Set Yourself Up for Success – Taking Control of your Website

When it comes to operating an online store, agility and responsiveness are critical. Imagine that your best company store client has to change a garment in order to comply with a sudden change in corporate branding or your garment cost has changed suddenly and you have to quickly change pricing to keep from losing profit; you need to be able to make those changes quickly to avoid injuring your relationship with a customer or hurting your bottom line. On a more positive note, let’s say that a last minute event or new story pops up and you want to run a campaign or a special sale, if you can’t make changes immediately, the opportunity would pass you by. You need to maintain a schedule that serves your shop and your clients, to have the ability to alter your site, add to your catalogs on a whim, or to fix problems fast. This is why I advocate learning to set up and manage your own website.

Whenever I talk to decorators about building their eCommerce or marketing websites, someone will invariably ask, ”Isn’t there a person who can do all of this for me?”  Frankly, I understand. Many of them are incredibly busy, particularly those running solo.  It’s tempting to think it would be easier just to have someone else do all the work.  The result of bowing out, however, is missing the opportunity to learn how your site works and how to manage it.  Luckily, most decorators will evaluate their options and choose a service like DecoNetwork; a cloud-based suite for managing one’s site (and business) from any web browser. This means that, while certain areas like custom web design can benefit greatly from professional attention, there shouldn’t be anything about the setup process that’s completely out of reach for any sufficiently dedicated novice who can take direction and read documentation, especially if the solution they choose offers a one-on-one orientation as we do.

Those who remove themselves from the setup process miss the opportunity to learn how their site works and what they can do to change it.

Having an operating knowledge of your site gives you the direct control you need to effectively do business online. Each minute you gain in omitting the setup process can come at the cost of suffering through the long wait whenever you need a change or addition; either you’ll be reliant on a third party to do your update on their schedule, or you’ll have to muddle through on your own, learning the system after the fact.

Any system requires a necessary minimum amount of effort to get started.  Sensible decorators don’t expect run a new piece of equipment at capacity without any training or set up. If a tool is to be properly utilized, it must be studied and practiced with. Just because the ‘machinery’ is behind a web page, doesn’t change that That said, like learning or building anything for your business, the effort is well spent when the end result is the opportunity to increase your sales and make your business easier to run. 

As someone who lives and breathes machine embroidery,  I think of it this way:  when you are building a website using a hosted platform, that platform is like your embroidery machine.  You don’t expect to build your machine yourself; create parts from scratch,  solder electronics,  or program firmware. You expect to purchase a tool that gives you the ability to decorate, if you learn to use it. You correctly expect a technician to help when you need a major repair, but you wouldn’t expect to fly one in when you want to change thread, switch the hoops out for cap drivers, or execute normal maintenance. Even if you had the money to burn, some things make sense to do yourself. You want to cover the basics and be able to execute on opportunities whenever they arise. If you need to stitch caps, you don’t want to wait for a tech to come out and make that possible; you want to get to work, now. This is why you listen when the tech does your setup, you read your manual carefully, and you make sure you know how to operate the machine before you put it into full rotation and expect everyone to know how to handle it. You train, practice, and learn how to make it work.

You expect a technician to help when you with a major embroidery machine repair, but you wouldn’t expect to fly one in when you want to change your thread.

A similar point can be made about the content of your website. You know your business and your market better than anyone or at least you should. Leaving the style and content of your site to someone else means someone who doesn’t know about your business to dictate the way you appear to your customers. You wouldn’t want an outside party selecting designs to pitch to your customer or changing thread colors without your approval; why would you want an outside party to dictate your initial setup and selection of products or to give you canned content that doesn’t appeal to your specific clients? It’s fine to have preformatted materials to help you place and style your own assets,  but you ultimately know best what your client needs to see to make their buying decisions. You need to be the driver of your website’s purpose and presentation.

There’s nothing wrong with getting help when you need it, but I encourage everyone to spend some quality time learning and trying things out when they build their next site. The skillset it builds is invaluable. All you have to do is make sure to have a link to the help documentation, figure out how to raise a support ticket, and dig in. It may be difficult, but your future self who is nimbly making an emergency change thank you for the time you took to know your tools.

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