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Galvanize recently teamed up with Erin Berman from Blackbeard Studios, a digital marketing agency based out of San Francisco, to host a storytelling workshop. Erin has helped dozens of startups learn how to share their story through her service as a storyteller and mentor at VCs and accelerator programs.

The goal of the workshop was to get introduced to the fundamentals of brand storytelling and learn how to leverage your company’s message to create cohesive and effective content for building your brand. Erin posed the question:

“Every company has a story. What’s yours?”

The Steps

Every time you pitch, tell someone about your company, or even introduce yourself, you’re telling a story. There are seven steps for creating a compelling story, because let’s face it everyone wants to hear a good story.


The characters in your story are your target audience. You’ll need to put them into the story of your brand before they will consider buying.


Every good story has challenges and conflict. For your customers, the challenge is the problem or pain point that your product is hopefully solving.


Every entrepreneur needs motivation. In this case, your motivation is the success your company could have. Find out what your best case scenario is and let that inspire you and your customers to get involved.


Setting is incredibly important in storytelling, as it frames the entire story. For a brand, the setting is the context in which your product exists for the customers.


Unlike challenges, obstacles are problems that get in the way of the company, rather than the customer. You’d be surprised how interested customers are with what kinds of issues you’re dealing with to bring them the product.


For your customer, this is the point at which they feel they need your product to solve their problems. This moment is key for any and all storytelling.


At this point, the customer decides whether or not to purchase your product. Depending on the outcome, you’ll be looking at a happy ending or a tragic finish.

Feeling Like a Hero

Quite simply, people don’t remember what you told them, they remember how you made them feel. If you can’t make your customer feel strongly about your brand it’s highly unlikely they will remember you and move on. So how do you create good feelings in your customer when they think about your company?

One of the ways you can induce your customer to have strong feelings toward your brand is by helping your customers feel like a hero. The best way to do this is to pose a problem, give validation, convey the emotion, provide the solution (your product), showcase the benefits, and create an easy way for them to be a customer.

Everyone wants to feel like the hero. It’s a good feeling. And if you can get your customers to “feel good” about your brand they’ll not only remember you, they’ll be more likely to recommend you. It’s only when you can make your customer feel like a hero that you’ve truly won them over.

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7 Steps To Becoming A Freelancer

Across the world, small and large companies are hiring more freelancers than ever before. If you’ve decided to become a freelancer, the numbers say you’re on to something good. Whether your goal is to earn some money on the side or make freelancing a full-time career, you’ll need to arm yourself with knowledge, a determination to learn and improve and lots of patience. Here’s how to start freelancing.

How do you become a freelancer?

The freelance market is growing by the day and, if you want to be competitive, you have to prepare accordingly. Follow these seven steps to get started.

Step 1: Consider whether freelancing is for you.

Freelancing has its pros and cons but, in general, you must possess a specific mindset to be a freelancer. Being your own boss is a great thing if you’re disciplined and reliable. Freelancing enables you to set your schedule, so you can take a day off whenever you want, but you won’t be paid for that time because there is no such thing as paid leave.

If you want to be a freelancer, you should maintain a daily work routine, be ready to juggle several assignments at once and continually look for new projects to maintain a steady flow of work.

If you’re still working full time, don’t immediately quit your job. Instead, combine freelancing and full-time work until you accumulate enough clients and connections to support yourself as a freelancer. Working from a comfortable place of steady work and safe income is a much better environment for developing your freelance business.

Step 2: Find a platform.

Most freelancers use freelancing platforms to find work. While recommendations and social media channels like LinkedIn can also be a great source of gigs, freelancing websites are popular because they allow you to connect effortlessly with clients looking for freelancers. There are always jobs available there.

Also, most of these platforms have policies and offer protection both for freelance workers and those doing the hiring. On freelance platforms, every project you take on is a mini contract, and both you and the client are required to adhere to its terms.

Choosing the platform with the model that fits your needs and salary expectations is incredibly important for your success. For example, there are numerous highly rated freelance websites for finding developers. Plenty of freelancing websites encourage the so-called “race to the bottom,” where freelancers provide poor quality work in exchange for poor compensation.

Ultimately, it doesn’t help anyone — buyers cannot find good quality of work and freelancers cannot earn enough money.

