Todd Heitner

Hi, Welcome!

Hey, thanks for stopping by. A little about me... I have experience with WordPress, web design, audio editing, internet marketing, proofreading/editing, etc. I'm 31 years old, from Oklahoma, have a business and home in Virginia, and for now am living on an island in the Caribbean with my wife of 10 years, Amy.

June 11 2011 0 Comments

chicken feet

chicken feet

Last summer we were pet sitting for friends in the Dominican Republic (before we decided to move there ourselves) and at the time they fed their dogs rice and miscellaneous chicken parts available in the frozen meat section of the grocery store.

These bags of miscellaneous chicken parts basically consist of chicken feet and necks.  Here’s a picture of what we fed the dogs.

Hungry?

But I’ve gone to some cafeterias at lunch time and seen the chicken feet covered in sauce.  I’m not inclined to try them.  I don’t see how there could even be anything worth eating on them.  It’s basically just skin and bones.

They remind me of little hands.  Kind of creepy, and not at all appetizing if you ask me.

June 9 2011 0 Comments

Island Life

Island Life

Well, another year has gone by that I haven’t updated my blog.  A lot has happened in the past year.  The biggest thing is that I’ve moved to a Caribbean island!

We came last summer to the Dominican Republic to pet-sit for some friends and do some volunteer work and things went so well that we decided to come back and stay indefinitely.

Since my work is all Internet-based, it doesn’t really matter where in the world I am.  So why not be in the Caribbean?

Of course, it’s definitely not all sitting on the beach drinking tropical drinks.  Life here is much different  It’s hot, there are mosquitoes, I don’t speak much of the language yet, and things are not very organized which makes it really difficult to even use services that are available (internet, electricity, etc.).  But overall it’s been a good experience for us.

I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t see something that surprises me.  The people here are very interesting.  Most don’t have a lot materially so they are very resourceful and find creative ways to get things done, even if that means moving a washing machine on the back of a motorcycle (as seen in the picture on the right), or kids tying empty bottles around their waist as floaties when they swim in the sea.

I’ve also learned what it means to live simply.  Back home we have so many luxuries that we think are necessities.  It’s eye-opening to see people living in tiny one-room houses with several twin beds, where several people are sharing living space, with no bathroom or doors, etc., and there will be a bunch of these tiny houses in an area with one shared bathroom.

It’s amazing to see how people adapt to their circumstances and make due with what they have.

Of course, the island itself has some really beautiful places as well.

I’ll include a few pictures below of some of the nicer things.

I’ll try to post things on here a little more often, but then I’ve said that before and always seem to get busy with other things, so we’ll see.

 

 

This is definitely a perk to having an internet-based business – I can do it from anywhere.

It’s kind of crazy.  I’ve always intended to update my blog more often and my excuse was that I didn’t think I had anything interesting enough to say… but then I’ve been living in a foreign country for almost a year, experiencing all kinds of new, exciting, and often crazy things and I still haven’t been writing.  I’ll see what I can do about rectifying that.

Maybe you can help.  Is there anything in particular you’d like to hear about?  How to operate your business from overseas, etc.?  If so, please leave comments and let me know.  Any other comments are welcome as well.

June 24 2010 0 Comments

WordPress 3.0 and WordPress Coaching

Well, WordPress 3.0 is here.  I’ve upgraded this site and another one of my sites but haven’t got to play around with the new features yet… looking forward to it though.

As a user of WordPress-MultiUser, I was anxious to see how the merge of WPMU and WordPress would go.  I haven’t had a chance to play around with a “multi-site” installation in 3.0 yet, though I’m sure it won’t be a big deal.  I did upgrade one of my WPMU sites to 3.0.  I see a few glitches that I’ll have to work out, but overall haven’t noticed any major issues so far.

WordPress 3.0 has some exciting new features.  The new menu builder, custom post types, the multi-site option, even a new default theme.  Overall, though, the layout of the admin area is very similar, which is great.  There’s nothing worse than doing an upgrade and finding the navigation has been completely changed (hint, hint Microsoft).  I was glad to see everything was pretty much where I expected it to be.

It’s been a while since I posted anything so thought this was a good time.  Plus I have started “officially” offering a service I’ve been providing for the past couple years…

WordPress Coaching, Consulting and Support

WordPress has really changed my business in recent years.  Most new sites I set up are based on WordPress and most of my clients are using it now.  Plus I’m using it on most of my own sites as well.  It’s so powerful and flexible it doesn’t make sense not to use it.

