The past couple of weeks have been spent working on the new website for a local Gaelic Football team – www.odempseysgfc.ie.

This site is an upgrade of the previous site I bulit for the club.

The main reason for the upgrade was to migrate from the Joomla! CMS to Drupal.

Drupal provides the site’s maintainers with an easier interface to manage and update content.

Drupal is easily upgraded and requires no hacking of its core. This makes development a lot easier. Though I built the first site using Joomla! about three years ago, so was a bit more inexperienced, I find Drupal a lot easier to work with. Drupal also has a very active community and a library of very useful modules.

The biggest difference between this site and almost all other sites I have built is that this one was designed by a professional. I am now working closely with a web and graphic designer.

Over the years I have found design to be the hardest part of developing new websites. It has usually absorbed the most amount of time on projects, and I am never satisfied with the final result.

I think that the O’Dempsey’s site is a big step forward. The design is very nice, in my opinion, and being freed from design duties has allowed me to concentrate on the functionality of the site.

I’d love feedback on the site. Content is being managed by the club, but if anyone would like to send me suggestions for site features or issues with the site then I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for your time.

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I am spineless!

February 8, 2009

Yes I am and I vow never to rant again.

I still can’t understand Skype’s requirement that your Paypal account have a credit card associated but I caved.

I bought a 3V voucher, a virtual credit card, in my local shop and used it to verify my Paypal account. I then completely wussed out and bought €10 of Skype credit.

It was a case of having to.

I’ve used many Voip service providers over the past few years and have never been fully satisfied by any of them. They were all good most of the time, but sometimes they went offline, or the router blocked the port they needed, or they changed their pricing, etc…

So I’ve been on a mission to sort this out once and for all. I’d heard a lot of good things about Skype from friends but put most of this down to the fact that most of them had never used any other service and had bought into Skype’s name and hype.

I was wrong.

Skype is easy to setup, works well with your network(at least I have yet to have a problem with it), and has excellent call quality on both PC-PC and PC-Phone.

It also has excellent accessories like the wireless Skype phone and that sexy looking video phone.

I vow never to rant in anger again and also to never to be a “It can’t be good, it’s popular and it’s not open-source” snob again.

Over the past month I’ve been doing a bit of research on Internet Marketing.

Thanks to ProBlogger I’ve found some great sites. One such site is Itty Biz.

Itty Biz is run by Naomi Dunford. Naomi has great practical advice for small business marketing and her writing is easy to read and often very funny.

Even though Naomi targets small business I think she could teach Skype a thing or too about Barriers to Purchase.

I sell on eBay. I use Paypal, exclusively, to receove payments.  I put some of the moneyI make into my bank account and leave some in Paypal. I then use the money in Paypal to purchase online services, books,etc…

Apparently eBay owns Paypal. Apparently eBay also owns Skype. Apparently though neither Skype nor Paypal know this.

I’ve been using Skype for PC to PC calls for a year now. I’ve also encouraged some of my clients and suppliers to use Skype so we can contact each other easily (read “for free”).

Last week I decided to put call credit into my Skype account. I’d been using Gizmo5 for PC to phone calls but wanted to, using a Credit Crunch term, Rationalise my Voip process. So Skype would now be used for all calls from PC and who knows I might have even bought a Skype phone or used Skype on my Three mobile.

But that’s when the wheels came off. Skype requires my Paypal account to have a credit card associated with it. Since I don’t have, or ever want again, a credit card then I’ll have to look elsewhere to spend my hard earned cash.

I don’t need a credit card to sell or buy on eBay. I want to buy Skype credit. That’s all, just “pay as you call credit”. If there’s no credit, then no call. If I’m in the middle of a call and no credit – cut me off. I’m a big boy I can take it, just cut me off. No need for guarantees then, so why the need for a credit card?

I’m not alone:

http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=102646

http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=109511

http://en.onsoftware.com/why-have-skype-changed-paypal-payments/

It seems this issue started about a year ago.

You can use Moneybookers. I haven’t used them but I think I’ll start using them now… with my Gizmo5 account.

Cheerio Skype!

Do Google Ads work?

January 29, 2009

I am working through the 5th chapter now which deals with the important subject of earning money from your blog.

I’ve tried some affiliate marketing by adding CPA (Cost Per Acquisition link, earn by commission) links to the site. I picked some advertisers that might be of interest to the target audience of my blog.

I’ve also setup Google Adsense for the site. Google publishes advertisements that relate to my site’s content in a small box. These are widespread on the web.

The big question – Do they work?

Apparently – YES!!!!

I’ve earned $1.50 already from the Google Ads!

The money doesn’t make me excited but the ability to earn money from a blog is an exciting feeling. When I opened my Adsense account and saw that I had earned some cash whilst sleeping the night before I was overwhelmed!

The potential is there, now it is a matter of promoting the blog, developing it further and keeping it updated(daily).

Watch this space.

