17 July 2009
Whether setting up an enthusiast's resource or a fully-fledged e-commerce site, there's never been a more cost-effective time to get onto the internet. ...
Everyone agrees that a meaningful web presence is a good thing. But what with mysterious things like blogs, forums, hosting and search optimisation, you might think you need a degree in computing and a year off to do anything worthwhile.
Well all that’s changing under our feet, and the good news is that ease of use has moved up a level, while the cost has gone down. As well as being quicker to create sites, it’s also got a lot simpler. With a few inexpensive or free services, anyone can join in with minimal technical knowledge. As a collector you have an extra advantage; a unique collection, providing the material and the knowledge to fill your site. As a dealer, you have specialist product needing to be distributed to a focused yet dispersed market, which is both a benefit and a challenge.
One word of caution; a website is like a garden. It’s never finished, so unless you can pay a gardener, you’re going to have to tend it yourself. If you start it and lose interest, you’ll end up with a bit of waste ground. On the other hand, once a site is set up, it only needs half an hour’s weeding and tweaking a week for it to grow and bear fruit. It’s your call.
You can mix and match different features to get the web presence you want. A quick listing on Facebook would make a good beginning. From there you can bolt on a photo gallery like Photobucket for your pictures, a blog page for your writing, and you’ve got the makings of a site already. You’ve also acquired three more usernames and passwords, so now’s the time to note them down on an important scrap of paper.
Get a free web template
There are a number of instant free websites available but a particularly good homegrown one is Spanglefish. As well as being free and easy to use, there is a helpful forum to get you started. It also keeps you right with Google and enjoys consistently good placement. An upgraded site with extra features is only £25 a year, and each signup is personally set up, which is a nice touch. Go to www.spanglefish.com to get started.
It’s not immediately obvious why a news page is good, but when you’re short of material, you can always find a relevant news item, adapt the first couple of paragraphs and link to the actual article. You’ll be doing the original source a favour, as well as providing fodder for Google to promote your page ranking.
Keeping control means not handing responsibility to a passing techie, but knowing where your domain name is registered, where the site is hosted and the username and password for the control panel. If you don’t have a dozen usernames and passwords secreted around the PC, you’re not doing anything!
Use a descriptive name
If you’re selling Corgi cars, then corgicars.co.uk would be a great domain name. Unfortunately that example has gone to a speculator who’s hoping to sell it for a profit, but welovecorgicars is still available for as little as £3 a year. Within the site, choose your key words to reflect what you want your viewers to find. Commit to your specialisation and get the keywords into your heading, first paragraph and picture titles.
Get a mailing list together
Everyone you’ve ever corresponded with, or who has bought something off you on Ebay, is a potential lead. You can’t bombard them with spam but one carefully worded invitation to visit a page to sign up for a newsletter couldn’t be too much to ask. You can’t do better than having customers who have given permission to receive your updates.