How To Add Free Financial Calculators to Your Accounting Website
One of the most useful tools on a CPA or Accounting Website are Interactive Financial Calculators. A lot of companies are making a lot of money selling these tools, but a few companies are actually giving them away if you know where to look. All you need to do is modify and add a few lines of simple code you can save thousands of dollars a year.
Why Does My Accounting Website Need Interactive Financial Calculators?
There are a lot of good reasons to add Financial Calculators to your site, but three in particular stand out:
- Financial Calculators show your prospects and clients alike that you're on the cutting edge of technology.
- Financial Calculators save you unbillable hours on the phone. Questions like "What kind of tax return can I expect this year?" or "How much of my check will I lose to payroll taxes?" can easily be answered online in the form of a financial calculator.
- Finally, and most importantly, Financial Calculators are a powerful Networking Tool. This is the most potent and under-appreciated of the uses of Interactive Financial Calculators. When you're talking with new prospects financial calculators can act as a powerful bridge between you. As Accountants we meet prospects every day that we can help. Perhaps we met someone who's about to make a major purchase, or maybe they are saving for their kids' college education, perhaps they're just worried about their retirement... all these people are potential prospects. Even if they already have an accountant they're happy with we can always slip our foot in the door. We can hand them their business card and say "Oh... By the way... I have a bunch of calculators on my website that will help you with buying that house. Hop on and run some numbers before you talk with your realtor". In a year, or three, or five, when the prospect's accountant moves away, or retires, or takes a job with a larger firm you're much more likely to stand out as the logical replacement and you really won't have had to actually do anything to help them.
Where Can I Get Them?
Finding them is definitely the tricky part. A lot of companies give them away, but they don't spend a lot of money advertising that they're doing it. I'll give you a link to my favorite free calculators in the example below but if you Google "Free Interactive Financial Calculators" and poke through the results for a while you'll find a bunch of good sources.
How Do I Actually Add Them to My Website?
At this point we need to fiddle around with some programming. Don't run screaming! It's not that tricky.
We won't be writing any code from scratch, all we need to do is modify some existing code. We'll be using a language called HTML. This is the basic programming language used in websites so this code is compatible with pretty much any website.
The easiest way to show you how to generate the HTML code is to walk you through the process. First, find some free calculators. For this example I'll use these.
This company actually sells CPA websites and these calculators are part of a larger website/web tools package they offer for fifty dollars a month, but they have just the calculators posted separately if they're all you want. This is my personal favorite source of calcs because the selection is particularly well thought out.
Here's all you need to do to include one of them on your accounting website.
Modify and add this strip of html code to your website wherever you want the calculator to appear:
<ahref="XX-URL-of-Calculator-XX" target="_blank">Click Here To Open Calculator</a>.
To modify this code replace XX-URL-of-Calculator-XX (highlighted in bold) with the URL of the calculator you want the link to go to (make sure you leave the quotes in or it won't work). Optionally you can change "Click Here to Open Calculator" (highlighted in italics) to something more descriptive (No quotation marks are needed here).
Seriously... Don't Panic! I'm not done explaining yet. The next question you have is probably...
What the heck is a URL?
The term "URL" is Geek Speak. We pronounce it like the name "Earl". It means "Universal Resource Locator" but, in plain English, it's really just a full web address. Technically the only difference between a web address and an URL is the prefix, usually "http://". For example, the web address for Google is "www.google.com", but the URL is "http://www.google.com". The easiest way to find an URL for a particular page is to simply bring it up in your Internet Explorer browser and look in the "Address" window.
Now... Let's Do One Together
I want to add the Mortgage Payoff Calculator on my site.
First I navigate to my free calculator. For example I'm going to use my favorite free calcs page at:
Next I'm going to navigate to the calculator itself by click on the "Mortgage Payoff Calculator" link. Once the calculator is open I'm going to look in the address window of my browser. It says:
So I modify my code.
<ahref="http://www.cpasitesolutions.com/content/calcs/MortgagePayoff.html" target="_blank">Click Here to open the Mortgage Payoff Calculator</a>
Now you'll be doing this in plain text, so you can't use boldface or italics. I just used them here to highlight the parts of the code I changed.
Here's the final result:
Click Here to open the Mortgage Payoff Calculator
Just add this strip of code to your website in raw code or by editor (most websites have an html editing feature) and you have an interactive calculator on your site for FREE!