So my clients have come to realize when they run into a WordPress challenge, their best bet is to call me rather than spending hours trying to figure it out on their own to no avail.  I’ve seen a ton of different challenges and I like challenges, so I’ve helped them find solutions to whatever it is they were trying to do.

Whether it’s figuring out how to solve a problem, getting something to look right, finding a way to do something they had an idea for, or just wondering if I know of a plugin that does a particular thing, my clients have been calling me for their WordPress challenges.

The truth is, while I enjoy working with WordPress and other technical stuff, what I enjoy most is helping people.  So I’ve begun offering my services specifically as a WordPress coach / consultant.  I mean, it’s what I’ve been doing anyway, I just wasn’t calling it that.  And something I really enjoy, so why not, right?

So if you need help with WordPress, get in touch with me.  I’d love to help you.  Check out my WordPress coaching page for more info.

March 26 2010 2 Comments

Just moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress

I had been thinking about moving my blog site from Blogger to WordPress for some time now, but had mixed feelings about it.  Plus I’m lazy.

But Blogger kind of made me do it now.  I had my blog on my own domain (toddheitner.com) and published to it through Blogger’s FTP service.  Well, they announced that they’re doing away with that option.  So time to move.

I was surprised how easy it was to do.

I logged in to Blogger and there was a notice there about the need to migrate to either a blogname.blogspot.com URL or a subdomain of my domain like blog.toddheitner.com.  I just clicked to start the process and moved it to toddheitner.blogspot.com, that way I’d have a backup site in case I screwed something up.

Then I installed WordPress on my domain through Fantastico since, again, I’m lazy and it’s really quick and easy.  Then I used WordPress’ Import feature and selected Blogger.  I just had to click Authorize and it took me to my Blogger account where I had to give my blog authorization to access my Blogger account.  I was already logged in, so it was quick and easy.

From there, it was just a couple clicks to import everything, assign the posts to myself as the author and I was done.

I uploaded a new theme and did a few of the normal things I do when setting up a new WordPress site, like making sure the Privacy settings are right and setting up custom permalinks.

By the way, for anyone reading this and thinking it’s incredibly boring and nerdy, hey, you should have known this was going to be a nerdy post by the post title.

I just thought I’d describe the process in case anyone else is thinking about making this change.

I’m planning on changing the purpose of this blog, but I think I’ll make a separate post about it since anyone interested in me or my site in general probably wouldn’t want to read through all this stuff first.

Anyway, it was an easy process, so I’m glad to finally get that done.

August 29 2008 0 Comments

How to Set Up a Home Network to Share Files and Printers

Do you want to setup a home network so you can share files and printers between your computers?  I’ll show you how, step-by-step.

There are many advantages to having your computers networked together.

Some of the most common reasons to network your computers are:

  • Ability to share files:  While you’re working on one computer, you may find that you need a file on one of your other computers.  Maybe you need it for reference, to copy and paste from it, or maybe you even want to install a program and the setup file is on the other computer.  Whatever the case, if you don’t have your computers networked, it’s a pain to access them.  You may have to go to the other computer and copy the file onto a flash drive or CD or other media and then take it to the original computer again to access it.  If your computers are networked and set for file sharing, you can open the file right up from any other computer on the network.
     
  • Ability to share printers:  Have multiple computers and only one printer?  No problem. Set up your home network with printer sharing and you can print to the one printer from any computer on your home network.  Of course, if you’re printing to a computer in a different room, you’re obviously going to have to go there to get the pages you printed, but it eliminates the need to have multiple printers.

So how do you go about getting this set up?  It’s pretty simple and I’ll take you through the process step-by-step.

First of all, let me say that these instructions are for Windows XP.  Though Windows Vista has been around for a while, at the time of this writing, Windows XP is still the most popular.  I’ve tied a computer running Vista into my home network and the process was basically the same, but some of the specific instructions may be slightly different.  If you understand the instructions, you can probably adapt them slightly and get it to work on Vista too.  But again, these instructions are really intended for Windows XP.

And this is probably obvious, but I’m assuming you have multiple computers in your house, all connected through 1 router.  It doesn’t matter whether the computers are physically plugged into the router through an Ethernet cable or if they’re connected via wireless connection.  But they all have to be connected to the same Internet connection through a router.

