Help me choose a CMS, find stores for a green laptop case, and how/where to build a buzz about it.
September 24, 2007 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Quadruple your pleasure! I'm a newly minted green business consultant, and would like your help on four things: finding a CMS or blog system to create a website for my business, finding places where you think a green laptop case would/should be sold, blogs/social networks to get the word out about it, and suggested protocol to approach said blogs/social networks.

Happy Monday everybody. Here's the thumbnail: I recently started a green business consulting practice (woopeee!) and got my first client, a laptop case company that's decided to convert their whole line to sustainably made by the end of next year. I would like your help on four things:

Finding a CMS or blog system to create a website for my business, finding places where you think a green laptop case would/should be sold, blogs/social networks to get the word out about it, and suggested protocol to approach said blogs.

~~~

Okay, part one - I'm wanting to create a website for my budding consulting practice, I'm not coding savvy, and am leaning the CMS route, rather then blog, so that I can make the content/structure malleable, but not need to be an coding genius to do it. Yes I know blogs like Typepad can have static pages as well as blog pages, but my gut says that in the long term I'll want more elbow room. At this point the consulting practice is just me, but there may be others in the future.

My question is, of what's out there, which CMS systems meet these criteria:

• Are easy to install, customize, update.

• Can be up and running in a short amount of time, and are scalable/have plenty of useful modules to add.

• " " ", even if I'm no coder. Has instructions that don't presume you know all the lingo already.

• Has a variety of stylish templates, and can be customized.

• Is free (preferably) or inexpensive (ie a reasonable monthly vs some huge up front fee.)

• Open source and/or good support. In other words, if things go wrong, there's either tech support or people on a BB that could help me suss things out.

If you have some entirely other idea outside of a blog or cms, do tell.

~~~~

Part two: I've gotten my first consulting client, a laptop case company that has decided to convert their entire line to green (made of recycled bottles!) by the end of next year. I'm helping them with reviewing/ creating marketing materials, buzz building on blogs/social networks, coming up with new channels of distribution, and general susty knowledge goodness to keep them on their toes and thinking broadly.

Where would you see recycled soda bottle based laptop case (and soon to be many other kinds of) bags being sold, online and bricks and mortar? Think both where you would imagine seeing them (ie Elephant Pharmacy {a green focused "drug store that prescribes yoga"}, theGreenOffice.com), and where you think they should be seen (ie at Whole Foods, Starbucks) I've been compiling a list, and would love to have your input on this. They sell nationally, and also in Europe and I believe some Asian countries at this point. Think broad, from leetle places to beeg companies.

What blogs/social networks do you see the word going out on? Again I've got a list going, think from the usual suspects (Treehugger.com) to more off the current beaten path (Changents.com)

And lastly:

Any suggestions for how to approach people at blogs to post about these bags, this company? It has a good story (Founder was a Berkeley enviro studies major in the 80s, got discouraged, went into business that was not enviro related, and now sees that it's possible to do it susty, and has made the commitment, and is dedicated to do it really right, as in not just because it's cool, but does every material in there make a difference vs. the conventional option?) Do I write something for them, or just give them a thumbnail and let them do their thing? My client thinks they should wait until products are in stores to do this, but I think building an anticipatory buzz instead of/as well as this would be wise. Thoughts?
posted by healthyliving to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
for PART One: you need to goto http://www.opensourcecms.com/ and test as many CMS'es as possible that site will let you login to all the admin sections and mess around all you want it resets every hour i think
posted by BSummers at 11:08 AM on September 24, 2007


part one:

- don't buy, rent. Google for "CMS Hosting", and you'll find plenty of deals. For a new biz, don't mess around with buying servers, installing software, etc, unless you are in that line of work already.

Mambo and the series of PHP-based CMS's are well regarded; there are more complex java tools out there, (opencms.org), but probably overkill for your needs.

part two:
amazon? target? compusa? Make it easy for mainstream people to buy this stuff.

part three: Joel on Software has a pretty interesting post on the relationships between billings, investors, PR/Marketing, and software development- even though you aren't a software company, there is some value there in terms of thinking about when to go public: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/VC.html

In short, you're small and slightly exotic, so going public early is probably to your benefit.

Good luck!
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:10 AM on September 24, 2007


Thanks BSummers, that sounds great.

JenkinsEar, I'm with you, I have a site hosting account already. Pardon my ignorance, but is CMS hosting different then regular website hosting? All I want CMS for is ease of creating a site and ability to expand it as I get more comfortable with doing it/have need to, but have the site be more advanced/interesting then some site in a can tool. I want it to have both a blog and other general, static pages, contact/interest/quote forms, etc

As for where to sell, they probably already have the usual suspects covered, it's different places that they're looking for.
posted by healthyliving at 11:25 AM on September 24, 2007


ExpressionEngine is a good CMS.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:48 AM on September 24, 2007


Thanks kirkaracha, but urm, it's $250 out the gate. Free or a reasonable monthly fee is where I'm at.
posted by healthyliving at 12:01 PM on September 24, 2007


I like the textpattern CMS. It's free, and can be hosted. Check the website - I seem to recall seeing tp-friendly hosting companies advertising there awhile back.
posted by jquinby at 12:31 PM on September 24, 2007


bah, forgot the link.
posted by jquinby at 12:32 PM on September 24, 2007


I'd start with WordPress, IMO still the easiest to use and install, fulfills all your requirements, and has hundreds of great themes (1, 2, 3).

my gut says that in the long term I'll want more elbow room
The most important thing is to not get hung up on installing and customizing your CMS and just start writing. Many people end up letting their blog/website wither why they nitpick over every detail of its appearance. Readers demand good content - a nice appearance is just window dressing, especially in the age of RSS readers.

finding places where you think a green laptop case would/should be sold
I think your best bets are the environmental (TreeHugger, MetaEfficient), design (notcot, BLTD, Cool Hunting, DesignSponge) and tech/gadgetry blogs (uncrate, productdose, engadget, gizmodo). Check out TreeHugger's blogroll.
posted by junesix at 12:34 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lastly: Sponsor a GreenFestival and have them give out their press kits inside the laptop bags, or if you can afford it have them use these as the "goody bags" that every attendee gets.
posted by alms at 1:25 PM on September 24, 2007


I personally prefer Movable Type for CMS. MT is flexible and can grow with you though there is a bit of a learning curve to it.

As for where the bags should be sold I'd like to see a strong online sales presence from the company itself. I like being able to buy direct for bags and things. Other than that in computer shops, camera shops, environmentally aware shops and if possible the big box computer stores.

A lot of bloggers are open to trying things and writing about them. Send out press releases, contact bloggers directly and ask them if they'd be interested in reviewing the product. Be completely transparent about this process. Totally honest about who you're giving bags to and what exactly is expected for that bag (which should be nothing more than for them to write about their experience with it good or bad). Don't underestimate the power that an "A list" or "big name" blogger could have in helping get the word out so you should pitch some of those people as well.
posted by mjones at 1:41 PM on September 24, 2007


Many, many blogs are looking for green items to promote, especially (in my experience) family blogs, because parents want to promote green in the home, leave a nicer future for their kids, better world, etc.

I would send out a prweb press release about the company when it is actually ready to go.

I've got a blog that does product previews/reviews as well; give me an email if you want to do a post about this when you are further along (email in profile, yada yada).
posted by misha at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2007


Wow, such useful answers, thanks! Keep going...
posted by healthyliving at 2:07 PM on September 24, 2007


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