Ecommerce / Web Marketing Ezine
July 7 2002
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July 7 2002
1. Site and Internet News
*New free content feed - ToneFeed!
2. Article Summary - Outsourcing web development contracts
3. Full Article - Finding Web design/development work (revised)
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Site and Internet News
Welcome to all the new subscribers of our ezine! I hope you find this publication to be useful and I look forward to your feedback so we can continue improving it. Our full article this week is pretty long, so we won't bore you with too many other bits in this issue ;0)
New free content feed - ToneFeed!
One of the best ways to increase your site traffic is with free content, we all know that - but what kind of content? Creating related articles and tutorials for your visitors is a one tried and tested strategy, but also a time consuming process. There are many places on the Internet where you can get free content for your web site, our site included. For over a year we have offered free reproduction of our articles and also an automatically updating web development and marketing oriented service called BEASTFEED - if you haven't seen it yet, check it out.
But what if your site visitors aren't webmasters? What is the one thing that seems to appeal to a very broad range of Internet surfers?
Announcing Taming the Beast's free ringtone feed for web sites!
Regardless of your site's content, free cell phone ringtones seem to appeal to a huge percentage of people. We've recognized this and now implemented an absolutely free ringtone feed which will automatically update.
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2. Article Summary - Outsourcing web development contracts
Outsource projects and increase your income!
You don't have to let contracts pass you by. Outsourcing web development contracts can open up new markets for small businesses engaged in web design!
View the article here:
3. Full Article - Finding Web design/development work
As the Internet develops, more and more web related freelance employment, contracts and tenders are being advertised via this medium rather than traditional print - which only goes to make sense. Employment sites usually contain their fair share of Information Technologies based employment; but so much of this work is now being outsourced by companies - especially web and graphic design/development, eCommerce implementation and software applications programming.
Many sites, such as ours, are now geared up to act as an affiliate networking point for developers, programmers and designers to locate freelance work or contracts for their companies. It's become a highly competitive marketplace where a client can offer a project to the entire world. Interested parties bid and compete against each other to gain projects. Details of these types of services later in this article, but if you would like to take a look now:
Not all would-be clients are aware of these services. Some don't even have an Internet connection, let alone a web site. How do you reach these people? As much I hate to admit it, the best solution is to use your feet (physical exercise...hmm, now there's a concept!). This is one exercise where "walking" through the telephone directory just won't cut it....
Hitting the web development pavement..
As I stroll around the Central Business District of Adelaide (capital of South Australia), I am still surprised at the number of businesses that don't have an online presence; especially the ones directly involved in Information Technologies. I have called several computer stores asking for their web address, only to be told that it is "currently under development" which tends to mean "we haven't had time to even start on a web site" - or I've visited their sites only to find that they haven't been updated since 1999.
It would be well worth the effort to research the stores in your home town to ascertain which businesses do have web sites, and those that do - perhaps they need updating?
Create a professional introduction letter..
With your list of businesses, you could then research them further by investigating the products and services they sell - getting to know them as intimately as possible. Then find the appropriate contacts within those businesses and introduce yourself via a professional letter, telephone conversation or meeting. During your initial communication, relay the fact that you have knowledge of their product line. Don't go too much for the hard sell. Basically state who you are, your background and what you offer. Too much techno babble may frighten prospective clients off and too much hype will probably have the same effect. A well-worded letter may not see you with a torrent of contract and project offers initially, which is probably a good thing. But you would have sown the seeds for future work. Businesses that grow too quickly face as many problems as those that don't grow.
Here is a sample of an initial contact letter:
<Business contact Name>
Dear <Person's name, not "To whom it may concern">,
I visited your store today, <name of store> and was impressed by your product range. I mainly purchase via the Internet and was surprised to find that your business did not yet have an Internet presence - especially since the products/services <perhaps name a few products or services on offer by the business> would prove to be very popular in such an environment.
I am a web developer of x years experience, and am the proprietor of <your business name>; specialising in assisting businesses such as yours in establishing a financially viable Internet presence. My experience covers many sectors including: <name the industry experience, both web based and non-web - as any work history does count in these situations as it is relevant industry experience>
We work closely with our clients, helping them to avoid the traps and pitfalls that are associated with taking a business online and have a number of referees who would be happy to attest to that.
The Internet is an excellent medium by which a business such as <name the business again> can increase it's profitability. Many other reputable businesses in your industry are enjoying a greater market share through an international audience; such as:
<name a few high profile destinations selling the same type of products and services>
If you are interested in learning more of how our services can benefit your business, please contact me at your convenience. My rates are extremely reasonable and we pride ourselves on excellent client support, both during and after contract. Utilising our services, <name the business> will discover that "going online" can be a hassle free and profitable experience.
The idea is to keep the letter short and sweet - business people traditionally do not have a lot of spare time on their hands. Make sure that you pitch the letter in accordance with cultural guidelines. A letter format such as the above may meet with success in one country, but not in another.