Before sharing files on your network, make sure your network is secure.  If you have a wireless router, you need to set it up where you have to enter a password to connect.  It would be beyond the scope of this tutorial to get into how to do that because it varies from one router to the next.  But you don’t want to share files on your network if your network isn’t password protected because then other people can connect to it and access and even modify your files, which you don’t want.

Your network should be secured anyway because other people could be using your connection to access the Internet and could be doing things they shouldn’t, which would be traced back to you since it’s your connection.  So again, if you have a wireless connection, make it secure, whether you’re going to set up a home network or not.

Ok, now you’re all set, so let’s move on to the step-by-step instructions:

  • Go to Start -> Control Panel
  • Over on the left, under "Control Panel", it will either say "Switch to Classic View" or "Switch to Category View".  You want the Classic View.  So if it says "Switch to Classic View", click that.  Otherwise, move on to the next step.
  • Double click Network Setup Wizard.  Be careful, there are several things with the word "network" in the name.  You want "Network Setup Wizard".
  • On the first screen, click Next
  • On the next screen, click Next
  • Now you’ll see one of two things, depending on whether you’re connected through a wired or wireless connection.  If you are connected through a wireless connection and don’t have a direct connection to your router through a cable, you may see a message that says:  "The network connections listed below are disconnected.  Plug in your network cables or otherwise connect your network hardware, and then click Next".  Don’t worry about that.  Just select the checkbox that says, "Ignore disconnected network hardware" and click Next.  On the other hand, if you don’t see this screen, just move on to the next step.
  • Now you’ll see a screen that asks you to select which statement best describes this computer and will give you a few options. In most cases, if you have the setup I described earlier where all your computers are connected to a router, you’re going to want the second option:  "This computer connects to the Internet through a residential gateway or through another computer on my network."  Then click Next.
  • Now you need to give your computer a description and a name.  This is important so you know which computer is which when you’re viewing them on the network.  If you have 2 computers and one is a desktop and one is a laptop, you might just put in "desktop" or "laptop", depending on which one you’re on. Or you may want to name them based on the room they’re in. The Computer Description field can be a little longer and can contain spaces. The Computer Name section should be shorter, be all CAPS, and not contain spaces or special characters.  If you use a short, simple description, you could use the same basic name for both description and name.  For instance, I have 2 desktops and 2 laptops on my network.  The two desktops are different brands and the two laptops are different brands and I know which is which, so I name them based on that.  For instance, for my Compaq laptop, I used "compaq-laptop" for the description and "COMPAQ-LAPTOP" for the name.  Just use something that you’ll recognize.  Click Next.
  • For the Workgroup name, I don’t believe it matters too much what you put as long as you use the same exact name when setting up all the computers on the network and it should be ALL CAPS.  I always just use "WORKGROUP" (without the quotes).  If you had a laptop that you often connected to different networks, you may want to use something else, but in most cases, you’ll be fine just using "WORKGROUP".  Click Next.
  • On the next screen, select "Turn on file and printer sharing" (assuming you want to, and that’s probably why you’re doing this in the first place).  Click Next.
  • On the next screen, just click Next.
  • On the next screen, select "Just finish the wizard; I don’t need to run the wizard on other computers".  Click Next.
  • Click Finish
  • You may be prompted to restart your computer.  If so, you’ll want to do that.  But before you do, make sure you either print out this page or bookmark it because you’re not completely finished yet.  After you save these instructions in a safe place, if you’re prompted to restart, choose Yes.
  • After your computer restarts, you’ll need to select which files on your computer you want to share.  For this example, let’s say you want to share your "My Documents" folder. Go to Start -> My Documents.  Over on the left column, under "File and Folder Tasks", you should see an option for "Share this folder".  Click that.  (You can also right click on any folder you want to share and select "Sharing and Security")
  • The first checkbox should not be selected (the one about making the folder private).  Put a checkmark in the the box next to "Share this folder on the network".  This will make a couple other options available.  First, the Share name.  You may want to just leave whatever is there by default if you’ll recognize what it is when you see it on the network.  You basically just want something there where, when you see it, you’ll know what folder it is.  So if you need to change it, otherwise leave it.  Below that, there is an option for "Allow network users to change my files".  In most cases, you’ll want to select this.  If you don’t, you can only open files but can’t change them.  For instance, let’s say you have a Word document on one computer.  You could open it from another computer, but couldn’t edit it if this isn’t selected.  You also can’t copy over new files or delete files if this isn’t selected.  If you want the most flexibility, you’ll probably want to select "Allow network users to change my files".  Again, let me stress the importance of having your wireless Internet connection secured with a password.  If it’s not, your neighbors could connect to your wireless connection and mess with your files.  So make sure you secure your wireless connection before selecting this.  Click OK.  If there are a lot of files in this directory, this may take several minutes.  Just be patient and let it do it’s thing.  It’ll finish eventually.
  • If you have a printer connected to this computer that you want to share, go to Start -> Control Panel and double click Printers and Faxes.  If there is a little picture of a hand under the printer icon for your printer, you’re all set.  Otherwise, right click on it and choose Sharing.  Select "Share this printer" and click OK.
  • Ok, you’re done with this computer.  But you’re not finished altogether.  You need to follow these exact same steps on each computer you want to be on the network.  Just follow these instructions, step by step, on each computer and you’ll be all set.