Update on blogging progress

January 20, 2009

I’ve gotten back to Problogger.

So far the book has covered some very interesting topics that have helped focus me on a niche. A lot of the advice in the book is general but the exercises that are given throughout each chapter really help you decide on what you can write about.

I’m not going to reveal the niche I’ve started working on. I’ll leave that until the blog is a success!

I’m also not sure I’ve picked a great niche for earning money as there doesn’t seem to be too many affiliate programs or Adword campaigns that target it. But, it’s my first proper blog so I guess I’ll just “suck it and see”. I don’t regard this blog as my first proper blog as I am just writing it for practise and to help myself keep track of my progress.

Here’s a rundown of the chapters so far in Problogger:

  • The Introduction
    Here Darren & Chris introduce themselves (no!!). There’s a lenghty description by Darren about how he started in pro-blogging. A good start that immediately clears up the notion, in case anyone had it, that this is a get rich quick scheme.
  1. Blogging for money
    Into the meat of it!
    Well not quite but this chapter is very useful as it gives you a clear idea of what:

    • Blogging is
    • Blogging isn’t
    • Ways you can make money from blogging

    There are also some very useful sections about search engines and analysing your blogs success (or lack thereof).

  2. Niche blogging
    What is your blog  going to be about?
    I found this chapter incredibly useful, particularly the exercises regarding outlining your interests and then rating them to help in deciding what to write about.
    This chapter lays out the foundations for developing a successful blog.

  3. Setting up your blog
    I could skip through most of this section as it covers the technical side of setting up a blog.
    The main piece of advice that came through here was that self-hosted blogs are the way to go if you can. There is also a good section in this chapter about choosing a domain name.

I’ve gone through these three chapters quite thoroughly and I’ve enjoyed the read so far. To sum up, I’ve picked a niche I feel I can write a lot about and I’ve chosen a platform to host the blog.

I’m going to use WordPress as that’s what is used in the book and I’ve wanted to try it for some time now. I’ve used Drupal quite a lot in the past and present and will use even moreso in the future. But using WordPress isn’t too different from that plus it will give me an insight into what modules and features it has when compared with Drupal.

The next chapter covers writing for a blog. That should be a good one as I need all the help I can get!

I’ve been sidetracked for the past few days.

I finally decided it was time to learn (properly) some PHP.

http://devzone.zend.com/node/view/id/627

I’ve tinkered with PHP in the past. Plus Visual Web Developer, Ruby on Rails, C++, etc… But as part of my New Year’s resolution I’ve committed to finishing what I start.

This tutorial has to be one of the best I’ve come across yet. It’s well written, informative and engaging.

I managed to go through it in about 4 days. I think I’ve grasped most of it fairly well. Even managed to put together a mind map of the core points covered in the series. If anyone wants a copy let me know.

I’ve a dilemma now – Where to next?

I feel I’ve got a handle on the basics but I’m not confident that I can develop my own web apps yet.

I suppose I’ll start with some simple widgets and the like, and gradually build towards some meatier projects.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

CRM? SCHME.R.M!

January 12, 2009

I’ve just spent the weekend deciding on a CRM solution for my business.

That’s a lie.

I started out trying to setup a simple client database, but then decided – “Wouldn’t it be nice if this was online?” and then “OOh, OOh, what about integration with Thunderbird!” and “But it’ll need to be run on my own server…” or “Maybe it’d be better being hosted…” what about “A system that is hosted but with the option to move to my server in the future should the need arise!”

Well, there are hundreds of choices out there. But most of them are far to complex for my needs.

I eventually opted for SugarCRM. It got the best reviews, and seemed like a very nice, capable, web-based app (that runs on my server), and it’s free (community edition). But it doesn’t play well with Thunderbird, is very complex  and won’t even export your calendar.

So, I ended up spending half of the day today finding an alternative and finally returned to one of my earlier choices – Highrise by 37Signals. An excellent web app but at $29/month for the personal edition I decided against it.

I have to say it wasn’t the best online solution though. That goes to WBP System’s HEAP CRM. Not as good looking or intuitive as Highrise, but priced right ($9/month) and lots of cool features. My favourite being the Event Template, would be handy for billing letters and reminders about client contact.

Ultimately though I wasn’t happy. HEAP CRM’s interface is clunky in comparison to Highrise. They do offer a “Host-You-Own” option, but at $1000 I probably would never be able to justify buying it.

I’ve settled on Thunderbird with Lightning and a few other extensions. A few features are missing like linking mails and contacts to events but it plays well with Google Calendar and Remember The Milk and it’s fully under my control.

Maybe I’ll try and write an addon to allow categories in Lightning be used to categorise contacts or messages but I neither have the skills or the time to learn the skills. If someone is feeling generous out there and would like to develop a very useful feature for this app I’d be eternally grateful. Until then I might try and cobble together something with Open Office Base and Thunderbird. If that’s even possible!