8 Startup Tips To Consider Before Putting Up A Website

Build websites metaphor

Wanting to have a website but you don’t know where to begin; or if you should really have a website? You don’t just put up a website because you want to. Wanting is primal, but certainly after desire comes with something more. It is not enough that you want it.  Here are 8 things or startup tips that you should consider before putting up or deciding to have a website.

1 Want

OK, let us not put this aside because it starts from here – your desire to have a website. Why do you want a website? You have a number of positive reasons, I suppose, and they are all valid. All factors aside, if you insist on having a website even if you don’t need it, then stop here. You don’t have to know the rest. Just go ahead. Satisfy your desire and put up your website. There’s nothing wrong with that. Should you want to explore more, then continue reading.

2 Need

Having second thoughts? You may have the desire to have a website but do you really need one? Having a website requires time, work, and money. If you don’t need one, then don’t waste your energy. The difference between want versus need is that a need is something necessary; want is not. How do you know then if you need a website?

If you’re into business, do you believe that having a website will increase your sales? If yes, what should your website feature in order to increase your sales? If you’re not into business, will your life change to the better if you would have a website? Why do you need a website? If there’s no valid need, why do you want it then? What’s your purpose?

3 Purpose

Your purpose of having a website will justify your need or your want. Generally, you need a website for reasons such as publicity, marketing, advertising, e-commerce, research, and communication, among others. The following are some specific valid reasons of having a website.

  1. To publicize your organization. You want your target market to know that you exist. Your web presence therefore is necessary so that for those people who would be interested to learn more about your organization can learn about your organization by visiting your website. More importantly, you give your prospects a means to get in touch with you.
  2. To sell and market online. You want to sell things online to reach a wider market. Rather than opening a hundred branches of your store nationwide, an online store would be more convenient for your customers to buy your products. If your job is about Internet marketing, then you definitely need a website. For one good reason, your customers should know who they are having transactions with.
  3. To reach a global market or audience. Reaching a global market means more sales to your business. If your website is about activities that you do or propagate, the need to share what you do can give you more satisfaction if you can connect to a wider audience, especially to those who are confined to their homes.
  4. To share information. We are born to share our gifts such as our knowledge, talent, skill, works of art, etc. By giving tips, counsels, or short tutorials for free, you do something selfless and noble. Why not? Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web technology, made the Web for everyone to enjoy and use for free forever.
  5. To be productive. You can make blogging a hobby. Instead of wasting time doing nothing at home, you can make yourself useful and productive. Connect with people and be social, or offer an online help or support to people that you can inspire. Use your blog to improve your skill in writing.
  6. To journal your activities. Use your website to record or document your progress in whatever you are studying or working on. Blogging was invented and originally intended for this reason.
  7. To showcase your portfolio. If you’re into services such as photography, painting, or creative design, use a website to showcase your works.
  8. To provide add-on services. You want to serve your customers without them having to go to your shop or office. Your website can provide add-on functionality such as mini-apps that can be entertaining, educational, or informational. For example, if you are promoting a weight loss program, your website can have a mini-app that calculates ideal weight. If your site is about finance, you can provide something that calculates loans and amortizations.

4 Content

What are you going to put on your website? Your site cannot be empty. If your purpose is to simply present your business profile on the World Wide Web, you only need basic information such as a short write-up about your company, a visual presentation of your products or services, contact information, key persons that make your organization (if necessary), progress or growth timeline, some business principles, beliefs, goals, and ideas.

If your purpose is to give a rich source of information about your chosen topic, activity, or field of work, then you must have a clear idea where you are going to get this information.

If you are selling stuff online, then be ready with photos of the items you wish to sell, honest description of your products, and how your customers can order online.

5 Target Audience or Market Niche

Traditionally, you first think of a product, then you look for the market. Today, the modern and effective way of doing business online is the reverse. First is to look for a market. Once you have found a market niche, then you create a product in response to the need of that market. A market niche is a group of consumers who have common needs or demands. For example, women who want to lose weight.

If you know your target audience, you must also know where to connect with them. Your website should have visitors, otherwise, it will become useless.

6 Budget

Having a website entails cost. You pay for your domain name registration and its renewal yearly. You also need a web host which you pay annually. You will have to hire a web designer to design or build your website. If writing is not your skill, you might need to hire a writer. You may also need to hire a photographer and a graphics artist should your site require images; or simply buy images online from photo-stock sites. You also need someone who can manage and administer your website regularly.

If your budget is tight, you may opt to use the free sites such as Blogger or WordPress(dotcom). Free sites, however, have limited functionality. You use them simply for blogging – to showcase your work, to market your services, or share information. Technically, you cannot use free sites for e-commerce purposes and online marketing. There may be a creative way to sell a few products with free sites but usually these free site hosts do not allow it.

