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Building a Small Business Website with Blogger – Part 2

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business-siteIn the first installment of this mini-series, we examined why you may like to use Blogger to build a website for your small business as opposed to creating an HTML based site from scratch. Blogger is a free service, which offers a powerful yet easy to use interface: since there are no costs for hosting a blog with Blogger, expenses are greatly reduced. Furthermore, a blog is much easier to update than a regular website, which ensures you can always make sure your pages are up-to-date and can even offer company news to potential clients for product updates and mroe.

Using examples of free Blogger templates, we delved into the possibilities of a professional business-like design and how certain template characteristics are more appropriate for a business based website than a regular blog.

For this second installment of “Building a Small Business Website with Blogger”, I’d like to offer some examples of how you can actually utilize Blogger to create important content for your site including:

  • Creating important pages for your contact details, an about page, product pages and even maps
  • Add easy-to-find links to these pages so potential customers can easily locate the information required
  • Presenting company news on your site without cluttering up the landing page

Let’s begin by examining how Blogger pages function and how we can use this to our advantage in creating an effective and professional site for a small business.

How we can create “pages” for our site using Blogger posts

Unlike other blogging platforms, Blogger does not provide us with the means of actually creating “pages” (as opposed to “posts”) for our sites.

The difference between “pages” and regular “posts” in other platforms is essentially the URL:

  • Pages would usually have a short URL such as www.yoursite.com/PageName
  • Posts would generally include a date in the URL string, for example: www.yoursite.com/2009/02/28/name-of-post.html

Blogger only allows us to create posts for our blog, which all include a date string within the URL.

However, I would like to point out that few (if any) visitors truly notice the URL string of pages within a website. In my experience using Blogger to create business sites and portfolios, I have never received negative feedback from visitors regarding the URL strings of pages in my sites. It really does not matter if your URL is slightly longer and it will not affect the overall experience of using your site, especially if ensure visitors are easily able to navigate through the pages of your site!

To create pages in our Blogger blogs for the presentation of important information, all we need to do is create a new post. Blogger allows us to use a WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get) or to code our posts manually using HTML code by clicking the relevant tabs in the post editor page (switch between Rich Text and HTML). This feature allows us to have almost complete control over how the post will appear on live pages in our sites.

You should also give each page a title which is relevant to the content presented within the post. Be sure to include any important keywords near the beginning of your title as these keywords will then form part of the URL string for the page and assist in search optimisation for your site.

For most types of pages, the WYSIWYG editing format will be sufficient: we can use this to write general content, format text and add images according to our needs (such as an “About” page, product information and company values).

Other forms of pages may require us to use the HTML editor, for example: a contact form, maps and driving directions.

Let’s take a look at some different types of pages you may require for your small business site with some suggestions on how these may be presented effectively:

An “About” page

infoThis is an essential page for any business website. An “About” page would explain to visitors and potential clients exactly what your business does, plus any other relevant information which could assert your business credentials.

It is easy to create an “about” page using the Rich Text version of the post editor. You can then add bold, italic and colored text as required; upload and position images, and format your information with ease.

A Contact page

Here is another essential page for any serious business based site: if you want to attract customers, you need to offer a means of contact to establish this business relationship.

Unless you intend for customers to contact you only by telephone or in person, you would need to edit the HTML of your post in order to create an effective contact page. While it is possible to simply type your business’ email address in the page, this could easily be picked up by spammers crawling the web for email addresses which would result in your inbox receiving truckloads of spam emails.

Instead, you should consider a different means of placing your email address in your contact page, such as a scrambled email link or a contact form. Once you have decided on this format, you will need to add the HTML code required for your email/contact form using the HTML section of the post editor.

Here are the most effective (and free) forms of creating a safe means of electronic contact on your site:

  • Scramble your email address and create an email link which hides your actual email address from spam-bots
  • Kontactr: a free contact form for your site (with seemingly no limitations on the amount of emails which can be sent).
  • Zoho Creator: a fully featured form creator which you can use to create contact forms, questionairres, feedback, registration and much more! The limit for free forms is capped, though prices are relatively low for sites which require many forms to be received and processed.
  • GrandCentral: a free Google service which allows you to receive voicemails through your blog.

