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October Newsletter
Issued October 7th, 2006

Greetings.

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I would like to start by recognizing the newest sites to the CCFDesign Community.

DryC reek Ranch

Boer Goats in Missouri

Misty Woods Boer Goats

Boer Goats in Missouri

Back 2 Nature Boers

Boer Goats in Illinois

This month's Agenda:

1.  Flyers and Tri-Folds
2.  Business Cards
3.  Business Paypal Account
4.  Phishing
5.  Server Downtime
6.  Testimonials
7.  Goat Kingdom
8.  Special

1. Flyers and Tri-Folds

I got a request earlier in the year to do a flyer for a Missouri Boer Goat Production Sale (which I just realized was held today -- and if I would have sent this out sooner, I probably could have given them some free advertising).

An additional service I have is creating original work for printing. In this case, I did the entire design, and went to a local printer, negotiated a good price for printing and shipping and got these out to them. I have also done tri-folds (below), business cards (also below) and magnetic banners for animal trailers.

For this flyer, we opted for regular laser printer paper (instead of a higher gloss or thicker stock), and I was surprised at the quality of the color printing. I am sure higher gloss or thicker stock would have produced something even better, but for the price difference, it might not have been worth it (which is a testament to how good these turned out).

If you would like to see the flyer, I have some thumbnail images below. You can click on them to bring up a larger image in a new window.

Now, I need to contact them to find out how they did on the sale.

I do want to add that they wanted to advertise on BoerGoats.com's main page, but by the time they contracted me to do the flyer (which was in early June - 4 months ago), the premium BoerGoats.com ads were sold out -- so, if you are with an organization planning a sale like this and want to get quality advertisement, earlier planning is likely required.

DryC reek Ranch

DryC reek Ranch

Click either of the images to see larger images in a new window
(which are still smaller than the print quality ones).

Additionally, I did a tri-fold for a couple of people, including one for my own site (not that I am in position to go to shows to advertise). If you would like to see the tri-fold, click the image below (it will open up a PDF file). Feel free to print out copies and take them to shows with you to pass out to people (remember that I give out referral bonuses to people who recommend clients to me, so be sure to tell them to mention you when they contact me). The one I will eventually get professionally printed has the color background, but the one in the PDF has a white background to save on color ink.

It also occurs to me that I have some client testimonials in this tri-fold and probably should have secured permissions before putting them up there. No worries -- I haven't printed or distributed them, so if your name is on there and you don't want it, let me know. Also, see below about Testimonials. I think I use the quotes on my web advertisements, but those link to your site, so they can provide traffic to your site as a reciprocal value.

   

Click for the full PDF file to view print
The linked PDF version does not contain olive background color (to save ink)

Design for brochures, tri-folds, magnets and similar business accessories is billed on an hourly basis. Costs for printing is usually the price it would cost me and is based on the quantity, as well as any discounts I can negotiate. If you would like an estimate, let me know.

2. Business Cards

Also, while I am thinking about it, I wanted to remind you that I do business cards as well. I just did one for my own site through VistaPrint. Since I am a good customer (or referrer), I am now in position to get you an additional 25% off business cards through VistaPrint (whether or not I design the card for you or not). In the future I might even be able to get better deals and offer their specials. [By the way, I chose Vista Print for their service, speedy delivery and price - well before I was able to get discounts. The card I just ordered for CCFDesign took less than a week to arrive (even though I chose the 21 day shipping option)].

They have some canned templates that you can use to get fairly inexpensive cards (some that are even "free", but probably not worth the shipping cost because they are so plain). Most of my clients prefer to have me incorporate their site's theme and design into the card. I charge $30 to do that. I use a Photoshop template from VistaPrint to make sure the size is correct and all of the words fit on the card (and do not "bleed" over the edges).

Current business card prices (as of October 7th) for the "Premium" Business cards (the ones you can get fully customized):

 
 
Matte Price
 
Glossy Price
Qty
   Regular   Discount     Regular   Discount 
250
 
$19.99
$14.99
 
$29.98
$22.48
500
 
$29.99
$22.49
 
$41.98
$31.48
1000
 
$39.99
$29.99
 
$54.98
$41.23
1500
 
$44.99
$33.74
 
$60.98
$45.73
2000
 
$49.99
$37.49
 
$66.98
$50.23

Note: Prices subject to change and I wouldn't know unless I looked them up. Discount prices include the 25% off you get by going through me.

The other fees that you have to pay are $4.99 to upload your own proof (which I do for you, but the fee is to VistaPrint), and of course you have to pay for shipping (if I recall, I paid $5.25 for shipping - the 21 day option that took 7 days). There are additional price structures if you want a 2 sided card, or just want the card in black and white. Let me know if you need those prices to make your decision.

