Every year, we try to help out some non-profits with their web marketing efforts. It’s our way of giving back to the local community, and doing some feel good work. Along the way, we’ve noticed some consistent issues that come up for non-profits maintaining a web presence.
1)Register Your Own Domain
Domain Registration is not tied to hosting, and non-profits should register their own domains at a reputable domain reg service instead of relying on a web designer or agency to register it for them.
Hosting is s easy to set up provided you use a good hosting company that offers great service and can guide you through any issues you may have. Hostgator is, by far, one of the best hosting service providers. You cannot go wrong with them, they will save your site when it goes down and help you through any issues you may have, 24/7.
If you do decide to go another route, such as having your designer set up or hosting for you, make sure you have record of your server control panel login. This is a must-do.
3) Save money, don’t go custom.
Use self-hosted WordPress as a platform for your website. With compromise, you’ll be able to ad functionality with WordPress plugins, and save money for the good work that your organization does. WordPress is also simple to use and can allow your organization to update content easily.
4)Keep good records.
Write down and store of all your usernames and passwords for all your web “stuff”: domain reg, your server control panel, your website back-end, your Paypal account, your social media accounts etc. Establish a policy for passing along this data as part of your yearly board transition. Loosing these logins can cause trouble down the road.
5)Maintain your brand and establish brand policies
Make sure that all your online marketing efforts reflect your organizational brand- everything from the graphics you use to adorn your social profiles to the language you choose.
Have more ideas for non-profits? Share below in the comments, we appreciate the feedback!
I love WordPress for a number of reasons, but one reason is that if I were a client, I would want to have some control.
In a day and age where fresh content is king, it can be expensive, and sometimes slow to get your site updated. If your this type of client, then take head. Not every web design in WordPress will leave you in total control.
Just as every client is different, there are many ways to set up a website in WordPress. You can go with a basic installation on one of the many free themes that exists, or use a customized premium theme. Both options are fantastic starting points on sites but will have limitations- limitations that can be lifted with some coding by a web designer. Themes can also be entirely custom coded leaving the web designer in complete control (which is understandable the work is theirs and they probably don’t want anyone messing with it). WordPress access can also be limited by your web designer, baring access to areas on your site such as your sidebar widgets.
Will you be happy just to have control of your ability to post new content on your blog (a given), or do you think you may want some flexibility, such as adding/removing content on your sidebar, updating your pages or maybe even swapping in a new header? Do you want to be able to pass control on to a different web master? If you do, then make sure your project is going to permit you to learn how and do these tasks, and that your designer is willing to accommodate your requests.
During your planning process before you discuss with a web designer, make sure you know what control you want, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Here’s the scenario. You run a small business start up and realize you really need to get a website. Or, you run a small business and realize your website is really dated. You have little to no knowledge of how this whole website and Internet thing works. Your heart pounds at the thought of blowing your budget. You get frantic thinking about how your going to find the time to make this happen.
What you need is stiff drink.
Actually, No. What your really need is some insight into preparing for a web design project in order for you to make the most of your design consultation and ultimately, make the most of your Internet marketing.
Here are 5 initial steps you can take before you even pick up the phone to book a consult.
Evaluate your current branding. Are you happy with it? Have you had someone with design or marketing expertise provide you some feedback? No sense in spending the money on a website if your a) not happy with your current branding or b) unsure of your current branding. Websites are one of the bigger start-up expenses, don’t waste your money designing around a low budget logo or an outdated logo. Search Go Daddy and see what’s available in terms of domain names that you would consider. Make sure your current branding is going to translate well on the Internet, and if your unsure then hire your designer or a consultant to review it.
Decide on your online marketing goals. It could be as simple as having a website to direct people to – what I would consider to be the bare minimum of Internet marketing. Yes, it’s an important reason to build a website and without a doubt, all small businesses need a website. However, taking your business online gives you plenty of varied marketing opportunities, and taking advantage of these can make your website pack a bigger punch. Yes, you can tell people about your website, but nowadays, business are succeeding online because they’ve got good content and it’s being shared in social media. My advice? At minimum, you should invest in setting up a good Facebook page and learning how to use it. Next, consider Twitter to build connections, You Tube for video marketing and Pinterest if you and your content are visual.
If you don’t already have tag lines and marketing materials, start brainstorming. Websites are a combination of visuals, calls to action and tag lines as well as written copy. You need some kind of marketing direction. If you don’t have a plan and you don’t think you can create one on your own, then schedule an extra consult with your designer or someone who can help you create your plan.
Gather all your materials in preparation for your initial consult with your web designer and have it ready to hand over in digital form.
