Why Aren't I Rich Yet?
A common misapprehension with more than a few clients is that website ownership is a three-stage process.
1. Get a site.
2. Get lots of money from site.
3. Transform your life due to massive cash injection.
Somehow the assumption is "build it and they will come", and in their coming they will bring massive success.
Obviously, if this were true then there would be no such thing as a poor webmaster. Trust me on this - there is.
Equally obviously though, the goal is indeed to make a return on our investment (ROI), if nothing else it would be good if the site paid for itself.
So where do we get both realistic and profitable in our on-line targets?
I want to tackle a few of these misapprehensions and offer my solutions to them for potential website owners to consider with this issue in mind.
I would argue that at the end of the day, the clearer picture the client has of what is really on the table when they go website hunting, the less disappointed they are likely to be and - ultimately - the more successful their on-line strategy. Plus the less likely they are to get burned by one of the most shark-infested industries you are ever likely to be forced to mess with.
My definition of a good site has always been encapsulated in the 4L's of web design. Loadable, Legible, Logical and Liveable.
Translation: The site has to appear in the browser fast, be easy to understand, be easy to use and navigate and not employ those irritating, gimmicky quirks of design that are really clever the first time we see them, sort of clever the second and by the fifth or sixth as irritating as hell.
Flash websites are often prime examples of breaking all of these rules in one fell swoop, but not exclusively so. Plenty of standard (HTML) sites are slow loading clunkers with irritating animations to the sound of totally unnecessary beepy tunes that only closing the window will stop.
So we close the window - and we go somewhere else.
There is another consideration, though. MDR, most desired response. The simple statement to the viewer of what it is you actually want from them, either to Eat at Joe's or Buy a Website from Englesos.
Talk them into wanting what you have to offer; if nothing else tell them why they ought to want it then tell them how to get it.
The client came to you looking for something specific - so give it to them if you have it.
That way they are less likely to get confused, impatient and/or bored then go elsewhere in search of the guidance (and the product) they failed to find with you.
I suppose this still comes under the 4-L approach as it is highly illogical to build a site to sell your services and then not tell the viewer exactly what those services are on the front page.
Assuming you observe the rules above and are therefore worth finding, in order to get traffic, that traffic has to be told that you are there. Getting onto the search engines is very simple and can be done for free.
It is advisable to have your web site optimized for the search engines and this should be an easy task for any reasonably competent web master. Then publish the site using any one of a number of excellent, free software and wait.
At this point the client us uniquely vulnerable to the "snake oil" sellers of the search engine world who will offer to short cut this nail chewing stage for a sizeable sum of money.
This is not a possibility.
Think it through; the goals of a search engine are not philanthropic - they want your money. They are not remotely worried about giving you and your site a "fair go", and doubtless they disapprove of people like you using their search engine to make cash unless they get some too.
Google, Yahoo and the like are far from stupid - and as they are also far from poor, this argues to me that not many people get past them or are likely to.
Thus claims from search engine specialists of "short-cuts" are a fiction; there are no "special relationships with Google" and questionable techniques are more likely to get you banned that promoted.
If you want to waste your money that much, send it to me. At least I will say thank you.
You will need one of two things to get your site off the starting blocks.
1. An advertising budget to either pay the search engines or to pay for traditional publicity in the shape of posters, traditional advertising, business cards and other products.
2, A great idea, bags of enthusiasm and an e-mail client.
The great idea usually revolves around the answer to a simple question, namely;
"Why the hell should I do business with you - rather than the hundred thousand other people with websites?"
It has to be said that this is an issue you should have thought over at the design stage of your business - never mind your website. This is the great idea that presumably got you started when it dawned on you that there was a money making window you could exploit for fame and untold riches.
"Wow" you might, for example, have said, "Why is the average laptop computer so boring and samey on the outside? Why can't we buy stick-on skins to make them look more fun and easier to identify as well? We could even offer downloadable desktop wallpapers to match the skins."
Marvellous stuff. So skin your own laptop then e-mail everyone you can think of with pictures of the transformation, visit geek bulletin boards and offer your services, talk to local computer retailers with a view to selling them at purchase of the computer as an add-on, advertise outside local schools and colleges, consider matching skins for mobile phones - then talk to the phone retailers too.
You see, one great idea breeds another and before long you get a flock of them going off in all directions - especially when you consider that the web is the best communications medium ever bar none and you are free to use it as much as you like to get word to people of what a truly life enhancing product you have to offer.
But if you are not using it - expect nothing.
Just having a website is not enough. Figure out how it fits into your plans and get to work.
We have to go and look for success; it seldom if ever comes looking for us. Those who have found it seldom if ever splash it around or even think of sharing it.
They hang on for grim death and keep their secrets.
Do not expect anyone to tell you any real secrets either for being number one on Google overnight or for making a million dollars with a single e-mail.
So why aren't you rich yet? Who knows? Think about it.
But if you are not out there on the 'net actively trying - I doubt if you ever will be.