"I want my business to look really special"

Japanese poster with QR codes

Japanese poster with QR codes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK. You can do a lot on the cheap.

Here are some of my recent favorite things to recommend to clients:

  1. QR codes. Museums now use these stamps instead of headsets, for those with smart phones who want audio guided tours. You can also place QR (quick response) codes on your business cards or promotional materials so that when smart phone users scan your QR code, they go to your home page or, for instance, a sales page. FREE.
  2. Google Voice. Have several different phone lines that you need to constantly check for messages? Wish you had transcribed versions of your phone messages? Check out Google Voice, which lets you channel all of your numbers through one phone. When someone calls, all of your phones ring. Answer on the one of your choice, or your callers leave a message in your Google Voice inbox. Really cool — you can switch between your phones during a call (say, if your cell phone loses power) — without your caller knowing. FREE.
  3. WordPress web sites. If you’re at all adventurous, you can set up a WP site on your own URL using a free or purchased design. The beauty of WordPress is that it’s a great CMS (content management system), one that’s really user friendly and also expandable via plugins. It’s often better to hire someone to implement your web site, however, because to have much real user interactivity you need plug-ins and without some guidance, you can easily get lost in the plug-in jungle. A trained WordPresser can also adapt your purchased or original design to your needs. On the other hand, you won’t hurt anything by trying, so if you’re a closet geek, go for it. FREE.

So, the answer to “I want my business to look really special” is to keep checking on new technologies and being flexible.

How to rate your web site host? Easy

I host my clients’ web sites, and that’s a lot different than just having a URL that’s hosted by a “GoDaddy” solution. Friends don’t let friends use GoDaddy.

I need my clients’ web sites to be up 24/7, to have email work correctly once configured, and not to spend a lot of time troubleshooting geeky things about hosting.

Some time ago, I had a bad experience with InMotion Hosting.

So I went to BlueHost. I highly recommend these folks. Their pricing has been clear and fair. They are up 100% of the time (in my year with them), and they have a phone number that someone actually answers. YAY.

But BlueHost is making changes. They’re ditching their Reseller program, which means you can’t host your clients’ web sites under an agency account. I can, because I’ve been grandfathered in, but I’m not sure how long I’ll be sticking around.

BlueHost has also changed its policy for support — they won’t spend as much time helping you. I think a premium support plan must be on the way.

How to rate your web host

I do realize that there are many hosting providers out there. And if you need to give good or bad feedback about them, try this link:

Customer Hosting Reviews
Who Is Hosting This

Look — the only way others will know what’s going on vis-a-vis web hosts is if you vote.

"Do I need a web writer?"

What ever happened to white space used well??

What ever happened to white space used well??

We get this question a lot: “Do I need a web writer?”

My answer is always, “Yes.”

  1. It takes a good web writer to write economically (i.e., not too much but not too little).
  2. A good web writer knows how to jumpstart your web site’s search engine optimization (by using words and phrases that your potential customers and qualified leads use to search for services like yours).
  3. It takes a good web writer to treat your business objectively, giving it the content that will bring your target audience(s) to your website.

Traditionally, graphic design has been orderly: a copywriter writes the copy and a graphic designer makes it visually sing.

Somehow, this orderly universe was disrupted in 1996 or so by the incredible speed with which the Internet crashed over all of us.

The geeks — the ones who knew how to program a web page — found themselves in control of this new world. Because they didn’t know anything about graphic design, their pages looked pretty bad — and they simply required their customers to provide copy, which usually wasn’t any better.

Most small- and medium-sized businesses didn’t know enough to hire their own writers, or a producer to oversee the process and a designer to ensure that what was programmed was actually any good.

And, in some pockets of this world, this is still how business is done.

We want you to be happy with your final web site, and for nothing to be left out or forgotten in the process. And even though you may not know design principles, you know what you like. Basecamp Productions gives that to you.

In short, we let designers design and writers write. Your budget won’t know the difference, but you will. We also provide a producer to oversee the process — all at no additional cost to you. Call us today. 410.404.5559.

Track your own SEO and social media success

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

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So you want to prove to your boss that social media and other efforts are working.

Here are some great products that can help you.

SEMRUSH is a fantastic product, tracking local and national search engine results, as well as social media and other factors that can figure into your web site’s ranking. Subscription.

Advanced Web Ranking lets you track every key word in any search engine or directory on the Internet. Subscription.

Hub Spot lets you determine qualified leads and how to convert them. Hub Spot specializes in inbound marketing (bringing qualified leads to your site and converting them into customers). Try out HS’s free Web Site Grader to see how well your web site performs. There are also “graders” to grade your book marketing, Facebook and Twitter presence, blog, and press releases. Some free tools and a subscription plan.

I also like Spider Viewer, from WeBuildPages. Spider Viewer shows you your page as a search engine “spider” would view it — text and links. So if you want to analyze your meta information (and make sure you don’t have unwanted formatting, for instance), this is a good tool to use. It will also display all links — I’ve found this useful when considering whether my links are well worded. Free.

The secret to getting accurate video production estimates

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

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The secret to getting accurate video production estimates

If you want to build a house, you don’t ask a builder for the price (right off, anyway).

The smart way to build a house would be to come up with a plan — the number of floors, rooms, bathrooms, and so forth — and then let several builders give you their estimates. You’d probably hire an architect to help you. (more…)

Video 101: Review your needs before writing the script

A CD Video Disc (playing side) produced in 1987.

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Always review your needs before writing the script

Planning a video or film for your business is just like planning anything else. The more prepared you are, the better the process will go and the happier you’ll be with the final product.

In video and film, you have an added bonus: the more prepared you and your producer are, the lower you can keep your costs. Follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to executive producing your next video or film. (more…)

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