Saturday, February 8, 2014

Use Fewer Words

I mentioned earlier that people scan; they don’t read online. If you can get your message across by using half the number of words than originally planned, then do so.

Keep editing for brevity.

Write your product description then walk away for a few minutes. When you go back, try to convey the same message with less text.

Don’t use unnecessary words; especially “buzz words” or “industry” jargon.
Let your competition sound silly.

Stick to basics and don’t use a lot of words to get your message across.

A good idea is to ask a friend or an industry outsider to proof your copy.

Don’t be surprised when you hear “What does this word mean?” If you do, replace that word immediately with one everyone can understand.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Using a Custom Domain for Your Blog

Using a blog-generated URL is not the putting your best foot forward, and using your own domain is quite simple and affordable.

The first thing to do is to secure a domain name that suits your blog which, in most cases, should be your name. Of course being able to find such domain available, may take some effort.

I was fortunate that LuisHernandezJr.com was available so—for less than $15 a year—I secured it.

If your blog's subject matter relates to something in particular such as a hobby, for example, you will have to get creative while trying to keep the domain name somewhat short.

A domain name is important, so take your time to get a good and memorable one.

Once you've secured a domain name, the next step is to redirect the blog-assigned sub-domain to yours. I will be using Blogger and GoDaddy as examples. Other provider's ways of making changes will vary, so keep that in mind, but regardless of how you make those changes you will need to modify the A-records (address) and CNAME settings.

The fist step is to login to GoDaddy.com and open (or "launch") the domains section.


Once there, open the domain details page for the domain you'll be using.


Then click the DNS Zone File so you can make the required changes.


You will need to make changes to the A-records and CNAME sections, following the instructions provided by Blogger (see below),


Make sure to save all the changes and allow a few minutes for them to propagate.

Open a new browser window and login to your Blogger account. Go to the Settings section and, under Basic, click the "Add a custom domain" link.


Type the domain name you want Blogger to redirect to and also check the redirect box so, if someone types your domain name without the "www" it still loads your site. Save all these changes.


You will need to get the Settings Instructions from Blogger so it redirects correctly. Click here for them.


Once you're done, type your domain name in your browser to test it both as www.mydomain.com and mydomain.com. If you made all the necessary changes, it should work flawlessly. Just keep in mind that sometimes changes take a few minutes (or hours) to propagate, but if you followed the instructions, it should work.

Hope this helps!

Monday, February 3, 2014

DIY Web Logos, Design, and Artwork

Having someone design a great logo for your company or firm can be expensive and time-consuming, but looking professional is crucial for any business.

However, you may not need a huge budget to make your website look good and professional, just a few minutes... or hours, depending on how involved you want to get.

Online services can range from free to fee-based models, with prices ranging from the mid $20s to $100 based on many factors.

Since my blog is new, I felt I needed to get rid of the text banner and have a more artistic design created, so I posted my job requirements on elance.com and, in a matter of a few hours, I had about 15 proposals with quotes ranging from around $20 to $70, even though my job clearly stated that I was willing to accept bids in the $20 to $30 range.

The ones that exceeded my budget were easily eliminated, which left about a dozen or so designers willing to do the job for the allotted amount.

Since I had no clear idea of what I wanted, I asked for simple submissions of ideas so I could narrow down the field and get the job started. Well, out of the twelve designers only two responded stating that they would send me some ideas, while another replied that he had some amazing designs ready but I had to award the job to him. I promptly deleted that one since I did not want to play games.

The remaining two did not send me anything, even though they had a couple of days to submit their ideas, so I just cancelled the job and decided to look for an alternative.

Yes, the budget was pretty low for "serious" designers to participate, so I searched the web for other services and came across hundreds (maybe thousands) of services where I could do my own design using online tools.

First I played with CoolText which is very easy to use.


I then gave Flaming Text and LogotypeMaker a try.

 


Logotype Maker offers several free designs, but since I was willing to spend up to $30 for a blog header logo or banner, I decided to take advantage of some of the design elements they offer and settled for a nice-looking custom design I came up with which cost $25.

I paid via PayPal for the final design (which can be edited further after the fact, if so desired), and downloaded both PNG and JPG versions of the logo, which, as you can see, I am using for my blog.

Total time spent designing this very basic image was approximately 20 minutes, which is nothing if you need a cool-looking image and don't have the time to wait for someone to do the work for you.

Some of the free services are great for creating buttons or headlines for websites, and depending on how proficient you are with photo-editing programs such as Photoshop or PaintShop, you can also use for designing ads, banners, and more.

Anyway, hope this info can give you ideas as to what you can do yourself if you are on a tight budget or pressed for time.