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The Business Odyssey Chronicle, Issue #010 -- Start a web site; succeed in business
June 24, 2003

June 1, 2003 Issue #10


IN THIS ISSUE

  • Entrepreneurship: 1,000,001 easy steps to starting & maintaining your own web site
  • 3 simple things to do for your business this month
  • Free download
  • Write to us / pass it along / article reprints

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: 1,000,001 easy steps to starting & maintaining your own web site

Entrepreneurs are unabashed do-it-yourselfers. That includes me. If you fall into this category and have had a web site for a few years, you understand the title of this article. If you are just starting out on a web site adventure or if you turned everything over to a competent web site developer at the start, you're probably scratching your head a bit.

There's more than one way to start a web site. There are also a bazillion books, web sites and opinions on the best way to go about doing this. Because the maintenance on my own web site was proving to be complicated and frustrating, I reexamined the processes and services that we were using. After visiting many web resources, talking to a number of "experts," and examining various web services, it occurred to me that the one thing I did not find was a quick and easy overview of the options. So, here is what I found - in a nutshell.

Assuming that you have or are going to get your own domain (you should have your own domain if you are serious about a web presence) and are not utilizing a "freebie" web site, there are essentially 2 ways to start and manage your web site:

  1. hire a comprehensive service,
  2. do it yourself.
There are a number of variations on these two approaches. Either way, certain elements will have to be dealt with.

1. A domain name will have to be chosen and registered. Registering a domain is a very simple and inexpensive process. Many registrars also include a tool that will allow you to brainstorm your web site name. All tell you if a name is available. Be sure that YOU own the name that you are registering and not the registration service. Quality of service and pricing runs the gamut so you will have to do research to find the one that best suits your needs. By the way, you can check to see who owns a domain name at www.whois.net

2. You will need to hire a web hosting service. This is the business that provides the hardware and software that puts your site onto the internet. There are literally hundreds of options and an infinite array of prices, service and quality. Some hosts own their own equipment and others lease space on servers that are owned by someone else. A lot of research is needed to properly understand and evaluate the options. You can get help in this area from web sites that are dedicated to reviewing and rating hosting services. You can find a listing of the best of these sites at www.webhostmagazine.com/wf/reviews.asp

3. You need to decide what you want your web site to do. Will it be a source of information to your customers? Will you be selling products from the site? Will you keep up-to-date information on it? Are you going to launch and archive a newsletter? Will part of the site be password-protected for use of members or customers? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. The purpose that you set for your web site will guide your decisions about the type of hosting service and software that you need to operate it.

4. Content will have to be developed. This is the compiling and writing of what goes into your site. The computer screen is a specialized medium and your site's content needs to be developed specifically to take advantage of the possibilities and constraints of that medium. In other words, someone is going to have to write this stuff so that it looks right and is readable on a computer screen.

5. Determine how often content needs to be updated and who will do that work. Web pages need to be "freshened up" periodically and more often is better. If you have trouble dealing with FTP and HTML or your software is cumbersome, this will become a task that you avoid - to the detriment of your web site. I know because this was the problem that prompted a review of how we handled the Business Odyssey site.

6. Design how your site will look. You want a site that is inviting and is compatible with your corporate image. You can hire a designer who has the special expertise to design a web site or use one of the templates that come with most software packages.

7. Obtain the technology and skills needed to develop and operate your web site. You will need to select a software package or learn HTML, the programming language most widely used to develop web pages. You will also need to understand how to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) which is the program that is used to get your web site from your computer onto the web host's server so that it goes out onto the internet. Some hosting packages include software that can be used without a lot of technical know-how.

If you hire a comprehensive service, most of these issues will be taken care of for you. It is the easiest way to go - and the most expensive. These are either consultants or hosting services that offer a complete package with hosting, a custom designed web site including graphic design, all of the technological details, copy written for search engine maximization, and what ever else you want. Some offer contract rates for regular updates and revisions.

If you don't have the time to do-it-yourself, want a top-notch job, and have a complicated web site, this is the way to go. Shop for the best deal and check references just as you would when hiring any other kind of service. Searching through one or more of the "finder" web sites found at the link in #2 above will give you a good start in this process.

