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Technology is No Longer a Barrier to Online Business A Guide to Starting a Website Building Business without Tech Skills

Tom Litchfield 2010


Technology is No Longer a Barrier to Online Business A Guide to Starting a Website Building Business without Tech Skills By Tom Litchfield Connect with Tom at

Facebook: http://fb.tomdotcom.us Twitter: http://twitter.com/tomlitchfield

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Table of Contents Section 1: Introduction       

About This Guide Realistic Expectations Is This the Right Business for You? Core Skills Technical Skills The Big Picture My Story

Section 2: Website Basics   

A Word about the Term “Web Design” The Anatomy of a Website Common Website Terms and Definitions

Section 3: Website Construction      

An Outline of Professional Website Construction Enter Content Management Systems (CMS) Differences Between a CMS and a “Site Builder” Choosing a CMS Platform for a Website Business Website Essentials Website Design Basics

Section 4: The Process of Creating and Delivering a New Website  

From Pitch to Live Website The Process of Working on an Existing Website

Section 5: Business Model   

The Business Model How Much to Charge? Company or Independent Contractor?

Section 6: Your Target Market: Who Needs Your Services?   

Every Business Needs a Website Getting Started Businesses That Have a Website

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Section 7: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services    

The Basics Links Keywords Meta Tags

Section 8: Security Services  

The Achilles ‟ Heel of Open Source CMS Have a Plan

Section 9: Marketing Your Business      

Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Tips on Keeping an Edge Over the Competition Presenting Yourself to Clients Marketing Fundamentals Internet Marketing Direct Mail

Section 10: Get Your Client Some Quick Sales  

Excuses to Email Pay-per-Click Marketing

Section 11: Client Issues   

Mistakes Site Tweaks Web Hosting Issues

Section 12: The Next Level    

Repeat Business and Cross Selling Optimize Your Operations How Much Money Are You Really Making? Creating Money Generating Business Systems

Conclusion Appendix  

Resources Website Service Package Examples

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Disclaimer All rights reserved worldwide. The information in this document is protected by one or more worldwide copyright treaties and no part of this document may be reproduced, redistributed, retransmitted, hosted or displayed publicly without express written permission of TechieDIY.com or the author. This guide is for informational purposes and not intended to provide exact instruction. The entire contents are the opinions expressed by the author that have been gathered over years of practical experience. The author and publisher disclaim any liability for personal loss caused by the use of, misuse of, or inability to use any information contained within this publication. The reader assumes full responsibility for any and all results obtained by using this information. Results may vary with the use of the information in this guide. The publisher and the author do not make any promises or guarantees regarding any income that may be generated by using the information in this guide. Other than TechieDIY.com, websites linked from this document are not owned by the publisher or author, and are not responsible for the operation or content of each web site, nor promise to support any products or services these websites provide. All names of people, trademarks, service marks, company names and brand names are property of their respective owners and are used in editorial commentary as permitted by U.S. law.

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Section 1: Introduction Today is a great day to create a new website. Why? Every day it gets a little easier for us to create websites. Every day better information is available to advise us on what works. Every day there are more people willing to help us. “Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller‟s gave us that valuable advice in the closing scene of “Ferris Bueller's Day Off”. Well, the Internet moves much faster than life, and many are missing it. Many businesses are trying to make it on the web with outdated websites. Even some professionals who build websites for a living are clinging to old ideas and concepts. Every day they slowly fall further behind. This presents a huge opportunity for us. The best part is that taking advantage of new web technology today requires less technical skill than it took yesterday. By being alert you can leverage the changes taking place all around us to your business advantage.

About This Guide This guide describes how to start and run a website creation business by leveraging tools and services found online that do the technical heavy lifting for you. The resources I suggest will allow you to focus on developing your business and understand your client‟s needs, instead of becoming burdened with day-to-day technical issues. You will learn where to best focus your time in building websites. Since my background has been in building websites for small and medium sized businesses, I share mostly from this perspective. But the principals and suggestions, especially in the web design and marketing sections, may apply to any business. The intention of this book is to introduce you to some basic Internet business principals and to give you a glimpse into small business website consulting. If you decide you want to pursue creating websites and doing business online I provide suggested resources for further study. We have better information now than we had in the past regarding what makes a successful website. Consulting and marketing groups have had over a decade now to test and collect solid data in order to determine what makes an effective website. Instead of relying on intuition, we can study this data and use it to guide our decision making when planning web sites for clients or in marketing our own services.

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The Resources link at the end of this book has links to some of the best Internet and website analyses we have available to us. Anyone without any programming skills can be successful in this business. This is an excellent and legitimate business opportunity that can lead to a very nice income. I have been doing this for many years and it takes very little to get started. The work can be done from home most of the time and you can set your own hours, or degree of effort. It can be a lot of fun too! This guide details a basic model for running a website building business by one person with limited technical skills. You may choose to follow the model I have developed step-by-step, or use the suggestions as a guide to develop your own model. My goal is that, by the end of this guide, you will be ready to take your first steps in establishing your new business. I am starting by making the assumption that, those of you who are reading this book have very little experience or knowledge regarding most of the topics covered. I‟ve tried to include some basic explanations for some of the technical terms. Depending on your current level of experience or knowledge, you may choose to skip some of the basic sections or paragraphs. I cover some technical details where appropriate, but the primary focus of this guide is building and running a business. There are plenty of other books and free tutorials available on the web that cover the technical particulars one might need help with. Based on my own observations in this field over the years, I felt there was a greater need for some guidance in the business mindset of professional Web Design and Web Development, rather than repeating the widely available technical details of these professions. Even if you are an experienced freelance web developer or designer living projectto-project, I believe there is valuable information here for you as well. Whenever discussing the topic of websites it's only natural to talk about site promotion and maximizing revenue potential, instead of only focusing on the task of site construction. The old myth “build it and they will come”, is just that -a myth. Yet many professional web developers and designers will build a website for a client and walk away only to do some periodic maintenance when requested. For the client having the website is only the beginning, how many are knowledgeable enough and well equipped to make their website a financial success? In my experience the number is 0. The fact is that many professional web designers and developers are not very good at running a business. Most are very talented at their craft; however, their clients are not getting the “biggest bang for the buck”. These professionals don‟t take an active interest in their client‟s business and don‟t provide much following up. They are not systematizing their own operations and that further compounds these issues. I have © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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spoken to countless business owners who are fed up with their designers and developers because they have moved on to other jobs and are now impossible to reach. Many web developers and designers believe the most money they‟ll make from a client is on a large project, like a new website, or adding an online store with payment gateway. Once the big project is over, the developer or designer has moved on to dedicate their time to the next big payday. I was once one of these web developers who did not understand how to run a business and truly serve my client‟s needs. Because I was so busy and overwhelmed with projects, I didn‟t take care of my customers and some ended up leaving. I had no real plan in place for repeat business, I was working very hard but the reward was low, and I found I needed to learn how to properly run a business. My mission was to find the best and most practical business information, apply what I learned, repeat what worked best, and stop doing things that didn‟t work. Just by following just a few recommend principals in this guide you can maximize your earning potential and make your job easier at the same time. You'll learn that repeat sales to an existing clients plays a vital role in your business model, and that by not offering existing clients products and services they need to succeed on the Internet you are really doing them a disservice. This guide is just the beginning of the business and marketing mindset. It‟s an ongoing learning process involving continual improvement to running your business. Just about every week I learn something new that can improve my business or a client‟s business.

Realistic Expectations This guide is NOT about getting rich overnight. To build any real and sustainable business takes commitment and work. Over time as you systematize your business you can choose how much hands on “work” you want to do. In the beginning you have to expect to put in some hard work. Most of your work will be performed at home, but this guide is NOT about working at home 100% of the time. To establish your business using the model I describe, it will be much easier if you meet with some clients in person. Working 100% from home can be an achievable goal, and I encourage you to shoot for that after you‟ve established a sustainable business. This guide is about launching a real business by the path of least resistance, while gaining accelerated experience in business knowledge and real-world problem solving. Talking to business owners is important, if not critical, to understanding the challenges and © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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issues they are faced with when it comes to doing business online. You‟ll discover what matters most to business owners, why they are having trouble finding solutions to common problems, and other valuable market knowledge you may not find on the web. Meeting in person is going to bring you some immediate business and be a great learning experience you can take with you on the web or anywhere else. How much you want to work each day, each week, is up to you. This is a business that can be run part-time or full-time. You should expect to put in more time during the “startup” phase of your business while you are learning the ropes. Over time as you streamline tasks you'll have more flexibility in how you schedule your work time.

Is This the Right Business for You? It is a great time to be in the business of creating new websites or rebuilding outdated sites. Never before has it been so easy for a one person to create great looking websites that can be configured and customized to one‟s own personal preference. Marketed to the masses and maintained from anywhere in the world all without having to write a single line of HTML code. Now is the time to launch a website creation business as more and more people are waking up to the fact that top quality, professional websites can be completed in days -not months for a fraction of the cost required a few years ago. There‟s no need to go through the hundreds of advantages of being your own boss. Deciding to have my own business was one of the best decisions I ever made. There was a time when I was wasting years of my life stuck in rush hour traffic every day, having little or no control over my income, struggling with illogical company politics, and fast food lunches. All for the “security” of being trapped in an office building all day. I hated those things and said goodbye to them forever. It was definitely the right choice for me and I‟ve never looked back. Is it the right choice for you? I can only suggest you try it. Yes there is competition but is outweighed by the opportunities available; otherwise, I would not have written this guide. I sincerely believe that if you follow just some of my tips and suggestions you will have the edge on most competitors by a wide margin. This business is NOT for a person who:   

Does not like to learn. Does not take action. Is solely motivated by money.

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This business IS for a person who:   

Craves knowledge. Feels rewarded after helping others. Embraces new and improved ways of doing things.

You’re never alone. Remember, help is only a click away on the Internet. At the end of this guide there are links to resources that can support your website creation business. If you feel you need personal coaching or mentoring to help you get started, I‟ve included details about my own website that offer tutorials, live support and products that will allow you to provide your client with the best value for their money.

Core Skills No matter the level of your experience with websites, two important keys to success for you to develop are good listening and problem solving skills. Technical expertise can be effectively outsourced, although you would be better served to try to understand some technical aspects of this business in the beginning. Having these two basic skills will serve you well in fulfilling your client‟s needs. Listening Establishing a relationship with a client is goal number one. The benefits of being a good listener are many. Listening is a simple act that goes a long way toward forging strong relationships with clients. Clients appreciate a good listener, someone who can relate to them and empathize with them. Listen to find out where your client is positioned in their market and where they want to go. This is your opportunity to help them get there. Many times a client‟s choice of who to work with comes down to the person that they feel the most comfortable talking to. That relationship you will have established can pay off for years in repeat business and referrals from your client‟s friends and business associates. Listening is also vital to your effectiveness in resolving problems. It takes careful listening to extract and identify the underlying problems you will be asked to solve. When listening to clients, conversations often get sidetracked and blurred by emotion or lack of understanding. A sharp ear will filter out the “noise” and hear the key issues. Listening has one more very important benefit vital to your business. When you listen to prospects and clients, the market is talking to you. If you listen closely, you find out what people want. This information is pure gold. Even if you don‟t have © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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what they want, you can still profit from this by getting it for them. You can turn these sales lessons into new services and products you may offer to others. Many businesses hide behind websites and email, and talk at their client, never really talking with their clients. These businesses are limiting their profit potential and leaving the door open to someone like you to get your foot in. Be a great listener. Problem Solving A problem solver is an investigator and resourceful researcher. It starts by identifying the root problem. Filtering out superfluous information and asking the right questions leads to the absolute core problem. Once the true problem has been uncovered an appropriate solution can be found and action taken to solve the problem. Often you‟ll find that once the problem is properly understood, the problem is not as big as first thought, and the solution easier than expected. It was the lack of understanding of the problem and emotions that made the problem seem bigger than it really was. When you have the ability to solve your client‟s problems you will earn your client‟s respect and gain the reputation as a person who delivers. You will find that, though each client is different, many have the same problems. Over time as you solve the same problem for different clients, you become the expert in that area, and can take advantage of that in marketing your services. Be aware of problem patterns with your clients and in your own business and sell the solution to new clients. Keep a business journal or notebook handy for taking notes when meeting with clients and jotting down time spent on business tasks. Periodically go through your journal and circle or highlight client challenges and problems. Note the solution used in each situation. Use this priceless information in your marketing materials, such as website copy, ads, and brochures. Appeal to those looking for solutions to problems you have proven experience with.

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Technical Skills Having a technical background is definitely not necessary to get started in this business; however, you should have some basic knowledge on how websites work and an understanding of some Internet terminology. I cover some of these items, such as HTML basics, in this guide. The business model I use and describe in this guide relies on tools and services provided by software companies and web development communities. Becoming comfortable with working with these tools is a matter of regular use. Some tools are very straightforward, allowing you to get up to speed quickly, while others are more sophisticated and may require that you view tutorials or study documentation.

The Big Picture If you‟re new to building websites and Internet marketing, running a business in this industry will accelerate your understanding of how business and the Internet work together. Your eyes will be opened to hundreds of online opportunities and possibilities for you and your clients. Plus, with immediate money coming in you can “learn on the job” without having to live like a starving student. You can use the techniques from this book to create and market new revenue generating websites for yourself, and decide not to take on clients. Or, stay with the services business model and continue to grow and shape it into a real player in the market. Turn your business into a money making system that runs on auto-pilot, then start a new venture. You‟re about to enter a new world of commercial possibilities. Tip: Before you run after that shiny new business opportunity, make sure your business has reached some state of stability that allows you to make time for a new venture. If you try to build 2 or 3 business at the same time it‟s likely that none of your businesses will succeed. You‟ll be left physically burned out and broke. Once you are underway and your business is bringing in some revenue, use some of the techniques in this book to systematize how your business operates. This will allow you to grow your business to new heights, and free up your time for business development or new ventures.

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My Story Iâ€&#x;ve run a successful freelancing business for creating websites (commonly known as Web Design or Web Development) for small and medium sized businesses since 2003. Before this I worked in various corporate IT departments, mostly as a database developer. Years ago when I started in this business, I relied heavily on my skills as a programmer and worked with graphic artists to build websites. Today, the landscape of website building has changed. Now we have services and tools available that add features and value to websites at very little or no cost. These days, instead of relying on my coding skills, I take advantage of the vast resources the Internet provides and can build better websites with more features in less time at less cost to my clients. The freedom from having to code everything, as I did in the past, allows me to focus on out-marketing the competition and developing my business. Today the same technical expertise I have is not required in order to create professional websites – everything you need is only a click away. Most of the case studies are from projects I have worked on. The people or companies mentioned are real, but I did change their names for privacy reasons. For illustrative purposes I have included one famous case study that I did not work on.

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Section 2: Website Basics In this section we cover a few basics that may help you understand some of the terms and explanations later in the guide. If you know what HTML and web hosting are you can probably skip this section.

A Word about the Term “Web Design” The term “Web Design” can have varying definitions depending on who you speak to or which website you visit. In the early days of the Internet, Web Design was performed by people who knew how to create web pages in HTML. Later on graphic artists were in demand to design visually stunning web sites. Today there may be different expectations from businesses looking to hire a web designer. In the context of this guide, building websites for businesses, Web Design is simply the process of presenting a website‟s content as clearly and effectively as possible to the targeted visitors, while steering and influencing interest toward the site's goals. Other design considerations center on establishing trust and branding. This guide isn‟t intended to help a client win any awards for style or coolness. It‟s about delivering the most effective business website for the client‟s money. Every client I have worked with measured the success of their website by its ability to generate revenue. The type of Web Design that uses clever artistry and animation to entertain and dazzle the eye has its place, especially in the movie and music industry. It comes down to understanding the target audience and what it takes to trigger the desired action. This type Web Design relies on expertise in graphic artistry and rich media tools. While certainly enjoyable and profitable work for the skilled graphic artist, this is a specialized niche and not completely covered here. However, I do believe anyone serving any niche may benefit from the business fundamentals we get into later on in the guide. Web Design for a site targeting a very narrow age group or other specific demographic, teens for example, may require special knowledge of the intended audience behavior and design skills. This level of Web Design is not discussed here. Web Design in this guide centers on design considerations for the typical businessto-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) websites appealing to broad group of Internet consumers.

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The Anatomy of a Website This guide is not necessarily about how to code HTML. However, I think it would be beneficial to explain some basics in how websites work and list a few definitions. If you already understand how websites work and what HTML is feel free to skip this section. A website is really just a document, or series of documents on a computer. Special software is used to make these documents available on the Internet and give these documents an address, such as www.Amazon.com or www.Ebay.com. When you visit these websites you are basically viewing documents and files from another computer. These documents or web pages often are coded with HTML. These are “tags” that tell the web browser how to arrange and format the text and pictures in the web page. Here‟s how these HTML tags work. I created a simple web page document saved as myfirstwebpage.html. When viewed through a web browser the page looks like this:

If you opened the web page file I created in a plain text editor, such as Notepad, the line of text visible in the screen shot above would read like this in HTML:

<p>If you’ve been looking for a new car then I’ve got some <b>exciting news</b> for you!</p>

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There will be some other HTML tags in the document, but here‟s how the HTML in the above single line example works:    

HTML tags have an open tag <tag> and a matching close tag </tag>. The <p> tag tells the web browser that this is a new paragraph -the “p” stands for “paragraph”. The closing </p> tag at the end of the text tells the web browser this is the end of this paragraph. Everything between <p> and </p> is one paragraph. The <b> tag means bold, notice the words between <b> and </b> appear bolded when viewed in the web browser.

You can view the HTML for any page on a website. Visit any website using your web browser, then view the page source. In Firefox go to View -> Page Source, in Internet Explorer 8 it‟s Page -> View Source. Want to make your first web page? In you are on Windows computer, open up Notepad (in Vista, click Start, and then type “notepad” in the Start Search box and hit enter), on a Mac use TextEdit.

1. Enter the following text: <html> <body> Hello world! </body> </html>

2. Click File -> Save As and save to your desktop as myfirstwebpage.html 3. Open your web browser. Click File -> Open File and navigate to the web page you saved on your desktop. Or, just go to your desktop, right-click on the file and select Open With -> Internet Explorer (or Firefox)

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You should see something like this:

If you did, then congratulations! You‟ve created your first web page. This was just a simple illustration of how HTML works; obviously formatting web pages with images, colors and so on is much more involved. No doubt you have noticed some additional tags in the last example; the <html> and <body> tags. These are Document tags, and are used to identify the sections of the document to the web browser. There are also Meta tags (not shown in the last example), that convey data about the document to the web browser. Meta tags do not display any information in the main web browser window. In the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) section, I explain the significance of 2 particular Meta tags, and how to use them to get more visitors to come to your website. To make the web page from the example publicly available on the Internet, you would need to place the file, myfirstwebpage.html, on a web host. Since a website is nothing more than some files in a computer folder, and is similar to any folder you may have on your computer. In order to publish a website to the Internet, that computer must be running web server software to “serve” the website files to the Internet. In other words, the web server software makes it possible for website files to be viewed on the Internet. A website can run on any computer with an Internet connection and web server software. The computer running a website is commonly called a web host. Your home desktop or notebook computer can be a web host; however, aside from testing a website before publishing it to the Internet, this is probably not a good idea. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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Websites are usually run on very powerful, specialized computers called servers that can handle thousands of simultaneous visitors to a website while delivering web pages to these visitors very quickly. If the web server shuts down for any reason, the websites running on that server will not be available on the Internet, so servers must be very robust and tuned to stay up and running 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Fortunately, there are literally thousands of companies that specialize in maintaining web servers keeping them optimized and running 24/7 for consumers. Anyone can sign up for a web host account and run a website without having to worry about the software and hardware details.

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Common Website Terms and Definitions  

    

   

  

Domain Name. A name that identifies or “points” to a website . IP Address. Internet Protocol Address. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots used to identify computers on the Internet (example: 192.168.101.210). Also known as IP4 (with the next generation called IP6). DNS. Domain Name System. An Internet protocol for connecting or translating a domain name to an IP address. The domain name system was created to give readable labels to IP addresses for convenience. Otherwise, without DNS we would have to type 66.135.217.243 in our browsers if we want to visit ebay.com. Nameserver. Software that uses the DNS protocol to connect a domain name to the predefined IP address. Web Host. The computer that “hosts” a website. In other words, the website‟s physical home. Web Server. The software and/or hardware that “serve”, or make websites available on the Internet. FTP. File Transfer Protocol. A protocol for transferring files between computers on the Internet. FTP Client. The software used to upload and download files between a desktop computer and a remote computer on the Internet, such as a web host. Filezilla is free to use FTP client software you may download and install on your computer to transfer files. URL. Uniform Resource Locator. The full address of a page on the web, i.e., http://www.google.com. Website “Root” Folder or Directory. Refers to the starting folder, or “home” folder for a website. HTML. HyperText Markup Language. Tags used in a web page document that web browsers interpret for display and formatting of web page content CSS. Cascading Style Sheets. Web formatting language used to define web page styles and layout. One of the advantages of CSS is that all web pages in a website may reference a single style sheet instead of having formatting definitions repeated in every single web page. Web Page Content. The published text, images, audio or other information contained in web pages intended for visitor use. Website Accessibility. Is a website design consideration for making content accessible to visitors with disabilities, such as limited vision. Web Script. Usually refers to a web programming language such as PHP, ASP, JSP, or JavaScript. These program commands are executed from the top of the code document to the bottom, like a script would be read. SSL. Secure Sockets Layer. This security protocol encrypts data transferred between a website visitor‟s browser and the web server the visitor is communicating with.