Once you’ve configured all your computers and selected the files you want to share, go to Start -> My Network Places and you should see all the folders you’re sharing on all the computers on your network.  Just double click the folder you want to view the files.

You can also access the files on your network through most programs as well. For instance, if you’re in Microsoft Word and want to open a file that’s on another computer, just click File (or click the Ribbon in Word 2007) and Open.  In most programs, there will be a column over on the right.  Click My Network.  Now just navigate to the file you want.

Congratulations!  You’re now all set up for networking!

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Troubleshooting:  If you can’t view the files on your network after following the instructions above exactly, it’s almost always because of your firewall/anti-virus/Internet security program settings.  If it’s not working, try disabling your firewall or other Internet security software on all the computers temporarily and see if it works.  If so, you know you have some settings that need to be changed.  You’ll need to reference the help or support for whatever software it is to see what needs to be changed because each program is different.  I usually have no trouble with TrendMicro, but Norton almost always gives me trouble.

Happy networking!


May 21 2008 0 Comments

How to Get Traffic to Your Website

It’s a question everyone with a website wants to know… “How do I get people to my website?”

Well, there’s no single answer to that question of course, but there are 3 basic ways to get people to your website:

  1. Buy
  2. Borrow
  3. Create

Buying Traffic
I think the first one, buying traffic, is pretty obvious. You could buy advertisements such as Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and other Pay Per Click methods. You could buy banner ads, ezine ads, etc.

Borrowing Traffic
But what does borrowing traffic mean? Well, one way of borrowing traffic is to team up with someone who will promote your website for you without charging. Why would they do that? You can team up with someone who has a similar product or service to yours, but that doesn’t directly compete (in other words, something that complements your product). They can either promote your product/service as an affiliate, or they may agree to promote your website if you promote theirs.

Often what would happen is you’d promote their website as an affiliate and they’d promote yours as an affiliate. So if they have a mailing list, they may e-mail their list about your product.

One of the best things you can do is get them to add a message to their autoresponder followup sequence so that every new subscriber gets the message about your ad and it’s on auto-pilot. If they do, you’d want to be sure and do the same thing for them.

If you don’t already have an e-mail autoresponder/follow-up system, the one I’d recommend is Aweber. You can get a free trial on their website.

You can also “borrow” traffic from popular websites like Social Networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, etc.

Creating Traffic
How can you create traffic? One way is by writing articles. You can write articles and submit them to some of the popular article directories such as ezinearticles.com. You generally won’t want to put many links in the articles themselves, but there is a resource box at the bottom of your article where you can provide information about yourself and a link back to your website.

Not only will these articles be posted on the websites of the article directories, but there is a chance that people who publish ezines and other online publications will use the article on their sites. If they do, they have to keep your resource box intact, meaning they’ll be posting links to your website on their site as well.

Another way to create traffic is to write reports or e-books that contain links to your website that you can give away and get other people to give away as well. They’d be glad to do so if it’s a really great report or if you can brand the links inside with their affiliate links.

A couple other sources of traffic would be videos and podcasts. You can display or mention your website address in the recordings, as well as in the descriptions.

Of course I’ve really only scratched the surface here, but it’s too big of a topic to cover in one blog post. One of my favorite resources for learning creative ways to generate traffic is a newsletter called The Web Traffic Report.

It’s a monthly print newsletter / CD set that’s shipped to you each month. You can get your first issue for free and see what you think.

