Search the forums

Loading

planning a web site--advice please?

Hazlett's picture

I am pretty excited.
Overall--- 2009 has been a pretty mediocre year---however slate and tile roof work has been a bright spot for me.

Final figures aren't in- but it looks like slate and tile work was over 25% of my year-and carpentry another 15%

I haven't made any secret of my desire the past few years to mostly leave asphalt shingles behind and the Slate and Tile-particularly the tile work has been growing for me-- BOTH as the number of jobs done-and as a % of the work

Declining volume of Asphalt shingle work does skew the %,LOL,

however- I think I can increase the Slate and Tile work even more--- right now I am at the tipping point-about to cross over into the realm where I do more Slate,Tile & carpentry then asphalt shingle work.

so-- with the back story out of the way- I am looking into starting a web site. I suspect this will be the first in a series of evolving websites over the next few years. It's a tool right--was your first router- the LAST router you ever bought

I need some guidance--because there is SOOOO much I don't know about web sites and computers

1) domain name.- Is this portable---- specifically-- if company a sets up and hosts a web site for me---and 2 years later I want co. B to develope a bigger/better web site will I be able to use the SAME domain name?

2) Basic- very basic costs involved in this?- for example---talking with my sales rep for the yellow pages. I recieved-- somehow- 2 tile jobs last year directly from the customers finding me on the internet--- I have ZERO idea how they did that-- since I don't think I have any web presence( ads) referring to tile work----- however-- the phone company will set me up with a small, basic 5 page site-- for zero $ up front and $50/month

do I really need anything more than that at this time?- I figure a home page- some company info, a few pictures and maybe some links to a few suppliers.

3) Key words---- is this a scam?- it sounds like a scam! Ma Bell informs me- that due to arrangements they have with Google and Yahoo--- for $100 a month they gaurantee 30 hits, for $170/month they gaurantee60 hits and for $90 they gaurantee 320 hits--- the rep tells me- that nationwide in September 3600 people googled "Slate Roofs" and nationwide5400 people googled" Tile Roofs"----- He is unable to tell me how many people in my area googled slate or tile roofs because he notes the area is too small

but do I really care if somebody in Peoria googles Slate roofs ?

this "gaurantee" to provide hits---sounds bogus.- Off the top of my head-------- who verifies that?

I am kind of intrigued by the low cost of this-- but how effective can it be?- how effective does it need to be?--- all I think I really want-is that if someone in the Akron/Canton area googles Slate or Tile roof repair-- my site comes up.

folks-- my apologies for being so dense.-- I accept that there must be other question that I should be asking--- but I don't know enough to know WHAT the questions are-- so any advise would be appreciated

stephen

(post #120454, reply #1 of 18)

1) Yes, your web address is yours and transferable. Check out www.register.com


2) $50 a month sounds high, others will chime in on that though


3) Key words are a part of every site. You add them when it's built. You don't have to promote them in some way if you don't want. When it's done, you can see where you end up when you search from different sites, i.e. google, yahoo, bing, etc.


 
 
 
 

(post #120454, reply #4 of 18)

thank you,

Stephen

(post #120454, reply #2 of 18)

Here is feedback on mine for what it is worth. Mine is hosted by go daddy  which was part of a one time fee when i registered my name. It was cheap. when the agreement is up the host will change only because i have a buddy who started a hosting company renting office space from us.


My website is a sales tool, an online brochure not a lead generation tool and is designed to be such. it has been working as designed. In the last few months i've had good success placing a very specific targeted ad on craigslist directing folks to the website and it has been selling for me before i even talk to the customer.


 I have considered some of the services/tools to have my site come up towards the top of search engines but the jury is still out on that one. I'm generating work and leads with what I'm doing so im not ready to tamper with it just yet.


"this dog may be old but he ain't cold. And he still knows how to bury a bone."


Lattimore


 


www.rehmodeling.com

"this dog may be old but he ain't cold. And he still knows how to bury a bone."

Lattimore

 

www.rehmodeling.com

(post #120454, reply #3 of 18)

rob----- looking at your work- I have a hard time imagining Craigs List generating sales!--- but I believe you if you say it.

I had no idea you were in Ohio.

I was down that way at an " All Ohio" college cross country meet a few weeks ago----will be in columbus i think , in a few weeks at the Ohio high school XC championships--and probably next week near you in wilmington at a college meet.

thanks for your input.
Stephen

(post #120454, reply #6 of 18)

http://columbus.craigslist.org/bfs/1425259498.html


if this link works it's one of my ads. what happens is i find folks looking for equiptment, partners, space or ongoing places to buy, etc. It was an I wonder kinda deal when i first started doing it.


