Intermezzo: I Need Your Help

Of “whys” and “whats”

Hopefully, you’re finding the material I’ve been publishing helpful, or at least mildly interesting.

If you haven’t seen it all, make sure to check out the table of contents – I’ve been keeping it up-to-date as each article is added. It’s a great overview of where we’ve been, and provides some really good clues as to where we’re headed.

By now, you’ll hopefully also have seen my approach to the material: a combination of what to do, and why to do it.

I believe that “why” is important – perhaps even more important than “what” – since there are so many options and different ways of doing things. My examples are just that: examples. For any number of reasons, you may be faced with different choices, and as a result, require different solutions than I present here. Understanding the whys will allow you to make knowledgeable decisions for your own situation.

Understanding why, you’ll be able to choose your own what with confidence.

Now, I’d like to ask two favors.

So, what do you think?

Knowing where I’ve been, where I’m going, and how I’m going about it … what am I missing?

What questions, problems, or situations do you see that should be covered in this eventual book on setting up your online presence? What are the big-picture things that you don’t see in the table of contents, or things you feel I’ve side-stepped in the materials published so far?

I’d love to know what I’m leaving out. You know, so I don’t leave it out. 🙂

Just leave a comment on this article with your ideas. I’ll read ’em all. Promise.

In fact, as they accumulate, you might want to read them also – they may spark some additional ideas.

I’d love that.

Who needs this?

As I mentioned in the very first post, Ask Leo! On Business was born out of the frustration of seeing friends and acquaintances who should have professional online presences settle for something less, or nothing at all.

I said it then and I’ll say it now: that’s just wrong. That’s a huge missed opportunity.

I suspect I’m not alone. I’m sure you know someone who clearly needs a better online presence, but either just doesn’t get it, or doesn’t agree that it’s important. (Hint: it is!!!)

Please send ’em this way.

Send them to Ask Leo! On Business. Have them subscribe. Have them spend a little time with the table of contents, or the roadmap to success. Heck, point them at this post and encourage them to comment with what they think is missing – or why this isn’t at all important to them.

I’d appreciate it.

And in the long run, I think they will too.

If I do my job right, that is.

Which leads right back to my first question: what am I missing? 🙂

Leo

41 comments on “Intermezzo: I Need Your Help”

  1. Leo
    I’m right with you.
    The idea of doing business with an outfit taht has a hotmail or yahoo address horrifies me – I’ve had my own domain for 10 years and when I recently changed ISP, I made sure it came with me.
    Am looking forward to the best ways of getting “noticed”; like links from key words etc.
    Keep going.
    You’re doing fine

  2. Leo:

    I’ve enjoyed your AskLeo column for quite some time now. It is often about topics that I already know but you almost never fail to add something in your articles that I didn’t know. I support a ten workstation/one server computer lab at the local senior center and have a lot of elderly people come up to me with a wide variety of otherwise fairly easy questions. I save your columns and forward them as warranted. It’s easier and less time-consuming than my hand-waving and gives them a written reference they can study, learn from, and refer back to.

    I’m a recently retired Lockheed Martin engineer with 40+ years of programming and using computers both large and small. Now that I’m retired, I have a couple of small business concepts I’ve been working on. Several advantages to that: additional income, some tax advantages, etc. I knew I’d need a domain, web site, email, etc. for each and hosting. I sort of knew how to go about that but have never done it. I have built a few web sites over the years but have never used the automated tools that are available today. My efforts were a few years back and involved hardcoding HTML and scripts.

    In the past couple of years I’ve been helping a friend of mine who is the owner and publisher of the local weekly newspaper. My main task is handling advertising sales and that’s going well. In doing so, I’ve gotten to know nearly all of the small local businesses in our mid-sized town and their owners. Many of them have no web presence but could benefit from one but they have no clue as to how to go about getting one. The crux of one of my business ideas is to help them accomplish that.

    So, your Leo! On Business series is extremely timely for me and I retain every one of them. My intent is to let your emails run their course to some degree and, when I’ve read and understood everything, to develop my own personal web site. From there, I’ll go on to offer my services to the small business owners who are on my growing list of potential clients.

