Set a Thumbnail For Your Site

Hello!

Here’s a new one we never needed in the olden days! You know how Facebook shows a little thumbnail pic whenever you post a link? Sometimes they pick a very sill pic, one that you would never pick and now you’ve got to find a way to pick a new pic. 😉

Don’t worry, it’s easy.

1. Make and upload the thumbnail image you want to use.
Image size 250 x 250 pixels.

2. Add this line of code in the <head> section of your web page.

<link rel="image_src" href="/images/thumb.jpg" />

Changing the file name (thumb.jpg) to match your own.

That’s it! Told you it was easy. 😀

Cathy Wagner
Owner and Project Manager
ONE STOP Internet Business Services

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Creating a Great Signature File

Creating a Great Signature File
by Cathy Wagner

You’ve heard the term, but what exactly is a signature file and why do you need one?

A signature file is how you sign your online correspondence and it’s the equivalent of your online business card. It not only identifies you, but your business as well. It helps to build your brand and keep your products in the minds of your prospects.

Huh?

Ok. To put it in plainly, think of it this way. You might interact with your contacts and online acquaintances regularly, but you’re a social person and it’s only a small percentage of your conversations that really revolve around your business. You don’t use a signature file, you’ve never really thought about it…until you find one of your best contacts just bought the same kind of products you’re selling from a competitor! Not only that, she is very sorry and hopes she didn’t hurt your feelings, but she didn’t know you sold what she wanted!

I’ve seen this happen many times and it could easily have been avoided with a simple signature file. Your signature file could have served to remind her that YOU sell just what she was looking for and, if you had been using one, you would have made the sale.

This is What is Meant by “Building Your Brand”

As a business owner, you want your business to become associated with the products you sell. Ideally you want to build that name until it is synonymous with the types of products and/or services you provide.

It’s never too early to build your brand. Some people think, “Oh, I am just starting out, I don’t have to worry about building my brand just yet,” but it’s not true. The truth is you build your brand with everything you do in relation to your business. When you create a web site, design business cards, write copy, follow up with prospects, make a sale, or handle a difficult customer, you build your brand for good or ill. You absolutely want to put your best foot forward!

So, How Do You Create a Winning Signature File?

Typically, a signature file is composed of five parts:

Closing
Name
Function
USP (Unique Sales Proposition)
URL

1. The closing should be something friendly that, if possible, relates to your product. Someone who sells nutritional supplements might like “To your health!” as a closing.

2. This is pretty self explanatory. For all business correspondence, state your full name. If it’s a casual enough message that you feel comfortable using a nickname, then you probably don’t need a signature file, but even with your closest contacts, it’s a good idea to use one regularly.

3. This might seem self explanatory, but some people have difficulty with it. Of course you’re not going to write “Supplement Salesman,” you’ll want to be more creative. Perhaps “Natural Health Educator” or “Herbal Consultant.” These kinds of titles help to convey the benefit others will get from working with you.

4. Writing a USP (or Unique Sale Proposition) can be the most difficult part for some people. Your USP is meant to reach out to your perfect customers and let them know exactly what they will get from your product or service. It’s made up of three parts:

– A word ending with ing, this can be something like providing, supplying, teaching, offering, etc.

– Your perfect customer, summed up in two or three words.

– The highest benefit of what you offer in four words or less. Not a feature, but the end result of taking you up on your offer.

example: Teaching health conscious women how to lose weight naturally.

5. URL is simply the URL for your web site. Be sure to spell it all out including the http:// part. This increases the chances that your link will be clickable from your prospect’s mailbox.

All Together it Looks Like This:

To your health!

Jane Doe
Herbal Consultant
Teaching health conscious women how to
lose weight naturally.
http://www.janessite.com

It’s not an ad, but it tells very clearly who Jane is and what she does. If the reader is at all unsure about how they know Jane, this signature file will jog their memory easily without being pushy. If they have any interest in weight loss products, they will realize that their friend/contact offers just what they are looking for. The reader may even remember, after seeing the same signature over and over, to tell a friend who is looking for this kind of product that they know just where to get it!

