Making Your Own Upholstery Website

Have you thought about making a website for your upholstery business? Having your own website is extremely rewarding. However, be forewarned, making a decent website takes a lot of work. It doesn't go up by itself.

Will Your Website Get Noticed?

Before I get started, I want to make one extremely important point. If you want someone to see and value your website you need take an active interest in it and keep working on it. If you only put up a few pages and call it good, perhaps no one will ever see it. Several business that I know put up small websites of only a few pages, and then complained that they didn't get any business from their website.

Will Your Website Be Valuable to the Visitors?

If you genuinely take the time and make the continued effort to make your website valuable to your visitors, your website will also be valuable to the search engines. Yes, keywords can help. But what's the point of adding keywords, or even paying a "per-click" to get search engines to send visitors to your website if there is not much of value to see? For more about this, go to: Make Your Website Valuable (to your Visitors).

Learned By Experience

By contrast, on our own upholstery business website, Winters Sewing, we've put well over a hundred and fifty pages over a period of 6 to 8 years. I am frequently adding new pages, or updating old pages. On the website we have Upholstery pictures and slideshows, Slipcover pictures and slideshows, Upholstery Labor Price Lists, Fabric Samples from over ten fabric companies shown online, Information on ordering RV cushion covers, both online and locally AND  all types of other upholstery information. I get a lot of requests for estimates from the website. As I write out the information for the estimate responses, I often add much of that information to the website. All this continued work on the website makes it valuablel to us, to the clients, and to the Google search engines. Our business website is the first listing on Google when you do a search for "upholstery Salem Oregon". Much of that I'm sure is the result of all the information that is continually being added to it.

When Should You Publish Your Website?

Many people take the approach of trying to write of their webpages and get it all perfect before they publish their website. This way their website looks nice from the start. (One of the problems is that the website can be delayed for weeks or months, or even years, until everything is "perfect") By contrast, I don't wait to get my website perfect. I just publish each page as needed. I don't try to get each page perfect before I put them on the website. My websites are never finished. Each page of the website is never finished, I try to keep improving them. Whenever I get a thought, I add it to one of the pages on the website. I keep working on them month after month, year after year. And the websites keep growing, and growing.

How Should You Make Your Website?

To make your own website, here are some of your possible choices:

  1. Pay someone to make your website. If you are not very proficient working with computers, this is a good way to get your website up and running quickly. The drawbacks are the it can be costly (several hundred to several thousand dollars) to have a nice website built. Caution: If you have someone else make your website, have a professional do it. I've heard too many stories of someone having a high school or college computer student to do the website, and it took many months and it still wasn't done.
  2. Sign up for a free website. Wordpress and Google sites are but two examples. See details below.
  3. Get a ready-made website package that has the structure already built. There are a number of places where the website framework is already up (both free and paid). You just fill in the text that you want and add some pictures. This is a quick inexpensive way to get your website up quickly. However, this requires you to do everything, it will only get done quickly if you make it a priority and do it quickly. The drawbacks are you are usually limited to how much you can put on it,  or what you can do with it. It is a great choice for those who want to keep the cost down, and have limited computer skills.
  4. Get a website host that has ready-made templates OR CMS software that installs on the your website.You decide which free CMS or other software you want to use on your website. There is an automated website installation process that makes it relatively easy to install the software of your choice. This is a choice widely used by many types of companies. This is more suited to those who have a proficient knowledge of computer. This is the choice I used to put up this website and my other websites.
  5. Use a Website Software. You create a website on your computer. When you are ready, just publish it to your website host. See more info below.
  6. Use An Open Source CMS. CMS means Content Management System. This is a software that installs on your website host account. After it is installed, you can enter enter the text and pictures from any computer. This website, where you are reading this, is Drupal, a CMS software. See more info below.
  7. Just buy website space and build/program all of your website from scratch. This is mainly suited for those who are proficient in computer programming and HTML.

Set It Up To Be Easy

A Quick Definition: "Easy" means you know how to do it well. The method or the type of website software is not nearly as important as you taking the time to set up your website and study it out so that you know how to do it well. Do what makes sense to you. Your method of data entry or your preferred type of website software may be completely different than mine.

I strongly recommend setting up your website so that you can quickly, easily, and repeatedly enter information on a frequent basis. I find that the best type of website software for me is the type where I can on the Internet directly to the page that needs correcting or additional information. I have my computer set up to automatically enter the log on information (user name and password). Then all I have to do is click on the "Edit" link and quickly add or change the information. When I'm done I click on the Save (or Submit) button and I'm done. If you have to go through a lot of headache just to enter information, you probably won't do it.

My personal choice and recommendation is CMS software that installs on your website host.

What Is A Website Used For?

