Posts tagged lot
Due to reasons beyond our control, much of this conversion ended up on my shoulders.
Ignore the amount of work involved. Yes, it would have been nice and we would have been up sooner with less pain. But that’s not the big advantage of working with a partner.
The big advantage is having a second pair of eyes.
You’ll notice that I’ve said several times that there are a lot of very talented web designers out there. Yeah, well they’re all producing multiple great designs.
Quite frankly, there is an embarassment of riches out there for free or almost free! The problem is choosing which design(s) to use as the base – and how to tweak the design. That’s where a partner is most useful.
Start by creating a list of designs that you like. Let your partner go through the list and select out the designs that they like. Then repeat until you are down to one design. One trick is to drop 1/3 of the designs each time. So let’s say you start with 12 designs. Your partner would pick the 8 designs they like the best. Then you would pick the 6 designs you like best. And so on.
There are also a number of other decisions that are helped by a second point of view — from structure to widgets to other software. Having a partner to discuss problems, and arbitrary decisions is invaluable.
A business partner is best, but even if you don’t have a business partner, a spouse or trusted friend is better than trying to go it alone.
Lesson Learned #4:
Two Heads Are Better Than One
Don’t overestimate the value of a second point of view.
There will be many times that you will become overwhelmed with the number of choices available to you.
Some of those choices are mostly arbitrary or esthetic in nature.
And yet, you still need to make the best choice you can.
That’s when a partner is invaluable. Someone to argue with you over a solution. To make choices based on their esthetics. To just be someone other than yourself.
The obvious solution if you want to tweak WordPress themes (looking like everyone else is kind of cheesy) is to buy a software package that generates themes.
Sounds great. And there are some out there that do it.
But again there’s a big variation in the quality of both the artistic and programming sides.
So that means you are going to have to spend some time evaluating the packages. Do they meet your needs? Can you select all the different formats you need? Can you add new formats? Do the menus work? Does the display work for all browsers?
And once again you’ll need to evaluate. Am I better spending programmer and artist time cross checking the package. Or would I be better developing a package myself?
Lesson Learned #3:
Custom – Package; Custom – Package; Only your developer will know for sure
There are a lot of tool packages out there to design WordPress (and other) themes. And a lot of tool packages to design.
Unfortunately, a lot of them are pretty pathetic. Both in flexibility and quality – technical and artistic.
But for $100 or so it may just make sense.
Unfortunately, you will still need to evaluate the quality of the theme. So be prepared to spend money to have a developer evaluate the package output for you.
Also don’t forget to review your requirements. Specifically can the package be customized (either through plug-ins or widgets) to implement your requirements. If you need 3 sidebars and the package only allows two you are going to have a problem!
And be sure to check the price of doing it according to Lesson Learned #2. You may find that getting it done once professionally may be cheaper than modifying the package output.
So I’ve gone looking through all these themes and what do I find?
Lots of really talented web designer/artist types. With zero ability to develop web programs.
I also found (almost) zero theme’s that matched my needs — artistically or functionally.
In fact, the only theme I found that I liked was so limited that I couldn’t use it and couldn’t adapt it – at least not without a major rewrite.
And while it’s nice … it ain’t got that special thang!
So I’m going to end up going through this process all over again. Fortunately, not as extensively.
So what’s the solution?
First break the problem into two parts. After all, it’s going to take two different specialists to solve the problem. The artist/designer to look after the overall graphics look. And the web developer who makes sure all the php and xhtml and other bits and pieces actually work. Especially the menus.
WordPress is very powerful. It’s very flexible. But it does do only one thing and does it in a particular way. There’s only so many choices that make sense. Unless of course you are really creative in your business. And the truth is there’s no point. This is a business tool not a personal toy.
That means that there are perhaps 1/2 dozen different variations on layouts for the WordPress theme. Plus a half dozen or so menu possibilities.
Spend some time, identify the ones you like and will use. For example, all the ones that have a left sidebar are out. Why? Because Google doesn’t like left sidebars. So there’s no point designing one. (Yes, there are exceptions — this is an example only).
You’ll end up with a selection of basic templates. You should also end up with a basic set of requirements/needs. Hire a web developer and have him/her develop a theme for each of those templates you may want to use. You may find that you end up with only one or two templates.
Then hire an artist/designer to design the overall graphical look. Have him design several screens. Don’t forget to include both static web and blog type pages. Once those designs are converted to CSS, you should be able to plug the design into the theme you’ve chosen.
Result. You’ve now got a quality theme with a look that shouts “BUY FROM ME!”
Lesson Learned #2:
If you’re going to do this regularly … spend some money and get some designs done in advance.
