Don Schindler

Digital Strategy & Executive Social Media Trainer

Tag: build

Seven Steps On How To Build A Farm Website Yourself

death star website

Your website is the only thing you truly own.

Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions about building your own website. Farmers have been asking me if they can do it.

The answer is, of course, you can.

Is it hard? Nope, not compared to back in the day (mid 90’s) when you had to handcode everything. Websites are much easier to build and there’s several companies that would love to do it for you like Wix or Square Space.

But if you want to DIY it. Here’s how I would go about it.

1. Get your content together first!

  • Get photos
  • Write the text
  • Make some videos

Honestly you would not believe how many people want to jump right into the website build without any content prepared. How do you know what you want to say?

When it comes to a print brochure, you never start the design without having the content. The content is crucial to the design. Websites are no different. Start with the content first!

What content is normal? I would see these as navigational items on a dairy farm website followed by what question it answers for the customer.

  • Milk Production – How is milk made?
  • Animal Care – How do cows live?
  • Our Community – What is it like where you live?
  • About Our Farm – What else is on your farm? How does it run?
  • Contact Us – How do I ask another question?
  • Journal/blog – How can I see what it is really like to live on a farm 24/7?

 

fair-oaks-website

Fair Oaks Call To Action – VISIT THE FARM

2. Think about what you want people to do or know about your farm.

This is your CALL TO ACTION. Make this the most important call out on the website. Think about these questions when you are putting it together.

  • Do you want people to reach out to you if they have questions?
  • Do you want people to visit the farm? Maybe take a tour?
  • Do you want people to sign up for an email list – you can give them updates on the farm, share recipes, tell them when BLANK is going on…
wordpress-logo

WordPress.com or WordPress.org are both good choices for small sites

3. Should you setup with wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org? Well, that depends.

First you need to ask yourself “why” you want to self host. Here’s a general list of pros and cons.

Pros
– you have almost full control
– you can add content pretty easily
– lots of people use wordpress so there’s a ton of help online
– lots of design templates to choose from

Cons
– can be complicated to set up
– there are monthly costs (domain and hosting)
– can be limiting down the road if you need more features
– there are always updates that you need to be installing

Why I initially went with wordpress.com?

  1. No cost
  2. No worries on set up
  3. Search engines love WP.com

Why I switched:

  1. I wanted more control over the plugins I could use.
  2. The costs are very small.
  3. I wanted to capture email addresses and have more control over the design.

Personally, if you are new to blogging or websites, I recommend wordpress.com. It’s a lot easier to set up and get going.

If you are looking for something even easier than wordpress – I recommend blogger or tumblr.

But if you really want to use wordpress.org and control your own website then I recommend using WP Beginner or WP Learner. Read through the beginning steps before starting.

If you select, wordpress.org you can buy your domain through them or buy it through another company like 1and1.com. These are not affiliate links – I just happen to use them.

You’ll also need hosting. You can buy that through several companies. The guides will explain all of this. There are many companies out there and I’ve used GoDaddy, Hostgator and Rackspace to name a few.

4. Selecting a good design template
Both wordpress.com and .org have great templates. There are several things that I’m looking for in a template.

  1. Mobile friendly/optimized. More people are reading with their portable devices and you don’t want to be a pain for them.
  2. Clean design focused on large photos/graphics. Don’t get something to clutter – the user’s eye won’t focus on the content you want them to.
  3. The ability to add right or left side widgets but not both. I like sharing widgets how to connect with me and capture email as well as show them what posts are popular.

5. Make time to write once a month or more.
Putting time on the calendar is the most important thing. Block the time it takes and spend the time it takes. Don’t underestimate the time because then you’ll blow it off. You are going to need a few hours for your first posts. After that it gets easier.

What topics should you write about? Well, that depends.
Everyone is going to tell you to write about your passion which I assume is your farm. I write about marketing and how to do it better. That keeps me going.

But if you want to attract an audience, which I’m pretty sure you want to do then you should be writing about what your customers want to know about farming.

Most farmers I know are awesome storytellers and you should incorporate that into your writing. If the topic is animal care, then don’t just bullet point the checklist you follow for cow health.

Write a story about how you accomplished the checklist or what went wrong and how you fixed it. Nobody wants talking points – they want to laugh, cry or think about what happened on the farm. And some days a picture can be all that is necessary to convey this.

