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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: wordpress

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 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.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.

– 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

– 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!

Power to the Consumer – dealing with Social Media and Public Complaints

So they got you…one of your customers had a bad experience and now they are online telling the world about it.

In fact, they are so upset that they started a website or blog up and are actively denouncing your company. You went out and did a Google search and they are popping up on the same page as your website.

There’s your company and then right below it, bam. It’s that customer…the one that is really, really mad.

Well, how do you fix it so this guy isn’t second on the list behind your good name?

Unfortunately, most of the business people I talk to think that the customer is in the wrong. That it isn’t their fault and that they did the right thing. But it isn’t really about right or wrong when it comes to the damage a customer can cause to your online presence.

It’s about turning that customer into someone who loves you no matter the initial cost.

That’s crazy talk. No, not for a small business or even a large one.

I believe all you have is customer service. Today almost anyone can do what you do for your customers. The biggest difference between you and your competitors is how you treat them before, during and after they do business with you.

Everyone knows it’s 5x, 7x, 10x more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an old one.

And you believe that then you’ll do what it is to keep that customer happy no matter how insane you may think they are. But believe me, they aren’t insane in their own head. Make it right.

I’ll give you two examples that happened to me this weekend. One was at a sushi restaurant. I won’t mention the name because I didn’t feel that slighted but my wife sure did.

We had never been there before and had a coupon from a mailer. We walk in and there was no hostess. We waited and waited and waited. At least three or four minutes.

A large crowd of five or six came in behind us. They passed us, went to the bar. The hostess then came out from around the bar, greeted those people then came up to the hostess stand, grabbed some menus, gave us an apologizing look and said, “I’ll be right with you.”

She sat those people and then came back to us.

She greeted us. My wife said, “Did you know those people? Do they own the restaurant?”

The young girl said no. My wife said, “We were here before them. Why did they get seated before us?”

She didn’t have an answer. My wife likes things to be fair. This tainted the entire experience. We left and the people behind us who had just walked in left as well. So the very young hostess (who is your first impression for a new restaurant) just cost the owner $100 from us and probably $200 from the four top behind us.

Plus we’ll never go back. You only get one chance with my wife.

The next place we went to was brand new. A burger place with brew. I was excited. We walked in to a mop bucket unattended next to the front door. Yeah, we didn’t even look at the menu.

Two small businesses. Lost revenue. And we’ll never go back. And my wife who is at WOM machine will be very happy to pass her complaints along any time anyone mentions those two new restaurants.

So the fact that you have a customer that is unhappy and willing to talk about it online is both a very good thing and a very dangerous thing. Good because at least they are talking in an environment where you could deal with it. Like those restaurants will probably never know that my wife is hurting their business.

But onine is more dangerous than you can imagine because there are plenty places to talk (social media) outside of your site – especially if your site doesn’t even allow for that type of interaction. You know because you don’t want people talking bad about you on your site.

Here’s what one of our creative directors said about people talking negatively on your company’s site. Leigh Marino (awesome smart creative) likened those upset customers to her new puppy. This puppy liked to dig. Every time they were outside in the yard, the puppy tore up her flowers and her garden. After a couple of times at this, Leigh decided to make a space in the yard for the puppy to go to town on. A spot to rip her yard to shreds. Now the puppy was happy because he was going to rip something to shreds anyway and Leigh was happy because it wasn’t her flowers.

The idea behind this is that you are not going to make every customer completely happy. But when they do have a complaint, let them come to you and tell you about it. Let it be on your website for others to see. Then do what you can to contact this customer and make them happy. When you finally do, they will retract or if they don’t, you can let others see how you responded to the complaint and how you made amends.

But if you don’t do anything and you let that person have a voice out there on the internet without any response, the damage can be desvastating to a business.

Consumers are starting to understand this more and more. They know that their opinion of you counts more than just who they can reach in their small network of face to face friends. They can reach every single one of your customers searching for you on the net if they are smart enough about it.

Here’s some places they can do it.

If it were me, I would start a free blog on blogger or wordpress to talk about what happened. I would use a URL that had their name in it. I would use the company’s name over and over to make sure the keywords were there. I would link my blog to all the sites above and anything else I could find. I would contact the local media and pitch my story to them. This stuff would probably take me a week but I’ll bet you I’d be showing up really close to their direct searches in Google. Heck, I might even buy a few adwords to make sure I did.

Sending me a cease and desist or taking me to court would be the wrong thing to do here. That would cause me to flame even louder on the net. Then my fellow bloggers would get wind of “the man” coming down on someone who is just trying to right a wrong. Then it would spread like wild fire.

Hopefully, you are seeing my point about how effective this type of consumer complaint can be and how you should be prepared to deal with it. I’m going to say it again. Make it right. And make sure everyone they talked to knows you made it right.

Next time, I’m going to write about how you can get that consumer complaint website off certain search results for your company. It takes some time and some effort but you can do it.

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