site. The intelligent approach is to weave these terms, along with their relevant synonyms, into unique, readable content. The golden rule is to avoid dropping the keywords often and inappropriately into your product descriptions. It’s a real turn-off for potential buyers.

Google Adwords (link) is a brilliant keyword research tool, but remember that your content is primarily for your customers, not for Google, Bing or any other search engine.

Using this approach, along with the tips outlined above, should bring steadily increasing numbers of visitors to your site, and encourage more of them to hit that ‘add to cart’ button.

 

Freelance Steve footnote

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Product description copywriting

The business case for original content

Product description copywriting thumbnailIn this post I’m going to spell out exactly why you need to have original product descriptions for your online store. While some freelance copywriters and agencies may tell you that it’s all about SEO, the plain truth is a lot less complicated. Even if your product descriptions have superb SEO there’s no guarantee that they’ll make it into the higher level rankings!

Top of the search listings …

The first thing that I do when I’m hired to write a product description is Google the product, then check out the descriptions that are topping the search listings. Despite all the talk about intelligent search algorithms demoting poor-quality sales content, I regularly find garbage at the top of the product listings in most of the major search engines.

Here’s an example …

I did a Google search for a (random) Michael Kors model MK8314 wristwatch, using the term “Michael Kors MK8314”. Top of the results list was an expired eBay listing. Second on the list was an Amazon listing with no description and a JPG of a diamond ring rather than a wristwatch. Third on the list – another Amazon listing with no description. The fourth listing took me to a page of Michael Kors ladies’ handbags.

Poor quality results …

This isn’t an unusual occurrence – it’s something that I see every day as a product description copywriter. The problem isn’t confined to Google – the same search in Bing returned a similar listing of poor quality results for model number MK5314 – not even the model I’d searched for!

It’s all about conversion!

Obviously this isn’t a detailed, scientific survey, but it does illustrate my point that SEO shouldn’t be your main motivation for using original product descriptions in your online store. Product description copywriting isn’t really about SEO – it’s about communicating with your customers and converting hits on your site into sales!

As an online trader you’ll be well aware of the increasing numbers of competitors that are coming into the market. For most buyers, the price and user reviews are still the most important factors in their purchase decision. Even so, this is a ‘numbers game’ where a tiny competitive advantage will win sales. This is where original, well written product descriptions can make a difference!

Are you yawning in the face of your buyer?

A duplicated, keyword stuffed description is an insult to your buyer. Can you imagine walking into a high street store and having a sales assistant yawn in your face, then answer your questions by repeating the same, pre-written speech over and over again? Your product description is your opportunity to outshine your competitors and demonstrate your unique customer service.

Original product descriptions – a compelling business case

The business case for original, top-quality product descriptions is strong and compelling. If you don’t have the time to write your own sales copy there are thousands of freelancers online offering copywriting services at really low prices. If you can’t afford to have your full range covered, why not boost sales of just a few of your products with a special promotion and some fresh, original descriptions!

 

Freelance Steve footnote

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How to choose the best hosting for ecommerce

A critical decision

Web hosting blog post thumbnailIf you’re thinking of joining the growing ranks of online storekeepers, your choice of hosting provider could be the most critical decision that you’ll make. In this post I’ll run through the key points to consider when you  choose a hosting service for your new ecommerce store. This is particularly important if you’re going to use one of the heavyweight stores like WooCommerce (WordPress) or Magento.

The reasons why …

Most ecommerce applications tend to place a heavy load on server resources – if your web hosting plan has limitations, either up-front or behind the scenes, it’s going to have a serious impact on performance. Typically, your customers will get slow site load times when they visit your store – that’s a knock-out blow for sales, and for your Google search ranking! Let’s take a look at some of the hosting provider limitations that cause these kinds of problems.

Most web hosting companies offer ‘Shared’ hosting packages at the low-budget end of the scale. This means that you are sharing server resources with your provider’s other clients. These shared resources include disk space, bandwidth (number of hits on your store), and processor time. Naturally, if you’re sharing these resources with other users, their activity on the server will affect the performance of your store! A good shared hosting plan may be OK for a small online store, but it’s not really feasible for Magento or WordPress hosting. The next step up the ladder is a VPS (Virtual Private Server) solution.

A VPS hosting plan gives you more control

A VPS hosting plan gives you more control over your three key resources: storage, bandwidth and processing power. More importantly, the availability of these resources is guaranteed and doesn’t depend on the activity of your hosting company’s other clients. Many hosting companies offer ‘Managed’ VPS plans where their support team will help with optimization and performance tuning.

For the ultimate reliability, security and optimization of a large Magento or WordPress store choose a ‘Dedicated’ server plan. With this type of plan you actually rent the physical server hardware in a datacenter. This gives you full control of your key resources. Just like the VPS plans, ‘Managed’ options are available to help out with technical aspects of optimization and maintenance.

Don’t forget your geography

Another important consideration is the geographic location of your hosting provider’s datacenters. Your store’s server needs to be close to your customers to get optimum page load times. This is particularly important if you’re targeting customers on another continent. Global Content Delivery Networks (CDN’s) like CloudFlare offer an alternative solution to this problem, but they do come with their own technical difficulties relating to store setup and security.

Evaluate your options

Hosting reviews blog post thumbnailBefore checking the plans and prices of any hosting provider take a little time to evaluate their credibility. Great service providers will be proud of their customer reviews or testimonials. These should be on display on their site. Ideally you need a hosting provider with a proven track record of ecommerce experience.

If you’re launching an online store on a tight budget, hosting isn’t really an area where you should compromise on quality. Go for a well-resourced VPS plan, possibly with SSD’s (Solid State Drives) for the fastest load times that you can afford. Your investment will be rewarded with lower bounce rates, more sales and better search engine rankings!

 

Freelance Steve footnote

 

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