I’ve known Jodie Gastel for years and years, and always thought she was one of the “good peeps” of the Internet. Her life journey has had some periods when she’s gone through the rapids, but she’s remained unceasingly upbeat and optimistic. She’s also gone through a number of different businesses – as we entrepreneurs do – trying to find the synergistic combination of her interests, skills and market needs.
The latest business she’s working on she calls “In Jodie’s Brain” because, as she explains, that’s what she lets people do: get inside her brain and use it move forward online.
In a nutshell, through IJB Jodie helps customers clarify what they want their websites to DO, then holds courses to teach people exactly what they need to do to create their online presence – click by click all the way from buying a domain name, to getting hosting to creating the site itself so that when they leave class on the second day, they have a website they built themselves.
Cool, simple and understandable idea. I like it.
Jodie’s also passionate about showing people who have no experience with website creation just how easy it is, without having to spend weeks learning code. And for those folk who can’t pop up to Canada to attend her classes, she’s also just published a book that covers all the key materials too.
Yet another how to get your business online book? Wait, read on…
Q: Sorry for being a bit skeptical, Jodie, but how does your new book differ from all those internet marketing books that we have been flooded with? I mean, everyone seems to have a “How to make $500 a day from your website sitting in your underwear” book published!
A: Heh there are a lot of those around, darn it. Well, I’m happy to say: It is not a marketing book – this training manual is about creating your own website whatever you want to use it for. It’s just as important for grandma and grandpa so they can keep in touch with the grandkids – somewhere to post and see pictures, create a family dialogue – as it is for societies or individuals who have an opinion and feel they need to get their opinion out there to help others, give a central place to connect with communities.
It’s funny; literally a couple of hours ago, I got an email from a friend of mine who recently won a seat during a local election. We were talking about my book and all the people she knew who needed it and she wrote me back: “Believe it or not the majority […of those running…] did NOT have an online presence in our last election. I can’t truly give you accurate stats…but I will tell that I met many people who swore they were only voting for candidates with a web presence. In […our area…] it was essential. The ones without websites tanked. I had one…and I came out of nowhere to win. Online is simply vital.”
Q: So – you’re saying this manual really is just for families and people who general just want to have their own website?
A: No, no no; not just families and individuals – it’s just as applicable and valuable for people who want an online business presence. When we have been hit by financial times like these before, historically, there are only two industries that increase their revenues during a recession – one is counseling the other is education. Nowadays people are turning to the online world. In previous recessions, people went back to school to get better education, to get a better job to make more money. These days, it can take too much time (or money!) to go back to school – they want to get a quick course/workshop so that they can either make more money (by adding value) at their current job OR start building something NOW in case their current job is threatened.
There is almost NO point these days to have a business without a website. People are going online more than they use paper directories because the information offered for decision making is much more in-depth – more then just being the first in your category (remember when businesses all tried to start their names with the letter “A” or “AAA” to get at the top?). Heck – just a couple of weeks ago, I made a pizza-buying decision online, paid for it too. I know it seems that I am stating the obvious, but it’s amazing the number of people… no… *business* owners who still don’t have some sort of page. There are no more excuses. Get. On. Line. Call me, seriously. (Or, you know… buy the book… *cough*).
Q: Jodie – there are already lots of other books out there about website design, building and maintenance. Why on earth are you writing another one? I mean… I even wrote one a few years ago!
A: Yes you did! I seem to remember Asia Carerra liked it too ;). And, of course, the following first point isn’t about your book… second one is *grin*.
So, two reasons for this manual:
One, some the videos and books I have seen don’t go into the same detail, are usually written/produced by people who use jargon and make assumptions – assumptions about what people already know. For example, if a cook wrote a cookbook and said to add a dram of vanilla to the cake recipe, or to singe the chicken carcass before preparing (this happened to me… I had to call a friend’s mom… and she didn’t know either…) then didn’t explain those two things, that cook is assuming you have prior knowledge of that part of cooking. Same thing happened to me when I took a mechanics class in high school way back when; my teacher told the students that he was going to treat us like we knew nothing about cars… but then went ahead and told us to bring the cars in and change the oil. A simple task, right? Yes, but only if you knew where to look/what to look for. He assumed that we, or rather I, knew a) where to drain the oil from b) what to drain the oil into c) what oil to put back in d) how to drive… (I was 15 at the time) etc etc etc.
