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Chris Campbell

Websites And Sales

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I saw this posting on another forum this morning and I asked for permission

from amanda@howlingzoe.com to re-post it here.

I think this contains a lot of knowledge that would be very useful to our Members.

Thanks Amanda.

 

 

As I've worked with non profits and small businesses for the past 15 years, I

understand that there is a very steep education curve for online presence, and

that the industry is full of snake oil salesmen and the road to a website is

very confusing.

 

But content management systems were built solely to stop that from

happening. And open source content management systems (CMS) really don't

give you a single reason not to use them. WordPress, with 20 MILLION users, is

the perfect CMS for anyone because of its simplicity and price (free).

 

A website has three parts: the domain (the name people use to get to your

site). This costs 10$ a year and I would recommend NameCheap.com as a

domain registrar, or GoDaddy if you don't have an issue w their politics or

advertising.

 

Hosting: the computer where your website lives. The domain points to this.

Hosting costs vary mostly based on how big your website will be (Storage) and

how many will visit (bandwidth) and very little else. There is no free hosting

worth investing in. Anywhere. Hosting should not be expensive, however, and

places like Page.ly are PERFECT. Its idiotproof, WordPress and Email only

hosting. They people who run it are lovely and stand behind the product. If you

don't go with Page.ly, look for hosts with something called "Cpanel". Its a very

easy to understand control panel. I avoid GoDaddy because its very confusing

to use, even for advanced developers, but particularly for beginners.

 

The website itself: this is the site, full of HTML or ASP or PHP pages or

WordPress, etc. In 2010, I consider it malpractice for Web Developers to not

include a CMS in a site they develop for someone. A CMS is what allows people

to control their own website so they don't need "webmasters".

 

Either way, you need all three parts for a website to work. There are a zillion

themes for WordPress, and even the theme it comes with, twenty-ten, is

pretty awesome and would work well for anyone. Since most of you will want

to add Ecommerce, I highly advise you using the "Phpurchase" plugin over

Shopp or WP-Ecommerce, both of which are clunky and hard to use. This can

connect simply to Google Checkout, Paypal or a real payment gateway.

 

The beauty of WordPress is that it makes it very easy for you to maintain your

own website. Because its internet based, if something happens to your

computer you can still edit and access your site. Because its open source,

there are 8 gazillion people in the world that can help you with it. Just

twitter a question about WordPress or post in the forums. There are a million plugins and

themes to enhance your site, 99.9 of them are free. There are WordCamps and

WordPress meetups in every town (wordcamp.org and meetup.com) to help you

learn how to use WordPress. Unlike conferences, these are free or at most,

$35.

 

WordPress already has a great deal of SEO capability built into it and plug ins

to help superboost it.

 

I have taken the time to post this information with no benefit to myself whatsoever

purely for the benefit of learning. I am highly involved in the WordPress

community ( a non paying gig) and often teach WordPress for free. I believe

strongly that WordPress helps create a level playing field for small businesses

and non profits.

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Good post for those of us looking at web site exposure. I recently reread the Clay Times article you wrote in 2005?, discussing sales equity with galleries and represented artists web sites. That too had great food for thought. Thank You.

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Thanks! I'm just getting started at WordPress, bought the domain name lauramoonceramics.com.

I've managed to do the basics, really my daughter helped me. I need to put some serious hours into learning how to best use the site to suit my biz needs. Thanks for the helpful tips and I may just look into a class.

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Thanks for the insight. A lot of good things are to be said about WordPress, but I dug in and recently created a website for my sister's business TEW Bits & Pieces in the panhandle of Texas and a small one for myself just to get some of my art exposed using some other 'friendly' website hosting services. But I think one of the most useful things I've found is the ability to link to forums like this one. Exposure, exposure, exposure.

 

When I owned my own retail hobby ceramics store in the mid 1990's, I found that if I didn't have something someone was looking for and knew of another location that did, even though I might send potential business to another shop, I still retained my customer. The same is true here. Although a one-stop-shop can be good for the hobbyist, for those looking for a specific item, the connectivity provided through the internet takes some of the frustration out of finding what we are looking for. Good, integrated information will always produce a satisfied customer and keep the interest in this art blanketed with high integrity.

 

Thanks again for the insight.

 

Ronda Stevens

Ceramic Artist

Texas Mud Slingers

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Thanks! I'm just getting started at WordPress, bought the domain name lauramoonceramics.com.