7 Time

If you need your website up and online immediately, it can be done but do not expect much. If you are a person who can learn online technical stuff with ease, you can build your site in less than an hour with Blogger or WordPress(dotcom). Otherwise, you will need to hire or ask someone to teach you or do it for you. There are CMS (content managements system) available on the Net such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal which you can use to build your website in less than a week or two. If your website requires complexity and has to be developed from scratch, then it may take at least two months to accomplish your site; plus, be ready with a big budget.

8 Platform

The platform that your website may require depends on the purpose of your website. An e-commerce site is more complex to develop compared to a blog-type website. A static website, usually used to present a company or business profile, can be done with HTML and CSS. Here’s an example of a static website. For this site amikvs(dot)org, I built it with WordPress.

There you have it. I hope the list above can help you in deciding whether to have a website or not. If at this point, having a website sounds complicated and you feel discouraged to have one, consult a specialist who can explain further the ins and outs of putting up a website; or use the comments below to ask me.

Perhaps you are wondering what the difference is between WordPress(dotcom) and WordPress(dotorg). WordPress is a CMS that you use to build a website. WordPress(dotcom) is a site where your website can be hosted for free using WordPress. WordPress(dotorg) is a support site for those who use WordPress outside WordPress(dotcom).

Essential Tools To Power Up Your Business

Whether you’re a freelancer or a corporate owner, you need stuff to promote your business. Business instruments such as websites and marketing collateral are essential creatives that make your business known. What follows is a list of the essential business tools that you need to power up your business.

If You’re A Business Owner

1 Public Image

Logo
This is the very first creative that you need. Have a logo designed that truly reflects your business image. All your creative collateral would need a logo.
Letterhead
Design a letterhead that blends with your logo and business image.
Business card
Your business card should complement your business image. Its design should not be a breakaway from the design of your letterhead.

2 Web Presence

Website
To put your mark on the Web, you need a website. A website requires two things in order to exist on the Net.

  • Domain name. Your website requires a unique domain name that you have to register in order to be valid.
  • Web host. You need to subscribe to a web host plan to house your website on the Net. I recommend this green web host, not only because it comes with a free domain for life, but also it uses green energy.
Site administration
You need someone to manage your website, unless you are a technical person who knows how to do it.
Content management
Your site needs content with substance. Somebody has to manage it who can write in good English and do some research. If you are good with a camera, images add appeal to your content. You may also need a graphic designer and a video editor if you want to add this kind of content.

3 Web Promotion

Social media integration
Connect your Facebook or Twitter to your website. There are a number of social media sites to choose from: Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pocket, Tumblr, Flickr, among others. Pick your favorites.
Connect and interact
Technology can do the integration but to interact with humans, you have to do your part.
Advertisement
There are two forms – paid advertising and freevertising. In freevertising, you use your social media sites or your email list to promote your business. But never, never spam.

4 Creative Collateral

Flier, brochure, catalog
Outside the web, traditional marketing materials complement your digital creatives. But of course, you are not limited to paper. Your flier, brochure, and catalog can be digitized into PDF or JPEG file format.
Business letters
Sales letters, follow-up letters, and thank you letters. To compose an effective business letter is a skill that only a few has. Hire someone who is really good. For a tip on how to write an effective business letter, read it here.
Landing page
You might also need a pitch page, aka sales page, an opt-in or signup page, or a combination of both depending on your objective: to sell so they buy or have them sign up for something.

If You’re A Blogger

You can optionally skip #4 if you are a blogger. In some cases you may need a variety of landing pages as a way to promote your blog or website. If you have items to sell, a product catalog would complement your blog.

5 Blog Monetisation

If you simply want to increase your followers, you can skip this section. Otherwise, continue reading to get some ideas on how you can make money blogging.

Publish ads
Put ads on your site. Sign up for Google Adsense, Clickbank or RevenueHits. If your site is popular, you can accept direct ads.
Join affiliate programs
Your blog can promote somebody else’s products through affiliate sites like Clickbank.
Sell something your own
You can write an e-book and sell copies. Package your photos for a price. Sell a coaching service.

For The Entrepreneurial Mind

If you want to have your own online business that generates passive income, I will teach you exactly what I do — step by step. Think about it. Once you have decided and truly serious about it, contact me. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

6 Other Things

If you know other things to add to the list, you can mention them below.

WordPress Plugins Essential To Building WordPress Websites

Essential WordPress plugins
What you are going to learn in this section
Learning Level: Beginner

In this section, you are going to learn the essential WordPress plugins that you need to install with your WordPress to boost or power up your website. It assumes that WordPress is already installed on your site, technically in the web server that hosts your website. Some of these plugins are indispensable especially those that protect your site. Some plugins are optional but may be essential depending on what type of website you have.