Resist the Urge to Make Your Signature File Too Long With Multiple URL’s

If you have several offers, create signature files for each and use them individually where appropriate. For example, if you’re talking about health you might want to use the example above, but if you’re talking about business, you might want to direct people to a more business oriented site. Or, if your offers are related, consider creating your own web site that links to all of them so you can promote them all with just one URL.

Use a P.S. to Let Prospects Know About Special Offers or Promotions

I recommend using the same signature file(s) consistently. It conveys stability and success with your endeavor. But there will be times when you want to highlight something special that’s going on with your business. These are perfect times to use a P.S.

A postscript stands out to readers as important info and most will at least glance at them. Keep it short and make it compelling to inspire action. Like this:

P.S. Free Shipping on all orders during the month of October! http://www.janessite.com/promo.htm

(If you have a special page that talks directly about your promotion, be sure to include the URL here so prospects don’t have to look for it on their own.)

Copy and Paste

Once you’ve created a signature file (and doubled checked it for accuracy) save it somewhere that gives you easy access. Whenever you need it, simply copy and paste it into your message. This saves time and reduces your risk of typos.

About the Author – Cathy Wagner, owner of ONE STOP Internet Business Services,is a writer/author, webmaster, and online business consultant. Her articles and business advice have been published all over the Internet. She personally helps a wide variety of online business people sell their products and services more effectively and she’s earned an excellent reputation as an honest and knowledgeable expert in her field who is truly committed to helping others.

*This article is freely available for reprint provided the resource box is included intact.

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Excting Advances in Web Business

I’m looking at the great stuff we’re doing at ONE STOP and I’m wondering if people realize the full range of capabilities available to them now.

For example, here’s one of our sites that is ready to start translating their information products to make available around the world. Sounds daunting, right? Not so with Google translator tools. To test them, we asked people who know Spanish, French and German to be sure the translations were readable and they passed! Now she can translate her site easily into any language she chooses. And she can use the same tools to translate the information in her books. It was a week of work that will, most likely, pay off for years to come.

Here’s another that’s turned her calendar product into an incredible number of gift items that are selling online through Zazzle.com. Many people who are selling a book, or any kind of information product, end up feeling rather limited in their product line. Now, no matter what you’re selling, it’s suddenly easy to create your own line of products to compliment and promote your business!

And don’t forget about smartphone technology! Too many business web sites don’t show up well on a phone and worse, many lose their “buy” functionality. Today we are making mini “phone sites” to help clients reach customers and sell their products through the smart phone interface.

Don’t get left behind. If your business is not making the money you want, contact us to learn about creative ways to turn it around without spending a fortune.

Cathy Wagner
Owner and Project Manager
ONE STOP Internet Business Services

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Owning a Web Site 101

Are You the Master of Your Domain?
Or, Who’s Really in Control of Your Online Business?
by Cathy Wagner

Over the years I have been continually astounded by a shocking trend. Nine out of ten web site owners cannot access control of their own business web sites!

What do I mean by this?

If you had to change to a new hosting company, how would you go about it? Do you have the login information for your domain account? (I can hear many of you going, “Huh?”)

Or, if you want someone new to go in and make a few changes to your web site pages, can you give them FTP access? (Again, “Huh?”)

Facts You Need to Know

Every web site is comprised of two parts:

1. Domain name (i.e. yourname.com)
2. Web Hosting (i.e. the actual web space where you “park” your domain)

You have to sign up and pay for each of these services separately. Even if your host offers domain name registration, it is usually still two separate accounts and you need to have the login information for each.

Domain Name

As I said, your domain name is your web site URL, such as yoursite.com. You must pay for ownership of your domain yearly. It’s not very expensive, but it is very important to know that is must be renewed. If you let your registration lapse, your site will disappear, even if your hosting account is current.

You need to be able to access your domain account to tell the Internet where to look for your site. Your DNS settings inside your domain account identify the host server space where you web site files reside.