The process is fairly simple. You let me know that you want to get a business card (I don't really need to know quantities or anything like that). You pay my the $30 fee via PayPal. I send you a "proof" for you to approve. I set up an account on Vista Print in your name and send you the login credentials. You will get a chance to review the actual proof, and then you can order whatever quantity you want, and you can reorder whenever you want. The discount will be applied to your cart at checkout.

You can see a few other cards I did on my Logo Design page.

3. Business Paypal Account

Some of my clients already have a business Paypal account, but this is for those of you who don't. Accepting online payments through paypal is safe, secure and easy. As you may know, you can use PayPal to receive payments easily and safely. When you sign up, you can start accepting credit card payments in minutes. Here is some additional information from the paypal site.

The PayPal Business Account features:

  • Low cost. No start-up or monthly fees, no cancellation fees, and no minimum payments. Lower transaction fees than other merchant accounts
  • Quick setup. Sign up and get started in minutes. No extra software or hardware needed
  • Security. As an industry leader in fraud prevention and risk management, PayPal has 60%-70% lower fraud loss rates than other merchant accounts
  • Network of buyers. One in three online buyers in the U.S. has a PayPal account, and over 58,000 users worldwide sign up for PayPal each day.

If you want to sign up for a paypal business account, follow the link below:

https://www.paypal.com/

As a matter of full disclosure, by clicking the link above and signing up, I will get a referral bonus every time you make a sale (it doesn't cost you any extra). The bonus is around 0.5% (so if you sell something for $100, I get $0.50 - hardly enough to get rich off, but every little bit helps). Again, I am recommending Paypal because of their ubiquity, reliability and ease of use, and not because I get a small bonus. There is also a link to sign up for a business account on my home page.

4. Phishing

Phishing is the act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user's information. For example, a few years ago we saw the proliferation of a phishing scam in which users received e-mails supposedly from eBay claiming that the user's account was about to be suspended unless he clicked on the provided link and updated the credit card information that the genuine eBay already had. Because it is relatively simple to make a Web site look like a legitimate organizations site by mimicking the HTML code, the scam counted on people being tricked into thinking they were actually being contacted by eBay and were subsequently going to eBay's site to update their account information. By spamming large groups of people, the "phisher" counted on the e-mail being read by a percentage of people who actually had listed credit card numbers with eBay legitimately.

More information on Phishing is here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing (by the way, if you haven't used wikipedia, you are in for a treat. It is an information megaplex.)

Common companies that I have seen used in Phishing scams are Paypal, Ebay, and a lot of banks (Navy Federal, Washington Mutual). I use Bank of America for my online banking, and they have a good feature that should keep their accounts from getting phished. When I go to log in, my account name triggers an image that I picked out, so if that image is not there when I go to enter my password, I know something is not right.

Whenever you get an email that doesn't quite look right (and says something about an order you never made or your account being suspended), it is probably a phishing scheme.

If are ever unclear if it is a scam or is legitimate, you should log into your account by opening your browser and typing in the URL (NEVER CLICK THE LINKS IN THE EMAIL).  If there is no indication of a problem noticed in your account, you can be confident that it was a scam and just delete it. Frankly, if there is a real problem, they will probably call you.

If you want to be more vigilant, most companies have departments that handle phishing and other fraudulent schemes, and you can forward the email to that department so they can try to shut the site down (and keep people from being scammed). I have sent a few to different companies, and always got quick responses acknowledging that it was a scam.

Paypal (the most common victim of phishing from my experience) has more information at the link below.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=xpt/cps/general/Spoof-outside

Finally, if you have Internet Explorer version 7 (which is about to be fully released) and the latest updates for Microsoft Outlook, you will have a greater level of protection (Outlook turns off links to sites that appear to be phishing sites and IE v.7 will give you a warning if the site appears to be a phishing site).

5.  Server Downtime

From time to time, the server will go down, and your website will not appear online. Normally, I am the first to find out about it because I typically receive a notification when the sites are not down. I have a host tracking program that sends me an email whenever any of my sites does not respond to a request for the site. Most times, when the site is down, it is down for less than 10 minutes, but sometimes it is down for a more prolonged period of time due to server maintenance or and unplanned outage.

If you go online and do not see your site, please wait at least 30 minutes before emailing me about it (to give it time to recycle in case it was just a minor problem). I typically wait 20 minutes before I submit a trouble ticket. In many cases, the sites come back up fairly quickly after that (assuming the problem is a server problem and a server reboot fixes it). I have actually only had once in the past 18 months that a host was down for more than an hour (so, waiting is the best bet).

Also, most servers have 99% uptime guarantees, which sounds pretty impressive and reliable on the surface. If you do the math, though, 99% means that the site could be down for more than 87 hours in a year (or 7 hours a month). Ultimately, it really means that part of having a website online is having some downtime.

