Sunday, November 30, 2008
In 2005 studies showed that 80% of site traffic originated from search engines. That may not be the case in 2008-20010 even, but the numbers are still high and quantifiable. If the viewer is a returning customer or a referral, chances are they already know your website address and are going to be a direct visitor. On the other hand for customers who want to shop around, know nothing about the industry (your industry), people who can't remember your name, someone looking for your site but not sure what its called, or someone who just randomly stumble upon your site.. those are the people who you are optimizing your site for.
So in the long run you will want to spell your name wrong, or the way you've heard people accidently spell it the most. You will want to use the keywords YOUR CUSTOMERS would think to look for, not your industry jargon. Well you will actually want to use both industry jargon and advanced terms. For example if your a plastic surgeon in San Francisco, like Dr. Kulick, you will want to use terms like breast augmentation and breast implants. If you are a holistic massage studio and not neccessarily a day spa, like Sabai, you may want to use both terms because thats whay your audience may think to search for you.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The past few months, Dveit.com as a Minneapolis based professional web design company has been thriving with new business, and I’ve completed a bunch of new sites; So I decided to give Dveit.com a little face lift. The new site features a brown, tan, and blue color scheme, and use of HTML.
For Dveit.com, the original site was very clean, but the grey, black, and blue color scheme was not a cheerful and bright as it needed to be to best represent the company. So I rebuilt the existing site, changing both the format, colors, and giving the site a simple but elegant new logo. I made many design changes along the way, updating the site navigation and adding several new portfolio peices, a slide show of my fine art work, and video/audio blog links.With a page just for social media, I took initial layouts that I had designed and built the website. You can view my online portfolio here.
You also have the option of paying for search results in the sponsored section of search engines. The problem with this is, you have to pay for each search engine individually. You bid for terms, like an auction. So some phrases and words are $15 dollars, while others are .10 cents. Plus when you pay for results you either pay per impression, click, or acquisition. Pay-per-impression is paying for so many views of your ad. Pay-per-click is every time someone clicks on your ad. Pay-per-acquisition is when you reach your goal, so every time someone fills out a form or buys something. The third (pay per acquisition) is the hardest to find, and often the most expensive. Pay-per-click is the way Google works, and pay-per-impression is an option on sites like facebook. Where you can pay for every 1,000 times your ad shows up on someones screen.
In SEO, all your traffic is FREE, after paying for a specialist to optimize your site. In the long run though, it's more efficient to have great content that is relevant to customers and fully worthy your time and money to just hire someone to help you with your seo and copy writing.
If you’d like to sell something online, I can set you up with an effective, powerful set of online tools that you can administer and manage yourself. If you’re already selling online, but want something friendlier to use, better looking, and with great features and flexibility, contact me.
Friday, November 28, 2008
How to check to see if your site is on Google, Yahoo! and MSN:
(note msn can be a little flaky and may say it has more pages indexed then the others)
site:domain.com (don't enter site:www.domain.com)
In the results it will say Results 1 of 10 out of about 78 from domain.com
Meaning that Google has indexed 78 pages from your site.
If you think a new page is missing here is how to check for individual pages:
- Download the Google Toolbar
- Then Click the i icon on the Google Toolbar.
- Selected the Cached snapshot of the page from the drop down list
- If it shows up its indexed, if not then it may or may not be indexed (most likely not)
OR if you don't want to download the toolbar.
- Go to Google
- Enter (into the search) example: cache:http://dveit.com/page.html
- (replace my domain dveit.com with your actual url)
To check open project go to dmoz.com
What if my site is not indexed? How do I submit my site to Search Engines?
Register your site. It's simple. Here are the sites to go to:
- Submit my URL to Google
- Submit my URL to Yahoo
- Submit my URL to Yahoo Directory
- Submit my URL to DMOZ
- Submit my URL to MSN
How do Search Directories index information?
Unlike search engines, search directories do not use bots. Instead they use website owner provided information like title tags, meta descriptions, and the larger directories like Yahoo! they have actual people who review every site to make sure that each web site is in the proper category.
Affordable quote on Search Engine Optimization (seo)
So lets break that down into an analogy that everyone can understand, shall we? Imagine that Google is your local library, only much bigger. The robots would be librarians, and the algorithm would be like the dewy decimal system, which would make your website a book. Your website may have a lot of wonderful content, but if it has 50 subjects instead of being optimized for a very specific theme it may be hard for the bots to index your website for the keywords you were hoping for. So a search engine specialist is the one who determines who would read your books, what keywords they would tend to type in to find you and your services, and then does a series of linking building and keyword implementation to make the bots read and index your book properly.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Many Search Engine Optimization or SEO articles focus on what to do after you launch your site. Many SEO experts, discuss on-site preparation and keyword research, but this article will focus on the ever neglected pre-planning that will help you get indexed on the BIG three Google, Yahoo, and MSN BEFORE your site ever goes live.
Top TEN steps for SEO before you launch your site, so that you can be ahead of the game.
The key to getting your site indexed in the big three is getting links pointing to it from sites that are already indexed. When the search bots crawl those sites they will inevitably find the link to your site and your site will be added to their index. Follow these Ten steps a month before you launch and you'll be a step ahead of the game.
- Register your domain name.
- Put up a Splash home page.
- Start a blog and sign up for Feedburner.
- Write a few articles and submit to directories.
- Get a link from an indexed site.
- Submit your site to Google, MSN, Yahoo, Ask and the open directory project
- Put your link on delicious
- Promote your soon to be website on social networks, build the hype.
