Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

small business

What good is a website?

During a conversation with a friend and business owner, he said that he didn’t care about having a website for his businesses. For him, it didn’t make sense.

I don’t care if someone in California wants to see what’s going on.

That makes sense only if you don’t understand that local customers — and potential customers — use the Web on a daily basis. They might use the Web before visiting your business — at their home or even in the parking lot.

Remember, the Web isn’t just for desktop computers anymore.

Here are three ways a business who doesn’t need a website can use a website:

  1. Encourage people to sign-up to your new email list. If you’re a good business person and your customers like you, then they’ll want to hear your expert opinion. Email marketing (‘ol school!) is still the most effect way to encourage sales.
  2. Establish and define yourself as an expert in your field. Whatever business it is, it doesn’t matter, you’re an expert compared to your customers. People who use the Web are starved for information, and on your website you can be a source of information.
  3. Become ingrained in your local community. The only way to become part of the conversation on the Web is to have a presence on the Web. That includes providing opportunities for customers to review your business and having online conversations with customers.

Whether you like it or not, your customers rely on the Web every day. Why wouldn’t you want to be where your customers are?

Shovel ready Web design projects

Warning: Politician Ahead!!!
Creative Commons License photo credit: The Rocketeer

Talking to a potential client this week and assessing the two different Web design projects he wanted to do, I suggested first working on a nice, basic redesign of his main business site. That site was in desperate need of a design (it doesn’t currently have a design to re-design!), and as I told him, his business site was “shovel ready” for a Web designer to start work, while his other projects would require me to wait for him to write some content and collect assets.

In terms of any economic stimulus package here in the States, we’ve heard a lot about the federal government looking to fund “shovel ready” projects, so what the hell was I trying to say to my client about his site being shovel ready for a new Web design?

While his current site is a mess in terms of design and usability, I can also recognize that the site has a bunch of great content—text and some images—that just needs to be shaped with a nice Web design. I wouldn’t have to wait for him to write any content; it’s all there!

That’s shovel ready for a Web designer: all the content is waiting, just agree on the list of deliver-ables, and the project is good to go. I’ve found many potential clients aren’t ready for a designer to step in because they don’t have their content together, and some even think me writing the content is part of the package. Give me a shovel ready Web site any day!

How to stop working for free?

dollar signHave you noticed that if you show a bit of aptitude at either web design or computers in general, most people will just assume that you’re on call 24/7 for every one of their questions? These people never take into consideration whether you might actually like to get compensated for your work, even if it’s just through barter or trade. Lately I’m feeling like an ATM machine, I get so many withdrawals but very few deposits.

This morning I received an email from someone I hardly know asking how to rid of his computer of virus’. I wanted to tell him to first drop the computer on his foot, break the foot, get the insurance money, PAY ME, then I’ll tell you what to do!

There are hundreds of articles like “how to get people to work for free“, but hell, somebody give me advice on how to stop this!! Everybody is looking for computer and design labor, and there are trains full of people who are skinflints, but nobody with 2 nickles to pay my fee!

Pay the monkey! Pay the monkey! He’ll dance all night long!

UPDATE:  Another thing that’s astonishing are the number of people who ask you for free help or advice, then never say “thank you”.  That’s happened three times just this week . Are you telling me that in addition to not paying me, you’re going to be rude to me?

MORE UPDATES: Why would anybody send me a link in an email with no explanation? I thought the purpose of the link was to trigger action on my part (more free labor, of course), but it wasn’t. It was only a friendly email to make me aware of a flash mp3 player that I’ve known about for two years. Here’s a good rule the thumb: unless it’s some particularly tasty, free porn, do. not. ever. send me a link without explanation.

3 Tools I’m Using To Crank Up My Online Networking

In preparation for launching my new Web sites/businesses, I’ve begun cranking up the amount of energy I spend on using the Web for networking. I guess that means going from no energy to some energy. I have never been very good at putting myself into circulation, so it’s not a big surprise that I struggle doing that online.

Currently I’m concentrating on 3 tools to help build more traffic to this site: my Flickr page, my Facebook profile, and soon I’ll start building an email list using Constant Contact to reach out to potential users of my sites. First I’ll ask people on billweye.com to subscribe then snowball that subscription list from there. As that traffic builds, I’ll introduce new projects to my growing readership, which will hopefull check-out what I’m doing.

The most experience I have so far is with Flickr, and that has been pretty good at driving traffic to this site. I’ve added some relatively popular photos, and with those alone embossed the photos with this website address. If you dig around my Flickr page it shouldn’t be that hard to discover what might be so popular.

Facebook I have just started using, but thus far I’m impressed with the ease of use. In terms of driving traffic, I don’t have any kind of data yet, but I’ll let you know when the numbers come in! Frankly, I’m not sure I would use Facebook if it weren’t the fact that I can post on both this blog and Facebook at the same time; Facebook has an application that hooks into this blog and grabs each post so that my “notes” mirror this site. Nice touch.

So, how have you worked to increase traffic to your websites?

What to do if you’ve hated all your jobs.

If you hated your job, never had a job that fulfilled your desire to be accomplished at something, and had a sense that there was nothing else to lose, what would you do? Me? I’m going to start blogging for a living. Or at least try like hell to make a few bucks while blogging.

That’s what I’m attempting to do, start a small group of blogs that will generate a meager income for me. I want to write, make my own schedule, decide what’s important, make my own money based on how hard I work – in short, be my own boss. I’m willing to bust my ass to achive these goals. Being unhappy can be an enormous motivating factor.

At least in the beginning, the plan is to generate income through advertising and sponsorships. I’ll be using Google Adsense, Amazon Associates, and Text Link Ads in a mix that I hope will enhance my content rather than detract from it. I want the sponsorships to be something my readers might find useful. In the future, after I’ve built a loyal audience, I’d like to reduce the advertising on the sites.

I’m working on five different sites: two about food and three about podcasting. That’s all I can say right now, but if you stay with me until September 30th, that’s when I’ll unveil the first of the sites. For the next month I’ll be writing a lot about what I’m learning in my quest to be a blogging entrepreneur.

This feels like stepping off a curb without knowing that there’s pavement to step on; it’s a scary first step, but I can’t do anything else but step off the curb.

Have you ever stepped off the curb? What are some of your success and failure stories?

Starting SeedWorks Media

I would include an image of our fancy new logo, but we don’t have an official one yet. The new business, with my business partner, Francesca Rheannon, is off to kind of a slow beginning. There isn’t much we can do about it because we are trying to bootstrap SeedWorks Media. We both work regular jobs while at the same time trying to establish a business–not the best situation, but still I think we’re both committed to making a go of this adventure.

During the next year or so we are going to be writing about starting a new media business. There will be some technical how-tos, but mostly we are going to write about what we learned during the process of starting a business: incorporating, writing business plans, marketing, finding clients, writing proposals for your clients. We’re especially going to write about going into business with partner, what that might entail, including how we work through the disagreements and establish a good working relationship. It’s tricky. Hopefully we’ll have some interesting ideas or suggestions for you, based on the things we learn.