What topics would I focus on?
Animal Care, dairy farming activities, struggles and successes, how the community plays a role in the farm, how you play a role in the community, what you feed your family, what you do for fun with the family, how you are improving your farm, your opinion on just about anything, what hobbies you have…remember most people are pretty far removed from the farm and they are intrigued with the lifestyle.

6. Set up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
After you get the website up and running, it’s time to add some tools that will make your life easier.

Add Google Analytics – this will let you know what people are doing on the website. Where they are going, what they like, what they are sharing, where they are coming from.

Add Google Webmaster Tools – this will tell you how the website is performing in Google’s search engine eyes. Can they search it effectively? What keywords are people searching on and finding your website? What pages are broken? All sorts of great stuff and it’s free.

7. Getting exposure.
The final step is probably the toughest when it comes to having a website. How are people going to find it? While I have a few steps you can do, I’m definitely going to be writing a larger post about getting your website out there but in the meantime here’s a few tips.

  • Share your posts on social media as much as you can. I hate to bust your bubble but most people don’t see everything you post – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. So I would be oversharing as opposed to undersharing. And by social media, there is more than just Facebook out there. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, etc… If you are serious about blogging, then you need to be serious about using social media for the exposure and interaction.
  • Share with the search engines. You can use pingomatic.com to post and it will ping the search engines to come check out your content. BTW, Google normally visits a site once a month until you get popular then they could visit a few times a day.
  • Share via email. When you are first starting out, it’s ok to spam the family until they get tired. Make sure to ask them to share as well. You never know who they are all connected with.

OK, well that’s basically it for the beginner level. If you have questions along the way, feel free to hit me up and I’ll try and answer them. You can leave a comment below or just email me using the links on the right hand side.

Good luck. Can’t wait to see your site!

How do you create and build a personal brand?

First, what is a personal brand?

Most people think of celebrities as the only people who have personal brands but the truth is that everyone has them.

It’s just that celebrities usually get paid a ton of money and have the access to endorsement platforms. We (the audience) can’t help but notice their personal brand because a company is advertising it to get their product more exposure.

But here I’m just talking about you and the personal/professional brand that you project to others. If you need a definition of personal brand, I really like this one.

A brand is a person’s perceptions of their experiences with you.

If people think you are a good listener and then you do what you say you are going to do for them, they will form a good opinion of your personal brand. If you do the opposite, then you know what happens.

I also love what Glenn Llopis says about branding in this article on Forbes, “Your personal brand should represent at the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.”

Consistently is the keyword there. Trust of your brand is built up over time but it can be destroyed pretty quickly if you veer off the consistent path of your brand perception.

In this day and age of hyper connectivity and massive information overload, your personal brand can help raise your profile and get people to notice who you are quickly.

if-I-had-nickel

This is how most people feel all the time.

 

In Harvey Coleman’s book, “Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed” he talks about the PIE chart – Performance, Image and Exposure.

PIE-chart

How performance, image and exposure have changed from the past to now

Performance means your day-to-day work and results.

Image means what other people think of you and your work.

Exposure means who knows who you are and what you do.

Mr. Coleman maintains that what we are told is that our performance means everything to your career – if you do the work, keep your head down and just work a little on your image, you’ll be fine.

That may have worked in the theory but it’s not how it works now.

While your performance means the world to your brand, you have to put significant thought into your image and work on getting exposure. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

PERFORMANCE: Can you say that you know what you are doing and you can answer questions about it?

If you can’t answer this yourself, you really need to stop and question what it is that you do. This should not be confusing or vague to you because your entire brand will be built on this. It can change over time or position, but it is the essence of your brand.

IMAGE: Do you feel like others trust you with what you say you do? People have very acute sense of BS detectors when you talk about what you do.

You should have an acute sense of how they are reacting to you when you talk about what you do.

EXPOSURE: Do others come to you instinctively when they need something related to your field?

This should not be defined by your title. And don’t blame others if they aren’t coming to you, it’s your fault if they don’t know what you do. I hear that quite a bit that people should know – no, they shouldn’t just know – they should be exposed to what you do.

More importantly, do you feel that management knows what you do, is excited about what you do and would come to you if they needed help?

This can make or break your brand. If your boss and your boss’s boss don’t come to you, there’s a serious issue there.

When it comes to budget cuts, you’ll have a lot more issues defending your budget if they don’t easily understand what you do. This is branding.

 

How to build a brand

1. You need to define who you are professionally.

Every brand is a story. What’s your story? Here’s how you create your story.

What are you known for? What do you want people to think when they think of you?

Write a brand statement for yourself. Here’s a template I use.