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Section 3: Website Construction An Outline of Professional Website Construction There are commonly 4 main areas of discipline that go into a typical website project. Below are these main specialty areas along with a very brief profile of the specialist you may find doing the work called for in each area: 

Web Design: The site layout, color scheme and typography of the website. In most cases this type of work is performed by a Web Designer. In many cases this is a person with artistic talent who has mastered graphical art and design software. Expertise may also include user interface design, web usability expertise, and additional skills that may overlap into other areas such as web content and web development. Website Content: The text, pictures, video, products, surveys, etc. that visitors read and use. Large companies employ copywriters and marketers to provide content on their web pages. Smaller businesses use DIY or the responsibility is shared among staff. Web Development: Using website technology to deliver interactive and dynamic web pages. This is a job for the Web Developer, a programmer proficient in web programming languages, web protocols, database, and web server technology. Skills may overlap into other areas such as web design and Search Engine Optimization (see below). Website Hosting: The hardware and software that deliver the web pages to the Internet. The bigger companies may have their own equipment with dedicated staff to manage their servers, or they may outsource to web hosting companies who manage everything for them. Smaller companies almost always use web hosting companies because it‟s very cost effective, i.e. no equipment to purchase and maintain. The person you might find managing servers for a large company or at a web hosting company is usually known as a Systems Administrator.

There is also the aspect of promoting the website and optimizing it for high placement in search engines. This work is typically undertaken after the website has been built, though it can be included in the initial development process. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The art of structuring information in content and in HTML Meta tags for better placement in search engine results. The web designer or web developer may have some SEO knowledge and there are also SEO specialists who dedicate their services fulltime to this type of work.

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Internet Marketing: The effort of promoting a website from other websites and from offline sources. Internet Marketers understand how to make money on the Internet, with or without a website and can be consulted for short-term campaigns or ongoing help. They can be experienced in various methods of directing the right type of traffic to websites including SEO. A website‟s main objective in the eyes of the Internet Marketer is to be a financial success.

Based on your personal interests, you may choose any one, or combination of areas to focus on for your business.

Enter Content Management Systems (CMS) Times have changed and so have building websites –a lot! When I first started freelancing, my work was primarily centered on web development that involved lots of programming. There was a period in my life when it was not uncommon for me to stay awake all night a few times a week writing web code. Thanks to the maturity of website frameworks and other advancements in technology there‟s no need write code 80 hours a week. In fact, these days I hardly do any coding at all. Some of my peers are still finding code intensive work for the most basic of website requirements. This tells me that not everyone has caught on to how much has changed and what is available to us today. Thanks to the seemingly endless resources of the Internet I have access to the tools I can use to provide services to my clients in each of the major areas for websites for a tiny fraction of the cost of a team of specialists. Here are the website specialty areas outlined again and how I use online resources to fill each area:      

Web Design: Commercial CMS theme providers. Website Content: The client with my assistance if needed. Web Development: CMS plug-in and component providers, occasionally freelance web developers. Web Hosting: Managed web hosting providers. SEO: Myself, with guidance from various SEO authorities and tools. Internet Marketing: Myself, with guidance from various Internet marketing authorities.

The rest of this guide details the strategy of providing services by aggregating online resources. The website frameworks that I use most in my business are Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress. These are known as website Content Management Systems or CMS. The big 3 CMS‟s are by far the most popular and best supported at the time of this © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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writing. There are many different CMS‟s and most are the same conceptually with main differences being in how each is administered. Because I cannot account for all CMS‟s, when I mention CMS specific tasks in this book I‟m referring to these 3 systems. I am not married to any CMS, nor pushing you to use any particular system, it so happens that the three I'm mentioning in this book work best for me in my business. I don't advertise myself as a Joomla or WordPress expert. I simply use these as tools to generate effective business websites. I am completely open to using other CMS‟s and perhaps in the future there may be new CMS‟s that dominate the market and I may decide to go with one of those. This book is not about CMS‟s, it‟s about providing valuable website services to clients. CMS‟s are merely the platform I use for delivering these services. The CMS platform streamlines my business process by removing redundant technical tasks from my day-to-day operations. I can build high quality websites in a matter of days instead of weeks or months. Most CMS‟s employ a template or theme system for the design and layout of the site. This means that you can change the look of your website at anytime by switching templates without affecting the content, text, pictures, or other items in your website. The presentation of the website, that is the layout and graphics, is managed separately from the content in a CMS website. There are hundreds of free templates available for download for the most popular CMS‟s. Or you can pay for a premium template that comes with many features. You can also design and create your own template with some coding. I tend to use premium templates for my clients. They typically have many options for easy customization, are coded to web standards, and some have accessibility features built in for site visitors with disabilities. Most also come with documentation on how to customize the template. Premium templates for Wordpress and Joomla can run anywhere from $30 and up, but you can find very good templates in the $50 range. I believe premium templates offer a tremendous value. A good $50 template might equate to $2000 or more in traditional web designer labor. I can usually find a great looking template loaded with features that fit my client‟s business needs. There are many templates that are specialized for a particular type of business such as real estate, travel, employment staffing, retail, auto, photography, music, architecture, software and more. There are a few people that are resistant to the term “template” because they fear their website will look like someone else‟s, or that visitors will notice they are using a template. This attitude may come from the reputation of poorly designed or coded templates freely available. Template or not, some websites do look like other © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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websites, not because they are using the same template, but because many websites share the same design elements. You need to be prepared to address any concern over the word “template”. If you are using a high quality commercial template from a reputable website, your client has nothing to be concerned about. These professionally designed and coded templates have numerous design options to tailor your client‟s site to their goals. The client also can have the final say in choosing a proposed template design. It would be extremely unlikely that a visitor would reject a website because they correctly or incorrectly thought the site is using a template. Most visitors do not pay close enough attention to website design to know if a site is using a template or not. Even though I‟m in this business and pay close attention to web design, most of the time I am not sure if a site is using a CMS template unless I check the source code. The templates I use give me control over layout, color schemes, navigation and typography. Taking advantage of premium templates is an excellent way to give your clients high quality, impressive looking websites for a great price. You can also build your own custom template for someone if they really want it. This would involve some programming and web design skills. This service, though profitable, involves a lot of client interaction and much iteration in order to match the client‟s vision. Keep in mind that this constant contact will eat up chunks of your time, and we are trying to streamline our business for maximum profit. Another advantage of CMS‟s worth mentioning is that most are database driven. If you want to add database functionality to your site you can do so with 3 rd party plugins. These can be installed without having to add a database or perform any database coding.

Differences Between a CMS and a “Site Builder” A “Site Builder” is a software tool that can generate web pages. You might think of Dreamweaver or FrontPage (now Expression Web) as “Site Builders”, but there is a different type of site builder that can create websites without as much effort as those tools. These site builders are much less technical and designed for people with limited website experience. These easier to use tools, start out with a template and have automated many of tasks that go into creating web pages. Usually, you have an interface and can “dragand-drop” images, change colors and add text without typing any HTML or other web code. Finished web page files must be uploaded to a web server or web hosting account where the “live” website runs.

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Site Builders range in prices, with the ones I‟ve seen averaging around $200 to $500. Online versions charge monthly per site. Specialized Site Builders are very popular in Internet marketing for their ability to quickly mass produce “mini-sites” or small, one or two page websites for selling products. I have not tested out every CMS or every Site Builder out there, but here are the main advantages most CMS‟s have over most Site Builders:       

Multiple simultaneous content authoring Separation of content and presentation (site design, layout) More design choices and layout flexibility Better adherence to coding standards, accessibility Broader website functionality via 3rd party components and plug-ins Ability to easily add database functionality Lower licensing fees (depending on what plug-ins you choose to install in your CMS –you may run a CMS completely free if you want)

If any of these are important to your client, then a CMS is probably right for them. For some people, like Internet marketers, the differences I listed don‟t really matter, that is why they tend to lean toward Site Builders. I don‟t believe using a Site Builder is any faster for creating a new website than creating a CMS site on a web host that has automated CMS installers. With a couple clicks in my web host administrator panel I can have a new site running in minutes.

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Case Study: Life Before CMS Years ago, when I began freelancing as a web developer, I “hand-coded” websites, that is, I typed commands in a programming language that would display web pages on a site. That was the norm back then. I enjoy programming so it was fun work. But along with coding by hand come testing cycles, bug fixes, documentation and more. This adds time to the labor of hand coding. After finishing a project I would get called to make simple changes, like editing one word on a web page, because the site could not be edited by people who didn‟t understand the programming language. The website content, the sales copy, the company history, pictures of the office, etc., was embedded with the web programming code. I had to be hunted down to make small edits, and clients were not happy if I could not get to them in a timely manner. Usually, after finishing up one project I was wrapped up in another demanding project, and at times it was challenging to make small requests a priority. Even though I like programming, I understood that hand coding was not an efficient way to build or run a website, and that there was a genuine need of a website framework that allowed non-programmers a way to edit the content of the site. In 2002 I heard of a website content management system called phpNuke. It was the first website framework I came across that separated the web content from the web coding. It allowed people to edit their site without having to interact with programming languages. Back then there were other tools that allowed non-programmers to edit websites. The most famous was Dreamweaver, but these tools only automated programming and still embedded content with code. PhpNuke was the first framework I found that truly made a separation between code and content –a concept that I personally believed in. After installing and playing around with a number of CMS‟s I found one that was stable enough for me to feel comfortable recommending to my clients. In 2004 I started building websites using the Mambo CMS. Clients loved being able to update their own websites, and not relying and paying a specialist to do simple tasks. I worked with traditional web designers on incorporating their designs and artwork into Mambo templates. I still did programming, but within the website framework of Mambo the focus swung from getting web pages built to enhancing web page functionality. I built web applications such as online product catalogs, image rotators, video delivery pages and others. Because CMS‟s have matured and support has grown these days, such functionality can be added to a website by downloading a module or component at little or no cost. Today, I rarely do any custom programming for websites anymore, thanks mostly to the widespread support for Joomla. It is one of the few CMS‟s I recommend to clients these days. Depending on the client requirement, chances are that there is a module or component available that meets 80% or better of what the client wanted. Most times these can be downloaded for a nominal fee or even for free. It may not be exactly 100% of what was asked for, but clients have a choice, I can develop an equivalent in about one or two weeks for an hourly rate, or they can use the free or low cost version which can be downloaded and installed in a few minutes. CMS‟s are great aren‟t they? Because of CMS‟s my services have evolved toward web marketing. Now I can give my clients a great value. Not only can I create a great looking website for them that they can edit themselves with plug-in enhancements and services, but I can also help them get visitors to make their website a financial success.

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Choosing a CMS Platform for a Website Your choice of CMS should depend upon the website‟s current requirements and projected future requirements. Current support and future support should also be factored. There are technical considerations in the web host you plan to run the CMS on. The web host must support the technical requirements of the CMS, but don‟t assume the CMS will run based on specs alone. You must set up a test or demo site on the web host in question to know for sure. Ironically, the open-source CMS‟s that are free to use, appear to have a much brighter future than commercial CMS‟s. CMS‟s like Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla each have an extremely large user base and very active communities that are growing exponentially. These platforms are going to be around for years, while a commercial CMS software company could go out of business and end support. Future requirements need to be considered when making your choice. Once I was contacted by a business that had a ZenCart website; a CMS for e-commerce shopping websites. ZenCart is great for quickly setting up an online store similar in design to an Adorama.com or a TigerDirect.com website. This business was using a ZenCart site for sales, and had set up a second website using Joomla for memberships. Now wanted to integrate the two sites and sync customer records with member records. They were looking at some custom coding and database work to bridge the two sites. However, all of this work could have been avoided if the original web developer had known or asked the client what their future plans were and selected Joomla as the platform. He/she could have installed an ecommerce Joomla component and would have had a completely integrated membership and e-commerce website. Once you have narrowed your CMS search down to the best match for your site‟s current and future requirements, you need to take a look at security issues. How quickly do the developers issue patches when security holes are found? Is there “best practices” documentation for the CMS that will allow you to further secure the site, and will you be able to implement these practices? It is very important to make sure the selected CMS runs properly on the web host. If the web host is one you are familiar with and you have successfully installed for the CMS you are considering, then you have little to worry about. If you are working with a new web host for the first time, then set up a test site before going too far in the project. Even though the web host may state they support the technology required to run the selected CMS, it may not function properly. I was once called to assist a web designer having trouble installing Joomla on a Windows web host. Readers who are familiar with Joomla know it requires PHP to © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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run, and Window‟s web server does not natively support it. Though this web host claimed to support PHP there were many limitations, thus Joomla would not run properly. Unfortunately, this web designer had already done all her development work in Joomla and could not start over on another platform. The project was delayed and the client was not pleased that they had to pay for and manage a second hosting account. Ease of use or administration is another factor to consider. If an important feature is to pass off content updates to non-technical persons, you may want to have them login into the administrator panel of a demo site of the CMS. See if they feel comfortable with it, or believe they will be able to learn how to use it after a few tries.

Business Website Essentials For a business that‟s never had a website before, they may look to you for guidance on what their website should contain. Here are the essential basic building blocks of a small business website that form a “starter” package of services that you may offer:        

Product/service information: Organized by major categories, i.e., dresses, shoes, etc. Case studies & white papers Purchase, returns, shipping policies (if applicable) About Us: Company history, message from owner/CEO. Contact Us: Contact info including directions and maps. FAQs : Frequently asked customer questions. Testimonials: Quotes from satisfied customers. (Extremely powerful for gaining customer trust.) Customer lists or portfolio: For business to business sites. Have a page or section of the site dedicated to case studies or examples of past work. Include company logos if possible. Privacy Policy: Web page or document stating how the business treats customer information captured on the website, such as contact info, email address and web browser cookies. There are tools available that can generate a privacy policy by answering a few questions. Terms of Service(TOS): Web page or document that describes the intention of content of the website, what it may or may not be used for. There are tools that can generate basic TOS language. Site Map: A listing of every available web page that make up the site, usually organized by sections or categories. There are tools that can generate site maps for visitors as well as special files the search engines may use to index the site.

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Some items are optional, but all are strongly recommended to give the impression of a professional, trustworthy business website to visitors and the search engines. A new business site should have at least 10 web pages to establish a good foundation. Another strong recommendation is to have some visitor interaction or social element built into the site. A good CMS has these features built in or easily added. An existing website lacking in the above essentials is a candidate for a website overhaul. Adding the missing pieces and converting the site to a CMS makes a great package to sell clients. You must have trust. A business website must instill a high comfort level to visitors to win trust and earn their business. Testimonials and client lists are critical for gaining visitor trust. Any business associations or affiliations the client belongs to, such as the Better Business Bureau, or trade organizations, should be mentioned and logos prominently posted. Awards, recognitions, press coverage also increase trustworthiness. Prominently placed credit card logos, Verisign and Hackersafe emblems, phone numbers and the business physical address all increase trust as well. Privacy policies and Terms of Service pages with footer links on each page are also a sign of a legitimate business. A solid guarantee will also minimize risk in the minds of consumers. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x;s an example of trust factors from RoboForm.comâ&#x20AC;&#x;s home page:

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Example web page Trust Factors 1

And here are additional trust factors from RoboForm.com‟s order web page:

Example web page Trust Factors 2

RoboForm.com is a good example of strong trust symbol usage. If I were them I would go one step further and place the security emblem and the credit card logos on the home page. Ready for primetime? When a business website has basic essentials in place it‟s ready to launch and promote; however, this is only the beginning. A website is never complete. It should be in a constant state of growth and improvement. For a website to have success in the search engines and with visitors, it needs to grow in content on a continual basis. This shows visitors you have a living, active website and will establish the site as an authority in the market or niche. Expanding the website also allows your client to reach into new areas by offering new products and services. New products, announcements, helpful tips, videos, or a blog are just a few ways to grow a website. Yet another reason why a CMS is strongly recommended, it allows the site to grow with fewer technical bottlenecks. Non-technical staff or business owners can add new content as often as they like thus keeping the site fresh and expanding.

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Plan and organize website content. Your client will likely turn to you for organizing their website content. If you are using a CMS, it‟s recommended that you create the initial layout of the site, such as menus and page placeholders, and then turn it over to the client to fill in. This way they can go in after you and easily find the areas that need to be and filled in with details and get a feel for how to maintain the site. You can include in your basic website service package an hour of training to get the client going on how to update the site. If your client needs help with coming up with content here are a few suggestions: 

 

For products and services, collect copy from any print material the client may have used in the past, such as brochures, yellow page ads, flyers, etc. and repurpose it for the website. Post case studies or white papers, or offer these as downloads in exchange for a prospect email address. Have your client come up with 10 items that they want their customers to know about each product or service, 10 benefits of using their product, 10 things about their customer service, business history, or any other unique aspect of their business. Turn these lists into articles for the website. For the FAQs page, ask your client to come up with a list of questions most often asked by customers. This not only provides the site will much needed content, but also streamlines the business. If these questions commonly come by phone, the client can add an “on hold message” telling the customer to refer to the FAQs on the website for answers to their questions and much more. This should cut down on the amount of time spent on the phone. Incorporate “how-to” content in the form of step-by-step tutorials or videos. Visitors love this type of information. Think about it, where is the first place most people go when they want to learn about something? The web. Tutorials with many steps may be split into separate pages, organized by each major step. For the Testimonials page, ask your client to list any favorable comments from customers, in the form of letters, emails or phone calls. This is a powerful marketing tool that every business website should have. If your client wants to use the full name of the person the testimonial is from, as a courtesy they should ask for permission from that person to publish their name on the website. Otherwise, just use the first name. If your client doesn‟t have testimonials or needs more, see Excuses to Email in Section 10: Get Your Client Some Quick Sales. Hire a copywriter. Professional, yet inexpensive copywriters can be found on sites like Craiglists.org and eLance.com. If your client‟s business is new and you don‟t have much to work with, this is a viable option.

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I would consider any of the work above as “add on” work. That is, I would not include it in my basic website package other than setting up placeholders for pages. This is work your client may do on their own with your guidance; however, if they would like you to do the work they can obviously pay you for it. Copy the list above, embellish it if you like, and present it to your client. They can go through the list like a checklist and defer to you for questions. As part of your “starter” package offering, you may generate the content for the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy pages. There are websites that can generate the language for these web pages just by answering a few questions. Links to these types of services can be found in the Resources link at the end of this book. After publishing make sure the client reviews these policies and to remind them that you are not a lawyer and to be fully protected they should consider having their lawyer review and edit the policies. If your client wants you to add content to the site you are probably wondering what to charge. I‟ve typically charged by the hour in the past, you could do the same. However, clients like flat rates. For example, you could start at $30 per page if supplied with content (you‟re basically cutting and pasting), double or higher if you have to come up with copy. Tip: hire an inexpensive copywriter unless you really enjoy writing copy, and edit their work. Some copywriters charge as little as $4 an article, but the lower the price the more you will likely have to edit.

Website Design Basics My design goal is to present content as efficiently as possible, using only the design elements needed to get the job done and nothing more. The design is the container of information and not the focus of the website. If my client wants to make money, the content is the primary focus, the design must not distract from this. When it comes to design consideration I rely on professionally designed templates I select for the project for the general layout. I will suggest a template to the client based on how well it showcases the client‟s business and addresses their target audience. For instance, a template design with a large open area at the top of each page might be great for a luxury resort website which has large pictures of its exclusive location, amenities and suites to feature. However, selecting a polished template does not alleviate all design decision making. There are additional layout, typography and color scheme options to select. When I first wanted to learn how to build websites back in the late 90s, I studied the most popular websites at the time. I figured the people building these sites are the experts, know what they're doing and are very successful at it.

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You may use other sites for design ideas if you know what to look for. It‟s very possible to copy bad design, even from the bigger brand websites. Be careful who you get your design inspiration from. Get some basic web design principals under your belt first, which you can quickly learn from a couple recommended books and websites. To this day I'm still in the habit of scanning the more successful websites for design ideas that fit within my goal of design simplicity. Nowadays, with so much money at stake on the Internet, many of the top Internet brands pour plenty of resources into research and testing to produce the most effective website possible. If I‟m building an e-commerce website I'll go and review Amazon.com for ideas. I really like the Amazon‟s product page, and I have noticed they have been making very subtle changes over the years. I believe these changes are based on testing and research. I will also review other top e-commerce websites for ideas. For community website I may take a close look at Facebook.com or other popular community website. For a nonprofit site I may see what they are doing over at Oxfam.org or WWF.org. Another good research idea is to inspect the design elements of the leaders or the top sites in your target market. These sites may have design elements that are working in that market and using some of them may help you enter that market. Use elements, such as menu placement and color scheme as a starting point. Over time you may discover which elements are working and which to throw out. Finding the top sites is as easy as doing a search on Google for your most valued keywords. Obviously, you want to ignore sites like Wikipedia.org, that come up very high in many keyword searches. Pay attention to established competitors. Knowing the target audience plays a major part in design considerations. A younger audience may require the use of bright colors, large text, or entertaining elements. A site targeting an older audience may be optimized for small screens and large text, use large buttons for navigation, and have a prominently placed phone number on every page for assistance. Using periodic customer surveys to get site feedback is a great way for a client to get information for site improvements, while maintaining the customer relationship by offering a reward or discount in return for their help. Starting with a professional template as a foundation, add in guidelines from a couple recommended Web Design books. Throw in knowledge of the target audience, then mix in some ideas from other websites. You end up with a nice recipe for well designed web pages ready to test on a hungry crowd.

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Website Layout The website layout is comprised of areas that are reserved for particular sections. It's helpful to the visitor if these areas are fixed so that the site takes on a consistent feel from page to page. If the layout changes from page to page the visitor may feel lost and confused. A popular exception to the layout consistency recommendation is to have the home page as one layout, while the rest of the site uses a different layout (see Apple.com). The following are some common layout examples.

The classic 2 column layout with left side navigation:

walmart.com

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Three column layout with horizontal navigation bar:

MontereyBayAquarium.org

(Note in these last 2 examples there are often shortcut links and search bars in the headers.) Often you will see sites that have a different layout on the home page than when deeper in the site. Apple.comâ&#x20AC;&#x;s home page sports a single column that really grabs attention:

Apple.com home page

While the majority of the site has a 3 column layout: Š 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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Store.Apple.com/us

There are some websites that use 4 columns or even 5 and 6. Keep in mind that more columns may make the site look busy and harder to read. For most websites the header remains the same on every web page and perhaps the left column if used for navigation. This helps give the website a consistent look and feel so visitors never feel lost.

