Biz Stone is the co-founder of Twitter (follow Lemon Productions here) and had this to say in a blog post about the perceived overnight success of Twitter:

Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success. Surrounding yourself with smart people you like to work with helps immeasurably. We’ve got a long road ahead and I’m looking forward to another ten years.

In the online world, where virtual things seem to happen virtually overnight – it’s good to remember that success takes a lot of work, hard work and doesn’t really happen overnight.

Some people want to understand all the HTML, CSS, Javascript and whatchamakalit code behind their websites. Other people want to hire someone to take care of everything – they don’t want to know about what goes inside their website anymore than they want to know about what goes inside their hot dog. Yum!

And then there’s the people in the middle. You want to know a bit and be able to have custom control of your content, but don’t want to have to worry about float:right; and padding:2px 4px 6px 8px;. Uploading photos should be as easy as it is to post on Facebook and bolding a sentence should be simple, just like using Microsoft Word or Pages.

Virb & Squarespace

That’s where sites like Virb and Squarespace come in. They allow you to start with a beautifully designed theme/template and customize it to your hearts content, without having to know a lick of HTML/CSS code. And yet they are advanced enough that there’s not really a limit to what kind of website you can create.

Virb is the new kid on the block – so new that it’s still labeled as being in beta. Squarespace has been around for awhile and has a large marketing presence on the web – particularly in the area of podcasters. Just about every premium podcast has had Squarespace as a sponsor (Revision3, Twit.tv, & 5by5).

Pricing/Options

Virb just launched under a beta program with pricing at $10/month for everything. Squarespace has a few different pricing plans starting at $8/month going all the way up to $50/month for large community/group sites.

Examples

Squarespace has been around for awhile so they have quite a few examples while Virb, having just launched, is still hunting for their examplesthis one popped up on their Twitter feed.

Recommendation

If you are looking to try your hand at building your own website, you can’t really go wrong with either company. You might get a few more growing pains with Virb but you’ll save some money and gain a bunch of features by being an early user of their platform. Squarespace, on the other hand, has been at this for awhile so there’s an established platform with lots of users and features – including, from what I’ve read, a great iPhone/iPod touch app for managing your sites. Both will allow you to use their domain (i.e. whatever.squarespace.com) or use your own custom domain.

Since both companies charge you month to month – there’s no long term contracts or hassles to signing up or cancelling if you don’t need the service anymore.

Whichever way you decide to go, it’s a great time to be a content creator online with so many great options and tools available to you. The hard part is deciding which tool to use. Get in touch with me if you’d like some help deciding which software to use for your website!

Great advice for anyone setting up a new email newsletter list from the folks over at MailChimp :

Bottom line: make sure people are legitimately signed up to your list. You can’t just throw a bunch of email addresses on your list and hope people will be so happy to get your email.

Send all your friends/family/co-workers a quick email with a link to subscribe to your mailing list along with a short list of benefits so they they will know why they want to subscribe to your mailing list, like this one below for my Lemon Productions newsletter:





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A podcast that’s about 17 episodes old that small business owners (virtual or real) may find interesting is one from Cliff Ravenscraft’s GSPN.TV network called The Virtual Assistant Podcast.

virtualassistant

I’ve listened to most of the episodes thus far and have found it to be an interesting window into the world of virtual assistants. I had no idea what was involved in hiring and using a virtual assistant, other than the stereotypical view of outsourcing some part of your business to someone in a foreign country for a much lower wage. And while that’s certainly part of what virtual assistants can be, there’s also a bunch of virtual assistant companies based out of North America including Contemporary VA who sponsor The Virtual Assistant Podcast.

Definitely something to consider, particularly if you’ve got a lot of repetitive tasks or things in your business that you don’t enjoy doing and could easily hand off to an assistant.

Recommended Episode

Episode 4: Interview with Heather from Contemporary VA