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Being a Webmaster

Written By: Phil Bate

It’s easy to become a webmaster. But, to become a really good webmaster
takes a lot more. And this takes a lot of work and study.

Many years ago, I started yacht racing in the Caribbean. I had been
sailing since the age of 11. I thought that I was an “expert” sailor,
but I found that I was really a novice. It’s easy to teach someone to
sail from point A to point B. BUT, getting from point A to point B in
the shortest possible time is a whole new story. It took me a full year
before I won my first race in a field of 10-12 boats.

Webmastering is very similar. Sure, anyone with more than three brain
cells rubbing together can learn HTML, and with all the free editors
out, it doesn’t even take that much effort. (Like learning to sail from
one point to another.)

As my own webmaster, being retired, an ex-digital engineer (before
psychologist), and computer guru, ex-sales engineer/sales manager, etc.
I thought that I had the tools to do the job.

After having a web site for over a year, I found that I have put
thousands of hours of just plain study in to all facets of this
fascinating job. Having spent my “retirement” money in sailing around
the Caribbean for several years, I don’t have much money, so had to
learn it all on my own. (I don’t regret the cruising years at all, by
the way.)

So, what did I learn about webmastering? It’s a very complex job,
requiring several levels of completely different areas of basic
knowledge. I’ve been studying it intensely for well over a year, and
have set up four web sites for different types of sales, (free health
advice, a yacht company, a travel company, and a personal site). When
starting a web site, what is necessary?

First, the webmaster (and you if you have decided to hire one), have to
analyse just what you are selling. After that analysis, decide how to
present what you are selling, and how to do that on a website. All too
many people just jump into a web site using one of the fancy editors
such as Front Page. Using their “flashy” setups is easy, but is it
really the way you want to present your message?

How about graphics and salemanship? If your graphics are too big and
take too long to load, people will click off before they get to your
real message. So, you have to know (or learn) a lot about how to make
graphics effective – not just flashy – and how to condense them so that
they load as fast as you can get them to. You have to learn a lot more
than you wanted to know about graphics, but it’s all necessary. If you’d
like to see a site (mine) that has minimal graphics for the message,
loads fast, easy to read, see:

http://www.alternate-health.com/home.html

For this site with mostly free health advice, I believe this approach is
right, but for more involved salesmanship, spice it up as needed while
still keeping the load time as low as possible. For an example of a lot
of necessary graphics, look at:
http://www.smg-yachts.com
The emphasis here is on graphics, as people want to get a look at the
yachts that are being sold. This sells, where text wouldn’t do the
job.

Next, if you aren’t gifted with sales ability in writing (and graphics
to go along), you have to learn a lot more in this field. Or, you have
to have somebody around that does. Decisions, decisions – do you use
paid ads, paid banners, ffa’s, ezines, MLM’s,or what? More and more
study is needed, or more and more money is needed to hire this knowledge
(and hope that whoever you hire knows what they are doing.)

With thousands of ads telling you that “they” have all the secrets of
the internet, and positioning, and making 10,000 a month, it’s more than
a little confusing, and some expertise is needed in this area as well.
>From personal experience, I can state that this knowledge comes with
making some mistakes and learning from them.

So what’s a competent webmaster? He/she is a really multitalented
person, or preferably, a team. A technical HTML expert, an expert on
search engines, a graphics expert, a sales/marketing manager, a
technical writer, an ad writer, a computer technician experienced in
software and the list goes on and on.

There are a lot of would-be webmasters out there, charging a lot of
money, and designing lots of very flashy webs. But, are these webs
actually doing the job, and making money for the owner? Do they load
reasonably fast? Surfing will show you hundreds of sites that are
pretty lousy in some ways, and the odds are that they cost somebody a
lot of money, and they are getting very little return.

About the Author

Phil Bate PhD – http://www.alternate-health.com
Free health advice site using holistic techniques.
Professional resources lists on all health subjects.

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