I’ll post other ideas on my blog for you over time, so be sure to check back.

May 8 2008 0 Comments

How to Make Your Own Blog

Creating your own blog is fun and easy. I’ll show you a few basics so you can set up your own blog today.

I’ll show you the easiest service to use (Blogger/Blogspot by Google) and step-by-step instructions on setting up your blog.

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I’m going to start off by going over some basics information about blogs. If you just want to get started making your blog, skip down to the heading below called “Setting up your Blogger Account and Making Your First Post”.

Ok, so first off, what is a blog? “Blog” is short for “web log” and in simple terms, it’s a website that the average person can set up and update without really know anything about building websites.

Some people have personal blogs where they can keep all their friends and family (and the rest of the world) up to date with what’s going on in their life. They can post stories, pictures, etc.

Others use blogs for business purposes, either to make money directly or to provide news and information for their customers. Search engines tend to love blogs, so it makes sense for businesses to have blogs.

So, depending on the purpose of your blog, you might approach it in a slightly different way, but the basic concepts are the same.

A blog is a website, so it has to be hosted somewhere. The good news is there are many services that will host your blog for free. Services such as Blogger host your blog on their server. However, there are options for installing blog software on your own server if you want to. This can sometimes give you more control over it, but what route you choose to go depends on your situation.

One of the quickest, easiest ways to start blogging is to sign up at Blogger.com. Blogger is now owned by Google, which has some nice advantages.

Some other options are Blog.com, BlogHarbor, WordPress, TypePad, and there are tons of others. I haven’t tried a lot of different services, but I have tried BlogHarbor and I don’t really like them. I found it difficult to modify your blog, plus you have to pay to use it and there are so many free options out there that I wouldn’t waste my time there.

I’ve also used WordPress and use it on one of my websites, but I’m using the version that is installed on my website itself, so I haven’t tried the version that’s hosted on WordPress’s website.

Since Blogger is so easy to use and free, I’ll show you how to set up a blog there.

Setting up your Blogger Account and Making Your First Post

  1. Go to Blogger.com
  2. If you already have a Google account such a Gmail e-mail account, log in and it’ll walk you through the process of tying a Blogger account into that account so you can get to everything with one login. If you don’t already have some type of Google account, Click “Create Your Blog Now” (they may change their site over time, but it should say something like that).
  3. The sign-up process is easy. It’ll just ask you for a few pieces of information and ask you to agree to their terms, so follow the instructions to create your account
  4. Once you’ve created your account, you’ll end up at your Dashboard. From here you can create a new post, edit your profile, etc. You’re probably anxious to start posting, so toward the top of the page it should say something like “Your Name’s Blog” and under that it should say “New Post”. Click that.
  5. Now you should see a box at the top asking you for the title. That’s where you put the title of the blog post you’re about to type. For instance, the title of the post I’m typing now is “How to Make Your Own Blog”.
  6. Now click into the big box below. This is where you type the blog post itself. Just type whatever you want to talk about. There are some buttons above the box that will allow you to make your text bold, italics, a link, etc. You can insert pictures or video as well.
  7. When you’re done typing your post, you can enter “labels” which are basically keywords that people could search for to find your blog post. So if you enter something here, keep it simple and make sure it’s about your article. For instance, if you post an article about how to teach your dog to sit, you might enter something like: “dog training tips, teach your dog to sit”. Separate the keywords and phrases with commas.
  8. When you’re done, click “Publish Post”
  9. Now you’re ready to view your blog. You should see a link at the top called “View Blog”. That will take you to your blog, live on the Internet for the world to see.
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If you post something and decide later you want to change it or remove it altogether, it’s not a problem. You can log in to Blogger and edit your post. If you’re on the Dashboard page of Blogger, you’ll see “Manage:” and one of the options is “Posts”. Click that and it’ll let you pick the post you want to edit. If you’re on another page inside Blogger, click the Posting tab, then “Edit Posts”.

Of course, you will probably want to customize the look of your blog. You can click on the Template tab to choose a different template. If you know HTML, you can customize it even farther by clicking the Edit HTML link. But if you don’t know HTML, you can still pick from the pre-made templates available and do a lot of customization.

By default, Blogger will post your blog to a page on their site, at something like yourname.blogspot.com. If you’d rather have this set up on your own web site, with your own domain name, you can do this but still use Blogger to post and edit your blog.