- Comment on blogs related to your site
- Send out an eNewsletter, promoting the new site and the launch date.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Build your brand with a wide exposure for your small business by producing an email newsletter. You can offer coupons in your campaign, use e-newsletters to keep in touch with your target market, offer them tips and tricks with related products and services they may be interested in, all while building brand loyalty and stabilizing your reputation as a professional in your field.
Virtual businesses and conglomerates can both use e-Newsletters as part of their marketing plans. The trick is to know what an eNewsletter camapign can offer you, and what it's limitations are.
Here are the Top 10 Reasons to use an eNewsletter Campaign:
- Establish yourself as a Professional
People like to do business with people they trust. Providing your subscribers with content focused on solving their problems or helping them build their business will give you credibility in their eyes, and make them more likely to pay attention to your message.
Be sure to always give your audience relevant and helpful advice. Web readers have seen so much fluff and fraud that they tend to be a skeptical bunch, so your advice must be solid, well-thought out and creative. Stay away from promises of "The Ultimate This" or "The Most Fabulous That!" Unjustified hype makes people hit the unsubscribe button.
- Archive the Information on Your Site to Enhance SEO
If people are too busy to read your great newsletter right now they may want to read it later, or they may find you because you archived it. Simply add another page to your website. Then archive all your optimized pdfs on your website. Title the page Newsletter Archives and your set.
- Build Your Brand
Monthly or bimonthly eNewsletters get your product or service offering in front of your target market on a regular basis. Offer quality content with helpful tips to your subscirbers, create brand recognition for your product or service, and in the process your product or service becomes the customers top of mind thought when they are ready to buy.
- eNewsletters are Budget Friendly
Producing an eNewsletter is an ideal way to promote your business on a budget. There are a number of eNewsletter services online that offer free trials for you to take a test drive and see just how easy it is to get your message to your subscribers.
Prices for ongoing monthly subscriptions range from about $12-$20 per month or more, depending on the size of your list.
And make sure that you are giving your subscribers some sort of value-added bonus for signing up. A short, free ebook, audio recording or free trial of a service is a great way to encourage people to subscribe to your list, and ultimately build your business.
- Connect with Sales Prospects
People may spend as little as five seconds on your site to decide if they like it or not, but may not want to roam around on it very long. Some may hit your landing page, sign up for your newsletter, and others may be referrals. So your first newsletter to them may be your first impression, chance to connect. This leads into Quality vs. Quantity.
- Easy to Mass Distribute
Just because you can send out 20 newsletters in a week, doesn't mean you should. E-Newsletters can be distributed with your own data base (for those who are more advanced), or for beginners and professionals who do this a lot and want templates their are options like constant contact, exact, icontact, Lyris, My Emma and many other sites that will help with the template process as well as tracking your master unsubscriber list.
- Personalize - Build Relationships with your Target Audience
The more personalized an email is, the more likely someone is to continue reading it. Why not know very specifically what each of your customers like to purchase from you, what services they prefer, what industry they are in, and what they struggle with from day to day. If you can ask them, or figure that out and customize more then one e-mail for your customers the better. Add your client's names to the top of each e-newsletter, and spell them correctly, by using a database to automate the process. Entice them with products or services related to the ones they normally purchase, or that other clients have also purchased both. Offer them recommendations or care instructions. This obviously takes a bit more effort, but isn't it worth it in the long run?
- You can have an ordinary or extraordinary eNewletter Campaign the choice is yours, and its simple
What you can't do yourself, hire a professional to do. Make every newsletter unique. Put effort into everything that leaves your store or office.
- Easy to track Success
Tracking online success is easier than mass media or traditional media. Just add analytics or tracking, or use pre-built tools. Whatever you do, know what is and is not successful, and learn from it. What are your newsletter campaign goals? A click through to your site? A purchase? A download of your new e-book? Whatever it is, track it. You can track when an e-mail is opened, when a button is clicked, when ANY of your links are clicked, when a form is filled out, and how many pages that person visits. Find the right tools for you, or again hire a web professional to do it for you.
- If your new to the Internet, or E-Newsletters you can always hire a professional
Top 5 Obstacles When Starting an eNewsletter Campaign
With the recent CAN-SPAM legislation, there are certain laws you must abide by. In addition, many ISPs and e-mail applications deploy filters that will prevent your legitimate eNewsletter from ever reaching its intended viewer – and you'll never know if they read it or not!
- ISP/E-mail application filters
Users often employ their spam filters to avoid newsletters that they no longer want. Instead of unsubscribing they simply tell their spam-blocker that the newsletter is spam. Voila: the newsletter no longer arrives in the inbox.
The fact that many users will declare a newsletter to be spam when they tire of it has terrifying implications: legitimate newsletters might get blacklisted and thus ISPs might block their delivery to other subscribers. This is a compelling reason to increase the usability of the unsubscribe process: better to lose a subscriber than to be listed as spam.
- Too Long - Make your eNewsletter Scannable
Try not to send newsletters too often, and keep them brief. Just tack on enough information to catch their eye, and lead them to the call to action. Design your newsletter to facilitate scanning. Use a professoinal copy writer to create a funny tagline, joke, or free downloadable screensaver etc and them real them into your website for sales.
- Keep newsletters Current, Timely, and ready for Immediate Utility
Know your client. Write about information that is useful, and relevant. Ie.:
- Work related news, or activities that are related to their companies
- Prices and Sales
- Personal Interest or hobby related
- Events, Deadlines, Important Dates
- New Products - How tos
- Keep it convenient
Make the eNewsletter easy to read. Easy to unsubscribe to the newsletter. Easy to find later (on your site).
