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The Lost Web

I hope you have had lots to "give thanks" for this year and are looking forward to a very merry (insert religious holiday here)!  The new year is just around the corner…which means lot of people starting new businesses.  There is something about a new year that excites the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us.

It was January of this year that I launched, and the DIYBizPlan Network.  It has been a promising year filled with both opportunities and roadblocks.  Looking back over the last 11 months, I wanted to share a few things that I have learned about launching a website :

  • Draft a complete project plan (similar to a business plan) showing the hierarchy of the site’s design, describing full functionality, and include descriptive elements for design (number of pictures, sizes, color scheme, navigational elements).
  • Expect Programming Delays - If a programmer says 30 days it usually means 60.  So if you set your expectations for 2X their quoted date you will not be disappointed.
  • The most important thing about selecting a programmer is their ability to understand and duplicate your "vision" for your website.  Even when you feel they have a complete understanding of what you want there are usually still miscommunications.
  • You can do it yourself by using a website editor but without programming skills you will never get exactly what you want for your site.
  • Your site design will change, elements will be added, subtracted and altered as the site is being developed.  Some of these changes will cost you additional $$ so budget for change orders.
  • Once you are fully satisfied with your site design and it is successfully launched the work has only begun.  The next step is to get indexed…DO NOT become part of the lost web.  Millions of websites exist that are not listed on Google, Yahoo or MSN.  At the very least you should use their free listing service to have their search robots "crawl" your website.  Here are three of the most important places to submit your site:
    Yahoo    Google   MSN now "Live Search"
  • Shared Hosting for your website is affordable (about $5.00-$25.00 a month) but there are some drawbacks.  When you have a site on a shared server your emails may trigger spam filters (because shared hosts are often used by spammers).  For emails to your legitimate clients you might find it helpful to put a note on the sign-up form to add your mailer address to their safe list.
  • It takes time and money to build traffic.  My sites mostly give away services and information…yet traffic will not come with out investment in:
    • Search Engine Optimization - increases "organic search" or "the non-sponsored section of search results".
    • Pay Per Click Marketing - Sponsored links and banners to targeted keywords and websites.
    • Incoming Links - The more links to your site from other sites with relevant content the higher your page rank will be.
    • Traditional Marketing - This one people often forget.  If already do traditional advertising, make sure your URL is plastered on everything you send out.  If you are a web-based only business place ads in targeted industry newsletters, trade publications and magazines (even if it is in the classifieds section in the back). 
  • Keep Reasonable Expectations - If you follow the above steps and your site provides your visitors something of value (read content) then the traffic will come and with it some form of monetary reward.

Have a wonderful holiday season and a profitable new year!

Mr BizPlan