We blog about everything to do with Braving Technology, Social Media, Websites, Content Creation and Marketing.
About 15 years ago I owned a Pastel Accounting and Payroll Software Training Centre. At the forefront of computerised accounting in South Africa a well advertised feature of the software was that you didn't need to be an accountant or bookkeeper to use this great software. Ideal for small business owners.
I quickly found that the people who registered on the courses had very different skills levels and needs:
Welcome to part 15 of Taking Your Business Digital For those afraid of Technology Series. If you have missed any of the previous posts you can catch up by clicking here.
There are many companies that offer you free hosting, free domain names and even free tools to build your website.
So, why should you pay someone to host yours and is a free website worth it?
There is NO SUCH THING AS FREE! The company offering you the free hosting and/or website is in business. They have to generate income to remain in business. What companies are doing is offering you a FREEMIUM option.
You need to read the fine print and assess all your options before signing up.
A young man recently posted on a Facebook community site that he is struggling to find employment and all the Recruitment Agencies he had contacted wasted his time and no-one ever came back to him.
I know how hard it is to get a job especially when you don't have experience. This particular gentleman said he was looking for a job in "copywriting, editing, social media, marketing, IT, admin or HR work". He had studied Philosophy and English at University.
Having been in business for many years, I too have come across job applicants who arrive for interviews not even knowing what job they had applied for. All they wanted was a job so that they could earn a monthly salary. There is such fierce competition for jobs that recruiters and employers are looking for applicants who have specific skill sets. Yes, you need to be multi-skilled but you need to have a plan about where you are going and the route you want to take to get there.
How do you find the time to be on Social Media so much is a question I am frequently asked? When I reply that it is my job the next question is, “but what does sharing socially on Facebook and Twitter have to do with your job?”
Business is about building relationships. There are many ways of building relationships which can include, having a round of golf, attending networking meetings, holding or attending a conference or in the good old days being a door-to-door salesman.
If you have a blog, want to create an e-book, write a novel, a thesis, a manuscript, a play, a poem or pretty much anything else, Scrivener is a wonderful programme. It is a word processor and a project managment system combined. You get a cork board system where you can structure your scenes and chapters, a place to develop your characters and a place to house all your research. Once you have prepared your book or script you can automatically compile the document into different formats.The page numbering, chapter headings etc are all taken care of for you.
I have learned from bitter experience to always draft my blogposts and articles in Scrivener and not to do them straight into my website. Website crashes always happen when you haven't backed up for a few weeks/months.
The cost is around USD40 and I have found it to be a very good investment.
Scapple is a bit like mind mapping software but much simpler. I love it because it suits my random mind. You simply double click and enter the thought that comes into your head about an article you are planning, an event you are planning, gift ideas, shopping, cooking ingredients etc. I use Scapple a lot as I can easily link similar ideas, move them around, link several things together and as I do so my planning becomes clearer and I am able to write much more easily.
You can import Scapple into Scrivener, export it in a variety of formats and print it as a pdf etc. At only USD15 it has helped me enormously.
Joomla! is my favourite website development platform. I have been using Joomla! for the past 5 years and as it has developed from Version 1.5 to where it is now at version 3.3+ it just gets better and better. Joomla! is what they call a content management system and you can create small simple websites or huge websites with lots of different components and addons.
Joomla! is free to download and there are lots of forum and the documentation is pretty good. I have found that the core Joomla! has become so good that you no longer need nearly as many customised add-ons as you used to.
When I first started creating websites I used free templates (in Wordpress they are called themes). I found them very limiting in their functionality and the paid templates were expensive. I therefore decided to learn how to use a template framework. Gantry has proved to work well for me although I have had quite a steep learning curve to customise the various elements.
Gantry is free to download and you can find help on the various Google Groups and basic documentation. However to get top level support you need to join their membership club.
Admin Tools comes in 2 versions - free and the paid Pro version. This product helps you manage the backend of your website and helps to keep you safe from hackers and other nasties. The Pro version has fantastic additional site management tools and a very comprehensive Firewall.
Akeeba is probably the most popular Backup programme for Joomla!. It also comes in a free and a paid version. Your internet service provider (ISP) usually keeps backups of your website on their servers. However it is good practice to do your own regular backups and download them to your hard drive or perhaps Google Drive or Drop Box. Better safe than sorry.
Joomla! comes with its own inbuilt text and image editiors but the functionality is pretty limited. For those of us who are not the best at coding, JCE is a great option as it has what is called a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editor. You type as normally and select your fonts and styles and other features and JCE converts it into the appropriate HTML code for you. The free version does most things but there is a subscription version that has additional features.
When you have a website you need to be able to tell people about what you are doing etc. Sending out professional looking newsletters via e-mail to a targeted database who have OPTED IN to receive your news is an excellent marketing tool. ACYMailing lets you collect e-mail addresses on your website, store them in different lists according to your needs. You can set up professional templates which look good on desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. There are various levels of investment from a free basic package right up to an expensive package for large companies.
It is also important to see who opens your newsletters, which links they cllick on, who unsubscribes etc. ACYMailing handles all of these features. As with all website components a degree of customisation and knowledge of how websites work is required.
This is currently my favourite component to share the content on my websites to various social media and also to encourage people to follow me on my Social Media platforms.
It is a free download, looks elegant and works well with just a little bit of configuration
Everyone needs to brag a bit about how much their customers love them. Having a place where your customers can add a testimonial about your products and services is a great marketing tool. Freestyle Testimonials comes in a Lite and a Pro Version. Looks clean and neat and works well. You can also moderate the testimonials before they are published.
Do you have a Smartphone? Do you send and receive SMS's and/or use WhatsApp? What happens if your phone gets stolen or flushed down the toilet by mistake?
How disciplined are you about backing up your computer? Do you have piles of unlabelled DVDs with backups randomly save when you remember or when someone else tells you about their computer crash?
Perhaps you have a collection of memory sticks cluttering up your desk drawer. Or you might be a bit more organised and have an external hard drive which you religiously back up once a week?
There has been a huge increase in websites being hacked. How secure is yours?
Who looks after your website for you? Do you pay them a monthly, quarterly or even annual fee to ensure that you are running the latest version of the software that the website is built on?
It doesn’t matter if your website is built using custom coded software or if it is built using one of the popular Open Source web programmes such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. It needs constant care to keep it free from the baddies.