- Headshots and Photography
- Contact information: phone, mailing, emails
- copy written material- information about you/your business, welcome and introduction text, and information about products or services relating to your business
- tag lines and calls to action
- key words and key phrases related to your business
With all this information, your and your designer will be able to decide on aspects of your website including construction, outline and navigation. Prepare to discuss with your designer other functions that may be of value to visitors on your website including downloadable information, booking services, contact forms etc.
Get inspired. Look at other websites and not just those in your business niche. Let your designer know which sites you like and which ones you don’t and be prepared to explain why. Your designer will want to get some insight into your vision.
check back for more Design Insights coming soon.
Of all the Social Media I’m into, Pinterest has become my absolute undeniable favorite. Maybe it’s be cause I’m a visual person, I don’t know- but nothing can kill my free time and put a smile on my face like Pinterest can.
But am I really wasting my time?
There’s been a lot of talk online about the value of Pinterest, and the influence it is having on web traffic. Blog posts about the value of this new social sharing platform are popping up everywhere. I’ve read claims that it is driving more traffic for some types of sites than Facebook. So, yes I’ve got my personal pin boards, but I am also lightly pinning my work in design and photography as well.
I think if your work is visual, then you will love Pinterest and should certainly be using it and having as much fun as me. But since Pinterest is having such an impact, I’m noticing some things related to marketing that you should be aware of.
You can’t Pin from a Flash website. If you are STILL running a flash website, then please, now is the time to move on. Your visual content can’t be shared directly from your site, so your never going to benefit from Pinterest’s ability to drive traffic to your website.
WATERMARK YOUR IMAGES (If they are yours, of course). People may Pin your work, so make sure if you’ve put it online , you’ve watermarked it. Brand your work, so that when it’s shared you are immediately credited, regardless if someone makes it to your website or not.
You can’t Pin from Vimeo. No matter how much Vimeo is touted for being a better outlet for creatives and good filmography- you need a You Tube account.
Keep your marketing Pinboards at minimum. Over selling yourself and your work is not bringing value to your followers. Participate and Pin with care. Contribute regularly, don’t just repin and like Twitter, Follow what you love.
Add Pinterest Social Media links to your website now. Encourage people to connect, share your work and see what you love.
I really, really heart WordPress, but one of the best features is the common-sense-anyone-can-do-it ongoing search engine optimization ability that you have when you use WordPress along with a great SEO plugin like All In One SEO.
I am NOT an “SEO expert”, and I’m happy about that. As with all things in my life, I like stuff to be simple and straightforward- and I think my clients probably feel the same. Search Engines, specially the big Google change their stuff often and it can be hard to keep up, but one theme that seems to be prevailing is their attempt to provide results that are driven by good content. Gone are the days of super heavy keywording and meta tags. Hopefully, gone are the days when a search delivers results that have good page rank with bunk content.
Now, back to WordPress and All In One SEO, and how simple it is to optimize. For every site I start, I follow the same simple steps to begin a long time friendship with search engines.
The first, is permalinks. They MUST be custom. WordPress gives you option on how to set them, and I go with setting them to the post name. Then, when required, I edit the permalink in post to something that is search engine friendly. For instance, a post or page titled “About Me” will probably get a permalink that is more relevant like “about-andrea-walker-photographer”. Here I’m keeping the content friendly, and making the permalink a little more search worthy.
The second thing I do is install my favorite SEO plugin, All In One SEO pack. This allows me to set a SEO friendly title, description and keywords for every page or post in WordPress. It’s so simple and straighforward. The hardest part is deciding exactly what your key word is going to be.
Lastly, I make my images search friendly by giving them titles that are relevant to keywords I’ve decided on. At my hyperlocal blog, mymapleridge.ca, my major key word is, of course, Maple Ridge. So if I’m including a picture of a horse from Maple Ridge, I title the image mapleridgehorse. jpg.
These are all simple tasks, that I do on an ongoing basis and tasks that I encourage my clients to do on a regular basis. If your using WordPress to manage your website, then you’ll find that it’s easy to upate your content (something that search engines love), keep your content worth reading (and not just loaded with keywords) and spend only a couple of extra minutes optimizing your information when you update!
I’m finding myself referring people all the time to Photoexpress for their $25 intro to digital photography classes… but they are known to have a wait list. So, how about a quick guide to getting out of automatic mode, and into Manual?
There is so much more you can do when you stop letting your camera make all the decisions for you.
First things first, you’ve got to turn that dial to M. Don’t worry about all the other dials for now, your first step is just to get aqainted with controlling the exposure on your own in manual mode.
