How much content is enough and how much is too much?

Or
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck … if a wood chuck could chuck wood?

What I mean is this: If a reader signs up for a newsletter or a email delivered class, how many emails (how much content) will it take before that person cries, “Uncle, Enough?”

I get bugged when I get more email than I imagine I’ll get when I sign up for a newsletter or a free report.

I think it’s the “I imagine” part of that thought that’s important.

When somebody signs up for your newsletter, do you tell them how often it will come? Or warn them that it might be a lot or not so much?

Here’s where my story starts:

I’ve signed up for a PDEC (pretty darn expensive class) to help me build my business (Hint, Hint, I’m taking new clients). Some of the stuff I’m learning is great and I sure enjoy the people. But here’s the  problem advice:

As soon as someone requests your freebee they are yours for life and you should start sending them emails, like, every other day to help them to remember who you are and maybe eventually you’ll wear them down … no, I mean…  see how great your product or service is and then buy from you.

So I signed up for somebodyelse’s freebee.

Got the confirmation email that I really did want that freebee.

Clicked the link to say I did.

Got the download.

Scanned the content really quick. Heck, I printed it out to read on vacation (which was starting the next day).

Then I got an email asking if I got it? (That was nice).

Then there was the “Do you have any questions?” email.

Then “Did you notice tips 3 and 8? I bet they’d be really good for you.”

Every other day since I signed up, I’ve gotten an email.

And pretty much by the 5th email I thought, I don’t have time to read more stuff from that place. I haven’t really been able to read more than a second pass (after the scan) of the content.

I understand that people forget quickly. I get that regular connection is important. Heck, in some ways I wish I could keep up that kind of contact (even though I do know it’s done automatically and the writer isn’t really thinking about ME, personally! )

However, when is enough enough?

Don’t over load me unless you tell me you will. It’s ok if I’ve signed up for your “Six tips in Six days.” But if I was just curious about your product, do I have to hear from you every other day?

Enough is enough for your blog posts

I am pretty much one with my computer (It is, after all, what I do and I do not play solitaire! although some other adults in my house do.)

So I read my email many times a day (except when it’s too much, then see rant above). I do my work. I’m building a business.

I can not read EVERY SINGLE EMAIL (well, unless it comes through my contact form. And those emails come with a specific subject line that gets automatically flagged as important! Actually the tag is a big red block that says “!DO SOMETHING.” The exclamation mark comes first so it’s at the top of my label list in Gmail) .. but I digress.

I do not have time to read all the newsletters I’ve signed up for, all the announcements from companies I’ve bought from, or a million posts in FaceBook, the forum of choice for the PDEC. I have to be selective.

300px-Mr._HorseAnd I don’t want to lose touch with anybody who’s asked for information. But neither do I want to bug them to death. Too much contact feels like the realtor who showed you one house and now feels compelled to take you out every weekend to look a 15 other houses that really aren’t what you’re looking for.

It’s spelled HIGH PRESSURE and, as Mr. Horse said in the old Ren and Stimpy cartoons, “No Sir, I don’t like it.”

And look, even the doctor says “Be regular.”

But don’t make yourself nuts over it. (I’m not actually sure he says that part, but he should!)

Unlike the doctor’s advice, posting on your blog every day or several times a day is not really worth going crazy for.

I understand the need to post in your blog or change the content on your website regularly. But every day? Every other day?  Really? When do you have time to work?

And how about the people you’re contacting? Do they care about you every other day? No offense, but unless it’s their mother, probably not.

As far as I know, Google doesn’t have a specific number of updates required to get on their good side.

AND Google likes REAL content. Not a bunch of short re-posts.

Remember,
No babies will die if you miss a day or a week.

Just keep real information flowing often enough.

How do I make my PDFs smaller?

Small bug on a big flowerWhat happens when the PDF you want to send is just too big?
How can you make that PDF (or an image, for that matter) smaller?

I got a great question about file sizes from a reader today.

The file size of the current issue of my church’s newsletter is too big to upload via WordPress. So can I use ftp to put it in a new folder and just link to it?

Or is there an easy way to reduce the size of a PDF?
Do you have to make the images smaller you put in it? or the number of photos? or run it through some compression? or?

Not only does uploading a big file to the internet make WordPress choke, but remember: the time it takes to upload is directly proportional to the download time.  Smaller images will definitely help!

Uploading does generally takes longer. But if the file is too big for WP, it’s just plain too big.