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Motto: We engage in "Continuous Innovation versus/plus Continuous Improvement"
Monday, November 24, 2008
- Authenticity as formal harmony, balance, delight.
A thing has "authentic" value because we percieve it to be well designed, it my reflect authentic wisdom.
- Authenticity as connection to time/ place.
An argument for coherence and continuity as aesthetic pleasure as opposed to correctness according to some objective standard (aethetic regionalism can reflect either motive).
- Authenticity as self expression
I identify with that designed thing or person or era, or dress, hairstyle, non local culture, tradition, not as a disguise for who I really am, but beacuse in some sense it reflects or expresses who I really am.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
- Authenticity as Purity:
The original form of something is true and legitimate, aadaptations, appropriations by others are all..
- Authenticity by Tradition
Surfaces/Styles have meaning fixed by tradition, these traditional ways of doing things have value because thats the way you do it... rejection of the past destroys value.
- Authenticity as "Aura"
This is revealed through evidence of aging of use- changes that can only occur through time. Obviously old things are appreciated by some, but also not to others. This allows age to be revealed and can be used for falsification.
Objective view, look down, impersonal, subjective is more personal/ and as a close up view. More on Subjective Authenticity in my next post.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Please do NOT post a button for live chat on your site and then give me a robot. Not cool. Also do not hide your contact information. That only makes me want to search out for your top competitor and become their number one customer.
I'm not sure where the following originally came from, but I received it in an email from my Dad, and thought I could use this touching cute little tid bit to inspire you. Inspire your to do what? In Moses Lake, Washington there is an animal sanctuary with a lot of love and heart for animals in need. I know this sounds like a sappy story to get your money, BUT IT'S NOT so please don't trail off and stop reading. Simply read the fun story I attached for your entertainment (that is completely unrelated), and then go to http://ad.vu/gbf7 and vote for the Daze of Camelot Animal Sanctuary (in Moses Lake WA) if they win the sanctuary will receive $25K to help care for the animals. Just two weeks ago practically no one had voted for them, and then my dad sent me an email asking for my help. I sent this message out to the twitter community and a few people retweeted it. A few days ago they were in fourth place, and the voting is almost over. With your help we can get them the money they need to help take care of cute animals like the story below. I know some of you think I'm lame for sounding like an infomercial right now, but I wouldn't be saying it if it wasn't for a good cause for people and animals that I know are going to use the money for GOOD. Make a difference, I don't want your money, just five seconds and a quick vote! Ps. you can vote daily... if you are so inclined ;)
Chris Brogan wrote, "Bob -Then Next Chapter," this morning so I thought I too would do a follow up. Now we know that "Bob" was initially in interactive marketing and web design. Personally I think it's a bit his own fault for not fighting to stay in his field, although I'm curious what his new role entails and why he is not putting as much energy into it as he is into fighting for social media. Change can be good, true, but if it's outside of your passion or qualifications change is the worst thing in the world. I know.
I know a designer/programmer/seo person who was once hired onto a company primarily for design and seo/sem/social media. This person initially loved their role, the people, and thrived on the opportunity to learn new things. In this person's free time they constantly read about work related topics, blogs, and studied new ways of improving daily tasks. Unfortunately at the beginning of this self-starters tenure with the company another employee unexpectedly had to leave (for personal reasons unrelated to the company or this story). So people from another department knew that the person had experience in programming, not the persons strong suit, but loving a good challenge, the opportunity to learn, and wanting to always help out and stay busy the person happily said yes to adding this role to the person's long list of responsibilities. Before the other coder left, the happy interactive person studied with the other employee and read many books to improve what could be considered par skills. It worked, but the person still went to meetings for the other two departments, but people slowly stopped giving the once happy employee design and seo work, until programming was an all day every day task. In the long run, the company still benefited from ideas the employee had for the other two departments, but lost the employee in the short term because they utilized the wrong skills and burnt out the person.
My best advice:
- Know what you ARE and ARE NOT good at. Make sure your employers are also aware. (Preferably at the interview stages)
- I've even been hired and put into roles that I personally made a point to tell management I'm not good at, and need to stear away from (in my interview I brought this up). Sometimes even that is not enough, and so you just embrace whats coming to you, and probably put feelers out for good measure.
- Never stop learning, but study the most in the field you have chosen to work in, or in "Bob's" situation have been place in.
- Let your management know that you welcome change, but if it doesn't work out also make sure that you both have talked about a plan B (putting you back into a role or similar role that works for you.)
- This is where I am curious what Bob's new role is, if he was moved because he was actually bad at it in the first place, or because management doesn't want an employee directly representing the company through marketnig if said employee does not take guidance very well. Also why wasn't Bob trying more to get his old role back, before wrongly initiating strategy that wasn't his to initiate (especially without a department behind him to help or tools do the job at full force).
- It is okay to make friends outside of your department (and every company would probably agree), it's also great to share your knowledge and expertise (not on company time), but Bob probably should have thought ahead and not made his boss feel like he was trying to go out of his way to be sneaky with management. One thought for Bob, don't personally represent the company with your new found hobby. Instead, start a blog (again not in the company's name), still share ideas, it's not the company's place to tell you what to learn or share about in your free time as a hobby (unless said company made you sign an agreement not to freelance.. in which case I probably would have never accepted). At this point social media is not Bob's job, it's not something he should do at work, and it's not something he should do in his freetime as a representative of the company, but it is a passion and therefore an acceptable freetime hobby.
