Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Plan Your Internet Success – Part 6 – Create a Website


6. Create a Web site

Some people spend a fortune on this, which is not very smart unless there is an absolute need to have a very specific look and feel to create an image or ambiance. Most people on the Internet do not seem to care much about Web design, if you believe what you see. Amazon, Yahoo!, and Google are not exactly the most attractive sites on the Net, yet they seem to work just fine for the people who use them and that is the key. They work because they accomplish exactly what they set out to do: deliver on their audience’s expectations! If anything, look at Google.com (www.google.com) below.

Google Search - Main Page

Can you imagine less than that? Yet, Google commands close to 70 percent of the all Web searches. And, in my opinion, it works because this page is all about searching and nothing more. Are the results that Google delivers better than Yahoo! or Bing (MSN)? Frankly, I am not sure that most people can tell, but Google does not try to get you involved with everything and anything as Yahoo! does (www.yahoo.com) (illustrated below).

Yahoo Search - Main Page

It seems that Microsoft has learned that lesson and is doing what Google does with its newest home page (www.bing.com), and that is to focus on its core business, search.

Bing Search - Main Page

The lesson here is that you want to start with a simple, highly focused Web site, and then you can take it from there. There are plenty of sources for free templates and I encourage you to take them into consideration.

For those interested, I have made available free templates and other resources at http://www.planyourinternetsuccess.com/resources.html and I encourage you to check them out.

The only issue with templates, or any Web site for that matter, is to make sure that it is W3 Compliant (W3C – http://www.w3c.com). This ensures that most search engine spiders will be able to recognize and “read” your Web pages properly. The way to tell if your template or page is compliant is to look at the very first line of code on the index page (index.html or index.php) and note if the compliance statement is provided as shown below:

Compliance

Where I believe your money would be better spent is on a program that allows you to properly manage your Web site. There are free ones (open source) like Joomla, Drupal, Magnolia, as well as paid ones that are often specialized solutions, such as Salesforce, but be aware that these solutions cost a bundle.

I personally use neither and rely on Macromedia Dreamweaver and my knowledge of HTML programming, as well as the assistance of a PHP programmer when I need it, since I like 100 percent control over my Web sites. As a result, I recommend this approach, as well as a basic understanding and ability to program in HTML.

What is critical is to focus on learning the basics of building and maintaining a Web site, and not allow yourself to get bogged down with too many details. While it is not the easiest route to take, you always want to be able to understand what a Web site designer or programmer is talking about.

Resources:

http://allwebcodesign.com/
http://www.templatetuning.com/
http://www.flash-template-design.com/
http://www.dreamlinestudio.com/
http://www.oswd.org/
http://www.zerodollartemplates.com/
http://www.webmastersplaza.com/
http://www.dreamlinestudio.com/
http://watson.addy.com/
http://www.whitegyr.com/flash-templates.htm
http://www.freeflashsites.com/
http://www.templatepark.com/
http://www.bizweb2000.com/
http://www.roopletheme.com/
http://drupal.org/

Finally, you must have noticed that some Web sites show a small icon next to their domain name. If you want to create something like this, it is relatively easy. Simply create a logo (keep in mind that since it is tiny, it should be something easy to recognize, like a letter) and go to http://www.favicon.cc/ and follow the instructions. You’ll be surprised to see how easy it is to do.

However, whatever you decide to do, do not waste too much time re-inventing the wheel on this one. What you need is a simple, easy-to navigate Web site that is attractive and pleasing to the eye, fun and, above all, has something relevant to say (covered on next part).

Note:  You’ve probably noted that I only cover the basic in this chapter and do not go into more advance programing concept for dynamic web site (php, MySQL, ASP, Java, etc.).  Selecting a language, environment, way to manage your website, etc. are complex issues that no one cannot explain in a few sentences, and for which many books are available.  Furthermore different web sites require different approaches as far as programing language and data base management and this is something that I cover during the Success Group Sessions, and in even greater details during the one-on-one Success Guidance Sessions that I offer.

If you wish to download the complete manuscript note that it is available for free on my personal web site at jtouboul.com (still working on planyourinternetsuccess.com but I have changed the look of my personal website jtouboul.com)

Why I Hate Pseudo Gurus


I recently had an exchange with a gentleman who did not seem convinced that most of the so-called “gurus” are nothing more than charlatans who have read some stuff on the Net about Online Marketing and tried to make some real money. In all probability they failed miserably. However they realized that a bunch of people out there were desperately trying to make some money, and open to buy dreams for a few dollar if it was packaged properly.

Point in case. I recently visited one of these famous Guru miracle solution and looked at the website that starts like this:
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Struggling to pay bills? Sick of having to worry about money?

Copy Exactly How I Earn An Amazing Income Working From Home & It’s Shockingly Easy Guaranteed

This is the most important personal letter you’ll read – make sure that you read every word because this can transform your life as it has for my family, my close friends, and several others.
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Yea baby.. Give me more…

The web page (they are all one page using the same format, same brackets, boxes, promises, etc. – That alone should be a hint) goes on to show you statements and daily revenues, amazing possibilities, promises that even a dummy can do it, etc. It also has testimonial of people who have used this method and made serious money.