    Joe Sexton

  3. I have found your material usually very helpful. I especially like the “why” focus. Sometimes, the material is more tech. than I can handle, but that’s okay. It is still helpful. You’re like a “breath of fresh air” for one, like me, who’s gone thru so many books that claim they will help me, but seldom do. Although I’ve had websites for some time, I still have found your info on your new web approach very interesting and useful reminders. Keep up the good work. Thank you. Bill Allen

  4. OMG, A table of Contents. Leo you Luddite. Nobody uses or makes table of contents anymore. Everyone is supposed to know the proper question to ask Google.

    Actually, thanks for making a table of contents so I won’t have to waste time guessing what to ask Google. I also see that your web pages are dated. I read an article this morning on using a Net Book to run a Linux server and realized the information was about 7 years old.

    I consider you a Primary Source. Google serves up a lot of rotted data and opinions.
    Having a list of Primary Sources is better than Google. Wikipedia and the references are better than Google. Getting off track here.

    I do not need the information you already published at this time but I know I can find it here when I do need it.
    Thanks

    • Actually there are very valid reasons to include dates, and very valid reasons NOT to. I absolutely hate it when someone skips over a perfectly valid answer to the problem they’re having simply because they think it’s “too old”. 🙁

      • John and Leo, you’ve put your finger on a vexing situation that I run into often. If I don’t see a date on an article or posting, or I see one that’s ‘old’, I’m inclined to move on. That’s usually because I just don’t know if the article is still applicable. Who knows if the writer is paying attention to that site and keeping it updated?

        Leo, this could be a good topic for you to address at some point.

        • It will be now! But once again you’ve exposed a nuance that also doesn’t apply across-the-board. For many topics an article written today might be equally valuable years from now, even if the author ignores it. So once again, the author keeping it updated may not apply at all. And people walk away simply because of the date? That’s a loss. (My solution with Ask Leo! proper is to date each article, but place that date at the bottom of every article. It’s not the first thing you see, so it’s not the first decision point you might use. But it is there to give context. And I add information about the date near the bottom again when I update an article.)

          • I guess it really comes down to how critical and/or risky the problem I’m facing is. If it’s something that could put my computer’s usability at risk, I *need* to be certain that the info I have is current.

            I like how you treat the dating and updating of your articles. Wish more people would give it such attention.

          • Yes I have come across many old problems that have come back or never gone away and you will notice in Leo’s archives that this knowledge (gold) is still there and you can add to the knowledge.

  5. Hi Leo

    Your Ask Leo! On Business series has been a great read. Logically written and complete and that logic well explained. Until I actually follow through and implement the steps you describe in Ask Leo! On Business, I can’t comment on what might be missing.

    My interest piqued, I have started to reread old notes and books on the subject of creating a web site [for example, Get Your Photography on the Web by Rafael Concepcion, 2011]. 2016 just might be the year!

    A challenge that I may have to address is the mechanics of actually selling items and collecting monies from a web business.

    Trust is important on so many levels. So, just keep doing what you are doing so well.

    Morris Buckner

  6. Leo, I actually have no immediate need for this business info, but I read every article because I always learn something useful. I can say that, from what I know about Internet business (and my work with my sister who is an Internet marketing pro ), your advice is right on.

    One subject that I’d like to see addressed is podcasting: is it a viable way to promote a business?

    • Excellent topic. Podcasting is very hot right now. It may not apply to all businesses, but it applies to many. Even here, Ask Leo! On Business, and Ask Leo! itself, have “podcasts” … but rather than a conversation or discussion about a topic, it’s an audio version of the article – I read it for you. Different types of presentations for different audiences and different subject matter.

  7. Awesome, there is so much to be learned from your publications that I am just happy to receive the information. Can’t ask for anything better. Thanks Leo

  8. Hi Leo,
    I’m a longtime follower and the articles fit right in with what I need to do. Anticipating retirement, I started planning a web-based sideline business a few years ago and got so far as registering two domains and starting website creation. But circumstances changed and I kept my “day job” for longer than expected and now am back at a potential transition point again.