Some freelancing platforms, like Hiremotely, base their business model on admitting only top freelance software developers and connecting them with clients based on very specific requirements. Being a member of such an exclusive platform allows you to connect with serious clients and get paid for high-quality work. The admission process on these types of platforms can take several weeks and include several rounds of relevant tests.


Check out all of the top sites for freelancers, such as Upwork and FlexJobs.


Maintain a good connection with your clients and provide consistent, quality work by meeting deadlines, listening to instructions and communicating effectively. Build a work portfolio to help attract new clients.

What is a freelancer?

A freelancer is a self-employed individual who offers services to a company (or multiple) without being a W-2 employee. Freelancers can take on as much work from as many businesses as they please. Ultimately, their career and workload are in their own hands.

Since they are technically contractors and not employees, freelancers must pay self-employment taxes every quarter. They also do not have access to benefits like company-sponsored retirement plans or health insurance coverage unless they are a W-2 employer at another company.

Freelancers are most common in creative industries like graphic design, copywriting and photography. However, service-based industries offer a ton of opportunities for freelancers as well. Jobs like consulting, translation, marketing and social media management are often outsourced to contract workers.

How does freelancing work?

Freelancers typically work on a per-project basis. For instance, they might take on a certain number of projects every month and charge either by the project or the amount of time it takes them to complete it, such as an hourly or even daily rate.

Freelancers set their own hours and work on deadlines. For example, they might get four assignments from a client at the beginning of the month, with deadlines scattered throughout the month. Freelancers can work from any location at any hour, and they might even freelance for extra income on the side of a full-time job. 

The freelance process typically goes as follows:

The freelancer reaches out to clients/vice versa for possible contract work.

The freelancer tackles projects at a set price, such as per project or per hour.

The client pays the freelancer for work; taxes are not taken out of paycheck and freelancers must pay quarterly taxes.

A career in freelancing offers flexibility and a chance to hone your skills for a price that you set. If a client refuses to compensate you for your worth, you can simply reject their offer and move on to another client.

Did You Know?

Freelancers need to report self-employment income to the IRS, so make sure you stay on top of your taxes.

What are the benefits of being a freelancer?

As with anything, there are both pros and cons to freelancing. Some of the benefits include the ability to decide the work you want to take on and the control over how you spend your time. It can also provide an opportunity to gain experience in your field:

There are always work opportunities: Every hour, there are dozens of new job postings added to freelance platforms. Of course, you won’t be hired for each of those, but there are plenty of offers to go around.

You control your schedule: You work when you want, how you want and as much as you want. You don’t have to beg for days off. You don’t have to get up in the morning if you’re a person whose focus is sharpest late at night. With freelancing, you make the best of your peak productivity, without being tied to the office for specific hours.

You have an amazing opportunity to gather experience: You can work with different clients on various projects and amass experience that would be impossible to come by in a traditional office setting.

You choose whom you work with: If things aren’t working out with a client, you can always find another one. You don’t have to stick around in a toxic environment because you’re afraid to quit your job.

What are the drawbacks of freelancing?

Even though there’s a lot to love about being a freelancer, there are some downsides, including:

You need discipline and routine: If you want to be a good freelancer, you have to be self-motivated. There is no boss checking what you’re doing. You’re that boss. You have to be strict with yourself.

Sometimes, there won’t be work: There will be times when you’ll be offered more projects than you can accept, and there will be periods when it seems that no one is hiring. To combat this, establish a stable of clients before quitting your day job.

Sometimes, you’ll work longer hours: There will be times when maintaining a steady flow of work and income means working outside of your normal working hours — you may find yourself working longer hours than when you had a regular full-time job.

It can take a while to get your first gig: Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t land a freelance gig immediately. In general, it takes anywhere from three months to a year to build connections and acquire a steady roster of clients. But once you reach that point, you’ll see your career as a freelancer take off.

Mike Berner and Sammi Caramela contributed to this article.

Creating A Single Column Layout For Toolbox

Introduction to GIMP Toolbox

In this article, we are going to learn about toolbox in GIMP. Toolbox is where all the operations which you need to perform on images and objects is located which is by default and the top left corner of the GIMP window. GIMP gives us many customization options of how you want to move and positions the toolbox to suit your needs. Apart from that Toolbox also has various grouping options so that you can make a group of tools that you use frequently and set the order of your tools according to your use. Not only that, even the icon theme can be changed if you want a more retro look or modern look.

