Isn’t it crazy how one simple little task can snowball into a huge pain in your ass?! About one month ago, we decided to execute Operation OutsideIsCalling. Well, perhaps it wasn’t quite so elaborate but nonetheless we took our first step downnnn the rabbit hole. We first determined what our short term needs would be to create our online “presence”. It wasn’t too hard to conclude that we needed a website, Youtube and Facebook accounts, but what about all the other social media platforms. We had just begun and already I was feeling overwhelmed. I knew nothing about Twitter other than its icon is a bird… It is a bird right?
It isn’t very often that I feel outdated or old, but this was just that moment. I had a steep learning curve and plenty of catching up, so I decided to keep things simple and tackle Operation O.I.C. piece by piece. If you find yourself wanting to do something like this, here are some of our experiences and lessons learned.
Commercials are for Consumers
Why all-a-sudden are so many website companies advertising? Have they been there all along and I’ve just recently taken notice? I can’t stream more than a half hour of Pandora or a podcast without hearing Squarespace, Wix, or some other website company. Maybe it’s because the “all mighty” Google knows that I searched one recently. Whatever the case, choosing where to create our website became the first major decision. You may disagree that a website platform isn’t that big a deal, however once a website is created its adaptability can significantly affect its lifespan. Lifespan? Yes, but more on that later.
I have a different view on things, probably a quirky view but still, different. I think that if you want to do something and do it right, then perform your own research and don’t just be a consumer. I didn’t heed my own advice and after hearing these website names over and over, fell prey to Wix. Their message resonated and we thought they were going to provide our “perfect” website. People would hear about us, see our webpage, and immediately know that we had something worthwhile to check out. A few weeks into our new website, Jenny found a great way to offer our monthly newsletter within the site. Simple, just click, let the file load, then read about some fun outdoor recreation information. Except people were having a hard time reading the newsletter because it was fuzzy, and lacked the detail of the original file. I won’t go into the boring details, but the results were lackluster at best. Our only work-around was for a very slow download option. When we tried to contact customer support, the soonest available option was to receive a callback in 9 days at an hour of our choosing. For immediate assistance we were referred to a forum. The short answer was, figure it out yourself. With over $200 invested into the Wix debacle, it was tough to pull out, especially not knowing if we’ll get a refund or not.
I say again, commercials are for consumers. I’m sure there are plenty of happy Wix customers with different experiences, but I let the ads tell me what I wanted to hear. Here’s my $270 lesson.
1 – Determine what kind of website you want in the first place.
There are a dozen different programs to build your website. I envision this like a new neighborhood in which the homebuilder offers 10 styles of homes customizable to your liking. Small homes for people with small budgets or simpler needs (i.e. personal blog) Large homes with four car garages and several bedrooms for people with more needs (i.e. a business that sells merchandise, offers shipping, and other services). This neighborhood is all within the worldwide web, but each home has its own purpose & needs.
2 – Pick a platform (house) that best fits your needs.
We have chosen to use a wordpress.org website because it will offer us the highest adaptability and longest life span. You see, I promised we’d get back to this. If you made the simple mistake of choosing a wordpress.com site and years later found you wanted to make money from ad content, it would feel like a huge kick in the nuts to discover that wordpress.com takes 50% of that ad money for themselves. Additionally, if you try to “migrate” from wordpress.com and into some other platform you might lose your ranking on google, as well as the people that have chosen to follow or interact with you. I won’t pretend to be an expert on this matter, but it didn’t take long to discover there were huge differences between platforms. Try some searches yourself and see what best suits your needs.
3 – You get what you pay for, unless that’s a cheap hooker in Vegas. Then you get more than you pay for…
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. I had a roommate, who had a friend, who had a computer, which he claimed would build my kayak business the flashiest, coolest website, ever to exist. “Don’t worry about the cost, it’ll be cheap. I just need to build my portfolio so I’ll do your site for less than a few hundred bucks.” he said. Months later I had almost as much website as I had money invested. The young guy had made promises he couldn’t keep, and after wasting countless hours with his requests my give-a-damn was busted. I was too busy organizing and guiding kayak tours to bother with overhauling my pitiful website. www.FloridaBlazingPaddles.com began as a great idea, but ended in mediocrity.
I knew that this time around I wanted to do things differently; I wanted to do it well and do it right! I think that’s largely what allowed me to accept such a loss at Wix, and to cut those losses and continue forward on the path of awesomeness. I’ll stop there before getting too far ahead of myself as the website is still in the beginning stages. Much is yet to be done. In the next blog, I’ll continue with the “get what you pay for” theme and discuss how we hope to tweak that into “get the most from what you pay for”. I’ll explain the next major decision we had to make regarding website design, the research and conclusions, and how we are executing Operation O.I.C. without breaking the bank.