Creating Your Offline Marketing Website...Template Or From Scratch?

27 replies
Hi all...

I'm curious to hear what you active offline marketers do to setup your own business website that you market to your clients....Are you using an HTML/Wordpress template OR are you using a site that you (or outsourcers) built from scratch?

I'm rolling out a mini-campaign but this is the last piece of the puzzle that I'm trying to hammer down. I did see some very professional wordpress templates that I could pull off but I wanted to get your two cents.

Thanks!

Michael
#creating #getting clients #marketing #offline #offline marketing #scratch #website #websitetemplate
  • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
    I'm all for simplifying.

    I'm in the process of creating a portfolio site using wordpress with a paid theme I can make changes to.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Franklin
      Originally Posted by avenuegirl View Post

      I'm all for simplifying.

      I'm in the process of creating a portfolio site using wordpress with a paid theme I can make changes to.
      By chance, are you using itheme or artisteer? Those two keep coming up....
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      • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
        I'm toggling between Themeforest or a quasi DIY with Headway. I own headway, but it takes time to use.

        The theme on themeforest is "almost" perfect. It's only $15 bucks and would definitely speed things up more. It is missing one thing and I'm debating if I need it or not.

        I have to make a firm decision this weekend.
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        • Profile picture of the author thesanto
          Originally Posted by avenuegirl View Post

          I'm toggling between Themeforest or a quasi DIY with Headway. I own headway, but it takes time to use.

          The theme on themeforest is "almost" perfect. It's only $15 bucks and would definitely speed things up more. It is missing one thing and I'm debating if I need it or not.

          I have to make a firm decision this weekend.
          I use Headway, it's a very powerful too, and you can create very professional websites. Let me know if you need any help with it. Check out my website, it was built using Headway platform behind Wordpress the perfect combination.

          Take care,
          Henry
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  • Profile picture of the author Russell Hall
    Originally Posted by Michael Franklin View Post

    Hi all...

    I'm curious to hear what you active offline marketers do to setup your own business website that you market to your clients....Are you using an HTML/Wordpress template OR are you using a site that you (or outsourcers) built from scratch?

    I'm rolling out a mini-campaign but this is the last piece of the puzzle that I'm trying to hammer down. I did see some very professional wordpress templates that I could pull off but I wanted to get your two cents.

    Thanks!

    Michael
    Hey Michael,

    good questions that every online marketer should be asking. Once you have the "answers" or best solutions with validatable reasons then you can "sell" or convince your offline clients of the advantages of why you're using your system(s) of choice.
    I must admit that as a WordPress Programmer and developer I am clearly biased that way,.. but for very good reason. I've produced sites in html (still do some) and had the option to use other CMS platforms like Joomla etc but chose WP for simplicity and also the main reason was that I could not find any other php platform that could be used as a CMS (Content Management System) that offered the massive onsite SEO and offsite Web2.0 advantages that it does.

    Clients don't really care what platform you use and generally aren't interested in all the techie arguments, but if you can simply say to them "hey,.. I use this for all our sites for these reasons" then that's usually good enough for them when you site the main reasons as "simplicity of use" "low costs" "Dynamic effects" "viral attributes" and best of all,.. more traffic and more conversions (when combined with the right lead gen pages and sales funnel).

    If you have any questions at all about WP or how I've been using it please ask as I'm happy to share!

    Cheers,
    Russ
    PS. In my experience when you ask an outsourcer to create something from scratch (especially in WP) then they'll use an established theme framework and just repurpose it to suit. That's fine as long as the basic theme is solid and also as long as you don't go paying $1500+ for a "master-theme" that's been ripped from something thats either a public domain freebie or a $50+ commercial theme.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Franklin
      Originally Posted by Nic Lynn View Post

      Another vote here for the options at ThemeForest!
      Just checked out ThemeForest....Wow! So much to choose from!

      Any favorite or preferred themes on there for offline marketers?

      Thanks!
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      • Profile picture of the author Summertime Dress
        I love artisteer...once you get past the learning curve, you can create sites in 30 minutes. It is awesome.
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  • Profile picture of the author redcell1
    I love WP for sites. But I do have to say while grabbing a template from themeforest sounds great, I don't want to run into anyone that has the same template ( The chance of that happening is slim I know) but I just would not want to be caught in that scenario because we all know that in offline marketing alot of our competition uses templates etc.

