Webmaster skillsToday’s blog post is a continuation of the first post on becoming a webmaster.  It is a new year and of course, we are receiving requests to take over websites from other webmasters.  In one case, the web guy passed away.  This was very sad and in this case,  the website was built on a “Joomla” platform and this software and the client was looking to change to WordPress.

Since we had no way to access the actual website, we were required to re-design the website.  Luckily the site owner did have the correct info to access the domain name so we will be able to point the domain name to the new WordPress site as it is completed.

When a new webmaster is needed:

Another client was using a webmaster who was not familiar with the custom programming needed to keep the website in line with new technology.  When this happens it is usually necessary for a new webmaster with more programming knowledge to take charge.  Keeping two people in charge of a website is never a good solution  The client must let the old webmaster know he or she is being replaced.  Once the webmaster is no longer in charge, at that point we take over and set up our own passwords allowing us to become the new guy! This method helps to protect the integrity of the website and keeps our liability to a minimum.

The importance of continuing education:

It should go without saying that if you are considering becoming a webmaster, you will need to stay current with new technology.  Without this additional expertise, you will not be able to keep clients happy. When a website is first designed, the site owner has only small requests for the new design.  As time moves on, they start looking for ways to improve their site. They are always on the lookout for new bells and whistles being used by their competitors and you will hear from them for these changes.  Using the same skills over and over, and not learning new ones will cause you to fail and lose clients.

Support team for webmasterThe right team keeps client business:

If you are only a graphic artist then team up with a designer and/or a programmer for best results.  In this way, you can provide your clients with all of the functionality they need going forward.  If you know nothing more than how to download WordPress platforms and drag and drop images, don’t accept jobs from clients that will expect more than you can deliver.  Becoming a webmaster and going it alone only works well if you know all areas of the business.

A support team for assistance:

Having a team for support is the right way to build your webmaster business.  It is also a good idea to have a couple of professional content writers available in case your clients need article marketing projects completed.  These professionals can create newsletters, blog and develop new content for web pages. This frees you up to do other projects. Content is still king and if writing copy is not one of your skills, connect with those that enjoy writing.  Having all areas of the business covered will pay off with big dividends as you build your new brand.

Message from a “real” webmaster,  Paul B. Rose (Multi-Media Designer & Programmer)

The daily issues that arise with clients fall under two main categories:

  1. Email
  2. Website

Email issues:

It’s important to understand the hosting company settings for creating and deleting emails. This is usually done in the hosting control panel environment. After email accounts are created it is necessary to set up the client phone and computer for sending and receiving emails. Understanding POP, IMAP, and SMTP server settings is a must. For large companies, a smart webmaster will insist that the company hire a full-time I.T. professional to manage the emails for the many company users.

updating website softwareWebsite changes:

Often clients need changes made to their websites to keep the information updated. This is the most common involvement related to a website. With new software like WordPress, it is also important to know how to keep things up-to-date.  Providing clients administrative privileges to a content-managed website like WordPress should be done with a stern notice to the site owner:  Do not make any changes that you are unfamiliar with!  A novice can ruin a website in a matter of a few clicks. Keeping a backup of a website is a definite requirement.

Pitfalls to avoid:

Avoid assuming control or responsibility of another website designer’s work or programming unless you have a full and complete understanding of the website and programming beforehand. Avoid allowing marketing firms to have access to a web site’s root directory where they can make changes.  Always caution your clients not to share access to their website or hosting company without first alerting you.  Stay away from becoming involved with a website when another webmaster is also involved.

This is a slippery slope.  Instead of solving the problem you can easily become part of the problem. Take over only when the other webmaster is no longer involved and has no access to the site. Two cooks always spoil the soup…keep that in mind when you decide to become involved.  New issues could easily be blamed on you if more than one person is involved.  Don’t’ go there!

My experience as a webmaster:

Please keep in mind that I have been working as a designer for over fifteen years and I had previous programming classes in college.  I understand custom programming such as CSS and HTML, PHP and SQL methods.  I am also constantly learning new programming tricks of the trade. With the many things you need to become proficient with, you should pace yourself and not expect too much too soon.

I have a list of a few strategic partners that I call upon when my workload is overwhelming.  Larger projects that take more than three months to complete are sent to our downtown strategic partner.  He has an entire staff of ten and can get involved to develop the website in the time needed and on budget.

No man is an island.  Be careful if you become a webmaster and understand that you are in charge of a client’s entire online existence.  Know enough to be a helpmate, not a detriment to your client.  Take it seriously because it is a very important job.  Check out some of my work on our website.

Good luck ahead as you start your webmaster journey.  I wish you all good things ahead.

Paul B. Rose.