Give me a buzz when you are down this way next. My mom is in Brecksville & I'm finishing a bridge over the creek in tha back part of her property so i will be up there more often than normal this fall (when it dosent get in the way of duck/phesant season...........dont tell mom) . 


"this dog may be old but he ain't cold. And he still knows how to bury a bone."


Lattimore


 


www.rehmodeling.com

"this dog may be old but he ain't cold. And he still knows how to bury a bone."

Lattimore

 

www.rehmodeling.com

(post #120454, reply #5 of 18)

Stephen,

1) Yes, your domain is transferable anywhere you'd like to put it down. Just make sure you register it yourself, so that there aren't any ownership issues down the road. I steer many clients (including me) to godaddy these days. Their cheesy advertising drives me nuts, but when it comes to registering a domain, no company is really doing anything differently than another. In other words, the $9.95 for a year's registration at godaddy is getting you the same thing that NetworkSolutions would like to charge you $30 for.

2) Costs. Well, how much does a house cost? :) The design/development costs are all dependent on what you are trying to accomplish. A little brochureware site like you are thinking of might run somewhere between $2-3K to design and program, but it's really dependent on what your needs are. Changing images from time to time? Updating the site by writing your own HTML code, or is there a user-friendly editing window that works like you would see when composing a Word document? Hosting a small site isn't expensive. Maybe $20/month. Sounds like what the phone company is giving you is going to be a template that you can place your info in. If that's the case, it's most likely not going to be very elegant.

3) Keywords. Don't pay someone for this. In the olden days (back when I had to chase dinosaurs uphill through the snow on the way to school), it used to be that you could stuff the keyword tag on a site with a ton of stuff and it would generate some search results. Now, Google is wise to that behavior, and it doesn't work. Best thing you can do here is to spend some time thinking about what terms your potential clients would use to find you, and write the headline tags (the <h2> and <h3> ones) with those terms. That will better position you to be picked up when someone is searching for slate roof repair akron.

1&3) Last thing, give some thought to your domain name. I know you are well known in your area, so stephenhazlett.com would probably be a good domain name. But, you might also consider that Google weights the terms in the domain heavily, when trying to match search results. So, using the terms "slate roof repair akron" would find akronroofrepair.com or slaterepair.com before stephenhazlett.com. I always recommend trying to incorporate the terms that your clients would be looking for (including your geographical area if possible) in the domain.

Let me know if you have questions.

Best,
Steve

'Man who say it cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it' ~ Chinese proverb

'Man who say it cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it' ~ Chinese proverb

(post #120454, reply #7 of 18)

Stephen -


The domain name is yours as long as you pay the yearly fee.


That's too much money for an ISP hosted site. Hits aren't worth much to you and me unless they're qualified hits. Hopefully, FatRoman will chime in soon.


I pay about $200 yearly to have this site hosted:


http://www.grantlogan.net/


I built it myself and it looks it, but I get quite a bit of interest from it. Fatroman built and hosts my other site, which is a shopping cart site.


The two sites together have connected me with $200K+ of work so far this year and it's all the type work I want. The down side is, we are traveling a little more. But, while my competitors are price fighting each other over the same few local jobs, we're driving an hour (which we're getting paid for) to do jobs that we didn't have to bid against anyone to get. One example: Just got a large copper gutter job about an hour and a half away in a golf course community. The guy decided to search the internet for copper gutters in Central KY. Found me. I was willing to drive the hour and a half to look at his job. Emailed him a price the next day, had a deposit an hour later. Next day (Sat) he called me. Had just played a round of golf with some neighbors and they want proposals when we go back to install his. 


I seldom pick up a phone book anymore. I google. The web is the new yellow pages and the sooner you establish yourself there the better. It took about 6 months to start getting calls from the 1st site. Less with the shopping cart site.


Homestead hosts my old site and they have a pretty easy to use sitebuilder and I'm certain a lot of other hosting companies do as well if you decide to self build. I've re-invented my old site several times. There are lots of templates available to get you going until you get the feel for what you want, But I think the sooner you get a site up, the better. Advertise exactly what you want to sell (slate,tile,carpentry). Good luck


(post #120454, reply #9 of 18)

Grant- I appreciate your self built site-- frankly it is more elaborate than what I envision to begin with.

I also appreciated the simplicity of Robs site--- the only thing I didn't entirely like about his--was that I found the constantly flashing series of pictures on the right hand side- to be distracting.