Let me ask you, just how long will you wait for a file to download before you decide you don’t really care that much anyway?

If your reader doesn’t even download the file, none of your content has any value anyway.

So here’s my answer, with first a bit of background

Think about images you make on your digital camera (or even phone!).  If you don’t know anything about these things at all, it’s all about the number of dots that can be squeezed into the space. And for sure you’ve been taught to know that 10 megapixel camera is MUCH better than a  2 megapixel camera.

Also, what happens when you try to attach an image you took with your phone to an email? My phone asks me to choose the image size: small, medium, large, and full size.

And if you load one of those giant photos onto your computer, have you noticed how long it can take to show the whole thing? It’s sure more than instantaneous.  That’s because the file is HUGE!

So what can you do? Edit the image size!

You could just use the image editor that’s part of WordPress (or MSWord, for that matter) to drag the corners and make the image the right size. The problem is you haven’t actually changed the size of the photo. The original giant photo in still in that file, just shown at the size you want. That’s easy and works great if you don’t care how big the final file is.

But reducing the size of the PDF is what we’re headed for.

Here are some suggestions to make your PDF file smaller

1. Use fewer images

Do you really need 6 views of your wedding cake in your Holiday letter? I’m guessing, in reality, nope! Just pick the best one. (Your friends REALLY don’t care to see all 6!)

2. Reduce the size of the photos you do use

  • Start by making the photo the actual size you want to use.

You don’t need a fancy graphics program to do this.

I like to experiment with the actual sizes so I use Irfanview. It’s free, loads up fast and is powerful enough to massage the size of the photos. It actually does lots of stuff and it’s pretty intuitive. Preview will probably work for a Mac.

Make the image bigger and smaller. But remember (or FYI) you lose a little quality in the image with each resizing. So for the best quality, when you’ve decided on the final size, go back to the original giant image and make the reduction all at once.

  • Pay attention to the resolution of the image.

Here’s a file size comparison

Bigger numbers mean bigger files

Image Image size File size
Full size image @ 300 dpi 8″x10″ 1664 KB
Same size @ 72 dpi 8″x10″ 77 KB
Right sized @ 72 dpi 3″ wide 36 KB

That’s a 98% reduction in file size just for picking the right sized photo!

Printed images generally require a resolution of at least 300 dpi. And that makes big files. (It might be a small image size, but the file is big. Make sense?)

Most computer screens can only show images at about 72 dpi. So if you’re making a file that will only show on the screen, and you’re aiming for a small file, then high resolution doesn’t buy you anything. Set the resolution of the image to no more than 72 dpi.

  • Consider Form vs Function

If you are producing a document suitable for framing (so to speak), you want the highest resolution you can manage.

But if that PDF is likely something people will read on the screen, or print out, read, and then toss, is magazine quality photography important (and do you even HAVE magazine quality photos in the first place?)

  • Test to see how low a resolution you can tolerate in the final product.

If you’re putting this low resolution image into a document that will be converted to PDF, print yourself a test copy and see if you can tell the difference. If you can’t, maybe you don’t need such a magnificent image.

And if you figure people are just printing these out at  home to read and toss? I’d use 72 anyway (or perhaps 90  although I wouldn’t bother)

  • Other ways to reduce PDF file size

Check the PDF printer settings. Select the one for “Smallest File Size.”  Again, print yourself a copy from the PDF and see if it meets your needs.

Save with the file as few different fonts as you can manage when you save to PDF.  On a general low end program that does “Print to PDF” you probably can’t control that. But if you can, then just take what you need.

Does this help?  I hope so.
Have questions? Please ask.  There’s a big box for that below.

Are you wasting time on your business website?

man with beer having funDid you ever notice how all those beer commercials at the Super Bowl are about good times? “Miller time” isn’t about cheap beer.

According to research from Stanford University, customers have more favorable feeling toward brands they associate with “time well spent.”  Memories of good times were more powerful than memories of great savings. 

Ultimately, time is a more scarce resource—once it’s gone, it’s gone—and therefore more meaningful to us,” says Mogilner. “How we spend our time says so much more about who we are than does how we spend our money.

So here’s my question to you:
Are you spending your time worrying over your website and it isn’t even fun?

Yes, yes, I know, you gotta work.  BUT do you have to work at something you don’t or can’t do well?

