Announcing Treo Express – Our New Blog & Minisite

Announcing Treo Express

As many of you know, I have been hard at work developing a new minisite/blog for the Palm Treo smartphone. The new site is a replacement for our previous Treo-themed minisite, Treo Webinar.

First, a little history: Treo Webinar sold a $4.95 eBook that provided an indepth training-tutorial of how to use the Treo smartphone. Unfortunately, that is about all the site did and there were very few content updates. We advertised on Google Adwords for 6 weeks and spent around $65 in text and banner advertising. We also sold the Treo Webinar on eBay, and ironically enough, eBay produced more sales than direct visitors to the site did. For an explanation to that, see this previous article. All-in-all, we sold about 20 eBooks, made $25 on Adsense, and sold a few Treo phones through our affiliate marketing. Definitely not the ROI we were looking for, given all of the work put into developing the eBook and the site itself.

As I mentioned earlier, because we were just selling an eBook and displaying affiliate ads/Adsense, we had no reason to frequently update the site’s content. As result, we received very little search engine traffic. This herein lies the problem: sites that are not updated frequently receive little to no search engine traffic. There are exceptions, but this is generally the case. The solution was to create a new site that provided fresh and useful content.

Our new site is called Treo Express. Treo Express is designed to feature news, product reviews, a hot deals page, and we will even still sell our eBook on the side. It is no secret that blogs produce much more search engine traffic than static content sites, so Treo Express should be able to generate much more revenue than Treo Webinar did, soley for the reason of better page rankings. Not to mention, visitors now have a reason to come back to Treo Express, instead of visiting Treo Webinar, which did not receive many repeat visitors.

Treo Express is now in its early testing stages and is up and running. My business partner, Josh, has already written 3 great articles for it. This site will be updated at least every other day by three different contributors.

Another special feature of the site is the Hot Deals page, which will feature a collection of links to great deals on Treo hardware, software, and accessories. We even have plans to setup an online store through partnering with a cell phone accessories wholesaler. And get this – the wholesaler will be drop-shipping all of the ordered parts for us – we do not have to do any packaging or stock inventory.

Neither the Hot Deals page or the Store is up yet, but in the next few days you will be able to browse a collection of over 200 products from various manufacturers.

What is the lesson here? Fresh, unique, and frequently updated content brings back visitors far more often than a static web site. Once the Hot Deals and Store pages are finished, I plan to create a full write-up on how to select a targeted niche and develop a unique minisite that provides useful content and a passive income stream through affiliate marketing and deals with wholesalers.

Just FYI, Treo Express is still in a relatively early stage of development and testing. We plan to improve the site quite a bit in the next few months. I invite you to check out Treo Express and let me know what you think. Rock on!

How to Prioritize Multiple Web Projects

How to Prioritize Multiple Web Projects

At some point in every busy web developer’s life, he or she finds out that there are too many projects and not enough time. Right now, for example, I have four separate projects I need to have nearly finished in the next week. Not to mention, I have school and the blog I need to be updating.

So, the question becomes, how does one prioritize the most important projects and work efficiently? First of all, listing your projects helps as far as prioritizing which ones should come first. Here are the web sites I need to have at least 90% finished by the end of this week:

  1. Cultural Media Collaborative – This is a site for a non-profit organization in New York City that specializes in filming documentaries. This client paid half up front and I should have it nearly finished this week.
  2. Treo Express – This is a new blog/news site for the Palm Treo smartphone. This is a joint project by two other business partners and myself.
  3. Dot Com Moguls – This is my domain investing business. Our web site will provide links and information about the roughly 170+ domains we are looking to sell.
  4. Another new blog project – this blog is actually for my Mom and her group of friends. I am doing this project for free, because it’s for my Mom! Nonetheless, this blog will require significant design work from start-to-finish.

Here are the qualifications I use to determine project priority, in order of most important to least important.

  1. Deadlines. Which project has the closest deadline? In my case, the web site for Cultural Media Collaborative should be nearly done by the end of this week. I still have a Flash header to intregrate into the site and this should take at least 10 hours. Projects with deadlines for clients should be taken care of with special attention. If you can meet all requested deadlines with clients, they are much more likely to recommend you to others. Even if you can’t meet a deadline, at least be upfront with your client and let them know you are running behind. Good communication can’t be more important when working with clients.
  2. Which projects have paid up front? The projects that have paid half upfront deserve priority. Personal projects should always take a backseat to paid client work. If you are doing a free project for someone, you must make it clear that paying clients have prority, because afterall, this is your job.
  3. Which projects will put the most money in your pocket? Money is especially important for the freelancer, because without it, we don’t get to eat! In the case of Treo Express, this project has the higest potential for financial returns because of the “Hot Deals” page we will be implementing. This project has a higher PPL than Dot Com Moguls, for example, because advertising DCM is less likely to produce many sales.

Oftentimes with how hectic life becomes, one forgets about the need to always be setting priorities. I believe that by setting priorities to each project, we are able to work most efficient and consistently.

Goodbye HTML + Tables, Hello CSS + Web Standards!

CSS+Web Standards

It is no secret that CSS and Web Standards are IN, while HTML + Tables are OUT. Cascading Style Sheets provide for many advantages lacking in traditional HTML-based table-layouts. Clearly, the separation between design and content is needed like the separation between Church and State. It must happen for the betterment of society! Want to change the design? Just change the stylesheet! Want to have your content easily viewable on a mobile phone? Just change the stylesheet! Once you master CSS, web design and layout change becomes easier to code and more accessable for the end-user.

Where should you start learning some CSS techniques? One of my favorite articles is from Smashing Magazine, entitled, “53 CSS-Techniques You Couldn’t Live Without.”

This article is an excellent resource which covers some of the following:

Switching from HTML table-design to CSS sounds like it is a big step to take. This is true, but it is a much needed step, and everyone who hasn’t already done so, should at least start making the effort. One great way to learn which has made it far easier on me is working with CSS-based WordPress templates. I have learned an incredible amount about CSS just by reverse-engineering WordPress templates. It is really nothing too difficult and the CSS is so tidy that editing and making changes is a piece of cake. Before you know it, you will be forgetting tables all together!

You know you have no reason to keep using tables…so go out there and jump on the CSS bandwagon! And don’t forget to have your CSS pages checked by the W3 CSS Validator!

Finished New Web Site – Black Warrior Properties

Black Warrior Properties

Today I finished my latest web project, a site for a real estate community in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The project came to me by referral from my roommate’s coworker. After seeing the pictures from this community, I had no idea Alabama was SUCH a beautiful place.

I have been working on the site for the past month now, but it has been nearly done for the past two weeks. Most people who have seen the site say it’s one of my best designs yet. I am trying to incorporate more and more CSS into my layouts. Eventually I hope to work only in CSS and scrap HTML tables all together. This was also my first experience at integrating FLASH into my projects.

Hopefully this project will lead to some great referrals for infinFX. Thanks to Gillian and Jeff Mayfield for the opportunity to work on this project!

Here is the link to their site: Black Warrior Properties