It’s a lot easier/faster to get a site up if you don’t have spend time figuring out which theme is best. And then have to test the theme to make sure it actually works.
So better to spend some money. Get a developer to put together a basic framework or three. Keep it flexible. Keep it simple. Make it easy to modify.
Then hire an artist to put together a number of pages for you (meaning colour schemes, background art, and banners. All the graphics you will need).
Then when you start a new business or change an existing one, just select the form, select the theme and put them together.
Nice, easy, simple. In the end cheaper too!
Okay. It’s no secret that I’ve long decried the quality of tools available to the P/C programmer.
But after this last bit of nonsense I’m not sure who is to blame. The tool manufacturers, the people who work for them or their customers!
Now I’m not the world’s best art director. My wife, the artist, would probably argue that I can’t match socks let alone colour schemes. Successfully I might add. I’ve been married for 18 years — she always wins arguments like that :D
But what I am is reasonably capable as a web developer (aka programmer).
So when we converted to WordPress I made the (wise ????) decision that I wasn’t going to design my own theme. I would go looking for a theme that looked good and then tweak it to have the sidebars & widgets that I needed & wanted. Should only take an hour or so right? WRONG!
What I found when I went looking is that there are a lot of really skilled web designers out there. Some real artists.
And not a blasted one of them can program!
Virtually every theme I liked had at least one major flaw. I can’t tell you how many theme’s I checked where the menu didn’t work. And that’s not counting the number where they didn’t even try to get it to work! (Yo … Note to artists … the reason WordPress allows a structure with pages is that multiple levels are a pretty common technique for organizing what you’re doing).
Of course, every once in a while I ran into a theme that worked well. It was obvious that another developer had put it together. Very obvious. But it was well structured. The only problem is that spending three days trying to understand “pea, pea, where’s the pea?” style coding just doesn’t turn me on anymore. Some day I”ll figure out how to change the framework to display the way I want … but don’t hold your breath.
I could go on with other examples but I won’t.
So what does all this come down to?
Lesson Learned #1:
Find a theme you like and then just live within it’s limitations.
At least initially. Just get the site up with the basic theme as given. Trying to tweak a theme is a study in frustration. Don’t worry about being unique. Don’t worry about it having all the elements you need. Just get it up as written. Do the best you can. Then AFTER you’ve got it up, if you’ve got the time. You can always try to improve/tweak/fix it later.
For those of you who were hoping I’d start keeping this blasted blog up to date …. sorry.
So what’s happenin’ now?
We’re changing again. We’ve updated the TrainingNOW site to better capabilities and are now going to host LearningCreators.com on it.
Why? Mostly because the site we have now is a proprietary blog tool (DOTEASY provides it) and is actually located in a different location. So Google et al. thinks this is a seperate site.
We, on the other hand, think it should be part of the main LearningCreators.com site.
By moving this site over to the upgraded TrainingNOW site, we get to use WordPress (much more powerful) and also to include it inside the LearningCreators.com site.
But of course, there’s a heck of a lot of work involved. So that’s my focus over the next week. New blog entries need to wait until I can move the site over.
But I will be back …. probably with some comments on spending money.
Keep Learning & Get Earning
Glen Ford & The LearningCreators team.
So for those of us writing a how to book without the advantage of royalty and money what are we going to do? You know those of us who stir our tea with stainless steel spoons and who don’t have secretarial staffs to write our latest romance for us!
Don’t worry we’ve got a secretary too! A cheap one (YAAAYYYY! I like cheap.) It’s called a computer.
I’m talking about voice recognition software. There’s a lot of it out there. Dragon Naturally Speaking comes to mind as the most well known. But there’s also e-Speaking and IBM’s ViaVoice and WhyType and julius and CMU Sphinx … you get the idea. Of course there are new ones appearing and disapearing on a regular basis (IBM ViaVoice for example).
This software translates the words you speak into a microphone into words that appear on the screen in a word processing program. In fact, some Word processors come equipped with built in speech recognition/voice recognition software.
The big advantage is that you are entering words at almost twice the speed of typing.
The disadvantages have to do with the need to train the software. And the need to correct the result. Training the software can take an extended amount of time and be very frustrating. The big frustration, however, is looking at your manuscript and finding all the mis-translations after all the effort in translating.
The second disappointment comes when you realize that you can only speak in bursts. While we speak faster than we type, we think even faster still. That difference is used by many writers to figure out what they are going to say next. A difference that reduces severely when speaking. As a result we tend to speak in bursts rather than at the full speed we have available.
Despite the sci-fi feel, speech recognition/voice recognition is a viable tool for writing and worh trying. Unless of course, you’re old fashioned like me!
I’m back … sorry, getting the course up and running kind of got in the way.