Fifteen years ago when I was in a different business, I spent hours trying to take care of my books.  I was a freakin’ math major in college! Numbers don’t scare me.  But it wasn’t the math, really, it was finding all the receipts and putting them in the right columns on the spread sheets.

I was spending HOURS doing something I wasn’t good at and at the expense of something I  WAS good at: making art!

When I got my first book keeper, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  Bills got paid, invoices were sent, and I wasn’t panicked about something I didn’t do.

Now let me ask you about your website.

  • Are you satisfied with it?  Look and work like what you want it to?
  • How much time are you wasting worrying over it? Or trying to tweak it to be what you want?
  • Is that time well spent?

Maybe your site is not as bad as you think.  We could talk about it. Send me a  note. Let’s plan for a strategy session.  We can figure out together what needs to be done.

Let’s talk about it

What do I include on my website

Only what matters and supports your reason for being on the web in the first place

I’ve lived a complicated life where I have spent full time as a mom and part time as an artist and part time producing really big events. Or part time as a coach and part time as a writer and part time as a web developer.

I am happy to report that there are no more “also rans” in my life. OK, I’m still a mom, but my kids are old. But now I am ONLY doing web stuff.. new and redeveloped websites. Need one? Check it out.

All of these jobs overlapped, or were the primary focus, at some time in my life.  It suits me just fine. I know how to juggle the balls. But I surely can’t expect other people to get it.  It makes my poor husband’s head spin.  “Pick one,” he says, “then make a lot of money so I can retire.”  Yea, well, we’re working on that.

What happens when you’re not focused?

Every time I went out to do the corporate wife thing (also one of those part time jobs) I’d have to decide on the answer to the “What do you do?” question. Because to admit to doing more than one thing will either make the other person’s eyes glaze over OR they won’t take me seriously regarding anything.

You know, part of the reason that Realtors want you to get rid of personal stuff before you show your house is so that your too-much or too-cool stuff doesn’t distract your potential buyer from doing what they’re supposed to be doing.. LOOKING AT YOUR HOUSE!

If you’re website is for selling books, don’t drift into information about your other business of producing baby showers.  Get another website for that. Websites aren’t so expensive any more. Or at least shouldn’t be.

What does this mean?

Before you ever start the process of designing your site, or talking to a designer, answer this question:

What are your intentions for your site?

This needs to be clear in your mind even before you decide what you want people to do when they’re on your site.

Be specific.

  • “I want to make a lot of money.” … not specific
  • “I want to help mothers have easier lives…” better.. but not quite right

What if you start your thinking with this:

My site will focus on …..  what exactly?

WeFixBrokenWebsites focuses on helping people who want websites ask the best questions of prospective web designers (so they are not at the mercy of bullies who imply that the web is scary and that you need someone to hold your hand all the time.  And there is nothing you can do about that. PFFFT!)

That last part is a rant, in case you weren’t sure. And  I digress, so

What goes on your website?

The answer is the same: Whatever supports your purpose.

  1. Knowing this purpose will help you decide what fits.

    Does a post about flying monkeys fit with your site about national security?  Maybe it does. Who’s to say?
    And maybe it doesn’t and it’s just a short little throw away bit to prove you are a human. BUT if it’s part of your other life where Dorothy rules the world.. Perhaps, You should leave that off of this site.

  2. A clear focus will help you judge the appropriateness of the possible addition to your site.  IF everything on your site is about the color purple.  Think carefully about adding a bunch of other colors, ‘cause just like with colors, too many things in one place turn out to look like mud.
  3. Keep a clear focus  so you don’t confuse your visitors.
    Make it easy for them to stay focused on what they came to your website thinking about.

Bottom line, make it easy for visitors to buy what you’re selling, be it product or idea.

Do you have any other ideas about how to decide what belongs?

Paragraphs on the web and elsewhere

ptcruiserEver notice how sometimes you start thinking about something and then you see it everywhere? You know, you think you like PT Cruisers when there are none. You buy one and BAM! they’re everywhere?  OK, maybe not today, but so it was when I got mine!

I wrote yesterday about writing for the web in response to an edit I did on client’s new blog. (Na, I don’t want to share whose it was.  Seems unkind. And I am not unkind!)

Anyway, then today I found a great piece called The Art of the Paragraph over CopyBlogger (My favorite place to find great info about writing for the web). Check out the article by Jonathan Morrow.

And notice particularly how short his paragraphs are. And how much white space there is. And the great subheads that make you want to know what he’s talking about next.