To do that, you’ll need a domain name. You can get one cheap at BestSiteNow.com. Usually you can get a .com domain name for under $10/year.

You’ll also need hosting. You can also get that at BestSiteNow.com, usually for under $5/month.

When you set up the hosting, you’ll need to make note of the FTP login information – the server name, user name, and password. Once you have those, you can go into the Settings section in Blogger and enter them and Blogger will post your website to your own domain name.


For personal use, you may want to just keep the default address of yourname.blogspot.com. Of course, you may want to put your blog at YourName.com if it’s available. That’s what I’ve done. So I can just say, go to ToddHeitner.com to see my blog. Or for business use, you’d most likely want to put it on your own website. If you want to put it on an existing domain name but don’t want it to be your home page, you could put your blog at something like YourDomainName.com/blog.

One final note on using Blogger. Since it’s owned by Google, there are two really nice things built in. One is that it’s easy to add Google Adsense ads to your blog (you’ll see an Adsense link under the Template tab). Also, Google will add your blog to its database of blogs so if users go to blogsearch.google.com and do a search for a particular topic, if your blog matches, it’ll be in the results and people can find your blog.

Well, we’ve covered a lot of information here, but at the same time I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. However, this will give you a great start on making your own blog and starting your first post today!

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May 7 2008 0 Comments

Learn How to Make Your Own Websites for Free

If you’ve ever wanted to make your own websites but didn’t know where to start, I’m going to share a resource with you that will show you how – for free.

A friend of mine named Dan Kelly put together some training videos that will walk you through it step-by-step. It’s called Mini-Site Secrets Revealed.

The videos are primarily geared toward setting up “mini-sites”, which are basically one-page sales letters to sell something such as an e-book or other product. However, most of the basic principles are the same with other types of websites as well. The main difference is just the look and layout.

For instance, a “mini-site” typically doesn’t have a menu with links to other pages, whereas other websites usually do, such as an “About Us” page, a contact page, and possibly links to pages describing products and services. But again, a mini-site has one purpose: to sell one thing. It doesn’t link to any other pages or sites in most cases because those links will take people away from the page, meaning you’ll lose a sell. A mini-site forces a visitor to your site to make a decision: buy or don’t buy.

So depending on what your website is for, you’ll adapt accordingly. If it’s just a general website for your business, you’ll usually want to have an easy-to-use menu, linking to multiple pages on your site, divided by category. For instance, your menu might look something like this: “Home”, “Our Services”, “About Us”, “Contact Us”. However, if you’re selling a single product, it’s been proven that you’ll get better results with a single-page sales letter.

But again, using Dan Kelly’s Mini-Site Secrets Revealed, you’ll learn the basic principles of web design and once you know those you can apply them to whatever type of site you’re wanting to make.

Most of the resources Dan recommends are either free or very inexpensive, which is good when you’re starting out. For instance, he shows you to use the NVU program to edit your pages, which is FREE. I’ve posted some comments about that previously.

He refers you to GoDaddy to get domain names. You can usually get them a little cheaper at BestSiteNow.com. You can also get hosting there. But overall, Dan’s resources are pretty good.

So if you can learn to make your own websites, why would you ever pay someone to do it? Well, there are times when it might make sense to do it yourself but other times when you’d be better off paying someone to design your website.

If you’re setting up a personal website for your family or hobby, most times it wouldn’t make sense to pay someone to do this for you. Or even if you’re going to be selling something, if you’re just starting out and can’t afford to hire someone to set up your site, you may not have any other choice but to do it yourself.

But keep in mind that if you hire someone with experience who has set up many websites and who does it every day, the website is going to look a lot more professional. Also, it will take you much longer to do it yourself. There is a learning curve you’ll have to get past before you can set up pages very quickly.

So I guess what it boils down to is that you may want to do it yourself if you have more time than money. But just know that when you’re starting out the websites you make may not look as professional as some. That may be fine, though. And even if you’re selling something, I’ve seen some pretty terrible looking websites that still made sales. So it’s better to get it going than waiting forever to get it perfect.

If it’s between doing it yourself and getting it done today or waiting till circumstances are perfect to get your site set up, you’d be much better off getting it going now. You can always improve it later.

If you watch Dan’s Mini-Site Secrets Revealed videos, let me know what you think.

