If you haven’t figured it out yet, success really depends on relationships. Everyone screws up sometimes, and if you have good relationships with people around you, you can get out of hot water.
I forgot this adage recently, and I got burned.
I was hired by a small town to revamp their early 2000’s website. I was hired by one administration and worked very well with them. I worked through phase one which included setting the theme, creating the template for the header and menu, and setting the colors and photo slide show.
As with many small governments, and big ones for that matter, it was slow going getting the content for the rest of the site. This was nobody’s fault. It’s the effect of an understaffed office and women who, frankly, do way more than their job description calls for.
Fast forward a few months, and November elections changed the administration. This is where I failed. I did not make it a priority to build a relationship with the new administration including a new town administrator and a new mayor.
Once the new administration was sworn in, they wanted the site finished yesterday. Well, sites don’t get built in a day, and I was still waiting on a good amount of content. To further complicate things, the new administration changed a lot of what was already approved by the former administration, so I had to undo and redo somethings that were not necessarily small tasks.
I happened to run into the mayor, and he asked when was the site going to be ready. I told him honestly that I thought it could be ready by the following Friday. He was pleasant enough, and I was unaware that he was unhappy. Annoyed maybe, but not unhappy.
Well, I worked my tail off and was ready to get final approval the following Wednesday. We would be ready to launch that Friday as promised.
Sadly, it was not to be. When I called to see if there were any final edits that needed to be made, I was told to stop working on the site and put up a “Coming Soon” sign. “The mayor decided to go in a different direction,” I was told. “Send us an invoice for the work done. The mayor does not want to continue this relationship.”
There it was in plain letters. The mayor didn’t want to continue the relationship. That was when it hit me. I had not failed to build the website. It was complete, and it was beautiful! I had failed at building relationships. I didn’t take the time to meet with my new administration (my customer) and make sure that I was meeting their needs.
I still can’t wrap my head around how a small town can pay for a completed website and not use it. The Coming Soon sign is still up, and it’s been 3 months now. They could have had a beautiful site up for their taxpayers and constituents. I guess it just goes to show that relationships really are everything.
I’ve learned my lesson. I surely will not overlook a client relationship again.
Being a teacher of 27 years, I approach problems differently than most people (to the chagrin of my husband). You see, I am a problem fixer. If something is broken, I analyze it, break it down, and fix it. Having this skill was very handy in education because if a student didn’t understand something, I would figure out a way to help him understand.
“What does this have to do with helping customers create copy for their website?” you ask. Well, I was recently working with a client to create her website copy (that’s a fancy word for website content). This client is full of words. She can talk to anyone anywhere about anything. Strangely, though, when it came to her talking about what her business had to offer, she came up short.
What’s the problem? Well, could it be she doesn’t like writing? Perhaps she doesn’t feel like she is a good enough writer. Maybe she is the type of person who doesn’t feel comfortable tooting her own horn. Maybe she talks better about other people than about herself. Maybe she doens’t know what people want to know.
What should she put on her website? That is a great question, so let’s begin at the beginning. All SEO aside, the first job of a website is to share information with customers and to get them to stay on the site long enough to read what is there for them. Following these simple steps will help you get over your writer’s block. Guaranteed!
Content Creation Exercise for Customers
Step 1: Make a list of all the questions you get about your business. This can be a team or individual effort. The longer the list, the better.
Step 2: Organize the questions into related groups.
Step 3: Name each group – these might end up being the names of your pages or headings for your FAQ page. It’s okay if you repeat yourself. This can get cleaned up later.
Step 4: Answer each question either on paper or by talking. Yes, you can talk your way through the entire process without ever picking up a pen. Read on.
Using Technology to Help You Write
Use your smartphone to record your website content.
With so much technology around, it is easy to forget the powerful tools at your fingertips. How many business owners own a smartphone? In my totally unscientific research, I’d guess a pretty large percentage. A voice recorder is pretty much standard on a smartphone, so grab your list of questions, hit record, and start talking.
Using this method does require you to pick up a pen and transcribe what you said, but the next method will actually turn your speech into text. Read on!
Speech to Text Apps and Add-ons
There are plenty of speech-to-text or voice-to-text apps available for both iOS and Android phones, but not all of them are reliable. Check out these reviews from Computer Business Review and Entrepreneur to help you narrow your focus and target a reliable tool from the start. If you are more comfortable on a laptop or desktop, move on to the next section.
You can @harnessthepower of Google by allowing it to type as you speak!
If you have access to a Google account, you can access Google Docs which has a Voice Recorder in its Tools menu. I just tried it out, and the accuracy was amazing. It even corrected itself when it thought I had said one thing but had actually said another. There is also a Google Add-on for Speech to Text that you can download for free. Directions for how to do this can be seen at the Xizzee YouTube channel.
So if you are coming up short when trying to generate content for your site, try these quick and easy steps. Your webmaster will thank you, and you will be able to move forward. For more tips like this one, follow us on Facebook.com/xizzee and on Twitter @xizzee. Good luck to you, and remember to #harnessthepower of the web.