I've managed to do the basics, really my daughter helped me. I need to put some serious hours into learning how to best use the site to suit my biz needs. Thanks for the helpful tips and I may just look into a class.

 

 

nice pots.

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I'll try this again.

Here is a nice, easy to use web-hosting company.

www.Homestead.com

You can create (using their templates) a static web-site for free or a minimal charge.

I chose to use their shopping cart web-store feature. The cost is $25 or so a month.

Very good looking templates and easy to use.

Now remember, web uploading takes some learning. I suggest that you get a website started and be patient with the learning part of it. Website and computers are like musical instuments. You won't learn how to play them over night.

Try no more than 30 minutes at a time. Let your brain soak in what it sees. After a few weeks you'll be flying thru those new uploads.

 

Pat Franz

Bercher Ceramic Supply

Oklahoma City

 

Feel free to take a look at what I have on the web.

www.BercherCeramicSupply.com

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Wow, Chris - awesome article. Clear, simple, concise - I wish I'd seen this before buying my domains earlier this year. I still haven't gotten around to setting up even a landing page, but now I'm inspired to finally get started!

 

Thanks so much for sharing such important info!

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Great information.

 

I have created websites using Yahoo.com, and they make it so simple now that I can't imagine why everybody doesn't do their own website. While Yahoo.com that I used was not free (13.00/month), I felt the value I got (including tech support, unlimited space, templates galore, and just about anything and everything else I needed), was well worth the fee paid.

 

I don't think I am ready for a website yet, but hopefully I will be soon. I will probably go back to Yahoo.com at that time.

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Chris (others)

This topic has some age on it: anything you would like to add to update it? 

I do not want to use it for sales, or to blog; more for informational/ educational use. I have info scattered all over the place, thought i would consolidate it into one place. Technology is not my thing; I do not use modern communication. All I know at this point is that it will take many many pages. I have not posted any recipes here; including info that we discussed last year. ( still tweaking that). If I start tomorrow, might have it done this time next year.

T

Edited by glazenerd
Open door

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Actually Tom, if you're looking to post articles on a range of clay subjects that are of an educational nature that can be indexed and searched, a blog format is perfect for you.  Especially if you want to have many, many pages.   You don't have to call it a blog: it can be a self published reference library. This kind of format would allow information to be published on an ongoing basis, rather than trying to do it all at once. 

Since the original post, it has gotten ridiculously easy to build your own website. You still need to buy your domain name and choose a host, that part likely won't change. Drag and drop website builders make it so anyone can build a reasonably attractive website, given some copy and a few good pictures. There is no excuse for not having a website as a professional these days. Most people have likely wasted more money on beer than it costs to pay for a domain and hosting for a year.

 Weebly is a popular website builder amongst many forum regulars, and as of this writing, it's rated as one of the simplest to use. That said, it might not be ideal if you want a really extensive reference ( @GEP if you want to comment on the blog capacity, feel free to correct me: you have one on that platform and I don't). 

Wix is another popular easy one, and I've heard some people say they think the templates on wix are more attractive than those available on Weebly. I chose a very pared down template that I could add my own look to via images, so having a lot of embellishment didn't appeal to me personally.

Wordpress.org* and Squarespace are the 2 strongest industry standards. These two have steeper learning curves, but have more adaptability and functionality via add ons (called plug-ins or widgets). Wordpress was designed with the needs of bloggers in mind,  but if you're inexperienced and not technically minded, it's kind of jumping right into the deep end. This might not be a deterrent for you, Tom, but for others reading this it's something to consider. In all instances mentioned, lots of good tutorials are available both on the website and on YouTube. I will say that you can figure out weebly just by poking at it to see what happens. 

If you want to read an in-depth comparison between any of the platforms mentioned, or if you've heard of a new one you want to add to the mix, it's actually most advisable to do a Google search that specifically includes the current year.  New things are coming out all the time, and the platforms I've mentioned add or improve services as well.

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TY Callie: most helpful.

the wife is pretty good with computer, internet stuff. If not her, then my nephew who has a Masters in Computer Science can come help his poor ole uncle!  I would have not guessed a blog: but then again I am rather clueless about these things. I am guesstimating 150-200 pages. 8 primary categories.  Need to sit down and figure out how to chop it up in a cohesive manner.  This way I can lay it all,out without interruption.