Okay so last article was on handwriting … good & bad, today’s on typing your books and articles. Today’s article is on typing … or more correctly today keyboarding.
Now, some of you may remember when people really typed on typewriters. But today most people type on computers.
There are a couple of advantages to using the computer.
First off, it won’t take long before you can type much faster than you can write. Second, it’s always legible. An big advantage over most peoples’ handwriting — unless you’re into Caligraphy — and maybe even then! Third, it’s easy to correct what you’ve written. And fourth, it is automatically in a format suitable for sending to the publisher. No need to reenter it, although you might need to reformat it. Finally, you are doing it all. No delays sending it out for transcription, no need to worry about misheard, misinterpreted words. What goes on paper is what you put on paper.
On the other hand there are some big disadvantages. It’s slower than speaking (sort of middle of the road), and of course, slower than thinking so you may find your fingers slowing down your thought process — or just plain getting out of step alltogether! On the other hand, it’s too easy to change. So you’re going to have to really fight the urge to edit while you write. (Editing while you write is the most popular method of guaranteeing that you’ll never finish your book!) Finally, typing quickly is a learned skill and takes practice! Lots of practice!
Ultimately you’ll have to chose which technique you like best. Next time we’ll get into the voice based techniques.
Last time I told you not to believe people when they suggest you should use a transcription to create your entry product — your ebook. And I gave you a whole bunch of reasons for not doing.
Now, I want to be very clear we are talking about transcribing a seminar here. Next week we’ll explore some of the alternative methods of writing ebooks. And transcription will raise its ugly head once again … but nicely!
But when should you use a transcription of a Seminar?
In a single sentence — when you want to add value without adding content.
Huh??? Okay, let me illustrate. Say you have a 2 hour seminar you’ve recorded. And you want to release it as a stand alone product. Cool. Copy it to DVD and then use someone like www.kunaki.com to package and distribute it. Fine you’ve now got a medium priced backend product. Worth say between $47and $97.
But you need to make the DVD more valuable. Either to make the price easier to swallow or to increase the price. Now you could add a whole bunch of bonuses. Which is the usual technique. But what if you don’t have any bonuses related to the product? And for whatever reason you don’t want to add content. (Trust me, there are lots of reasons to avoid it). How can you add without adding. Quick way is to transcribe the DVD. A little bit of editing and formatiing and you have a bonus.
Now, you’ve got 3 products from a single source. What’s the third? Record only the audio, re-edit it to remove the dead air and put it into an mp3. There you are 1 product and 2 bonuses. All from the same source.
Of course, you could go one step further …. (gotta get you back on Friday somehow!!).
Have Fun! Keep Learning! And Get Earning!
There are alot of great reasons for writing an ebook.
- First off, it helps to establish your credibility. After all, if you didn’t know your subject you’d never be able to fill up 60+ pages with information.
- Second, it gives you a product with perceived value. We’re all used to having to pay for non-fictiion books. And we’re used to books being widely priced … anywhere from $10.95 to $100. So paying a premium doesn’t reflect badly.
- Third, they can be made to look professional with very little work. Note that I’m not talking about writing the book. I’m talking about editing and formatiing it. Making the finished work look professional. Making a video professional is difficult and can be expensive.
- Fourth, they do not have to be physical to be valued. A DVD is valued but not a video. They are freely available on YouTube. A CD is valued but not an mpeg. An ebook is valued almost as much as a self-published book.
- Fifth, they are almost pure profit. The cost of development even if ghost written is quite reasonable.
The truth is that, ebooks rely very heavily on the perceived value of their near cousins the commercial non-fiction book. A commercial non-fiction book is a very expensive proposition. Publishers do not like losing money on them. So as consumers we automatically believe that if they’ve published it, the book must be of value.
A well designed self-published book or ebook can borrow on that reputation.
A lot of work but 60 pages and 16,000 words later it’s done. And in record time — at least in chargeout hours!
Next time I definitely block a full-time set of hours. Total time about 2-1/2 work days. Over several weeks but that’s half of what I would have expected (more or less).
FANTASTIC … the system works like a dream!
All that’s left is editing which should be done next week.
Next in line … get some feedback and some testimonials. Anyone want to trade a full sized ebook for a testimonial? I’m looking for volunteers to try the book and the system. If you’re trying to launch you ebook business and have stalled on writing ebooks just add your name to the form over there ————–>>>>>>>>
Or if you’re interested in learning how to create ebooks add your name to the form over that a way ————->>>>>
I’ll get back to you next week.
Also need to finalize the web page and get my video freebie out there. So I’ll be changing domains to the final domain soon. Check back or put your name in the box and I’ll let you know where to find me.