A Repository of Information

For one thing, I use a website to tell clients everything I want them to know. For example, I have told or written out a lot of explanations to a client to explain something that I do. Then, while it is fresh in my mind, I'll finish writing that information and stick in on the website. In the past I've written stuff out only to misplace it (misplace sounds nicer than lose). So nowadays whenever I write something out I put in on my website. I don't worry about "getting it perfect", I just write it out with what time and information I have at the time. Over time I keep improving it and adding more information to it. Besides giving the clients information, it also helps me to find it again. If I don't remember where on the website I put it, I just do a search (by Google or the website search box) and can easily find it.

Writing the Content of Your Website

Get started by gathering together any information that has been written about your business. This could be from other advertising (newspapers, brochures, etc.)

Secondly start writing some content. I usually just keep a notebook handy and jot down ideas as they come to me. I start out by just writing rough thoughts.  

One way to get ideas about content and layout is to see what other upholstery shops have done. Here is our website: Winters Sewing and here are some links to other upholstery websites.

When you are writing your text, DO NOT COPY the text or pictures of other websites. That is illegal and called Plagiarism. However you can use the content of other websites to get ideas about what you want to write.

Writing the About Us Page

People are very relational, they like to know something about who they are dealing with. An "About Us" page is a mixture of telling something personal about yourself, your family, your business. And, most importantly, you'd also tell about your training and experience, (this is a large part of selling yourself to the clients- remember, no bragging (I know you wouldn't), but are just stating facts), and also telling about your relationship with the other business associates, etc. You're SUBTLY selling yourself to potential client. Some people like to sound "very professional". On the other hand, I like to be "very homey" and real looking, mistakes and all.
   When writing about myself I find it's often helpful to step out of myself and write as though I'm an uninvolved party. 

Here are some Example "About Us" Pages:

Remember, Anything would be better than you have now. Don't expect to make a perfect page the first time. You first attempt won't be what you want, but it will be a beginning.

Now, I'll have to think about how to improve our "About Us" page.

Stop Perfectionism Cold!!!
Also, another VERY IMPORTANT point. DON'T try to make it PERFECT. Perfectionism Kills Creativity! Perfectionism will stop you from beginning or developing each page. So, just write what comes to you for each page and leave it. As more thoughts come to you over time, You can keep improving it. But be willing to start each page small and a little less than perfect. With time you will gradually make it a great website!
Here's an example of a "less than perfect web page". Some day, whenever I remember, I'll get around to finishing it. (although none of my pages will ever be truly finished). I have 2 upholstery websites (my business website: Winters Sewing has well over a hundred web pages (and keeps growing) and this Upholstery Information website has about 175 web pages), and each of them have lots of unfinished pages. ....... someday .......maybe....

 

Getting Started

 Domain Names

 

I would suggest that you purchase a domain name. You can use it with any type of website. The beauty of having your own domain name is that you can point it to any website you choose, and change it to point to a new website any time you choose. This allows you to try out various websites without loosing Domain Name and your customers.

Free Websites

 

 

Wordpress.com

If you are not yet ready to actually to pay out money to put up a website, I'd strongly encourage you to at least go to https://wordpress.com/ and sign up for one of FREE blogs (which is also a website). There blog control panel is very much like a the control panels of a real website, it would be a good intruction into having a website without paying any money. It would get you going without having to commit to any payments of hosting a website. It would also get you used to working with a website.

DrupalCafe.com

Drupal Cafe uses Drupal 6, the previous version of Drupal, a good version. They have free Drupal websites. When you sign up, a Drupal websites will be installed for you, ready to go.

DrupalGardens.com

As of January 2011 they have updated to Drupal 7, a great website software. With it you can have web pages, blogs, picture galleries, forums and much more. (This website and my www.winterssewing.com website both use Drupal) DrupalGardens has both free and paid websites. Here is their price plans.

Google Sites

If you have Gmail (or you can sign up for a gmail account) you already have a free site available to you.

 

Website Hosting Companies

 

 

OR, if you'd rather not delay and just get started, even in a slow way, you can go here http://www.indichosts.net/ and sign up for one of the "Student” hosting plans that only cost about $1.40 per month. This would get you started on actually putting together a website. It is cheap enough that you shouldn’t feel pressured to “get it up quick” but just take your time. For this website you would choose between dozens of CMS packages to automatically install on your website. (more about this later)

Website Software

Desktop Website Software

With Desktop Publishing Software you keep working with everything on your computer (just like when you use a word processing program.) until you have your website the way you want it. Then you have the software publish the content of your website to your website host. (Yes, you still need to rent website space from a website host.)

Komposer is an Open Source (free) website software. "KompoZer is a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing."

