Small Office Communicator Resources

Business_ResourcesAs mentioned on my About Page, I worked at Minolta for many years, and, more recently, for myself. Throughout that time, I have had the benefit of knowledge shared by many of the people I had – and still have – the pleasure of learning from… and with. Over the years, one of the great lessons I learned is that there was no way I can pay all those people back for what they willingly shared. But, I came to understand that as I learn more, and, “Share it Forward,” with others, that is how I pay back those who helped me. So here is my, “Pay it Forward” page of resources that have helped me grow my business, and I offer them to you to help you grow your business. You might want to keep an eye on this page so you can refer back often as your needs change. Also, I will be adding resources as I find them. I hope these help!

Please Note: Some of the links on this page are, “Affiliate Links.” This means that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission should you purchase from that site. But as you would expect, I only recommend people and companies with whom I already do business, or have done business with in the past, and whom I trust and respect. I recommend them because I find that they are helpful, useful, and have much to offer, not because of any small commissions I might make should you decide to purchase from them. Please do not spend any money on any products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your business and personal goals.

Blogging and Blog Based Web Sites

  • WordPress: The #1 Blog Publishing Platform – plus the quickest and easiest way to build a productive web site. It is wonderfully free and an amazingly easy tool to build and customize your own web sites– and they have great support. As you might expect, all of my blogs use WordPress.
  • Woo Themes: Though you can get thousands of free WordPress themes (one of the many WordPress benefits), as you might expect the better, more useful, and productive themes are premium WordPress themes.
  • The Socrates Theme: This is the WordPress theme and framework on which the Great Photo Tools Blog runs. Socrates promises out-of-box search engine optimization, faster page load times, maximum readability to engage and hold reader’s attention, and point-and-click design and font controls.
  • Photocrati: If your business is based on photography, I have found this theme to be extremely good and well thought out for photographers – in fact, I use it on my wife’s photo business, WordPress based, site.

S.B.I. – The Power Path to Productive Web Sites

For those just starting out, and have NO background and NO experience in researching and building web sites, Key Evoy’s Site Build It! is an outstanding way to start – I have a Site Build It! site (not this one), and really like the knowledge that SBI teaches to get a site up, running, and productive. Though there is more work in this path than some methods of creating your own site, the very reasonable cost makes SBI a great way to not only start the online part of your business, but also maintain your business online presence.

SBI!

Web Site Hosting

  • HostGator.com: All of my websites (plus my church’s and my wife’s) are hosted at HostGator. One of their many great features is easy, 1-click automatic WordPress installation and excellent customer service. I highly recommend HostGator.
  • BlueHost.com If you are looking for a web host to compare with, you can’t beat BlueHost. It is, justifiably, just as popular as HostGator, with just as many adherents, also has 1-click WordPress installation and a host (chuckle) of other outstanding features. Though I am not with BlueHost at this time, I used to be, and think they were fine – and they have gotten better. When I switched, HostGator was a bit better, but now, they are probably pretty much equal.

Both companies use cPanel for user control of your web site (the control interface you see as soon as you log in) – probably the most commonly used control panel around – and very easy and intuitive to use. By all means look at both web hosting companies and choose the one that best suits your needs and situation.

Product Distribution & Shopping Carts

  • ClickBank: Probably the top name in digital products retail distribution. Decently priced, and their affiliate program helps you sell your products (I have many other businesses’ ClickBank links throughout many of my sites) – really cool.
  • Paypal.com: PayPal is really the easiest way to handle money on the web. It interfaces with almost everything (like ClickBank, for instance), and makes international transactions a breeze. I’ve had eBay sales to England, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Poland, etc., and all have been handled without a hitch – all I see is US Dollars, but buyers see their local currency – nice. And they work VERY hard to protect their reputation, so we all continue to trust them – and so buyers can continue to trust us. They cost a bit more than a full credit card payment system and merchant account, but the ease of use cannot be beat!

Keyword Research

One of the keys to building productive web sites and doing business on the web is dealing with Keywords. Finding out what keywords that people who are looking for you and your product are searching lets you incorporate those keywords into your site that makes it attractive to the search engines. Here are several of the top keyword research tools available.

  • Google Adwords Tool: Probably the first choice in keyword tools, especially for people starting out – and especially because it’s free. Though it is designed to help with Google AdWords Campaigns, the insight it provides (again, for free!) helps you create sites and pages that are attractive to search engines.
  • WordTracker: This is the leading tool, but a bit on the expensive side, especially for smaller firms and startups. HOWEVER, they have a free tool to get you going.
  • Seo Book Keyword Suggestion Tool: Another fantastic keyword research tool, with even more information and numbers to compare and select the perfect keywords.

Images & Photos

Your web site and your blogs should not just be miles of copy. The copy needs supporting imagery, and there are several places to get good, legal, and inexpensive photos and graphics to use to keep your pages interesting.

  • The Ultimate Guide to Finding and Using Images on Your Blog: This is a comprehensive blog post written by Pat Flynn covering almost everything you need to know about using images on your website. You DO NOT want to grab just any image from the internet and use it – you do NOT! Check Pat’s post to stay safe and worry free.
  • Flickr Creative Commons: This is where you can get free images for your website, but there are some rules that go along with it. Read Pat Flynn’s post listed above to make sure you know how it all works and that you use it right.
  • Stock.XCHNG: One of two sources I use for both free and paid images.

Again, make sure you read all the fine print before you use images. 99.99999% of the time, they are under copyright ©, and you don’t want to steal stuff – any more than you would want people stealing stuff from you.

Advertising Stuff

  • Google Adsense: Generate income by placing relevant ads on your website by advertisers using Google Adsense. (Look just under the header up above – this is a Google Adsense Ad Unit.) This program is free, but you have to register for an account (if you already have a Gmail account, you are registered).
  • Google Adwords: This is the Google advertising for which you pay per click. But it also has a great free tool for researching keywords (mentioned above). It starts, again, with your Gmail account.

Testing Results

  • Google Analytics: Google’s free website tracking and analytical tool. A must have for anyone with any type of website. You simply add a bit of Google supplied code to each page, and get REALLY in depth information about your visitors.
  • Clicky: Clicky is just like Google Analytics, except it’s easier to use, and you can view how many people are on your site (and what they are doing) in real time! Your first site is free

If that isn’t enough, well, I don’t think so either, so I will be adding resource links as I find them, try them, and recommend them, so check back here from time to time to see what’s new and how it can help you with your business.

Thanks…

Dan

One Response to “Small Office Communicator Resources”

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