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Weebly Users: Interview with Shauna L Bowling

Today, we’re excited to interview Shauna L Bowling, a freelance copywriter and editor, who created her personal site http://www.shaunalbowling.com/ using Weebly.

Shauna L BowlingSWB: Hello Shauna, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Please tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to build a site.

Shauna: Thank you for reaching out to me, Howard. I’m thrilled to share my experience with your readers.

I made the decision to offer my services as a freelance copywriter and editor in the fall of 2012. After having been away from the market for over 25 years, I discovered a whole new world upon my return. Today’s creative environment lives within – and is dependent upon – technology. So, I began learning everything I could about this alien nation.

You see, when I was a copywriter in the 1980s, there was no need to do my own marketing or find clients. That was all done for me. All I had to do was visit clients, get a feel for their business, and write. I know I’m dating myself, but back then computers were only used for editing the commercials I wrote after they were filmed. Copy and storyboards were done by hand.

In the summer of 2013 it became apparent I needed a website for several reasons:

  1. Having a website gives you an online presence.
  2. Including a blog on your site gives the writer built-in, current clips.
  3. Websites are the virtual equivalent of a traditional brick-and-mortar office/place of business.
  4. The first thing editors, prospective clients and publishers do when you pitch them is look you up on Google. Having a website provides credibility and a place to get to know you.

However, I couldn’t afford to hire someone to build and maintain a website for me; the alternative was to build my own – a daunting realization, to say the least!

SWB: How did you learn about Weebly? Why did you choose this platform? Did you try any other site builders?

Shauna: I heard about Weebly through a writer friend of mine. She and a few other writers were having websites built by another writer friend and webmaster. This person, who has since become a friend of mine as well, diddled with several platforms, including WordPress, and felt Weebly had the most to offer as far as features and ease of use.

Since our friend had already done the homework, I trusted her recommendation and chose Weebly as my virtual home. However, I wanted to try my hand at building the site myself, although I’d never done so before.

SWB: Was it difficult to build a site using Weebly? What was the most difficult part?

Shauna: Honestly, the most difficult part was mustering up the gumption to jump in and get started. I received an invitation from the aforementioned friend/Weebly guru to join Weebly. This came with a $10 discount offer, which Weebly offers to anyone who proffers an invite and to the person who accepts. It took me nearly a month to actually create my account and commit. I added my friend as an administrator in case I needed help. But I’m stubborn. I emailed her with questions when I had them, but was determined to build my site on my own, which I did.

I know this is quite cliché (and overused), but if I can do it anyone can. I’m what I refer to as techno-igno (technologically ignorant).

When you get stuck, consult Weebly’s learning center. They have wonderful video tutorials that help you every step of the way.

All in all, it took me about a week to build my site before launching. Of course, the more I learned about what a writer’s site should include in order to rank, draw readers, prospective clients, etc., the more I tweaked. In fact, two years later I’m still tweaking. It’s all part of the growth process.

SWB: What do you like most about Weebly?

Shauna: Weebly has hundreds of customizable themes to choose from. It’s also very easy to navigate. When working in the back door to build pages, put them in the order in which you want them to appear, add meta descriptions, keywords, etc. it’s pretty straight-forward. When in doubt, consult the learning center or Uncle Google regarding the really technical stuff like html, codes, author verification and the like. I won’t lie – there’s a lot to learn. The beauty of the Internet is we have all the tools necessary to learn the ropes without spending a dime.

The Pro version that I use has many useful features:

  • Audio player – not available in free version
  • Customizable footer – not available in free version
  • Editor Permissions – not available in free version
  • Expanded site statistics
  • 250 MB file upload limit – 100 MB for free version
  • $100 Google AdWords coupon
  • HD video player – not available in free version
  • Header slideshow – not available in free version
  • Own favicon
  • Password protection – not available in free version
  • Premium support
  • Site search – not available in free version
  • Drop & drag site builder
  • Free hosting
  • Unlimited pages
  • Up to 25 product elements – 10 with free version
  • Custom domain – not available with free version

Weebly drag-and-drop

SWB: Is Weebly reasonably priced?

Shauna: Very. They have a free version, but I opted for Weebly Pro. This removes the word Weebly from the URL and provides more options than the free version. Note: all successful bloggers I follow strongly advise against free versions of any web building platform if you want to boost credibility and professionalism.

I pay $59.95 annually for my domain name and $99 for Weebly Pro.  Any starving artist can afford that, right?

Weebly now offers a Business Plan for $24.92/month for one year or $20.79/month for a two year commitment.

SWB: Thank you for your time today, Shauna. Do you have any closing remarks?

Shauna: Thank you for having me, Howard. I hope your readers find this information helpful.

In today’s market, having a website is paramount. You need to make yourself available to the consumer. Whether you have a product, service, advice or information to offer, you need to be found. Most consumers and researchers consult the Internet before making a purchasing decision. Put yourself out there. Weebly makes it easy.

  • Shauna’s site in Weebly is an inspiration to all online writers. Weebly’s free version, however, still meets all my requirements.

  • Maria Jordan

    Excellent interview, dear Shauna – you are an inspiration with your initiative.
    If you are a ‘techno – igno’, you could have fooled me – your site is inviting and professional at once.

    • Shauna Bowling

      Thank you, Maria!

  • midget38

    Owning a website is important for every business. Those who don’t stand to lose a lot! Thanks for sharing your experience, Shauna.

  • HARVEY STELMAN

    SHAUNA, YOU DID A GREAT JOB! AS ALWAYS YOU WERE STRAIGHT FORWARD, ON EVERY QUESTION. YOU ARE QUITE A LADY.

  • [email protected]

    Thanks for sharing your experience! Good information to have on hand.

  • Chris Rose

    Mmmm. One of the reasons I haven’t been around so much is due to my website problems… Mmmm. Got me thinking… 😉