- Bob, put feelers out more then just Brogan's article, or accept your new role/fight to get your old one back.. although with recent reviews I'm guessing your company wants you as far from marketing or speaking for them as possible. Don't get me wrong I totally applaud your effort, you probably did more good for your company then bad, and you probably started something that could have been great for them. In the long run though, its not really our choice what voice our clients want to have, or how much connection they want to have with consumers.
An analogy for this might be comparing an interior designer to what Bob did at his company (although again I think in theory what he did was good, and that more people should do it with the approval of their client's or bosses... going directly against orders is not so good). Say we have an interior designer named Sally, and she has two clients Bob and Anna. Bob likes the cabin feeling, is very outdoorsy, likes manly plaid (but not red and black) designs, as well as his trophy hunting collection of deer heads. Anna on the other hand is very modern and enjoys brisk and bright feeling spaces, lots of open air, deep earthy tones mixed with bright warm colors, wants everything to be very organized and clutter free, with lots of stream lined furniture from pricy well knowed craftsmen furniture builders.
Now image that Sally laid out a plan of action for each client, and like HGTV implemented her ideas (without consulting her clients first), but unlike HGTV these people ARE expecting quality results that they get to help revise prior to contractors tearing apart their spaces. Once Sally and her contractors show up for day one, Bob greets Sally at the door expecting to go over her plan of action, but instead Sally trots in and begins removing furniture and accessories. Bob of course is in a state of utter shock by this and at once asks Sally to stop, so for the time being she does, but comes back when Bob is away from home only to begin again her unapproved strategy. Bob comes home and while he likes what she has started, is upset, and fires Sally. So Sally stops work, and leaves completely. This leaves behind a half completed interior design job, a confused client, and an unpaid Sally. Next up is Anna. Sally learned her lesson and this time consults with Anna with most of her ideas, Anna approves what she sees, only tweeking a few things on the design board. Happily Sally begins her new job, but neglects to check in with her client (like a good waitress even would do), and that makes Anna a little antsy. Anna is the one who hired Sally, and is also the one who makes all household decisions on design. Sally comes up with a couple more ideas, and instead goes out of her way and consults with Todd, Anna's fiance (who does not yet live in the same house). Todd likes all the new ideas, vetos some other ideas. In the end the home looks wonderful, but a few things are not Anna's style and by the time the house is finished her and Todd have broken up. Anna is very flustered by the idea of having her home have a few decorations and colors she doesn't like, and even worse hates the idea of having to keep the masculine new furniture that Todd picked out for her living room and bedroom. She tells Sally that she would have loved to have been part of the process a little more and would like Sally to replace the bad furniture, accessories, and repaint the walls that Sally had changed colors without her approval. Sally finally learns her lesson in customer service and completes the job with Anna heavily watching her every move. Anna ends up very happy with Sally's work and refers a couple friends, but warns them to micro-management Sally due to past experience.
Connect with me online:
Web. Design. Search. Marketing
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Personally I wont write about anything I have never used, for the obvious reason that I don't know anything about you or your product. Plus if I did and later found out your product or service was awful I would feel bad. So always send a sample. Also it helps to send the blogger a write up about your company, or a press release. Be nice and confident, but also don't force them to write or say anything they don't want to. I also like to be transparent, so be understanding if the blogger wants to tell their audience that you requested that of them. The community will respect both of you more for it.
Did I miss anything? Let me know connect with me online:
Web. Design. Search. Marketing
I recently read yet another one of Chris Brogan's posts, "How to use twitter at Volume." This post simply lays out how he manages following thousands of people and responding to them. It also gives recommendations on apis to streamline tweet reading, filtering, and monitoring. The only thing I don't agree with is Chris say that he doesn't or can't respond to EVERY reply message. I make a point to personally reply to all @ messages (@ = reply or a message meant for you that is still public, it works by adding the @ sign before the person's username). I also personally reply to all Direct Messages. You can send direct messages by adding d a space and then the user name example: d desaraev or d ivesdigital vs. the public @desarae (no space).
Find me on Twitter.
A Interactive Maketing Strategist was working for a small web design company at the time that we will just call company A, anyway the company wanted to start offering new services for their clients like SEO and social media. Unfortunately they were not terribly prepared for all that this can entail, like holding client's hands and walking them through the scary new territory of communicating directly with your consumers, having to pay for analytics tools, social media tools, needing more then one person to do the job, not having a copy writer on staff, or understanding that sometimes the client may change their mind and get scared regardless of success or a small set back (like SEO dropping one or two spots on occassion). This brought to mind a particullarily odd circumstance where the client had both an SEO campaign and were just started to wrap their head around social media, starting with a twitter account. Twitter was ironically a huge success (depending on what you consider a success), lots of people who were in said companies target market immediately friended the client's profile. In less then a week they had 400 followers, and a dozen posts with some interesting content communicating about the company's services and products or just answering questions. The following week the client calls to request that twitter is stopped because it is now second on a google search for their name and they have recieved more traffic from twitter in two weekks then in the past month from search engines or direct visitors (thanks to google analytics). Unfortunately for the client people on twitter still talk about them, but no one is their to talk back now. This could have been a great new adventure for them and a great way to find new clients, but the web design company was too scared to let the strategist explain why it could have been a great thing for them and instead repremanded the strategist. In the end ladies and gents these things all take time, patience, understanding and forward thinking bosses, and a well thought out strategy... oh and more often then not A LOT of coddling on the strategist's part.
If you would like to connect with me online, find me on twitter.
