You paid a website design company a few bucks a month to get in on a cookie-cutter template solution for your business’s website, and you’ve spent hours writing content, uploading pictures, and trying to figure out how to work and manage the template. Only, your core skill set isn’t in web development, marketing or social media and you’re finding that it’s not as easy to DIY as you’d hoped. Not only is managing your site taking up a large chunk of your time, but you’ve had $0 in customers walk through the door after your months of hard work (not to mention what you’ve spent) on something that’s not even what you DO. Why haven’t you seen any payoff for all your efforts? Well, the fact is: you may have an “ugly baby”.
No one wants to hear they have an ugly baby.
Just because no one has told you doesn’t mean your baby (aka website) isn’t ugly.
Last month we attended a Cbusr meetup as our sister company, GroovyDoodle Photography. Our friend and fellow blogger Cheryl Harrison pulled the event together at Woodland’s Tavern, where GroovyDoodle had also recently shot a few ringlight headshots for the SXSW Bon Voyage party. The Cbusr event was much larger, and resulted in us taking over the main stage where we captured about 150 unique professional headshots, which we then posted for everyone to tag and enjoy via Facebook. (For the record, 150 headshots in a single evening is a LOT!)
So if we attended the event as GroovyDoodle, then why are we talking about it here? Well, for those of you not familiar with it, Cbusr is a free site dedicated to helping Columbus residents meet people who live nearby with similar interests, and their meetups are filled with fantastic networking opportunities for up-and-coming professionals and artists. We met some really great people, and wanted to share them with our business audience in case you’d like to meet them too…
Have you ever gone to reach out to a business after looking through their website only to find that all of their contact email addresses read something like “firstname.lastname@example.org”, “email@example.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org”? If the company you were reaching out to was, in fact AOL, great! But chances are it wasn’t AOL you were trying to contact, in which case I have to ask: How did you feel about that inconsistency in their branding message? Especially if it was your first contact with that company. Weren’t you expecting something more like “Name@RealCompany.com”? And if you have reason to be in contact with all three of those people, how do you ever expect to tell them apart since their addresses are so similar?
Whether your business is established or just starting out, making sure your brand is presented to your customers in a way that is consistent is vitally important.
So you’ve got a business and it’s got a website. That’s cool. But you’re not the webmaster ’cause you’re not a techie. We totally understand.
Techie or not, just be sure that you (rather than your webmaster or web hosting service) are the owner of your actual domain. Why? Because it’s your brand that’s gone in an instant if you ever have a falling out with that person or company, or if they fail to renew you on time for any reason. You’re the only one with the vested interest in whether or not your site is still up and running tomorrow.
Not sure who owns your domain? Finding out is easy.
I just finished reading The EMyth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber at the suggestion of a business mentor.
My Unsolicited Opinion:
The EMyth Revisited is sometimes slow and condescending in voice. That said, it contains valuable information to most business owners whose businesses are small enough that they are still doing pretty much everything themselves. Stick it out. Skip the stories when they get annoying. It’ll be worth the read if you’re starting to wonder how to get to the “next step” in your business.
The author shares his business knowledge about why many small businesses fail, both directly to you as the reader and through a story of how he helped a woman with a small pie business woven throughout.
The idea for this article started earlier this year when I was helping my good friend search online for a summer babysitter or nanny. Daycare at his normal place was über expensive over the summer, so I combed through ads from various sources, cherry-picked the applicants that looked decent at first-glance, then sent them to my friend for further review. One of the things we did with all of them was a quick Google search – of their username, their full name, whatever we had to work with. What we found kept his kids in their expensive daycare over the remainder of the summer.
One ad in particular from a recent college grad still stands out. Her ad was very well put together with a nice professional photo of herself. It spoke of her college experience, her goals in life, her prior nanny assignments, and even offered such statements as “I would be willing to drive to your house and take care of your children. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail if you’re looking for a dependable and reliable person to watch your kids this summer!” We’ll call her “Leslie”.
Unfortunately, a quick search of Leslie’s username turned up a very different story.
Ok, so we technically haven’t even launched the site yet and we’re still pulling content over from GroovyDoodle and building stuff and blah, blah, blah. But our brains are on hyperdrive. I mean, just because you don’t know we exist yet doesn’t mean we don’t have lots of great ideas to share. And so, here it is: our first (non-existent) blog post.
Bright Idea: How to Take Jewelry Pics
I was wandering around on a web forum the other day, and came across some photos taken by someone who makes and sells hand-crafted bridal jewelry. Her stuff was really cute. Really. But her pictures… were horrible. Here were these little, tiny finely-detailed beaded works of art lying on grainy wood stumps in shadow that totally camouflaged any detail there was to be seen. We’ve got lots of friends who make jewelry and even a chain maille client, so we understand that for you folks who make one-of-a-kind hand-crafted things that you’re going to sell on Etsy, paying a professional photographer to shoot each piece isn’t realistic. And so… here’s some free advice from the the pros on how to do it yourself.
While doing some research on how to reach more potential clients, I ran across some interesting internet search statistics. In the last 30 days, 90,500 people in and around Columbus have searched for keywords like “to sell house” or “house for selling” or even “sell house prayer”, not to mention the big hitters like “home sale”, which had over 20 million hits in the Columbus area alone last month. It’s obvious that people are searching for ways to differentiate their homes from the thousands of others available in this saturated market. Who doesn’t know someone who’s got a home for sale right now?