The next thing I advise you to do is to make sure your Auto Focus (AF) is set to one shot, and then read your camera manual and figure out how to set your AF point (the point where your camera will find focus) to the center. This means that whatever you point at, the camera will find focus in the center of the image (center of your viewfinder). If the center is not where you want your focus to be, you simply move your camera position to where your subject is in the center, press the shutter release half -way until the focus is set , and hold it while you recompose the shot to take your photo. So, if your trying to take a portrait , make sure the eyes are in the center of the image, focus and hold that focus until you’ve recomposed your shot to where you want it to be (because good portraits have the eyes in focus) . This alone will be so freeing!
Now, back to exposure. Your photo is not going to work if you don’t get the exposure correct. You know your exposure is correct when the meter you see in the view finder of your camera is position in the center. This is how we get there.
Exposure is controlled by 3 main things:
Shutter Speed: That’s the fraction number 1/250 etc… shutter speed should always be twice the length of focus or your hands will create camera shake. And most people cannot hand hold at less than 1/60. If your shooting with a 18-55 ish Kit Lens, your shutter speed needs to be between 1/60- 1/100 at MINIMUM. Choosing your shutter speed will be based weather or not your subject is moving, and what your other settings will be. Fast moving objects require fast shutter speeds if you want them to be clear.
Aperture: That’s the F Number. Aperture controls light and depth of field. But let’s keep this simple. The higher the number, the less light and the more overall focus your photo will have. The lower the number, the more light and the less areas of focus your camera will have. If you want to create those lovely softly focused pictures, you want a lower number. If you want to take a photo of a landscape where everything needs to be in focus, you want a higher number.
ISO: That’s what used to be known as film speed. It ranges from 100- 1600, or higher. In your consumer or prosumer camera, 1600 is about the highest you can go before your images get noisy and grainy.
despite a bright, sunny day, shooting action like this requires higher ISO’s to allow for higher shutter speed in order to freeze the action.
Ok, so how to put all this together? It’s matter of deciding what the conditions are. If it’s a bright, sunny day, your probably going to want to set your ISO to 100, adjust your aperature to the look your trying to acheive (and maybe even blog more light with a higher number if it’s really bright outside), and then play with your shutterspeed until you get your meter centered.
Meter Centered? Yep, that’s right. When you look through your camera viewfinder, you’ll see a “meter” and if you play with rolling dial in Manual mode you will be controlling shutter speed and moving a meter back and forth. For proper exposure, you want that meter to be centered.
Ok, so what if it’s not a bright sunny day? What if your shooting action shots and need a high shutter speed? Simple, turn your ISO up, set your aperature, and then meter. What about if your indoors? Crank up your ISO, lower your aperature and try metering. If you can’t get your meter in the middle then your going to need to think about flash… and that’s a whole other blog topic.
If you don’t have good, quality content on your website- that is the copy (the words written), photos and/or video, interactive widgets and social media plugins - then your wasting your cyberspace.
But equally important to quality of content is having enough content to fill up the pages of your website.
A classic example of where content is key is at your local deli counter. A deli counter must be full to be marketable. It doesn’t have to be big, is just has to be full. If your looking through the glass at all that food, you want to see bowls filled to the brim all alongside cheese and sausage neatly packed together. You may not be conscious that you want to see this, but if has been proven over and over again that customers buy from a full deli counter.
Ever been to a sparse deli counter? I have, and the first thing I think is …how fresh is that food? Then, being the finicky person I am, I walk on by.
And just like that, your finicky website visitors will click away from your website if it looks too sparse.
Your website is the same. Each page must be full to the brim with content (not spilling over the sides, but full). I have clients who have big plans for the future of their websites, and that is fantastic. But if they don’t have the content to support it now, I tell them to leave it for later: ie. don’t even think about publishing a page that says “coming soon”. Publish what you have, and don’t spread it thin.
Keep your pages full like the case at the deli counter and have customers (or visitors) buy into your website.
Walker Park Media is officially in business.
What do we do?
Well, we are a licensed graphic design business for print and web. We really love to create authentic and creative content for the internet. We put together affordable WordPress websites, and provide services to create great content for those sites such as photography, design, video and copy writing.
Why so affordable?
Well, we do simple WordPress theme installation. What does that mean? Well, we don’t “develop” your website, we install a already created yet customizable premium theme that works for what you require in your online presence. Because we aren’t spending time developing your website, we don’t have to charge a ton of money.
Websites are built on platforms, and there are many different platform options. WordPress is an open-source platform ( that means free) that is really simple to use and is search engine friendly. It’s ideal for people who don’t have much experience with websites. In fact, if you can use a program like Microsoft Word, you can easily maintain your own website instead of paying for maintenance.
Want More Info?
Contact Us for more information or look through all of our About pages for more information on packages and pricing for all of our services. Oh and stop by this blog to learn more about who we are and what we know and think of all things design and web related.