To (target audience), (your name) is the (blank) provider/service of (blank) delivered through (blank).

Here’s mine…

To the dairy industry, Don Schindler is a thought leader for creative integrated marketing and communications solutions delivered by digital communications and educational training.

Here it is reduced to 140 characters: @donschindler is a creative marketing professional who teaches you how to use social media and digital communication tools.

2. You need to create your elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is how you would describe what you do to someone who has an issue that you can solve. You can provide them with a solution – you should always approach knowing you have a solution to their problem.

For me, my idea clients are people who are struggling with their communications especially digital communications.

Here’s my pitch.

I can give your staff the communication skills to tell a story to your audience that will get them to act the way you want. Even if you think all your staff knows how to do is send out a press release.

Guarantee to work. If not, you’ll get your money back.

The guarantee is to form the basis of trust. I know what I’m doing and I trust it to work if you follow my steps and are willing to do the work.

Because with every interaction (whether a question or conversation), I promise to give you the best possible return for your time taken with me. And you can trust me to be honest, to have your best interest in mind, to give you a reason, to focus on you and what you are trying to accomplish, etc… Just remember that trust is very fragile.

If you go off brand or don’t deliver, it will be broken and it’s very, very hard to earn back.

3. You need to craft your stories.

Trust me, you are a storyteller.

Now that you have your elevator pitch and the image definition of yourself, you should start crafting your stories that promote your image.

How do you craft your stories that match your brand image?

  1. Be You – authentic, natural you. This is where trust is the highest.
  2. Talk to people like friends – when you are talking with friends, do you worry about the story you are telling or do you just tell it? Most people have no problems telling stories when the pressure is off – you are relating what has happened that your friends would find funny or interesting. By “being you”, you relate authentic stories – this is what captivates an audience.
  3. Use your experiences – very few storytellers can use another’s story and pass it along as their own. Again, people have a high BS meter. You have experiences that should relate to what your audience wants to know. You might have to sit down and write them down – that’s ok – but don’t be inauthentic. It will burn you in the end.
  4. Practice – use your brand stories and watch out people react. Did they laugh, did they cry, were they indifferent? Over time, you’ll know which stories to use. Remember audiences want to react – they may not trust you in the beginning – but they want you to entertain them on both an individual level and in a group setting. With practice, you’ll get better and understand when to pause and when to speed up the story.

4. Getting exposure to your personal brand

Exposure = sharing.

I’m a big proponent of sharing and I wrote an entire post on it. It’s the secret to personal branding.

I view all social media as a chance to share and get exposure.

I do not view it as a “private” me area. If you want a private me area, then I suggest using other platforms beyond social media.

Now I know I’m the digital guy but I believe in the traditional tools of the trade for personal branding. You need this foundation set before moving on to anything shiny and new like social media.

You will need these things for personal branding:

  • Business Cards – still the industry standard
  • Attending Events – going to events and meeting people face-to-face will help you the most in establishing trust
  • Join Peer Groups – masterminds, business networking, sports, etc… all can help your personal brand
  • Email Signature – you need to make sure people know who you are when you reach out or you get passed along on an email thread
  • Corporate Blog – getting on your company’s blog can give you a ton of exposure to your industry
  • Social Media Websites – passing along relevant information attached to your brand can give you exposure to people you would have never met physically

Whether you gather contacts from an event or online connection, all of them need to be housed in a central location.  This can be your company’s CRM (customer relationship management) tool or if you want to just use LinkedIn or a simple spread sheet in Google Docs (keep in the cloud so you don’t lose it if your computer dies).

Your email tool, like Outlook, is not a CRM and is difficult to transfer data back and forth between other tools.

With digital communications tools you can shape your professional brand to make it look the way you want it to. Here I’m talking about the different social media tools.

BLOG POWER
My home on the web
Can be done for free
Search engines love blogs
Easy to do and gives you personality
Comments/Feedback
Inbound links
No one can change the rules on your death star
Here’s my how to get started using a blog.

LINKEDIN POWER
It’s the easiest to maintain
More connections gives you a bigger network
Your online resume and portfolio
Public recommendations
Groups to help networking
Connected to Twitter and Facebook with a third party application
Here’s how to get started using LinkedIn.

LINKEDIN TIPS
Connections are everything – connect with everyone you meet in business.
Correct people’s profiles and summaries for advanced search.
Groups can be strong but difficult to maintain.
Tag others in updates to get their attention.
Understand there is more reading/stalking then interaction.
Use LinkedIn Pulse and share relevant content to your networks.