Step 1: Let us first customize the toolbox if you do not like the original settings. We are aiming to align the tools on the left side like in other applications like photoshop. First, drag the tool option until it appears like a floating window.

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Step 2: Now drag the tool options title inside the window until a blue line appears to the right besides the other panels. Now it should be docked to the right side.

Step 3: Similarly, we can drag all the other panels from the left to right as shown.

Step 4: We will get a structure similar to shown below with tool options and other panels.

Step 5: Now we can drag the corners of three dots inside until we get all the tools in a straight line and now we have a single column toolbox. Now by default when you hover your mouse on any of the tool groups it will show all the tools.

Step 7: Go to the toolbox section to customize it.

Step 8: First turn off show active groups which will remove grouping and show all the tools sequentially.

Step 9: You can drag the three dots again if you cannot see all the tools in the toolbox which will show it in the double column.

Step 12: Next you can change the theme of the icons which will affect the toolbox items. Currently, by default, it is set to symbolic but you can change to color or legacy.

Step 13: As we can see the color theme gives color to all the icons.

Step 14: If you are using something like symbolic inverted then you want to use a light theme for GIMP which will contrast with the icons nicely.

Step 15: Then there are options at the bottom of how large you want the size of your icons which can be small, medium, large, huge or you can set it according to the resolution of the monitor or let the theme set the size of the icons.

Step 16: If you want to reset the entire window positions to the original values then go to Windows management and reset saved window positions to default values. Your window will be rest when you restart GIMP.

Step 17: Now we will look at some basic tools in the toolbox. Let’s start with the move tool. Using this tool, we can move any selected layer. Apart from that, there are other options to move a selection or move path.

Step 18: Using the alignment tool we can align various layers relatively to the first item, image, selection, etc.

Step 19: We have aligned centers of the target as shown

Step 20: Using the ellipse select tool you can make a circular selection with feather edges and other options to tweak the selection.

Step 25: Next is the crop tool which can be used to crop a certain part of the image which just redefines the edge of the document. If you want you can crop for just the current layer and also delete cropped pixels.


In this article, we have learned about the toolbox in GIMP. First, we went into customizing its location then we have created a single column layout for our entire toolbox just like in other photo editing applications. Then we have seen the ordering and other preferences for the toolbox along with themes and wrapped up with some use of basic tools.

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Evolution Of Human Foot Arches Put The Necessary Pep In Our Upright Steps

Efficiently standing up and walking and running on two feet  stands out among the traits that separates Homo sapiens from great apes—and we can owe a lot of that to a raised medial arch. While crucial, the mechanics behind bipedal walking are still a bit of an evolutionary mystery.  A study published May 30 in the journal Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology found that helpful and spring-like arches may have evolved for the purpose of helping us walk on two feet.

[Related: Foraging in trees might have pushed human ancestors to walk on two feet.]

The team found that the recoil of a flexible arch repositions in the ankle upright for more efficient walking and is particularly effective for running. 

“We thought originally that the spring-like arch helped to lift the body into the next step,” study co-author and University of Wisconsin-Madison biomechanical engineer Lauren Welte said in a statement. “It turns out that instead, the spring-like arch recoils to help the ankle lift the body.”

The raised arch in the center of the human foot is believed to give hominins more leverage while walking upright. When arch motion is restricted, like it could be in those with more flat feet, running demands more energy from the body. Arch recoil could potentially make our species more efficient by propelling the body’s center of mass forward, essentially making up for the mechanical work that the muscles would have to do otherwise.

In this new study, the team selected seven participants with varying arch mobility and filmed their walking and running patterns with high-speed x-ray motion capture cameras. The team measured the height of each participant’s arch and took CT scans of their right feet. They also created rigid models that were compared to the measured motion of the bones in the foot. Scientists then measured which joints added the most to arch recoil and the contribution of arch recoil to center of mass and ankle propulsion.

Surprisingly, they found that a rigid arch without recoil caused the foot to prematurely leave the ground, likely decreasing the efficiency of the calf muscle. A rigid arch also leaned the ankle bones too far forward. A forward lean looks more like the posture of walking chimpanzees instead of the straight upright stance of a human gait.