If you are a beginner, you will be overwhelmed by the thousands of plugins available for WordPress, that in the end you clutch your head with choice-fatigue. Lucky for you now, you will be stress-free because I am going to explain here the some of the essential plugins that you need to install right after installing WordPress, or later as needed. This will save you plenty of time deciding which plugins are best for your website because you will skip the tedious and time-consuming process of plugin research and tests.

The plugins are labeled with the following categories: most essential, optional, and advanced.

Most Essential

Akismet 

Power: Website Strength

Akismet is an anti-spam WordPress plugin for your website. It comes pre-installed upon installing WordPress. All you have to do is activate it.

You must hate spams. You do not want your website to be spawned by hundreds of comments that are not related to your content; instead try to sell their products or services, or invite you to visit their websites. Even if you tick your WordPress settings to moderate comments, your dashboard will be flooded with spammy-comments that are awaiting your approval. So, what do you do? You need an anti-spam plugin on the defense, that before any spam hits your site, this plugin is on the front to defend you.

WordPress says, Akismet is

…used by millions, [and] … is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep.

This is true. Akismet is an indispensable plugin.

To activate Akismet, you need an API key, which will be given to you upon signing up for Akismet. You can get one key for your personal site. Keep this key written on your notebook because you will be needing this each time you activate Akismet. You enter the API key on the Akismet configuration page of your WordPress admin dashboard, which becomes visible after you have clicked Activate. If you already have your key, you may enter it manually. If not, WordPress will do it for you automatically after you have signed up.

Akismet is an advanced hosted anti-spam service aimed at thwarting the underbelly of the web. It efficiently processes and analyzes masses of data from millions of sites and communities in real time. To fight the latest and dirtiest tactics embraced by the world’s most proficient spammers, it learns and evolves every single second of every single day. Because you have better things to do. ~ Akismet.com

Wordfence Security

WordPress sites are attacked by hackers worldwide more than 19000 times per minute. You can view a map and a graph of real-time attacks on wordfence.com.

Wordfence Security is one of the recommended plugins you will find in the plugins section of your WordPress dashboard. In case, you do not find it quickly, on the plugins dashboard, search for ‘wordfence’ without quotes.

Wordfence Security is available free. The premium (paid) version of this WordPress plugin has more features like country blocking.

Wordfence is the Leading Cyber Security solution for WordPress. We provide a Complete Anti-Virus and Firewall Package for your WordPress Website including Two Factor Authentication, a Firewall incorporating Machine Learning and Tools to help Recover from a Hack.” — Wordfence.com

WP Super Cache

With too many WordPress plugins, complicated PHP codes, and heavy images that you upload on your site, your site may not upload fast. If in 10 seconds your viewer does not see anything worth reading or watching, he will leave your site and try another site. You wouldn’t want that to happen. So, to keep your website running fast, your site needs a plugin that does just that. And that is, WP Super Cache.

WP Super Cache is a very fast caching engine that produces static html files on demand, or something of that sort. Meaning, there are cases, depending on user’s interaction with your site, like writing comments, when your site needs to run the PHP scripts rather than just showing a static version.

For more info, go to wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/.

TinyMCE Advanced 

Power: Ease of Use

TinyMCE Advanced is a visual editor, something like your Word or OpenOffice Writer word processor that has editing toolbars to help you customize your text with regard to the type of font, size of font, alignment, etc. A webpage is constructed with HTML codes called <i>tags</i>. Each element is specific to its use. For example, there are 6 types of headings. When writing a numbered list, you use the right code for that. A link, i.e. hyperlink, requires a specific HTML tag in order for the link to work. So, if you are not familiar with HTML, then TinyMCE Advanced is going to help you compose your content without even having to know a single HTML code.

WordPress is built in with the basic HTML editing toolbar. TinyMCE Advanced extends and enhances that facility so that you can further control how your post or article is going to look like in the front-end, i.e. what your website looks like on the World Wide Web. For further reading about the features of this plugin, read it on its plugin page on WordPress.

TinyMCE Advanced is essential for beginners; optional for advanced users.

Optional

Jetpack

Jetpack is a handy all-in-one WordPress plugin. Instead of installing, say 20 plugins which may not be compatible with each other, install Jetpack instead. Jetpack has more than 30 plugins housed in a single plugin. All you have to do, after installing Jetpack, is to activate the features that you need. Some of its features that I find very useful are:

  • Customizing CSS
  • Installing and changing the favicon the quick and easy way
  • Display carousels, i.e. full-screen slideshows
  • Display tiled galleries instead of just the boring grid arrangement
  • Auto-publish your posts on social media sites (very useful)
  • Display sharing buttons
  • Create contact forms
  • Display related posts

Jetpack, however, is simple but complicated as a whole. What is annoying about it is the protection plugin. If it is on, it can block your own ISP that you yourself cannot login to your own website. To prevent this to happen, you must set your ISPs as an exception.  Your computer uses a range of ISPs. You must know them beforehand. You must also know the ISP assigned to you by your Internet provider. I suggest that you do not turn this on because it is a bit of a hustle unblocking your own ISP.