Meme is when you basically tell someone or a group of people something about yourself that they or everyone wouldn't expect and/or doesn't already know about you. I used to have a boss that would encourage this as part of meetings. We would go around the room say our names, job titles or what we did for the company (contractors), maybe your favorite thing, and one thing that you think no one else in the room knows about you. It's a way of getting to know the people around you a little bit better, a way to encourage a family, or team feeling in the room. I was reminded of this little communication gem, while reading one of Chris Brogan's most recent articles, he had received a fwd of some kind asking him about himself.
To strengthen our bond as a community, or just from writer to reader, I thought I would join in the fun. I encourage you to do the same, add me on twitter, and let me know something new about yourself that I don't already know.
Five things you probably don't know about Desarae Veit:
- About my education: I applied to the Air Force Academy, but didn't continue perusing it when I found out they do not accept any transfer credits (from anywhere). I graduated high school before college. So when I headed to Iowa State University, I started my road towards a bachelor degree as a Junior, which turned a 5 year program into a three year program (also partially thanks to taking 17-30 credits every semester).
- Pageants: I used to participate in pageants (5 total), but only ever won one, and it was local.
- Clubs: I was in Girl Scouts, FFA, 4-H, and IAYI until my senior year in high school.
- Science: I won a national science fair for my 3 year project on raising artemia salina (brine shrimp aka sea monkeys). The project also earned the Naval Science Award and a small scholarship.
- World Food Prize: I used to volunteer with the World Food Prize. The final event gave me the wonderful opportunity to meet a nobel peace prize winner, many country ambassadors, and tons of incredibly smart people. I also submitted research towards GMO's (genetically modified organisms), but never finished the project so that I could put more hours towards my brine shrimp project. I was inspired by NASA's research with the creatures in space, a 2 year marine biology class stunt, and submitted my findings to the Omaha Zoo. Random fun facts: Brine shrimp and many other sea life are very under-researched, marine biologists are extremely underpaid, and their are still hundreds of thousands of un-named aquatic wild life in existance around the world.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task (also known as community-based design and distributed participatory design), refine an algorithm or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science).
The term has become popular with business authors and journalists as shorthand for the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals. However, both the term and its underlying business models have attracted controversy and criticism.
- What is your goal?
- For example are you looking for a logo? If yes, then you need to tell the creatives a little more then just, "hey I need a logo." Say I need a logo for business cards, stationary, letter heads, a sign, or all of the above. That way the designers can know more specifically how to lay it out. See if your doing business cards and you can only afford to use two colors, that is something important to mention, because for your online logo you may want it to appear more vibrant. So you may need them to design two of everything.
- Do you have a theme?
- The theme is your style. You may like modern styles, simple layouts, intricut designs, very feminine touches, or very bold and masculine themes. Maybe you want a mixture? A way to describe this to the designers without trying to figure out a fancy way of saying what you mean is a sample board. What is a sample board? find magazines with the style you like, other logos, fonts that you like, colors (preferably as a palette), and lay it all out in a collage like square with your color and font preferances in the bottom right corner (preferably labeled). Then scan it or take a picture and use that to post with your project. If you have an old logo, post that too.
- Who are you, and who are your clients?
- Are you a printing company targeting large businesses, or a mom and pop shop targeting a smaller marketing? Do you have more then one type of client? Lay that out in detail. See also my article on personas.
- Do you have samples of old pamphlets, logos, a website, or anything else that represents you and your company? Proudly display it or attach links to it. If you have a company blog, that will also help represent your voice. It's always nice to get to know the buyer a little bit, and to better understand who they are.
- Know what kind of files you are going to need: Psd, .jpeg, .png, all of the above, resolution, color scale, rgb, the exact sizes you need, the font names etc.
- Be sure to comment on the samples you receive. It's nice when the site you uploaded your project to has public forums, this way you don't have to repeat yourself. Just mention you need a specific color, or hate a certain layout, and hopefully the creative will catch on, as well as new comers looking to try out designing for your project. Be as precise and use constructive cristism, also make sure to tell people when they are headed in a direction you like.
- Invite creatives from other projects or online to bid on your project, thus giving you more options.
Josh J has left a new comment on your post ""FREE-lancing" Doesn't mean I work for FREE.":
As a fellow freelancer I've really got to question your ability or business sense on making it on your own. When your top 3 bullet points suggest you could crack open the tequila at 10 am, potentially haven't showered for a week (unless of course you have to meet the occasional client), and your toothbrush being nearby as your top 3 reasons for starting up your own business then I wish you all the success you can muster out with that work ethic. Maybe stick with doing what you love as the only reason to go out on your own.
Long lunches, numerous breaks, and vacations at the drop of the hat are fine if you can actually put in the time to get your work and administrative obligations done. Remember, you only have yourself to blame for your success or failure.
I wish you luck, but I just fear for the freelancer that has to clean up after you.
Posted by Josh J to desaraev - Interactive Media at November 13, 2008 9:08 AM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The following is a repost from Jennsylvania, the blog of Jen Lancaster former VP, sales person, and brilliantly sassy/bitchy/funny author of my favorite new books. (Ok I'm still on the first one- bitter is The New Black, but I should be on to the next two within a week). The books are the hilarious memoirs of her life as a Chicago fashionista in the business world and how she manages love, life, work, and a big shopping addiction. Great tip from her: "NEVER carry a Prada bag into the unemployment office."
