I was sitting in a conversation with Amita Paul, the CEO of Objective Marketer – THE social media marketing campaign management software company – talking about partnership (provide promo code Herringbone if you sign up for it! ). I shared some statistics from one of the recent campaigns I had run on her software, and she said “that is great – we should do a user case about that one – you have a website, right? We have a PR deadline this Tuesday, or next.”
The shoemaker’s son dilemma was pretty present. I had been in business for almost 5 months, but acted incognito on line. Doing social media marketing for others, you don’t really need to have a presence yourself. But if you want to expand your business, there comes a point when that is necessary in this day and age, whatever business you have.
Three thoughts passed my mind instantly: 1) Amita had already referred me to a site where I could have a website created over night for $150, 2) I did create my blog in a day last year, so this should be doable too, 3) If Christine Comaford could offer employment to all temps at Microsoft with her business, that she hadn’t yet created and didn’t know exactly how, then I could commit to getting a website up in a week and document the user case.
After a few hours of figuring things out, having the web host support on the line, being talked down by a San Francisco based contractor who only sign up minimum 10 hours of one on one tutorial or 1 month web creation projects a $2K, reaching out to freelancing contractors – in Vietnam and India – working through the night with them on skype, and about $75 later + template and hosting $100 approximately: the website was up!
Now, there are a few things that need to be checked and added – it may not automatically work on the mobile phone for example. And you may want to do some enhancements. And it may go wrong… Which it did. Waking up and seeing a crying icon on your skype message from your joomlanser is not what you want to see…
Hoping and begging that tonight’s shift will lead to a solution and not a recreation. At least the process would go a little smoother… For all of you who are tempted to do the same, below are some tips and lessons learnt. Hopefully it speeds up your process.
Begin again… hopefully not.
Johanna – aka web master (so many hats to wear as an entrepreneur!)
OPERATION CRASH COURSE IN WEB DESIGN:
1) Get your URL and web hosting account – GoDaddy is a good alternative (does not work for .se domains) They have great support.
2) Choose a template from www.joomlart.com – open source web design, comparable with wordpress, but more professional look and apps/extensions
3) Create your content off line first (just in case the database fails without you having made a back-up…)
4) Study Joomla – www.joomla.org – how to make the installation, template configuration and content update. There are a bunch of tidbit movies available all over the place for specific functions. These resources are what I found particularly helpful:
a. Joomla Beginners Guide
b. Joomla Step-by-Step guide
c. Joomla Tutorials
Even if you won’t do all of the updates yourself – it might save you a lot of valuable time to outsource the creation – it will help you make educated decisions when it comes to finding a consultant to help you. You will have an idea of how complicated some updates are, and how long time they will take to do, and be able to evaluate a proposal accordingly. Some updates might actually be easier to do yourself, such as installing google analytics. That was a piece of cake.
5) Get help. If you find it difficult or run into a time crunch, post your project on www.joomlancer.com and await bids from all over the world (unless you specify differently) from professional freelancing joomla webmasters. Before you choose one:
a. Wait for more bids to come in – my first one was $50, and I ended up working with lamtv for $15, and got the job done perfectly.
b. Check the profile and reviews of the bidders. You can also see how much they have earned so far and how many reviews they have – that will give you a picture of how established they are.
c. Have a conversation on skype – for me it was very important to be able to communicate my questions written and verbally, to be understood and understand the answers. My first contact in Vietnam was super friendly, but the communication just didn’t work.
d. Just be clear that the bid is $ per hour, or per total project. I have seen bids that are not clear on that.
e. Keep it professional and be respectful. You don’t need to work with a seemingly young kid because he looks begging at you to give him the job and saying “so I don’t speak English good enough?” I am sure he will be great for a different project, but if you want to learn in the process, that might not be the right guy for you.
f. Be prepared for a consulting services live bidding process if you connect with them on Skype. “I will do it the cheapest for you”, “I will provide the best service”, “if you don’t trust me go somewhere else”. What are the key criteria for you to select your contractor?
6) Clarity. Before you post a project on Joomlancer, make sure to specify your project clearly. Have it ready to go in an email with links, documents, photos etc.
7) Timing is key. If you post a project on Joomla during the day pacific time, you can have a contractor chosen by the evening, and the work done by the next morning. Many of them are located in Asia – I got help from Vietnam and India. It is possible to create a website in Joomla in 24 hours if you know what you want and what content you want to add. Since I wanted to be part of the process, check and learn (which is not a bad idea – the contractor may have questions that you can respond to in real time), I created a nice 29 hour workday for myself… which I don’t recommend to anyone. But it was fun to see the website created.
8) Document all the login IDs and passwords. There is an array of login information to keep track of. You don’t want to have the same password to all accounts. Create a different for the accounts you will share with an external consultant. And if you have a joomla freelancer install your template, then make sure to document the database password, and joomla password.
9) Create different user accounts for security. If you create a different super user account for your web master in your joomla website, you can provide a different password than your own, and you can see when your webmaster or anyone else is logged in to the system.
10) Assign an account executive with godaddy.com, to separate the webmaster’s access to a specific domain host only. This is if they need to access the database.
11) Add necessary extensions from joomla and others that will fit your needs. What do you want to create? A community? Photo gallery? List of recommendations:
a. Social Joomla for web 2.0 features such as like, tweet this etc.
b. Mobile Joomla to make the template look good on mobile applications, phones etc.
c. Google Analytics to track and learn about your website traffic.
12) SAVE a back-up of your database through the web host. IF something goes wrong in the process of installing and tailoring, then you can go back to the last saved version. I didn’t, so keep your fingers crossed please, that whatever issue there is, will be fixed.
13) Consult the Joomla Forums. If an error has occurred – search for an answer in the Joomla forums or post a request for help. You know what you did to create it, and a consultant may not take the time to figure that out. The answer may be very simple, and the Joomla users are very helpful in providing solutions.
I guess these were the key learnings. If you want a San Francisco based joomlancer, I will be here. By the end of this process I will be real good. 😉
AND – sometimes you don’t need to stress things. Natural time is good. The PR deadline got moved. However, the user case is ready and up – check it out on Slideshare by clicking here.