FACEBOOK POWER
Large network – 1.25 billion people
Professional and personal life blend the most
Share, Comment, Like, Friend
Positive messages are shared more
The use of lists is a must to control the algorithm
Your digital diary
Here’s how to get started using Facebook.

FACEBOOK TIPS
Try and use graphics or videos with links to drive back to website.
Funny stuff drives a lot of engagement along with questions.
Worry more about engagement and not numbers (straight from Facebook).
Pay for play on Facebook.
Use employee advocates to engage in company posts. (Make sure you have social media compliance)

TWITTER POWER
Fastest way to meet people you don’t know
News and rumors travel fast
Lots of noise and marketing garbage
Use lists to control\
Follow advocates and monitor detractors
Able to track conversations and trends
Here’s how to get started using Twitter.

TWITTER TIPS
Use common hashtags (creating your own is hard)
Use tools like ManageFlitter, Tweepi, or TweetAdder to add people
Use favorites to get people to follow
Do NOT auto-reply
Tweets with links in the middle
Use third party apps to control like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Tweetcaster.
Use search to answer questions

PINTEREST TIPS
Visual search (much better than traditional)
Recipes, clothes, decorations, crafts, infographics, and more…
Heavy use by women
70 million users and growing
Can drive extreme traffic to websites
Still a new network
Here’s how to get started using Pinterest.

Other Networks
Instagram – Here’s how to get started using Instagram
YouTube – Here’s how to get started using YouTube

Don’t have How To’s on these networks yet but I recommend checking them out.
Snapchat
Yelp
Flickr
Vine
Jelly

Secrets of Personal Branding Success Online

  1. Help others first. Highlight them, encourage them and in return they will be there for you.
  2. Don’t rant or be a Debbie Downer. Negative posts garner initial attention but it fades quickly.
  3. Don’t try and do all networks at once. Pick one and dig deeper.
  4. Schedule some time for it. 20 minutes a day if you can.

5. Monitor and Measure Your Brand

 

There are a couple of free tools that can help you monitor your brand.

Talkwalker Alerts – This will monitor you on the web.
Mention.com – This will monitor you via social media.

To measure your brand simply ask people who they think you are and what you do.  If they don’t know or get it wrong, then you need to adjust your message or possibly your exposure.

Make sure you are googling yourself – what does it say you are?

Make sure you sign out if you are logged into Google and delete your history so it doesn’t effect your search. It’s even better to check from an outside source or computer.

So a long blog post but I think it’s got some really good stuff in there. What would you add?

Seven Things You Need To Know About Building A Website

Kid Screaming at Mom

"Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM, MOMMMM!" Creative Commons - mindaugasdanys

First and foremost, you should have a good reason to build a website. Most people do have good reasons but they don’t write them down. Take the time to write down why you are building this web property.

Objectives
You should have an objective or multiple objectives that you want to achieve. For example, you want people to understand what you are researching or teaching. You want people to donate their time or money to your mission.

Target Audience
You should have an understanding of your target audience. Who are they? Do they normally use the web? How do they get their information about what I do?

Story
What’s your story that you want to tell them? So many people don’t figure out the story they want to tell before they begin to build their tactics like a website to reach the people they want to talk to. It reminds of a child chasing after their mother, yelling incessantly, “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom…” When she finally stops and turns around to say, “What?” The child responds with “I don’t know.”

Strategy
This is what you are going to do and for me, there’s usually only a few strategies out there.

“Outreach” strategy – every tactic (the how) must fall into how you are going to reach the viewer. You are everywhere that your user may be looking for you, seeking your kind of help.

“Expert” strategy – every tactic must fall into how you are going to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about in your field. You are someone that can help them solve their problem.

“Resource” strategy – every tactic must fall into how you are going to give something to the viewer that will help them solve their problem.

There are many others. Like for instance, Southwest’s strategy was to be the lowest cost airline provider. If you added cost without making it cheap to fly then the tactic was rejected. They were always looking to make it cheaper to fly than with anyone else.

Tactics
Your website is a tactic. Granted, I believe it is one of the most useful tactics but it still should be treated like a tactic.

There are lots of other tactics like magazines, brochures, and white papers but let’s stick to the website.

So you have your objectives, target audience and story to fill your website with. What should you do next?

  1. Think about your objective and then pinpoint an action that would make the website a success. For instance, the website is a success if people give us their email addresses and want a relationship with us. Or they fill out a survey. Or they read our blog/watch a video (measured by time on site). Continue reading

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