Jen, I've done that, but unlike you I only own a couple of purses... and they are all foe or hand-me-down designer. On the other hand the rest of my decor doesn't live up to your prada lifestyle..oh and you can sign up online ;)
Jen, I've done that, but unlike you I only own a couple of purses... and they are all foe or hand-me-down designer. On the other hand the rest of my decor doesn't live up to your prada lifestyle..oh and you can sign up online ;)
Who Likes to See Fat Chicks Running on a Treadmill?
If you answered, "I do, I do!" then oh boy, do I have a video you'll dig.
And yes, I work out in pearls - doesn't everyone?
(P.S. If this doesn't inspire you to buy the book - or at least lay off the donuts - then for Christ's sake people, I don't know what else I can do here.)
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I've also seen friends ask friends to work for free (nothing wrong with this), but soon realize that is how their friend makes their living and time is money. Money is what keeps peoples mortgage payments on time. There fore working for free is mostly impossible. Although I've done it on occassion, but more as a good will gesture to and mainly on discount, and less for free. (This doesn't mean I NEVER do work for free. I've done work for both charities and family for nothing more then a smile.)
So in retrospect I've put a wonderful list together of WHY I enjoy owning my own marketing/design/developement/social media/research/strategy business aka freelancing.
The upside to working from home (in no definate order):
- Happy hour could potentially be ANY HOUR, as long as you don't miss meetings and get your work done. (Emphasis on get your work done.)
- Pajama Mondays and all other days that end in Y, as long as you leave for meetings and social networking events in more appropriate attire. (preferably something classy that you would be comfortable wearing to sunday church or an interview - this doesn't mean I never get dressed.)
- You have your tooth brush nearby after breakfast, lunch and dinner -- oh and working at your desk is very OPTIONAL. Also you don't have to leave the office for lunch to get away from the one or two annoying co-workers.
- Your office naturally can and will look as nice a you would like. No cubical living for you, my freelancing friends.
- Nothing is worse then working for a company who prides themselves in being the one place that is political bullshit free, and one month in realizing they are sooo full of shit you can smell it a mile from their offices.
- Bonus of being your own boss--- pc bs or not.. you're boss is hot, stylish, and tech savvy in his/her pjs. That would be you ;)
- Working for yourself, you can take breaks anytime you need to. AGAIN --you still have to get your work done. So break time is NOT 24/7.
- Lunch meetings can be anywhere, and run late without the fear of answering to someone else (or being the last person back from lunch).
- You are the boss. You can juggle as many clients as you can psychologically handle, or hire help when needed-- without asking for permission.
- No fear of getting laid off, but you do still have to keep your clients happy. (you're clients CAN and WILL fire you if you slack off or don't attend to their needs)
- No worries about cleaning up after the last person who had your job, made all your clients unhappy, and now are a little skiddish about the new kid. As a freelancer you meet your clients, get to know them like friends (professionally), and have the opportunity to keep them happy. Although their can be ups and downs, it's a great feeling to know that you may predict their needs and try to prevent any troubles.
- You CAN, but generally should not... wake up at 9 a.m.vs. 7 or 8. (Think of what you could do with the two hours you slept in)
- No yearly review. Although their is monthly client reports.
- You only have your self to blame for extreme success or horrid failure.
- No long commute, awful bus trips with smelly neighbors, or hitting rush hour.
- You are less likely to forget something you need at the office... or if you do forget it.. it should only be inches away.
- Your schedule may be incredibly busy with work, but at the drop of a hat you can take any vacation you can afford. Wifi willing your at home working situation could be beach or resort side.
- You get paid to do what you love. Working in an office or from home. You are getting paid to do what you love. (And I love what I do)
Don't get me wrong I've worked for a couple of agencies (and loved it), places I've hated, and corporations that had an amazing and forward looking attidute. Work as with life, is all about what you make of it. These are just a few random reasons I'm enjoying working as my own boss. Believe me their are many more, and sometimes just as many reasons I sometimes consider job hunting. (Although not recently)
Working with people is great, agency atmospheres can be fun, and some corporations can be open minded, others are synical and can leave an awful taste in your mouth. Make the most of whatever working situation you choose.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I'm not telling you to write everything down on your computer and save it, because frankly that would file up your hard drive with useless information. You don't even have to buy an external hard drive. Here are two ideas:
Sign-up for a free gmail account.
Every time you learn something complicated, like a new coding technique just take notes and email your self. In the subject line tag it with keywords you would think to type in to yourself for future reference.
So if it was a coding note, I would tag it with the words: Coding, what the code might do for me, where I have used it before. Then when I need it again I would just type in one of those words and EVERY email I've ever written or received would be pulled up from my archives.
You can also make folders to organize your emails in. Set filters to automatically archive or organize your emails.
Saving passwords in your gmail account is NOT highly recommended, but if its not very important feel free to do that as well. Just keep in mind its not the most secure method of archiving your passwords, but is an option.
Another option for storing all of your information is EVERNOTE.
You can copy full web pages and bring them up online or your desktop. This program also lets you tag items, and set up folders for them.
Monday, November 3, 2008
To ensure you can keep in touch with contacts, and reach for full social butterfly potential I've a few tips for you.
IDEA 1: File your Business Cards
EVERYONE receives a business card at one point or another. If you haven't either your a wall flower, never leave the house, or may need a breath mint; but networking etiquette and tips on where to meet professionals is a completely different post.
When you get home after receiving someones business card. Make a note to yourself where you met the person, what you have in common, and anything else that was memorable about them. By making notes to yourself you ensure that in a month or year after you have forgot the good times you had talking to that person, that you can easily call them up and have something to remind them about your conversation. You should NEVER get rid of a business card, unless you truly don't like that person. Even then its nice to keep so that you can write notes on it.