Web Page Layout Web page layout depends a lot on the type of content being shown. With the header and navigation fixed, each page will contain different content in the body section. Every web page should have a goal in mind. The goal could be to get a visitor to make a purchase of a particular product, or have a visitor register for an event, or simply to provide information. The page should guide them toward the desired goal. Unnecessary page elements, such as banner ads, unrelated copy, can distract from the ultimate goal. A good introduction to web design is Ben Hunt‟s guide, “Save the Pixel”. Ben‟s book teaches the art of efficient and simple design. You‟ll find a link to his book in the Resources section. A more advanced book on web page design considerations is “Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions” by Tim Ash. This book can be a bit technical when the author gets into testing web page effectiveness, but the concepts on web page design are solid and worth reading. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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Copywriting Some Internet marketing experts believe the key to selling on the web is writing great copy. Writing great copy involves writing compelling headlines to draw the visitor in and strategically placed subheadings and paragraphs to keep readers engaged. Copy is important, but remember great copy will do nothing for a bad offer or product. There are hundreds of expert copywriting methods, templates, and tips available by master copywriters for further study. Here are some basics: When it comes to organizing copy, you want to have a good headline followed by the copy and perhaps some sub headlines mixed in to break up areas dominated by small text. Some visitors will skim the paragraphs and only pay attention to headlines and subheadings. When writing about a product or service, emphasize benefits instead of features. Use bullet points in copy whenever possible. You‟re going to hear this more than a few times in this book: use images only if they help convey or enhance the message. Write only as much as is necessary for the desired result. If you think your copy is too long, it probably is. If you think it‟s too short, it‟s probably just right. Pay-per-click testing can help determine if your copy is working for you or not. Many copywriters use “swipe” files for ideas. These can be headlines from newspapers, magazines, website articles, sales letters, or ads. When copywriters see a great headline they “swipe” it or save it for use later. They won‟t copy an effective headline word-for-word, they use it as a template and replace words according to what they are writing about. You may want to pay attention to the headlines and ads you see every day. When you come across an inspiring ad or clever headline you can make note of it and begin your own swipe file that you can refer to in the future for ideas. Even if you don‟t plan on writing copy, it‟s such an important part of a website that I highly recommend additional study. Even if you plan to hire copywriters when you need copy at least you will be able to judge good copy from bad. There are several excellent books on the subject of copywriting, and a great guide teaching the proper way to “swipe” under the Copywriting category of the Tools & References links on TechieDIY.com: http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources/48-copywriting

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Rich Media Animations are popular with many websites, yet should be used only to help deliver the web page‟s goal, not distract from it. If the client wants to use animations, ask for the business reason behind this requirement. How will it help the bottom line? It may or may not help the bottom line, only though testing will you know for sure. Present the client with a business choice, spend $500 or more for a graphic designer to create an animation that must be tested to know if it is helping or hurting the site, or use that money toward a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign to get some immediate sales and collect business intelligence on the market. Many commercial CMS templates come with features that can be used to create rotating images with customizable transitions between images for movie-like effects. A type of media that can attract visitors and increase sales is video. A good product tutorial or “what‟s-in-the-box” video can give visitors a firsthand look into a product or suggest uses they never thought of before. Videos can be hosted on sites like YouTube.com and Blip.tv to drive traffic to your website. These video hosting sites also supply code you can use to embed the videos so they can be viewed directly on your website. Just be aware when you host with one of the free services they can decide to remove your videos at any time. If you are embedding from a service to your site and they delete your video, it will not show up on your site. If you are not posting anything offensive you probably don‟t have anything to worry about. All it takes to get a video removed from a hosted service is a complaint from a visitor. Most CMS‟s are video ready, which makes it easy to embed video uploaded to your own website instead of hosting them with a third party.

Organizing Content The first goal in organizing the website content is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find information they are looking for. The second goal would be to present information you want the visitor to see without distracting or confusing them. You start by organizing content into logical groups or categories. These will likely form the Main menu. There will be some obvious categories related to the business, but coming up with good product categories may take more consideration. For a business that only offers a handful of products the categories are going to be obvious. To help you visualize the site‟s organization and layout, create a mock site map either drawn on paper or using office software like MS Word or Excel. List the main categories of the content on the top of the page going left to right, then under each © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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list the subcategories. It may turn out that this might serve as the site's horizontal menu bar going across the top, but in designing the layout you could just as easily have the menu vertically on the left or right sides of the page. The site map is just that, a map, a path to every page on the website. Once you have the entire site mapped out on paper, you may use the site map to layout the navigation structure when building the new site. For a business that has thousands of products you may want to do some research on how to best categorize each product. In this case there should be more than one way to search for product. For example, a website selling ceiling fans may have each product showing up for multiple categories. Three customers may have purchased the same fan model but each started their search in a different category, one customer searched by antique style, another by brass finish, the third searched on size. Each began their search a by different category but ended up with the same ceiling fan. Some CMS‟s have components and modules that you can install to handle sizeable product catalogs. Your choice of CMS may be based on its ability to handle a large catalog. That's why it's best to use your requirements document from your initial needs assessment meeting with the client to help determine the best platform for their website. Reserving the home page body for the main categories in the product catalog is a great way to showcase the types of product being offered and lead visitors to products they may be looking for. eBags.com‟s use of images as the major product categories (next page):

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Ebags.com

For smaller catalogs or services websites, I recommend reserving the body of the home page for the most compelling copy or sales offer to draw the visitors into the site. On the Internet, you may only have a few seconds to win their attention. Unless you want your site to appear in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, do not title your home page article “Welcome” or “Introduction”.

It‟s obvious the main goal of Verizon.com is to get visors to sign up for their triple play package (next page):

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Verizon.com

Navigation Obviously, site navigation must be clear and easy to use. Main navigation should be fixed from page to page so that visitors never feel lost. I'm a big fan of breadcrumbs. These show the path from the home page to a deeper web page you are viewing, so you can see how far youâ&#x20AC;&#x;ve gone into the website:

Breadcrumb example

Breadcrumbs are usually hyperlinked so you can click up the chain and work your way backwards to the home page. Š 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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You should also include a web page that displays the site map, giving the visitor a birds-eye view of the website and another navigation option. For larger websites, having a keyword search box gives visitors another navigation option to choose from. Speaking for myself, when I come upon a large site, instead of trying to understand the navigation I will head straight for the search box and type in what I'm looking for. A design option for sites with a large number of pages is to use context sub navigation, where submenus are only displayed in particular sections of the site. For example, an auto parts website may have main category navigation on its home page, such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, with submenus being accessories, parts, advice and tips, etc. Within the main section of truck accessories, a submenu could contain products that only pertain to trucks, such as bed liners and step bars. This truck accessories submenu would not be displayed in car or motorcycle accessories since it is not relevant to the other categories. Some CMS‟s handle context sensitive menus well allowing you control over when to display and hide menus or other page elements.

Website Colors Colors may be used to set the mood of your site, or accent the tone of your web content. Colors can also be used to highlight or to visually separate content items. Keep in mind not all people view colors as you do, many people have a form of color blindness and cannot distinguish certain colors from others. Don‟t completely rely on colors to get your message across on your web pages. Many commercial CMS templates have built in color scheme customization, some providing dozens of different color combinations. You may also change colors manually by learning a little HTML and CSS. To understand color moods you may want to study color scheme psychology and symbolism. For more reading on color significance check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_Symbolism There are a few basic color guidelines you should follow, such as black text on white backgrounds, using warmer colors (reds, yellows) sparingly for excitement and “cooler” colors (greens, blues) more often to induce calming and trusting feelings. Colors must not distract from content, nor hinder the accessibility of the content. Most of the time, the templates and themes that I use have good color scheme options built-in, and will choose one based on the client‟s preference or one that matches other marketing and branding assets such as brochures or a company logo. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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Color schemes can also be selected based on a theme. For example, a website about healthy eating may use bright shades that match the colors of fruits and vegetables. Colorcombos.com has tools for previewing, testing and selecting color schemes. It has a library of hundreds of predefined color schemes for ideas. The site even has a tool that â&#x20AC;&#x153;grabsâ&#x20AC;? the color scheme from another website, so if you like the colors on a particular website, you can quickly get the color scheme and use the color tester tool to make changes. http://www.colorcombos.com Another color consideration is in link text so that visitors can easily identify links. Again, a well designed template should have this handled. If you believe the site can use some improvement in link contrast, here are some quick guidelines from WebAim.org: http://webaim.org/blog/wcag-2-0-and-link-colors

Fonts and Typography If you are using a well designed template or theme, you probably don't need to think about fonts and typography much at all; however, if never hurts to get some feedback from different people regarding the ease of reading the type. The goal of choosing the right typography is for ease of use for the majority of site visitors. Most often your main interaction with fonts when using a commercial template will be choosing appropriate sized fonts for headlines and subheadings in copy. Obviously, headlines and subheadings need to stand out, just take a look at any newspaper as an example. A common guideline is to use a font 1.5x to 2x, or double, the size of the body font for the headlines. A commercial template will often include documentation and typography available. Another consideration is spacing between letters, lines, paragraphs, sub-headings and headlines. Again, a professional template should have this covered. If you need to make adjustments, you may have to learn how to edit CSS. Most templates allow you to select from preset typography settings, but do not have an interface to make fine-tunedefine adjustments. Yet another advantage to using commercial, professionally designed templates is having font sizing and accessibility features built in that allow visitors to increase or decrease the size of the font in their browser for easier reading. RocketTheme.com Joomla template typography examples:

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More about Fonts The font resides on the computer or device viewing the web page. The web page only tells the web browser which font to use. If that font doesn‟t exist on the device then the text will likely be rendered in an alternative. Of all possible fonts to choose from, there are only a few that most websites employ because they are considered “web safe”, meaning they are likely to be found on most computers and devices browsing the Internet. Here are the safest of the web safe fonts:   

Arial /Helvetica Courier New/Courier New Times Roman/Times

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Not much to choose from, but you're probably safe choosing from a longer list or using the fonts included in the design of your commercial template. Just keep in mind with all the new non-traditional Internet devices being introduced every day, Web safe fonts may play a bigger role with your website‟s reach.

Images and Artwork Important images to have on a website are good product images, trust factor emblems, stock photo images that portray the benefits of the product or services. In the About Us or Contact sections of the site having pictures of the business location, staff, and ownership help portray the business as a real company. Try not to go overboard with imagery and artwork to maintain a clean, nondistracting layout. Don't add images arbitrarily because the site looks dry. Decorate the site with product images and illustrations that serve a purpose. You may use larger images for showcasing products, smaller images as teasers and to break up long articles. Consider creating a 3-D image, such as a software box or book cover for informational or virtual products delivered via download to give the product a tangible impression. There are various graphical tools on the market specifically for the creation of 3-D images. Other non-tangible products, such as legal or accounting services, choose stock photos that emphasize the benefit of the service. For legal services perhaps a picture of a family smiling might be better than a gavel or courtroom picture. The smiling family picture may convey the peace of mind one might be desperately seeking for his or her family from legal consultation. Test these image selections on the web page with a few people to see if they make sense and are appropriate. Sometimes the client may feel their site looks dull even after all meaningful images have been added. Let them know this is not a bad thing, to quote Tim Ash of Sitetuners.com, “Boring makes the cash register ring.” To please the client, you may go through the site and see how it could be jazzed up without distracting from web page goals. The simple use of a few high-quality icons from iconfinder.net can make a noticeable difference without compromising site goals. Also, don't forget that the professional CMS template you may be using may have some built-in icon options for things like bullet points and block quotes. These small accents can add spice to a seemly boring website without competing with web page goals for attention. RocketTheme.com Joomla template list style examples:

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Graphics tools for the artistically challenged: http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources/50-graphics-tools

Logos If your client has a logo for their business, try to get an electronic version to use on the website. If the client doesn‟t have one, you can help your clients outsource a logo design from a graphic artist. Some say a logo is critical for branding depending on who you talk to. Personally, I think it‟s much more valuable to establish a Unique Selling Proposition or USP (see Section 9: Marketing Your Business) and develop good website content for branding. Though not a priority in my mind, I agree having a logo is good for branding. At LogoTournament.com you can have multiple designers submit different logo designs based on a few questions about the organization. You choose which design you like best and fits your budget. You can often get a quality logo done from this site for as little as $300.

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Putting It All Together When you have the site's content at hand and a general idea of the layout you can begin website construction. If you are building the site on a CMS friendly Web Host, you can have a new website up and running in minutes ready for you to login and start adding content. If working with a Web Host that does not automate CMS installations, you will have to upload the CMS install package to the website and run an installer manually. For most popular CMSâ&#x20AC;&#x;s manual installation is very easy and should take no more than 20 minutes if you do not run into any problems. With the CMS up and running you now have a blank canvas to start entering content. The details of changing themes, adding content and organizing the website will differ from system to system. You will want to first review some basic documentation or tutorials on the CMS you would like to use and practice on a test site or on one of your own vanity websites. For most CMSâ&#x20AC;&#x;s you can have a complete site ready in about a day or two with little training. To take advantage of some of the more powerful features and to have total control over the layout you will need some guidance in the form of tutorials. After the CMS is installed go ahead and get the template or theme you want to use installed next. This way as you're adding content you will get a sense of what the end result is going to look like, and immediately know if the template that was selected is going to be a good fit. Next you'll want to add the major sections or categories of the site followed by the subcategories that belong to each of the main sections. With the categories and sections added to the site, you can start adding the web page content and assigning each page to a category. If the client has agreed to do the work of entering some of the content, you still want to at least create placeholders for each page to make it easier for the client to find the correct page to enter content. Once you have some content and placeholders you can start building your menus and linking the menus directly to the web pages or to sections or categories. By now the site has begun to take shape and should start looking like a real website. Now would be a good time to place any images you have in mind for the site. Take a look at the site in other web browsers to see if it renders the same. Try to get the site to render properly in the last 2 versions of Firefox, the last two versions of Internet Explorer, current versions of Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera. Hopefully Š 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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the client will not make a big deal if the site doesn't look perfect in Internet Explorer 6 or some other much older versions. What would be left at this point would be adding more content, testing any functionality and validating HTML output and links. I hope this section was helpful in understanding web page design elements. For further study I recommend these books:   

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition Save the Pixel: The Art of Simple Web Design Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions

Links to where you can purchase these books online are listed here: http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources/62-web-designhtmlaccessibility

Web usability resources: http://landingpagedirectory.com

HTML and CSS links: http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com http://reference.sitepoint.com/css

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Section 4: The Process of Creating and Delivering a New Website From Pitch to Live Website The following is the step-by-step process I typically go though in delivering a new CMS website to a client, including analysis and planning. You may chose to use these steps as a template for your first client consultation until you refine the process for yourself. The Meeting I have found a lead and have scheduled an in person meeting. My goals for this first client consultation: Establish rapport. I plan to thank them for meeting with me and let them know how excited I am about helping them grow their business by taking advantage of what the Internet can do for them. I will engage them briefly about their vision for their website, what they hope to gain and where they want their business to be a year or two from today. Complete a needs assessment. If this is a new website, my time will be spent understanding the content that will go on the website and how to organize it. I will also note any functionality the client wants to have and start a requirements document if necessary. Collect market data for MY business. Meeting with a prospective client is a great opportunity to learn about the market you are in. I will try to squeeze in a few quick questions about any challenges they faced in finding answers to questions, solutions for problems, or any experience with other web designers. If theyâ&#x20AC;&#x17E;ve had any unpleasant experiences this will give them a chance to vent, and give me some priceless market data to take away. Come to an agreement. I will attempt to get sign off on a 10 page starter business website. The Agreement is simply a document stating exactly what services I will perform and what the estimated cost is. Payment terms are included, such as any up front retainers, when the final payment is due, etc. I always include a warrantee that states I will fix any defects for the 90 days or more after I finish the project. The agreement can be as simple or as detailed as you want but keep in mind that it is for your protection. Typically, agreements for larger projects will be much more detailed to ensure there is no confusion and better protection between myself and Š 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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the client. In custom programming projects the agreement should state who owns any programming code developed. The primary purpose of the agreement is to set expectations and avoid misunderstandings, “I will do A, B and C for X amount of money.” To be safe, add a signature line to the agreement for the client to sign and make copies. When I started out on my own and needed my first agreement written, I found templates for agreements, proposals and contracts on the web. Over time these templates developed into my own standard contracts and served me well with smaller projects. With larger projects having more money at stake I sought legal help with my contacts and agreements. Legal questions are always best answered by legal professionals familiar with the laws in the areas you operate in. Agenda A day before the meeting I will email a meeting agenda. This serves as a reminder of our scheduled meeting and to get the client thinking about the items we will be discussing. Sample meeting agenda sent to the client:       

Discuss how a new website fits into your business. What do you envision the website delivering for your business? Discuss what products and services you want to feature on your website. Go over any existing assets that can be used for the new site (print ads, brochures, product images, logos, etc.) About my services. Questions. 5 minute survey. The next step.

When you meet with a new client remember that the reason they want to talk to you is because they need your help. You have knowledge that they don‟t have. You are the authority on websites in their eyes. Be prepared to give suggestions and advice. A client may ask a technical question and you may not know the answer. That‟s okay. Simply explain your role as a project manager or website consultant while leaving the technical details to your web development resources. Let them know you will bring up the question with your technical team and follow up with an email in the next 24 hours. You can research the question after the meeting.

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Step 1: Client interview. Before website construction begins I need to understand what I am going to build. For a new client it is essential I obtain this information in person to establish rapport. Before the interview I will have done a little homework on the business and market to try to understand the industry and be able to ask intelligent questions. The interview is for me to understand the business better, understand the client‟s vision for the site, and gather information that will lead to how the website will be organized. I will have brought to the meeting at least six items:      

Copy of the meeting agenda (which was also emailed to the prospect in advance) Price list sheet/flyers A blank agreement for 10 page website A notepad A blank website outline (or do a quick sketch on my notepad) My business card

My focus is on understanding the content that will go into the website. I note any features the client would like to have, but if these features distract from the goal of going live on time, I will suggest they wait until a second phase. I usually offer a starter website at fixed cost, so I try not to let features slip in. It is very important to note any future plans or requirements to make the right choice in selecting a CMS platform. The CMS should handle these future needs. Though I don't want to expand the scope of this first project, I still ask what lies ahead for the website and might even suggest some of my own ideas. I don‟t discuss marketing the website in detail during this meeting. At this point we‟ve yet to build a platform; we have no launching pad yet for marketing campaigns. I will bring up marketing to get the prospect excited about the project, but I will keep the scope of this proposal to building the site only. I mention marketing only as a preview into what we can do after the new site is live. Perhaps the most important question I will ask is what the client wants visitors to do as soon as they arrive on the home page. This helps define what the site is about and what primary goals are. At the end of the meeting I will try to get the client to sign off on agreement for me to build a 10 page website for a fixed price. For this type of service I usually don‟t bill until the website is complete and the client is happy with it. I always try to get a physical signature on my agreement forms just as a precaution to protect myself. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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I can usually get the initial information I need in about a 30-45 minute session with the client. I will try to collect existing advertising assets the client may have, such as brochures, direct mail pieces, ads appearing in print that I can take with me. After the meeting I will take an hour to go through the information collected and come up with a requirements document and a draft site map. I may create a new test site and start building the major sections of the site, a few pages and menus. Because I have a low cost web hosting account, I can create any number of test sites with just a few clicks. If the client wants to pay me to host their new site, the test site can stay on my web hosting account and become the live site when it‟s complete. A separate requirements document may or may not be necessary, for a new, basic 10 page website, it usually is not. It is up to you if you believe you will need this type of detailed documentation. For a static website a site map may be sufficient. If after my initial consultation I learned that the business has a large number of different products they want to feature, I will need to document how these products are categorized and classified to understand how I am going to organize the website. It is very likely the website is going to have more than 10 pages I will want to adjust my pricing and get an estimate to the client if we have not already agreed on a rate. I go into a little more detail about requirements documentation later on in the Custom Programming section of this guide. This is the point where I will choose the right CMS for the client's website. If the client's business is based on selling information or non-tangible services I may choose WordPress. If the client has a large product catalog I may go with Joomla or Drupal. Every situation is different and there might be several factors at play in my recommendation of the right CMS. If I have a requirements document, it will play role in which CMS I choose. I will compare the requirements document to a CMS and its available 3rd party components. For instance, if the requirements affirm the need for auction style sales listings, I will look for a CMS component that best matches this requirement. If it happens that Joomla has the best auction style component then I might choose Joomla as the CMS for this site, as long as the other requirements are also a good match. For design ideas, I will also take a look at the leaders and authority websites in my client‟s market to get a feel for what the site will be up against. The top sites in Google for my client‟s most competitive keywords may have some design elements working well for them that I may consider including in my design. Chances are the top sites in a Google keyword search have been around for a while and are established authorities for that keyword or that general topic. These sites probably get most of the traffic for that topic. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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Using some of the authority site‟s basic layout or other design elements may help my client‟s website enter the market. I note the use of color; these may be working well in this particular market. If the top sites use left-side navigation it might be a good idea to do the same instead of having the navigation on the right. I keep what I want to borrow to a minimum; I don‟t want to flat-out copy another website. If I can get my client‟s site to appear among the market leaders in the search engines, some visitors may instantly feel comfortable when they come to my client‟s site. Because I have borrowed some design ideas from the top sites, visitors will be familiar with my layout having spent time on market leader‟s sites. Surveying other websites for ideas is about understanding the existing market, not about copying someone else‟s work as a shortcut. Aside from the risk of being viewed as a rip-off, going too far in copying another website will not help in trying to stand out. Though the top sites may have elements that are working well in the market, they may have some that are not. But I need to start somewhere when entering a market. Through testing I may be able to determine which elements can be improved upon and at some point do a better job of converting visitors to customers than the competition. Step 2: Follow up. After digesting the information from the interview, I will email links to about 5 recommended templates I feel might be appropriate for the new site. I will also include links to other templates in case the client wants to see more templates. If necessary, I will ask the client to come up with additional content for the website, perhaps some information about their business, products, awards, community involvement. Product pictures and logos are vital if they have them. Step 3: Website Build. Once the client has selected a template I will get to work setting up the new site or continue working on the test site if I started one. Usually the new site is going on a Web Host that I have recommended, which means setting up a new site is a familiar task that only takes a few clicks of the mouse. Next I will install the template the client chose, which is usually a couple more clicks. Once the new site has been set up and the template installed, then the real work starts. Filling it in with some content I‟ve collected. I only enter in enough content to get the site started so that it can be handed back to the client to finish up. I create placeholders for pages and the menus, enough for the client to be able to understand how the site is organized and where to enter things.

