Those of you who have been reading my tedious and repetitive ditherings about setting up a website will be glad toPH00305 know that I met with a designer yesterday.

“Praise the Lord!” you’ll be saying, or your local equivalent. “Now she’ll stop talking about it!” And that is true, but today I am not only going to talk about it, but I am hoping for feedback.

It was not just any designer, but my Computer Guy, so I was able to lay my cards on the table.

“I don’t have any clear goal for this website,” I said. “As you know, my big contract will be ending, but I have too much other work to take a fulltime job, so I need to gather enough new clients to cover expenses — or else drop my other clients and go back to the classroom.”

“Your website can be like a salesperson for you,” he said.

“Well, you know my clients won’t find me through search,” I pointed out. “They don’t know the names of anything that I do for them. I just take care of them. But I can’t walk into the local business with a website that needs me and hand them a business card with no website on it. Also, I can’t tell people they need to get a professional site just because then they wouldn’t drive me mad. As it is, they want to know about my website, and I have to admit that I just have a dozen free ones. So I guess the main thing is just for the website to exist.”

“Those are the right reasons for you to have a web site,” he said, “but the main thing is that you need to practice what you preach.”

I wasn’t able to pin him down about cost, but he did say that using a template he’s already designed and doing all  the content myself would keep the cost down.4331519

So I’m trying to think what would be the most useful effect for my website. I usually think in terms of search and traffic, but in this case it will probably be mainly direct traffic — that is, people to whom I give my card. I am thinking that it might be best to have a non-techy look. The other local SEO folks look like Circuit City. I have no desire to compete with The Computer Guy, after all; I want him to be wildly successful so he can keep me fully  employed. I am specializing in those who would never go looking for an SEO firm because they don’t know what that means.

Also, as he pointed out, I need to list the things I do so that people will stop asking me to do other things. I am in favor of variety, after all, but I would prefer to do the things I’m good at on a professional basis and let my hobbies be hobbies. Also, as we all know, I am not precise enough to want to spend most of PH00044my time writing code. “Your best bet,” said the Computer Guy, “would be to partner with [his firm].”

Which is true. I’m setting up a site with him for one of my clients. I met with him and translated it all for her, and between his engineering and my words and Dark Art, she is one happy camper. And of course I do the content for him, and his clients are happy about that, too. As he put it, he does the invisible parts and I do the visible parts.

So I may want to emphasize the writing at my website for the benefit of any noncompeting SEO firms that happen by, as well as the taking-care-of part for the people I’ll be marketing to.

There is one respectable local SEO writer, and she uses a pen and ink theme for her site, along with a portfolio. There are a few other, non-respectable writers for hire in the area, but they specialize in bad grammar and unwise links to their private blogs, so I am not using them as role models.

So I’m thinking about using images of the kind I have posted here — abstract, not too techy– and a list of the things I do. A list of clients. Maybe the option to download some examples of my writing.

Does it seem to you, dear readers, that this would say to a prospective client, “Don’t be scared! This person will help you improve your web site and traffic without expecting you to know PH00308about alt tags”?

I have had so much stuff with other clients this week that I need to spend eight and half hours on my big client today, and he has already emailed to warn me let me know that he’ll be calling me today. I need to have some numbers ready this time.

I had an email from someone yesterday asking if I’d be a researcher for hire for a book she’s decided to write. As it happens, it is on a topic on which I am very well versed, so I said yes, but would she consider bringing me in as a coauthor? I also had, from the encyclopedia that I sometimes write for, a list of topics they need articles on. One is hookworm eradication, a topic on which you may be surprised to learn that I am quite knowledgeable, so I plan to put in a bid for that. And of course there is the book audition, which Chanthaboune and I must finish up now that she is safely returned to Hamburger-a-go-go-land. 

So all in all, it would be best if my big client would renew my contract, so that I can pursue all these interesting projects with confidence that I can pay my bills and feed my kids. I don’t think I am on the kind of terms with him that would allow me to point that out during our conversation today. I better just get some excellent numbers together.

After breakfast.