To use Jetpack for your site, install it then sign up for WordPress.com to integrate the two. Then, activate the features that you need. Complete list of features is on jetpack.me.

Advanced

WordPress SEO by Yoast Versus All in One SEO Pack

Power: SEO

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. When you talk about SEO, it means that you do things to make your website rank on the first page of search engine results. For example, if someone searches for “love the second time around”, your site, if it is about love, should be the first on the list on the first page, or at least, in the top 10. The SEO WordPress plugins guide you on how you can do this technically. Technically, I say, because the other side of it is your own effort to promote your site.

You have 2 choices for this type of plugin. You can pick one.

Both plugins are good, popular, and well-recommended. What makes All-In-One SEO Pack different from WordPress SEO by Yoast is that the former provides SEO integration for e-commerce sites. If you prefer the Yoast version, you can install a separate plugin, also by Yoast, that integrates SEO for e-commerce sites. On the other hand, what makes WordPress SEO by Yoast more useful is that it pinpoints where you lack the SEO factors, then suggests on how you are going to improve your post or page.

For beginners, I would recommend All In One SEO Pack because of its simplicity. If you want to go deeper and wish to fully understand the techniques behind SEO, SEO by Yoast is what you need.

Simple Custom CSS 

Simple Custom CSS allows you to change the plugin and theme default styles of your website without creating a child theme. However, some themes prevent you to overwrite certain CSS elements. In such case, you may need to use the theme’s own custom CSS, if provided; or create a child theme. Simple Custom CSS is a WordPress plugin that adds the styles to the head section of your web page.

For beginners, CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It is where you write ‘codes’ to style the elements of your website. To style means to set the attributes of your website’s elements. Elements refer to HTML tags, text, images, and containers. Attributes basically refer to an elements type, size, position, color, among others.

You can learn how to use CSS on Codecademy.

OK. That’s it. If there are more WordPress plugins that I find useful for WordPress sites, I will add them to the list.

Build A Website In 5 Easy Steps

Building a web site of your own nowadays is easy. Compared to yesteryears, designing a web site would take months and an agonizing period of writing codes. Today, even if you are not a programmer, you can build your own web site. Online CMS (content management system) such as Blogger.com and WordPress.com are web builders that you can sign up with and get your site hosted for free for life.

If you want to be in full control of your own site, go self-hosted. You can do it in 5 steps. Download the infographic I made in pdf. Just follow the 5 steps and you won’t be lost. If you need more information, continue reading.

Be ready with your domain name.

Before building your own website, be ready with your domain name. What is a domain name? Facebook.com, google.com, twitter.com and wordpress.com are domain names. Mine is amikvs.org.  As of this writing, there are over 1 billion websites in the world, and growing by the second. (Check live stats here.) That means, whatever domain name you have in mind, most probably it is no longer available. So, be creative and start brainstorming now before you proceed further. Read this article to help you in coming up with a domain name.

Be ready with at least 5 domain names. Then check your domain name’s availability at whois.com. If yourdomain in dotcom is no longer available, don’t try the other gTLD such as .org or ccTLD or a combination, e.g. yourdomain.com.ph. The idea is that if you cannot own yourdomain.com, better not go for yourdomain.org or yourdomain.ph or yourdomain.com.ph. The reason is that to avoid using a domain name that might have been trademarked already by the owner. Another reason is that, your domain in search engine results ranking will be competing against another domain with the same name.

Sign Up For A Web Host – A Green Host Preferably

Once you already have a domain name in mind, you’re ready to register it. You need to register your domain name so that you can own it. You can do that via a web hosting company. A web host is a computer network company that provides shelter to your website. A website comprises data files such as scripts and images. You put these on a web host so that it becomes accessible via the Internet.

You have to have a web hosting account in order to use the services of a web hosting company. The price of a hosting plan varies — ranging form $4 – $15 a month.

I would recommend green web hosting. Green web hosting uses renewable and sustainable energy such as solar and wind. By using a green host, you show care to your environment.

Register your domain name and open a web hosting account via this green web hosting company. If the promo is still open, they usually give discounts if you sign up for 3 years plus a free domain name for life. In my case, I paid $3.95 a month for 3 years, thereafter, I pay $4.95 a month. They register my domain name amikvs.org every year for free as long as I maintain an account with them. That’s a good deal that comes with unlimited bandwidth, unlimited number of websites, unlimited disk space usage, etc.

Login, Open cPanel and Install WordPress

Once your hosting account is ready, go to your web host’s website and login to your account. Go to your cPanel by clicking the button . Scroll down to the bottom of cPanel until  you find a section called Softaculous Apps Installer. Click the WordPress icon . In the next window that appears, click the button . The WordPress installer provides the default parameters. So basically, just accept whatever is provided by default. When done, your website is ready. All you have to do is to enter the contents of your website.