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Clients are usually thrilled at the prospect of being able to edit their own website, and I include about an hour of basic training in how to update the site. I will also work on the more challenging content, such as header graphics and logos (if the client has these). The templates I typically recommend and use already come with great graphics and documentation on how to change and place images. I‟m not a graphic designer by any stretch and don‟t even know how to use Photoshop, but over the years I have come up with shortcuts on how to perform quick image edits. I only use images to enhance the message of what the web page is trying to get across, such as product images or an image that conveys a benefit to a service. I'm strongly against having gratuitous artwork or images for the sake of making the site look “pretty”. Nonrelated images can draw attention away from the goal of a web page whether it's to sell a product or get someone to pick up the phone to call. When I need images, I obtain pictures and graphics from websites like iStockPhoto.com and Dreamstime.com. These are sites where you can find great photos, illustrations, icons, and buttons for as little as $1. If I want to use a nice header photo for the home page of a site (again, as long as it is appropriate and non-distracting), and overlay some text on top of the picture, I use a $50 tool called SnagIt. SnagIt is screen capture software that allows you to take snapshots of items on your desktop and add notes or other markup. I began using this tool years ago to visually communicate website changes to outsourced web developers. I realized it can be used to merge images and overlay text very quickly and easily. SnagIt is hardly a substitute for a pro image editing tool, but if you‟re in a bind and don‟t have weeks to learn a pro tool then you might be able to get away with using SnagIt or something similar. A better method of layering text over images is by using CSS. In my opinion, you might be better off learning CSS than mastering image editing tools. When it comes to image placement I make sure to keep the site clean looking and the images from distracting the content.

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Step 4: Client Review Once the basic layout of the site is in place and a main header image in place, I will e-mail the client with a link showing them the progress I've made. Often in addition to the layout, I will also try to have a few other images placed on the site. Clients are usually impressed and excited when they see images on their website. The main point of showing the site at this time is to show progress and to make sure the client and I are still on the same page. If the client is okay with the work done so far, I'll finish adding any missing sections to the site and any copy I agreed to produce. I will send an e-mail with a link to the updated version of the site and try to schedule a brief training session to show the client how to take over editing the site. If the client has any issues with the work done so far, we need to take a step back and see where we got out of sync. Step 5: Testing and Finalization Depending on how well the training session went will determine how soon I'll follow up to finalize the project. In most cases the client has already contacted me after the training session to ask follow-up questions. I will also run through the entire site and test for any problems or broken links. There are usually some outstanding minor issues that need to be resolved before the project can be declared complete. A few days after the last issue has been resolved, I will do a check in to make sure things are okay. If everything is good I will ask the client if they are satisfied that the project is complete. If they are happy with the project I will send my invoice via email the next day. In most cases after billing for the project the client will contact me for questions or help. I don't bill for minor changes or questions, I don't suggest nickel-and-diming your clients. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x;ve also included a 90 day warranty in the agreement that the site be free from defects and bugs in my work, some requests may fall under warranty coverage. These follow-up questions are actually great sales opportunities to begin discussions on the next phase of web development or any other products and services you want to offer. I try to keep time spent working on a new business website project built on a CMS at around 10 hours. Sometimes I go over 10 hours, occasionally I come in under. As with most business activities I try to measure everything and have goals for profit margins. However for new clients I'm not overly concerned with profit margins and willing to invest more of my time if needed to win the client's repeat business.

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The Process of Working on an Existing Website The process of working on or improving an existing website differs case by case. Step 1 would be a needs assessment interview to find out what improvements the client would like to make and for me to offer some of my own suggestions. I would take the needs assessment notes and divide the needs into logical groups that would make good projects. For example, if the client wants to be able to take payments online for products and also wants to implement a continuity program (subscription service), I would split these needs into two different projects and do them one at a time. Tip: Try to break requirements into small projects whenever possible. Completing small project after small project shows immediate progress, and shows that you consistently deliver. There may be times when a particular task becomes a challenge. If you have that task as part of a big project now the entire project is being held up by that one task. Knocking out a bunch of small projects is a lot less stressful and can make you appear like a superhero. My suggestion of doing small projects sequentially may seem inefficient to professional web developers familiar with software engineering methodologies. We‟re talking about a business website here, the client isn‟t going to understand what to expect from RUP or Extreme Programming development methodologies. You may be great at multitasking, but most clients will be thrilled to see task after task completed on time. For each small project I will create a requirements document. The requirements document is basically a list of steps required to carry out an activity on the website. If the client wants people to register to become a member of the website, I will list the steps of the registration process, and within each step I will detail the actions. For example, step one of the registration process might be filling in contact information. I will list what needs to be collected, such as, name, e-mail address, phone number, etc. The requirements document often leads to follow-up questions from the client on how they want things to be handled. That's one of the advantages of going through the exercise of documenting the requirements; it helps to flesh out all the details and possible scenarios. Requirements analysis may require follow-up meetings or conversations with the client for questions and verification of items. Once the requirements document has been completed I will use it to look for an offthe-shelf component that meets all or most requirements that I can plug into the website. In many cases something off the shelf is not going to match the requirements exactly, but I can present the trade-off to the client and let them decide. An off-the-shelf component that meets 70% requirements is going to be

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much more cost effective than programming a custom component that meets 100% of the requirements. It's possible I may not be able to find a good component match and will have to resort to plan B: build from scratch. Requirements document can be passed off to a freelance web developer as software specifications. In my experience, buying an off-the-shelf component brings much higher margins than hiring a web developer. With an off-the-shelf component I will factor the cost of the component and how much time I plan to spend on configuration and testing to come up with a flat rate. In hiring web developer I will take the developerâ&#x20AC;&#x;s rate and mark it up perhaps 50%. Because the off-the-shelf component is only a fraction of what the web developer charges and itâ&#x20AC;&#x;s much easier to mark up. I will give the client an estimate and timetable for the project and get their "sign off", or get an agreement to do the work for that price. The estimate is just that, an estimate, the client should know that the invoice could be higher or lower. I don't like surprising the client with a high invoice, so if it looks like I'm going to go over the estimate I will let them know as soon as I can and explain the situation. The next steps would be to get the component installed and working, followed by testing. During these steps I try to show the client the progress that's being made by sending periodic e-mails with links. I want to make sure the client and I are always on the same page and that they are aware that there is progress. I usually do the first installation and testing on one of my own CMS websites or a copy made from the live site. A website can be cloned manually or you can use a utility such as XCloner. XCloner is also good for setting up automated daily refreshes of a demo website. JoomlaPack is another backup utility specifically for Joomla sites. Occasionally, if the component is from a reputable source, one I am very familiar with and have installed on many sites, I may install it directly on the live site and test it there. Provided I know that it doesn't affect other components. I always make sure to back the site up first before installing any new component. Never install a new component on a live site if you're unsure of how that component may affect the rest of the website. Depending on the complexity of the component being developed I may use a testing script based on requirements analysis. The testing script might be a simple truth table, in which I will have listed every possible scenario for each step of the process and expected outcome. While certainly not foolproof, this gives us the best chance for covering all the bases. Once I'm satisfied that the component is working properly after testing, I will let the client or their staffs perform some testing. Depending on schedules I will usually give Š 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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them a couple days for review and testing. If the client is satisfied that the component is functioning properly then it's on to deployment in the live website. After deployment, a third round of testing is needed to make sure that the component is working properly in the live website. I will spend about a fourth of the amount of time I tested in the first round focusing on the most challenging scenarios. If everything looks good I will ask the client to "sign off" that the project is complete. If I'm doing multiple small projects for client I usually don't invoice for each project once completed. I will often switch to a monthly billing cycle where I invoice for all completed projects during the month. Any projects in progress during the end of the month will carry over into the next month.

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Section 5: Business Model The Business Model The website services I provide are part of a basic business model I use. I offer packaged services comprised of work I perform, complemented by products and services from third-parties for added value. For example, I may offer to build a new website for a business and it is likely they are going to need a place to host their new website. I may bundle Web Hosting into my business website starter package, or refer the client to a recommended Web Host thus earning myself a commission. The following diagram illustrates my business model and how you might fit it into your business. Your own core services may turn out to be things you enjoy doing or tasks you are very good at. Leverage partners for items you may not be interested in mastering. The real purpose behind your partnerships is to add value to your offerings and to expand your assortment of services. Often what you can do on your own is referred to as your core competencies.

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An important aspect of his business model is repeat business. Building a website for a client is only the beginning. If they are serious about doing business on the Internet they are going to need additional services, especially as their online presence grows. You, as their trusted website advisor, should be the one to bring them these services for years to come. Finding Partners Finding products and services that compliment your offering may be very easy or challenging depending on your needs. For example, offering your client website analytics is as easy as signing them up for Google‟s free service and getting it installed on your client‟s site. A professional website template is only a download away. Conversely, offering custom programming may involve months of managing different freelance web developers or working with agencies until you find a couple good people to work with on a consistent basis. To help get you started, I‟ve come up with 3 example service packages you can use out of the box or as templates. These may include services you will need to sign up with in order to be able to deliver these packages to clients. You will find these in Appendix B (available as a separate free download). Marketing is covered in Section 9: Marketing Your Business.

How Much to Charge There are many factors that come into play in deciding how much to charge for your services. Your expenses, target salary and local market conditions are major considerations. Clients like flat rates rather than hourly. This is because the client knows exactly what they're going to pay before the project begins. I'm sure we can all relate, no one likes dropping the car off at the mechanic in the morning thinking you'll pay one amount, only to pick it up at the end of the day and having to pay twice as much. Mechanics have gotten smart over the years and call for authorization for additional expenses to avoid unpleasant surprises when the bill comes. And that's what clients are trying to do, avoid any unpleasant surprises when they get an invoice. I found flat rates to work extremely well for services that I have done repeatedly and consistently take the same amount of time when performed. For services such as custom programming it's too difficult to make an accurate estimation to come up with a flat rate. I think it's important to come up with your own target hourly rate and use that to base flat rates should you choose that pricing model. To calculate your target hourly rate, start with what you would like to make per hour. Estimate monthly expenses, such © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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as gasoline for visiting clients, phone expenses, and other expenses related to your business. Divide these expenses by the number of hours you plan to work in a month (174 hours is the monthly average based on a 40 hour work week). Add the hourly expense calculation to your target hourly rate. Do some research in your area to find out how much local freelance web designers and developers are charging per hour in your area to see where you stand among them. If you're coming in too high you may have to adjust your rates accordingly until you establish yourself. If your rates are lower then you have more negotiating power. As a strategy in obtaining new clients, especially if you're just starting out, you may consider offering a lower rate for an initial project to get your foot in the door. There are many that will argue against this strategy myself included. You don't want to base your business on having the best rates in town, and you want to avoid price wars with competitors at all costs. You want to earn business based on your unique selling proposition. Now that I have contradicted myself, let me explain why you might want to consider the strategy of low pricing for new clients. As you are establishing your business your claims of value are going to lack proof until they can be backed by testimonials and case studies. You also have yet to establish any trust with a new client. To gain new clients you may to have to minimize any risk in their mind by offering a low investment on their part. You can also be very creative in your sales process. Many business owners like to believe they are getting a deal in every purchase they make. Leave yourself some room to negotiate with them. Bundle services for added value. Use a strong guarantee to minimize perceived risks. Once you've landed a client, you now have a chance to showcase your value and win their trust. Every client can be a source of revenue for years to come. That is why I recommend you do whatever you can to establish and expand your client base. If you are giving a client a deal to win their business, make sure the client understands that your time and service are valuable. Let them know you are lowering your price just one time to give them a chance to see what you can do for them. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x;t appear too soft or the client will feel like they can milk you for a deal every time they need something. Stand firm and justify your one-time pricing as a business strategy to gain a new client. Your client will understand the business logic behind your pricing and have respect for you. In my mind a client is worth a 1000 times more than what I make on the first project. Personally, I'm comfortable with a lower profit margin on a project that results in a new client. Ultimately you need to decide for yourself what you're comfortable with and what you're willing to do to gain new business. Š 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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Company or Independent Contractor? When it comes to your business you may want to have a business name giving the impression of an established company. In my experience, working in Northern California, it's quite common to find professionals working independently, and many businesses feeling just as comfortable working with individuals as with working with a firm. Operating as a company is not necessary in my part of the US. The culture in your area may differ, some business owners may prefer to work with companies rather than individuals. You may choose a name for your business and have it on your website, business cards and invoices. A business owner may ask if you are incorporated and you might need to be prepared to give an answer. You may simply explain to them your situation. Perhaps you just need a few more clients to justify the filing fees, or you're planning to enroll in a business class to understand the details of filing and owning a corporation. Whatever you tell them, I have found that if you are sincere, most business owners are sympathetic to those trying to establish a new company. They have gone through the same process themselves. There are advantages to forming a corporation or LLC for your business, though in most areas you are not required to have a company and can operate as an independent contractor or consultant. Check with local laws to be absolutely sure. I'm not a licensed CPA nor qualified to give legal advice, but be aware that any income that comes from your business is subject to income tax. When considering forming a legal corporation please seek out the proper legal advice. Again, I'm not here to give you tax advice, but want to give you a heads up on invoicing. Some businesses may ask you to fill out a W5 form at the outset and then at the end of the year issue you a 1099 form which states how much money they paid to you. Whether or not the business chooses to issue you a 1099 does not change the fact that any money you receive from them may be viewed as income in the eyes of the government. Some businesses may not issue you a 1099, they may have booked your fees as a non-staffing related expense. The bottom line is businesses operate differently and book expenses differently. In the end you are responsible for any taxes on fees for provided services. Always consult a tax professional for advice and explanations.

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Section 6: Your Target Market: Who Needs Your Services? Every Business Needs a Website It is a given that, today anyone doing business in your area needs a website. A website is not just an advertisement for a business as many people think. A website can take orders, provide interactive driving directions, find new employees, streamline tasks, schedule appointments, answer questions, and so much more. Even having a “business card” website (a static website with minimal information and no visitor interaction) is better than having no website at all. These days fewer and fewer people are turning to the yellow pages for information and instead they are going straight to the web. Building new websites for clients on a CMS can often be “slam dunk” projects. By that I mean not many major challenges and back-and-fourth client interaction. You can set the site up, get the content in and you‟re done!

Case Study: Wendy’s Tours A few years ago I met a business woman, Wendy, who managed a small tour company. I struck up a conversation with her as I helped her load some heavy materials into her car after an event she spoke at. After helping her she asked me what I did for a living, I told her I build and market websites. I asked her if she had a website –she did not. I asked her if she wanted one. She explained to me that she had thought about it for a number of years but wasn‟t convinced it was that important in her business. I advised her how important it is for any business to have a website and gave her a list of reasons along with my business card. She politely told me she would think about it. A few months later I received a call from Wendy, she was ready for her new website. At our first consultation meeting I asked what influenced her decision to have a website built. She shared a story about a meeting she had with a potential client. During this meeting someone asked what her web address was. She felt very embarrassed when she had to admit that she didn‟t have a website. She felt like she did not make the best professional impression in the meeting. Wendy took advantage of the Business Website Starter Package I offer. Since Wendy‟s website went live she had the web address put on her businesses cards, emails and other print material. One of the features of Wendy‟s website is that visitors and potential clients can get a feel for her tours from the dynamic media on her site –a business tool she never had before. She had received great feedback on her website and feels more confident when going into negotiations with potential clients.

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Getting Started Before setting off to land your first “real” client (not a family member or friend), you should have the following (I‟m going to assume you have a computer and Internet connection):    

A web hosting account allowing for multiple domains A business website (use the guidelines in Business Website Basics) Business cards A website portfolio (these CAN be sites you built for family members or friends)

A type of website you can build to get your portfolio underway is a local portal website for your town or county. You can bring in news feeds to display local news as well as other widgets such as local gas prices, local weather, restaurant reviews from Yelp, or whatever you think would be interesting to those in your community. This is a great way for you to test web services that might interest clients. If you are active in your community you can add your own articles, or better yet, open the site up to other local contributors to make your job easier! For instance, recipes are surprisingly popular on the web, and you could include some local favorites, especially any cuisine particular to your area. You can also build a local business directory. List yourself and offer to list your clients as a bonus or for a monthly fee. Big name local online directories charge businesses quite a bit to be listed on their websites, a complaint I hear often. You should have better price flexibility in your directory services as the traditional directories have much more overhead. Your online directory can be a great bargain to local business owners. To improve the value of your directory services, your local portal site should have a decent amount of traffic. Your site doesn‟t necessarily have to rank well in the search engines. If you are promoting you site locally and getting visitors, you should be able to show through traffic reports you have local visitors coming to the site. That is good news for a local business owner in your directory. To take your portal site to the next level you can try some site optimization methods or online marketing. This is a good opportunity to practice some SEO and PPC techniques and become proficient in these skills. Keywords and phrases that include locality should have less competition and be easier to rank than broader terms. Experiment and gain some confidence in these much sought-after skills.

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Line up some initial clients. Your business is brand new and you need to build your portfolio to showcase your services. Without a portfolio of at the very least 3 websites other than your own site it will be harder to get your foot in the door of some businesses. If you‟ve decided to build a local portal website for a town you are targeting, that‟s one site down with two to go before you start approaching clients. Chances are that you have friends or family members interested in having a website. Since they know you and trust you, and perhaps support your decision to get into this field, they are probably open to having you build them a website. With web hosting being so inexpensive these days you can offer to host the sites for free or for a nominal fee. Treat them as real clients and ask for honest feedback. If hitting up friends and family for business didn‟t yield any fruit, you can still approach businesses and offer a substantial discount. Explain that you are trying to build up your portfolio for your new venture. Some small business owners understand what it‟s like starting a new business and might be sympathetic to you, while others might be cheap and looking for a deal. Offer a strong guarantee to minimize any risk seen on their part. Throw in web hosting and/or links from your other websites (to improve search engine raking). I used to have a Craigslist gigs RSS feed for coming into my email program so I could jump on any projects that appealed to me. I noticed website projects offered daily from businesses looking to hire interns to save money or non-profits looking for volunteers. These types of projects should be easy to land and can help in networking as you build your portfolio. If you only have 3 sites to your name, list them on your business website in your portfolio section as “featured websites”, giving the impression you have more than the 3 under your belt. Network offline. Join local clubs and organizations in the community frequented by business owners and professionals. The best organizations to join are ones that involve some interaction between members. A gym membership may not be the best way to network, you may meet some people but many are there to work out and don‟t want to be bothered. A group like Toastmasters is fantastic way to meet professionals and people interested in leadership. Members are very helpful and encouraging to each other, it‟s a very positive atmosphere. You can practice presentations and sales pitches. Membership is very inexpensive. If you want to join you may look for a chapter beyond your own city if you live in a small town. Most chapters will let you sit in on a few meetings before committing to a membership and paying dues. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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More information about Toastmasters: http://www.toastmasters.org Joining a chamber of commerce can be a great source of leads as you mingle with business owners in your area. The fees are not usually cheap, though I believe it‟s well worth the price to be able to attend events and talk to dozens of prospective clients. You may find the networking so effective that you may want to join other chambers. Most will accept members from outside the area. If you don‟t want to join a chamber of commerce because you are on a shoestring budget, there are other ways to market to this group of business owners. You can simply obtain a list of members and mail a letter or brochure to their businesses. Of course, emphasizing your interest or involvement in the local business community. You can also partner with someone who is already a member and attends regular meetings and events. You may know someone who is a member without even realizing it. Members might be the real estate agent who sold you your home, the local 7/11 owner your buy your lottery tickets from or your barber or salon owner. What “partner” means is up to you. Perhaps you can build a website to this person for free in exchange for recommending your services to other chamber members. Or perhaps a reasonable referral fee for new clients or some other arrangement. I‟ve received business just by being friendly when I go out. Sometimes I‟m in situations where I meet new people and inevitably get asked, “So, what do you do?” We are fortunate that working on websites is very interesting to others. “I build e-commerce websites.” “Really!? Wow…” This usually opens up the conversation to questions about websites and the Internet, and occasionally leads to a new client. I don‟t force these conversations or go out looking for them; they seem to happen at random times as I‟m out and about. This type conversation happens so often that I almost expect it. Sometimes when I meet someone new, I know the question is coming and I just wait for it! The tip here is to be aware when you leave the house and ready to talk about how great it is to work on websites or the Internet. Remember, every new contact is a potential opportunity. Use online networking. When starting your business you will probably have more success offline in the beginning, unless you can position yourself in a niche online with very little competition. As your business grows locally your online presence should grow with

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it. While you gain more experience you can share this online and position yourself through your site, blogs and social media sites. I suggest setting up personal profiles in the major social media websites if you have not done this already. Update your profile to include your new business and the services you offer. Over time, talk about your business, specifically the types of problems you solve for your clients. Try to gain a reputation on these sites for someone who builds websites and solves business problems. When one of your connections needs help in this area they may think of you or recommend you to someone they know who needs your services. In the beginning stages of establishing your business, social media may not have a major strategic role, but that will change quickly. You shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x;t wait to start participating in these networks. Sign up for them today even if you have little to say about your business at this point. There is more on this topic in the Internet Marketing section later in this guide. Work for nonprofit organizations. A great way to gain experience, to network, and build your website portfolio, is by helping nonprofit organizations with their websites. Many nonprofits have very tight budgets and they rely on volunteers or people willing to work for less than market rates to help out. Projects are usually easy to obtain and nonprofit staff are frequently very appreciative regardless of how inexperienced you are. Working for a nonprofit can be fun and very rewarding. I've received many business references over the years from my nonprofit contacts. If you're willing to give your time for free or for very little pay, I highly recommend getting involved with a nonprofit.

