P a r t  I  Feb 16, 1999

From: Fiona Heares <heares@es.co.nz>   

Subject: The Birth of a Website ( A Success Story in the Making.)

The Birth of a Website ( A Success Story in the Making.)

Dear Bogdan,
although I have been reading your discussion list for a few weeks,  I am a
"newbie" to posting, and so a bit nervous (hope this isn't too long I can
sure "talk" sometimes:)
Although I feel we have a long way to go I am hoping that by the end of the
year this WILL be a success story for you:)
Myself and a friend  started online with our site at the end of November
last year, and I can say it has been a VERY steep learning curve.

The idea for us to develop and promote a gift and craft site intitially
came about as Joan & myself have, up until recently been "stay at home
Both of us have been very heavily involved in our children's education and
through various activities at our kid's  school, we developed a strong
sense of what I call "the little people".
In particular local artisans, with truck-loads of talent, that work so hard
to scrape a living from their talents. Actually Joan & I both believe
strongly in the "kiwi-can-do" attitude and abilities.  We really believe
that these people deserve an opportunity  to display their wares to an
international community, and we hope at the same time to  be able to scrape
an income from it.

Anyway we found a mentor who recommended us a web designer and off we
We gave our brief to our web designer that being we wanted a site that was
easy to navigate, fast loading, to have our own domain name,consistency of
pages and design throughout the site, secure credit card ordering, a simple
but attractive site. We started off with 4 suppliers. This took our
designer 3 months to develop and the end result was somewhat different than
what we had imagined, but our designer had talked us into various "add ons
" (like site maps, site search,some BIG graphics, and FRAMES,  etc etc)
along the way.
We then started our marketing. Classified submissions, links, newsgroups,
search engine submissions,etc etc. Our daily stats started to grow over Dec
and we were quite pleased. We had our first sale after about 3/4 weeks, and
over the next month had a few more. We were really quite pleased with the
results for being "new online".
In Jan, we met  to make updates and ask our web designer to reformat our
site to our original brief. We have had an unending number of problems with
what he has done to our site. Slow loading pages, things that don't work,
ugly page layout, inconsistency in layout and design. The upshot of it is
that we are now desperately looking for a new web designer.
Neither of us feel confident enough to market our site at the moment and we
haven't had a sale for 2 weeks now.
However on the positive side our "hits" are still growing and we are
averaging around 1000 a day (figures as provided by our host server). We
are also pleased with the number of people that have signed up for our
newsletter, although we lost a few, due to a faulty programme.
We are working hard to make a success of this and hopefully once we find a
new web designer we can get back into our marketing and look forward to
more sales coming in for us AND our suppliers.

Fiona & Joan
JoFi Entp


We have an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS selection of gift ideas.
Bone Carved Pendants, Baby Hands, Guardian Angels, Wishing Stones,
Beautiful Teapots, Pet Paws, and Natural Skin Care.

email to info@jofi.net



C o n t i n u a t i o n  Part II  May 05, 1999

From: Fiona Heares <heares@es.co.nz>

Dear Bogdan,

I have previously written into the digest with our success story but
thought you may like to know the developments.
This is part 2 of "Our Success Story".Firstly we are probably a little
different to most of you in that we are a "Gift Shop" site, we actually
sell products. This I has been a big challenge for us as we have discovered
that while there is a lot of help out there for MLM and Affiliate sites
there seems to be very little knowledge specifically for sites that sell
products. So we have had to do is take the help/advice and "adjust it" to
suit our own marketing needs, mostly through trial and error.

We have been online for almost 6 months now. Been through a change of
webmasters and site rehashes and tried many and various methods of

What we have discovered is that variety & targetting are the key issues for us.
So we use classified ads, newsgroups and targetted lists, some small paid
advertising in appropriately targetted ezines, which have worked very well
for us. So long as we keep the costs to $10 or less we find they are very
worthwhile and usually pay for themselves. We generally pick up a few new
subscribes to our newsletter through them.
We are still working towards search engine positioning and have had some
success with Alta Vista. We trialed GoTo.com paid keywords and while the
hits were great the resulting sales were disappointing and we found did not
cover the cost of our advertising efforts.
Some of our reciperocal links are very worthwhile, some are not, but
through these we have met some new friends:) (And I count that as part of
our success).
The e-bay auctions have been very successful for us and also have led to
new customers.

At the moment we are trying the  Real Names 60 day free trial.... I'll have
to let you know how this one goes.....

What has happened for us now is that we were asked to market for another
site, which we are currently doing, but we have also been approached to put
together a package of our services to offer them to other businesses.
This has been a surprise and new direction for us. We have increased the
hits for the site that we are marketing for between 2/3 times. So they are
quite happy with the results.
We haven't made a decision about this offer yet, as we need to decide which
direction we wish to take. Any advice/ thoughts on this would be appreciated:)
Ka kite ano (See you again)

Fiona & Joan :)

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