- Oct 2, 2017
Rising from the ashes...
Start: The Rising (Part 1) - Introduction
Previous: The Rising (Part 27) - Contingency Plan Execution
Current: The Rising (Part 28) - I'm LIVE !!!
Next: The Rising (Part 29) - Unable to catch up
It has been one month since my last posting and I have not been very active on this forum either; but, it isn't without good reason. It is past midnight, and I figured I'll take a moment to give a quick status update. I'm adding stuff adhoc; so, here we go...
WARNING: It is late, I'm tired, and I don't feel like posting anything right now; but, there is too much going on. So, forgive my errors because this is a brain dump without proofing.
BTW, my website is up. There are lot of things that can be improved; but, I don't have the time to entertain them; so, it makes no sense to ask for your feedback.
There is a lot of logistical execution here...I know I'm going to lose some of you; but if you keep reading; you're bound to get to a part that you're interested.
I went ahead with choosing CardConnect for my credit card processing. I learned that as merchant I need to be PCI complaint to accept credit card transactions. A2Hosting servers are NOT PCI compliant as of now; so, I went with FastComet. Furthermore, only the Managed VPS Cloud 2 (or higher) or Dedicated servers can be PCI compliant. I prepaid for one year of hosting for $600 and got some discounts along the way for the managed VPS.
Prior to moving to VPS I started with the FastCommet Speedup Plan for $10/mo, which is similar A2Hosting Turbo plan; and I started wondering why I was keeping my unmanaged VPS from HostingSource since I could almost do anything!
Along the way I had registered with Google Suite, thinking I need an email account and a google drive. Each user will cost $5/mo; so, I didn't mind it. But, in the back of my head I didn't like paying extra $5 for additional employee!
To be honest, I may cancel this near future; as of now, I don't know why I'm keeping Google Suite, because I can create knowledge base and version documents in my CRM. More on this later...
As I moved forward with The SpeedUp plan from FastComet, I got the ability to create free email accounts through CPanel. Their support is very responsive and will both tell you help you configure what you need.
But, I did have a few pain points as I needed to point my domain names (Name servers) to new managed VPS servers.
One thing that I did along the way was purchase a wildcard certificate from ssl2buy.com for $40 to use for "all" my websites via subdomains.
For example, I can secure all the following websites via single certificate:
My website is based on WordPress (WP) with WooCommerce Plugin. LearnPress is a great Learning Management System (LMS) Worpress plugin; but, it doesn't lend itself well for scheduling onsite classes. However, I have installed LearnPress so that I can create employee training materials on it.
Recall that my goal is have people register their kids for educational based classes; so, I need a ticketing system. After much research I found EventEspresso, which seems to be very feature rich. It is a little expensive at $300; but, I was willing to cough up the money. But, after realizing that it does not integrate with WooCommerce, I decided to look for different solution. I don't want to work harder than I have to for integrating technologies.
After much research I settled on WordPress Event Ticket Plus for $85. I'm not really "happy" with the outcome; but, I don't need to be perfect for now. It did take me some figuring out; especially since I had to install three plugins, which include "Event Calendar" + "Event Ticket" + "Event Ticket Plus"
As I was working on the website, I remembered DJ's Tip about WordFence to secure wordpress site.
After my website was up and running, I was unhappy with performance. I opened a ticket with FastComet, in which they installed Autooptmize and showed a after on pingdom.com, which was noticeably faster. They also suggested to make use of Free CloudFlare Content Delivery Network (CDN), which I plan to use paid version to further shield my site from many web related attacks.
While I'm at it, I might as well tell you the WordPress plugins that I have installed and why:
- Really Simple SSL (Free)
Recommended by FastComet support to ease the installation of my wildcard cert
- WooCommerce (Free)
Selling Tickets Online
- Metronet Tag Manager (Free)
Allows me to add Google Tag manger. This is useful to inject code snippet (chat, google analytics, etc) from one google tag. Not sure why, I feel like managing it via google.
- Enhanced Media Library (Free)
It didn't take long that I noticed I needed a better way of organizing the images that I was loading on worpress. However, I noticed I was unable to create a folder structure. I almost installed a plugin to handle that; but, wondered why WP wouldn't include such a basic item. Some googling I found someone suggesting the file structure is not a best practice, which lead me to Enhanced Media Library
- Cache Enabler (Free)
Installed by FastComet to improve WP performance.