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Businesses That Have a Website Many businesses have outdated and underutilized websites. This presents huge opportunities for you. Working on an existing website may have different challenges compared to setting up a new site from scratch, but there are still “slam dunk” services to offer. Since existing websites have different needs, you may not be able to come up with a one-size-fits-all service package, like the Business Website Starter Package mentioned previously. But you can pick and choose from your list of services to form a custom package appropriate for your client. The following are summaries of services you can use to build your own service packages. 

CMS Website Conversion – Best for small sites, around 20 pages or less. Many business owners love the idea of updating their website whenever needed. However, a CMS site offers so much more in added functionality, growing the site, ease of search engine optimization, and website standardization. This service may form a package similar to the Business Website Starter Package. I suggest you include a premium CMS template to give your client a high quality site design. Content Overhaul – If your client‟s current website is missing any of the elements discussed earlier in Basic Business Website Elements, these can be included in a “Content Overhaul” service package. Review the site and look for things that need to be fixed, such as broken links, forms, misspellings, etc. Use a website validator (such as Total Validator) to find problems. These should all be included in your package. Blog Setup – A blog is a great way to broadcast messages, engage visitors in conversations and become established as an authority on the topic. Set up plug-ins to give your client‟s blog added functionality, most of which are free. Include a premium theme and incorporate some design elements and imagery from the primary website. I have a base set of plug-ins that I “bulk” install on every Wordpress blog I set up for streamlining. You may do the same. Local Search Optimization – Get your client‟s website on the map –literally. Add your client‟s business address to Google Maps and Yahoo Local. Also, add a Google interactive map to the website. All these services are free. If you have local directory sites for cities in your area, you may offer to include a directory listing as an additional service or bonus. Payment Gateways and Shopping Carts – Depending on the platform of your client‟s website, this may fall into the next section, Custom Programming Services. In many cases you can integrate shopping cart functionality into an existing website with very little or no programming. Social Elements – For many businesses it makes sense to incorporate some social elements such as article comments, reviews, voting, polls to name a few. Site integration with social networking services, such as Facebook and Twitter, offer additional customer interaction potential.

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Custom Programming Services As touched on previously, everyone knows a website has tremendous advertising potential. A website can also play an important role in running a business. You will find that most businesses are not taking full advantage of this business platform that can be configured and shaped to handle a variety of operational tasks. Here are just a few responsibilities that can be handed over to a website:

            

Ordering and buying products Customer relationship management (CRM) Register for events Answer questions Route sales inquires Approve or pre-qualify customers Schedule appointments Manage inventories Calculate shipping costs Provide real-time information Build a marketing database (list building) Staff collaboration (wiki) Customer interaction

If the client‟s website is not running on a CMS platform, it would be very beneficial to convert their website to a CMS. This would provide more cost effective and easier implementation options for adding functionality. Adding new functionality on a CMS site sometimes only takes a few clicks. Static websites completely in HTML (the majority of pages have an .html, .htm or .shtml file extension) should be a straightforward conversion that you could probably handle on your own. Or find a freelance CMS developer to perform for a flat fee. For sites with custom coding, it gets trickier and may not be cost effective to convert. You‟ll have to duplicate the functionality or port the existing code to the new site. If the client wants to go through with it, make sure you line up some qualified resources to make sure the project goes smoothly. For website conversion services you can start with the same pricing model as building a new website, and add to that as needed. Both services are very similar. With a site conversion the old website is the source of content for the new site. Remember, the service packages I came up with are just templates that you can modify to your needs or liking.

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In the case of website conversion, you may be presented with a particular challenge, such as replicate a unique function from the old site, and need to adjust your fees accordingly. To introduce new functionality, such as shopping carts, to a non-CMS may be a simple undertaking. For example, 1shoppingcart.com‟s shopping cart service handles the check out process on their website. The only thing that needs to be done on the client‟s website is adding “Buy Now” links for each product that will take the customer to 1shoppgincart.com for payment. This type of website integration would not require the need for a programmer. Most businesses that have a custom coded website have already invested in custom programming and are going to need programming services to maintain their site. Adding something like FedEx shipping calculations in the checkout process for a custom coded website is going to require the help of a web developer. In providing custom programming your role becomes one of Project Manager, where you find and hire resources to do the work and it‟s your responsibility to see the project though on time and under budget. It‟s harder to systematize custom work but it can be done. If you don‟t want to engage in a custom programming project, you can refer the project to a web development company or freelancer, and still maintain a relationship with your client for non-programming services. Be sure to have an agreement with the web developer to only provide work they are hired to do and not to sell additional services or compete with your services before introducing them to your client. This is standard and the developer should not have a problem with this. For future programming maintenance this developer, if they are any good, will likely get more business from you anyway. You can find web developers on many websites, such as: elance.com, scriptlance.com, rentacoder.com, guru.com and craigslist.org. Look for a developer that meets your client‟s needs as well as yours. One that allows you to be removed from the picture and works directly with your client to get the information they need. The company or individual you end up referring for web development services for your client is responsible for their work, but remember you are still joined to them at the hip. If they do a poor job you may receive some of the blame since you found them. Due diligence in your search is highly recommended. Don‟t just go by feedback and reviews, get references you can contact. Do a thorough reference and work experience check. Ask for examples of work. Learn how to validate websites using W3C Validator or Total Validator to make sure the HTML is clean. Simply enter a URL and the validator will give a pass/fail rating.

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Run a security scan on one of the vendor submitted examples. Choose an example that has input forms. Download the free version of Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner and run a scan. Depending on the size of the site it could take 30 minutes to over an hour to scan. Another free security scanning tool you can download is Scrawlr from HP. This one runs much faster than Acunetix because it only scans for database vulnerabilities. It is recommended that you become familiar with these scanners and others to use in validating your own websites. Security scanners are by no means exhaustive and hardly give you a false sense of security on your websites, however if they find anything on a website it should raise red flags. I would not hire anyone who submitted a referral website that did not have clean security scans from the most basic of scanners. Don‟t hire the first company or developer that looks good. Do talk to and investigate several. Your reputation could be on the line if you choose the wrong developers. Payment Gateways A type of project I do quite often is website payment processing integration. Often there are two types of payment processing modes. In one mode the customer shops on one website and when ready to pay they are taken to a second, payment processor website, such as PayPal.com or Authorize.net, then returned to the first site after submitting their payment information. In this mode the first website is not handling any aspect of payment process nor storing any sensitive data such as a credit card numbers. This is all being taken care of by the payment processor. Often this mode is very easy to implement and requires very little coding. In the second mode of payment processing, the customer never leaves the site they were shopping on to pay for their items. The payment process is integrated seamlessly into one website. This mode is much more attractive; however, the website owner takes full responsibility of any data entered by their customers. This mode requires an SSL Certificate (see Section 8: Website Security), and may require some coding to implement. If your client is interested in the seamless mode of payment processing, where the customer is inputting their payment information on your client's website, then the client needs to understand the seriousness of safeguarding their customer's information. They need to be fully committed to website security. Being fully committed to safeguarding customer‟s data may have substantial costs for additional monitoring and periodic audits of website security. Help your client understand to pros and cons between different payment modes.

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Case Study: Web Services for Maverick RV Loans Maverick RV Loans uses their website not only as a sales and marketing tool, they also recognize the operational value of their site and have used it in streamlining many tasks and processes. Maverick has a customer loan application on their site with instant loan approval built in. In working closely with Maverick, we came up with new ideas for automating their business that involved adding new functionality to their website. They run more efficiently, which saves them money and allows them to handle more loans. In the project I worked on, Maverick was interested in eliminating a task that was done manually by their loan closers. For every loan, each piece of collateral must have a certified value for the loan to be funded. Loan closers would often talk to dealers and customers on the phone, or read from faxes and emails all the vehicle options so they could get the precise value. As you might imagine there are hundreds of options available in even the smallest of RVs. The closers would take the vehicle information and all the options and look up the value in a NADA book (vehicle value guide similar to Kelly Blue Books). With today‟s technology and information available online, we thought there must be an opportunity here for partially or fully automating this task. After doing some research, we found that NADA did have a web service available that allowed for real-time lookups of vehicle values. Maverick‟s solution (and web service solutions in general) work like this: Maverick‟s website sends NADA‟s website a request for vehicle information, NADA instantly responds back with the information. With NADA‟s web service we were able to craft some web pages in Maverick‟s website to collect the vehicle information from the customer and incorporate it into the loan process. When a customer was approved for a loan online, they were directed to the vehicle pages to enter the vehicle options. After submitting their vehicle information the customer was done, but in the background the information was sent to NADA, a vehicle value retrieved and sent to a closer‟s inbox. Moving this task to the website saves an average of 50 labor hours each week for Maverick and frees up the closers to work on more loans. You might wonder what‟s in it for the customer to do the work and enter in all that vehicle information that would normally be done by the closer. The answer is on the web page they see after being approved for a loan: “Congratulations, you‟ve been approved! Now, to get your loan closed quickly and be on your way in your new RV, please enter your vehicle options below…” To complete this project we hired a part-time offshore developer. NADA supplied the documentation and code examples which the developer used in the vehicle options web pages. Companies that offer web services, such as NADA, will typically supply documentation and even finished code samples that you can plug right in to a web page. This is one example of a web service implementation. We see web services at work every day on many websites. Any shopping website offering FedEx or UPS shipping probably uses web services to get instant shipping pricing for your order, and then uses web services again to give you a status on your package in transit. Web services are a great way to add functionality and value to a website. They can be simple to implement, but some can be challenging depending on the security requirements of the web service publisher. A good web developer will be adept at implementing web services.

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Gather requirements. In custom programming you will need to become adept at the art of requirements gathering. These are sessions you have with your client to determine exactly how a feature or service they want to build into their website is going to work. The mission of gathering requirements is to capture and document all the necessary details needed to fulfill an activity. This exercise is important in uncovering all possible scenarios in an activity and to make sure the website is able handle them. There are a few different methodologies on requirements gathering which you can study if this topic is of interest to you and something you can see yourself doing over and over. I have my own quick and dirty methodology that I picked up and refined over the years. My methodology consists of looking at the goal of a process or activity from a big picture view, then drilling down into each task that is needed to accomplish that goal. For example, an activity could be allowing site visitors to register for an online seminar. You might start out with an outline like this: Activity Goal: Customer event register Tasks: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Customer: Webpage: Customer: Webpage: Customer: Webpage: Webpage: Webpage: Webpage:

Enter personal information Validate information Enter payment information, Submit Display customer entered information Confirm entered information & Submit registration Validate payment Book registration in database Show receipt & instructions for attending seminar Email receipt & instructions for attending seminar

End

You would use this list to ask questions and gather more information, such as in Task 1 what type of information needs to be collected. The answers you receive will expand upon each task giving you more details. After each task you should add an alternate step in case there is a problem. For example, if in Task 2 the customer enters an invalid email address what happens? Obviously, you want to return back to Task 1 with a message asking the customer to retype their email. You will want to note these details. Once youâ&#x20AC;&#x;ve gone through a few sessions and believe you have all the bases covered for an activity, you should have a detailed, step by step requirements Š 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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document for carrying out an activity. This document can be used as a software specification that can be handed off to a developer for programming, or used to shop for off the shelf website components that may meet all the requirements. Then move on to the next activity. It is also very helpful to use diagrams, such as flow chart style diagrams, especially for complex activities that have numerous steps each with multiple options. For such activities it is probably best to map out a very basic diagram first before drilling down into specific tasks. There are several methodologies and types of documentation templates you can use. They all do the same thing though some may argue one methodology over another. The bottom line is that any type of documentation you choose to use in explaining a website activity should be easy for all involved parties to read and understand. It can be on a paper napkin if that works best for everyone. Your client should be able to read your documentation and understand how their process works in detail, and a web developer should be able to understand what they need to deliver. You will also need to document the technical requirements. These have to do with the technologies used on the existing website, platforms, versions of software, etc. The technology used on the existing website must support any solution you or your developers come up with. You may have to interview the person who manages the current website or review the client‟s web hosting account with your developer and document the specs. This is only a taste of a large discipline in gathering and evaluating requirements and writing web application specifications. This is just to give you some basics in extracting the details in requirements and covering all the bases as best you can. For further study I‟ve listed a couple books in the Resources links. However, I have not found a book yet that describes a clear and practical approach to requirement gathering. Look for takeaways in the books I recommend if you don‟t want to implement the author‟s method of doing things. Perhaps you might find a better book than the two I recommend. Offer website marketing services. You will find that most businesses understand their website can be used for marketing, but are not using their website to promote themselves! Most just don‟t know where to get started and are just too busy to become educated. Even if they have some idea on what they can do, they are often too busy to do the work. This is yet another void for you to fill. Often these types of services require very little or no coding.

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There are dozens of ways to promote a website‟s products and services. Some take more effort than others, so I‟m only going to list ones that make sense to offer as services. For some of these services you will have to evaluate the work involved to determine what to charge. For others that are easier to measure, you may create a package to be offered for a flat rate. When providing marketing services you must make it clear to the client that you are doing the “labor” involved and not guaranteeing any level of success or sales. Marketing is a testing activity where you are trying to discover what works best and worth repeating, while trying to eliminate efforts that are a waste of time. Sometimes the failure of a campaign can be attributed to a client‟s decision making. You don‟t want to be on the hook for a failed campaign that wasn‟t your fault. Help the client understand the testing aspect of marketing and that you can help minimize risk through research, but you cannot eliminate it. To help your client in their marketing efforts you will need to have some perspective of their market and their unique selling proposition. If you have built this client‟s first website you will have some general knowledge in these areas. Now you need to dig much deeper into their market. This will take a little research on your part to get up to speed. You will also gain valuable knowledge as you engage in marketing activities for your client. In other words, you will get some “on the job” training by running a few campaigns. If providing this type of service to your client is something you would like to pursue, I strongly recommend studying some of the marketing resources listed in the following Tools & Resources page: http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources

Have a simple marketing plan. Talk to your client about the marketing options they have. As they agree to certain marketing activities create a marketing plan for your client. A marketing plan is your blueprint for marketing activities. A traditional marketing plan might be very detailed and elaborate with customer profiles, goals, budgets and so forth. Since I'm more of a doer than talker and like to keep the marketing plan fairly simple and primarily use it as a communication device between myself and the client. The main items you want to have in your marketing plan are activities, spending limits, target launch dates, measurements of success and checklists. I usually don't have goals and budgets in my marketing plans. The goal is to find out what activities work and repeat them. The budget? Well, if an activity is profitable © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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why would you stop doing it because there‟s a “budget”? I set spending limits for activities to test, for example in PPC, I will evaluate the performance of a particular keyword after 100 clicks. If had no sales after paying for 100 clicks, I would likely shut that keyword down. In some situations you might want to regulate a successful activity if the client has fulfillment volume limitations. As you manage certain marketing activities you want to create monthly performance reports to share with the client. Try to come up with a standard template you can use for all of your clients. Tip: As you recommend 3rd party services to your clients, sign up for affiliate programs so you can make a little money for recommending services your clients need. Use email marketing. This is one of the most effective types of marketing and a great way for your clients to maintain a relationship with their customers. Familiarize yourself with the process and what makes sense for your client. A great place to start is at Aweber.com. They have many articles on email marketing and great suggestions. Sign up for their affiliate program and get paid for recommending them. Get your client started on email campaigns to their customer contact database and to their prospect email list. If your client does not have an opt-in list or prospect list get them started on building one right away. Get an opt-in form on you client‟s site. Have them make an offer to those who sign up: a coupon, a free download, white paper, etc. Most of the marketing resources linked from the Resources section describe email marketing and various email marketing strategies. If your client likes the idea of sending surveys to customers -a great way to get priceless market information and stay in customer‟s minds- recommend they sign up for SurveyMonkey.com. Again, don‟t forget to sign up for their affiliate program. Establish partnerships with other businesses. Recommend your client enter into partnerships with other business owners when it makes sense and trade ads on websites or recommend each other‟s services. For example, if your client has a landscaping business they should look into getting referrals from the local gardening supply or nursery websites. Conversely, your client can sell ad space to other businesses if it makes sense, especially if your client‟s website receives lots of traffic. Another arrangement would be to cross-sell products from a partner business that adds value to an offering, while the partner does the same for your client in their sales and marketing efforts. You could also simply set up an affiliate program for © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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your client‟s products. This usually requires an affiliate tracking and management service or software. Buy ads on other websites. Ezine ads, Facebook ads and popular website banner ads can bring immediate traffic to a website, but conversions or sales may be lower than other forms of marketing. Use this strategy only if your client‟s products make a good match for a particular website audience. Sell your own ad space. If you have a local portal website or local business directory sell ad space on your site to your clients, or offer a free listing as a bonus for buying other services. The more traffic you have coming to your site, the more valuable your ad space. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) This is essentially buying traffic; you run ads on the search engines and pay for each click to your ad. If a client is interested in SEO, running a PPC campaign first is highly recommended. I talk a little more about this strategy in the SEO section. For now you can think of PPC as a quick way to test the site‟s effectiveness in getting sales. The results of this testing can be used to make changes to the site optimize it for sales and the search engines. If you decide to offer PPC services to your client, you may offer to do it for a commission on a sale. The client has to pay for the clicks, which can add up in a hurry. To help minimize their risk, instead of billing per hour for your time for setting up and running a campaign, you can ask for cut of each sale. Then they only have to pay for your success and if you are confident in your PPC abilities you may come out ahead than if you charged per hour of your time. You may get started understanding PPC though Google‟s free tutorials. http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter

For advanced Adwords resources, see Pay-per-click Marketing in the Internet Marketing section.

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Distribute video content. This can be a great way to create interest in a product or service and become established as an authority on a subject. Viewers can see the product in action, or learn something new about a product. There are dozens of websites that host videos making it easy to syndicate information about a product. There are professional video production services that will charge thousands to shoot and edit a video for your client. But as long as the production value is decent and the content is compelling you don‟t need more that a consumer video camera to make a popular video. You can even make a video from a slideshow presentation and adding voice over to the slides. Again, as long as the content is compelling and gives value to the viewer it can be effective.

Case Study: Will it Blend? You may have heard of the now legendary “Will it Blend” videos on YouTube. These videos are a great example of the power of online video and how a simple idea created millions for one business owner. Tom Dickson, founder of Blendtec, wanted to demonstrate how effective his lines of blenders were at pulverizing and liquefying food. Tom with some of his staff set out to make a few low cost videos of this bender in action for the Internet, but instead of just blending common grocery items they thought would be interesting to blend a garden rake, some marbles and a pair of safety goggles. The videos were an instant hit. They went a step further and started blending pop culture icons such as an iPod, a copy of Grand Theft Auto 4, a Rubik's cube, a Nike shoe, Halo 3, a Wii remote. Most of these videos had over 1 million views each. The iPhone Will It Blend video alone has over 7 million views. In every Blendtec video the items selected for disintegration is reduced to smoke and dust. So if you're in the market of a powerful and reliable blender wouldn't you consider a Blendtec? Many people have and Blendtec‟s sales have surged over 600% since the campaign started according to one website. What's important to note about these videos is they are not of the highest production quality. They were probably produced with some basic consumer video equipment and off-the-shelf editing software. What makes the videos so popular is the content. Some compelling content, a video camera and editing software is all you need to produce videos that could potentially raise brand awareness and boost sales. If you haven‟t seen these videos yet, go check them out at http://www.youtube.com/user/Blendtec

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Search engine optimization (SEO). This is a substantial and ongoing undertaking that warrants its own section. You can offer basic and advanced SEO packages, and perhaps packages in between. I get into the details in the next. Other marketing activities you may perform. Here are a few other Internet marketing methods that you can read more about and provide to your clients:     

Affiliate Programs Social Media Marketing Article Marketing (blogs, ezines) Conversational Marketing (blogs, forums) Hosting webinars and teleseminars

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Section 7: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Another enormous opportunity is in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is the art of optimizing the content and structure of a web page to improve its positioning in the results of a keyword search on a search engine. In other words, if you have a web page selling NFL apparel, you want your team jersey page for the Philadelphia Eagles to be listed at the top or as high as possible when someone searches for “nfl eagles jersey” on Google, Yahoo and MSN. If you‟ve done your SEO right, that visitor will find your site and buy a jersey. SEO is entirely keyword driven, get used to concept of marketing by words or phrases. It‟s very common to come across business owners who feel their website is not “working” for their business and are very disappointed. When they set up their website they probably had high hopes of countless traffic and instant sales. Perhaps they even had an SEO expert work on the site to “update the Meta tags” to improve website traffic. The only real improvement was to the SEO consultant‟s bank account. I‟m a believer and proponent of SEO, but it takes a commitment and effort. And results don‟t come overnight. The SEO improvements you make on your site today may take weeks before you see an improvement. SEO is sometimes considered “free” traffic, because the search engines don‟t charge anything to be listed at the top of the main search results (commonly referred to as the “organic” search listings). Technically that‟s true, however, it‟s only “free” if you didn‟t do any work to your site and you happened to rank highly for your target keywords by accident. In other words, there‟s time and effort involved in SEOing a site and that time is not free. The biggest advantage I see in SEO is that you can hold a top organic position for “free”. Unlike other traffic methods like PPC, if you have an ad in a top position you will lose that position the moment you stop paying for it. Again, there‟s work involved in holding down an organic top position so a competitor doesn‟t come along on knock you off your perch. Because of the commitment and cost proper SEO involves, PPC might be more attractive to a business owner. It‟s instant, can be turned off or on, is easier to track and adjust. In fact, many people make their entire living off of PPC traffic. I look at SEO and PPC this way: I want both working for me. SEO is a separate revenue channel, and I want to have several revenue channels for my website. If for some reason my PPC campaign gets turned off, I still have my SEO traffic and © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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hopefully some other revenue channels to fall back on. Also, when you are running PPC campaigns, you are collecting valuable market keyword data. Why not use that valuable data to SEO your website? There could be some low hanging fruit available by doing a little SEO. SEO is a vast topic that I‟m not going to attempt to cover in its entirety. I will go over the basics and some tips. There are thousands of websites, books, videos, and classes devoted to this one topic. If you go looking for SEO information you are likely to be bombarded with hyped products that are inaccurate or outdated promising top search engine results in hours. Most of these products can be a waste of time and money. In the Resources section of this book I list a few reputable and trustworthy SEO experts you can turn to for further study. And here are some tips from Google for selecting the right SEO help: Hiring SEO Agencies