With the exception of the email scrambler, these services will require you to register (for free, of course) and will provide you with choices to create your means of contact. Once you have built your form, you will be presented with the appropriate HTML code to copy and paste into your website.

To paste this into a post page, create a new post and add any other content as required. Then switch over to the Edit HTML tab, and paste the HTML code in your post where you would like the form to display. Then publish your post as normal.

Product Pages

If your business offers specific products or services which you would like to highlight in your site, you should consider adding pages specifically designed to showcase them.

For the most part, product pages could be created using Blogger’s rich text post editor. You can then write, format and add interesting images to your pages with ease.

However, there are several features which you may like to include in these product pages which would require editing the HTML code. For example:

  • Add a video/screencast via YouTube to offer a more in-depth visual analysis of your product
  • Include a slideshow generated by Flickr or Picasa

Again, after creating your feature, you will be presented with HTML code to paste into a page of your website. Be sure to switch over to the Edit HTML tab of your Blogger post editor to add these codes before publishing your post pages.

How to link to your important website pages

storefrontOnce you have created some pages for your small business website, you will need a means of linking to these in a manner which is easy for visitors to find. Ease of navigation is a key aspect of an effective business website design as it helps visitors find the information required from their visit and ensures a stress-free experience to assist the business relationship.

Enable Post Pages in your Blogger Settings

Before you can actually use the posts you have created as “pages”, you need to be sure you have enabled the each post to have it’s own page in your Blogger settings.

This is usually enabled by default when you create a new blog, but to check (and adjust this setting if necessary), go to Settings>Archiving in your Blogger dashboard and ensure the “Enable Post Pages” setting is set to “Yes”.

Get the URLs of your post pages

The first step to creating these links is to acquire the URLs of the pages you have created. The easiest way to do this is to go to the Posting>Edit Posts tab in your Blogger dashboard. Here you will be presented with a list of the posts you have published to your blog, along with links to “Edit” or “View” these pages.

To get the URL for each page, right click on the “View” link next to the post you wish to link to. Your browser should then present you with a list of options, one of which is “Copy Link Location” (or similar). Use this option to copy the URL of your active post to your clipboard, then paste this into Notepad or a simple text editor for future use.

You can do this for each blog page you would like to provide a link to within your blog layout; add notes to explain where each page links to in your Notepad document if you have a lot of pages!

Making Navigation Links

Depending on the template you are using for your Blogger powered site, there may already be provision for navigational links in your template.

All of the free themes listed in the first part of this mini-series offer in-built navigation links for important pages of your blog. These provisions are hard-coded into the template (rather than being generated by a Link List widget). To add your links to these templates, locate the section of code in your template where the links should be added, and paste the URL for your blog pages in the specified area. Refer to the customization instructions of the template you are using for full details of where to paste your links.

If you use a template which does not have navigation built into the template, you could add these links using a Link List widget in your blog sidebar.

To do this, go to Layout>Page Elements in your Blogger dashboard and click on the area where you would like to add your links. Choose to add a new Link List widget which will bring up a screen like this:

screen-shot01-mar-02-1402

Paste the URL of your page in the “New Site URL” section, and add a descriptive title for your link (eg: About Our Company) in the “New Site Name” section.

Repeat the process for the links you would like to add to this widget.

Once you have added more than one link to this list, you can reposition the link to appear higher up (or further down) in this list using the arrows to the left of your links.

Finally you can save these changes and see the active navigation widget appear in your Blogger template.

Note: it is advisable to position navigation links as high up in your blog design as possible. If you are using a Link List widget, drag this to the top of your sidebar in the Page Elements section of your dashboard to ensure it is clearly and easily visible to visitors of your site.

Add links to product pages as banners…

An effective way to showcase important products is to create a banner/image and link this to the appropriate page in your blog.

The simplest way to achieve this is by use of a Picture widget, added through the Page Elements section of your blog.

When configuring your image widget, you will be presented with the option to add a URL which your image will be linked to. Use this section to paste the URL of your blog page which you would like to link your banner to. It may also be useful to add a title (the name of your product?) and a caption (a brief explanation of your product) to the widget in order to make the banner link more effective and potentially clickable for new visitors.

