Your Web Presence & Showcasing Your Art

mar·quee [mahr-kee –noun

  1. a tall rooflike projection above a theater entrance, usually containing the name of a currently featured play or film and its stars.

I’ve noticed that many more women are showing up asking for a very specific requirement for their web presence. They want a marquee style header.

At first, I thought this would be the exception. And it was, for a little while.

Most of my previous clients are coaches. Early on, I had one ‘typical’ artist show up and say yes to me and my way of webifying. And after analysis of what she was presenting to the world, and upon my recommendation to her, we designed her web presence using a different WordPress theme than is my usual standard. And Thesis is a standard in today’s web presencing universe.

I looked at what she was doing, and I decided it needed a different focus. Not that Thesis couldn’t handle her and what she does. Enough mystery, yeah? Please meet Laura Jacquemond from BlueTerracotta.com.

But my past clients were mostly going to be using their words to connect with their audience of right people. And I do believe, Thesis is a really great broad based solution for what most people starting out need in their first few years of online business making.

However, the earlier exception is now becoming the rule. And even in my own online business growth process, I personally am finding I need a different approach to how I’m showing my stuff to the world.

You & your art

I talk a lot in my main webification sales page about being a creator. Being an artist of some type. And that at our core, we all are. I think the importance of being able to express our own personal forms of creativity is so germane to the expansion of life.  To having a feeling of deeper meaning, satisfaction, joy… all the good stuff. I believe it’s what will save the world actually. Or make Heaven on Earth.

Expressing our personal forms of art heals us.

And artistic expression is everywhere. In every thing. Because it all begins with thought. An inspiration or desire. It begins there.

What I had been wanting for my own web presence was a way to showcase my gallery. I’m an artist, and I need a gallery. Right now, I have a list in my sidebar, of clients I’ve worked with and am working with (well not this very second, because I’m writing this now, but there they are… see? look in the sidebar).

I have all the right ingredients, including testimonials, screenshots… ya know, the whole she-bang. All the things I think you’d like to see in order to make the decision of whether or not you’re going to visit my contact page and set up our chat about your web presence.

The information coming easily, in a naturally-feeling organized manner… like “uhuh uhuh uhuh…” click click click. Easy. (Emphasis on easy… ya feelin’ me?)

I’ve played with a few plug-ins (I plan to share that with you another time soon). I built galleries in several of them. Just not satisfied. Not feelin’ it.

So I’m bopping around Facebook and I notice a certain something that calls to my attention… drag & drop WordPress theme. “Oh?” I muse.

You see, I’m always thinking about you. Well not always. But you know what I mean. I want it to be easier for you… the whole technology thing. And I strongly believe that if technology doesn’t make itself easier to use, it will not be around. It must build ease-of-use into itself to thrive and expand. If it’s too challenging to use, nobody will use it.

May seem counterintuitive because in a sense, I undermine your need of my services. But I don’t see it that way. My bottom line is empowerment. I say that right-off-the-bat on my web presencing sales page.

What a marquee styled header is…

Marquee, marquee, marquee… what the hell is it?! Ok, well… read the definition again at the top of this post and then visit my client Megan Matthieson. It’ll be like bam! I promise…. Go quick…

So drag & drop WordPress theme, marquee based header. If you like it and it’s right for what your sharing… still with me?

If you are strictly biz and not an artist, then this is where you showcase your latest product or just simply sell what you do with imagery and some verbiage. It’s your billboard people. It’s your electronic billboard.

I say this all the time. If you’re a client, you’re gonna nod your head. Ready? You’ve got 2.5 seconds.

That’s it! If they don’t see what they want to see, they click the back button (or hit backspace on their keyboard like I do.)

So you gonna make’em read it or are you gonna show it to them?

My new theme choice is…

My new theme is called PlatformPro from Pagelines.com (yes, that’s an affiliate link). I’ve already sent them a lil love note… I really want them to come on by, pay me a visit (yes, it’s a secret wish). This is what it looks like when you fly-by-the-seat-of-your-optimystical-designer-ass… and it feels fun and free and wild to be… me. FINALLY!

I’m redesigning my website. I’m gonna share it with you in hopes that’ll it will help you turn your own corners about webifying and what you’re doing online, with your business.

My need for redesign is not about dissatisfaction in how my web presence looks or feels, it’s about needing to present the information in a more dynamic way. And it’s about growing and expanding myself into technology as-I-go, not all at once. Which is crazy to think that we could or can, but we do it nonetheless.