- ARVE Advanced Responsive Video Embedder (Free)
I created couple video items and uploaded them to youtube; and then used this tool to easily add them to my website.
- CardConnect Gateway (Plugin Free; service paid)
My CreditCard provider
- Cart2CRM (Paid)
Plugin to synchronize my Wordpress transaction with SuiteCRM. However, as of right now it is now working. The developer is investigating it
- Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd
When I upgraded to VPS, I had to put-up maintenance site so that users wouldn't do transactions on my site, which the databases and files were being replicated to a new server
- Enable Media Replace
I got tired of deleting and then uploading, replacing images. This plugin allows me to upload and do an in-place replace
- Event Tickets Plus
The Events Calendar
Used for managing tickets through WooCommerce
- Title Remover
I didn't feel like every page should have a title since my navigation provided natural title.
- WP Display Header
Redundant, and will remove it.
- Unique Headers
Allows me to change the heading top image on each page.
I have a video on my home page; but, didn't want the video to be used on all the pages.
- Responsive Accordion And Collapse (Free)
I don't have lot of control with the location of items appearing with Event Tickets Plus. Using an Accordion, allows me have expanding/collapsing text section on a page, so that I can make sure important content are above fold. I'm not sure I like it; but, it is good enough.
- Shortcake (Shortcode UI)
Used by above plugin
Haven't used it use; but, intend to use it for employee training
I need to be PCI compliant if I want to accept credit cards on the site. So, I have to complete a questionnaire and run a security scan against my website. The questionnaire was long and tedious; and to be honest at one point I just closed my eyes and clicked yes on everything. It was getting too verbose; especially asking about firewalls, and written protocols, network diagrams, etc.... many of which are transparently handled by my hosting provider
I also had to pay $100 to FastComet to make my VPS PCI compliant.
Now, onto other websites....
I wanted to use OpenBaraza for my payroll and HR activities; however, when I had FastComet SpeedUp shared hosting plan I was not allowed to have Java or Postgres apps. As a result, I decided to install OrangeHRM, which in my subdomain HR.stemleaning.education. I've been using OrangeHRM to keep track of the employees I interview and to store their resumes. I should be able to do similar activity with my CRM; but, the HR software is a little more structure and it has other elements like leave of absence, pay grade, job description, etc.
Now that I have a Managed VPS, I've opened a ticket for the support to install the OpenBaraza for me.
Next on the list accounting.stemlearning.education, which I used Softaculous to install the FrontAccounting, which is will give me the functionality of quickbooks online. I have yet to utilize this; but, hope to get antiquated as soon as I get a chance; obviously accounting cannot be neglected.
Then comes SuiteCRM, which is installed in crm.stemlearning.education
I have a ticket open with support for SuiteCRM not executing workflows; but, I need that if I'm going to use a tool to help keep me on track and remind me of my next activities.
I also want to avoid using email directly and have all correspondences captured in CRM, which requires workflow. But, we'll see if this is realistic....
Lastly comes YOURLS, which is installed at shorturl.stemlearning.education.
This take a little explaining. Marketing best practice dictates that we need to track our campaigns. To that extent, I intent to use Google Analytics. But, if you want to keep track of your campaign, you need to pass some parameters to the link. If you head-on to the Google Analytic URL Builder you can easily retrieve a URL to your target destination that has all the information regarding your campaign. However, the following URL, does NOT look very nice to post on the net or social networks, or magazines
Instead we use the following short URL goo.gl/LGQigD
The problem with this is that a) Google does not allow new short URL, so we have to find another provider, b) the IDs are usually case sensative, c) We don't usually get a say on what the URL can be.
Therefore, I decided to register the following domains: reg.gd, now.gd, enroll.gd and put a forwarder to my subdomain STEM Learning, where I control the short URL formats using YOURLS.
Now instead of the above ugly google shortURL I can have: now.gd/biz
You'll find that both above links will take you to that long URL tracking encoded URL.
Lets talk phones....
I was initially was going to use Google Voice; but, learned that its technology doesn't work nice with AnswerForce, which is an answering service. If you look at my earlier posts, you'll find that there are studies that show that speaking to human have a higher closing rate than voice mail. The same goes with chat, which is also available through answer force. You just provide them the script that you want them to follow, and your client don't know any better (if done right). After lot of trial an error with different vendors, I determined that the most mobile and cost effective way was to add another line onto my existing cellphone.