A flexible arch helped reposition the ankle upright, allowing the leg to push off the ground more effectively. This effect is greater while running, suggesting that a flexible arch for more efficient running may have been a desired evolutionary trait.

The team also found that a joint between two bones in the medial arch–the navicular and the medial cuneiform–is crucial to flexibility. Investigating the changes in this joint over time could help scientists track the development of bipedalism in our own fossil record. 

[Related: The Monty Python ‘silly walk’ could replace your gym workout.]

“The mobility of our feet seems to allow us to walk and run upright instead of either crouching forward or pushing off into the next step too soon,” study co-author and Queen’s University mechanical and materials engineer Michael Rainbow said in a statement.

These findings and understanding more about arch flexibility could help people who have rigid arches due to illness or injury. Their hypothesis still needs more testing, but could help solve a plethora of modern-day foot dilemmas. 

“Our work suggests that allowing the arch to move during propulsion makes movement more efficient,” said Welte. “If we restrict arch motion, it’s likely that there are corresponding changes in how the other joints function.”

Creating A Perfect Marketing Agency Proposal

5 essential sections for a great agency proposal template

First things first: a proposal isn’t a pitch. A proposal is usually used as the first stage of a wider pitch process to filter down a field of agencies. I’m focusing here on the long form written proposal.

As an aside, alarm bells should be ringing if the prospect or client only wants a written proposal sending through with no opportunity for you to meet or at least ask questions. So I’ll assume you have requested and secured a meeting or some form of Q&A before you start creating your proposal. That way you have all the facts you need to answer the request and you’ve also started building a relationship.

‘Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is.’  Zig Ziglar

There’ll be times when your proposal isn’t written in a competitive context:

you may be the incumbent and have a great client relationship and your client will come to you and ask you to propose new work based on changes to their business / communications requirements.

you may have an eye on organic growth and will proactively approach them.

In both these scenarios, you’ll still need work hard to create a compelling proposal.

The proposal is dead, long live the proposal

There is a perennial discussion in agency world about the pros and cons of the pitch and RFP (Request For Proposal) new business model.

What you want is for the prospect to notice and engage directly with you based on your visible brand profile, reputation, expertise and effectiveness.

Without feeling the need to look further afield. That should shine through from all that you write or create to tell your story. That’s a simplistic overview of the benefits of having a Content Marketing strategy of course. But this route should get you to briefing stage without having to undertake a 3, 5 or 10 way cage fight with other agencies first.

This new model of  business acquisition is still evolving though. I’m in agreement with the mission of (for example) Win Without Pitching but the truth is that you are still going to be asked to complete RFPs and to attend pitches.

So if you have decided to go for it (having qualified the opportunity first!) you need to do all you can to make your response stand out from all the others.

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Our toolkit includes more than 10 templates to help improve agency proposals

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So, what makes a great proposal?

There are five areas to focus on to deliver a great proposal:

1. The scorecard

2. Insight

3. Structure

4. Proposition

5. Presentation

1.  Scorecard

Refer to any scoring criteria / scorecard provided by the client first. Assess all their criteria and ensure you give as much information as possible to get full marks in each area.

A scorecard should make it clear what particular sector (or technology or media etc.) experience the client has deemed as either essential /mandatory or just ‘desirable’. You should be finding that information out sooner rather than later and before you start to brief your various teams!

If you think there’s a barrier to your involvement based on the above, have a conversation with the client team to clarify. Then decline, proceed or tailor your response (e.g by bringing in a specialist partner to cover any inhouse gaps you may have) as appropriate.

2.  Insight

Focus on gaining insights into the client’s stated issues as soon as possible:

Has the RFP / brief given you a clear understanding of what business problems or opportunities you are being asked to address?

Is this enough of a catalyst for you to generate effective insight into the problem and resultant solution/s?

If not, then now is the time to ask for some more information.

Then focus on gaining insights into the people who will be sweating those issues client-side:

Have you got a good idea of the person or persons you’ll be creating the proposal for?

Or indeed a worked-up buyer persona/s?

