As an online service provider and promoter of small businesses, I have always been committed to doing what it takes to provide more choices and freedom for business owners.  As small business owners we’ve all felt we are at the mercy of the ‘less-than-scrupulous’ practitioners of various secretive and not so well understood arts.  The world of online services (web design, social media marketing, online content production & communications) fall nicely into this description.

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Being involved with online services and the Internet since the fledgling days of the Net, I’ve seen it all.  The ‘golden handcuffs’ of application developers who decide they aren’t happy with what you’ve paid them, or that you’ve laid them off… or the neglect of those who simply moved on to new jobs – leaving your business in the wake.  The vengeful tactics of web-designers who decide to take your web presence ‘hostage’ when you decide to seek out a new professional service provider are almost as common today as they were in the early 90s.

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While most large companies have marketing and IT departments to manage their web presence, as a small business owner you usually don’t have the time to manage your online presence, or your time is limited.  You may be the expert in your area of business, but you just don’t have the time to spend learning the ins and outs of the online world.  You certainly don’t have the time to spend negotiating the ‘release’ of your website from the teenager who built it and took off to college, or decided they want x thousand dollars or they would do nasty things to it.

As a business owner you know you are in charge and call “the shots”, yet the online world can make you feel weak and helpless.  So, how do you work around this challenge?  How do you regain control of YOUR online property.  It IS your property… Your domain name, your products, your website, your social media page.  How do you take control, yet not have to do it all yourself (after all, you’re not in business to build websites or manage social marketing campaigns)?

WordPress is by far the CMS used by the most major corporations – #1 among Fortune 500 companies:

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 10.05.27 AMMy first recommendation is to find a solution provider who can build your online presence while giving you access all the way through the process.  This means they should select a well-known CMS (content management system) like WordPress (the biggest by far – and our preferred CMS).  If the build goes sideways, or you don’t like the product, you’ll have access to a tool for which you can easily find developers.

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Next, ensure they provide you access to edit after the build (and show you how).  Too frequently we hear a new client lament their last ‘website guy’ left with all the ‘keys’, leaving them with no access and a big bill owing.  We believe businesses want to be in control, and prefer to be independent in online decisions.  We like to train our clients on the basics, help them with more advanced concepts, and send them on their way – with the ‘keys’.

Finally, seek out a designer or management team who are willing to train you on the basics.  We like to train our clients on making posts, adding media, showcasing videos, etc. on websites, and how to effectively manage their social media.  It’s not just an added service.  The goal is to ensure your independence.  While many designers may feel they need to nickel and dime you for monthly fees, for 20+ years my mantra has been one of ‘client independence’.  Sure, we can offer services to help you if you just don’t have any time at all, but we will strive to ensure you are able to go it alone if you wish, and always give you full control.

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Keep these three points in mind when you interview your next online marketing & content creators and your business will be well on its way to internet “freedom”.

Hiring Content Creators – In a Nutshell:

  1. Lose the ‘handcuffs’:  Use WordPress (or other popular Content Management Systems) to ensure you’re not ‘married’ to your online content providers
  2. Really OWN your sites:  Ensure you have access when the social media page or site goes live and beyond
  3. Get Trained!  Find a content curator who will teach you how to manage your CMS