Job description: webmaster

Submitted by S. Rosendahl | Category: General Interest | Published on Feb 05, 2006
It must be nice to work at home and make money online, they say. Can you show me how? How do we as webmasters answer that question?

Job description: webmaster

A brain surgeon was conversing with a famous writer at a party. "When I retire, I'd like to become a writer," he told her. "That's interesting," she responded. "When I retire, I'd like to become a brain surgeon." Running a website isn't exactly brain surgery, but like writing professionally, neither is it as easy as many people think it is. But as with writing, it looks easy. "It must be nice to work at home and make money online," they say. "Can you show me how?" How do we as webmasters answer that question?

Getting started as a webmaster

To begin, we can try to quell any misconceptions that people may have. No, we do not lie around watching TV all day while the money pours in. The skills needed to derive income online take more than a few hours to develop. And while we enjoy what we do, it's work. It takes time, sometimes a lot of time. Running a revenue-generating website is part (or in some cases, all) of running a business. Talking about business specifics can help people understand what's involved. When friends and relatives ask us to show them how to make money online, we can ask them what products or services they plan to offer. Have they researched the market to see if there is enough demand for their idea? Do they even have an idea? Have they found a niche? Have they written up a business plan and looked into the costs of the products or services they want to provide, a business license, insurance, and other business expenses? They need to know all that in addition to being able to run a website. Not that we want to discourage people, but we don't want them to waste their time getting into something that they aren't prepared for. Or perhaps they already have a bricks-and-mortar business and want to start offering their services online as well. On to the website itself. No night school course or diploma fully prepares people for running an online business. Most or all of us are self-taught to a great degree, learning from our mistakes and picking up valuable knowledge from website articles and forums. We all started at the beginning, and we had some success before we knew everything that we needed to know. We still don't know everything. But learning does take time and effort. What does an aspiring webmaster need to know to get started? How to choose, register, and protect a domain name

What do look for when choosing a web host for specific needs

Web design standards and principles, HTML, CSS, perhaps some programming languages (but a website builder or template may be adequate for a starter website)

How to choose and set up a shopping cart

What to look for in a merchant account and payment gateway (PayPal or PayQuake are probably fine for starting out)

Search engine optimization: finding the right keywords and knowing how and where to use them, getting inbound links, avoiding techniques that could get sites banned from search engines

How to write online copy that works for both an online audience and for search engine bots

Web-specific advertising and marketing techniques


As the webmaster world turns

"Ah, once I do all that, the money will flow to me," people may say. It might start coming in with all of the above in place. But will it keep coming? Not if the competition continues adding content and inbound links and we do nothing. That's why we're putting time into acquiring more inbound links and promoting our site instead of lying around watching TV as people might imagine. We're analyzing our website statistics to see what we can learn about our visitors and how we can make our site work better for them. We're keeping up on what's new in SEO, web development, and our field of business. We're looking for ways to try to stay ahead of the competition. And, of course, we're responding to inquiries and selling the products or providing the services that we offer at our website. Customer service is just as important online as it is with face-to-face contact. We're still serving real people. Online, people sometimes expect immediate responses, which makes taking a day off less of an option. We may be communicating with people whose native language isn't the same as ours, which can create communication difficulties. While most people are polite, some use the anonymity of online contact to be rude in ways they wouldn't think of behaving in front of us. And if they feel that our service isn't good enough, they may share their unhappiness in online forums. Working from home and being our own boss has its benefits. We can work at our own pace and take time to do what we need to do in our personal lives, If we want, we can turn on the TV in the middle of the day to watch our favorite soap but we probably make up for the time later, when 9-to-5ers are relaxing after their day of work. 9-to-5 jobs have their benefits too. Employees have job descriptions, they know what's expected of them, and most can leave work when the clock says that it's time to go home. It's easier to persevere when you know that the boss is evaluating your work. Working on our own, we have to find that perseverance within ourselves and keep working on bringing visitors to our website if we want to have an income. Not everyone has that drive to continue pushing themselves to work when they're on their own. The cycle of starting

Should we help our friends and relatives who want to earn money online? Perhaps the biggest help we can offer them is to paint a realistic picture of webmaster work and to get them thinking about their business ideas and preparation. We can all remember what it was like to start out, and we somehow made it without knowing everything that we know now. If people have done their research and are ready to jump in without expecting us to do the work for them, and if we give them some help, we're continuing the cycle of support that many of us also received as beginning webmasters.

About the Author:

Lois S. is a Technical Executive Writer for and with experience in the website hosting industry. 



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