Posted in Knitting
September 25, 2009

Tech teleclasses good for fiberistas + more

Emma Jane Hogbin is not just my friend, she’s also the technological genius behind fiber-related sites you know and love, the co-author of a book about content management system Drupal, and the designer of Drupal-themed socks. She knows fiber, and she knows tech, and she knows awesome.

There’s been a trend towards offering online classes (here’s what Stefanie Japel is up to, and I’ve been plotting things as well) as well as other “don’t need to travel” options. Emma Jane is doing a series of classes on topics that fiber people — be they designers, yarn dyers, yarn stores, you name it — need to know, although they’re not solely limited to fiberistas, of course. So I thought I’d have a little chat with her about them and see what’s going on…

Me: What was your motivation behind offering teleclasses?

Emma Jane: I knew that I wanted to teach classes this fall and I knew I wanted them to be as accessible as possible. I hate it when technology gets in the way of learning. For example: I’ve taught “webinars” and I’ve found them to be technically difficult. A lot of time is wasted as people try to get the video and the audio and the screen sharing all set up. Half an hour is gone before you can even start the class. I knew there had to be an easier way to do distance education. So I’m going retro.

There’s nothing that’s technically easier to do than to hop on the phone and gab for an hour. I already do a lot of phone-based tech support so I know it works even for people who are visually oriented. On top of all this, I can easily record the teleclasses and make them available to the participants if they miss a meeting. And you don’t have to wait to download a HUGE video file. Missed classes are as easy a listening to a podcast.

Me: In terms of subject matter, why are these topics important? what real-life scenarios were you seeing from clients that compelled you to create these specific classes?

Emma Jane: These classes are based on the most requested technologies from my clients. Everyone wants a Web site. Everyone wants to sell stuff online. And everyone wants a mailing list to send traffic to their site. It’s a tough economy right now though. People are having a hard time scraping together the cash they need to have a site built by a professional like me.

I love teach people how to take care of their own Web sites, and I love the group dynamics of a class. It makes perfect sense to combine all of this into the bulk rates of a group. Small businesses who take the classes will get a Web site that would have cost them at least $1500 for $500 AND they’ll be trained on how to use it. What’s not to love?

Me: Tell me more about the classes — what sorts of topics will you cover? what kind of students will they benefit?

Emma Jane: [cuts and pastes!]

Effective Email Campaigns

There are all kinds of fancy new tools for people to use when communicating online. But there’s one tool that really gets the job done for a lot of small businesses: email. It allows you to craft a message to your audience and then push it straight to their office or home. In this class you’ll learn how to:

– Create effective marketing newsletter that appeals to your target audience.
– Compare different email services and choose the most appropriate tool for your needs. We will talk about “free” and paid services including mailman, PHPList, SimpleNews, MailChimp and Aweber.
– Create a marketing plan for your newsletter which includes the frequency of your newsletter and topics for the next six months (if not more!).

Dates: Mondays at 4PM EST on September 28, October 5. Sign up here.

DIY: Web site building

In this awesome five-week “no code” course you will point and click your way to a brand new Web site. All participants will get their very own Web site to play with and break (it’s ok, we’ll help you fix it!). At the end of the course you’ll be able to download all the files to your own server, or keep HICK Tech
as your hosting provider. In other words: you get a $1500 Web site for 500 bucks! CANADIAN. In this class you’ll learn how to:

– Create your very own Web site with absolutely no coding. (Although we’ll teach you how to peek under the hood so that you can see what’s there.)
– Upload pictures to the Internet to include on your Web site.
– Select a Web site template that is perfect for your business and then apply it to your Web site.
– Add a blog or discussion forum to your Web site.
– Register a domain name and find appropriate Web site hosting.
– Evaluate additional plugins to make your Web site even more amazing than it already is.
– Fire your web maintenance dude.

This class uses the same software as the CrochetMe Web site.

Dates: Mondays at 4PM EST on October 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16. Sign up here.

DIY: Ecommerce

Start selling your products and services online with this exciting five-week course. From product description to payment gateway, this course will teach you how to do everything you need to sell your products online. It’s perfect for small businesses (especially artists and crafters!) who want to take advantage of the global market to sell their products. In this class you’ll learn how to:

– Customize Web forms to create unique product summaries that meet your business needs.
– Upload pictures of your products.
– Determine appropriate transaction paths for your customers and apply them to your ecommerce site.
– Create custom messages to display after products have been purchased.
– Integrate your Web site with PayPal to complete sales transactions and accept payments securely.

Dates: Thursdays at 4PM EST on October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29. Sign up here.

(Me again:) I think this is a great opportunity for people who might be a little intimidated by technology, but who can really, really use it in their existing business (or one they’d like to start!) to learn from one of the most capable and fantastic people I know. Trust me when I say that Emma Jane has brought this site back from the dead more than once (stupid automated software updates!), and that not only knows what she’s talking about, she knows how to present the information in an easily-digested, understandable, funny way.

So, if you’re looking to expand your skills, I can’t recommend anyone more highly! And the classes are starting soon, so get a jump on it!

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