Author Archives: ludwigkeck

Snap Quiz:

What do these words have in common?

garden, actor, club, shoes, graphics, cheap, bar, zone,

clothing, tennis, boutique, cafe, university, camera,

design, furniture, kitchen, photography, restaurant,

theater, photos, expert, recipes, band, gallery, coffee, team

Give up? Think about it, remember you are reading this on the CloudLadder blog.

Not fair scrolling down to look below the fold!

Now you are cooking!

Yes, all these terms are “TLDs”, “top level domains”. Those extension letters that come after the last dot in a website address. You can acquire any of these, and pick from hundreds more, to make your web address more unique. Everybody has a “.com”, but now you can be more imaginative and have URLs like Ludwig.Photos, Ludwig.Gallery, or Ludwig.Keck.Photography.

CloudLadder is proud to add United Domains to our Resources page. They offer a vast selection of domain names, there is surely one there that is just right for your site.

Here is their ad as it appears on our Resources page.

Explore Hundreds of New Domain Extensions like .SITE, .CLUB or .DESIGN  starting at $4.90 per Year a

Site Setup – Social Media

Site Setup – Social Media

Social media are so pervasive that it almost goes without saying that participating on social media is almost essential. You should consider social media as part of your web or “cloud” presence. In this article we will look at just three of the social media sites, but the thoughts presented apply to the others as well.

Social Media links

You very likely have a personal presence in social media already. For your business you should not use these personal accounts. Mixing business with friends and family is neither safe nor does it project a professional image. So there is some work to be done for your business social media sites.

There are a number of good reasons for setting up social media sites for your business. Just a few of them:

►It is almost expected by clients and customers.
► It offers an easy and free way to push information to customers.
► It locks up your business name for your own use.

For managing much of your online presence you need an email account. To set up a business presence on Facebook and Google+ you need a personal account, for most other activities you need an account that is for your business management presence. Your next step should be to set up a business email account.

Business Email Account

A business email account is not only needed to manage sites, it is also an opportunity to tie up your business name. Consider setting up email accounts at Outlook (Microsoft), Yahoo, and Gmail using your business name. Your business name, especially if you are using your own name, might not be available, but it might be when followed by a word describing your business, like “mynamegallery”, keep checking until you find an email name that suits you.

Twitter

Join Twitter todayOn Twitter, accounts for business and personal use are totally separate. So you can easily set up your business account while also keeping your personal Twitter account. The limit of 140 characters for a “tweet” is well known, however you can also add a photo or other image as well as a link to your main site or some other Internet page. Site links cost 23 characters, regardless of actual length.

You should add a header photo and a profile photo to make the site look professional.

Who will see your tweets? Your tweet will be seen by those who “Follow” you and those who happen to be searching for a tag that you included in a tweet. Tweeting for your business is a delicate art. A tweet is seen for just a short time, so to get attention you need to tweet often. Tweet too often and you may annoy your followers and they will “unfollow” you. You should tweet when you have something to “sing” about, a new piece you are offering, a special, or when you are announcing some event. Follow some large, established businesses to see how they handle their tweeting. Tweeting a few times a week is probably a good frequency for a small business.

Facebook

Facebook - Create a PageFor a Facebook business presence you need a personal account first. From your personal account you then set up a page. When setting up a page, Facebook offers six categories. A page differs in some details from a personal account, but the basic elements are the same. A good looking site with a header image and a profile photo is essential to put up a professional image.

As with Twitter, your messages are seen by those who have clicked “Like” on your page.

Facebook posts can be fairly lengthy, but brevity here is important as well. Photos and links are very helpful in getting your message seen and followed. Facebook delivers messages according to their own rules. To be seen you must post often. Annoying your followers with too frequent posts will backfire. Getting it just right means posting often enough to keep your followers informed and interested. For many small businesses that is maybe a couple of times a week.