The contact who sent you the RFP isn’t necessarily the person/s who’ll be reading and scoring your response. Get the right audience fixed in your mind and that will shape what you write. You’ll then naturally flex the terminology and tone of voice you use.

Focus on particular aspects of your potential service / solution that will resonate most with them. There may be more than one decision maker and in different parts of the business (Marketing Director, Head of Content, Procurement or Finance Director etc) but being clear who they are and being focused on them will help.

Make sure you have a firm insight into both these areas before you start to shape the rest of the proposal.

3. Structure

You should look to break down a proposal as below, unless the client (within the RFP) has explicitly requested a specific content order.

Introduction / Exec Summary

Scope of Work (your proposed services, based on initial discovery work, which you should spell out along with any assumptions. Detail how you will make a difference to the client business via the services / creative / project you are proposing).

Initial creative work – if a mandatory part of the RFP.


ROI calculations (if possible)

Timings / Schedule

T&Cs / Caveats

Next Steps (prompt the client if they haven’t explained what will happen next in the process – suggest a workshop to kick start the project, test any assumptions you have made etc)


1. Further ‘About Us’ details including an RFP mandatory information that has been requested.

2. Details of your initial discovery work, if applicable.

3. Relevant summary case studies that illustrate part of your proposals

The client selection team could be seeing a lot of proposals so make your submission easy to digest with a clear structure. This will include a contents page, defined sections, logical headings and branded headers and footers.

And you may have started with a great template within the agency. But these often morph as different people add sections, change layouts etc and there may well be a few (not so coherent) versions now. Declare an amnesty and make sure you have just one properly structured template in use. And you’ll stop rogue formats in the future if you have a clear ‘editorial board’ for all new business opportunities (see later).

It’s not about you.

You should look at putting much of the long hand mandatory / functional information about yourself to the back of the document. And focus up front on how you can help the client with their business.

Key Takeaways for a RFP

To expand on some of the areas mentioned in the structure above:

1. Mandatory Information

Follow the letter of the RFP and provide all the trading, legal, team and operational information the client has asked for. You may well lose points or be disqualified if you don’t.

Set up a checklist when you first get the RFP and nominate people in your team to be responsible for providing specific information. Make sure it’s all in there in the final proposal.

2. Executive summary

Once you have created the document write an executive summary, with a few proposals to read,  you want yours to be as compelling and easy to remember as possible.

3. Describing your processes

It’s about the results you achieve for clients not how ‘unique’ your processes are. Many agency processes are the same for the good reason that they work and the client will have seen a lot – so don’t take up several pages explaining yours. Summarise them if possible in one easy to understand flow chart or infographic.

4. Discovery and due diligence

Show that you understand the brief and the inherent challenges or opportunities detailed within it. Detail the insights you have gained to date and how you arrived at them. This demonstrates you have already been ‘putting the work in’ to get great results for the client.

If you are not sure how to run a discovery processes then take a look at our guide :

It may sound obvious but don’t create the whole strategy before you have been appointed. It makes no sense for either party for you to have a finalised strategy without any collaborative client sessions.

5. Value Proposition

You should be really clear what it is about working with you as a partner that will benefit the client. What’s your agency value proposition? Your differentiator in a crowded market?

Has your proposition been clearly defined (not obscured by buzz words) in simple, compelling language? If you are a sector specialist be clear in explaining that and how it tangibly benefits clients. If you have built the agency around a co-creation model explain the cost to market benefits of working with you on that basis.

Give your proposition room to breathe within the document and detail any detailed substantiation of that (through short case studies and existing client quotes / testimonials) on separate pages.

If you haven’t yet created an agency value proposition here are a couple of great explanations:

Art of creating a magnetic value proposition

6. Presentation

First impressions really do count and a well-researched solution will lose credibility if it is badly explained, full of typos and uses dense language.

Use the experts in your agency – designers, copywriters, copy proofers – to make a difference. Have them craft key sections and check everything off – quality is all.

Word or Powerpoint doesn’t have to mean dull, one of your designers can look at callouts for key points etc.

Written presentation aside, try to present your proposals in person – unless it’s a strict sealed submission situation (e.g public sector).

7. Proposal technology platforms

And finally, a quick word on platforms that may help you produce great proposals. There are a number in the marketplace with a mix of functionality, some weighted more towards estimate quote creation and some that integrate into both CRM and billing platforms. The G2Crowd site has reviews from business users. One of those platforms, Quoteroller also has a useful blog related to selling, proposal creation and pitching.