This sounds more complicated than it really is. Your host has a machine called a server that stores web site files. The DNS settings tell the Internet exactly which machine houses your files.

When you want to change hosts, you have to change these settings to correspond to the new host’s server. This is not complicated. Every host provides the information you need to do this easily, provided you can login into your domain account.

To maintain control of your business web site, you must be able to login to your domain registration account.

Web Hosting

Again, your web host provides the web space where you “park” your domain. They store your web site files (such as graphics, HTML files, etc.) on a machine called a server and then those files become accessible via the Internet.

You need to be able to access your web site files. This is NOT information for designers only. If you want to have complete control of your business, you need this information too.

I’ve already mentioned FTP, which stands for File Transfer Program. It is the software used to transfer files from your computer’s hard to your server space and vice versa. All changes to web sites must be made via FTP and if you don’t have the connection information, you can’t do anything to your site without the person who does.

In order to have complete control of your business web site, you must have, or be able to grant, access to your web site files.

What’s the Big Deal?

Early in my career, I had a host that literally disappeared. A major break down in communication meant that while I had paid for a year’s worth of hosting, I was going to have to settle for only two months instead. My site was down and I had to find another host right away. (To this day I never heard from that host again. I was offline for weeks while I tried everything I could to reach them!)

The point is, I didn’t know how to login to my domain account to change the DNS setting to my new host’s server. I had long since left the host that actually registered it for me. Thank goodness he was kind enough to simply hand over my login information at my request. Thank goodness he was even still in business!

And it’s the same with web site management. I can’t tell you how many of my clients originally started off with another designer who had moved on to other things. Some can’t even get their old designer on the phone anymore! But, when they come to me because they’ve decide to find someone new to work on it, they can’t give me access to their site. In most cases they don’t have any idea what I’m talking about when I ask.

Protect Yourself!

I know that technophobia is a real problem for some people. As soon as someone says something like “HTML” they tune out thinking there’s no way they’ll ever understand what’s being said from that point forward. But your domain and hosting are not something you can just leave to others, they are the backbone of your business web site.

It’s really not complicated. And it’s so important to maintain control of your business web site. You absolutely must have access to your domain registration account AND your web hosting account.

Even if you never use the information yourself, you need to have it. Without access to both of these accounts, your business could end up dead in the water.


About the Author
– Cathy Wagner, owner of ONE STOP Internet Business Services,is a writer/author, webmaster, and online business consultant. Her articles and business advice have been published all over the Internet. She personally helps a wide variety of online business people sell their products and services more effectively and she’s earned an excellent reputation as an honest and knowledgeable expert in her field who is truly committed to helping others.

*This article is freely available for reprint provided the resource box is included intact.

Posted in Online Business Tips, Posts | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Web Copy Do’s and Don’ts

Web Copy Do’s and Don’ts
by Cathy Wagner

We’ve all heard you need good copy to sell on the Internet, but it’s harder to find, specifically, what constitutes good copy and what to avoid. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts, I hope it helps:

Don’t…

– Don’t expect web site viewers to get excited about your offer when the first thing you talk about is you and why you created your site or got into your business. This kind of information is nice to include, but it really belongs on your “About Us” page.

– Don’t yell at your visitors with a lot of exclamation points and hype. Internet users are becoming more and more immune to hype. Being honest and straight forward will instantly command more attention.

– Don’t dazzle their eyes with lots of different fonts and moving graphics. Be professional. Yes, it’s possible to add all kinds of fancy doo-dads onto a web site, but professional sales sites don’t use most of them because they detract from the sales message. If you don’t want to stand out as a beginner, don’t use them.

– If you’re selling a tangible product, don’t make visitors hunt to find photos. Offline stores have known for years that, sometimes, all it really takes is for the customer to see the product. An effective sales site is more than just copy, be sure to include high quality pictures of your physical products.

Do…

– Always lead with words that clearly and honestly convey the benefits of using your product or service. Prospects are not interested in who’s selling a particular product until they are interested in buying it. The first thing your copy needs to do is tell people what’s in it for them.