How to present “news” without cluttering your landing page

business-newsThe beauty of using a blog to create a website for a small business is that it may be updated easily, making it an ideal medium to present company news and updates for new products.

Generally, blogs would display a summary or the entire content of recent posts on the home (landing) page. When using a blog as a business website, you may find that displaying new posts in this manner clutters the landing page and distracts attention away from important content and links to other important pages.

Instead, it is advisable to provide only headlines of news items on the home page which are linked to their appropriate pages. This declutters the home page ensuring attention is placed where it needs to be.

To display only the linked titles of recent posts on the homepage of your blog is relatively simple. You will need to edit the HTML code of your template in order to achieve this.

First, make a back-up of your existing template in case you make a mistake and need to restore a working copy of your template. To do this, go to the Layout>Edit HTML page of your blog and click on the “Download full template” link near the top of the page. Using this link will allow you to save a copy of your entire customized template to your computer’s hard-drive which can be used to restore your layout if necessary.

Next, tick the “Expand widget templates” box. The code we need to edit is within the Posts widget of your template and cannot be located unless this option is ticked.

Now locate the following section of code (or similar) using the search function of your browser:

<div class=’post-body entry-content’>
<data:post.body/>
<div style=’clear: both;’/> <!– clear for photos floats –>
</div>

If you cannot find this exact section of code, try searching for <p><data:post.body/></p> instead.

Once you have found this section of code, replace it with the following:

<b:if cond=’data:blog.pageType == &quot;item&quot;’>
<div class=’post-body entry-content’>
<data:post.body/>
<div style=’clear: both;’/> <!– clear for photos floats –>
</div>
</b:if>

The edited sections have been highlighted in bold: these additional lines of code ensure that the “post body” (the content of the post) is only displayed on the post page, not on search or archive pages.

To check if you have edited this section correctly, preview the changes to your template. You should now see that only the post titles and dates are displayed on your blog’s landing page while the body of the post remains hidden.

Once you are sure the template appears how you would like, you can save these changes to your layout.

Now you can add news to your Blogger driven website by creating a new post as normal; only the headlines of your posts will appear on the home page while the full content of your post will appear on these individual pages, linked to from the headlines for easy access.

An overview so far…

In this installment of “Building a small business website with Blogger”, we have looked at how to create pages for our business sites using Blogger’s inherent posts option. Different types of pages may require different formatting in order to be most effective: for example, it is useful to have a contact form on pages where contact details for your business are offered, while product pages may require the use of video to enhance the user’s experience.

Once pages have been created for important aspects of your business, we need a means for visitors to navigate and find the information required. By editing the template or adding links in a widget, we can provide visitors with a simple means of finding these pages.

Lastly we looked at a means of presenting new posts as news items and decluttering the home page. By presenting only post titles on the home page which are linked to their relevant posts of news items, we can transform the blog into a more professional and stylish site.

What’s Next?

In the next installment of this mini-series, I’ll explain how to link your custom domain to your Blogger powered site, apply consistent branding and create a a means for site and product updates which even the most tech-novice visitor can use and understand.

I hope you have enjoyed this mini-series so far. Please feel free to leave your opinions and suggestions by leaving a comment below.

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Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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Blogging

Blogging Is Not What You Are Doing But What You Are Being

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Phew!

Think this one through.

Blogging is what you are being. Not doing.

Blogging is not mindlessly doing stuff. Oh shoot. You realized something, didn’t you? Blogging is not building an email list. Email lists do not give you success. Nope. Clear, confident, detached bloggers who have fun building email lists and who trust in the blogging process grow big, responsive, profitable lists….over time. What does this mean?

“Over time” means you do not panic, flip out or bail on blogging, if you calmly build a list and have fun doing it, for a long time, and see the appearances of little or no growth. This is BEING a successful blogger; having fun, trusting, being patient, taking the simple, easy route, even if it feels uncomfortable after blogging and list building for a bit and seeing the illusion of scant results.