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May 5 2008 0 Comments

Google 411

I came across something pretty cool a while back and have been using it for a while now. It’s Google 411.

Did you know Google has a free 411 service?

Just call 1-800-GOOG-411 (that’s 1-800-466-4411).

An automated prompt will ask you for the city and state. Then they’ll ask you for the business name or category. It’ll search and give you the top results, just like Google.com. Just say the number of the listing you want and it’ll connect you. It’s free and there are currently no ads.

For instance, let’s say you’re in town running errands and you decide you’d like to pick up a pizza to take take home because Pappa John’s doesn’t deliver to your house. Just call “Goog” 411, say your city and state, then “Pappa John’s” and it’ll give you top results, with addresses. For instance, it may say “#1: Pappa John’s Pizza 123 West Main St.” You just say “number 1” and it’ll connect you.

This has come in really handy a lot of times. Here are some situations where I’ve used it:

  • On my way to an appointment (like dentist, doctor, etc.) and run into traffic problems and don’t have the phone number to call to say I’m going to be late
  • On my way to a business I haven’t been to before and I can’t find it (and don’t have their number with me) – get in touch with them through Google 411 and ask for detailed directions
  • Out driving and get the idea to go by some business but don’t know if they’re still open – call them through Google 411 and find out their hours so I don’t waste a trip over there
  • At home and want to look up a number – Google 411 is often quicker than trying to find it in the Yellow Pages

I put the phone number for Google 411 in my cell phone so when I’m out and about, or even at home, I can call it easily and get the information I need quickly.

I’ve used other 411 services and some charge and others have ads you have to listen to. Google’s 411 service, at least at the moment, is free and doesn’t have ads, so it’s quick and easy to use.

The number again is: 1-800-GOOG-411 (that’s 1-800-466-4411).

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May 16 2007 0 Comments

Free Web Page Editing Software

I just wanted to let you know about a cool software program I came across for editing web sites.

It’s an open source, completely FREE program. You don’t have to sign up for a mailing list or jump through any hoops. It’s actually a pretty good piece of software. It’s called NVU.

You can get it at:

http://www.NVU.com

Having a background in web design, one of the things I look for web web site editing software is what kind of code the program creates behind the scenes. Web sites are generally written in HTML, which is a fairly simple programming language for web pages. It’s the stuff that works behind the scenes to actually tell your web browser what to display and how to display it on your screen when you visit a web page.

Some programs like FrontPage have traditionally done a lot of weird things with the code. FrontPage has gradually gotten better over the years. Some of the other free software out there, like the Mozilla editor, makes terrible code. It may get better, but some of the code I’ve seen that was created with it was not too pretty. NVU seems to create nice code, which is not very common in a free program, or even in paid ones for that matter.

Also, some programs I’ve seen before, like older versions of FrontPage, would mess up your existing web pages if you tried opening them with those programs. They would mess up the code and the pages wouldn’t work right. However, from what I’ve seen, NVU doesn’t do that at all. It respects your existing code and whatever new code it creates is pretty clean and compliant with the standards.

It even is compatible with PHP. I wouldn’t personally use it to work with PHP files much because I like the way Dreamweaver handles PHP files better, especially for “includes” and things like that. However, you can open and edit PHP files with NVU, which you can’t do with a lot of programs, like FrontPage 2003.

NVU is not the easiest to figure out if you’re not familiar with how web design works, or maybe even if you are, but once you figure out a few tricks about how to get around within the program and get it to do what you want it to, it’s not bad.

Oh yeah, did I mention it’s FREE?

Right now it’s not my favorite web page editor, but it’s definitely my favorite free one. Of the commercial programs out there, I prefer Dreamweaver. But that’s overkill for a lot of people, so NVU is a nice alternative.

I was building a how-to course on building web sites using NVU, but my hard drive crashed and I lost a lot of the work. I put the project on hold at the moment, but I have people requesting it, so I may continue with it and complete it. If you’re interested in having me teach you to build web sites, let me know.

Update!

The NVU project is basically dead (though the software is still available).  However, since it’s open source, some other people took over the project and fixed a lot of the bugs and things and re-released it.  The only thing is, they couldn’t keep the name "NVU" due to some weird legal issues, but it’s essentially an updated version.

The new name for the software is "Kompozer" and you can get it at:  http://www.kompozer.net/

I’ve heard there is another program coming out that is supposed to be even better, so I’ll let you know when I hear something about it.

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