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Scott JensenNewb web design and marketing questions
by on Mar 21, 2007 at 12:51:30 am

1. Good video tutorial cd's/dvd's for Dreamweaver?
2. Good book for marketing web design/devolopment services?
a. Specifically how to contact potential customers, how to receive payment, how much to charge customers, what to provide etc.
3. Good and easy to use shopping cart?

Here is someone who is doing web design in my area.

Any thoughts on his approach? Something worth emulating?
Any advice appreciated.

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Curtis ThompsonRe: Newb web design and marketing questions
by on Mar 21, 2007 at 4:45:12 pm


[Scott Jensen] "1. Good video tutorial cd's/dvd's for Dreamweaver?

total training - a very good resource...

[Scott Jensen] "2. Good book for marketing web design/devolopment services?
a. Specifically how to contact potential customers, how to receive payment, how much to charge customers, what to provide etc"

i don't know of a good one because there are so many variables in offering these services that a single given marketing strategy won't apply - see more on your next question...for example - even the basics that you are asking here is really not easily answerable:

a. how to contact customers: more people than not that i have met who have an online presence at this stage of their business have been burned by a web contractor in the past. the most common thing is lack of response or overcharging for simple things. the fact is that most people in this industry on the local level are not trained business people and do not have a clue on how to manage customers and their needs. so how to contact them? it's tough - a cold call at the right time might get you business, but it's not likely. your best bet if you can handle the load is probably traditional advertising in trade mags (offer things specific to that industry - like video online for production companies, etc.).

b. how to receive payment: unless you are a large web shop, just invoice people and have them send checks. but get any work approved up front and provide estimates for people so that they know what they are getting into. and then, unless something drastic happens, keep your word and don't exceed your estimates.

c. how much to charge: this is not answerable - it _totally_ depends on market, services offered, size of client, size of project, can offer fixed packages, but that can be very dangerous, as you can get stuck fast with a grinder of a client who makes you work dozens of extra hours for your flat fee offering - see more below.

d. what to provide? that's up to you - if you want to offer advanced database programming and shopping cart services, then you have to know how to do that and what to talk about if somebody needs one of those things - and also how to not overcharge them and only give them what they need. naturally, the more you can offer, the better, but one of the worst things people do in this industry is write checks that their butt can't cash, and blindly lead their blind client down roads into tools and services that are either way too expensive or completely unneeded and then are unable to get themselves or their client back out of the tunnel. be careful to only offer what you know for sure that you can deliver.

[Scott Jensen] "3. Good and easy to use shopping cart?"

again - no easy answer. cost that you are willing to pay? level of complexity needed? scalability needed?
professional appearance needed? real time credit card processing needed (and do you really want to be responsible for an online store with that functionality - think of all the potential legal issues if something goes wrong)? shipping issues? you get the idea. setting up a small client with a huge complex shopping cart like miva (for example) is not a good thing to do, but some clients need that level of complexity in their cart system. so a good and easy to use shopping cart will depend on the situation. that said, paypal offers very easy integration for online shipping and they handle all the cc processing. oscommerce is open source and very robust, but if you need to do much to it beyond the basics, you better know php very well. miva is grand and a very nice commercial product but it costs a decent chunk of money and is not the most user-friendly to maintain.

the main point is that you don't want to lightly pick a shopping cart system without any experience and then tell all your clients that you offer shopping services. you need to get the experience with a few and then you'll be ready to offer that service. also, this immediately goes into client satisfaction - if your client sells widgets and you set up a widget store for them online, they will likely expect to get sales - how do you work with them to set realistic expectations for their store and potentially help market and drive traffic to their online store? not an easy thing to take on...

[Scott Jensen] "Any thoughts on his approach? Something worth emulating?"

it's a very common approach - fixed package rates for given services. that can work sometimes and sometimes not - if you don't have it very clearly defined as to what goes into a package and how much work and time will be spent, then you can easily get in trouble and end up spending way more time than the package is worth. people try package pricing a lot to give customers peace of mind, but in reality, what will give them peace of mind is a company or person that clearly knows what they are talking about and that is responsive to the customer's needs. sometimes the package pricing model won't offer that.

and is it worth emulating? i don't know - can you do everything that he claims to do now? again - don't offer services that you don't know how to do and just figure that you'll learn as you get the work. this is not an easy industry to work in, and if you do that you will get in trouble fast. and the world is a lot smaller than you think - word will travel fast if you can't deliver, and it will travel equally as fast if you can. also - you said he's near you - if he's looking for local business there, is there enough for both of you? or can you do better than him? this turns into business 101, and many of the same rules apply online that apply in the real world...

this is not a complete answer, but you asked very open-ended questions, so it's enough for now - if you have any follow-up questions, please do ask...i hope this was helpful!


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Scott JensenRe: Newb web design and marketing questions
by on Mar 23, 2007 at 10:26:40 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful response Curtis. Lots to consider. I think I need to start slowly with simple projects and see where I can go from there.

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