The Basics There are the “Big 3” search engines, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, but I‟m going to talk mostly about Google here. The most searches are done on Google by a wide margin, and that margin grows wider each year. Also, if you do well in Google, chances are you‟re going to well, if not better, in the other search engines. Understand Google. When it comes to SEO for Google or even Google‟s Adwords advertising network, there is one fundamental principal you must understand about Google that should be the basis of everything you publish online: Google wants people to have the best possible experience when they use their search engine and other services. If someone types in “mountain bikes” in their search engine, Google wants the best website about mountain bikes to show up first in the results, the second most relevant to show up next and so on. In Google‟s PPC advertising the most relevant web page for a particular keyword phrase is going to pay less for that keyword than competing sites are less relevant web. The best websites will have an easier time getting the top ad spots. This is Google‟s way of improving the likelihood of the search intent matching the advertisement. How does Google determine which websites best match the search term and rank them? They don‟t fully disclose all the factors that go into their ranking, nor how much weight is given to any factor they do admit to using. This leaves the door open

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to much speculation and the reason why there are so many SEO “experts” who claim to know the secrets of getting your site to the top of the Google. Perhaps some of the best information on what‟s important to Google and how to rank well comes from Google themselves in their Webmaster Guidelines: Google's Webmaster Guidelines

Links It is common knowledge that one factor Google uses to rank websites is the number and quality of incoming links from other websites. When one website posts a link to another, Google views that link as a vote for the site. It‟s like saying, “Hey, I found a great site you should check it out. Here‟s the link.” Getting incoming links is one of the best ways to improve ranking in the search engines. The quality of the link also plays a factor. A single link from a highly ranked site is worth more than 10 links from some mediocre sites. What‟s the best approach for getting links? First, let‟s back up a second. We know that Google rewards websites that add value to the web. The best website about mountain bikes is naturally going have people recommending that site to others and posting links to it from other websites. So, it starts with having great content. If your site has great content other people are going to do the link building work for you. Waiting for people to link to your website takes time. For a new website you may want to do some aggressive link building for your site and get higher in the rankings. Some of the SEO gurus I follow swear by cold calling webmasters of other websites. They contact webmasters by email or by phone and try to talk them into a link exchange agreement. This works, I‟ve done it before, though I never felt that comfortable with this approach. I prefer to use social news and networking websites for linking, sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Squidoo. You can often make posts on these sites that contain links to a site you want to promote. This strategy works best with news worthy announcements. Say you have a mountain biking website, you post an announcement on your site about an event you want to promote or a new product and then post an article on a dozen social news and networking sites about your announcements. I have found this to work extremely well and feel more comfortable with it more than cold calling webmasters. There is some debate over the quality of links you get from the social sites, and Google is known for devaluing links from certain types of sites from time to time. It‟s best to keep up with SEO news from gurus like Jerry West and Michael Campbell, who is an expert in using the social media sites for SEO purposes. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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I also like using press releases for getting quality back links. Though this can be seem like a pricey strategy at $200 to $300 a pop, but think about it in terms of work. To do a press release you simply write one and insert your target keywords in the release (no more than 1 link per 100 words). I can get a solid 3 or 4 links from one release which is about an hour‟s work. Compare that with the time spent on a link campaign researching websites and sending out emails for links. I‟ll bet the costs in terms of my time are about the same. A press release is an official written statement that is sent to the media so that it can be publicized. A company may release a statement to the media announcing a new product or other newsworthy event. Businesses can use press releases to reach out to new customers and increase website visits. PRWeb.com, is the best online press release service at this time. They may seem expensive, but they send periodic coupons for 50% off if you have a free account. I‟ve received 2 of these coupons so far this year and have saved almost $400. PR tips and how to set up a free PRWeb.com account can be found here: http://techiediy.com/web-site-help/article/press_release_tips

Keywords When you are link building you want to emphasize the keywords you are trying to rank in the text of the link. Or, if posting on the social news websites, your target keywords should appear in the headline of your post and mentioned at least once in the body of your article. Links should look like this if possible: Read more about mountain bikes Not like this: To read more about mountain bikes click here Notice in the first example my target keywords are in the link itself. Sometime you don‟t have this level of control of how a website links back to yours, but this is what you really want. Having your keywords in the link will help your site rank better for that particular keyword. How to choose keywords. The best keywords to target are the ones that result in sales. It can‟t always be immediately explained why a subtle difference, for example “Headaches” vs. “Headache”, may result in 3 times more sales. That‟s why we test. Other times it is easy to explain. I heard a story of one man who was selling bulk aluminum foil online. He was struggling with sales until he started optimizing his site for the phrase “tin foil” instead of “aluminum foil”. That simple change made a

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dramatic difference in sales. Obviously, his customers were searching for aluminum foil but using a different term than he had on his site. Testing is the only way to find the most profitable keywords for your website. But you have to start with an initial list to test. The best tool for this is the Google Keyword Suggestion Tool:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

It‟s a very easy to use tool. Enter a keyword phrase, or a group of phrases (one per line) in the empty box; enter in the human verification code and the tool will return keywords from Google‟s database of actual searches. In the above screenshot, I entered “nfl gear”; let‟s see what that gives us… (next page)

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As you can see, we get lots of great keyword information. The term “nfl gear” had approximately 33,000 searches in one month. That‟s some decent traffic; however, the green bar tells us there are a high number of competitors for this keyword (Google doesn‟t give us the real competition figures). Is “nfl gear” a good keyword phrase to optimize a web page? The amount of competition indicates people are likely making money from this phrase, but it also indicates a newcomer is probably in for a rough time trying to get a piece of this action. If you are ambitious enough you can analyze the competition to see how strongly the term is optimized to see if you have a way in. This is advanced SEO research, if you‟re not ready for that there may be some low hanging fruit in this list. Take a look at “women nfl gear”, traffic for July is about 320, chances are during football season that number is going to go up. The Global Monthly Search Volume, which is a monthly average over the past 12 months, seems to indicate it does go up since it is higher at almost 400. This might be a good keyword to test if you sell this type of product or are an affiliate for a store that does.

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You can use the Google Keyword Tool to form a list of initial keywords to test. Keep in mind when using this tool that a keyword phrase that may look good on paper may not result in sales, that‟s where testing comes in. You may also find keyword ideas from Google‟s search results pages. Let‟s say your site sells NASCAR merchandize and you wanted ideas for keywords or even to expand your product offering. Here‟s the bottom of the search results page for a search on the keyword phrase “nascar collectibles”:

You will receive keyword phrases Google estimates is related to your search. As you click these links you will received a new set of suggestions at the bottom of each new page. This can be another method to expand on your base keywords. Another way to get these same keyword suggestions is by using Google‟s “Wonder Wheel”, which is a graphical tool that can be used to navigate a search. You can turn it on by clicking on the Show options link in the top left of the results pages:

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Then click Wonder wheel in the left column, a wheel with keyword phase suggestions will appear:

As you click the links in the spokes of the wheel, a new wheel will appear with new suggestions based on the keyword phrase clicked. Just click Standard view just above the Wonder wheel link to turn it off. “Long Tail” keywords: The “The Long Tail” was a Wired magazine article written by editor in chief, Chris Anderson, that appeared in 2004. Chris later expanded on the long tail concept as it relates to online sales in a book, “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”. In a nutshell, in the long tail concept a business could make just as much money selling a variety of obscure items as selling mass quantities of one popular item. A woman may not be able to find seat covers for her 2004 Subaru Forester in town because it‟s not profitable enough for the local car parts store to carry that accessory for all models. They only stock for the most common cars. However, on the web it‟s just as easy to find seat covers for a 2007 Honda Accord as it is to find covers for a 2004 Subaru Forester. The long tail strategy doesn‟t make much sense for a physical store serving only customers in the local community. The long tail makes lots of sense on the web where there are no regional boundaries. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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Often it is easier to get ranked well for long tail keywords because there is less competition for them. The traditional retailers and companies focus on broader keywords. Instead of optimizing for the term “2004 Subaru Forester seat covers“, they may choose to target “car seat covers”. Thus you can “fly under the radar” of the bigger retailers online who traditionally market mass produced items by optimizing for keywords they may be missing. There‟s another benefit to long tail keywords. Typically they have stronger “commercial intent”, which means a person searching on a long, specific keyword phrase is likely further along in their decision to make a purchase. Take a search on “car seat covers” vs. “2004 Subaru Forester seat covers”, which do you think is more likely to score a purchase? My money is on “2004 Subaru Forester seat covers”. Let‟s check the Microsoft commercial intent tool for “car seat covers”…

http://adlab.microsoft.com/Online-Commercial-Intention/Default.aspx

0.96, that‟s pretty high, more than I thought. Let‟s check “2004 Subaru Forester seat covers”…

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A perfect 1.0. I would not rely on this tool since it is not 100% accurate, but I hope it helps illustrate my point. Dr. Glenn Livingston teaches a very comprehensive approach to keyword research and strategy. You will find a link to some of his free information in the following Tools & Resources directory: http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources/54-pay-per-click

Meta Tags You may have seen one SEO expert or another advertise that they will optimize your websites meta-tags for a fee. Updating Meta-tags is easy and sounds important, it is very important not necessarily for bringing in tons of traffic, but for standing out among the crowd. I'll show you what I mean in a moment. First let‟s take a look at the specific meta-tags we want to use. In HTML there are several Meta and document tags, but I only want to talk about two, the <title> and <meta name=”description”> tags. The title tag is the title of a web page. Whatever is in the title tag shows up in your web browser's title bar. Continuing the HTML example from Section 2, let‟s add a title tag to myfirstwebpage.html

<html> <head> <title>My First Web Page</title> </head> <body> Hello world! </body> </html>

The file opened in your web browser renders as:

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HTML Title tag.

Note the text within the title tag shows up in the title bar of the web browser window.

The title tag also is displayed as a headline in the search engine results pages (highlighted in yellow):

Google search results example.

Here is a snippet of HTML from the first result in the above search screenshot, the one that reads “How To Use HTML Meta Tags - Search Engine Watch (SEW)”: © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <meta name="description" content="This tutorial explains how to use HTML meta tags, with links to meta tag generators and builders. From SearchEngineWatch.com, a guide to search engine submission and registration." /> <meta name="keywords" content="using meta tags" /> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" /> <title>How To Use HTML Meta Tags - Search Engine Watch (SEW)</title>

Notice the text within the title tag is used in the Google search results page as a headline for each website. The description tag, <meta name=”description”>, is a short description of the web page and is the text just under the title in the search results. Compare the description tag from the same HTML snippet to the search results screenshot:

<meta name="description" content="This tutorial explains how to use HTML meta tags, with links to meta tag generators and builders. From SearchEngineWatch.com, a guide to search engine submission and registration." />

Close up of the first entry in Google search results example.

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The title and description tags may be used in every web page on a website as if you were writing an ad for each page, trying to get people to click. The more interesting and compelling your page titles and descriptions are, the more likely people are going to click. Notice that Google bolds the keywords I searched on, “meta tags”, in the title text and the description text. You can‟t format text in the description tag; Google does this to point out my search terms appear in the description of this page. So it‟s a good idea to include the keywords you are targeting in your page descriptions to draw attention to your entry. Google uses the title tag as one indicator as to what the web page is about, in addition to the text throughout the main body of the web page. This is one of the ways Google determines relevancy between the web page and keyword phrases. So it is essential to have your target keywords in your title tag and emphasized in the content of the page. There is one more Meta tag for keywords you may hear about, the “keywords” Meta tag: <meta name="keywords">. The purpose of this tag is to provide keyword phrases that indicate what the page is about. Let look at the keywords tag from the HTML example from Search Engine Watch:

<meta name="keywords" content="using meta tags" />

This tag had its time in the early days of the Internet, but today it‟s mostly ignored, most notably by Google. The above example says it all, you can stuff many keywords in this tag, but a site about SEO chose to only use one phrase, “using meta tags”. SEO experts speculated Yahoo still used this tag until Yahoo confirmed in late 2009 they had not for some time. Using this tag is discouraged. Updating the meta-tags in a CMS usually does not have to involve editing HTML. A CMS such as Joomla has entry boxes you can fill out for each different web page. You can apply page unique title and description Meta information to any page.

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Joomla meta options.

In Joomla, the page or article Title (highlighted in the upper left of the screenshot) text is also used in the title tag. Tips for Meta-Tags: As mentioned earlier, treat title and description tags like ads for each and every web page. Make sure the text in your Meta tags are unique from page to page, Google may actually penalize your site for duplicate content if you have the same titles and descriptions across multiple pages. The title tag is the headline for your ad, keep it to 64 characters or less, include the keyword phrase you are targeting once, and make it compelling so that someone would want to click on it. The description tag, like the title tag, is used to attract prospects. Keep the text in this tag to 165 characters or less, and just like the title tag, include your target keyword, and make it compelling. Some examples of title and description tag usage:

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Even the good example from this screenshot could use some work to make the listing more compelling, otherwise they have the right idea in my opinion. Study SEO. I hope this section has been helpful in introducing you to some of the basics of SEO. If you decide to provide SEO services you must make it clear to your client that you are doing the SEO “labor” and not guaranteeing any level of traffic or sales. There are so many variables at play in ranking higher in the search engines, increasing traffic and improving sales, it‟s difficult gauge precisely how effective an SEO activity is going to be. Also, some of the variables might be beyond your control. All you can do is research to minimize risk and test to see what works best. For further study on SEO, please see the SEO section of the TechieDIY.com Tools & Resources, which includes a link to the highly recommended Google Best Practices book by Jerry West. The information he provides is based on hard data gained though testing hundreds of websites. I appreciate his scientific approach to SEO and grateful to have access to his information. http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources/58-seo

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Section 8: Website Security I predict the demand for security services for CMS websites will surge in the next few years. This forecast is based on the growing adoption to Open Source CMS software and a few inherent vulnerabilities that come with these systems. Offering basic security services can add value to your offering and widen the gap between you and your competitors who don‟t offer these services. Offering security services requires that you learn and master website security best practices, and what to do when a site is attacked. These are very valuable and marketable skills to have. If you don‟t want to learn these skills yourself, you can partner with an experienced systems administrator with a strong security background. Before we get into a few security basics, you first need to understand you should never agree to be responsible for preventing a client website from being hacked; you should only agree to help minimize the risk, that is to say if you choose to offer anything at all concerning security. Keep in mind as you may not agree to be responsible for securing a client‟s website, they will probably call you if they discover an attack –and expect your help. Website security is obviously very large topic that I won‟t attempt to cover in depth. What you should get out of this section is that websites are vulnerable, and you need to have a plan should a client‟s website come under attack.

The Achilles’ Heel of Open Source CMS I‟m a big believer in CMS‟s and the advantages they can bring a business in cost savings and in online agility, but there is one major weakness for primarily Open Source CMS‟s –security. Open Source CMS‟s such as Joomla and Wordpress are susceptible to attacks. Mainly because CMS‟s have the ability to install plug-ins developed by third-parities. Plug-ins come from various groups, from experienced programmers to novices, and may be of uncertain quality containing security holes. There are steps that can be taken to minimize the security risks in running a CMS website. For any website, CMS or not, you must be vigilant in staying current on patches and stay up on security news. Most CMS‟s have a section on their official websites dedicated to the topic of security. And some CMS‟s maintain lists of trusted third-party plug-ins and modules. There are scanning tools and professional services you may use to try to hack into your website and provide a report on the current level of security. A short list of free

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and commercial tools and services are in the following Tools & Resources page under the Security category: http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources/57-security

Separate from the CMS and the website itself, is the security of the web hosting account or web server the site runs on. You can hire an expert to perform a security review of your web server‟s configuration. There are also a number of web hosting companies that specialize in CMS websites and are optimized for performance and security. Run security scans on your sites for obvious vulnerabilities. Download the free version of Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner and run a scan. This scanner exposes cross-site scripting vulnerabilities. Depending on the size of the site the scan could take 30 minutes to over an hour to complete. Also run a scan using Scrawlr from HP. This scanner reveals SQL injection vulnerabilities. Familiarize yourself with general website security best practices and the best practices recommended for the CMS you are running. Learn how to take basic security measures which you can perform. For a project that requires advanced security measures consult with a system administrator with a strong background in website security. There is no guaranteed protection for any website, but doing all you can to protect your site may turn an attacker‟s attention to a more vulnerable target, of which there are tens of thousands of to choose from. When discussing website security with your clients, let them know that it is a priority in your business and that you have taken extra measures to protect their website. This can be another selling point if the client is trying to decide between you and a competitor. Make sure you have in your work agreement some language that makes it clear you are not responsible or liable if your client‟s website is attacked. You can add that you will do what you can to restore a hacked site to an original state, but it would be insane to accept responsibility for a hacked website. As an example of some steps you should take to improve the security of a Joomla website, see this checklist provided by TechieDIY.com: http://techiediy.com/web-site-help/article/joomla_security_checklist

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SSL Certificates SSL (Secured Sockets Layer) is a web protocol that encrypts data being communicated between an SSL enabled web server and site visitors. When visiting websites that use SSL you may notice the “https” in the URL, versus the typical “http”. The “https” tells the web browser to initiate a secure connection and validate the web server‟s SSL certificate. Certificates are recommended, and in some cases required, on sites that handle sensitive information. They can be obtained by Certificate Authorities (CA), such as VeriSign, for a fee. The CA will provide installation instructions, though a systems administrator may be needed to help install the certificate on a web server. Most web hosting companies offer SSL Certificates and will automatically install them on an existing web hosting account. These certificates may be lower priced than a VeriSign certificate and may not have the same level of trust. This might be fine depending on your website needs. Generally, if you are running an e-commerce site or collecting customer information you want the highest level of trust you can obtain. For more information about SSL Certificates, see VeriSign.com: http://www.verisign.com/ssl/ssl-information-center

Have a Plan It is important to have a plan should disaster strike. If you don‟t know the first thing about web security, your plan should consist of a few phone calls to systems admin contacts you have. Make sure your client understands your plan ahead of time and agrees to cover any costs in an attack. If you have set up the client‟s web hosting account, make sure the logs are set up properly. Again, hire an expert to do it or walk you through it if you don‟t know how to do this. Your plan should include the possibility of restoring the website and email on another web host. Sometimes with shared web hosting, the host will lock your account after an attack. Even if you have found the exploit and repaired your website, the web host may not turn things back on until you have proven to them the issue has been resolved. This will add to the site‟s downtime depending on how responsive the web host‟s customer support is. You may have to take a backup of the website and restore it on a completely new web host. Again, get authorization from your client ahead of time for the added expense. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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In your plan, make sure you have everything you need to do a website restore. The client‟s hosting account passwords and passwords to the domain registrar for redirecting the domain name if necessary. Learn how to restore a website from a backup. In a website emergency, you may not be able to reach anyone to help you restore a compromised website. You can restore a website yourself in minutes if you learn how it‟s done. In your web hosting account, learn how to set up periodic backups - daily if possible. Then learn how to restore a website from a backup. Most website hosts have backup and restore capabilities available with just a few clicks. You could assign this responsibility to a web developer or system administrator you work with. I do feel it's very important that you learn to do this yourself. If there ever comes a time when a client calls you in a panic because their site is down or has been hacked you can take action without having to wait for your tech to get back to you. Earlier in this guide I spoke about having a demo site of a CMS to allow clients and prospects a chance to “test drive” a particular CMS. As clients take the site for a spin they may enter information to the site that you might want to clean up after they are done. This is a great opportunity to learn how to restore a website from a clean back up. After doing this manually a few times you can even learn how to make this an automated process that runs nightly. Periodically restoring websites will help you get in the habit of setting up regular backups and feel confident in your ability to re-establish a client‟s site should disaster strike.

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Section 9: Marketing Your Business Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) You need to have an answer to the question, “Why should I hire you, right now, instead of so-and-so?” The answer to this question becomes your unique selling proposition or USP. People can get a website built many different ways; they can hire a freelancer, go with a consulting firm, or even use an automated online service. What value do you bring to the table that these other services do not have or cannot provide? Let's talk about my USP for a second. I noticed in my area that web designers and developers were under serving clients in follow up and integration of the site into the client‟s business process. Most simply created websites and moved on to the next client when the site was done. I began to market myself as a web developer who understood business and not only built websites, but could show clients how to get more ROI out of their sites. My USP became: I understand your trade and will quickly get your website performing for your business and paying off in new ways. This was neither a tag line nor a mission statement. This was just something that I kept in the back of my mind and referred to as I spoke to clients, wrote copy for my website, and placed ads in Craigslist. Your USP must be benefit driven, compelling and unique to your competition. It should come through in your phone calls, emails, website, etc. when describing your services. Your USP must have to do with your ability to solve common website business problems, thus making you the expert. Or your experience in a certain market, such as gardening, fitness, etc. Whatever your USP is it should portray a direct and strong benefit to the consumer considering your services. Try Perry Marshall‟s USP template to help you get started on your own USP: http://www.perrymarshall.com/usp/

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Tips for an Edge on the Competition Clients will choose you over a competitor for a variety of reasons important to them. Here are some common reasons:     

Ability to deliver on a immediate need Superior product/service Better pricing or perceived value Trust; proof of experience Good rapport; enjoy working with you

Your USP can get you in front of more prospects and help them make the decision to hire you. Here are more tips for sealing the deal after meeting with prospects. Meet with clients face-to-face when possible. You may find that people who need a website are all around you, and most of them are not being marketed to by your competition! That‟s because many of the bigger website design and development outfits do not target smaller businesses. The bargain basement website developers only advertise on the Internet –which may never be seen by your customer because they are too busy running their business. This is where you can provide real value to your clients; they can worry about running their business while you can manage their online presence. I can hear the cries, “But I want to work from home!” You can and you will, but it will benefit your own business greatly if you can spend a little time each week meeting potential new customers in person and visiting existing customers on a regular basis. You can have these face-to-face meetings and still spend the majority of your work time at home. After you‟ve landed that new client you can switch from office or store visits to online meetings (using my favorite software GoToMeeting), phone calls and emails. Based on my experience, just showing up at an office seems to remind people of ideas they want to run by me –which usually equates to more business. Plus, you may be working with only one direct contact by email or phone; perhaps it‟s the office manager or the owner of the business. In the office or store there may be others who have ideas on how to improve the website or noticed a problem that needs attention. By seeing you in the office the manager or owner may be reminded by staff to discuss it with you. Just showing your face in the office can trigger more business for you. Take advantage of time spent with clients. You‟ll get more business and you can learn much more about a market than trying to do research on the web.

