Internet writing and websites

apprehend(z5 Chicago)December 31, 2003

While the internet sometimes seems like one big irritating advertisement after another(pop-ups being the worst offenders) it has become an important source of information, to myself and many I communicate with. It took some time to figure out how to search for and then evaluate that information, but it was time well spent for it has opened the floodgates.

Have those of you with websites found them to be useful tools in your work? How do you go about making your website known? Do you feel public access to your website has been a useful marketing exposure? What was your intent when developing the site?

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...Just a note about popups. This annoyance is easily eliminated by simply downloading the free toolbar available from the search engine, Google. There is a setting whereby you can block all popups or selectively allow popups from sites of your choosing. It even has a little counter to tell you how many popups it has blocked -- amazing how quickly they add up. A plus is that I always have a little Google search window unobtrusively located on the toolbar at all times. Easily, free and works great! Dump it if you don't like it -- but you will.


Here is a link that might be useful: Google Toolbar

    Bookmark   December 31, 2003 at 2:19PM
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I have a gardening website but it is not related to my previous work and now that I am retired, gardening, and all things related is my greatest hobby followed by playing guitar and writing songs. To promote my website I usually sign my emails including the URL for my site. I had bookmarks (get it?) printed up telling about my site, I give out free pens with my website imprinted on them, Whenever I give a talk or attend a symposium I try to include a free scratch pad for everyone, when I have articles published I ask to have my site included in my byline, I have reciprocal links with other gardening sites. I have a "Wanted" poster of myself printed up saying my last known residence was my web address. I guess my intent of developing a site in the first place was to promote gardening and to let people know grits don't kill fire ants and all lady bugs aren't ladies. To paraphrase Lenny Bruce "If you're not having fun then you're not doing it right." (Only Lenny wasn't talking about gardening). By the way, I do not try to sell anything over the Internet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bittersweet Gardens

    Bookmark   December 31, 2003 at 4:07PM
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I have a gardening website that I just put up a couple of weeks ago, it's still in work, but as of today it's got nearly 1100 unique URLs in it, and it's over 60 pages....this will increase exponentially. I use a webhost that costs a bit more than a few dollars a month, this is not an inconvenience as I can access all of my log files to see who's been where and how they got there. Most importantly, my visitors will not be harrased by advertising. I am an educational NFP and I think that advertisements would detract from my site.

There are many programs to assist you in making your website, I used WebStudio to create mine, WebStudio uses CSS for its programming. Any site maker that uses CSS (cascading style sheets) should be formatted for HTML 3.2 so that folks with older computers can view the site as it should be seen. This is a George Jetson world but there are many who still use Fred Flintstone technology and you must make an effort to accomodate as many people as is possible. In addition to WebStudio I used PrintMaster Platinum v.15 to create many of the graphics and save files in PDF format for downloading. I was given permission from the GW to use their icon wherever I link to back to this site....I like the idea of having a visual icon as well as a link to let people know instantly that any particular link takes them to the GardenWeb.


Here is a link that might be useful: WinterSown.Org

    Bookmark   January 2, 2004 at 8:25AM
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"Have those of you with websites found them to be useful tools in your work?"
Yes ... if anyone quesitons my HTML skills, I can point them to the varoius websites I have developed solo or as part of a team.

"How do you go about making your website known?"
Submit it to a couple of search engines ... nothing further is needed. A simple site, properly constructed, loaded with tightly focused information will attract traffic like free beer attracts college students.

"Do you feel public access to your website has been a useful marketing exposure?"
I'm not "selling" anything at the moment. When I go professional landscape consultant, I'll pay more attention to marketing my services.

"What was your intent when developing the site?"
Fun, and a way to let co-workres look at my projects easily.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2004 at 8:31PM
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Most programs for making sites will have a place where you can place in keywords that can describe your site. When you upload your site those keywords can help the search engines hone in on you. Also, depending upon your host, they will submit your site for you.

Web hosts are a very important choice, finding a dependable site that is responsible in the maintainance of their servers is important. They should have an FAQ section with descriptions so you understand exactly what you're getting for your monthly fee, they should also have online interactive help desk support with an 800 number.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2004 at 4:28PM
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About my site, it was started as a present from another landscape contractor that I helped out.

I knew nothing about websites, and when mine was formed, I figured I would it be a one page advertisement.

The tool factor was the first improvement interest I had. For example, instead of handing information to my customers about watering a new plant, I could just have them go to my website - save time, save paper.

Later I found out that information on a site increases the odds of being linked to.

My site is not a major factor for new business, but it more than pays for itself.

In some communities this next idea won't be relevant, but in Beaverton, Oregon, near where Intel resides, lacking a website would compare to not having a phone number in 1965.

Having a www on advertising these days is not identical to having "certified" on an ad, but it's not that far away from the notion. But, again, I think it depends on what community a person works in.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2004 at 12:12AM
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I agree about having a www. on your business card, if you don't have one it's like you're Fred Flinstone. Having a WWW. is essential for reference as well. But you must have the content to back it up. If you're site isn't easily navigable your visitors will get frustrated. Like any business it must always be expanding with areas of new content added on...otherwise someone may feel you have no interest in it yourself. Having a website made and not having the means to make changes to it the day you want is a horrible mistake, learn how to make and control your site on your own, become your own webmaster. This past week I've begun work on the info-portals in the links section and yesterday added a discussion center, much more is planned. I do keep a blog on the site so my readers can keep up with what I'm doing for the site and with my WSing as well. It's been going great as todays webstats show over 60k hits this month.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trudi Blog

    Bookmark   January 31, 2004 at 3:19PM
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clfo(z7 with luck)

I've had a website for about three years, and am in the process of finially doing some updating! Because I do a great deal of speaking, it not only sends potential jobs my way, but it's a tremendous time saver when I do get interest in a speaking date. People want to know what I speak about and I can refer them to the list on the website. (I'm in the process of adding a page that contains a description of all of the talks.)