That’s it. If you need assistance, message me via email or through my social media accounts.

Download the cheatsheet in pdf. Size 5MB. Click to view or right-click to download.

Save

Movie Posters Design Examples

These are 8 movie posters I designed for an event, which had a film festival theme. The event was for a rotary club induction of officers. The challenge was to make the movie posters relevant to the rotary club. I did some research on the areas of focus of the rotary, its core values, and the local projects that this rotary club had accomplished.

All the films presented in the design are fictitious. They do not pertain to any particular film or documentary. The movie titles were all made up except for A Star Is Born and Mulawin, which happened to have movies of the same title. I insisted on using these titles because they are relevant to the club. If the other titles I used happened to be of the same titles of existing movies, it was not intentional. The name of the actors, movie reviews, and reviewers’ names were all fictional.

If you happen to be a Rotarian who is viewing this, can you guess what the posters are trying to depict?

 

Reward Yourself: Automate Your Work

automate your office work

Tired of routine paper works? Typing on dozens of forms every day? Why not automate your work? Because you have to. Don’t punish yourself; or don’t let your boss punish you with a pile of work. Instead, to automate is to reward yourself. Don’t be afraid of change. Think instead of spending more time with your family than with your desk on midnight hours.

Back then when I was working in a large corporation, I hated typing the same thing on dozens of forms every month for the government collecting agencies like BIR and SSS. I was bombarding my head with a question why these government agencies could not simplify the system. I could type fast – 45 wpm – using a manual typewriter; but I’d rather type long documents. Repeatedly typing on forms with carbon papers – that ?#*!

I had to find a way and I did. With a computer, a software, and a printer, I made my working life easier.

Simplify Your Accounting System

Accounting job is tedious. Simplify it. With the present technology, you have many options. Buy an accounting software. For SME, use MYOB, Quickbooks or any similar software. These accounting software follow the same generally accepted accounting principles. So, you don’t have to hire a systems analyst and a programmer to customize an accounting system for you. That kind of service is hugely expensive and it would take many months to complete the software bug free.

If you are a large company, then you will have to settle for the big ones like SAP. If you can afford it, buy it.

Automate Those Routine Works

In your office, you may still be doing something monotonous, voluminous and manual. Find a way to automate it. Hire an IT consultant to find out what can be done.

I had a client once – an advertising company. Regularly, they receive the TV ratings report in print and in electronic report format. Based on the report, they update their system’s database manually to input the new data. One to two persons would do this and would take them a week to complete everything.

The ad company hired me to create a program that would facilitate the updating of their system’s database. After a systems analysis, I made the required program. The program took only 30 minutes to update their system’s database. From one week to 30 minutes — that’s a lot of time saved!

What I Can Do For You

Accounting. If you are managing a small-to-medium enterprise or organization and would love to move from manual accounting to electronic, consult me. I would recommend MYOB or Quickbooks. If you prefer another software, I can explore and study one for you.

Payroll. I have a payroll system that I have not updated for years. I can dig my chestbox to resurrect my payroll system.

Other software. I have done a loans management program, a club membership program, inventory, magazine subscription, and a sales order system for small organizations.

If you don’t want to hire me, that’s fine! Just automate no matter what. If you have hired a programmer or an IT specialist, use him. Give him a job. Make him automate everything. Make him useful for goodness’s sake 🙂

How To Write Creatively And Effectively

Pencil and paper

To Write Is To Be Understood

Words are useless if no one understands them. Information that is incomprehensible is meaningless. An article that does not make sense is not worth reading. If your instructions are not clear, who can follow? If you want to inspire people, they must understand your story.

It only takes one word to speak a message. Choose the right words and make sure they are understood.

So, how do you write? Allow me to share what I have learned.

Copy Writing

Copywriting is the art of using words to express something. It is usually used in marketing or advertising. It has the purpose to convey something and persuade someone to make an action. Some example purposes are:

  • To introduce something such as a product or a brand
  • To promote something such as an event
  • To raise awareness about something like an advocacy
  • To inform the public about something such as a new law
  • To communicate new information such as a medical breakthrough
  • To invite a target audience or market to act on something such as to attend a convention
  • To cause a certain group of people to take an action such as to support and participate in a noble cause

It is fun to copywrite because it is in this field that your creative thinking is well used or more challenged. The challenge is that it only takes one word to convey or express a message. You do not have to be wordy. A few words are good and nothing more. What is important is the message.

Blog Writing

The concept of blogging is similar to journal writing or writing on a diary. The style of writing is conversational and informal. It is like you are talking to someone, narrating a story. That’s the reason why, in blogging, you write in the first person “I” and second person “you.”