Most Bloggers Fail Because They Screw It Up

Most bloggers buy into a lie; doing specific things makes you successful. Nope. If this were the case, everybody who builds a list would be billionaires. Because they built a list, lists breed success, right? Nope. Even if you follow steps robotic-like, your energy, your emotions, your feelings, all make up your BEING. The 6 and 7 and 8 figure earners who happily take this journey are being the 6, 7 and 8 figure earners energetically, calm and confident, after having fun creating content and connecting, and seeing $4 in blogging profits after 6 months of being the person. Every other blogger panics after 1 day, 1 week or 1 month, stop being the millionaire success, do dumb stuff, begin being a broke person, and see struggle and failure until they decide to be the successful blogger again.

The Core Elements of Being a Success

Blog mainly:

  • for fun
  • taking the easy but uncomfortable path; do what feels natural to you, even when you slam into fear of wasting your time, fear of being criticized, fear of mental blocks, etc
  • with a complete trust in yourself
  • with a complete trust in the blogging process
  • with a complete trust in sound, proven advice from successful bloggers

Very few bloggers be these energies persistently. Very few bloggers happily earn a pretty penny over time. Few bloggers be success. Most bloggers try to do their way to success but since they act without giving any thought to their intent, their driver, their energy, almost all of these bloggers are being broke, poor, struggling and failing.

Blogging is not robotic. If blogging was robotic, every blogger who did specific things in a certain way would succeed. But this is not true. Blogging is energy. Top bloggers use all types of different approaches to reach the top. This indicates blogging is primarily energy, your energy coloring your actions and results.

Imagine if you feel like a failure. I advise you to write a guest post for me. You tell me you are lazy, have no ideas, cannot do it, need to take a few months off, etc. I offer you an opportunity to promote your success but since you are BEING a failure and feeling like a failure you are blind to the DOINGs (generous guest posting) of a successful blogger. See what I mean? Plus, if you seize the guest posting opportunity while feeling like a complete failure, either the post quality stinks or you write a masterpiece by the odd chance, that nobody reads. Nobody read it because you are feeling/being a failure, so, you see failure results.

100% of the time, blogging is energy. Being a success means blogging your fun, doing what feels easy and natural to you, trusting in self and the process, and feeling uncomfortable along the way.

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Blogging

Why Does Blogging Seem Hard?

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Aha!

The question of blogging questions.

Why does blogging seem hard?

Blogging in and of itself is not hard. Blogging is a concept. A blog is an inanimate object. It is neutral. It is not hard, tough or easy.

Human beings label their feelings with emotions. THIS is why blogging seems hard.

Why?

Doing the neutral activity of blogging feels scary, meaning you unearth and either resist or feel fears. Feeling the fears feels highly unpleasant. Especially if said fears feel deep, strong, and terrifying, depressing or anger-inducing.

But if you resist these deep fears, and refuse to feel them, and blog mainly from a dominant vibe of fear, you fully experience the feeling of blogging being super hard. Blogging is actually neutral but you refuse to feel deep fears that blogging has unearthed. You resisting fear leads to prolonged blogging failure, aka, not seeing much money and traffic, aka, blogging being really hard.

Real World Example

A few moments ago, I scanned one of my daily blogging income streams. I made a little less than I had been making for 1 of a billion reasons. 1 such reason may have been the internet crashing here last night. We experienced a few big, powerful thunderstorms.

Anyway, I noted the dollar amount being lower and felt fear arise in my body. Rather than resist the fear, I felt the anxiety, and my mind hurriedly racing ahead to next month’s paycheck, and then, after breathing deeply for a few moments and fully embracing the fear, I released it. I did not resist it. I felt it. The fear disappeared. I then blog from an abundant, relaxed, detached, generous energy, which helps me become more and more successful.

But the old me – and most bloggers – see a lesser dollar amount for daily earnings, feel an intense fear arise, panic, bury the fear versus feeling it, and run around like mad men and mad women with that DEEP FEAR DRIVING THEM, desperate and greedy, resisting the fear, being driven by fear, and of course, they do stupid stuff with a dominant fear energy guaranteeing their blogging failure. Then, these humans who refuse to face, embrace and feel fears, proclaim blogging to be hard. This is a lie. Blogging is neutral. But you refuse to face, embrace and release your fears, so blogging *feels* hard.