Once a date is booked, biographical information is always requested, and once again I can refer them to the website where they can pick and choose what they want to say.

I include a bunch of general garden information because I think that it's good to get that out. It's also a way that I can also use small pieces I've written that haven't been used elsewhere, or that I've used in another media awhile back. (This is why I try to sell only the rights for the immediate use on radio or in a smaller magazine - it's good to be able to publish those pieces on the website later. )

I took a big step this winter and am getting help with the updating and additions to the site - am finially admitting that just getting the new material written, and photos prepared, is all I have time for.

You'll have to check it out in late February (I hope) to see the changes!

Here is a link that might be useful: The Garden Lady's Website

    Bookmark   February 1, 2004 at 9:02AM
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By the way, there doesn't seem to be a big issue at gardenweb if a business site link is added within the context of discussion - separate from an advertising attempt.

But you don't want to put your address in the links window as a link more than once. Multiple links apparently are identified by the system, and the person who posted, gets redirected to the Disneyland site on future attempts to log in.

So once is max. One option - if it's for discussion, not advertising - just write the web address into the text of the reply.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2004 at 12:01PM
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andalee(Z6a, N ID)

As for hosting:

My DH is a contract software engineer. He works from a home office for clients out of state, and having a good hosting service is vital to his work. We have tried numerous companies, and have finally settled on a great one called ThinkHost (just add the www & .com in the appropriate places). They don't have a phone support system--it's all through email. However, their response time for emails is better than 99% of the phone systems I've ever used from any company. (Land's End is the only one that's faster.) Their tech support people are courteous and freindly, no matter how simple your question. Their web tools for email account maintenance are easy to use, and with some packages you have access to their template library (a flexible and huge repository of templates to help you make a professional site). Go take a look sometime. Oh, and did I mention their rates are one of the best values ever?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2004 at 10:06AM
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I completely agree with CL about adding content to a site for generating hits. A site that is stagnant is a site that goes nowhere. The more content you provide the more people you can attract through search engines. I try to add several pages each month, and each with a diversity of high quality content that will foster repeat hits.

Another important aspect of website hosting is ability to access your stats so you can see not just how many hits you're getting, but the sectors where the hits are coming from. Are you attracting globally, from the military, universities, busnesses, etc? From that information you can see if you need to add foreign language translations of your writing, increase your offerings to specific groups, or add more content to attract youths, seniors or service organizations.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2004 at 1:08PM
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pkock(z6 OH)

When I started as a freelance writer, I saw that many newbies were encouraged to write for free in exchange for "exposure". I did give away a couple of pieces, but soon realized that I was only "exposing" myself as being the sort of writer who works for free, which was not my plan.

I figured that if I was going to write for free, it was going to be for my own website. It gets a modest number of visitors, earns enough from ad revenue to pay for itself, and serves as a wonderful portfolio for my skills. And NO POPUPS. Yuck!

Can't post it here; I've been sent to Disney for less. But if you really wanted to, you could add a .com to my nick here and get there eventually. :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 12:57AM
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Amen to no pop-ups! Glaring and annoying ads are a major turn-off to repeat web traffic. My host charges a me a reduced fee because I'm an NFP so the cost is so low that I don't need to accept ads to pay for the site. Right now I'm comfortable with that and I hope that when I increase my capacity I won't have to have advertizing to cover the increased hosting cost.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 7:52PM
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The info pages of websites seem to be more fun to write. I don't put much style into my information pages, but it's still fun for me.

It seems that the home pages are a cross between what we want to say (write), and what the search engines want to hear - if we want a good ranking page.

I brought my site up over 150 positions for one keyword phrase by just adding an "s" to one word. And googlebot boosted my site in just two days up to the 11th listing. Another week, and the site went to number 1.

It's interesting to watch rankings. I just remembered the first time my site went up on the web, and it would not display for any search I could invent except a direct address. Now our site has upper slots for all the most relevant Portland keyword phrases for landscape designer, tree service and arborist.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 1:43AM
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I added two new pages for seedling identification photographs which will grow with inclusion. And a very VERY important permission and directions on how to link to my site from other websites. The more people that see your link the more people will hit it. As encouragement ~ those people that use my link can email me the URL for their site and I'll add it to that link inclusion page.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 12:11PM
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"giving permission and directions on how to link to my site from other websites."

You don't need to give or get permission to link ... although newbies might like the code for a link.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2004 at 11:31AM
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You do actually need permission with many.

Some let you link without a hitch and even provide the URL and how-to, some want to see your site first, ie no objectionable materials, yesterday I signed a contract giving me permission to link to a particular site in the way that THEY want me to link to it: their site opens in a window that is not framed by my own site. They did the work to create that site; I'm not going to be disrespectful to them ~ and I have no intentions of getting creamed by a multi-billion dollar business for not honoring their requests. I just got an aok from the US Naval Observatory, I didn't see any info on their site about linking to them so I wrote their webmaster and he wrote back that the USNO site is public domain and I am free to link to it. So I did.

It never hurts to ask.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2004 at 10:38PM
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