I have sites on 5 different hosts right now and the lowest uptime of any of them for the current year is one that was down for maintenance for 2 hours and 16 minutes in the middle of one night (last May) and 35 minutes in a different night, resulting in a yearly downtime of 99.92%. Without that downtime, the site would have an uptime of 99.99%.

Just wanted to pass on some technical details behind some of the aspects associated with your site.

6.  Testimonials

I alluded to this earlier in the section on Brochures and Flyers. As many of you know, testimonials can be a powerful sales technique. Essentially they tell your future customers that your past customers were satisfied with the transaction, which provides an important psychological boost to the quality of your services (and validates your prices).

So, I am suggesting that each site consider adding a testimonial page (or just a "customers" page). When you make new sale, you can take a picture with the buyer and the animal (or just get a good updated picture of the animal at sale time). As time passes, you can inquire to the customer about the sale and hopefully get some nice comments in return to post on your site. Then, you can send the picture and text to me and I will upload it for you. This goes with my standard recommendation that having more content on your site helps you in the search engines, and this is a legitimate way to add quality content (that will be rich with keywords).

I decided to add this recommendation, because I am considering adding a testimonial page to my site. I have a few that I can post already, but if you would like yours added, I would be more than happy to post it. I will make sure there is a hyperlink to your site (and City / State keywords for the search engines), so that someone who finds that page can see what you have for sale. In your testimonials, I really like to see sales totals and search engine type testimonials. See the example below of a simple testimonial:

"The site has already paid for itself! I sold $2000 worth of goats in the first month, several from people who found me through a Google web search!"

Of course, writing it your own voice (without concern for the keywords I want) is more authentic.

Finally, with some potential clients, I suggest that they contact my existing customers to ask about the quality of the service I provide. I feel that y'all can be my best salesmen. So, if someone contacts you, answer their questions as honestly as possible and help them make their decision. If nothing else, you can tell them about the newsletters, which indicates a level of professional service that you are unlikely to find from another web site designer in this niche (the breeder, farmer, rancher niche).

7.  Goat Kingdom

Well, I was going to try to go the entire newsletter and not mention anything specific for my goat sites (although they are over 90% of my sites), but I couldn't help myself. So to the Beaglers (and others) out there, I apologize.

For people who are looking for additional places to get your site listed, I am going to put out a comprehensive list in December. The reason I am waiting that long is that I submitted a couple sites to many of the places I am evaluating, and I want to see if the links get up there in a timely manner (and if they stick). If you want an advanced preview of the list (without my final stamp of approval), just let me know.

One site I have been examining is Goat Kingdom, which is run by Duh Goat Man (Rick Myers). The URL for the site is http://duhgoatman.tripod.com/. It has been around since 1996 and has acceptable Google PageRanks on the pages. Search engines would consider the Goat Kingdom site in their expert category, due in part to the age of the site and the content. When you get links from expert sites, the added benefits are worthwhile. Other sites that can link to you do not have the same value in the search engines, but they do have a cumulative effect, so I recommend pursuing all of them. I just wanted to bring up Goat Kingdom, because it might have a greater effect than some of the others.

I hesitated to request getting links to any site that charges for it, but since I have seen the value in Goat Kingdom listings (after careful review), the fee is worth it. For $15 a year, you can get listed in the Goat Farms with Web Sites listing (the State listing and the Breed listing are both included). I have some sites that are already up there, and they get enough traffic that I think the $15 annually is worthwhile. There is also a Goat Milk Soap Kingdom with a similar offering. I don't know if the payment for one can get you listed in the other (assuming you sell goat milk soap), or if there is a discount for both. You will have to email Rick to find that one out. To get listed, go through Rick (not me). You will send him all of the information and make all payments to him. If you want to tell him that I recommended you, that would be nice (but not necessary).

I'd like to work with him to get you a discount, but the $15 a year is actually a very low margin. I am considering some other arrangements that might get my clients an extra service for their annual fee. If I can get something, I will let you know (and we will try to get it retroactively applied to my sites. Stay tuned.

8.  Special

Right now, the only advertised special I am offering is still the 20% off of the design price (through BoerGoats.com -- the summer special that just won't quit). That amounts to around $23 off of the entire package. Also, I do want to remind everyone that I do offer referral discounts, so if you refer someone to me (and they sign up for a web design package), I will drop $25 from your next year's bill. I expect to have larger discounts for November and December (so if you know anyone on the fence, let me know and I can offer those discounts to them sooner).

Next Month:

Digital Camera Recommendations
Keys to a successful site

Info on discounts for adding a second site
Info on Goat Scams

Reasons to keep your site updated

and more...

 
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