    I’ve appreciated your “hows and whys,” because they reinforce the observations and decisions I have already made and give guidance on the ones with which I was still grappling .

    I’m looking forward to future articles.

    Dennis

  9. Leo, you are a treasure. You guide us well even to places we didn’t realize we wanted to go, but do.

    In building a web site there must be a way to build it without it actually going live. I hope this is covered. Its probably straight forward. “Site testing prior to going live” might be the description.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  10. Until recently I used a WYSIWYG package to edit my site. But a change to Windows 7 made that fail. I found another but I have discovered it inserts masses of HTML for any change of font. Can you suggest software for authoring. I can manage basic coding but am reluctant to immerse myself in programming when I really just want to get my message over in clear English with occasional graphics.
    My passion is to help older people use the wonders of the internet and I have received credit in tge UK for doing that. It would be a pity to stop now because of a software problem

    • Unfortunately my experience mimics yours, and is why I now push people toward content management systems like WordPress. Less focus on HTML and page construction, more time to actually create content. So if that’s something you can consider, I would have you do so. It could easily allow you to “get my message over in clear English with occasional graphics”.

      Frontpage was the gold standard for HTML editing for the masses for many years, then MS dropped it. Dreamweaver is the current, but my understanding is that it’s not cheap.

      I’m afraid that’s about the limit of my current knowledge on wysiwyg editors right now. If I’m not using WordPress, I’m coding HTML by hand in my text editor.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_HTML_editors has a comparison chart that’s probably way more than you want to know. Perhaps other readers will have some suggestions.

    • Keith
      Am in a similar situation regarding teaching and also run a very small business. For many years I have used Serif WebPlus 10. It is straight-forward and fuss-free; no coding required. Version 10 is no longer available, but a starter edition is free. If you like it you could move up to a paid version.
      My web site http://www.highwray73.co.uk

  11. Hi Leo. What you have published so far is excellent and provides a very logical approach to setting it up. Keep up the great work!

  12. Dear Leo,

    although I am not in immediate need for my own domain, website and email, am I following your description with great interest. It is a great “howto” in combination with “whyto”.

    You mention that you moved the website to https. Have you viewed it in Firefox? Firefox gives me a warning message at the lock symbol, stating that the “website does not supply identity information”. Also, if I click on this symbol it warns me that the “connection is not secure” as it apparently contains not secure contents (e.g. images). I’m not sure whether this is only a temporary thing though.

  13. I have to confess that I have not been able to find time to read your emails lately, but they are all safely filed away under my “education” file,
    And I am very eager to catch up when I can,
    Ok , creative criticism, mmmmmm, I give up, I think you are doing a great job, I highly respect your opinion and knowledge and I recommend you to every one I know who is interested.
    Thanks Leo!

  14. Leo–
    I’ve found your articles to be very helpful. Because of its focus, “Ask Leo! On Business” is able to be more linear. As the comments indicate, each reader comes to it with a different experience base.
    I absolutely agree with your assessment that if you’re serious, you should obtain your own domain. I work in the nonprofit area, so my work domain is a .org, and I’m involved in politics, so I picked a .us domain for personal use; but it’s a good idea to reserve the .com version if only to redirect it to the correct site and prevent bad actors from using it.
    I do use a gmail address for sending marketing emails to large lists, because some receiving providers are capricious (hear me, AOL?) and I can’t afford to have my working email address banned or blocked.
    –Bill

  15. Dear Leo,

    I can understand why your friends find creating their own website a daunting prospect.

    Your advice so far is very clear, but it is perhaps aimed at “Business” level websites. Please consider also simple websites where cost is a primary concern, and the exact domain name etc is not as critical.

    The reason I say this is that if one follows your advice you buy your domain name using SimpleURL, you then try to choose a hosting company and find that they offer free domain names ( if you stay with them ). You then look for web builder software and find that these have to be paid for too with monthly payments due for most, and some of these offer free domain names and hosting as part of the package.