Netobjects (Website software publisher) makes a very nice WYSIWYG desktop website software. The current version, Fusion 10 , costs about $200

Netobjects also has a great deal on an older version of their "NetObjects Fusion" Sofware. NetObjects Fusion 7 (was sold for $149) is available for free here , you you just pay $10 for shipping. It's a great offer. I used it myself when I first started into making websites.

Dreamweaver.is a high end web developing software meant for those who are very computer proficient and who want a high end website.

Easy Setup Websites

For those of you who want a relatively easy way to create a simple website, here is: Homestead websites This is a template based website. Just go through some easy setup steps to create your website. The downside is you are sometimes limited in what you can do.

Full Featured Websites

For those who are more  computer knowledgeable. Not for the new computer users.

Content Management Software (CMS)

"A content management system (CMS) is computer software used to create, edit, manage, and publish content in a consistently-organized fashion. [1] CMSs are frequently used for storing, controlling, versioning, and publishing industry-specific documentation such as news articles, operators' manuals, technical manuals, sales guides, and marketing brochures. The content managed may include computer files, image media, audio files, electronic documents, and Web content." Wikipedia

This Upholstery Resource website and our companion website, Winters Sewing, both use Drupal , an Open Source (free) CMS. You can change the look of Drupal in a lot of ways. Look at the many themes available for Drupal here: Drupal Themes

If you would like try out out some software, you can try out many freely available CMS software at Open Source CMS . When you get to the web page, go to the left side menu under "CMS Demo Menu". find "MosCmenuTree", then click on - "Portals (CMS)". It will give you a whole list of Open Source (free) CMS (website software) to try.

Make Your Website Valuable

What NOT to do.

Let me start of by saying, when you are writing the content for your website, don't make outlandish claims (even if you think that they are true.) Don't say things like:

  • "We are the best upholstery shop in town"
  • "We have done work for the rich and famous"

These type of claims make you sound phony and desperate to get work. Immature people who want others to think better of them than they are say these types of things. Whenever I see any type of business making these types of claims I go somewhere else. 

What to do

Simply stated, for your website to become valuable (both to yourself and to others) you have to put value into your website. The more value you put into your website, the more valuable it becomes and the more your potential clients will value it. Now what does that "value" look like.? What do I mean by "putting value" into the website?

Of Course, the first thing you need to do is to create a website. In this day and age it is relative easy to make your own website. But, just because you have a website that doesn't mean that anyone will actually see it (unless you give them the URL.) In order the the search engines to give your website importance and a higher rank, you need to value your website. If you don't value your website, neither will the search engines and neither will your visitors, if you ever have any. So, what does "valuing" a website look like? Simple: "Blood, Sweat, and Tears". Not what you were looking for? Then forget about making a website. OK, OK, now what does "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" look like? It simply means that you have to put a LOT of thought, planning, writing, and organization into the website. Here's where to start.

When your visitors land on your page, what is the first things that they see? You want to immediately grab their attention. When someone arrives at your website or web page,he usually won't read the whole page. The first thing they do is quickly scan the page to see if there is anything of value to them.  Use pictures, drawings, headings...

  • At or near the top of page you should have a picture or drawing that illustrates a feature of the page
  • Headings are the larger bold text at the top of each paragraph or group of paragraphs. Each heading should summarize the paragraph(s) below it in just a few (3 to 5) words. By quickly scanning the paragraphs the visitor can easily spot the content he might want to read.

Add Content As You Need It

As part of the idea that your website is a living (almost) breathing organism, Always be open and willing to add content as you need it. For example, if you are preparing an estimate for a client, and you need to explain something in detail to that client, create a new web page or add a paragraph to an existing webpage. Write the information in detail. As well as writing the information for the current client, add any other addition information on the subject. Do you have any pictures about the subject? Add those pictures to the article. Did you have to do any research to find the information? If so, put a link to the page where you found the information.

Adding content to answer real questions by real clients will make your website valuable to other clients as well. When you are responding to a client's request it is much easier to write it out in detail than it is just trying to make up questions and answers.

Get into the habit (make yourself do it) of adding content to your website every time you need to explain something in an email to a client, The best time to create the page or add some intormation to the websit is immediately when it is fresh in your mind. Rather than writing it out twice, I've learned to just write it out once right on the website page. Then, when I'm done, I'd put a link to the new page in my email. This will take the client to the website.

Another benefit of putting the content on the website and sending the client a link is that I can add or change the content after I've sent the email to the client. In the past I have written out an explanation to the client in my email and sent it off to the client. Afterwards I'll remember some other things I should have said, or I may have said something incorrectly. The benefit of putting in on the web page rather than in the email is that I can make additions or corrections to what I said after I've sent the email to the client.

Write What You Know

As a professional you know a lot that would be useful to others. When you write articles about what you know it is a.) easier for you to write AND b.) it is valuable to your potential clients.