    But I would recommend Themeforest, you can check out their .psd's section and whip up something custom
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  • Profile picture of the author kyhawk2
    There is a wso for a offline site just about ready to go.
    For 7 bucks.
    http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-...iring-you.html
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  • Profile picture of the author Nathan Alexander
    I too, would love to hear opinions about a great themeforest site for this use. How can I get you to show your hand Jill?
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    • Profile picture of the author marketingva
      I've been using Wordpress with free templates that I then customize. I can create a new site in 30 minutes.

      Bonnie
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    • Profile picture of the author TimD
      I use themeforest InFocus. It's a very professional looking system and is very customizable with a good admin page to do the customizing from. It took me an hour to throw up a first run site. I was only interested in providing a place for people to see testimonials. I need to take a second run at it soon.

      you can see it at Effective Web Marketing

      There's a lot I'm going to change about it. But it looks professional out of the box. And I've had lots of positive comments about it.

      itheme agency is good too.

      I've also had the experience that Avenuegirl did. I sold for 9 months and did steady business before I put up a site. When people asked about my site I just told them that no one searches the internet to find what I do. And they readily agreed.
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  • Profile picture of the author redlegrich
    I recommend Builder from iThemes. Very flexible and powerful. They have a number of child themes that work great as a base to start from. They also offer a set of plugins that do great things with presenting images. Builder has the flexibility of Artiseer without the cursing.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
      Originally Posted by kyhawk2 View Post

      There is a wso for a offline site just about ready to go.
      For 7 bucks.
      http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-...iring-you.html
      That's not bad, but unfortunately it's not wordpress.


      Up until now, I've done offline stuff and no one has asked to see my personal site or a full portfolio (don't ask how I've managed this, lol).

      My main reasons now for putting a site together is that I'm moving again and I think having a reference site will push people a bit quicker. I'm going into unchartered waters and will need to establish myself quickly.

      This site is truly a personal site and portfolio type site so I opted to go with my real name for the domain (I have other plans for my avenuegirl site) and I'm avoiding that corporate type look.

      Avenuegirl.com is actually from themeforest - and I did a bit of customization with the icons and photos so you would never know where it came from exactly. I actually just went to look so I could show you what the original looked like, but looks like it's been removed from their inventory.

      I'm not too worried about anyone having the same theme as those themes get personalized with your own logo and content. I'm more concerned about the layout and maybe some other fun things it might do - but layout options are #1.


      That being said, I had/have a picture in mind of how I want the pages to be displayed and here is what I've been looking at:

      WordPress - Smart Portfolio - Wordpress Edition - ThemeForest is what I initially came across, but after checking out this designers other stuff I am leaning toward this:

      WordPress - Minimal Wordpress Portfolio - ThemeForest

      I will have some video samples, and links to other website projects I've worked on, and there will be blog room for general ramblings to personalize me a bit to new people.

      But this particular site will not be pushed as a lead capture site. It will be given out on a business card to people I've already captured via other means.

      The area I'm moving to will have its dedicated directory site where I'll put some big things up for free - like the local airport and the mall and will list some retail chain places that I know won't be needing a website from me and who are not my potential clients. As the clients fill in I can remove what I don't like/need so clients get the focus.

      I'll be getting out the phonebook once I get to the new spot, and actually I just found the chamber of commerce site for this area which lists a ton of businesses, many of which have no website and for those that do I can see if they are even listed on google places - many are not.

      But back to the subject, lol.

      I think everyone needs to determine their own image. Do you want to be seen as industrial or personal?

      Then you need to determine what you are putting on the site. Figure out what you need first, and give yourself a little breathing room.

      Determine what color scheme you want, and keep in mind you can get photos and icons that look professional - I like to use dreamstime and they are really cheap for lower res professional pics. You don't need the super high res for web graphics. Everything gets pixels reduced for faster loading anyway.

      I do look at how many have downloaded the same theme, but I also look for all the customizations that will make it very different from the others.

      It's also ideal when you are buying a theme to see if you can get some interaction with the creator. I've had custom pages created at no additional charge - all because the person who created the theme realizes they are usually things they can add to give more value to the package.

      Today I was reintroducing myself to headway - but found some issues with centering and full control can only truly be achieved with a good knowledge of CSS IMO.