You and your web presence may not need PlatformPro now. And you might be an artist like me; needing flexible, easy & dynamic. A showcase for your art. And if your art is your writing, Thesis is still (really), more than good enough to get you going.

That’s it for today. Stay-tuned for more… where hopefully I’ll have a few shorter installments. Right now, I gotta a redesign story to tell. And I’m excited to tell it.

Till soon,
mm.

Got redesign questions?

Use the form on my contact page and just ask!

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Understanding Your Business Processes

It’s one thing for me to teach you the steps of how to create a Paypal button and put it on your upcoming event’s sales page.

But along with understanding how to use Paypal in your online business, understanding where it fits into a (your) business process is also super critical.

What is a business process?

It’s probably something you do repeatedly. A series of steps, grouped together as a “task” where several tasks equal a process.

Like “onboarding” a new client. I have a process. I gather certain information and send out certain information. It’s usually always the same thing. It’s a process.

Or like creating a paid event for your business. You will be accepting payments from your clients/customers. You’ll be delivering products or services. How do you, the business owner, plan to complete the process?

Technology can help you with process improvements.

A client just created an event. She built her Paypal button for the event and put it on her event sales page. She planned on manually adding each buyer to an Aweber list. I explained to her that by taking advantage of a Paypal setting when creating her button, she could paste a URL to a page on her blog she creates… it’s the page that tells your customers ‘Thank You’ when they finish their Paypal transaction. And on this page she could embed her Aweber list widget and ask her clients to sign-up themselves.  Leveraging technology to unburden herself from a part of her business process.

That is a business process. And those processes keep on expanding and changing, just like you, your business and it’s web presence.

And there are a thousand ways (because it’s technology) to skin this… meaning there are several other ways to integrate Paypal with Aweber so you, the business owner, do less. It just all depends on how much you’ve thought through your own processes.

One more example.

My latest cool new thing in my biz… the Video Library.

Usability training in the end of my last corporate gig really helped me understand how easy it can be to begin capturing processes. By mapping repeated tasks to certain events in a process and writing short bullet-point lists called scenarios, I can see more of how I expect a web visitor to interact with my webpage. The point of which is, to help them complete a task with ease and little frustration.

We all get to do this. At some point. Whether we are launching a sales page for a retreat or a new online community event. We get to ask ourselves what is the point? What are we doing again?

My initial biz process looked like this:

  • Buyer clicks Paypal button >
  • Buyer gets registered to my membership site >
  • Buyer gets added to my Aweber list >

At the time, that’s as much of the process as I understood.

Then I built the Video Library, and here’s how it all actually turned out:

  • Buyer clicks Paypal button>
  • Buyer automatically directed to Membership Registration page via WishList >
  • Buyer completes new member registration >
  • Buyer delivered to Registration success page >
  • Buyer receives two emails >
  • Buyer opens “Confirm Aweber subscription” email >
  • Buyer opens Video Library email & clicks login URL >

This might seem like a lot of what you don’t want to think about. At least while you are learning how to create a Paypal button.

But getting technology to work for you will ask you to know and understand your business processes.

Even the web presence we built for you, had a roadmap we followed to get there.

Thinking about a roadmap or using scenarios for your next event, product or service offering will only help you discover the intersections of where technology can help you be a more effective business owner.

So, it’s worthwhile, to get processing on your processes. If you don’t yet have a support team in place, you’ll be ready to delegate when you do get one. And if you already have one, it’ll help you delegate to them more effectively.

I hope to be sharing more about processes and ways I can help you tame and implement a few new ones of your own.

Aweber or Feedburner?

Writing is easy, when you are open to receiving the prompts given endlessly by life. (This post is inspired by my latest new client from Milan, Italy. Yes, Italy… as in Eat, Pray, Love… and her Italiano accent is delish!)

So, if you are new to my blog, I’ll say again, I help women who are just starting out. You may have a static web presence, or both a static web presence and a blog or maybe you want to add a blog to your static web presence.

Or, maybe after playing around in the micro-bizness entrepreneurial internets, you’ve realized that each and every web presence you create requires time/energy/attention to maintain and grow it so, like me, you’ve combined it all into one place.

My web clients come to me because they are just beginning to figure it all out… and want some hand-holding along the way.

That’s where I come in and help you figure out what’s best for you, right now.