Initially called “weblog”, i.e. web log, the term was coined by Jorn Barger in 1997. The short form “blog” first appeared on Peter Merholz’s website in 1999 as “we blog.” Since then, “blog” has become a common word which simply means to write something for today online via your personal website.

Though blogging is free writing and informal, being grammatically incorrect is no excuse. Furthermore, you still have to observe coherence and cohesiveness with your writing. If what you write is clear and understandable, it is coherent. If things are related and connected, it is cohesive.

If you are a beginner, you can avoid being incoherent by following a simple rule – the Rule of Three. The Rule of Three simply means to compose something in 3 paragraphs – the beginning, middle, and ending paragraphs. For each paragraph, write at least 3 sentences.

The Rule of Three

  1. The beginning paragraph introduces the main topic. This is where you intend to express exactly what your article is all about minus the specific details.
  2. The middle paragraph comprises details and other information that support your first paragraph. This may include facts and other information based on news, other articles, and other published materials.
  3. The ending paragraph contains your gist, a conclusion, or an expression of an opinion. If appropriate, you can end your paragraph with a call to action.

With the rule of three, you can never go wrong.

Today, blogging has evolved. Your blog can be personal, for a community or for business. The style of writing can be literary, conversational, or professional. It can also be technical, academic or instructional. You can even use your blog as an e-commerce site. One thing remains a requisite – what you write should be understandable.

Article Writing

Article writing can be formal or informal. This is where you can introduce words that are not commonly used; but do not saturate your article with too much of them. One extraordinary word per paragraph is enough; otherwise, your reader would be consulting his dictionary every now and then to check the meaning of a word. Again, what is important is that your readers understand what they are reading.

If a reader can understand every sentence he reads, he will go on to read the rest of the article. If your brain cannot be satisfied with what you read, most likely you will stop reading. Our brain needs information and it hungers for new ones.

Traditionally, you write an article in the third person. If the article you are writing is for your own blog, you can write in the first and second person to make it sound and feel more personal, as if you are talking to someone. Be warm rather than authoritative.

To organize your thoughts when writing an article, especially if you are a beginner, observe the Rule of 3. By observing this simple guide, you ensure that your article is both coherent and cohesive.

Business Writing

Writing a business letter is much simpler, easier, and shorter. All you need are nine sentences divided into 3 paragraphs. Business writing is not article writing. Do not write a lengthy business letter.

How To Compose A Business Letter

When writing a business letter, think only of 3 paragraphs wherein each paragraph contains only, at most, 3 sentences.

  1. First or beginning paragraph. Write the purpose of your letter. Why are you writing the person? If it is an application letter, express it in the very first sentence your intention – that is, you are applying for a specific position.
  2. Second or middle paragraph. Add a few details about the purpose of your letter. If you are applying for a job, write about your best skills and most relevant job experience. Remember to limit it to 3 sentences.
  3. Third and last paragraph. End your letter with what you want to expect from the person you are writing. In an application letter, you end it with a request for an interview. Then lastly, end your last paragraph with courtesy such as an expression of an appreciation.

Business people are normally busy. They receive a lot of correspondences that need attending. For that reason, they do not have much time to read a lot of letters, even less or not at all the lengthy ones. Based on that premise, business letters should be very short – something that the reader can finish it reading in less than 30 seconds.

Tips In Writing A Business Letter

Here are some tips on how to write an effective business letter.

  • Keep it simple and short (KISS). Be direct to the point. Do not ever go around the bush. Make your intention clear. The wordier your letter is, the more confusing it becomes.
  • Do not use highfalutin words to impress your reader. It is not impressive at all. Avoid words and phrases often used in legal documents such as hereafter and aforementioned. If two words mean the same, use the shorter word.
  • Grammar is very important. Even if you are writing in conversational English, make sure that you are grammatically correct. One typo is forgivable but it is not always an excuse. A slip of a letter can mean something else, so be careful. For instance, between “six” and “sex”, your spell checker will not know which one is misspelled.
  • Keep the tone of your letter positive. Be kind, courteous, and truthful. Read your letter twice or more and feel it if it sounds offensive or kind. Letters with a “bad attitude” means “I do not want to have a business with you.”
  • Even if a business letter is short, observe coherence and cohesion.
  • Should you need to impart more information to your letter receiver, attach or enclose a separate paper such as a flier or a brochure, instead of composing a lengthy two-page letter.
  • Use a short postcript to express an additional message or intention. This is specially effective when writing a sales letter.

Technical Writing

As a business software developer, writing an operations or user’s manual is necessary. For the reason that an operations manual is instructional, you have to be sure that the user can follow and understand the instructions and procedures. Otherwise, things will go wrong.

Technical writing is much more tedious, very detailed, boring, and time consuming. After you have written the instructions, you have to test it yourself.

Using technical terms are unavoidable. Aside from a glossary, it is better that you explain the meaning of the term on the same page the term appears. This is to ensure that the reader understands on the spot what he just read.