If you are going to do-it-yourself, you will have to look at the elements outlined above and decide how you are going to accomplish each. The pay off is that you will learn a great deal, save money, and have ultimate control over what is produced.

As you research your options, you will find that there are a number of intermediate possibilities between totally "doing it yourself" and hiring a consultant to do it all. Some hosting services offer "bundled" packages that will register your domain name, host and provide some kind of site building software. Some of these are excellent and others are very "bare bones." Most of the time, you get what you pay for.

You can also hire freelancers to take care of the parts with which you are not comfortable. Hire a graphic designer to do the art work and basic design, a writer to develop content, or a web consultant to help with the technical aspects.

What solution did I choose? A hosting package that rolls together domain registration, site building software, search engine optimization and other goodies. If you want to take a look at this package, visit http://quicktour.sitesell.com/odyssey1.html for a "tour."

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WWW.BUSINESSODYSSEY.COM update

I have begun to revise the Business Odyssey site to take advantage of the features of the new hosting package and to improve the site overall. Parts of the most useful content from the old page have been restored and the site has a new appearance. We are working on new sections which should be evident over the next couple of months. An archive of past issues of the Business Odyssey Chronicle will be available soon.


3 simple things to do for your business this month

1. CLEAN OFF YOUR DESK TOP. Studies have shown that you can easily lose one day every week just looking for misplaced items in your office. Begin with a short term step and get a box and put those piles of stuff into it. Take a step back and see how refreshing a tidy desk top can be. Over the next day or two, enjoy working in a more organized and productive way. Then take a longer term step. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes each day to stay organized. Put things away. Develop a simple filing system and use it. Go through that box of stuff from your desk top and file, read, do or toss.

2. LOOK AHEAD. Ever get that "overloaded" feeling? Spending 15 minutes or so at the beginning (or end) of each week to look ahead to what is coming up on your calendar can help restore some sanity to your schedule. Get in the habit of blocking out realistic chunks of time for your commitments. Use a pencil (things often change and flexibility is key) to cross out the time that will be needed to keep appointments - including travel time. Cross out times for breaks - rest, relaxation, exercise or just goofing off. Cross out time you will need to complete projects and tasks. Cross out family time and meal times. Cross out time for chores and errands. Now you know if you have the time to add anything else to your schedule.

3. PHONE 3 CLIENTS OR CUSTOMERS YOU HAVEN'T HEARD FROM RECENTLY. Keeping in touch is important to maintaining relationships with customers. If you have not heard from someone in a while, pick up the phone and let them know that you are thinking about them. This is a great time to learn more about your customers and find out what is on their minds. This should not be a "sales" call but it can help uncover unmet needs. You don't need an excuse to call. Just do it.


Free download

The most rapidly growing sector of the economy is the service sector. Think about the people who you know who have their own businesses - graphic designers, tax accountants, massage therapists, writers, locksmiths, landscapers, and the list goes on. If you are included in this group, you might not be aware that a web site can be your most powerful marketing tool.

Even if your business is geared to customers who live in your own community, your web site is just as important as it is to the person who can offer their service to anyone in the world. The Service Sellers Master Course is a ten day program that will tell you exactly how to use the internet to get all of the clients or customers you want.

Presented in a clear, easy-to-follow way, the The Service Sellers Master Course walks you through the process of developing a marketable concept and presenting it to prospective customers in a way that is designed to sell your service by creating lasting relationships. Each day in the course lays out another doable step in the process giving you precise instructions to follow. Solid, ethical marketing principles are used throughout.

Everyone who is in a service-based business - doesn't matter if its consumer or B2B - should download this program. The price is certainly right (FREE) and the value is terrific!

DOWNLOAD HERE: http://services.sitesell.com/odyssey1.html


Write to us; pass it along; reprint articles

If you have questions, comments or an idea for an article you would like to see in The Chronicle, please drop us a line at info@businessodyssey.com.

Feel free to pass this newsletter along to anyone you think might find it of interest. If you do, be sure to forward it in its entirety and include the copyright notice.

To use an article in your own publication, just send me an e-mail telling me which article you want to use. I will e-mail you the complete article with an information block which MUST be included.


Copyright 2003 Kathleen Thompson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Business Odyssey

Cleveland, Ohio

www.businessodyssey.com


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