Sunday, August 22, 2010

If You're Slinging Web Words, These Tools Help

6 Cool Tools Every Web Writer Needs

Once you’ve started to see an increase in demand for your writing, you’ll want to add some money-saving and time-saving tools to your kit bag. Check out the following. Some cost a few bucks, some are free or shareware. But all develop added value to your clients and that makes you a more valuable asset.

1. Skype. Today’s web writers have clients around the world and talking to a client 12 time zones to the east is going to cost a bundle using your cell or land line.

Skype allows you to use VoIP free or nearly free. You can call Skype to Skype at no cost, meaning you can talk to your client in Adelaide, Australia for an hour at no cost.
If the client doesn’t happen to be a Skype subscriber, that call down under will cost you .026 a minute so an hour chat will set you back about $US1.50.

Open your account with a $5.00 purchase of Skype minutes. This service also provides voice recording, call block, caller ID and even a separate Skype telephone number so you’re always in contact cheap.

2. I love Freemind’s Mind Map software. It’s a great tool for organizing lots of information from lots of different sources into a mind map – a visual tool that shows you how Tab A fits into Slot B.

It’s excellent for organizing longer pieces. It’s also a great tool for creating site maps for clients and you so you both understand what’s going to be done and by whom.

Very flexible shareware. (Pay what you can.)

3. SEO Elite. This software will set you back $US169 or so but you’ll get it back on your first gig. This software performs a variety of analyses on existing web sites, allowing you to spy on your clients’ competitors, see which keywords are working, how many in-bound links the site has and from whom – all good background when preparing your content for the client site.

No sense reinventing the wheel.

4. Conference calling. There are lots of free and low cost services that enable you to talk to Bob in San Francisco while you’ve got Rick on the same line in London. In fact, you can invite a crowd.

You’ll receive a call number and access code that invitees enter. Services are usually tiered so if you also want to share a Power Point presentation or get some face time, it’ll cost you something in the neighborhood of $0.036 a minute for the additional bandwidth.

Google “tele-conferencing services” and open an account.

5. Lead generation and marketing your services is time consuming. Sites like deliver leads to your inbox – even invitations from job posters asking you to bid.

Elance takes an 8.75% bite but if you figure that into your bid price, the client pays. You can log on at any time and find 300 leads. Bid on those projects at which you can succeed.

6. Great security software – FREE. You can schedule scans, isolate cookies, viruses and other malware and clean up all of that garbage with a couple of clicks.

If you’re running your business off your hard drive you need solid security on the system side. AVG’s freeware is popular and effective. This one’s a no brainer.

There are other tools. Twitter is great for announcing posts to a blog or a newsletter you just blasted across the W3. There are free organizational tools, free communication apps, posting apps (got a blog, get Feedburner) and other tools worth downloading and installing to make your day more productive and more financially rewarding.


Thursday, August 12, 2010


Managing Customer Care:
“It’s easier to keep a client 
than find a new one.”

Yeah, it’s an old cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. The key to long-term site success is an expanding customer/client base – repeat buyers of your goods or services.

Keeping the customer satisfied, especially for web-based businesses, isn’t a walk in the park but there are things you, as webmaster, can do to manage client care, keeping the customer satisfied and coming back for more.

1. Maintain an accurate order tracking system.  If you use a delivery service like FedEx or UPS, you’ll get tracking software with your account. But, if you’re trucking 37 ceramic figurines to the post office every day, you’ll need an order tracking system – preferably one that can identify “downstream” problems like: “Hey, you’re going to run out of hula girl bobble heads next Thursday. Time to reorder.”

2. Stay involved. You may be using a drop shipper to manage inventory storage, shipping and handling, and it’s not always easy during the rush of the day to check tracking data – even if you’re shipping out of a spare room. Track all problem orders yourself.

3. Provide updates to the buyer. An auto-responder as soon as the problem is identified with an opt out box to cancel the sale. You may lose that one, but your straightforwardness and ease of use will make a positive impression.

Federal law requires that orders must be filled within 30 days, after which the buyer is no longer obligated to pay. Don’t ship without renewed buyer approval.

4. Provide US-based customer support 24/7. In this global marketplace, someone is always buying, and someone always has a question. Also, empower telephone reps to accept returns with the customer’s receipts. This saves on call-backs and significantly lowers buyers’ stress levels.

5. Use dynamic pages designed specifically for each visitor.  Best example? Amazon. My home page is different from your home page based on our past buying histories. All of this data is stored in Amazon’s database and when I log on, I’m bombarded with recommendations based on items purchased five years ago.

But Amazon stills calls me by my first name. That’s nice.

6. Last key point. Overdeliver. If prudent, drop a personalized email or even make a telephone call. People are really pleasant when the company CEO calls and promises satisfaction.

The whole point of quality customer care is to create word of mouth (WOM) viral marketing. Treat your customers or clients right, and viral WOM will do the rest in growing that client base bigger and bigger.