Academic Writing

I have authored one academic book for Grades 11 and 12. It is about web design and development. Sadly, I wrote it as a ghost writer. The same thing with technical writing, academic writing is very detailed, tedious, and time consuming. But more than that, it accompanies responsibility because you are imparting knowledge.

An academic book is a teaching and learning textbook. Students need to learn from it. It has to be accurate, correct and true. Strictly, its grammar should be error-free. It should be comprehensible to the intended level of understanding and learning. If the textbook is for kids, write like a kid. If it is intended for professionals, write professionally. The main tip is that whomever you are writing for, make sure that they will understand every sentence you have written.

Academic writing requires a special skill in writing. That is you must know the questions to ask and how you are going to ask them. Writing exercises and quizzes is tricky. One thing, the written exercise should be interesting. The other thing is the creative way of writing it, not really to trick the mind, but to test the student’s true understanding of the subject.

Literary Writing

In the future, I wish to venture in literary writing. My dream is to write a novel that can become a bestseller. So, universe, my wish is your command.

In A Nutshell

Whether you are writing for your blog, for students, or for business, the main ingredient in writing effectively is understandability. Whatever you write – conversational, instructional, or professional – your intended reader must be able to understand exactly what you wish to impart and communicate. If what you have in mind is to saute the garlic, then your reader must be able to do just that exactly.

If you are just starting to write, follow the Rule of Three. You will never miss. Always, observe proper grammar, cohesion, coherence, and tone. By all means, you can have your own style of writing. It is who you are.

The nice thing about writing is that the more you write, the more you learn. It is a good mental exercise. Especially if writing requires research, you tend to nourish your brain with new information. The mind loves information. That is why it is important that what you feed your mind is only positive and healthy.

Writing Tutorial

If you are interested in learning how to write, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to teach you.

Artist Or Designer: Who Do You Hire?

think big concept in visual design

Let me tell you what I can do and what I cannot do; or what I am and what I am not. This is to let you know what to expect and what not to expect from me. That way, you can decide whether I am the right person to hire or not.

First. What I am not and what I cannot do.

I am not an artist. I cannot paint nor sculpt. I cannot draw cartoons, human figures, and animals. I am not someone who creates an artwork as a form of his expression for the purpose of art appreciation. Perhaps, in the future, I can, but not presently.

In the area of digital art, just the same, I cannot draw like what artists can in digital composing, creating visual effects for motion pictures and animation. I cannot draw a clip art, a caricature, or illustration for comics. These are the jobs of a digital or graphics artist. I am not a digital or a graphics artist.

Second. What I am and what I can do.

I am a creative graphics designer. A creative designer is someone who has a knack in visual arrangements and color. The purpose of his work is to communicate meanings and messages using words, shapes, and images. In other words, his work is often times informational. At few times, it is subliminal. But at all times, his work is always visual whether in shapes, figures or letters.

You hire a creative designer usually for business, especially for marketing or promotional purposes to design your marketing collateral or image branding such as a logo or product label.

The following are the things I can design for you.

  • Logo or emblem
  • Business card, stationery (letterhead and envelope)
  • Brochure, flier
  • Pamphlet, booklet, catalog
  • Card, poster, signage, banner
  • Newsletter, magazine
  • Book, e-book
  • Photo album in press ready portable document format (PDF)

Third. Graphics Designer + Writing Skills

When designing marketing collateral, you also need a copy writer. The copy writer is the one who will provide the text for your brochure, catalog, etc. His special skill is that he must be able to convey an important message using only a few words. Better if he can express it in only one word.

For example. Imagine a blue planet that is partly turning red on a black background. Written in big letters are the words “It’s time!” So, what are you thinking? If you thought of the urgency to prevent further the danger of global warming, then you are right.

In contrast, an artist would do it with intricacy like using or applying complex and overlaying curves, lines, patterns, shapes, dimensions and colors. When you see his work, you would remark, “Wow!” There are exceptional artists, though, who also possess the skills of a designer.

I am no artist but my edge is this – I am a creative thinker. I design and I write creatively. With me, you don’t need to hire two people to design and copy write. You only need someone who possesses both skills. And this kind of person is rare. 

Examine the featured image you see in this article. Can you guess what it is trying to say to you? That’s the work of a creative designer, not of an artist.

Last But Not Least, Design Thinking In Mind

Design thinking is not something visual like graphics design. It is more like a process that is solution-based rather than problem-based. When I design a website or a business collateral, I imagine its effect on people. I imagine how people would react on it, and even how the eyes would literally act on it. I like my designs to trigger an emotional or psychological impact. And most importantly, it should serve its purpose as a solution.

In A Nutshell

Creative design encompasses visual design and creative writing with design thinking in mind.