If possible, send the letter on your business letterhead and better still, attached a business card. People tend to throw away letters after reading them, but not business cards.
Many business people are only just starting to realise the power of the Internet and eCommerce. But when the time comes for them to go online or to update their web sites, your name may be the first that comes to their minds - especially if you follow up your original contact periodically, to keep your business and Internet development skills fresh in their minds.
The start-up challenge..
One of the major challenges facing new web design and ecommerce development companies is the fact that since they are just in start-up phase, of course the cupboard will be a bit bare in terms of portfolio. If you don't have a portfolio, it's very difficult to convince a client that you are the right company for the job. There are a couple of ways to get around this challenge.
1) Ensure that your own web presence accurately reflects your company.
Your own site will be something that either makes you or breaks you. Take care in the online representation of your business and make it a little bit more than a couple of pages that simply state, "Hire us". If you have a particular expertise in a field of development or marketing, by all means let it shine but don't box yourself in so much that a potential client may feel that is all you can do.
You can further prove your expertise by including a few tutorials on your site. These tutorials can be offered free for reproduction on other web sites. The more suitable content on your site, the more chance of search engine representation, more people will visit your site etc. etc. Publishing your own tutorials will also give you greater credibility amongst your peers. If you don't have the time or inclination to write articles and tutorials, there are many places on the Internet where you can find free articles for reproduction - including our web site, which currently contains approximately 100-web development, ecommerce and web marketing related articles and tutorials.
Ensure that your site is viewable to the widest range of browsers and platforms possible. If your speciality is bandwidth heavy elements such as Flash, don't incorporate that wonderful 10 minute animated presentation as your home page, put it into another section and give the client the option of viewing it. When people are looking for developers, they are usually flitting from site to site - if your page takes too long to load, they'll more than likely move on.
2) Build other sites for yourself.
Clients will want to see a bit of variety. Choose an appropriate subject area and build a small site around that topic. Using affiliate programs that are offered by many companies, you can then also make money from it by advertising related merchants products and services. This strategy worked particularly well for us! Add these "mini-sites" to your portfolio page. With the price of domain names and some web hosting services offering multi-domain support standard with each account, this strategy is also very economical.
Looking for excellent multi-domain hosting? See this article:
Need to learn more about affiliate programs?:
3) Dig into your web design archives.
When your site is looking the way you want it, add other good examples of your work to a portfolio page. It doesn't matter if these elements that you have created over the years were never implemented, just as long as they look good and function well. These elements may be images, animations, page design concepts, software screenshots etc. - if it looks good, then use it on your portfolio page. List all the items with a brief description and thumbnails to decrease load time.
4) Sub-contract work from other developers
Having done all that, gather the names of relevant web development companies and email them with offers of taking on subcontract work. Make your email as brief as possible, but be descriptive in what you are offering and personalise the email. Don't let the company get the impression that they are just one name on a bulk mailing list. Compliment the company on some aspect of their work that you've seen.
Many web development companies have so much work, they will be quite happy to outsource various project components to someone they can trust. Although the jobs may be quite sporadic and small at times, it will give you the opportunity to rapidly build a credible portfolio - and at the end of the day, credibility is what will make you an online success!
Great web freelancer project resources
As mentioned earlier, sites such as ours are affiliated with project databases, where freelancers and design companies can compete for development work in a global arena.
A low price won't necessarily gain you the job - customer support and "going that extra mile" is also of paramount importance when clients review bids to decide whom to award the project to. Remember, it's a risk for them to take on a stranger and you need to be able to convince a prospective client that you are skilled, credible and reliable. If you are a small design company or a one-man show, a service such as this can be of great value, as many clients prefer this type of business relationship.
As you undertake more projects under this service, you are rated on performance, which is available for all to see. Many small design companies are not only using these services, but it's creating so much work for them that they are employing others to meet the demand. Millions of dollars worth of tenders are currently available through services such as this, covering various sections:
- Full web site design implementation and maintenance
- Web site makeovers
- Technical writing and ebook creation
- HTML, XML, XHTML, XSL, PHP, Perl, ASP,
- Logo and Banner design
- Software Applications programming
- Database (Access, Oracle and SQL) creation and implementation
- Ecommerce applications such as shopping carts
- Advertising and advertising tracking
To view a database of these projects; follow this link
Even if you don't find yourself in a position to benefit from this type of service, it's worthwhile visiting on a regular basis to gain some ideas on pricing, sales pitches and services offered by other successful web development companies and freelancers.
If you would like some information regarding developing web development proposals:
Looking to create and own your own sites?:
A comprehensive library of other web development subjects can be found here:
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That's all for this Taming the Beast update! We are very open to feedback, so please don't hesitate in contacting us.
Regards from Australia
Michael Bloch & Katherine Tyndale
Taming the Beast - Established 1995
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