Rock Your About Page

writingIt’s hard. Very hard. I’ve asked you to write an About page and you have no idea where to begin. Take a deep breath and let’s get this done. Follow these tips and get an About page draft written. You can always go back and tweak it to your liking. Follow these tips, get the basics written and then make it perfect later.

Must I have an About page?

Yes! This is most important if you are providing a service, but important for everyone. When I land on your website I want to know about you. I want to know this person I’m about to contact and your About page is the first place I’m going to check. Don’t make me search for it. Call it what it is- About, Meet Stephanie, The Photographer. It just needs to be obvious that when I click this page I’m going to read about YOU.

It must include your name! “Hi, my name is Stephanie Pleasants.” is a perfectly acceptable first line. I want to know who you are before I send a message to you. If I’m going to call you, I want to know how to address you. Get your name on that page and let’s use your first and last name.

I don’t want my photo there.

Yeah, me neither. But, having a visual of you as I type out that contact message helps a lot. Picturing you when I make that call makes the conversation a little easier. Many people remember images. It’s the first step in the know-like-trust factor. Let me get to know you.

Do you like creating videos? Go for it! Talk to me. But, don’t make the video auto-play and do put content there for those of us who aren’t video watchers.

What am I supposed to write?

Write about you and what you do. Keep it short, but not too short. Don’t over inflate it. I don’t need every detail of your life story, just the details that will affect me. A lot of text is going to turn me off, too much isn’t going to be read. I suggest 1 long paragraph or up to 3 shorter ones. Be natural. If you like to make jokes, put them in. Talk to me. Tell me a little about you, what you do, why I should listen to or hire you. Your About page is one more little hook to land that client.

One tip I read was to have a someone who knows you well write your about page. That could work. At the very least that might give you something to get started with that you can then tweak to your liking. Toss in some key words and phrases and you’ve got a something to start with.

Go now. Read your about page and decide if it needs a tweak.

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Is your pricing costing you clients?

pricingWe all do it. We talk ourselves up, build our confidence, set our fees to a rate we know we are worth, but when it comes down to giving a quote, we drop the price. Guilty! (One of my 2014 goals is to stop doing that!)

Did you know that low rates actually turn clients away? A smart client, the one you want to work with, knows that you get what you pay for. If your pricing is too low, they know the quality is not there.

This is a great article from Meredith Eisenberg over at DecisiveMinds.com about why low rates are bad for business and what you can do to boost your pricing confidence.

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Selling Virtual Items in WHMCS

I love when I have an a-ha moment and solve a problem, even if it does take a few days.

I use WHMCS to manage my billing and products. It’s been great for selling services, but I’ve recently ventured into downloadable products (like my new ebook!). I knew I could use WHMCS to sell downloadable items, but I wasn’t sure exactly how. I spent days trying to figure out how to deliver the product. I know I had it set up correctly, but I wanted the buyer to receive an email with a link to download. That link was stumping me. I spent a lot of time at the WHMCS forums and nothing I was reading was working.

The original link posted in the forums looked something like this, with id=X being the download id number:

https://PATHTOWHMCS/dl.php?type=d&id=X&serviceid={$service_id}

(I now know that the PATHTOWHMCS part can be put in by using {whmcs_url}, another duh!)

Nothing could get this work. I thought maybe the user needed to be logged in to see the download as available. When I went to the downloads page, I was signed out, that left me thinking my page was broken. I updated my install, I tried a few things to the .tpl file. I tried to replicate the products list on the client area page. Anything to make sure my buyers were seeing the link to download right away from the link given in the email.

Turns out I had put a downloadable item up for sale in the past and I had created a custom email template for that item. After locating it, I found the link I put in there. A link that sends the reader straight to the products page of the client area. That page is where the download link is located. Boom! Problem solved!

For your reference, here’s the link to include in your email:
{$whmcs_url}/clientarea.php?action=products

And, if you’re wondering how to set up the product, here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Upload your Product

Navigate to Support -> Downloads, create a category for your products, upload your product and check the boxes for “Tick this box to only allow logged in clients permission to download it” and “Tick this box if this download should only be available after a product or addon purchase”.

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Step 2: Create your Product Email

Navigate to Setup -> Email Templates. You’ll want to create a new Product Message. I advise copying an existing template and changing the necessary items. You can create an email template for each downloadable product or one generic since you’ll be including a link to the products page for your buyer to access their item. You’ll want to include this code which will be replaced with a link to your buyer’s products page. There they can click the little down arrow next to the item to see the download link. (I’ll be putting that little tip in my email as well so buyer’s aren’t lost!)

