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Yearly Archives: 2011

Common Ecommerce Mistake #1: Get Niche or Get Out

Originally published here:

One of the most common mistakes new online businesses make is trying to sell too many different kinds of things.

Last year I sat down with a lovely chap in his fifties who had an idea for an online business that he was really excited about, and he wanted me to help make his dream a reality. He had spent the last six months going round craft fairs and trade shows looking for unique and unusual gifts that weren’t available on the high street and he was going to create an online store that offered them all to the public.

“Great” I said, “So what sorts of products are you selling?”

“All sorts” he replied. And he wasn’t kidding. He had a selection of beautiful environmentally friendly candles, a range of cute animal slippers for kids, … READ MORE

The Truth About SEO

In last month’s blog post I talked about how you can influence how relevant search engines think you are by tweaking the content of your site pages.

I gave you some simple things to look at that were well within your control and will have a real positive effect.

This month, however, is where search engine optimisation gets ugly.

Get Into The Mind of Google

You see, the content on your page is only half the picture.

Imagine you are Google for a minute and Mrs. Jones approaches you and asks you to recommend a shop selling cakes in Bristol. You, as Google, want to make sure that the recommendation you give Mrs. Jones is of the highest possible quality so she will come back to you again next time.

So you have a look and you find three … READ MORE

The Only SEO Guide You’ll Ever Need – Part 1

Originally Published Here

Search Engine Optimisation is such a massive turn-off for most businesses. What I hear all the time from my clients is that it’s confusing, it’s highly technical, it takes a huge amount of effort, there’s conflicting information out there about how to do it and no matter how hard you work at it, there will always be some other competitor out there doing it better.

This is an attempt to cut through a lot of the waffle and jargon. More importantly, it should give you a few things to work on with your websites that will actually move you up the search engine results over time.

Relevance is Everything

Let’s start by going back to what Search Engine Optimisation is trying to achieve. We know it’s all about getting you as high as possible on search engine … READ MORE

Actinic Online Part 3 – Menus

If you’ve been following the story so far (here and here) you’ll see that so far in Actinic Online I’ve come up with a straightforward but attractive design I think is achievable, and also worked out how to get at the CSS of the site to start implementing some custom fonts, colours, graphics and backgrounds.

Next job was to add in a top menu, a sidebar menu and a footer menu. Unsurprisingly, to get at these you go to ‘Site > Menus > All Menus’

Configuring menus in Actinic Online is a neat distillation of everything that is great, and everything that is frustrating, about Actinic Online.


It’s great because it’s so intuitive to add an item to any menu in the design. Simply highlight an existing menu item and a little pop-up menu comes up within … READ MORE

Designing With Actinic Online – Part 2

Having come up with a design I think would work in Actinic Online (original article is here if you haven’t seen it) the next job was to get access to the design options in Actinic Online and start playing.

If you are doing a custom design, you can start in one of two places. Either you can start with a ‘SmartSkin’ or you can just pick a static ‘Site Design’.


It is quite good fun to play with Actinic Online’s SmartSkin editor ( go to ‘Site > Site Design > Modify’ then click the ‘Use a Smart Skins Design’ link). This bit of Actinic Online is intuitive and well presented (and therefore has clearly been written by different developers than the rest of the software…) You can use to change the colours and sizes of all the main … READ MORE

Designing With Actinic Online – Part 1

Where To Begin?

There is nothing like having a real customer to help focus the mind on learning a new bit of software.

No, let me rephrase that.

There’s nothing like there being money involved to help focus the mind on learning a new bit of software. :)

When a customer approached me wanting to use Actinic Online for their online store, I had only really spent about 5 minutes clicking round the demo store vaguely seeing how it all fitted together. Now I had to properly learn it and implement a site using it.


The first challenge was coming up with a proposal and a price for the project. As I really didn’t know yet what I was going to be able to achieve design-wise, my first job was to figure out the layout options there were in Actinic … READ MORE

Using Twitter for Business

Originally posted here –

Twitter can be an incredibly powerful business tool.

You can use it to encourage loyalty with your current customers, and also connect to brand new people who you would never have reached before Twitter.

Which sounds marvellous in theory, but there’s no denying that it’s also a tricky medium to get your head around.

If you read my last article, you’ll already have set yourself up with a Twitter account and started following a few people. The next step is to engage with Twitter meaningfully and effectively in a way that’ll gain customers and drive sales.

The ultimate goal on Twitter is to get as many relevant people subscribing to (or ‘following’) your messages as you can. With more followers you have a larger ready-made audience for your news and promotions, and you also … READ MORE

Why Should You Bother With Twitter?

Originally Published on the Postcode Anywhere Blog

When I talk with my clients about using Twitter, half of them tell me they don’t understand it, and the other half don’t see why they should bother with it.

To be honest, I can see what they mean – it’s not like the average small business owner in the UK needs to know much about Justin Bieber’s latest haircut, or what Lauren might do next week in ‘The Only Way Is Essex’.

However, there are some massively useful things that a business owner can get out of Twitter, without even having to get that involved in it.

Here’s where to start.

Step 1 – Dip Your Toes In With A Search

Just go to and use the search bar to search for anything you like. If you sell angling equipment try … READ MORE