Quick Break Down of idea 1
- Take notes, and save them with your business cards (or write on the back of them)
- Never throw away a good contact (or bad if you want to be able to remember them)
- Store them with a Rolodex or card scanner
Within a week or two of meeting someone you should always say a quick hello if you enjoyed meeting them. I admit I don't always remember or have time to do this, but its always a nice gesture. It's best not to call unless you have a reason, like setting up a meeting. Simply send a quick email thanking them for their conversation and maybe mentioning something you guys talked about.
Completely Fictional Example:
It was great meeting you the other day at the AdFed Student Advertising Summit. I really enjoyed learning about all of your exciting projects and that you also love snow boarding. If you get a chance it would be nice to get the link for that blog we were talking about. Anyway keep in touch, I'm sure we will be seeing a lot of each other now that your a member of Ad Fed. Feel free to give me a call if you need any help with a web design project.
Desarae A. Veit
IDEA 3: The NETWORKING BINDER
From the Minneapolis store of Russell Hazel comes the "Networking Binder."
Who knows someone in Boston or Barcelona? Who has an in at that hot new company? Who can help get me an interview—and help me avoid saying something stupid once I get it? That's where your Networking Binder comes in. With sections for employment, school, and more, it's an indispensable resource for accessing the knowledge and connections that can make things happen for you. Meet 'em, talk 'em up, and file 'em away for the future. Keep in touch and the right opportunity is bound to come your way.
Put It Together
1. Create a section in your Mini Binder each facet of your network, then make lists of all the people, past and present, who may be valuable to know. Here's a place to start:
Employment: co-workers, bosses, clients, vendors
Education: instructors, classmates, counselors, department heads
Clubs: fellow members, teammates, coaches, mentors
Miscellaneous:friends of friends, friends' parents, family friends, co-volunteers
2. Separate each section with a labeled Index Divider and a Paper Pocket. Use the Paper Pocket to hold all the materials collected as you network: business cards, meeting notes, company background, member lists, etc.
3. Write up your lists of contacts. In addition to basic contact information, try to note when and where you met them, their position, personal interests you might share or anything else that can help rekindle your association later on. Three-hole punch your lists and snap them in by section.
4. Update and add contacts as you go. Remember—you never know who you might be a great future contact.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Before you start writing your proposal you will need to have a meeting with the prospective client to ask them some basic informational question. This eliminates a lot of research and unnecessary guessing on your part. Don't forget to take notes, the client will appreciate not having you ask them things three times, and you wont have to force yourself to have everything memorized. If possible have two people in the meeting one to take notes and fill out a list of needed question/answers and have the other person do the sales and client interviewing.
Prior to meeting with the client:
- You may want to ask the client to find some samples of designs or layouts they have seen in magazines, other websites, or to make rough sketches for their design style, favorite fonts, colors, and other features they know they would like included in the site. (This may change but its a great starting point.)
Some of your questions may include:
- The company name
- Who their clients/target audience is
- This should also cover weather or not they are B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer)
- Do they have multiple target markets?
- It may help to creat a persona
- What is the company's products or services? (Will they be selling online? Is an e-commerce site in the mixture?)
- What languages will the site need to be in?
- SSL and other security issues
- Know who your clients preferred point of contact is. In some companies you may meet with the CMO, CEO, and five other people. So determine who wants to be contacted, who doesn't, or if other members just want brief updates.
- Do they have programming preferances or will they need a CMS?
- How many pages will the site have? Try to get a fair idea of any specialty pages they need.
- Do they have more than one site, or mico-sites?
- What is the client's business goals?
- What does the client want this project to do for them?
- How will they consider their new website a success or a failure? (This question is more for you then the proposal. It will help you gauge customer expectations.)
- Make sure you get a business card or if its a long distance meeting try to get all of their contact information in an email. That way you will have it for the proposal and wont have to do a crazy directory search for their phone numbers.
The Executive Summary
To some account managers this could be considered the old school version of proposal writing, because you basically have to rewrite every section in summary. It's called the executive summary for the most obvious of reasons, the executives who will be reading your proposal may not have a lot of time and need to get the basic facts quickly. You can also get rid of this page worth of information and replace it with just a simple paragraph objective and summary.
Your Company or Personal Information
You should always begin a proposal the way your English teachers used to tell you to begin formal letters, with your name, company, website, and contact information. This should be followed by an optional brief background or company history, business qualifications, technical skills, past achievements and contact details.
Project Overview and/or Objective
In this section be sure to include a summary of the company you are submitting the proposal for, your understanding of their products and services, the target market, the goals of the web site and a rough outline of how you will achieve them. The best part about this section is, if the client reads it and thinks your summary is slightly off they may politely correct you, or since it is a signed contract and they don't correct you then you have documentation of both parties understanding of goals and expectations.
This goals back to our pre-meeting checklist where you can incorporate a description of the style of site you will proposal, the specific elements a client may have asked for, and additional reccommendations you may have. You will also want to try to incorporate current elements from the client's branding that have helped you to develop an understanding for their design style.
Platform and Special Considerations
You may need an additional section to include information the client may have specially requested such as language, special programming, CMS barriers, security or other issues pertaining to the business, additional sites, and target market(s) that will need to be addressed.
