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:
- 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.
- Sign up for a free website. Wordpress and Google sites are but two examples. See details below.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Friendship Upholstery: About Us
- U of M -Upholstery Shop & Furniture Repair: About Us
- World Upholstery: About Us
- NCA: About Us
- The Miami Corp: About Us
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.
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....
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.
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 http://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.
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.
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.
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)
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 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.  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.