I knew I wanted to write a long time ago, I started out in Journalism and moved into other forms of writing. I read all the famous writers, Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Poe, Dreiser, London, Twain, Salinger, Vonnegut, Lewis, Tolkien, and many others. I settled on Steinbeck as my favorite. I’ve read almost everything he mass published and I owned copies of most of the novels for a while, I gave my collection to a local school a couple of years ago with a few exceptions. I still read him over and over and I do have my favorites.

Alex Haley inspired me to expand my Genealogy Research and to try to tell the story. He also taught me to make sure it was as accurate as possible. He was sued because he did not disclose in Roots that he was adopted. There were also allegations of Plagiarism thrown against him and he ended up penniless. It’s a shame because Roots had a huge impact on both Genealogy and Television.

Television writers have inspired me. People like Earl Hamner have taught me to explore and produce the story. Hamner created “The Waltons,” and “Falcon Crest”, two series shows that I really enjoyed. Writers like Sid Caesar,  Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks have brought me decades of laughter.

For my photography, I can not pin down a specific person who inspired me. I am inspired by nature and most of my photography is based out of doors. I also like cool mechanical things, like planes, trains and ships. It’s the subject, more than a specific person that gets those juices going. There is one person who I do credit for my ability to design websites and also my photographic results. This person is not a web designer or photographer. He was a teacher I knew many years ago, while in High School. He had charge of the stage plays we produced and taught me about creating the picture, watching the balance, making sure things were in their best light, literally. Color balances, depth of scene and perspective, things he taught me then, still apply to the other mediums where I create now. He is and has been a public figure for years since his teaching days, so I will not include his name.

It doesn’t matter who or what inspires you. Take that inspiration and combine it with your creativity and talent. The results could end up stunning and be worthy of world wide recognition.

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

This may be true in a lot of places, but it is not necessarily true on the Internet. You have heard the term SEO? That stands for Search Engine Optimization. While search engines do catalogue and retain pictures effectively now, the primary search is still text. After finding something, you may search pictures too, but not primarily.

So, what does this mean? It means you have to have a Wordsmith who knows the rules of the engines and also knows how to write text that will bring customers to you during these searches. Key words bring the search to your site. What are you selling? Sit down and write out a list of words that define your product. Then write those words into a text description in a readable form.

Be careful not to duplicate too much, because the search engines tag that as “stuffing.” Many years ago, a group of designers came up with a tactic of putting a lot of words at the bottom of the page in the same color as the site background. You could tell the sites who had done this by the huge blank spot at the bottom of the page. You won’t see that much any more. It looks bad and most search engines will penalize a site that does it now.

If you do include pictures or graphics, remember to put a text description in the Alt section of the picture. This not only gives non-graphic users a description, it enhances your SEO.

Don’t understand any of this, hire a Professional to write the content for your site.

Most Businesses Do Need A Professional Website!

I have been selling and designing websites for over 27 years now. I had one of the first websites on the Internet when it went public. I encouraged as many people as possible to do the same thing. Now, a website is a given for any business that wants to attract customers online.

Yes, it can be expensive to hire a professional, especially if you want a high end website with lots of bells and whistles or a website with a shopping cart. Those sites take specialty software or programming and those coders don’t come cheap.

What I have seen that I think is deplorable, are web designers or companies trying to charge small businesses thousands of dollars for a website in the most simple form. They give all of us a bad name and cause potential customers to do one of two things. They either don’t do a website at all or they go running to one of the freebie “build your own sites” and then everyone loses. The designers lose any revenue they might have gained and the customer loses because they create a website that looks horrible. It takes talent to design a site properly, even with those templates.

There are thousands of people who claim to be web designers on the planet. Everyone has an uncle, cousin or friend who brags, “I’ll design you a site, don’t pay those prices.”  If I was going to pass a law, it would be against well intentioned amateurs taking business away from professionals. Why? They may be ok at design, but rarely are they up to speed on proper SEO, Google and other Search engine parameters and also maintaining the site and being available if something breaks. They also probably do not have marketing experience to show you how to integrate your site into your overall marketing plan. Heck, many web designers don’t know how to do all this. They build your site and run as fast as they can.

I have decades of consulting, marketing and web design experience. Yes, I can build you a site and walk away, but normally I try to develop a deeper experience than that. That way you can call on me for more than just slapping a few pages on the net.  My basic site charge ranges from $595 and up if you want full ownership of your site. For those who are more concerned about cost, I charge $100 and then $20 a month. You don’t own  the site for three years. You quit paying the $20 and your site disappears. This works well for startups who aren’t sure what is going to happen with their business!

Contact me at: Doug’s Country for more information about my web design and other services.

A Facebook Page is not a Substitute for a Branded Website

I have been writing and selling websites for a long time now. Long before the invention of Social media and long before Facebook happened. Long before so many businesses were lured to a false belief that they had achieved a web presence because they put up a free Facebook Page.

First,  Facebook Page promotes Facebook primarily and your brand as a secondary notion. Why promote another brand on any internet page unless you are making money promoting it.

Second, you do not control the Facebook Environment. They do whatever they want to your account and there have been multiple changes that are good for Facebook, but give no value to you, or your company.

Third, Facebook is a tool, it is NOT a website. On a website, you tell your customers about your brand in a format you control. Your brand is front and center and your message is conveyed. You cannot be assassinated without caution, because Mark Zuckerberg or one of his pimpled underlings, decides to change things on a whim.

Fourth, Facebook can be a dangerous environment. One nasty post there can do massive harm to your business overnight. Especially if that posting is untrue and no merit in fact. If you decide to go ahead and risk Facebook, you should consider hiring a Professional to manage your account.

Visit the Web Design page at Doug’s Country to start the process of buying your own Branded Website.