Making the Most of Going Online
May 2nd, 2008

May-June 2008

By William & Patti Feldman

Only about 50 percent of small businesses in the U.S. with fewer than 10 employees have web sites. Yet, with eight out of ten people in the country spending as much time online as watching television, having an active web presence can be an important marketing tool. Many business owners or homeowners search for tile dealers only online. If you are not there, you won’t get an invitation to quote or even show your wares.

Creating a website yourself is not a daunting process. With the help of a couple of affordable software solutions, you can easily develop and maintain a website and take advantage of various online marketing techniques, including posting your own mini-infomercials on YouTube.

The suite of web-based software and services Microsoft Office Live Small Business 2.0 (, released earlier this year, offers free web site hosting, free services and several design capabilities that will guide and aid you in creating a professional looking website. The program includes custom domain name registration with 100 business e-mail accounts, each with 5 GB of storage. Custom domains are free for a year and $14.95 annually after that.

The software features several business applications, including a contact management application for performing basic customer relationship management; Team Workspace, for posting documents and information you’d like to access remotely or share with employees, customers or business partners in a password-protected environment; and Document Manager, which can serve as an online repository of documents, photos and other data.
Adobe Premiere Elements 4 conversion video-editing software ( enables users to take digital photos and/or video clips, attach identifying keywords (tags) to the photo or clip, and turn out a polished movie in a surprisingly short time and then post it online.

Using the software, there are two easy ways to put together a video—using a timeline or a sceneline. The sceneline method is easy and actually fun.

The screen is divided into three work spaces. A thumbnail display of the media clips (photos or videos) you want to work on fills most of the right side of the screen. Getting them there was just a process of drag and drop. Once they are up there, you can rearrange the order or delete any scene with just a couple of clicks. A large interactive version of the clip on which you are currently working is displayed on most of the left side of the screen.
The video you are making is displayed as a horizontal sceneline which will scroll across the full width of the bottom of the screen. Building the video requires only dragging and dropping each scene you select from the scenes available on the upper right anywhere into the sceneline.

You edit each scene in turn on the upper left—trimming length, zooming in or out, and/or superimposing a title. The program supports one-click use of a broad range of transitions and effects, such as spin in, swing out, flip, swipe or dissolve between scenes and the addition of lighting effects and other special effects to each scene. You can drag and drop to rearrange the order of the scenes and can delete any scene at any time.

Sound mixing is also easy. An onscreen mixing board features several inputs you can experiment with to achieve professional quality narration, music and other sound effects. You can even coordinate all spoken narration with the “action.”

The timeline method of video-making supports more advanced, more precise editing, such as if you want exacting coordination of music to start and stop with change of scene.

Adobe Premiere Elements 4 has built in capability both for uploading the finished video directly to your own company website and for automatically converting the video to Adobe Flash Video format, the file format YouTube uses to broadcast videos and then posting it to your free user account at Once confirmation of the upload to YouTube appears on screen, you can cut and paste the hyperlink to your video and e-mail it to customers or post it to your own website.

A recent search at for ceramic tile pulled up 2,190 videos, most posted in the past year, the majority in just the past few months.

The topics ranged from straightforward clips on how to cut tile or the broader topic of how to install tile floors to primers on such subjects as the difference between ceramic tile and porcelain tile and trends in ceramic. Typically, the voiceover notes that the video is brought “to you by XYZ” with the website superimposed. Length ranged from 30 seconds to several minutes. In addition to infomercials, you might want to post a video of sequential digital shots of a photogenic project over time.

Distribution of your video can go beyond the Internet. Using Adobe Premiere Elements 4, you can also upload the videos to an iPhone or other video-enabled mobile device and play the video on a sales call or burn the video to a DVD or Blu-ray disc for distribution as hand-outs.

Though Photoshop Elements 6 comes with a hard copy getting started guide and Premiere Elements 4 comes with a user guide, to get comfortable quickly with the programs you may want to refer to the new book, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 and Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0 Classroom in a Box (, which offer sequential self-paced lessons that cover the basics of both applications and a disk that has sample projects to work through each concept.

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