Google+

Google+ is similar to Facebook in requiring a personal account to set up a business page. A Google account is also a Gmail account, so this is a package deal. The way a page works is also quite similar to a Facebook page. To be seen on Google+ your page needs to be “Followed” by your friends.

SS-SM-06

Putting it all together

Many other social media sites compete for attention, you may wish participate on several others. Getting your presence set up can take quite a bit of time. There are many services that are eager to help, including CloudLadder, of course. With experience and a long list of “to-dos” these services can help you to get the job done much more quickly than you can weave your way on your own.

Once your social media sites are up you need to continue to post to them on a regular basis to stay in your followers’ awareness. This activity, too, can be outsourced, however for a small business it will be almost as time-consuming as doing it oneself. After all, you need to get your messages, specials, notices communicated first to your contractor before that service can prepare the posts. Consider it part of your marketing effort and plan to spend an hour or so per week to do a creditable job.

You will find that Facebook, Twitter and the others will keep trying to sell you advertising to expand your social media reach. There are other “services” that will try to sell you followers. Just keep in mind that having tons of exposure and lots of followers is not the same as having sales. Social media can help your business, your primary website, however, will be your main “face”. That part of site setup is discussed in another article.

Site Setup – Overview

 

Overview

Yes, you need an online presence. Nowadays, having a site is as necessary as having a phone.

There are many ways to get your online presence. Here we assume that you are a small business or an individual artist seeking your place “in the cloud”. For larger businesses there are many commercial service organizations that can provide the skilled staffs in art, promotion, merchandising, technology and more, to do all or part of site setup and management. Small entrepreneurs do not have the financial resources yet need to make their enterprise known in our online world. This is where CloudLadder comes in. We help to do the job with limited resources. This article, and others in this series, shows how you can get online by yourself with very little help and at minimal cost.

The online presence is not free. You will always need to make a significant investment with your time. Even if you can afford to outsource the technical and artistic aspects, you will need to direct the effort, to analyze and specify your needs, to make sure that the site reflects your enterprise and your ideas faithfully.

So what do you need?

CloudLadder-Setup-02For most start-ups, the online presence consists of a basic website providing essential information to establish a connection with customers and participation on social media sites. Twitter and Facebook are so prevalent in everyone’s lives that a presence there is almost essential.

A Twitter account is not a sufficient online presence. Some individual artists and small enterprises leverage a Facebook presence to provide for all their needs. Often this is done in conjunction with a trade service site, such as a booking or merchandising service.
CloudLadder-Setup-03A more independent and flexible site presents a more professional face with much more detailed information.

Where to start

There are many service providers that offer site creation and maintenance. You will see many offerings in TV advertising almost every day. How can you pick the right one for you?  You will need to spend some time to investigate. Look up a number of the providers; find out what they offer, what the cost is, what efforts you will need to put in.

CloudLadder-Setup-01You will need to allocate at least an hour a week of your time for the “cloud”. Just like other efforts in your enterprise, this is part of keeping the business going.
Getting started requires even more time. No one else can do the detailed planning for you. Even if you hire the site work done, the consultants will ask question after question that require careful analysis by you.

You will want to start fairly simply with a basic site. Many of the providers, including our advertisers on our Resources page, offer basic sites with really easy setup and management. For many these sites provide the right solution. There is a small downside in that the sites use proprietary themes and methods.

Here at CloudLadder we promote the use of sites based on WordPress. WordPress engines power many millions of sites. There are many themes and “plugins” to provide for just about any need. Any bookstore will have several volumes on using WordPress and there are online forums for advice and help.

In following installments we will look at the fine details of how to get started with a presence on social sites for your enterprise, on building your website at no outside cost or very minimal expense.

Favicons are easy on WordPress

Favicon: Your ID Badge on the Web

Favicon-AThe little icon in front of the URL in your browser address bar is not only a little ID badge, trademark or logo identifying your site, it also indicates a degree of professionalism on your part. If your site does not have a favicon it gives the impression that the site is just an amateurish job.