– Speak to your customer as though they were sitting in front of you. Of course, I don’t mean to use a lot of slang, but it is important to relate to prospects as a real person. You don’t have to be formal or 100% grammatically correct so long as your prospect can easily grasp what you’re trying to say. Read your copy out loud to be sure it flows.

– Use simple language. This does not necessarily assume your prospects have below average intelligence, but it does assume that they are busy and easily distracted. In today’s world, who isn’t? Visitors will appreciate the simple and straight forward approach.

– Don’t forget to tell your readers what to do next. If you want them to subscribe for something, be sure to say so, otherwise, send them on to the buy page clearly. Sprinkle several links to the buy page throughout your copy, especially if it’s really long, so potential customers will never be frustrated by having to search for the “buy” button.

Effective business presentations on the web are the result of persistent effort. You must monitor your results and get help if necessary until you see the results you want.

About the Author – Cathy Wagner, owner of ONE STOP Internet Business Services, is a writer/author, webmaster, and online business consultant. Her articles and business advice have been published all over the Internet. She personally helps a wide variety of online business people sell their products and services more effectively and she’s earned an excellent reputation as an honest and knowledgeable expert in her field who is truly committed to helping others.

*This article is freely available for reprint provided the resource box is included intact.

Posted in Copy Writing Tips, Posts | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Create Your Own Favicon

Lots of sites have favicons these days, the little symbol that sits next to the page name in your browser tabs, but most small business owners have no idea how to make one for themselves. Here’s how:

1. You’ll need to make a small graphic 16 pixels wide. I think this is the trickiest bit, coming up with a tiny little symbol to represent your business, but that’s what you’ll need. It can be a .jpg, .png or a .gif, but I prefer .gif because it’s the only one that will give you an invisible background.

2. Plunk it into this handy dandy favicon generator. favicongenerator.com I know, pretty easy, huh? Follow their directions for saving the file.

3. Add this bit of code to the <head> section of your main page.
<link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”/favicon.ico” >
The <head> section is where your meta-tags are, at the top of the page. Just paste it in there under your <title> tag.

4. Upload your favicon to your web site’s root directory. Be sure to upload the changes on the index page, as well.

And that’s it! Let us know if you need any help with that graphic. 😉

Cathy Wagner
Owner and Project Manager
ONE STOP Internet Business Services

P.S. Please note, if you change your favicon, it can take an hour for the change to show up on your browser tab and a week to show up in your address bar.

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Rotating Image Scripts

We get a lot of call for rotating images on web sites, and we don’t generally like to charge people the high price associated with FLASH, so we’ve come up with a variety of solutions using simple Java scripts. Here’s a list:

Automatic slide show: http://www.childrensyogacenter.com/
On each page of this web site you will see an automatically rotating group of pictures on the right hand side.  This is a very simple program that is ultra easy to update, simply by changing out the picture files.  Adding pictures is not that hard either – I can easily train anyone who is computer savvy to do it.

User driven slide show: http://www.childrensyogacenter.com/yoga_testimonials.htm
This allows the user to page through the images at their own page.

Full display user driven slide show: http://www.alternativehealthcaresonoma.com/retreat-vacation-sonoma-pictures.htm
This lets the user see all the pictures at once and choose which they would like to enlarge by rolling over the images.

More info user driven slide show: http://transcendencetheatre.org/event-info.html#Gala
If you scroll down you can see the full list of cast members for each show.  When you click on them you go to bio information about that performer.

Fancy fade in slide show: http://www.mosaicsandglassarts.com/
This is a lovely site and the fade in really adds something.  This script is more complicated and not as easy to implement and maintain and for that reason I don’t generally recommend this one unless you really really want the fade in and out affect.

When it comes to making web sites, there is almost always more than one option. At ONE STOP, we’ll help you choose the best solution for you, at the best price!

Carole Cherry
Project Manager and Graphic Designer
ONE STOP Internet Business Services

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