Thursday, February 19, 2009

Adventures of an On-Line Seller
Continued: Personal Web Site

To continue with my Thursday series, I want to talk about creating my own web site. That was an adventure in itself!

I wanted to make my own web site myself, and at a reasonable budget. I have to admit, it was a difficult task, but I enjoyed learning everything I had to make it happen, and I am glad I did it myself.

My first web site was from geocities.com. Free, built over an existing template (which I kept changing over time), and with some pop-up adds. Looking back, I see how many mistakes I made with this site. Aside from the design flaws, this site was screaming about my lack of knowledge about SEO, and the pictures could have used more work (which they did, over time). Never the less, I managed to make some sales even from that site.

What would I do differently if I had a chance to start over? I would start with a blog rather than a web site. This would be a more successful approach, because there are so many things that can be done with blogs, not to mention that search engines love them.

My next move was to obtain my own domain name and find a new host for my new web site, free of adds. The first company I chose (after a careful consideration!), managed to lost all my data two days after I launched the site. They also refused to help me with restoring it. The problem was that I relied on their pre-built templates, which I changed a bit. Yes, I saved all my photos and descriptions, as well as the HTML codes of all the newly created pages. However, there was no option for uploading these pages for me. So, when the data were lost, all I could do was to go back though every individual page and re-upload every picture and description manually once again. Well, I was so pissed off by the service I received from this web host that I went looking for a new one.

The good thing about this story is that it finally gave me enough motivation to learn HTML and stop relying on any templates. Turned out, it is not too bad, and in a month I had my third generation of web site up and running with a new host. By the way, I am glad to report that my new web host, pair.com, provides an affordable and reliable service, and I am very happy to be their customer. I switched my domain name hosting to this company as well.

Note that I said “third generation”, not “third version” of my website. That is because the number of versions I went through in these few years I cannot even count. I've changed everything (a few times!) - layout, background colors, logo, all pictures of my jewelry, beads, vases, and wall pieces... Even the ideology of the site, its purpose, had changed. At some point it was a standing-alone on-line shop with a gallery of sold items. Now it is a gallery of my best items with a link to my shop on Etsy.com. I still sell my tutorials directly from my web site, but not the other items.

To complete this rather long post I want to offer two links I found very helpful for myself.

The first one is to Rena Klingenberg's site, home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com. This site is a collection of jewelry-related business (probably even wider – craft-related business) articles. There is a section for selling on-line, which is a good start reading.

The second link is to J. Cricket Walker's site gnc-web-creations.com. Cricket and a group of other enthusiasts teach one of the Internet's most popular series of on-line classes for Search Engine Optimization, Successful Website Marketing, and Website Development Training. You can sign up for any combination of these classes and receive regular E-mails with their tips and instructions. I went through this training myself and found it tremendously helpful.

2 comments:

Martha said...

What was the name of that company that lost your data? I am about to start my own website, and would want to go though such an ordeal, LOL!

Eugena said...

Martha,
I really do not want to mention it here. Hopefully, they are providing a better service now, and I would hate to spoil their record with some old complains re-appearing over the Internet. I can share the name of the company with you, if you write to me privately.

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