7 Tools For Building A Happy Community

Establishing an online community for your business takes a lot of hard work. Between creating killer content and sharing that content with your audience, you already have a full plate. Add in engaging your audience on a daily basis and you’re spread pretty thin.

So, why would you want to take on another responsibility?

Simply put: Because you just have to. If you want to keep your online community engaged and coming back for more, then you have to make sure you’re keeping your members happy and content. While that may sound like a massive undertaking, there are plenty of tools available to help you construct a happy community for your customers and members.

With that in mind, here are seven recommended tools for building a happy community.

If you have an online business, chances are you’re already using Google Analytics. But, did you know this tool can also be extremely beneficial in building a happy community? Of course, if you’ve tinkered around with Google Analytics in the past, then this shouldn’t exactly be breaking news. But for newcomers, it’s a great fact to be aware of.

With Analytics, you have access to vital information regarding your audience such as where they come from, which social media platforms they spend time on and how engaged they are with your brand. With this knowledge, you can discover what content your audience is looking for and where to share it with them. That seems like a great place to start building an awesome community to me.

Groupsite claims they are where “social networking and collaboration meet.” And, when you check out the amount of features this tool offers, it’s pretty easy to believe that statement.

Formerly known as CollectiveX, Groupsite focuses on helping online communities interact with each other through group blogs and discussion forums. But, it’s the additional features that make Groupsite such a powerful tool. Through Groupsite, you can share and organize events by using Group Calendars, share files – such as images and videos – and create/manage the profiles of community members.

Groupsite offers a 30-day free trial. After that, you’ll have to select the plan that best fits your needs beginning at $30 per month.

If you really want to create a happy community, then you need to listen to what your members are saying. But, how can you possibly to listen to every suggestion, complaint, or sign of gratitude?

A tool like Olark has made communication between you and your community a breeze by allowing members to either chat with you live or send an email after hours. What’s really cool about Olark, however, is that it integrates with Salesforce, Highrise, and Zendesk so that you can keep every conversation on file. Olark also works with Google Analytics, so you’ll have access to reports as well.

After a free trial, you’ll have to select either the $15, $44, $116, or $219 monthly plan.

If you want to design your own online community, then look no further with chúng tôi This tool delivers everything your online community deserves. This includes blogs, forums, media clips, chat rooms, private messaging, and customer support. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a calendar for event planning, a survey tool, and integration with the Google Maps and the most popular social media platforms.

Of course, you’re going to have to pay if you want to make use of this amazing tool. Plans run between $399 and $999 per month.

Sometimes you need to get your community members out from behind their computer screens and have them interact in person. But, that can be a daunting and exhaustive task, unless you’re using a tool like Splash.

Splash makes planning an event a snap since you can use the tool to create an event site, send out invites via email, sell tickets, and collect RSVP’s. Other awesome features include mobile-in, streaming of the event, and a post-event analytics report that will let you know how your event went. Finally, Splash helps you create user profiles and create a contact list for future events.

Similar to Olark, Intercom is a tool that helps you listen to your customers. Unlike Olark, however, Intercom helps you discover and observe your influential customers so that you can ask for their feedback or welcome them to your community personally. In short, if you want to make your community happy, then start out by finding out what the influencers and most loyal customers in your industry are saying about you and then engage them.

You can try Intercom free for 14 days, but will have to pay for after that. The price is determined by your needs.

If you’re using WordPress for your blog, then you absolutely need to install this plugin. With BuddyPress you can convert your WordPress blog into your very own social network that will provide you with profiles of members, the creation of micro-communities, private messaging, and the chance to meet new friends based on interests.

This plugin is a great option if you want feedback on a product or just want to provide an area for your customers to gather online.

But, what if you’re using a platform other than WordPress? Then chances are that you’re using a CMS like Joomla. If that’s the case, check out JomSocial, which is similar to BuddyPress.

There you have it. These are everything I’ve used to create a very strong online community. All of these tools should help you create a happy community that keeps coming back.

Images created by author for Search Engine Journal.

Author note: I have no affiliation with any of these tools but have tried and love all of them!

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