However, this mean having two different cell phones. One for business, and the other for personal.
This is where a two SIM card phone comes-in. It allows me to select the line for incoming and outgoing calls. This option also works well with the AnswerForce telephony.
So, I had to purchase a new phone with dual sim-card; however, I didn't want to pay $600. Instead, I ordered a beefy global phone from china (Nubia Z17 mini) for $200, which seems to be working okay; but, now I have a new issue.
Until my I got my new phone, I assumed that my bad reception was due to my old phone; but, after I got my new phone I was still experiencing dropped calls and bad reception. I've contacted my mobile phone provider and they are sending engineering to investigate. I may end up changing phone carriers; and if that doesn't work then I must find another alternative.
Schools are will close one week from today, and I was planning on launching summer camp immediately after. One way to notify the parent is via gold-folder that is sent to parents for kids k-6th. So, I contacted the school on Wednesday of last week to initiate the process.
They educated me that I need to have my flyers in bundles of 25 or 35 based on the grade level. So, I had to scramble, create a design and send it to print. After calling few print shops I found that I needed to pay about $2,000 to get 7,000 collated color prints. So, I changed my flyer from color to grey-scale, had the page cut in half. So, I paid $250 for my flyers instead of $2k.
I've attached the color version if you are curious; but let's dissect the flyer (as if it makes a difference). I purchased stock photos, which i was able to change to grey scale and due gradient fade. I had several image possibilities; but, settled onto this one.
I've talked about A/B testing before; but, now I don't think it matters; because there is not enough response. I digress ...
The flyer has several things going for it. 1) "The only summer coding camp in Turlock", and 2) Register your child before classes are full, 3) It uses a campaign code to track marketing channel, 4) I like the picture because it shows diverse students as well as an adult educator in the background.
But, I failed in a few ways...
a) I am using my website URL as opposed to short URL to keep track of the campaign via google analytics.
b) The campaign code does not have an expiration date to evoke more urgency.
As I reflect on my mistakes, I am creating a KnowledgeBase article in my CRM titled "Posting or doing marketing campaign" containing these steps
- Create a Campaign in SuiteCRM to track budgets (need further investigation)
- Use Google Campaing URL Builder build your tracking URL
- Create short url YOURLS — Your Own URL Shortener | https://shorturl.stemlearning.education/yourls/
- Test with one of the following prefixes with your short URL
- Use ShortUrl
- Communicate expiration in ad campaign
Incidentally, If you've read my earlier posts; you may have recalled that advocated testing flyers by excluding the website to see if you get more calls and conversion. Given that I am marketing computer programming, I felt excluding yhe website URL might be harmful. In retrospect, I don't know if it would matter.
With the flyers out, I've gotten 148 visitors, with 40 visitors on the day of the flyers. I also got more than half dozen calls, emails, and had one paid user register.
Somewhat disappointed with results, I decided to post an event on Facebook. However, the best time to post on Facebook had already passed by one day! I proceeded to put some content on a my new Facebook account and then did my first Facebook event with ShortURL.
I also posted the following on neighboor.com (notice, it too has shortURL)
Subject: Camp 4 Kids - not bay area?
I need your help!
Friends & families tell me that Turlock is not bay area; so, I've decided to take the first step in attempting to change that.
I'm starting (piloting) computer science coding summer camp for kids. Contingent on the response, I will make this service available year-round with other STEM enrichment programs (e.g. robotics, game programming, space station experiments [yes-really], ...).
Do you remember the Apple Newton? It was a great hand held device; but, it was too early for its time. I hope the same is not true about Turlock.
I need your help in validating that Turlock parents are looking for STEM enrichment opportunities for kids. Please take a moment to post this message and the website YOURLS — Your Own URL Shortener | https://shorturl.stemlearning.education/yourls/ on your social channels.
Looking in GoogleAnalytics, I can see that I have total of 8 visitor between the two social channels.
Well, you may recall from my earlier posts that multiple ads to small group supersedes less ads to larger groups. So, I have another batch that need to deliver next week.
At very least, I also need to create google and and Facebook ad campaign. There is also ground marketing (going to sites); but, one step at a time.
As I work through and calls/emails came I did my best to add them to my FAQ section of the website. It is still too early to tell; but, my ambitions of world domination is quickly deflating and I've been doing lot of work.
I still have more work with regards to hardware, facility, employment, payroll, branding, etc....
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