Tom

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The glorious thing about a blog is that you don’t have to necessarily lay everything out in order. You can write up your articles and publish them in any order, and as long as they’re tagged with the search terms you want, people can look them up by subject. 

And a word to the wise: hiring a computer scientist to do your website is like hiring an architect to paint your house. You want a website designer instead. 

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15 hours ago, glazenerd said:

TY Callie: most helpful.

the wife is pretty good with computer, internet stuff. If not her, then my nephew who has a Masters in Computer Science can come help his poor ole uncle!  I would have not guessed a blog: but then again I am rather clueless about these things. I am guesstimating 150-200 pages. 8 primary categories.  Need to sit down and figure out how to chop it up in a cohesive manner.  This way I can lay it all,out without interruption.

Tom

Another nice thing about a blog is that it is often easy to convert a blog directly into a book if you decide you want to go that route and have some hold-in-the-hand copies.

But this brings me to another question.  Might you prefer to make this a book right out of the gate? 

If you write your material on your computer in your word processing program, Amazon has a self publishing service through which you can make an instant paperback out of it at no charge for that set up.  It looks exactly like a paperback you would get at a bookstore, with the font you choose and cover also customized to your tastes.

My husband recently published a historical novel that way.

After you do it copies are very inexpensive for you to order for yourself - maybe $3 a book- but you can also make it available for purchase immediately on Amazon at a price you set. 

It gets more expensive if you wanted illustrations. That detail I don't know.

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On 1/3/2011 at 12:04 PM, Chris Campbell said:

I think this contains a lot of knowledge that would be very useful to our Members.

All these posts on the subject are nice but how about a concise update of this info similar to the excellent first posting? 

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Gabby:

the book has already been written: just too technical in composition.

image.jpg.d0736426f0fe430a2fbaf18fe1050b21.jpg

530 pages of the most boring techno blah!  Decided publishing would be a waste of my time. The wife has published in Chicken Soup, magazines, etc. She has a framed diploma floating around here someplace.

t

Edited by glazenerd
Added pic

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On 7/24/2018 at 1:42 PM, Callie Beller Diesel said:

This is actually a really broad topic. Which parts do you feel need a better update?

I'm not in the market for my own website currently, but it seems like some specifics on current web hosting sites for those that are might be useful. at the least. Is the rest of the information still current 7 years after the first posting? Yes it does contain a lot of info. 

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Hi folks, 

Using blogspot.com for my blog. What is the difference here, as I am not paying a fee, and do not add ads into the site, just use if for educational purposes.

 

best,

Pres

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15 hours ago, yappystudent said:

I'm not in the market for my own website currently, but it seems like some specifics on current web hosting sites for those that are might be useful. at the least. Is the rest of the information still current 7 years after the first posting? Yes it does contain a lot of info. 

I nominate you to update it B)

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Hang in there, everyone. This is one of those things that's going to take me a while to distill a huge pile of information into a (sort of) concise post. I have to wait for this evening to do that.

edited to add:

a quick Google search of "blogger vs Wordpress vs weebly 2018" netted me this find. It's a good, brief summary of the three website building platforms mentioned here. (Hosting is different!)

To help clarify some things, you still need a domain name (the address, or www part that points your search engine towards your page), your web host (the service that stores your website) and the content management system (website builder). Many providers will supply more than one of these things, and encourage you to purchase all three from them.  Best security practices do say that you should get your hosting and your domain and even your email from seperate providers if you have a professional website. If they're  seperate and one gets hacked, the other two are still under your control. If they're all together and you're hacked, you may have a very difficult time proving ownership. 

All that said, if your existing site is doing what you need it to do, don't jump ship to another platform. Transferring things can be a serious undertaking. In all things computer, it is a good idea to have a backup of your site somewhere in case something goes wrong. 

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I would suggest adding WIX to the list. I find the blog function  to be clean, easy to use, very attractive, and I like the archiving feature. Feel free to check out what I do have as blog entries on my website, even tho limited (Blog is under About), just to get an idea of how it can look--keeping in mind they offer many, many variables. That's one thing I like about WIX-very flexible with lots of choices--the kind of thing that if I can do it, anyone can do it, with a bit of patience and practice, which I have found is needed for any website generator. I have used weebly and GoDaddy and this is the one for me. Weebly is a good close second; GoDaddy is just "no", for me. I have never used WordPress, either version. 

Edited by LeeU

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