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Step 3: Create your Product

Navigate to Setup-> Products/Services and create your item. Under Details-> Welcome Email, you should include the email template you just created. Under Module Settings, select Auto Release, then select one of the options below that. Mine is set for “Automatically setup the product as soon as the first payment is received”. I want to make sure payment is processed before it’s accessible. Last part! Under Other, you need to add the file. You’ll see Associated Downloads. In the first box navigate to your file, then click to add it to the box on the right.

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Done! Happy Selling!

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Thirsty Rough, a Retro Script Font

Retro vintage fonts are so popular these days. Today I ran across Thirsty Rough, a font that combines the cool retro look with a curvy script.Yellow Design Studio has created a perfect retro script font.

thirsty-rough-font

The Thirsty Rough font family includes everything- letters, numbers, punctuation, symbols and accented characters. The features include old style numerals, ligatures and stylistic alternates, as well as multiple language support. Thirsty Rough includes four weights- light, regular, bold and black- each with four levels of distress so you can get just the worn down look you’re going for. This is currently the #15 best seller at MyFonts.com

This professional weathered font would look great on a t-shirt or a coffee shop banner. How about a call to action graphic with this retro script font on your website? I think it’d be perfect! What do you think?

retro script font

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Build a Better Portfolio

build-a-better-portfolioIf you are an artist, of any type, looking to get hired, you must have a portfolio available to display the best of your previous work. Not just a thrown together group of images, you need a great, functional, easy to use portfolio of images. I work with many photographers so portfolios are something I deal with quite a bit, in addition to needing to put one together myself. Here are some tips I’ve put together to get you started in creating a better portfolio.

Ditch the Flash

Why are you still using flash? We are a mobile world now and flash just is not mobile friendly. I know, it looks great to you and there are templates that make it easy for you, but a portfolio is more about function and displaying your great work. You don’t need a flashy interface to detract from your quality. Flash is also slow to load, which brings me to my next point….

Speed Matters

This is one of those all around tips. A slow website will negatively affect your search engine rankings, but it will also cause people to back right out of your site. In today’s rush rush lifestyle, we just don’t have time, or desire, to wait. We want it and we want it now. Pay more for a great hosting service that isn’t overloading servers with websites.

Navigation is Necessary

I mention navigation a lot. I’m not referring to just portfolio navigation, but also whole site navigation. Your site visitors want to see your work, make it easy for them to find! Once you’ve done that, focus on the navigation within your portfolio. Make sure you have previous/next arrows or text. Navigating from one portfolio image to the next should be a nice flow.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

It’s better to show one great image as opposed to three mediocre images. Only release the best of your best. If you have the slightest doubt, don’t post it. An okay image will degrade the quality of your best image. I can’t count how many times I ask myself why an artist included a certain image, one that clearly isn’t their best. Your portfolio is a representation of you, only put your best self out there.

Badly Cropped Thumbnails

If your portfolio uses thumbnails, make sure they are cropped nicely. Sometimes the thumbnail is auto-cropped and beyond your control. But don’t settle until you’ve tried everything you can to get a good thumbnail crop. A non-cropped thumbnail would be far better than a badly cropped thumbnail.

Well Designed Site

You must have a well designed site. Simple is best for an artist, you want your work noticed, not your website. Don’t allow your website to detract from the work you produce. Your website should be clean, display properly and not look like it was put together in 1998. Let’s review your site and see what we can do to it!

Relax the Security

Just relax. Allow your images to be shared. What gets shared, gets noticed. Watermark those images (super important!!) and turn off the disabling of right-click. If you’ve properly watermarked, you shouldn’t worry about stealing. Let your site visitors share those images, either on facebook or by saving them to their own computer to share later. Every share, in any form, is beneficial to you, let it happen!

Easy Contact

Two things fall in here- get your name out there and be easy to contact. If you are operating under a business name or a username somewhere, that is perfectly fine, but put your real name out there. Be personable. Allow your soon-to-be clients to know and use your name when contacting you. Make it easy for them to reach you, get a contact form on your site and/or an email address. And, as stated, make it easy to find in your navigation!

Your portfolio is one of the first steps in getting hired, make it work for you instead of against you. Now, I’m going to go check on my own portfolio and see what I can improve. I know it’s not the portfolio I originally had in mind so I settled because clients come first!

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