Favicon-V

The illustration shows how the favicon appears in different browser. The website is one of the CloudLadder demonstration sites.

Every one of your sites should have a favicon. If you are using WordPress, either a WordPress.com blog site or a hosted site using the WordPress.org “engine”, getting that favicon up is a very easy task. There is a good deal of care required in creating the artwork, but that is for another discussion. Here we are just concerned with the mechanics of installing the icon.

You need to have your favicon or logo artwork ready. It should be a square image at least 512 pixels on a side and in PNG format. It needs to be recognizable when reduced to the tiny speck of an image that we call favicon. As I said, details on the artwork creation I will cover in another article.

The process is different for the two versions of WordPress, so I will discuss the method in two sections.

Favicons on a WordPress.com site

On your WordPress administration site go to SettingsGeneral. Over on the right top you will see the option area for installing your Blog Picture / Icon.

Favicon-W-1

Click Browse to go to your computer to select the image. Then click Upload Image.

Favicon-W-2

The image will be displayed and the cropping tool will be shown. If your image is square, as illustrated here, it will all be selected so just click Crop Image. If your image is not square, select a square area to use, the click Crop Image.

Next you will see a page showing the “blavatar” in several sizes.

Favicon-W-3

That’s all there is to it. Easy, isn’t it?

It tells you “All done” and “Your blavatar image has been uploaded and you should seeing it appear around WordPress.com soon”. Actually other people will probably see it before you will, most browser store those little images so they don’t have to be downloaded each time you come to the site. A couple of refresh operations will get it showing.

Favicons on a hosted website using WordPress.org

If your site is a hosted site and you are using the “engine” from WordPress.org to create and manage your site, installing a favicon is a bit different, but no more complicated.

First you need to install the Jetpack plug-in. The favicon support resides in that package. Once installed and activated there is an additional small step.

Favicon-O-0

Go to the Jetpack Settings, scroll down and find Site Icon. Click Activate over toward the right.Favicon-O-1b

Then go to SettingsGeneral. Scroll all the way down and find Add Site Icon.

Click Browse and select your favicon image from your computer. Then click Upload Image.

Favicon-O-2

The uploaded image will be displayed with crop marks to let you select the image area to be used. If your image is square, all of it will be already selected, click Crop Image.

Favicon-O-3You will be shown the results momentarily. Your favicon is installed.

That’s it.

You now have a professional looking site.

Making a favicon for your site

Those little icon you see in front of the URL in the browser address bar are called “favicons”. On you own website you might want to feature your own. How do you do that?

First you need to make up some artwork. Favicons are square, so your art should be also. Favicons are small, so your art should be simple and made of bold features so it will be recognizable in that tiny image.

cloudladder-logo-HEAVY-SQFor most sites you need an ICO file, a file that has the extension “.ico” and is in that format. Here is a site that will take your art image (usually in a JPG format) and make it into a favicon. You can even do editing of your art on that site: X-Icon Editor Just follow the instruction on that site.

We started with a “heavied” up version of our logo. This way no additional editing was needed.

FAvicon-03

On that site you use “Import” to upload your art and “Export” to download your finished favicon. The normal name for the file is “favicon.ico” and it contains versions in different sizes.

How do you use the favicon and get it to show on your website? That is a topic for another post.

Using Windows Live Writer to manage website

 

Windows Live Writer is part of Windows Essentials and is the best wysiwyg (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor for blogging. Many websites use WordPress as the site base. Together these tools make setting up and managing a website fast and easy.

This website, CloudLadder, is bases on an installation of the blogging engine from WordPress.org. It is installed in a sub-folder on a site hosted by 1and1. The domain name is pointed to the sub-folder so to all the world this looks like a normal website.

Live Writer may be downloaded from the Microsoft Windows Essentials site for Writer.