Pictures are a bit of problem for me--as I have been rather negligent in taking pictures for the last 20 years. For the most part- I didn't NEED pictures--as we could generally stroll across the street from the neighbors home-and look at 2-3-4 houses withing view that I had already worked on.
That rather Luddite approach-won't work for me now--as I am going to have to serve an area about 45-50 mintes radius now- instead of 8-12 blocks radius.

so-- i am spending some time over the next month or so-revisiting some relevant, past projects and taking more photos. I am extra interested to get additional pictures of a New slate roofed building we did this summer-- I have good pictures of that-- but would like some more when the owner finishes his side wall cedar shingling.

now Grant-- keeping in mind that I am a moron----and that even getting pictures from the digital camera onto my computer is something of an adventure---- is self building REALLY feasible for me?

Clearly I don't have your stunning portfolio of pictures to draw from---- but is self building really an option for a dummy like me?

Might I best wait untill my son comes home from college for XMAS and draw upon the benefit of the 6 figures I have likely invested in his education?, LOL

thank you folks,
stephen

(post #120454, reply #10 of 18)

If you have a community college nearby and it offers any kind of IT courses, graphic design, digital photography, etc. there will be a wealth of eager, bright kids there who will work with you.

You get a well designed and working site, they get course credit (maybe) or at least something for their portfolio.

Watch out for allowing any personal, political or sexual thoughts, images, ideas or what not to be incorporated. You may have strong ideas on Made in the USA or Buy American or like pictures of scantily clad women holding up tile samples but remember, the customer may not always be right but the customer is always the customer and they have the money. Make it easy for them to give it to you even if they don't hold similar values.

Do not link out to anything even remotely competitive, period. You send them away via a link, no matter how neat you think it is and the chances of them ever coming back to your site in that session are almost nil. Not even your local Board of Trade or John Bridge's site.

I'll even go so far as to say do not send them to your ad in such and such...all that does is expose them to everyone's ad in that same spot; magazine, newspaper or Web.

Humour is always a gamble too...my joke or sense of humour is not your joke, eh? People are funny that way.

Don't forget the on-going maintenance part. Stuff happens and it must be fixed on the web as well as on the job.

If you put up any contact info at all, you must monitor those requests. Don't place an email address/phone number on your sight and then never check those emails or take the time to answer your phone.

Hope this helps.

(post #120454, reply #11 of 18)

 but is self building really an option for a dummy like me?


You're a sharp guy - you just learn what you feel like and dissregard the rest.


To start, all you need is a template and a couple of representative pictures. I'm not pushing this company, but they're who I'm familiar with:


http://www.homestead.com/


There are templates that would need very little work to get you up and running.


Then, you can morph it or replace it as inspiration and feedback come. Steve did a fantastic job on my shopping cart site, but as I added to it and feedback came in, he had to overhaul it.


Get a simple site up and running and then decide if it's worth it to get a professionally done site. It probably is, but right now, it's about like if your business phone number was not in the phonebook ten years ago.


 


 


(post #120454, reply #8 of 18)

Mine are with godaddy also.  I do get jobs from my website.  Not a lot, but I have gotten some good ones, and I think the web will grow in importance as more and more people are using it for information gathering.


I'm not a computer geek like some of the guys here, but godaddy is set up for the do-it-yourself'er.  Mike Smith was gonna do this awhile back, and he got a domain name and got started, but I think he just got busy with other stuff in his life and didn't pursue it.


If you do a godaddy website (WebsiteTonight), I'll gladly share what I've learned, although everything comes with the disclaimer that I'm no expert!  My biggest accomplishment is that if you search "bakersfield remodeling contractor" on most search engines, I'm usually up toward the top on page one.  That's where you want to be.  And I didn't pay anyone for "website optimization" either, although I still get phone calls every week from salespeople offering it.


The websites I've set up so far:


http://www.bakersfieldremodel.com


http://www.californiaremodelingcontractor.com


http://www.cambriadays.com


http://www.extremeplastering.com


http://www.centralparkantiquemall.com


(post #120454, reply #12 of 18)

Stephan, I sent you an email. Let me know what you think? =)


~ Ted W ~


Cheap Tools! - MyToolbox.net
See my work at TedsCarpentry.com

~ Ted W ~

(post #120454, reply #13 of 18)

If you do hire out...


Ask for website examples


---if the title of any home pages is "home page" or says nothing about the website subject...move on.


Where's the title?