Flowchart of Web Site Architecture
This will be a diagram showing the different pages of the site and navigational structure.The reason why this is important is in situations where you may have a picky clients, someone who wants lots of revisions, or in the middle of the projects asks you to add or remove pages. This additional information or scope change is not a problem, but if you have how much additional pages will cost in your initial proposal it will help you when it comes time to bill the client. For example, say your client requested an initial 10 page site and you end up building them a 50 page site (which happens more often then not), or say they remove 5 of the original 10 pages (after they were already designed and coded) and request an additional 10 pages. Well you are going to want to be fair and bill them for your time, plus you need to remember all of these revisions will most likely effect your project timeline. Making a small project bigger should be a great thing, as long as you plan ahead, and make sure you have all your bases covered to prevent unhappy clients who may dispute paying for your additional services rendered.
Describe what each page will represent, the information it may contain, and why it is important to the website. You may also want to include a description of how each page fits into the overall them and which project elements it may address. addresses. To again be on the ball you could use this section to also describe how each page could effect the site's SEO (Search Engine Optimization and Page Rank). An example of why that may be important is in some cases clients may just want a flash site, a homepage that is only pictures, or non-descriptive headers. Well if they know this may effect their overall marketing and site value they may be less likely to ask you to remove the about page from the list of pages you build.
Development Time line
This is where strategy comes into play. Plan ahead and be sure to note potential growth and give yourself a healthy amount of time to complete the project. Remember it is better to consistently WOW your client by finishing early, then consistently needing to apologize for missing milestones. That does not mean you take on an extra 30 hours to your project, it just means be realistic with your estimates, it helps to compare your time line to past project (especially if you keep a daily timelog).
In this step describe each of the stages for the web projects' development, the estimated completion date and notes regarding client consultation and supply of information/feedback from the client. This may also include milestone payments for involved projects and site promotion activities. Make it clear that traffic takes time to build up after implementation and promotion should only occur after the site has been tested thoroughly. Improper implementation can cost months of traffic and a great deal of lost business. On another note, remember to tell the client and mention it in your proposal that if the scope of the project changes, you will need to modify this timeline. You may also want to note that if parts of the project are based on client deliverables and you don't receive them on time that will also effect the timeline.
For example, if you client insists on writing their own copy, coding their own site, or approving every page prior to programming add a deadline for each of those markers. If you are a freelancer this is where a timelog comes in helpful (even if you work on a per project basis vs. an hourly rate). Keep track of when you finish each step of the project and when the client delivers their portion. If the project timeline is then set back by two months, you can show on paper that you still met deadlines in reasonable timing, or at the same time you would have finished had the client met the timeline as well. If the project is delayed because of you, and not because of the client I like to offer my clients a discount in an effort to maintain a healthy relationship.
This section is a descriptive breakdown of your pricing, how long each section of the project will take, and total of quote including an end date before the price will need to be re-calculated. This will include items such as domain name registration, hosting fees and outsourcing for sections of the site you will not be able to develop yourself. Ensure you take into account business related items including travel time, electricity, telephone and consumables.
Factor in the cost of the development of the business proposal as well; a good proposal will take hours of your time and you should be compensated for that as account management time. In your eagerness to gain the contract, you may lose money if you quote too close to the bone. Bear in mind that things rarely go strictly to plan in web design and delays can be expected. Time is money. The going rate for web design services seems to be between US$25-$85 per labor hour at present; dependent upon the complexity of the task and the competency of the designer.Agencys will normally charge closer to US$110-$175 per hour, but that is because they need to cover building expenses, other overhead costs, an account team, project management team, programmers, and designers.
Terms and conditions:
Expectations and commitments. It is not unusual for web projects to be delayed due to clients not supplying feedback or content necessary to complete sections. It is just as important to be clear in what you expect from your clients as well as explaining your commitment to them. Conflict resolution issues and feedback mechanisms should be described.
Your clients will need to know what will occur if they do not supply information when requested, or request changes mid-stream and the action that you will take if you are running behind in the project yourself. You need to be clear on payment details and consequences of failure to pay for the services that you provide.
Be careful not to give too much away, just enough to give the client a good idea of what the site will look like. Ensure copyright notices and intellectual property statements are in place. You may want to just refer to sites you have already developed or your portfolio. Wireframes and sample designs generally are part of the actual project process.
Ongoing web site maintenance.
Someone once told me, working in design and marketing we often give a lot of our talent away for free because people don't always value an artistic trade. As a metaphore marketers, designers, account executives, and project managers you are like a water faucet and can give your clients all the time in the world. To turn that water faucet on is as simple as approving a proposal or calling you to ask questions for two hours. In the end if your client uses the water (your time), they should know that they will need to pay the water bill. I'm not telling you to take this to the extreme and not offer generous free advice to your clients that will inevitably make you friends or build a strong customer relationship where they trust you. I'm simply saying your time is worth something and if you value it so will your customers.
Finally in this section summarize an offer of ongoing site maintenance or the implications of the client deciding to update or maintain the site themselves after it has been established.
The above points are usually sufficient to put together a professional web design proposal for a small to medium project. If drafting a business proposal based on criteria given to you by the prospective client; be sure to address all the points.
If the client suggests the proposal documentation be a certain format, respect that. In the culling process, the first proposals to be binned will be the ones that do not address all the criteria the client has laid down.
Bear in mind that not all the web design proposals you submit will be accepted. Be prepared to do some heavy revisions to satisfy your clients and to find a middle ground where all parties feel comfortable. A prospective client asking for revisions is a good sign - they are genuinely interested.
Also remember that some companies will ask you for proposals purely to use as a comparison against another designer that they are interested in utilizing; so try and limit the amount of time you spend on the draft until the client gives indication of serious interest.If you would like some information on where and how to locate freelance web development employment and projects; follow this
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