How to build a web site in five (sorta free) and easy steps.

(Jeff Herrity:) Well, it might not necessarily be exactly five steps…but there was a path that John and I followed in getting his web presence built-up. As John announced yesterday, we have launched his branded web site at www.jcopenhaver.com and are already seeing a lot of traffic hit the site. It’s always been an exciting day for me – those days when you are launching a client site and excited to get feedback. Launching John’s site was even more exciting because he and I built it.

But back to the post. The Five sorta free and easy steps to buiding a site.

1. Secure a URL (we used godaddy.com) – this is also pretty inexpensive…maybe about $20 per couple years. (We leased the .net, .org etc… too, always grab those when you  can.)

2. Launch blog site. We used www.wordpress.com to get John’s Talking the Walk blog frame up and running. This is a free service that you can upgrade –  but why bother – the basic services are just perfect. It even shows you traffic stats which is always another great opportunity to present some solid data to prove your marketing efforts. Launching your blog first is a great way to get your feet wet and see what topics people gather around. This will help you when you are building your branded site so that you know what to include and what not. Explore and play around with your blog template if you use one. Once a month or so change your template to better meet the growing needs of your blog site.

3. Blog. Blog a lot. John is on a schedule to blog about different topics on various days. So far it’s working! The more you blog the higher you rank and the more frequently other blogs will link to yours.  Comment on other blogs and try to ‘guest’ blog.

4. Build your branded site. We use another free service www.wix.com to build John’s flash-based web site. Our rationale for using this tool to create the site is that its free and pretty easy to do yourself.

With very limited graphics or design abilities, the wix.com toolset helps you create a site in a short amount of time. They have many templates to choose from and update your own information, or a blank template where you can make your own layout. If you choose the free version of wix.com you can build your site and publish it but it will include a wix.com ad. We chose to use the premium version which cost about $150.00 for a year.

The premium version allows us to use the URL we purchased (jcopenhaver.com) – just a few quick and easy settings within wix.com account settings and the site URL resolves to the correct site. We are also able to use Google Analytics to track site traffic – again, a great opportunity to present marketing data to any agent or pubisher. However, the free version is just fine if you want or need to crank out many different sites. (This is great for other visual artists because you can build a free and stylish site for each show or exhibit of your work.)

5. Launch your site and start publicizing it. Chances are your friends have visited the blog at least once and will not be entirely surprised that you have a site now. Continue to blog and promote both sites – but make sure that each site links easily back-and-forth.

Now that our jcopenhaver.com site has launched it’s easier to discuss the approach we have taken and blogged about. John’s blog Talking the Walk is his frequently generated content and more open site where you can interact and comment. The branded site is the site that shows a little more about John’s personality and his work. Many people out there will have problems with an entirely flash site, but for branding purposes, I think it’s ok.

We want visitors to the site get an immediate sense of who John is and then allow them to explore a little with the main site navigation.The order of the navigation elements was carefully considered – first it’s about John, then his books, the blog for the book, a ‘for agents’ section, and then general contact.

We really want people to feel that you get a good sense of who John is and why you would want to read his books.

Over time we will be adding some new content elements to keep things fresh….be on the lookout for downloadable excerpts of each of his books, some more about what John likes and his favorite authors,  and maybe even some video.

Please feel free to comment (here) with your thoughts on the site, or anything you would like to see that we may have overlooked….

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Filed under Marketing You and Your Work, site tips

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