What is quite amazing about all this is that the domain was purchased only 4 and half months ago, in August of 2009. In other words not only this guy but a bunch of other have made millions in less than four months (that is assuming that these people have joined the program from the moment the domain was purchased)… Wow…. That is something. Feels like… I don’t know… Magic
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By the way skeptics, here are the registry dates from GoDaddy: (You can check it yourself – It pays to check some basic facts sometimes)

Updated Date: 04-dec-2009
Creation Date: 05-aug-2009
Expiration Date: 05-aug-2010
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When it becomes even more interesting however is when you go all the way to the end of the document, and read the disclaimer. Here it is:

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EARNINGS/ INCOME DISCLAIMER

* Important Information Regarding Earnings: Statements about my experience and earnings from COPY THE BLUEPRINT are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be considered earnings claims or representations, either express or implied, that anyone will make any money using XXXX XXX XXXXXXXXX. Your income potential from using XXXX XXX XXXXXXXXX or any other program is dependent upon numerous factors including, but not limited to, the time you devote to pursuing the program, your finances, market conditions, various skills, and many other factors beyond the control or even knowledge of XXXX XXX XXXXXXXXX. We therefore do not guarantee or represent that you will reach any level of income or earnings.

ANY AND ALL CLAIMS OR REPRESENTATIONS AS TO INCOME EARNINGS ON THIS WEBSITE ARE TO BE CONSIDERED EXCEPTIONAL RESULTS AND NOT AVERAGE EARNINGS. YOUR INDIVIDUAL RESULTS MAY VARY. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL EARN ANY MONEY USING THE TECHNIQUES AND IDEAS IN THESE MATERIALS.

EXAMPLES IN THESE MATERIALS ARE NOT TO BE INTERPRETED AS A PROMISE OR GUARANTEE OF EARNINGS. EARNING POTENTIAL IS ENTIRELY DEPENDENT ON THE PERSON USING OUR PRODUCT, IDEAS AND TECHNIQUES AND CONDITIONS OF THE MARKETPLACE. WE DO NOT PURPORT THIS AS A “GET RICH SCHEME.” ANY CLAIMS MADE OF ACTUAL EARNINGS OR EXAMPLES OF ACTUAL RESULTS CAN BE VERIFIED UPON REQUEST.

YOUR LEVEL OF SUCCESS IN ATTAINING THE RESULTS CLAIMED IN OUR MATERIALS DEPENDS ON THE TIME YOU DEVOTE TO THE PROGRAM, IDEAS AND TECHNIQUES MENTIONED, YOUR FINANCES, KNOWLEDGE, MARKET CONDITIONS AND VARIOUS SKILLS. SINCE THESE FACTORS DIFFER ACCORDING TO INDIVIDUALS, WE CANNOT GUARANTEE YOUR SUCCESS OR INCOME LEVEL. NOR ARE WE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY OF YOUR ACTIONS.

THERE CAN BE NO ASSURANCE THAT ANY PRIOR SUCCESSES, OR PAST RESULTS, AS TO INCOME EARNINGS, CAN BE USED AS AN INDICATION OF FUTURE SUCCESS OR RESULTS. MAKING DECISIONS BASED ON ANY INFORMATION PRESENTED IN OUR PRODUCTS, SERVICES OR WEBSITE SHOULD BE DONE ONLY WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU COULD EXPERIENCE SIGNIFICANT LOSSES. ALL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES SOLD ON THIS WEBSITE ARE FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
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“ALL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES SOLD ON THIS WEBSITE ARE FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.” Wow… What a downer after all the hype.

One thing that I must admit and is amazing is that they would even bother with a disclaimer (I doubt it is written by an attorney but this is another story all together). I guess whoever sold the first concept, software and site must have gotten sued and passing on the warning.

In conclusion, be aware of who you are doing business with, especially on the Net… There may be some genuine gurus out there but they are few and in all likeliness do not sell their secrets for $9.99 or even $49.99. As I mention in my e-book, Plan Your Internet Success (my turn for a plug), why would anyone making millions sale his/her secret for any amount of money? It makes no economic sense.

Plan Your Internet Success – Part 5 – Select a Domain Name


5. Select a Domain Name

The first thing you should understand with the selection of a domain name is that the most obvious ones have usually been taken.  As a result, try to be original and come up with something unique.  While domain names will have an impact on your business, it is more as a result of its identity and recognition than its description of what you do.  Take, for example, Amazon.com: would you associate this name with books and products being sold online?

With this in mind, don’t try to do too many things with your domain name, such as using keywords. I’ve come to the conclusion that so much is at play when it comes to SEO that the domain name plays a small role. However, a catchy name that is attractive, easy to spell and remember can be a great asset.

Here is an example of what not to do: I created a Web site titled “search-engine-optimization-professionals.com” that included all the keywords that I needed.  However, I quickly realized that this name was way too long and too complicated (Not to mention the “s” at the end and to cover myself; I selected two domain names one with the “s” at the end and one without the “s”). But no matter what I did, it was all pointless since many people did exactly the same thing (including keywords and “-“ in their domain names) and Google started penalizing Web sites with domain names including a “-“ in the body of the name.

