Marketing 101: Your Very First Website in 5 Steps
Last updated: 6/16/2002; 10:22:17 AM
 
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Marketing 101: Your Very First Website in 5 Steps

This article will seem remedial to some of my readers.  It’s going to assume that you are a small business that is either new to the web or just plain new and walk you through the step by step process.

1.  Get a Domain Name

Go to www.000domains.com and figure out a domain name for yourself.  Let’s say, for example, that you chose www.bostonscenicarts.com.  When you are choosing a domain name you want to obviously avoid conflicts with other sites and / or trademarks.  Here are three approaches to use:

  1. Use www.google.com to search for your domain name as “bostonscenicarts.com” and as the phrase version “Boston Scenic Arts”.

  2. Use www.queryserver.com/web.htm to search for your domain name as “bostonscenicarts.com” and as the phrase version “Boston Scenic Arts”.

  3. Use the free search at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office web site.  Go here: http://www.uspto.gov/ and then do this

    • Change the “Select a Search Collection” drop down menu to “Trademarks”
    • Click Go
    • Click on “New User Form Search (Basic)” (or another option)
    • Enter “Boston Scenic Arts” (no quotes) and make sure that the All Search Terms option is turned on.

Register your domain name using www.000domains.com and configure the name servers to point to your hosting company (you’ll actually do this later when you complete step #3).

IMPORTANT : I very specifically DID NOT say to use a consultant or friend or anyone else to establish your domain name.  This is something that you should do and you and only you should control the password for this.  This means you have to learn some basic things like how to register a domain, set a name server and so on.  This isn’t all that hard and learning how to do these things means that someone else can’t take control of your domain (like if you and your web consultant get into a squabble).

2.  Get Instant Message Names Established

I am a huge believer in Instant Messaging.  If I was a new business, I would immediately go to each of the major IM vendor sites and register my domain name as my Instant Message handle.  So, go to:

If you don’t want to run all three Instant Messenging software programs together then go to http://www.trillian.cx and download Trillian.  I personally don’t like it but tons of people do.

3.  Get Your Site Hosted and Email Established

There are so many materials written about hosting that I’m not going to cover it.  Go to www.google.com and search for “Web Hosting”.  However, I do think that people set up email incorrectly all the time.  This document has a good set of tips on how to take best advantage of your email.

Especially important:

  • Add your new web site url and tag line to every email you send out by adding them to your signature.  Something like this:

www.BostonScenicArts.com – Quality scenic design for your theatre

  • Follow the guidelines on how to NOT look tiny if that’s what you want.

4.  Get a Web Site Created

Here is my advice on creating a basic web site:

  1. Get help from someone who knows what they are doing.

  2. Find 3 or 4 websites out on the net as models of “what you’d like this to look like if you had unlimited resources”.  Give these to the person who’s helping you and ask them if they can create a set of templates from them – without blatantly stealing the look, feel and imagery. 

  3. Read this: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20020512.html.  If you aren’t on the web a lot then get this book too: Don’t Make Me Think.

  4. There are two types of content for your web site that you care about:
    • Home Page.  This is the single most important page on the site.  At once glance, in about 5 to 10 seconds, a visitor needs to know who you are and what you do.  That’s hard and you’re going to have to work at it.  If you are selling to a market where a lot of people use dialup connections then DO NOT have a big, graphical slow to load page.
    • Everything Else.  Start writing things like an About page, a Services page, a Products page, a page of Quotes about you (looks good if you have them), perhaps some pictures.  Write these using basic HTML tags like H1, H2, LI and so on.  These pages will be called from the templates dhat someone else helps you create in #2.
  5. Whatever you do, make your contact info easy to find. This is the first major beginner’s mistake everyone makes.  If they can’t contact you then they can’t buy from you.  Don’t want to get spam?  Email scott@fuzzygroup.com and ask me about getting a BlogSig.

  6. Merge steps 2 and 4.  Fix and change until it’s right.

  7. Make sure that every single page has an HTML title that makes sense and is both unique and descriptive.  These are what people see when they search for your site on Google or another search engine.  It’s also what someone sees when they bookmark your site.  “Services” is a bad page title.  “Boston Scenic Arts :: Services” is much better and “Boston Scenic Arts :: Services :: Set Design” is better yet.

5.  Start Blogging Immediately.

The big question that people always have is “How do I get listed in a search engine?” or “How do I get listed on Yahoo?”  The answer to at least the 2nd of these is generally money.  A much better way to accomplish this is to let your content speak for itself and start a weblog or blog.  A blog is a topical web page, updated frequently if not daily, that illustrates your expertise in your field (they are actually much more diverse but that definition fits this type of website).  Blogs, because Google frequently crawls the leading blog communities, are a sure fire way to make certain that your web site gets found (or at least your blog will be found and it will be linked to your site so that’s good).  Blogs are the single cheapest way to market yourself today – if you a) have something to say and b) have the ability to communicate well in writing.  See my essay “Secrets of a High Volume Blogger” for more tips on blog success.  Still not convinced?  Then consider this:

My weblog, where you found this essay, has been viewed more than 27,000 times in it’s first _ 70 _ days.

I didn’t pay a dime to Yahoo or to Google.  I just created good content and then the market found it and ran with it.  Not bad for a piece of $39.95 software and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

 
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