Category Archives: Setup

Site Setup – The Details

Your Online Presence

What your site consists of and how to get there

Let’s start with a graphic. Here is a typical site layout for someone just getting started, maybe an artist or a small entrepreneur.

This is how CloudLadder has set up sites for many clients. WordPress, according to their site, powers 30% of the sites on the web. With that much penetration it must offer value, features and longevity. CloudLadder has used this approach for years and we recommend you use it to underpin your presence online.

As you look at this graph you may be wondering, does it have to be so complicated? I am not a tech guru, can I handle that? Can I have somebody do all that for me? Isn’t this what CloudLadder offers?

There are many organizations with loud siren songs telling one and all that getting online is a snap if you only sign up with them. Indeed there are many providers that make it very easy to get started. With such easy comes a simple, proprietary way. There may be enough customizing to make you happy. You still have to do all the detail work. Nobody knows what you do, what you wish to accomplish, what you have to offer.

Go ahead, check out those services, one or another may suit you to a tee. Whenever someone else provides a service for you, it costs money. The more they offer, the more it costs. If you can afford to have it all done for you, you are already sufficiently successful and well-to-do that you don’t need to go on reading here.

Social Sites

The parts on the right, the social sites, may be very familiar to you. You most likely have a Facebook page. You may already have a Facebook “fan” page to promote your enterprise. If you do not have a separate Facebook page for your public activity, you may wish to start with that right away.

Similarly you may wish to set up a Twitter account and a Instagram page for your enterprise.

We will not discuss the social sites in detail here, that is done in another article.

Your Website

The pale blue parts in the black box in the center make up the main site. A typical website has several pages with can be reached from a menu on the front page, the “landing page” where visitors arrive. To get there the site needs a web address called a “domain name”. Of course, all the pieces, text, and graphics need to be stored somewhere, that is called “hosting” and is provided by many companies, large and small. The technical programming details are provided by the WordPress “engine”.

Oh, that was a quick dive into the gory details, but it was done to show the three pieces that are needed to make it work. Can this be hired out? Yes, in part, the basics can be done by most service providers. Let me just point out the three pieces you need:

Your own domain name. Domain names are like cloudladder.net. For most enterprises the part behind the dot is com, but there are dozens of others available as you can see in ludwig.keck.photography. Domain names are “registered’ for a period of time, typically one year, with an “ICANN accredited registrar”. We show a couple on our Resources page. You can obtain your domain name from WordPress (more on that below) or from CloudLadder as part of our service. Typically a domain name will cost $10 or more per year.

Hosting service. This is data storage space on a computer system that is online at all times. There are numerous hosting service providers. You will find some links on our Resource page. WordPress can also provide this service. CloudLadder can also arrange for this service for you. The cost of hosting varies all over the place, from $10 per year to over $100 per month. We’ll come back to this topic.

The WordPress engine. This is where it gets interesting. The WordPress engine is free, however there are “themes” and “plugins” that may be quite expensive. To get all the pieces you need to have a WordPress account. You can have all the pieces to make a perfectly outstanding website at no cost. The basic WordPress account is free, the “engine” is free, there are hundreds of free “themes” for the look-and-feel of the site and free “plugins” to provide any needed or desired features.

You are likely rather confused right now. It is easiest to clear this up and to explain many options by walking through the process of getting your WordPress account. Yes, you can can avoid these grubby details by having CloudLadder set up your site. It typically costs around $100 for this basic service (see our current offer).

Setting up a WordPress account

To set up your WordPress account you start at wordpress.com. Before you do, you might benefit from the instructions here, so don’t go just yet.

When you get there, read the commercial then click Get Started.

You come across a length questionnaire. Answer as best you can. Note the first question, “What would you like to name your site?”, should be answered with your business name, not the domain name you might want, that comes later.

 

Click Continue to go on.

Now we are at the domain name, well, not really. It depends on the next step you take, however, this will be either your domain name or a WordPress sub-domain. An exclusive domain name looks like yourdomain.com, while a WordPress subdomain has the form yourdomain.wordpress.com. Here, just enter the front part, like yourdomain. If it is not available you will be advised.

So what’s the difference between domain and sub-domain? You really want your own, without that “wordpress” in the middle, however, bear with me, you really want both. But that takes us as step too far. As stated above, enter the main part of your preferred domain name.

Next comes this:

This is where you need to learn about the different WordPress services. The “left door”, called Personal, is for those who just want a blog or simple site, but with a personal, domain name, not including “wordpress”, but it includes hosting. As you can see it currently costs $48 per year. If you choose this path we part company here. Sure, your welcome to come back and learn what you can, but this path puts you into the hands of WordPress and there is little CloudLadder can do for you.

The other two doors, Premium and Business, are more of the same, but full-fledged websites, with your own domain name, hosting, and a slew of services and options, including premium themes and plugins. Support is provided by WordPress and once on either of these paths you will have no need for anything from CloudLadder.

So what is the other option? See that little link Start with free? That is the route for those who will build a “self-hosted” site using hosting from an service company. This is at no cost at WordPress and is what CloudLadder recommends. Click this link and you get a WordPress blog site, with the domain name you picked and the “wordpress” in the middle. But there really is a lot more.

If you go this route, and we hope you do, you can pick hosting and independent domain name registration that can be less expensive than even the “Personal” option, but very much more flexible in the long run.

The next steps on the WordPress site set up your account. You will need to enter an email address, pick a password, the kind of things that you have gone through elsewhere.

Finish up, carefully recording your credentials. WordPress will offer you links to major hosting services. You can pick one of those and wave goodbye to CloudLadder, or you can go on to the next article in this series to see what steps are next.

Of course, CloudLadder can help starting at any point along this way, including starting from the beginning. We usually have an offer on a special page that wraps all these things, WordPress account, domain name registration, setting up hosting service, installing the WordPress engine, setting up your first three pages, a “newsletter: and a blog. All for a modest fixed price. See our current offer.

 

 

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.