One man band

My blogging has been somewhat sporadic of late. Forgive me, I have been busy. And possibly (though I doubt it), sowing the seeds of a new income stream for la familia Britton.

For the past three weeks I have been busy creating a website for the local English school. Not the madhouse at which Alison teaches, but the Professional English School – a specialist language school here in Nagua. And last Friday the website went live – please check it out and let me know what you think at www.professionalenglishschool.com.

I’ve built two websites before – our blog (www.rambkz.us) and the colleges website (www.colegionuevaluz.com). But this one is the first one I’ve been paid to build (the grand sum of US$500). And I’m rather proud of it.  John the owner is happy too – he told me today that he’s got a new contract with a local bank to teach 10 employees – and that the quality of the website was one of the things that swung the work his way.

Over the past three weeks Alison has been a bit of a ‘website-widow’ (similar to a golf-widow, only I never leave the house and never get any exercise). During is time I have:

  • Registered the website names and set-up the hosting
  • Designed and built the website structure
  • Written the content (checked over and edited by one of the bilingual teachers at the school)
  • Taken the pictures and videos
  • Recorded the sound snippets of students talking (some in pretty ropey quality, admittedly)
  • Ripped some tracks from the audio CDs that accompany the course materials
  • Taken (and for one or two, I admit, made up) the testimonials (may what’s left of my tattered soul rest-in-peace)
  • Created the logo (I had a fun evening learning how to create circular text using GIMP – sad, I know)
  • Spliced the videos so the logo appears at the beginning and end of each
  • Sorted out (hopefully) the Search Engine Optimisation (so the site appears high in Google and Bing search results)
  • Set up the (hopefully robust) backup routines (just in case)

It was a bit like being a one-man-band. Left hand holding the camera. Right hand juggling microphone and CDs. Left foot typing copy. Right-foot kicking the client to please get me some testimonials.

It doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist’  ‘Good enough’ are two words that don’t appear together in my vocabulary.  As Alison has told me more than once – “it must be hard with that stick so far up your arse” (and she’s right, damn her, but I just can’t help myself).  So videos were taken and retaken, text was written and then tweaked.  And then tweaked again.  I started keeping a log of all the hours I was spending – but stopped when the number got too scary (and the effective rate per hour far too low).

John (my client and owner of the school) has to his great credit built the business from scratch over the past two years and now has four teachers and over 20 classes. To convince the locals to invest in learning English when many have a poor mastery of their first language is no mean feat. However he is a self-confessed computer duffer, and had very little in the way of promotional materials (or even ideas) that I could build on.

So I wrote most of the website copy myself. And took all the photos. You know, I’m not a bad copy writer. And I know marketing. And I know how to handle clients. So maybe, just maybe, there’s a living to be made doing this.

Tomorrow I’m talking to my client (listen to me!) about where next. He wants to get onto Facebook (I have no idea about this, but it sounds fun to find out). I want to optimise his site for mobile devices (everyone
here uses their mobiles rather than computers to view the web). He wants me to continue to support the site even from afar. It’s almost a shame that we’re leaving.

Fingers crossed – you might just be reading about the next Bill Gates…….or more likely you’ll find me busking in a metro station somewhere.

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