    Maybe an alternative approach is:

    1. Decide what your web site needs to look like and whether it needs e-commerce, social media links, tailor made design or standard templates, whether you want simple drag and drop designing or are prepared to do some html scripting,etc etc. You can then choose the best web design software for your needs – there don’t seem that many popular ones to choose from so it should be relatively easy.

    2. Decide what you need from a hoster – eg email, “Business” level stability and reliability, or a lower cost alternative. Then find out whether you can get your chosen web design software as part of a package from a hoster meeting your requirements. If not, is it worth paying extra to get the best combination, or do you compromise your specifications?

    3.Finally, decide whether retaining your favoured domain name is really that important to you, in which case use SimpleURL or similar, but if not consider going for a free domain and free web design software from a low cost hoster. At least if you go this way you can get started at minimal cost and learn as you go.

    It would be really useful if you could provide approximate annual costs for a range of options to illustrate the possibilities, from business level products, through Pro level, and down to a standard economy package for those just wanting to dabble and explore the possibilities.

    The point is that most businesses needing a web site will appoint a professional web designer. They will pay accordingly and may not need any of your advice. It is the dabblers who would really benefit from your articles.

    • Dear Leo. Firstly, thanks for the great service you provide. Several years ago I purchased a domain name for my daughter’s law practice. On your advise I utilized Simple URL. My intent was/is to eventually setup a website for the business. In the meantime, I setup a business email at Simple URL under the domain name. So far so good. My struggle is when I do setup the webpage how do I get the website noticed on a search engine like Google? How do I maximize the presence on any search engine? I simply don’t understand the mechanics of a big search engine like Google. Could you please enter a section in your book.

      Thanks

  16. Leo, I’ve been using you as a go-to-guy for a very long time. Your thoughtful and helpful posts are usually spot on.

    I really am liking the new On Business series of articles.

    In relation to your thoughts on the ‘why’ of things I would ask, Why do you think WordPress is the best CMS to use for a business site?

    I agree WordPress is a good blogging tool, but what if your business, and the goal for your business website, is not best served by the blog format? Obviously, in your case you are providing ideas and solutions to an audience. You’re not selling products. So, to best talk to your audience WordPress works well. But, if I’m a photographer, or artist, or other image or product based online sales business aren’t there other CMS tools that would serve me better?

    Again, I love what you do and how you do it! Many thanks!

  17. Dear Leo:
    I am a retro-dope. “Poor design and non-compliant HTML” is my unfortunate motto. I’ve run a musician’s web page for a dozen years using FrontPage 2000 (including those pesky extensions). FP2000 even functions on Win10. The web page works, is easily navigable (the test) and gets the job done. A search for the musician’s name hits the home page immediately. I’ve viewed the page from all sorts of computers around the world. It works.

    I know, I know, the Markup Validation Service notes a few problems. Yessir. My time may be limited. It’s nearly becoming fun to have such an old-fashioned but useful page. Ever drive a ’68 VW beetle? Maybe it’s like that.

    I’m brushing up on HTML, etc. I already know a little. Next time, I’ll build the thing from scratch. The book HeadFirst HTML with CSS and HTML is a pretty good guide.

    Carry on!

  18. Leo,
    Finding your name on the Internet and then being able to subscribe to Ask Leo is one of those nice things that happen to an old retired guy who needs only a bit of Excel, Word, Adobe and a solution to the mysteries that still pop up now and then on my aging but still trusty desktop. While still working I was surrounded by computer folk who could answer any question but after retirement they weren’t that accessible and so Ask Leo became my go to source for recommendations on everything from storage to security to dealing with scams.
    Right now I’m the default family genealogist and considering setting up a website where family can obtain family tree information. All your wonderful Business articles are saved and ready for reading. What you do is “good stuff” and provides a service I appreciate.

  19. I’m enjoying the On Business series. I’ve been a solopreneur for more than 20 years and have never had my own website. Despite this, my business (which admittedly would be impossible without the Internet), continues to grow. The question you have not addressed is – who doesn’t need or can live without a website? What questions should you ask yourself in making the decision? So far I have not had the time or energy to deal with setting one up and maintaining it or learning the relevant software and procedures, and have not been excited enough about having one to spend money to get someone to do it for me.