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Specialize in a niche. Clients may choose you over a competitor if they feel more comfortable working with you, even if the competitor costs less and has more experience. And one way to gain instant trust is having familiarity with your client‟s business and industry. Present yourself as specializing in websites for your client‟s trade. They will be able to relate to you because you understand their business and can speak their language. Before you meet for an initial website consultation, have some ideas ready that pertain to their line of business. Chances are they will be impressed. “But I‟m not an electrician; how can I possibly relate to someone who is?!” It‟s not that hard. Before approaching a potential client, do some homework on their trade. What are the challenges for doing business in their industry? You may not have all the answers to their business problems but having empathy goes a long way too. Look at what their competition is doing online, and what the competition is NOT doing. Are there particulars about doing business in the area? For example, if the candidate is an independent electrician, perhaps their competition only covers a certain area and your client covers a larger region. You might bring up that fact to the client and suggest they emphasize that on their website. Even if they are not interested in that particular idea (perhaps they are thinking of cutting back on travel due to costs) they will probably be impressed with your knowledge of the market. And if you land the client because you were able to identify and relate with them, the research and information you collected can be used to shape their website so that it stands out among their competition. If you see potential in a particular niche and want to target it for the long term, it might be worth your time to offer a business a website for next to nothing, or whatever you are comfortable with. That way you‟ll have at least one website in that niche under your belt to show off to other businesses in the same trade. In an area such as criminal law, giving away one free website to a lawyer is nothing compared to the potential payoff of being an expert in criminal law websites. Take advantage of personal interests. Are you really into fashion and are constantly scanning style news and designer catalogs online? Who better to advise a designer clothing boutique on their website? Love Prosumer audio gear? So does the owner of a recording studio, or a high-end home theater installer, or a car audio specialist. And you can be an expert in not just one, but several niches if you like. Once you‟ve established yourself in a niche, no competitor will be able to touch you in that area. Niches are very powerful and many companies base their entire business around this concept. It can be a very enjoyable and lucrative way to run your business.

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Be a problem solver. Specialize in a niche market, but be well rounded and resourceful in being able to solve different types of problems. Have an arsenal of tools and ideas for problems associated with doing business on the web. When there‟s a problem, you get the call. Use good judgment, don‟t be a “Yes-person” and bite off more that you can chew. Only take on problems you know you can handle. Analyze the issue to gain a full understanding of the problem. Often there‟s a seemingly big problem and once broken down it may turn out to be a much smaller issue. If your client has a problem or concern you don‟t have an immediate answer for, that‟s okay. Let them know you have many resources and business relationships, and will get back to them immediately with an answer after the meeting. Develop the skill of problem solving. While listening to your client, focus on the heart of each problem. Focusing on the core of each issue will lead you to ask the right questions, to dig down to the root of the problem, and to come up with the most elegant solution. Highlight specific problems you‟ve overcome for clients in your marketing, especially on your website. Chances are that others have had the same challenges and searching online for a solution. Search online for other problems related to your industry you have not encountered yet. If you have ideas for solutions begin marketing for these problems as well. Send a “Snail Mail” thank you letter. If you‟ve had the privilege to meet with a new business and present your services, craft a Thank You letter on paper and mail it to the prospect‟s office. Mail it the same day the meeting took place if possible, or the next morning. It‟s a small act of consideration that can go a long way. These days it‟s rare to receive such thoughtfulness and can effectively distinguish yourself from your competitors. Don‟t just send a generic form letter, be sure to mention any specific concerns your potential client brought up in your meeting and your ability to address them. The letter may serve as another opportunity to put the client‟s fears at ease, and may remove any hesitation to hire you.

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Value added specialized services. Earlier I mentioned creating niches for your business as it relates to your client‟s trade. You may also choose to be an expert in a particular service area. For example, you may have noticed already there are many freelancers (perhaps too many) who only do SEO work, and are trying to establish themselves as an authority on the subject. Generally, as an authority they can ask for more money for their services and have an edge of those who don‟t have the same level of expertise. If you can bundle some specialized services, like SEO, in your overall package, you will out deliver the competition in value you bring to the table. You can line up online resources that you use to provide expert services to your client. These can be in the form of subscriptions to premium websites, guides or videos you can refer to for professional advice. Often you will find information of better quality than your client would find locally, and at a cost that is much less compared to hiring a local expert. If you find a training video or ebook, you simply follow the instructions given to you. You could outsource this task, but I believe it would benefit your business to learn and understand how to do the work yourself. Then you become the expert. Lining up these resources will likely require small investments on your part, but this is expertise that can be sold to all your clients. For example, one $50 SEO ebook or video series could turn into hundreds of dollars in profit from each of your clients. You get more business and your client gets added value. A few more examples of specialized services that the competition may be overlooking:    

Security: Taking measures to protect the website from hackers. Accessibility Features: Making the website friendly to people with special needs. Website Marketing: Using various methods of bringing visitors to the site. Video Production: Video can be used to both bring visitors to a site and to increase sales of a featured product.

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Presenting Yourself to Clients What are you, a web designer or web developer? There is a problem in this industry in that these job descriptions are not well understood by the general public. It's common to find businesses that have an expectation of what a web designer does from past experience of working with one, and in just about every case it doesn't match my definition of web design. From my personal point of view, web design is simply the work of making the content presentation clear and easily accessible, while directing visitors to the website's goals. Businesses often create websites to sell products or to get sales leads, these are the website's goals. So often over the years and even to this day, I have seen dazzling, beautiful websites built by professional web designers that actually hinder the sales process of the site. Because there is no standard definition for web designer, and if you market yourself as one, you have to set the client‟s expectation at the outset as to exactly what services you will provide. Businesses that do understand the work of a web developer probably has had some experience with working with one, and may have a website that was custom coded. This type of work may involve fixing problems created by previous web developers, which means reverse engineering someone else's work. If you're not interested in this type of website work you're probably better off marketing yourself as a web designer. Often when the typical business owner believes they need help with their website they go looking for a web designer. Some of them do need the services of a designer, but after listening to clients it often turns out that‟s not what they need at all. What business owners really need is our help as Internet problem solvers to help them understand what their issues really are. This might be a typical conversation with a business owner: Mike calls me and asks, “Hey Tom, you work on websites, right? Do you do web design?” Me: “Sure Mike, I might be able to help you with web design. But first, what seems to be the problem?” “I think my site needs a new look.” “Did someone say it looks bad or is hard to use?” “Well, no, not really…” “Then what‟s wrong with the way your site looks?” (Notice I‟m trying to get to the real problem.) © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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“I‟m just not getting any sales.” “How many visitors did you have to your site last month?” “…umm, around 50 …I think.” “I don‟t think giving your site a new look is going to help.” The real problem with Mike's site is that he has no visitors coming to it. Some might argue the lack of sales could be attributed to Mike‟s site design. That might be true, but with such low numbers there‟s no way to know that. In my opinion, I‟d rather see Mike make an effort to drive some visitors to his site first, then determine if he really needs a new site design. I‟m more than happy to help him with this. I have had this conversation several times in real life, and in most cases the website was fine the way it was designed (though any site can be improved). As it turned out there wasn‟t enough site promotion or the product offer wasn‟t very good. You need data to make these determinations. If I market myself to a business owner as a web designer, I make it clear that I‟m more interested in making their website a commercial success rather than making it look cool. I will help clean up a site and make it look more professional because that is in line with my philosophy on how to make the site a financial success. I let them know I‟m not in the business of creating fancy animations or graphics.

Marketing Fundamentals If you have very little knowledge of general marketing fundamentals, that‟s okay, many of your competition is in the same boat. Some basic knowledge of marketing would benefit you significantly in how you approach and run your business. In the Resources section of this guide I have listed some highly recommended books. The more you can study about marketing the bigger the edge you‟ll have over your competition and the bigger your bank account will be. A couple aspects of marketing your businesses that I want to prepare you for. I‟m going to be talking about conversions. A conversion occurs when a prospective client performs a desired action presented by a business for sales purposes. A conversion could be as simple as asking and receiving an email on a website, or as significant as signing a million dollar contract. Each of these acts by a prospective client can be defined as a conversion. Conversion rate is the percentage of people presented with a call to action who converted against those who did not. If you have an ad asking for people to call and 100 people see the ad in a week, and of the 100 who saw the ad you receive 1 phone call, then your conversion rate for that week is 1%. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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You have to accept that most people you contact, by email, by phone, or through advertising will not become your client. The last time I was actively promoting my business, I found that if I could get someone on the phone by responding to my ad on Craigslist.org, my average was about 1 in every 10 conversations turned into a paid project. That‟s about a 10% conversion rate. Overall that‟s not bad. But you may see it as 9 of 10 people turning me down. What happened here? Of the 9 people who didn‟t hire me, there are 3 groups they fell into: 

 

Projects I was not interested in. When I first started in this business I took any project I could get, my conversion rate was easily 2 in 5, or 40%. Over time I found that some clients took up more of my time than others, and some types of projects were more problematic than others. After speaking with certain people on the phone I can get a general sense of what it will be like to work with them, and if I foresee trouble ahead I won‟t make my best effort in trying to land the project. Not serious enough. Some people have ideas or even plans but for one reason or another just don‟t move forward. I failed to impress. There are some people that I just didn‟t get through to and they hired someone else to do their projects.

A really good salesperson may convert 40 or 50% on qualified leads. If I focus my attention on improving conversion on the two latter groups, I most likely would see some improvement. If I converted 50% I would be ecstatic, but someone who doesn‟t understand marketing might think I‟m still losing out on half the people I talk to. That last example was about converting a phone conversation into a project. Now, when we talk about first getting people who see my ads to call or email, those conversion rates go south in a hurry. But don‟t worry; this is the norm in marketing. Let‟s switch gears to Direct Marketing, or junk mail. I was in this business before I started freelancing. I used to update some of biggest marketing databases for many of the largest non-profits, catalogs and other US companies. Many companies I worked with would send literally millions of pieces of mail every year. Often a 2% response was considered a successful campaign. That means for every 100 letters they mailed, 2 responses was considered good. The reason I want you to understand conversion is so that you can gauge your marketing efforts. Through analyzing your conversion rates you can make improvements on marketing activities that are working well, and focus less time on activities that have low conversion. I also wanted to point out that different marketing activities may have vastly different conversion rates, such as a free consultation meeting might result in an 80% conversion rate per month vs. a banner ad on a website which results in a monthly © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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0.5% rate. Both activities have conversion rates but are totally different and cannot be compared. So too, you can‟t expect the same conversion rates you are seeing in one medium transfer over into other mediums such as Internet, print ads, email list and direct mail. Position yourself. This is an area where understanding your market and having a well defined USP will pay off greatly. In every medium you choose to market in, your message must be clear on the two primary aspects of your service: you provide a great value for the price which will result in an excellent return on investment (ROI), and your unique services are hard to come by even though they may seem similar to others. This is how you position yourself in the marketplace. Pay attention to the questions your clients and prospects ask, discussions taking place on the web, and successful campaigns by your competition. This understanding of the market will help you craft a precise sales message and position yourself to meet the needs of your prospects. Package your services. Here is a suggestion to help communicate your service benefits to your audience. Structure your services into groups, or packages. You see this all the time in marketing, from Microsoft to Verizon. Each package has a set price designed to convey great value. Here is a sample package for a new website:         

Domain name of your choice New website up and running in 24 hours, with administrator panel for selfservice updates Premium website template conforming to the latest web standards and search engine friendly Business Privacy Policy and Terms of Service pages Site maps Website custom navigation set up Social network site links Google Analytics set up 1 hour of training to maintain your site

There are more package examples in the 2 nd appendix of this book. You will want to have as many profitable marketing channels as manageable. I already gave you one: networking in your local area. Unless you live in a sparsely populated rural area, this channel can be sustainable through repeat business and jumping on new businesses as they move to your area. You can also expand your © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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“territory” by venturing outside your city to other nearby cities and towns, but you‟re still going to need other channels.

Internet Marketing As you gain confidence in your work through your local clients, you can try marketing yourself online, where competition gets tougher. Craigslist.org – Use CL to post ads in your local area, but you can try posting in other cities. Obviously, you won‟t be able to meet these prospects in person, so you will have to impress them in other ways, such as your portfolio, client testimonials and your USP (unique selling proposition). You can also monitor the CL computer gigs category for projects. Competition can be fierce so you must be aggressive to make this work. My favorite method of monitoring this category is subscribing to the RSS feed in my email program. The moment something interesting hits my Inbox I can click reply and send a quick note before the person gets bombarded with emails. I try to schedule a meeting as soon as possible; this helps me to stand out among the offshore low-ballers who can‟t possibly meet in person. CL will only allow you to post one ad in one city at a time, but you could run a different ad simultaneously and advertise the same services. This is actually a good strategy for testing ad copy that you might use elsewhere. If you have your own web host you can set up multiple e-mail addresses and use a unique e-mail address for each different Craigslist ad you run. Use Gmail to consolidate your e-mail addresses so you only have to check one mailbox. This way you can track which ads are working best while at the same time running multiple ads for your business. Be cautious of freelancing websites. There are other websites where you can bid for projects. I‟ve never liked this format. For me, it‟s about giving value to the client; a client that only cares about the lowest price is not going to appreciate my services. Even though on these sites a client can select professionals based on positive reviews and skills, the system is still bid driven with low bids emphasized. When my peers (myself included) want something done cheap they head for straight for sites like elance.com, guru.com, rentacoder.com, etc. That says it all. These sites have a reputation for cheap labor. These sites are good if you need help and want to save some money, but don‟t rely on them for offering your own services unless you don‟t mind participating in a commodity market.

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If youâ&#x20AC;&#x;re just starting out and having a hard time getting experience under your belt, you can offer your services on these sites at low rates and probably get some business. Raise your prices as soon as you feel confident in the value of your work. Develop your own website. At this point you should have your own website for marketing your services. As you gain experience serving more and more clients you should by now have identified common problems among business owners. Your solutions to these common problems should be emphasized on your website. Dedicate a single web page to each common problem you have dealt with and solved. By having at least one or more web pages dedicated to a particular problem your site will appear as an authority on that topic in Google. This will help people searching for a solution to find you. You may also write white papers and case studies and make them available as PDF downloads. Request the visitor submit their e-mail address before allowing them to download your free files. This way you can build up your own marketing database that you may market to in the future. You may detail a problem and your approach toward the solution in a white paper. Don't necessarily give away every detail of your solution. The white paper is to show a potential client that you are the right person to hire and to provide the solution for them. Provide details on the problem, potential challenges in the solution, and the outcome of your solution. In a case study, you provide the same information as you would in a white paper only centered on a particular client for whom you provided the solution. A case study reads more like a story than a white paper. You don't have to name the client, though some companies like to impress readers by dropping brand name clients in their case studies. The case studies should emphasize the results and benefits the client received after your solution was implemented. Use some SEO techniques to help your site rank well for keyword phrases related to problems for which you have developed solutions. In addition to developing content for problems you have experience dealing with, you may also look for new problems people are searching to solve. For quick searches on problems or questions related to your services use the Google Keyword Suggestion, Yahoo Answers and the Wordtracker Questions tool. To go deeper you can search on online forums for conversations where people are asking for help. You may want to start with the Google, Yahoo and Wordtracker tools first to get an idea of the how people are asking questions, since they may use keywords you may have not thought of. Build a list of keywords you can use to search forums, blogs, Twitter and other websites with conversations taking place. Š 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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You may also write articles outside of your own website on e-zine sites, and create web pages on sites like Hubpages.com and Squidoo.com to promote your services. You can have this content link back to your website to increase incoming links. Keep content centered on problems and your expertise in the solutions. Other ideas for content to help you establish yourself as an expert are tips and howto articles related to your services. Use online business directories. There are a number of business directory websites where you can enter a profile for your business. Though you may not get a flood of inquiries or traffic from these directories, it's probably worth doing since most are free and it only takes a few minutes to set up. Recommended online business directories: http://www.jigsaw.com http://www.manta.com If you have a physical business address (your home office included), you can list yourself in Google‟s Local Business Center which may get your business listed on page one of Google for a local search. This is by far the best free business directory you can join. You may also create business profiles on LinkedIn.com and Facebook.com (called “Fan” pages) and try to network with business owners and others online. Take advantage of Social Media websites. Create personal profiles for yourself on the top social networking websites, such as Facebook.com, LinkedIn.com and Twitter.com. Try to complete your profile 100% on each site if possible, mention your business and what people can expect from “friending” you. Don‟t be commercial or try to sell in your networks. Be yourself. You can talk about your business naturally without selling, but talk about other things too. Remember that you are among friends not prospects; conduct yourself as a true friend. As you build your reputation for a person who knows a little about websites and how to create them, offer to help people when the subject comes up. Post websites howto articles you‟ve found, or even better, create your own articles to share. You may find being active on a number of networks takes time and can feel like a chore. Learn to connect your networks through update services. You may post an update to one site and the service broadcasts this to all your networks. These services change frequently so don‟t rely on them. © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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Most of the popular social network sites already have options to broadcast your updates to other networks. As of this writing, YouTube.com will notify your Twitter and Facebook account when you upload a video. Facebook has applications you may add to your profile to allow your status updated by outside networks such as Twitter and others. Take advantage of these options to automate your activity across multiple social networks. Save time in setting up profiles by creating a profile template with your information in a document you can cut-n-paste from.

Direct Mail It would be difficult to try and network your way to meeting every local business owner in your area to see if they need your services. You can create a mailing list of local businesses and try sending a simple postcard. Mailing postcards will probably cost to about $.75 or less each for the cost of printing and postage. If you send 50 to 100 cards and receive just one good response it could be well worth the money spent and effort. You can obtain a list of local businesses from your cityâ&#x20AC;&#x;s Chamber of Commerce and from other sources. The USPS has an online service that allows you to design a postcard, upload a mailing list and send them out, all from the comforts of your computer keyboard and mouse. http://www.usps.com/createmail

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Section 10: Get Your Client Some Quick Sales It‟s not your job to get your clients some business –wrong attitude! It may not be your “job” but it is in your best interest that your client‟s business prospers. As their business grows, their needs grow. Who are they going to turn to for their website and Internet marketing needs? You! That is unless you have not maintained a close relationship with them. And who should you be marketing new services and products to? Your growing and expanding client who now has a bigger advertising budget that‟s who. I‟m not suggesting you start tracking your client‟s profit and loss figures. I‟m saying you should be thinking of simple ways your client can increase business. Opportunities are everywhere, keep your eyes open for yourself and your client. Here are a couple simple and quick suggestions to pass on to your client for some quick sales. This is your ticket to becoming your client‟s favorite person. Later on, when you introduce new services to sell to your client they won‟t even blink, because they know firsthand that your services bring in business.

Excuses to Email Many small businesses don‟t use email as a marketing tool. Perhaps they don‟t want to spam their customers. Technically, sending an email offer to a previous customer is not spam, but that‟s okay; your client has several legitimate “excuses” to contact past customers. Requesting testimonials. In an earlier section, I mentioned the importance of having testimonials on a business website. If your client doesn‟t have any that‟s great! Now they have a reason to email their past customers with an offer. Your client needs help in building their website, in exchange for a few kind words, your client can offer a “gift” to their customers in the form of a special discount off their next purchase. Not only will your client get some much needed testimonials for the website, but this email will most certainly generate some sales. Let‟s look into this a little deeper. Your client is asking the customer for help, this shows some vulnerability and instead of the customer feeling like they are being pitched to, they may feel sympathetic. If the customer feels this way your client has just deepened their relationship with them, and the customer is more open to buying from your client.

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The email also serves as a reminder to the customer of your client‟s products or services, and the new offer may “nudge” them into buying. Make sure to specify that the offer is good even if the customer does not provide a testimonial.

Pay-per-Click Marketing (PPC) If the client is interested in SEOing their website, perhaps they might be interested in doing some PPC marketing first to find some good keywords to optimize. This is another way to get some immediate sales for your client, testing offers with PPC. A fair model for getting paid to set up a PPC campaign for a client is to ask for a percentage of each sale you are responsible for. The client is paying for the clicks, and asking them to pay more for your labor of setting up a campaign and managing it makes it a less attractive marketing activity. Getting a percentage of a sale means your client only has to pay you when they are making money. If you've signed up your client for a Google analytics account they are likely to receive a coupon from $50 to $100 toward Google adWords spending on a new account. Start a small campaign with about 30 to 50 keywords and a conservative budget. Learn some of the basics of Google adWords before launching your first campaign. Google has free tutorials and videos to help you get started. http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter I also recommend Perry Marshall‟s book and course and Dr. Glenn Livingston's videos, free MP3s and cheat sheets. Links to these can be found at the following Tools & Resources page: http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources/54-pay-per-click

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Section 11: Client Issues Mistakes At some point it's inevitable there be a miscommunication or something in your area of responsibility that fell through the cracks. Now the client is complaining. Have a plan in place for complaints and how to rectify them before you get blindsided by one. Without a plan you might react defensively and hurt your relationship with your client. Your client complaint plan can be simple. First apologize, then identify the problem and fix the problem. Lastly, take note of what happened and see if it can be avoided in the future. A refund or discount may be in order depending on the severity of the problem. Problems and complaints are usually not that big of a deal as long as you respond promptly and rectify the issue in a timely manner. Take full responsibility to maintain your clients respect. Don‟t point fingers -your client will see right through it and perhaps you may lose some respect. In my experience, I've never lost a client due to a mistake I made. I have lost clients due to other reasons, such as a lack of availability, but never because of an oversight.

