Your online presence

[memedex:poll id#489979]

Like many freelance artists, I explored the various options or paths to creating an online presence or a website.

The trouble with research online is that you have to be able to sort out the good information from the bad.

Since I didn’t feel like leaving my fate in the hands of strangers, I learned by trial and error.

Try answering these questions:

  • do you want to just concentrate on content creation?
  • how hands-on or computer savvy are you?
  • do you have a budget to hire someone?

Having gone down this path myself, I thought I should share my own experiences. Learning any new skill in today’s job market is always a good thing.

Whether that skill is HTML, Cascading Style Sheets or just basic web design, advancements and the introduction of applications like Apple’s iWeb has de-mystified website creation.

[memedex:poll id#489980]

WYSISYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editors like Dreamweaver and Frontpage have become so user-friendly, there is no reason not to take control.

There is only one downside to being so hands-on: the more you learn, the more likely you will be tweaking and messing with your own website.

If you want a website quick, I think the easiest way is to use a content management system.

Pay for a domain name, sign up for webhosting then go into the Control-panel or what would be the website interface of your webhost to “turn on” what is often referred to as free Applications which come with your webhosting plan.

My webhost Godaddy has a simple, although very crazy and cluttered interface, way to enable a content management system.
Content Management Systems or CMS are nothing more than templates which you can switch on to use as your website’s look.
Joomla and WordPress are examples of CMS.

Of course if you don’t have the time or the inclination to learn new skills, then be prepared to pay up the nose for someone to do it all for you.

Here’s a random page I found through searching for website templates. The snazzier websites that utilize Flash technology don’t show up easily on web searches contrary to what Adobe, its creator say.

Don’t confuse this “flash” with the one your camera uses. Flash-based websites allow for animation with sounds that make a website look very hip but the downside is that unless you know the application used to create it and unless you have access to the authoring file or the “.fla” file you can’t change anything without paying.

Imagine paying $10 for changing text in one text box or $20 for changing text in one Flash text box. That adds up fast.

Then there’s issues like when will they get around to implementing the changes you asked for?

One major problem with handing over control of your website is most photographers don’t understand the immediacy of the internet.

When a potential client comes to your website, they want the info immediately. If you raise your prices you want it to reflect that quickly, not when your webmaster gets to it.

Just be prepared to pay for every little thing. Your site will be based on templates like the rest of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of photographer websites. Don’t expect too much personality or customization. If that’s what you’re after just be prepared to pay.

Because you’ll be paying for updates, chances are you won’t. It takes too much trouble and expense.

Another very important reason for taking control of your website is this: search engines rank your site based on how current or frequently new content is added.

If you have a sexy, hip-looking website but don’t update at all, you won’t appear high in searches for “photographers” in your neck of the woods.

Using a CMS or blog type CMS like WordPress can simplify things for you. Because you are allowing visitors to comment, search engines count those as “new content” so your visitors are actually helping you update your website.

A post here and there, a poll or a discussion that is thought-provoking is all you need. Further, the ability for visitors to comments lends credence to your site.

So, why not suffer a just a little and learn how to do it yourself? In the long run you will be empowered and you will appreciate how you can have a direct effect on your business’s website.

To enable or to use WordPress as your website, here’s how using Godaddy’s “control panel.”

In my next post, I’ll delve into using wordpress as your CMS and why it’s ideal if you are the hands-on type.