This is usually the challenge when the “experts” write books – they know a LOT, but sometimes forget which parts the people around them don’t know. Heck, I’ve been guilty of doing that – a lot of my time was spent around the Geek-minded, and when I would talk with my non-online friends, they would look at me like I went nuts. So, I learned to bridge the gap – translate, if you will – geek speak. Between other websites I owned where I had already created step-by-step instructions for various situations and the questions my students have asked in class I have been able to take every single step, click and what you need to fill out. There are NO assumptions that there is prior knowledge other than being able to check email, peck away at a keyboard to type and know how to get to a webpage.
Two: This doesn’t replace all the other books out there – they serve their purpose. Just like there are two different types of people who drive cars: there are the people who want to learn to drive, know how to pump their own gas and wash the windows so they can get down the road. Then there are the people who want to learn all of the above PLUS how to change the spark plugs, the oil etc or even rebuild the engine, or even build the car from scratch if they wish. Both types are going to get to the mall and find value in their cars… for the second type however, the car NEEEEDS to be tinkered with under the hood, needs to be altered, added to, changed etc. They have fun doing that. What about the rest of us? How would you like it, if, all you wanted to do is get to the mall, you had to go through the whole manufacturing manual to learn how to: attach the doors, wire the ignition, move forward, stop, turn right/left and reverse if you had never driven a car before? What my book is, is: put the key in the door, turn it to the left… step by step with no excess bloat of HOW the door unlocks when that key turns to the left or how you can go in and fiddle with the mechanics to make it turn to the right and beep. Those extra, advanced steps are what books like yours are for.
Q: But why would someone want to buy your book when they could just as easily hire someone to design, build and maintain a site for them?
A: To keep control. Have freedom etc – you could choose any of the overused reasons people try to sell stuff like this to you.
It comes down to several things: a) If you have an idea at 3am would you be able to actually act on it? Before I learned what to do, any time I wanted a change to my site I’d have to wait until the designer was available, and then wait until he had time to fit it in. Now that I know what to do, I just go… do it. I can add a page, update my contact information – create a whole new site if I want.
b) Do-it-yourself websites are cheaper. Now, building your own site doesn’t mean you won’t ever hire someone for design or upkeep. It’s like I am teaching people to drive, put gas in, clean the windshields, change the air filter, outfit the interior with accessories and maybe even change a tire. For engine overhauls, replacing a windshield or a new paint job? Those require very specialized training and it’s usually MUCH more cost-effective to hire a professional. And after you buy and use the manual, you will KNOW what to ask for; instead of trying to ask for a new whozit to be installed, you will know it’s called an axle, which leads me to my next point:
c) Other people are getting rich off of what you don’t know. Even if you don’t plan to maintain your site forever (because you business is going to grow, right?) it’s always a good idea to be an educated consumer. One example: I have a long-time friend who owns a music shop. They handed over all creation of their website to the web designer. A long time and thousands of dollars later, they still didn’t have the site they wanted. Problem was, they didn’t know how to fix it so they had to go back and pay money for each update, and even that wasn’t always completed. In fact, I went to my home town and visited them a month ago. I searched for them online to find their address and arrived at… an empty store. They had moved several months before. Good thing I wasn’t a customer…
Q: Ouch! I wonder how many others did that… Yikes. Since you took this from your 2-day course, does this mean you’re going to stop the live courses?
Not at all! What I have edited and put together is the manual for my training course – inside, everyone will get as close as possible to me actually being there in the classroom with them. Usually it would have only been available to those students, but I have decided that for 10 days I’ll open it up and make it available.
The book is also technically a key to constant updates – the computer you buy today is obsolete in 6 months – this book, although it applies RIGHT NOW, and it’s one of your first steps, will need updating. I don’t want to be selling a stale book in a month or two so it’s going to be available for those who want to take action immediately. And the updates? Well… for anyone who does use that 10-day window they will automatically become members of my graduates’ service and get regular updates and “how to’s” for a year.
Q: So, now comes that question: what do people do if they want a copy?
A: I do have a page for the book at:
Insert Title Here: The Easiest How-to-Build-Your-Own-Website Book Ever
Great, thanks, Jodie, and good luck with this new venture!