Site Tweaks Help your client resist the temptation to tweak the site design or layout. Work only on elements that obviously need adjustment such as misalignments, asymmetrical boxes or columns, inconsistent typography, etc. If your client wants to tweak a clean design, put on your problem solver‟s hat and dig into why they want to make changes and find justification for them. Unnecessary tweaks can severely slow down your progress and increase the cost of the project to your client. Clients are never happy when receiving an invoice higher than expected, and it doesn‟t help if the project was delivered later than estimated. The client may be at fault for the higher invoice and delaying the project –to them it doesn‟t matter! They‟ll have a very short term memory when it comes to all the changes they asked for after your project estimation. In their minds they might be thinking, “Gee, I only asked for the menu to be moved over to the left a little… why is my invoice almost double than the estimate?” Some of my web developer peers have dealt with this problem successfully by giving the client weekly, even daily updates on the number of hours spent. Then the higher than estimated invoice should not come as any surprise. This does work, but for me, © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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I‟m trying to build a time and profit efficient business system. Also I want to give my clients the best value. Though I might be getting paid, I don‟t want to work on tasks that I honestly believe are unnecessary. I don‟t want to be slowed down by going back-and-forth with the client on each little tweak. And I certainly don‟t want to add any more management (daily updates? C‟mon!) to my plate that I don‟t get paid for. It‟s very true that the right colors and layout may influence a site visitor to buy, but it takes testing and some hard data to know if one design can outdo another. Testing is an undertaking you may want to work into your website marketing services, but not in building a new site. You first need a control to test against. For proposed site changes some feedback may be in order. There is a great way to get feedback that can also bring about some instant sales for your client! Read on. Tips for dealing with tweakers: Remind your client that the most important elements of a good website are: quality content, ease of navigation, non-distracting colors and layout. Point out that this is where the smart money in websites is, rather than design tweaks. If they still insist ask them a question: by implementing their design changes, roughly how much more improvement in sales do they expect to see? Bear in mind you are trying to help, not fight your client at every turn. Make certain they understand where you are coming from. Here‟s a great way to get some real feedback on your client‟s new website, and possibly a new way to get your client some quick sales. Once the first version of the website is up, ask the client to put together a simple survey of 4 or 5 questions. You may use a 3rd party online survey service to e-mail customers and direct them to the online survey. If the client does not have e-mail addresses of their customers, consider a postcard mailing with an attached coupon to get the surveys back. Tailor the survey to your client‟s business, but it should follow something like this (next page):

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Subject line (if using email): [customer name], I need your help.

Hi [customer name], We need your help. We are launching a new website and as a past customer we would like your feedback. It will only take a few moments and I have something special to share with you when you are done. Please take a few seconds to look at our new website [site url] Then click here to go to the quick survey and receive your special gift.

Survey:

Would you buy/order/subscribe to a product/service from this website? (Click here to see the site once more) If not, please let us know why. What website have you purchased a similar product from? What did you like or dislike about that website? What would you like us to offer on our website that you would want to buy from us?

Do you see the incredible value for your client in having this information? Not only does this tell you how you can improve your client‟s website for more sales, but gives you ideas for selling new products that customers want to buy! Have your client email or send a postcard to their current and past customers. In addition to market research information collected, the “thank you” gift will most certainly result in some immediate sales. When you‟re done explaining this concept to your client they will be so excited at the prospect of collecting such valuable market data and instant sales, they will forget © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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about tweaking their website and focus on what‟s really important –improving their business. You‟re effectively training your client how to run their business more efficiently, that will result in more business down the road for you. It‟s a win-win! Now, this survey tactic can be employed again and again to collect more market data and to get some immediate sales. Perhaps after a couple months after the website launch a new survey can be presented; this time focused around your client‟s product or services instead of the website. A survey could be conducted on clients who have not ordered in months or years to find out what happened. Perhaps there is something your client needs to improve on. This is priceless information. Maybe the customer forgot about your client‟s business –what a great excuse to “remind” them your client is still there. Glenn Livingston teaches how surveys are a great tool to discover gaps in the market. For more information about Glenn see: http://techiediy.com/web-site-help/article/hyper_responsive_marketing_course

Survey tips: Keep the survey very short, no more that 4 or 5 questions. Customers will bail if they start to feel that the survey is taking too long to finish. Customers who respond to the survey can be followed up on directly and bribed for even more valuable information. Keep the answers free form and not multiple-choice. In multiple-choice questions you have to come up with the choices, thereby limiting the answers you receive to only the things you know. With multiple-choice there‟s no way to discover new possibilities never considered before. An easy way to implement surveys is through a 3 rd party online survey service like Zoomerang or SurveyMonkey.com. I like SurveyMonkey, it‟s very easy to use and inexpensive to get started. In the earlier example you‟re asking for customers to visit your website, they may visit the site but get distracted and forget to do the survey. With these services you can set up your email survey to remind those who have not responded a few days later to try to get more responses. With any 3rd party service you recommend to your clients, be sure to sign up for any affiliate programs offered. That way you can earn some extra money in referral fees every time you get a client to sign up for one of the services.

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Web Hosting Issues Web hosting issues, such as a web hosting outage, fall under the responsibility of the company your client is hosting their website with. Yet, as with most issues concerning your client‟s website, they will call you first if their site goes down. Unless you have an agreement in place to handle these types of issues, you may have a dilemma on your hands. On one hand, it‟s not your paid responsibility, on the other, the client is desperate for help and there‟s no time to work out the lack of agreement. Their site needs to be up and running right now! It‟s best, in my opinion, to help your client as much as you can, contact the hosting company and try to troubleshoot the issue. Hopefully, your client will appreciate your willingness jump in and help on a moment‟s notice, and reward you for it later. To avoid these support question marks, make sure your agreements and contracts account for site outages and troubleshooting. Either you agree to provide support for a fee, or you explain to the client the steps to take if their website goes down. Having reliable hosting will minimize these issues, along with staying on top of website security. Here are links to web hosting companies I have had good experience with over the years: http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources/63-recommended-web-hosts

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Section 12: The Next Level Repeat Business and Cross Selling You should constantly think about ways your client can improve their business and introduce them to new products or services. Business on the Internet is everchanging and evolving, it's going to be tough for your client to keep up on their own. I try to balance about 60% of my business or work time maintaining and selling new services to current customers. And spend the other 40% of my time in activities around getting new customers. It‟s generally known in the business world that selling a service or product to an existing client is far easier than finding a new client. There are all sorts of studies and stats that back this up. Some experts say it‟s 10 times easier, or there‟s a 70% better conversion average on existing clients vs. new. When balancing your schedule be sure you have a majority of your time dedicated to your existing customers. After you complete the first project for your client you should be thinking ahead and have in mind your next four or five offers. After you run through those next set of offers by then you'll have another three or four offers lined up. Spread offers out so the client doesn't feel like they have a huge target on their back. After completing one project wait a couple weeks before following up to see when the client wants to start the next project. Remember, this is about helping your client, not about bombarding them with product after product to squeeze them for more money. Think about things they need to improve in their business. Only offer products and services that are a good fit and make economic sense. Never offer a product just for the sake of making a quick affiliate buck. This is unnecessary. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to bring genuine business value to your client‟s online efforts. If you have a close relationship with your client, contacting them will become natural and not like a sales call pitching your latest service. Many times your client is the one contacting you with questions or asking for advice. These conversations are perfect for mentioning the latest tools and information about Internet marketing and e-commerce. Part of your business model should include partnerships with business services and products. As you work on projects you can suggest related products your client needs. The best example is web hosting. If you are building a new site your client naturally needs a web host. Offer to host your client‟s site for a fee or recommend a hosting partner and earn a commission. Your client will appreciate the help and you can make a little extra money on the project.

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Another cross selling example is email marketing management. Email marketing is a powerful relationship and sales tool that all businesses should take advantage of. Suggest your client start building a list and use an email management service such as AWeber.com. Sign up for Aweber‟s affiliate program and to earn a commission on referrals. Use some of the real estate in your invoices for a clickable ad. Tailor these ads for each individual client according to need, or run the same add-on all your invoices for a generic product that any business owner could use. You can put a small click ad in your e-mail signature that gets viewed every time you send an e-mail out to clients and prospects. Use some discretion to make sure it's an ad or offer that doesn't taint your professionalism. When you offer third-party products to your client, make sure that you either own the product or have some past experience with it to qualify your recommendation. If you're recommending a new product that you've researched and believe will help your client, but you have not used it yourself yet, make sure the client understands any risks. It only takes one bad product recommendation to tarnish the value of your advice in the eyes of the client. One of the most effective methods for getting repeat business is through office visits. Over the years this has always worked well for me. Your client will appreciate the attention and you get new business. Schedule monthly or semi-monthly check-ins with your client just to see how they are doing. Just showing your face will remind your client and staff of website ideas or enhancements they had between visits. With you in the office it‟s their opportunity to bounce these ideas off of you, or inform you of items they need but forgot to email to you. These are just some ideas to get you thinking of repeat business and cross selling opportunities. Continue to study marketing and always be on the lookout for products to add value to your services. You will have a continuous stream of repeat sales.

Optimize Your Operations I have just finished pointing out how important it is to make sure you are allocating a majority of your time to existing clients. Now, I‟m going to extend that suggestion. Make sure you are devoting enough time to profitable clients; that is, clients that are making you money. One negative aspect of managing websites for clients is getting bogged down with requests. Just because your client owns a business doesn‟t mean they know how to run one, and in some ways that can spill over on you. They may be unorganized, unprofessional, indecisive, impatient, constantly requesting you to take care of the simplest of tasks, or demanding the impossible. Even with a good © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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pricing schedule in place where you are getting paid for each request, a needy client can still eat up large chunks of your time and hurt your business. You must factor in the time spent on all the phone calls, messages you have to listen to, the emails read and responded, and the meetings. Only then will you know exactly how much you are actually making from a client. Borrowing a method of analysis from one of my favorite books, “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, list the amount of time spend servicing each of your customers over a period of at least a month long with how much money you made from each one. You may find that the customers that eat up most of your time only account for a small part of your revenue. What to do? You can fire these clients as Tim would have you do. It sounds harsh but these people might be holding you back from growing your business. You can hire someone to handle the problem clients and possibly help with other tasks, but you‟d only be transferring the problem to someone whose time could be spent working on more important tasks. And by the way, you‟ve now added to your workload the responsibility of managing someone. I might offer these clients to a competitor for a price and explain that I was pruning my client list to free up some time for myself. I would also be up front and warn them these are the not the best clients. There are many web development outfits who would take me up on such an offer out of desperation for new clients. I would simply explain to the transferring clients that I was cutting down on my workload and leaving them in capable hands, if they agree then done deal.

How Much Money Are You Really Making? Let‟s say you‟ve successfully completed a web site package project for $500. It costs you $100 in outsourcing to deliver that package, so you‟ve made a profit of $400. You spent 4 hours of your time setting up the website for your client, so you‟ve made $100 an hour. Not bad. But that‟s not what you‟re really making. I‟m not talking about taxes. You have to factor in your marketing efforts and the time it took you to secure the project. Factor in the time you spend selling to the client and you may find that you actually spent 10 hours, not 4 on the project. You went from making $100 down to $40 per hour for this project. Factor in any money you spent on marketing (taking into account other projects) and maybe you‟ve made either a little or a lot less than $40 per hour. Let‟s just say for this example you responded to this client‟s ad on Craiglist.org, which didn‟t cost you anything. Compare the $40 with your hourly target wage I asked you to come up with earlier to gauge how well you are doing.

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Many people would be happy to make $40 per hour right now in today‟s economy, or even $30 per hour. Just don‟t get complacent. You‟re building a business and that $40 per hour might limit you from an aggressive marketing campaign or may force you to spend more time working instead of developing the business. The point of analyzing your bottom line hourly wage is to give you a benchmark for optimizing how you run your business. Take a close look at your business and work activities. The 4 hours of work you did for the client, could any have been automated? Is there a service you could have that could cut that time down by 1, 2 or even 3 hours? Could this client have completed a needs assessment form or did you need to interview them? Could you have used both a form and a short interview? Why did it take 6 hours to convince the client to commit to the project, where was that time spent? Was there anything you found yourself repeating to the client because they didn‟t understand or forgot? Is there something you can change in your sales approach like emphasizing your client‟s benefits and ROI? Perhaps you can modify your offer with time-sensitive pricing and develop a well written sales sheet? Shave 2 hours and you‟re up to $50 an hour. Once you‟re consistently at or above your target hourly rate it‟s time to reward yourself. Give yourself a raise. How about a $10 per hour increase? The idea is to raise the bar and keep challenging yourself to optimize your business and to increase your revenue. Every client is different and some are going take longer to work with than others. And you‟re not going to be able to automate every single task. Do not accept these as the nature of this business and not make an effort to streamline how you run things. The exercise of figuring out exactly how much you are making is to motivate you seek out opportunities for improvement, which will put more money in your pocket. Does it feel better to know you are averaging $100 per hour rather than $4? Of course! You wouldn‟t have downloaded this guide if you thought you were only going to make only $4 an hour! But there is one experienced web designer I heard only averaged $4 an hour for an entire year because they did not optimize their operations. And I have known of others averaging only slightly more that this for long periods of time. This is what can happen if you run your business without measurement and adjustment.

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Creating Money Generating Business Systems The key to making this business a success for the long haul is your ability to systematize the main areas of your business. View the main activities you carry out to run the business as individual processes that you can describe from beginning to end. The work you do to obtain a client is a process; the work in setting up a new website is another process. Your process can be described in simple visual terms, such as a list of steps, with step 1, step 2 and so on. Once you have a list of steps, add some details such as how long it takes to complete a step or how much you pay someone to do that step. Then look for areas for improvement or cost cutting. Writing down the new and improved steps gives you a plan to follow for the next time you carry out that process. Following the new plan with your improvements will optimize the process for better efficiency, which will result in time savings or higher revenues. You don‟t have to have an MBA to know how to systematize your business. All you need is the mindset that the major tasks in your business should have a plan instead of making it up as you go. It‟s the opposite mindset of just winging it. When you treat all your main business activities as processes then you are creating a real money making system that runs efficiently and allows you to plug people in whenever you want to keep the system running. While you sit back getting rich or start development on your next system. This guide has described a flexible “system” that you can use to get started in this business. Instead of detailing a rigid set of instructions, I offer recommendations that you may try and test. You may have your own ideas. The important frame of mind to have is to test and test again to see what works best, keep improving and trying to outdo what you think is working. Money making systems don‟t happen overnight, so don‟t put pressure on yourself to come up with the perfect system right away. Make one improvement at a time. Use this book to establish your business and learn how to run it first. At this stage, I just want you to understand the concept of a business system so you have it in the back of your mind as you run through your daily tasks. Question what you‟re doing, “Should this task be taking me this long?”, “Should I give this to someone else to do?”, “Is there software or a service that can do this for me?” Developing your system will play a major role in growing your business for the future, but for now, go out there make some money and have fun!

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Conclusion You now have an overview of how you can start a website creation business. It's up to you to decide if this is a business you want to pursue. If you have decided to take the first step and create your first website I applaud your decision to take action. I have a support website that follows the suggestions outlined in this guide for creating business websites. At TechieDIY.com you'll find articles, video tutorials, website services and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Membership is only seven dollars per month and includes a substantial 30% off discount towards professional website services (subject to availability). There are also member‟s only tips and advice, and special downloadable reports and guides. Plus, as a member, you have a say in what information you want to know more about. If you want to learn about something, tell us and we will try to accommodate you. Please visit TechieDIY.com for more information. If you have any questions about the material in this book or otherwise please send them to book@techiediy.com You may also connect with me at… Facebook: http://fb.tomdotcom.us Twitter: http://twitter.com/tomlitchfield LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tomlitchfield YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/techiediy

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Resources The Internet is a revolutionary source for information, but there is a problem, how do we filter though the empty promises and garbage we are bombarded with to connect with truly useful and helpful information? It took me years of trial an error to find the few trusted resources I rely on for life on the Internet and staying ahead of the curve. I have shared some of these resources with you in this book, and in there is much more in link below. But then why should you believe me? You shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x;t! At least not at face value, you need to test or cross-reference any information you plan to act on. One of my virtual Internet mentors, Jerry West, tests everything, even advice from Google engineers, and advises us to do the same. My trusted resources have become shortcuts to solid information I can rely on to be successful. You too will form your own list of trusted resources, and be equipped to keep up with the accelerated evolution of the Internet. Because websites change so frequently and links tend to break over time, we have a Resources page at TechieDIY.com which we will keep updated with the latest and greatest links to information that make our jobs easier:

http://techiediy.com/website-tools-and-resources

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Website Service Package Examples If you‟ve had an initial consultation with a client it‟s best to tailor a service package around that client‟s needs. If you‟re meeting for the first time, then your package may contain services based on what you believe the prospect‟s needs are and your experience with similar clients. These sample packages are ideas for ads you can run on websites and in print material. These are just to get you started and you‟re encouraged to modify these into your own unique service packages. It‟s best that you craft these packages according to what you have learned by studying your market and prospect needs. I like to have a price list or a set of flyers with 3 packages that make the most sense to the prospect or client. Here‟s a classic method to “set the table” for your pricing model. Structure a package priced for the amount you want. Create another package with a few less features and priced slightly lower that the first. Then structure a third “premium” package at a really high price. The one you really want to sell is the middle priced package and often people will choose that one. Why? Seeing the highest priced package sets the table for how much your services cost, suddenly the second option seems like the best value. The low priced package will seem like a poor value since is it only slightly less that the middle package. The high priced one is too expensive. The middle package wins. You may also want to structure unique packages for the same client as their website needs grow, and present only one package at a time. As you finish delivery on one package, you then introduce another that builds on your pervious work for the client. Package example ads (next page):

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(Business Website Starter Package for prospects who do not have a website.)

EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS TO THE INTERNET IN 1 DAY Business Website Starter Package Features: 

Reach More Customers Your site is coded to conform to current web standards for better cross-browser functionality and has accessibility features for people with disabilities. We build your site on a platform designed with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind. We will also install plug-ins for social networks like Facebook, Twitter and others. This is just the tip of a very large and profitable iceberg for how we can help you reach more customers online. Make Your Website Work for Your Business With our website platform you will be able to easily expand your website to handle tasks such as processing online orders, maintain customer relationships, register for events/programs and more with ready to use plug-ins. Free Yourself From Expensive Web Designers and Developers Keep your website fresh and up to date yourself, without having to hunt down, request and pay for simple changes from your web designer.

The Business Website Starter Package Includes:         

Domain name of your choice New website up and running in 24 hours, with administrator panel for self-service updates Premium website template conforming to the latest web standards and search engine friendly Business Privacy Policy and Terms of Service pages Site maps Website custom navigation set up Social network site links Google Analytics set up 1 hour of training for maintain your site

First time clients only $$$ Call today to ensure a quick turnaround for your project. 415-999-9999

“My business has grown tremendously since you set up my website. It was such a wonderful surprise to have this kind of growth in this economy.” -Art Vandelay, Vandelay Industries “I’m thrilled at how we can now interact with visitors and customers on our website.” -Bill Lumbergh, Initech See my featured examples of my work at www.mystuff.com/portfolio © 2010 TechieDIY.com All Rights Reserved

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(Business Website Enhancement Package for prospects who already have a website and want more traffic.)

REACH MORE CUSTOMERS ONLINE Business Website Enhancement Package Features: 

Increase Visitors and Sales Your new website platform will be dynamic, engaging and easy for you to manage. We build your site on a platform designed with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind. We will also install plug-ins for social networks like Facebook, Twitter and others. This is just the tip of a very large and profitable iceberg for how we can help you reach more customers online. Streamline Operations With our website platform you will be able to easily expand your website to handle tasks such as processing online orders, maintain customer relationships, register for events/programs and more with ready to use plug-ins. Take Control of Your Site Keep your website fresh and up to date yourself, without having to hunt down, request and pay for simple changes from your web designer.

Business Website Enhancement Includes:        

Website platform conversion Content overhaul Social networking integration Local search optimization with Google, Yahoo & Microsoft Online business directory submissions (Manta.com, Jigsaw.com & others) Site maps updates Website custom navigation set up Google Analytics set up

1 hour of training for maintain your site Discounted for my existing clients at $$$ Call today to ensure a quick turnaround for your project. 415-999-9999

“We’re saving so much money now that we can update our website ourselves. Thank you so much!” -Pierrepont Finch, World Wide Wicket Company “I’m amazed at how quickly our website was overhauled and grateful that the new platform supports and integrates so well with our marketing campaigns.” -Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflin, Inc. See featured examples of my work at www.mystuff.com/portfolio

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(Search Engine Optimization Package for clients who want to increase visibility and sales.)

GET MORE WEBSITE VISITORS AND SALES Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Package Features 80% of search engine clicks come from the first page in the search results. You could almost say that your website and business are invisible by not being on the first page. Using SEO to get on the first page of the search results for your industry keywords will dramatically increase your website traffic. But you want sales, not just traffic. My keyword analysis will help find the keywords that people not only search from, but buy from. I will study the competition, see what they are doing right and wrong, and understand what it will take to stay ahead of them. I will start a pay-per-click campaign to discover the best keywords for optimizing your website. This keyword “testing” may result in some quick sales and potentially may become another online revenue stream for your business. The SEO Package Includes:         

Keyword research and analysis Competition analysis Set up Google Adwords Pay-per-Click campaign Submissions to social network sites Optimize web page Title and Description tags Site maps updates Content and navigation optimization Link campaign strategy Google Analytics set up

Discounted for my existing clients at $$$ Call today to ensure a quick turnaround for your project. 415-999-9999

“We’re now ranked #3 in Google our most competitive keyword term! Our conversions have increased 500% since you SEO’d our website!” -The Pointy Haired Boss

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Technology is No Longer a Barrier to Online Business