      Will wait till I get frustrated, and probably swipe up one of those themes above.
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  • Profile picture of the author akazo
    I have been in IT my whole life and the debate on tools always boils down to - what are you familiar with and what are you comfortable with. You can build a great website with HTML, Wordpress, Joomla, or Drupal, etc, etc, etc.

    If you are starting from scratch, then start with a CMS solution - Wordpress, Joomla, or Drupal would be the top 3 IMHO. You want to be able to leverage the multitude of free plugins that these solutions offer.

    Out of these 3, I prefer Joomla for a complex site and Wordpress for simple ones. But that's because I started with Joomla so that's where I am more comfortable.

    Anyway, don't debate forever which is better, just look at a sample of the sites built with either one and jump into whichever one you think looks best for your needs. Either one is a great solution and you can't go wrong and the "best" will always be an opinion.

    Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author uniquemarketer
    I like to design my site using HTML/CSS and then integrate a Wordpress blog to it.

    A small business website should be easy to design and build using HTML/CSS.
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  • Profile picture of the author peter.max
    There is no right or wrong when it comes to the technology. It is more important that you have a website where prospective customers can get a "feel" for what you do. In the offline market they don't really know or care whether it is WP, Joomla or HTML. Your objective with the sitebis more important.

    I've used Joomla sites for complex corporate sites, WP with ThemeForest for smaller clients and HTML for mini sites that have a single Call To Action.

    I use WP with ThemeForest for my own IM business promotion
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  • Profile picture of the author jrod014
    Theme forest all the way!
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Solem
    You can do a lot more now with the default 2010 theme that comes with Wordpress than you could with the old one and I find that works for some sites, but more often than not I find myself using a nice Theme Forest design for my own projects.

    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author Summertime Dress
      Never mind on artisteer...all kinds of complaints in their forum.
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      • Profile picture of the author MarcS
        Originally Posted by Summertime Dress View Post

        Never mind on artisteer...all kinds of complaints in their forum.
        Artisteer is a good tool for creating the look you want with minimal effort once you know how it works.

        Most of the complaints you see about Artisteer come from users that get upset about the speed of Artisteer's development cycle and the company's communications with their users.

        They were very slow adapting to Wordpress 3.0 and there have been a few bumps along the way. Their code is relatively dense and they do not yet have anything integrated into your Wordpress Dashboard to manage changes. So they are a design tool, not a "framework". As a design tool, they work with Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress, DotNetNuke and HTML. So they have their value.

        Since there are a number of frameworks out there, I would keep my eye on Artisteer. My opinion is that they should have a branch of their development to create an integrated wordpress framework. Until then, they are probably a dead end for WP developers.
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  • Profile picture of the author vip-ip
    Custom is ALWAYS > cookie cutter template. I'd rather never run the risk of losing a $xxxx client over how my portfolio looks.

    Best Regards,
    vip-ip ...
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  • Profile picture of the author George Pitts
    Hey Michael,

    It's good to see you. I am using wordpress and theme forest is by far the best place for good looking themes for your site. I still owe you one for mentoring me when I was on the internet marketing circuit. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you on the offline side.

    Thanks

    George
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  • Profile picture of the author Iemagine
    I use wordpress because its so simple. Thirty minutes if that much time and I'm done. Usually clients don't care what you use and don't even ask. They usually don't know what your talking about anyway. I just explain to them how great the site will be and show them a few I've created for other local clients and their convinced. I would go with what is the easiest for you at first and then venture on to html etc... Just my opinion.
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    • Profile picture of the author JamieSEO
      Where possible I go with Wordpress, but sometimes you just get that stubborn client that insists it must all be in some other programming language and will not be budged by the fact you can get the same functionality through Wordpress.

      As for whether or not to use a template... it depends on the client, but I have built up a fairly large collection of templates that I use at times.
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  • Profile picture of the author AllanWard
    I'd be inclined to use whatever platform you intend to recommend to the client.

    If you want to set them up with WordPress, then base your site on that and use it as an example of what can be done. If you use a premium theme like Headway (which I use), then use that as well.

    I think a prospective client is more concerned with seeing that you have a real business as opposed to having a good looking site. Use examples of your work, testimonials etc - I think they have more weight with clients.
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