September Business Brainstorming Brisbane

Websites was the main topic of discussion at the Professional Parents Business Brainstorming session on Tuesday 20th September 2011.  Bringing together like-minded parents who balance family and business, this family-friendly event (children welcome) gave us the opportunity to share our knowledge and experiences, catch up with old friends and make new ones too.

Held at the Mango Hill Tavern, the staff were very accommodating and the children loved the facilities with a great indoor playground to keep them occupied for most of the time.  There was even a school holiday pizza making workshop that one of the children took part in.  When they needed a cuddle, a snack or to let off steam for a few minutes here and there, it was no problem as we’re all parents used to managing caring for our children and working on our business as the same time!

Here is a list of the talented Professional Parents who were there with a link to their websites and a summary of some of their experiences on the topic of websites:

Vanessa: http://dollyvardens.com/ 

Vanessa finds that her Dolly Vardens Facebook page is where she’s putting most of her energy right now but would like to build her website more soon – which at the moment is a simple one showing a picture of her great retro van, general information & logo.  She used Talk About Creative for copywriting services and would recommend them.

Gayle: http://mummyswish.org.au 

Gayle runs a wonderful charity supporting mums with cancer and has had the Mummy’s Wish website built as an in kind donation.  This runs on a Content Management System (CMS) meaning she can update content herself whenever neccessary.  She’s really pleased with the way www.2am.com.au have set this up with their own system and would recommend this and finds it really easy to use.  She loves checking stats on the site as she finds this useful data.

Leanne: http://www.possumandbanjo.bigcartel.com/

Leanne makes funky boys shorts and has been pleased wtih her Big Cartel site for Possum and Banjo.  This offers an online shopping cart website with prices starting at USD$9.99 per month (but also with a very basic free option).  She’s decided to stick with the link including the “big cartel” name and finds it useful that you can add on additional features as your business grows.

Leanne emailed after the session:  “I’m thinking about obtaining a domain name etc now that I have with a bit more knowledge, (before it seemed so overwhelming and confusing) but I think I may look into it more for that professional look and it concerns me that I may miss out on getting www.possumandbanjo.com.au as my ideal website URL.”

Kylie: http://brizscapes.com.au/

Kylie from Brizscapes had her site built for their landscaping business.  This has been created in a way that she does not have access to make changes but would like to learn how to update the site and add photos herself soon.

Emma: http://www.bigfishlittlecheese.com

Emma actually recently decided to take down her Big Fish Little Cheese website and instead divert her domain name to her Facebook page.  She had been using http://www.pappashop.com – a low cost hosting company – but found that the $12 a month she was paying for this and additional work wasn’t worthwhile as her site had very little traffic and all customer interaction came instead from her Big Fish Little Cheese Facebook page.  She does also have a MadeIt.com.au page, an online marketplace for Australian handmade products which is also a low cost option.

Ngaire: http://www.brisbanekids.com.au

Ngaire recently paid a web developer to revamp the brisbanekids.com.au site using http://Wordpress.org and has been really happy with the results of this type of “website/blog” merge and sees it as a work in progress.  She’d recommend Duo Sista who developed the site.  Ngaire gets a massive amount of traffic through her website and has a media kit available for advertisers who would like to benefit from this.  The brisbanekids.com.au Facebook page has an impressive 10,000+ followers with wonderful fan interaction.

Chantal: http://www.naturalbabycare.com.au

Chantal also recently paid a web developer to create this site and is happy with the professional result.  She sells a mix of her own products (check out the brand new beautifully named bubblebath “Happy Bubbles”) and other selected products online through this website and also has regular market stalls.  The site was created by www.web123.com.au and Chantal would recommend their services.  She also has an active Facebook page with over 1000 followers.

Kate: http://www.allaboutyoupt.com.au

Kate had a friend create her website but updates it herself and has added links to other businesses, information about Personal Training in general and a link back to her Facebook page where she creates and publicises events for her classes.  She’s happy with this set up but would like to do more with SEO to be found more easily in search engines.

Renee: http://www.zestee.com.au and http://www.professionalparents.com.au

For both of my sites, I have used “URL cloaking” to divert my paid domain name back to a free website, avoiding web hosting fees.  It was mentioned this isn’t very good for SEO though as I don’t focus on being found via Google and other search engines, this is ok for me at the moment.  Though I used to run a free google sites website for Zestee,  I found I was updating the majority of my important information on my http://zestee.wordpress.com blog, so instead of maintaining the two, I decided to simply use my blog as my website.  This has worked well for a few months but now my business is growing, I’m looking into upgrading to a wordpress.org and paying for hosting to give me some more flexibility with templates and a more professional look.

www.professionalparents.com.au currently redirects to a free Weebly site.  This was really easy to create and has also worked well for around the last year, however again my blog has become my online focus so I plan to merge the two more neatly soon.  My Professional Parents Facebook page is also where most of my activity is and though I’d like to continue this, I’d prefer to drive more traffic through my website/blog.

Considering the above discussion lasted only around half an hour, you can see how much value-packed information was jammed into this time.  Nothing like bringing a group of busy mums in business together – we can all achieve amazing amounts in very limited time before the kids started getting hungry/thirsty/needing nappy changes/attention seeking!

Finally a few other valuable tips and comments from the group’s experiences:

  •  Facebook shopping carts (there are a couple of different “apps” here) were found to be a lot of time consuming administration work for little return.
  • Domain name prices can vary roughly from around AUD$30 for 2 years to around AUD$70 per year.  The .com domain names can be bought from a massive range of international (mostly USA) companies.  The .au domain names can only be organised with an ABN and the AUDA (Australian Domain Authority) has a list of these here.  The differences in price reflect different levels in service.  The larger and more important your site is to your business, you need to ensure you can “get someone on the phone at 2am to help if your site goes offline”.  Ziphosting, Domain Name Registry, Netregistry and Melbourne IT were mentioned as fairly reliable, with Crazy Domains not very highly recommended (but also acknowledged that this was a very cheap option and “you get what you pay for”).
  • Hosting & email packages also vary in price and can usually be packaged up with your domain name.
  • CyberSquatting was discussed and the fact this was both unethical and also illegal with a recent case study of Miranda Kerr shown as an example on the AuDA site.
  • Domain name lookup (was called whois, now called My Webname)  is a handy tool which can let you see who owns a domain name
  • Google Analytics or other built in monitoring of your website statistics was seen as crucial to see how your site is performing (and can be quite addictive!).

Wow!  As I type this (which doesn’t even cover all we talked about), it really is impressive how much we covered this morning.  A huge thank you to everyone for sharing and looking forward to seeing you at the next brainstorming session.  The next Sunshine Coast Business Brainstorming session is Friday 14 October and Brisbane Business Brainstorming session is Tuesday 18 October.  More more information contact:

Renee Veldman-Tentori

renee@zestee.com.au

04 0303 4848

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