Solution

Feel fears when fears arise. Cry it out. Shout it out. Feel depressed or deflated.  Do not resist fear. Then, after feeling fears, you will feel good, detached, relaxed and trusting. Feeling these dominant abundant energies, you will create, connect, trust, persist and blog from a relaxed, chill energy. Blogging from this calm, trusting, generous energy makes blogging easier and easier and easier. Money flows in easy. Traffic flows in easy.

Blogging went from hard to easy because you faced fears, felt fears, and progressively blogged from an abundant, generous, calm, detached vibe.

Tip for Feeling Fear

Engage in some energy management ritual that expands your awareness. I do deep yin yoga and power walk daily. Prayer and/or meditation may help. Breathing deeply helps. Do anything that expands your awareness so you can observe and feel fear versus resisting this destructive energy.

Some humans bury fear with busy-ness and jobs they hate. Other people turn to drugs or alcohol to bury fears. All of these folks are unhappy and depressed because you cannot feel good, abundant, relaxed and successful with oodles of fear buried deep inside of you.

Be with your fears. Be gentle with yourself. The blogger who feels and releases fear soon learns blogging gets easier and easier.

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Blogging

Do You Need to Respond to ALL Comments?

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No.

One mistake holds back many bloggers who fail to scale. These folks obsess over responding to every single comment, every email, every message. Why? Pride. Obsession. Attachment to people. Fear of missing out on an opportunity. Fear of missing out on friendships.

Unfortunately, if you spend 14 hours daily responding to every single social request and chat and email and blog comment and message – even if it feels fun – you lose opportunities to scale through blog posts, guest posts, podcasts and doing interviews.

Please; if responding to virtually everything feels fun, do it. But 99% of bloggers BS themselves on this because they respond to EVERYONE from an energy of fear, pain, lack, resistance, force and hustle. Bad idea guys. Force negates. But, power attracts. Meaning if you are willing to use power, and love, and fun, to inject into your work, you quickly see: the cornerstone of massive scaling and persistent growth and freeing blogging success is writing, publishing and placing blog posts and guest posts.

Example

Today, how do I have most fun growing my business, reaching more people, helping more people, and leveraging my blogging presence? Do I achieve these feats by spending 3 hours responding individually to every retweet, Like, blog comment, and so on, and so on? Nope. I spend those 3 hours effectively and efficiently by writing and publishing 3-6 blog posts and guest posts. Blog posts and guest posts scale. Blog posts and guest posts help me reach hundreds to thousands of targeted folks through each blog post and guest post.

Blog posts and guest posts never seem to be written by people who complain about having no time to blog post, and, guest post. Meanwhile, a hefty chunk of these humans spend 1, 2 or 3 hours responding to every Like on Facebook, from a strained, forced energy, fearing they miss out on traffic and bonds, not having fun doing it. But the wise move would be spending 10 minutes responding to comments on Facebook and maybe a few Likes, then, devoting 2-3 hours to writing and publishing blog posts and guest posts.

Think Scale Not Small Time

WAY too many bloggers play small, giving most of their attention and energy to building 1 to 1 bonds. Making friends is important but meeting new friends is even more important.

One lesson I learned from millionaire bloggers: scaling through blog posts and guest posts is the quickest way to reach more people, make more money and increase your blog traffic. Building 1 to 1 bonds by engaging commentors plays a role in succeeding online, but the top bloggers on earth are not running around, spending endless hours responding to Likes on Facebook.

Titans scale.

Titans also build one to one bonds through engagement, but if you are not getting 1000 page views a day, something is wrong in the scaling department. Namely, you are playing it small, not thinking about scaling. Scale. Guest post. Post to your blog. Make this the focus of your day. Then, feel free to engage folks 1 to 1 in a limited time frame.

You need to let go responding to every single person all day long to genuinely scale, to reach an increasing number of folks and to do what matters most to your business.

People will buy your stuff without you engaging them. Guaranteed. Folks will find your blog, love your content and buy your course or eBooks. This is a simple, organic process that you muck up every time you believe you need to respond to and engage every single person who reaches out via all online channels.

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