Before I proceed, let me talk about one thing. Some professionals may be afraid that if they put too much on their website, then they may lose business to people doing it themselves. There is some truth to that.However, you are the professional. Think, how many years did it take you to acquire your skills? In addition, there is a big difference between telling someone how something was done in contrast to telling someone how to do something. Just because some sees or reads how something was done doesn't mean that they could or will try to do it.

But, if you write quality content you will gain more clients that you will lose. In addition, your visitors will

Get Tough With Yourself.

This is number one: Throw away your excuses, "I can't write" or "I don't know how to write", "I don't know what to put on it", "I'm too busy", "I haven't got time" and every other excuse you use.

Take A Long Term View

Great websites don't put themselves together overnight. They take planning, effort and diligence. Realize that to make a valuable website will take your devoted effort over a period of weeks, months and years. Not what you wanted to hear? Get over it. This website (Upholstery Resource) has been in process for something like 6 or 8 years. It has been through several major revisions and rebuilding.

The Writing Process

Good writing is a process. It doesn't just happen. Here are some basic steps to writing a good article.

  • Research
  • Find Pictures
  • Make Lists
  • Freewrite
  • Brainstorm
  • Outline
  • Write Rough Draft
  • Revise and write content
  • Proof read

Plan for Success

  • Keep a pencil and notebook (or your computer) close by at all times. Write down any ideas as they come. At first it may be only a few words or a sentence at a time. Go ahead and keep writing it all down. The more you write, the more ideas come.
  •  

Find Your Voice

This basically means to write out your ideas in a way that makes sense to you. Use your own words, say it in plain English. Don't try to be fancy or clever. Number one goal, make it easily understandable.

Choose Your Audience

Who are the people that you want to attract to your website?
What are they intested in?

How to Generate Ideas

Unless you already know what you want to say it greatly helps to generate some ideas.
What are the main questions have your clients asked you over the years? Write out those questions.
Group questions into similar topics. Each group of similar questions can form the beginning of a web page.

Search the Internet for:

  • upholstery shop websites
  • upholstery information websites.
  • upholstery blogs

Read through many other upholstery websites, write down any ideas that come to you.
Bookmark any interesting web pages. Also bookmark any websites that you like the appearance and layout. This will give you ideas of how to design your own website.

Make a regular time (perhaps every day) to read those upholstery websites, articles, and upholstery blogs.

User Headings to outline your content.
Make the headers descriptive
Make the first sentence of each paragraph simple and interesting (descriptive)

Keep a list of topics to write about

Write a Blog on your website

For more information, Read the web pages listed under References below.
 

References

Writing For The Web
How Users Read on the Web
How to Write Articles
How to Write an Article in 20 Minutes
Writing User Friendly Content
Learn How to Write an Article Correctly
How to Write a Web Site Creative Brief

 

Tags: 

Websites

 

Structure

Appearance

Content

How will it be entered?

  1. Client types out text and gives it to me with the pictures.
  2. I work with the client in writing the text and taking the pictures
  3. Client enters everything themselves.
  • I walk them through the first times.
  • I give them written instructions

Organization

How will the content be organized?

Audience/Clients

Who is the audience or clients that you are trying to reach? This will direct what you say, how you say it. It will guide you in designing the appearance of the website.

Function

Do you see your website more as static where clients just come and read information, or would you like your clients be able to interact with you or others on the website?

Budget

For your personal consideration: What is your budget? How much are you prepared to spend to get the website up and running? This will help you decide how much you will do yourself and how much help you want in planning, writing,

Timeline

How quickly do you want your website up and running?

How much do you have to prepare content?

Is much of the content ready for use, or does it yet have to be written or prepared?

Your Business or Organization

Is your business just starting or how long has it been in operation

 

Maintenance

Initial Setup

It would get up and running a lot quicker if they just gave me the text and the pictures and I put it all together.

Would need a discussion as to what they wanted, and what the long term goals were.

Domain Name

Hosting

 

What will my function be?

Set up and Maintain

Set up and train

Set up and hands off, give them links to instructional material

 

Sample,

Make up a page of pictures of website themes

make a list of standard and optional modules

 

Questionaire

Do you like to write? What type of writing do you do in your business?

Do you need help writing the content for your website?

Who currently designs the other advertizing for your business?

Do you like to take pictures? Do you have many pictures that you could use on a website? Do you need any help taking pictures?

Are you a hands-on type of person?

How involved do you want to be involved in the setup, design... and maintenance of your website?

Do you want someone else to create and maintain your website, or do you want to take a hands-on approach and some or most of it yourself?

How knowledgeable and comfortable are you with computers?

Do you enjoy working on computers?