Flexible self-marketing, going cheap
If youíve already got an email account, then youíve probably got access to a marketing tool that works for you 24 hours a day, all around the world. Your own web page. And the best news? Itís free.
Who needs a marketing tool?
Anyone. Just because you work for someone else doesnít mean that you wouldnít benefit from marketing yourself. Your resume is a marketing tool. A home page can be used as a well presented resume, one that comes invisibly attached to your business card by virtue of including your web address on the card. It allows those people to whom you give your card to get past the "tell me who you are" stage in a very classy way.
Having a home page that details your skills and experience may open up opportunities for you when someone zooms in on strengths of yours that under normal circumstances you would never think to tell them about.
Do you have a skill or a profession that you can specifically market? Say, for instance, you work as a typist during the day, but you have a budding home business cultivating and selling fresh herbs to restaurants and commercial kitchens. A home page is ideal for showcasing your business or cottage industry.
And of course, the professional who is self-employed or running their own business will find a web page an excellent addition to their portfolio of marketing tools.
So as you can see, virtually everyone can benefit from marketing themselves.
Where do you start?
Youíll need to have an email account with an Internet service provider (ISP) who gives members home page facilities. Most SLIP account providers do, sometimes with size limitations. If youíre not already on the Internet, find an ISP who does give you this benefit, preferably as part of your monthly account fees. If your ISP doesnít provide website facilities, there are other sites, such as Geocities, that provide free web services.
Marc Cukier, web page designer and owner of Dream Ribbon Productions (http://www.dreamribbon.com) in Toronto, emphasizes; "Focus. Have only one purpose for your page, or the message youíre trying to get across to the web audience will be lost, or confused. Focus can also be purpose... a clearly defined purpose. Ask yourself ĎWhat do I want to accomplish with my website and what do I want my website to accomplish?í"
He adds: "Think of a website as a brochure or business card - another piece of your marketing pie. If your business cards or brochures are clear, so too should your website."
Itís no good trying to make it a social open-letter page for your friends and a marketing tool for yourself. Remember youíre not restricted to a single page, however. Depending on how much space your ISP allows you, you can have a web page for each role in your life -- one for friends and family, with pictures of your kids at their birthday parties, and your favorites links; one as a resume for your daytime occupation as tax consultant extraordinaire, and a third which profiles the budding writing career that youíre burning midnight oil to build up.
Consider writing the coding for your home page yourself. Unless you have hard commercial aims that require complex Java scripting (an advanced web coding) with lots of animated and tailored graphics, customer forms and special feedback requirements, you donít need an expensive web page consultant. HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language, used for web pages) is extremely easy to learn, and there are hundreds of websites devoted to teaching you the basics. You really donít need to learn very much to produce wonderfully laid out pages. As proof, check out my own home page: http://edmonton.shaw.wave.ca/~mposey/tracycp/tracy1.html. I wrote it after reading a couple of websites and downloading a shareware HTML editor, which was simple but did the job. You donít even need an HTML editor. You can write the script in a word processor and save the document as text only.
To get you started, try these sites:
3. Development -- Part II
Tips and tricks
Web pages are flexible marketing tools that work for you when youíre not there. Although they will never be effective as your only form of marketing, in the global village where more and more people are working, playing, socializing, and buying online, they are a powerful tool it pays to consider using.
Copyright Tracy Cooper-Posey © 1997