---Upper left hand corner. Look at the page you're on now. It says
"Breaktime #125846.1" It may change but the first part should remain the sme.


Stay away from website designers and programmers. They're notorious for building pretty or complicated sites. IE. Nobody will see it but yourself...trust me on this one. I'm thankful to this day I got turned down by a guy that is basically the go to guy in the flooring trade for websites. He said "build your own, I don't have the time."


He gets paid hansomely nowadays, but he's a programmer and designer. Had I gone with him I'd still be in the trenches working like a dog. Now I'm basically semi retired...haven't worked in two years, but I put an enormous amount of time into my site.


I did my own and it really looked like a crashed freight train looking back. Believe it or not ugly sites actually work. I still think my site is ugly (profile) but it works. That's the key...getting it to work and not being influenced by pretty pictures/design and that other stuff talked about here often.


My .02 for now


Edited 10/27/2009 6:33 pm ET by HardwoodGuy

(post #120454, reply #14 of 18)

Yo Hazlett -

I've got this pretty great website and it only costs me $5 a month. The name of the site that I'm using to set me up with the site is http://jimdo.com. It's absolutely great and I have no complaints at all! Jimdo has great functionality and makes it easy for anyone to populate their webpages (unlimited amount) with very interesting things!

I've been learning how to use Adobe programs (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.) and was able to design my banner and some buttons that you'll see if you visit my site: http://trimlogic.com

I read a book "The Idiots Guide to SEO (Search Engine Optimization)" and have implemented the things I learned into the site. Now I come up number one on MANY Google searches including "crown molding chicago" which is something that has lead me to many jobs!

-Craig
TrimLogic Inc.
http://trimlogic.com

"Slow is steady, steady is fast!"

-Craig TrimLogic Inc. http://trimlogic.com "Slow is steady, steady is fast!"

(post #120454, reply #15 of 18)

Nice website.

Is anybody out there? 

In all of the down time this (post #120454, reply #16 of 18)

In all of the down time this economy has brought I finally broke down and researched options for a website.

As I said with the economy down, I was looking for one that I was reasonably affordable, was easy to update, and was as far away from being a scam as possible.

I Googled review of website and eventually went with Fatcow.com.

I found it easy to understand and it's options of different templates easy to choose from and work with.

And it is affordable.

I am starting my second year with them. Even though I have been in business for over 20 years, the website means I don't have to carry around a large portfolio of photos.

Good Luck.

A Different Perspective (post #120454, reply #17 of 18)

 

You’ve gotten good information from all the previous posters … I’ll add a slightly different perspective … Web Templates are CHEAP!!! The days of $2-3k custom programmed start up sites are LONG GONE.  Look into Wordpress.  You still need the domain name and hosting but you can buy really fancy templates that you can uses as is, adjust yourself or inexpensively have someone else adjust for you.  They are super flexible, can be used as a blog, portfolio or combination of both. 

I got a FREE one for my 9 year old daughter to use.  See it here:  Alli’s Website She runs it herself with a little technical direction from me (and I mean a LITTLE)

I had an awful ‘site builder’ site for years and it was fine but the Wordpress template I bought for $65 is WAY BETTER.  Check it out and let me know if you have any questions about WordPress.  I only know a few answers but might be able to send you in the right direction.

Good Luck

RON

Ronald G. Trebbi

Architect  /  General Contractor

TREBBI CUSTOM CONSTRUCTION LLC

Award Winning Design and Construction of Residential and Light Commercial Renovations and Additions

After the web site (post #120454, reply #18 of 18)

Congrats on deciding to launch a web site. More and more consumers do research on the web. I ran a web hosting business for about seven years and saw good businesses make mistakes with their web site.

The #1 mistake was not publicizing their web site's address. It should be featured everywhere you would list your business name and phone number. And you can leave off the "http://www." part. 

You've gotten a lot of good advice about registering your domain name. Be sure you renew it when it comes up for a renewal. It costs more to renew one after it expires and you run the risk of someone swooping in and registering it in their name if you're not vigilant. BUT watch out for bogus renewal notices from companies that are really trying to get you to make them your registrar.

Once your site is up, be sure to answer the emails that come in from the "Contact Us" page. It's just like a phone call. People leave a voice mail and expect a follow-up the next business day. Same for email, even if it's a "I'll find the answer and get back to you ASAP."

Include a page that features your work and/or testimonials, and not just the lipstick & make-up. As a consumer, I want to see you're using the right products and techniques. The fact that you're posting questions and reading "FineHomeBuilding.com" already tells me you're better than average.