A design should impress you, first and foremost. If you do not like it, why would you accept it? If it impresses you, you believe that anyone can be impressed as well. Therefore, I do my best to design to impress.

A design should express a meaning, a message, an idea, or a thought. A design material or collateral should present an information. If a design cannot express something, then it is useless. Therefore, to the best of my ability, I make sure that my design clearly expresses what it should express.

A design should cause an action. For example, a brochure is not designed just to be touched, read, or appreciated. It should cause, motivate, or impact an action that leads towards the serving of its intended purpose.

What’s My Price

Prices for my particular works vary in time. If you’re a close friend, I lower the price. Sometimes I offer my services for free depending on our relationship, or the worthy cause of a project. To give you an idea, here’s how I priced a long time ago.

Brochure
PHP1000/page. A brochure usually has prints front and back; so that’s 2 pages. I only design one study. Take it or leave it. If you need another study, you pay additional. Whether you accept or not, use or not the brochure, you pay just the same. You pay first before I design.
Poster
PHP3000. My style is minimalist, so don’t expect too much elements on your poster. A poster is meant to be viewed a few meters away from the reader. Therefore, a poster should not be cluttered with too much images and texts. If you insist on cluttering your poster, find another designer.
Magazine, Catalog
PHP1000/page. Ditto my style. However, a magazine or catalog is meant to be viewed at close range compared to viewing a poster. That means, I compromise between minimalist design and information.

You can view my portfolio on the home page.

How To Build A Website In Just A Few Days

With WordPress or other CMS applications, a web designer’s job has become easy. If your job is to design and develop a website, you have saved your time doing the design, coding, and debugging parts because it’s like 90% of your job has been done and tested. The only thing left to do is to make some adjustments on the built-in design to suit your requirements; then, populate the site with contents.

Web development is truly a time-consuming job that requires unconditional patience. For an individual, it could take weeks or months to develop a website. It is for that reason why back then, developing a website was so expensive.

The very first (and only but also the last) intranet site I designed and developed for a pharmaceutical company, if I still remember clearly, took me a month or two to complete it. Truly, it was no big deal, because I could straightly write the codes right from my brain without any documented systems analysis. I think, that’s how geeks do programming. As a programmer then for a big holding company, I would just make sketches on paper to gather and contain my thoughts, then I would go right ahead to my keyboard and start typing the codes.

Good for you and me now because we do not have to wait for a month to put your website online. With CMS like WordPress, I could complete it in a week and voila! Your website is up on the World Wide Web.

For the design part, WordPress comes with thousands of design templates. All I have to do is pick what’s right for you. If the design does not satisfy completely my creative palette, then I can just tweak it.

The First Few Steps

So, how do I go about it, just in case, you’d be my client and you are hiring me to build a website for you.

  1. I sit with you so that we can exchange ideas. First, I will listen what’s on your mind. Then, I will tell you what possibly can be done.
  2. I will pick a WordPress design, tweak it according to your liking using my creative energies, then put it online on a temporary host so that you can view it.
  3. If everything looks good, we move on to finalize it.
  4. If your domain name and web host are ready, I will need the technical specs so that I can upload your site to your web host. If you do not have a domain name and web host yet, I would suggest that you pick one now. No idea yet which web host to pick? I would suggest my favorite earth-friendly web host.

In a few days your website will be up and running on the web. All you have to do next is to put in some contents.

If you prefer other CMS applications, I will study one that fits most your needs. If CMS is not what you need, I will make one from scratch. That means, I am going to design one for you, then build it using the latest HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and anything that is currently useful in the web technology.

If the site you have in mind is uniquely a complex one that requires new codes of programming, then I am not the guy for you. 🙂

Feel like discussing your thoughts? You can start by emailing me your queries to amikvs @ gmail dot com.

Build Web Sites With WordPress

I build websites using WordPress because I can get my job done fast and much easier. If I would build a web site from scratch, it would take me months to develop and design it. WordPress and other CMS (content management systems) has made the web development and design process something like 89% completed. For that reason, not only that I save time, I also save money. That benefits you as well because you would not have to pay much. Moreover, with WordPress, your site is up and online within a few days, a week perhaps.

There are other CMS besides WordPress. Whatever you need, I’ll take a look at what’s best for your site. Read more on how to build a web site in just a few days.

Design Websites With HTML & CSS

If you do not prefer the ready-made web designs that come with WordPress and other CMS, I can design one for you from scratch, so long as it is for a simple website that I can develop with HTML and CSS.

In order not to confuse you between building sites with WordPress and this one, with WordPress, my work is 89% done. If I design a website from scratch, I start at 0%. Web design tackles both the visual layout of a website, its look and feel, coding such as HTML and CSS, and graphics design. Designing a website also tackles its functionality, flow of information or navigation, visual appeal or attraction, impact or effect to its visitors, and the methods to be implemented to drive traffic.