Author Archives: Lockworld Herald

Create and sell custom products with Cafe Press

I just stumbled across a very interesting site that I thought I should share with my readers. It’s a site called Cafe Press. This site offers a wide variety of print-on-demand products from clothing to housewares and other gifts. You can add your own images to the products to create your very own styles, logos, catch-phrases, etc., which you can sell online in your very own Cafe Press store. The best part about Cafe Press is that you don’t have to spend any money to get started. Because Cafe Press doesn’t produce any products until someone orders them, there are no setup fees or minimum purchases required. Without spending any money, you can create as many custom products as you want, and sell them in your own, personalized online shops.

Each product has a “base price” that covers all of the costs of manufacture and production. To make money, simply set a “markup” price that you will earn as commission on sales of your product(s) (Just a word to the wise…be reasonable: I saw a thong for sale for $200 while I was browsing the site!). That’s all there is to it. It was so easy to get started that I’ve already created my own online shop with a few products that are available for immediate purchase, which I’ve included below as an example of what you can do. Of course, you can also buy your own products directly for the base price, without paying the markup. Read more»

Changes to Microsoft Office Live Small Business

Earlier this year, Microsoft Office Live Small Business (Originally Microsoft Office Live) launched several improvements to their service. I use this service to host my own Web site (LockworldHerald.com), and I’ve blogged about it in the past. Although they no longer offer free domain name registration, they do continue to offer free Web site hosting (which is typically far more expensive than the domain name registration anyway). In the past, I found the service to be very useful to establish an online presence for myself, but was continually frustrated at how difficult it was to edit pages using the built-in page editor. In the end, I simply uploaded all of my Web pages manually to the “Documents” folder – the only folder I had any access to. This allowed me to create my own pages by writing my own HTML codes, but was getting difficult to manage as the number of files grew.

The new improvements to the site now allow even free account holders to design their site using their own Web design tools (I typically use WordPad  or Nvu, but other Web authoring/design tools can be used as well). This new structure allows me to keep my site more organized, but more importantly, it gives me access to the top-level of my site. There are certain Web services that require authentication by checking for files in the root directory (Like Google Web Apps and Delorie). In addition to making such services available, having access to the root directory also gives me the ability to create a robots.txt file that can tell search engine bots to avoid indexing certain file types or folders. Since I use a lot of AjaxIncludes scripting, this is a very nice way to keep all of those partial Web pages out of the search engine results.
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What can Zoho Creator do for you?

I’m constantly amazed at the wide variety of uses I can come up with for Zoho Creator. When I first stumbled across the application, I thought it might be of passing use to collect some basic information from visitors to my Web site. Over the last few months, however, I’ve experimented with a wide variety of less-than-typical uses for an online database tool.

For small business and personal Web site owners without access to a lot of IT support, Zoho Creator can easily serve as the functional back-end of your entire site, allowing you to develop some sophisticated and interactive applications for your Web site. Thanks to Zoho Creator, even a relatively novice user can add some powerful functionality to an otherwise dull Web site. As users become more familiar with Zoho Creator, there is almost no limit to the number of powerful applications that can be developed for any site.

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Adding a more advanced RSS feed to your site

In my last post, I explained how you could use del.icio.us to add a simple RSS feed to your site. The benefits of this method mainly lie in your ability to quickly and easily add any Web page to your feed, particularly if you make use of the browser buttons available from del.icio.us. Just navigate to the page you want to include in your feed, click the button, and enter a title, description, and tags. This method also allows you to easily create many feeds, and add items to as many of the feeds as you need all at the same time.

While this method should work well for the average Web site owner looking to create an RSS feed, it might not be suitable for every purpose. The two primary limitations to using del.icio.us to create and publish your RSS feed are the lack of rich text editing, and the 255 character limit to the description field. Many users may want to include more information in their RSS feed, or include graphics, links, and other information. For these users, del.icio.us may not be the best solution.

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Adding an RSS feed to your site

A few months ago, I thought I was “back” to blogging, but it turns out I still had some unresolved issues. I’ve had a lot of trouble lately getting online to post to this blog and continue my explorations of all things Web-related. Fortunately, however, I think I’m finally ready to get back online on a regular basis to keep all of the tips and tricks coming here on The Web for You. I’m not making any promises at this point, but I’ll do my best.

In my last post, I told you I’d be describing how to add an RSS feed to your Web site. When I first conceived of this project several months ago, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. For one thing, Microsoft Office Small Business Live (MOSBL – formerly Microsoft Office Live) had several restrictions in place that made it difficult to add an RSS feed to your site. While several of these restrictions may still be in place if you’re using the default Web page editor, the good news is that even the free (Basic) version of MOSBL now allows you to use “third-party” design tools to build your site. That means that you’re no longer restricted to using only the existing design tool, and you can write your own HTML codes, including the META tags needed to add an RSS feed to your site (more on this later in this post).

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Search Engine Optimization Malpractice

In my last article, Search Engine Optimization: What it is, and why you shouldn’t care, I suggested that Search Engine Optimization (The practice of designing your Web page in such a way that it appears as high as possible in a list of search results) was not only misleading to both users and Web designers, but that it opened the door to malicious practices. To make matters worse, current SEO “rules” are suppressing many great innovations even while they allow deceitful Web sites to gain high rankings.

In a comment on my last article, Frank summarized what I expect are pretty general feelings about Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, Frank suggests that Search Engine Optimization helps provide “good no-nonsense copy that helps a searcher get their question answered.” Frank suggests that “search engines are not something to be fought but rather embraced.” In general terms, I agree completely. As I said, who could imagine life without search engines? And isn’t it obvious that Web designers should consider how their Web site will be placed in search engine results pages (SERPs) when they build their site? Of course it is. The basic ideas behind SEO are very valid, and are not to be fought.
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