Bottom line, find something that is easy to remember and spell.

Another thing that you may consider is the extension (.com, .net, .TV, .org, etc.).  I personally like to stay conservative in this area and usually go with the traditional “.com” and in some instances will also get “.net.”

Finally, as a personal preference, I do not recommend that people buy their domain name through their hosting company.

I personally use GoDaddy because I have many domains and GoDaddy offers a platform that enables me to manage my domains relatively easily.

The most important aspect of this platform is that it enables me to re-direct the DNS (also called Nameserver) very easily and, as a result, should I need to switch my ISP to do this very quickly and easily. There are no specific rules to follow when it comes to domain management and I do not endorse GoDaddy.

Resources:

www.godaddy.com

www.buydomains.com/

www.sedo.com

www.register.com

Regardless of what you decide for your domain name, keep in mind that a domain name costs less than $8 annually and if you hesitate between two domain names, buy both of them! Who knows, you may have some variations and testing them may indicate that one is doing better than the other because of the way it reads or sound, its spelling, etc.

A couple of years ago, someone suggested that I create a wine site and I went ahead and purchased a few domain names. I came up with what I thought would be an original idea and that was to target California wines and “personalize” these domain names.

I first got obvious names that were available, including http://www.mycaliforniawinery.com and http://www.buy-california-wine.com (yes, at the time the “-“ was still working).  However, I was not satisfied and created these personalized domain names that included the concept of “my corner” (domains names became mycaliforniawinecorner.com, myredwinecorner.com, mychardonnaycorner.com, etc.). I must have spent $80 as I tried to corner all wine types (cabernetcorner.com, sauvigoncorner.com, etc.), but by the end of the first year, nothing came of it and I had to abandon most of them. Sure it was a loss of $80, but it could have worked and it did for another concept that involved travel destinations. What I learned with the wine Web sites allowed me to do something that is generating revenues today.

In conclusion, I encourage people to play with domain names and experiment.  You may have five or even 10 misses, but it only takes one to more than pay for all the other ones.

Finally, keep in mind that if you want to brand a name, what I describe above, with many domain names exploiting one area of business, will not work. This approach is ideally suited for what is known as “mini sites” or what I call “Web site clusters” to try to catch as much traffic as possible using very targeted areas of a vertical.

Similar results may be achieved using sub-domains. For example, if you are using a domain name called “mydomain.com” with the URL “www.mydomain.com,” a sub-domain would read something like “product1.mydomain.com” or “service1.mydomain.com,” etc. This approach is not very SEO friendly but it is not terribly important, in my opinion, since natural searches have become so competitive today.

A good example for using a sub-domain is when you are trying to target geographic areas. For example, assuming that I would want to offer my services to potential clients in Chicago, I could create a sub-domain called chicago.jtouboul.com and create a completely customized page for that market. The difference between this and creating a Chicago folder within your Web site (for example http://www.jtouboul.com/chicago/) is that the sub domain becomes a domain within your main domain and is a top-level page, as opposed to including files one level down, and it has its advantages.

However, don’t worry about these details for now, since there are many options, and I suggest that you keep it simple. At a minimum, secure a few domains that you think will work for you.

You can also read the entire document “Plan Your Internet Success” on my web site at jtouboul.com

What About Business Plan and Funding


At this juncture some people ask me about creating a full business plan to get a complete “picture” of what is needed to succeed.  My approach is simple. If you plan (or need) to raise capital to launch your venture then, absolutely, you will need a full Business Plan (and, as a matter of fact, much more).

However if you want to launch a web venture that you will keep relatively small-scale until you see how it “respond” to your initial marketing campaign, then I do not recommend that you spend the time needed to develop a full-scale Business Plan.  After all a complete business plan will probably run 50-75 pages and will take considerable time and research to accomplish.

Is this something that you want to do at this early stage? Possibly, but I would not recommend it unless you absolutely need funds to launch your business, and considering the state of funding in this country today, you better have a very unique idea that will show revenues very quickly.

My approach is that unless you need very complex programing and marketing expenditures that will cost you a bundle spend your time focusing on creating a small-scale business and growing it until such time when it has some clients and some revenues.  Then your chances to succeed in raising capital will be greatly improved.  Trust me on that one, I’ve been trying to raise capital for a start-up for several months and even though I bring quite a bit of experience in this field it hasn’t help.  Bottom line is that, today, the climate is not good for an early stage ventures.  Investors are still hanging on to their money and want to see revenues before considering if they should invest or not.

Finally, creating a complete Business Plans and raising capital is something that I cover during the group and one-on-one sessions since these are very personal and very intensive processes that require a lot of attention and take quite a bit or research and time.

In conclusion I did not overlook full-blown Business Plans or Fund Raising.  Rather, in this manual, my only goal is to give entrepreneurs what I consider to be the absolute minimum they will need to do in order to insure their success on the Net.  And this starts by rolling your sleeves and getting down to proving your concept and make it work, be it a small scale one.

Coming up Saturday Part 5: Choose your Domain Name

You can also read the entire document “Plan Your Internet Success” on my web site at jtouboul.com