Sometimes, just the expense of creating the web presence itself is the investment. If you are working with me, you’ll know it’s never finished and you keep on expanding. Yourself and your biz and the web presence you’ve created to go with it.

In the beginning, you don’t have a lot of cash. However, you do want to make it easier for people who are visiting your new shiny web presence to be in contact with you. It’s a form of leveraging your investment.

One way to do this is by offering a way for your visitors to “opt-in” to receiving email messages from you every time you post. This is the best place to begin. Caveat here is you will continue expanding.

This is why I recommend Feedburner. It’s (another) free service from Google. I talk about using it and setting it up your self in the video tutorial of this post. It’s also just one of the many items on the checklist of web presence essentials I offer in my one-and-only webification package.

But maybe you’ve heard about Aweber? And you want to know which is better.

Essentially, at some point, we can expand beyond what our current foundation, tools or skill set can offer.

I talk about this a lot actually, especially when comparing Blogger with WordPress. Even though I admit that WordPress is god, it’s not the best place for everyone to begin. We need smaller steps and Blogger helps the technology novice practice being a web content publisher; building up your bloggy skills which are then transferred when you decide Blogger just isn’t enough.

Same will be true with Feedburner. You’ll know it’s not enough for you anymore when you want more control over what your emails look like and when they go out to your list of subscribers.

But it’ll cost ya.

So this would be the perfect time to consider Aweber. For a low monthly recurring cost of $19 a month, you can get this added flexibility with your email automation plus much more.

So what happens though, with your Feedburner subscribers once you decide to migrate to Aweber?

Well fortunately, both Aweber and Feedburner play nicely together. The biggest drawback to moving to Aweber is that your Feedburner subscribers will have to “opt-in” again to Aweber because of it’s strict anti-spam policy.

The workaround for this is simply to write a post about it. Since it will hit your Feedburner subscriber’s inbox anyway, you can get them on board with your expansion and invite them to opt-in again.

Not totally elegant, but really, honestly, what growth and expansion ever is?

I would recommend not letting your list grow too big before you migrate it though. You will have some drop off. Don’t fret. We are never in one place for very long anyway.

So my bottom line and why I recommend Feedburner out the gate is it’s free. And pretty easy to use and install.

If you are serious about growing your list and have the financial resources to commit to the recurring monthly fee straight out the gate, Aweber is the premier email automation and list building tool.

  • Need help figuring out how to use your Aweber account? I can help.
  • Need a web presence that shines with the brilliance of you? I can help.
  • Need to free yourself from limiting thoughts about your ability to really do this (the web thang, the entrepreneur thang or any other thang you deem important in your life)? Yes, I can help with that too.

Here’s What Other Smart People On The Web Are Saying

Another Thesis Theme Review

What is Thesis?

Thesis is a theme for your self-hosted WordPress website or blog.

the Thesis framework for WordPress

A theme is part of the inner workings of your web presence that introduces flexibility and efficiency when it comes to stylizing your unique web presence. By stylizing, I not only mean the colors, fonts, etc. (referred to as the look & feel) but also how you share information on your website (referred to as Information Architecture).

Most people get stuck on thinking design is merely colors, font choice, and use of imagery or custom design artwork (i.e., branding elements such as logos, header banners, sidebar buttons & banners). However both look & feel and Information Architecture comprise Design.

Why is this important for you to know?

One of the things I stress a lot on my own web presence, is the inevitability of change. Whether I’m helping women get their tech-savvy on or people in general discover alternative strategies for helping them improve their quality of life, it all revolves around that one important word. Change.

“The only constant is change.” Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

I won’t go all philosophical on you. But it’s true. The biggest “attachment” my clients come to the table with is the idea that once they create it (a web presence or whatever), it’s done.

And after years of working in Corporate America and trying to live by that standard, I nearly drove myself crazy until I embraced the idea that it’s never done. In fact, this is my number one guideline for staying optimystical during your webification process.

Learning how to detach from the outcome “it is finished” will help introduce the space for your creativity to emerge. A space that is undefined and in the process of becoming more defined as it oozes out of the artist.

Because change is the only constant, you’ll want a web presence that is flexible; able to grow with you and your business. And along with flexibility, you’ll want to keep in mind scalability. How easy will it be for me to continue extending myself or business on the web?

Thank the blogging gods for WordPress for providing a powerful foundation for managing your web presence. And then, hold the door open for a wide-welcome of the Thesis theme.

The Thesis theme makes it easy for you or a designer to make simple-to-radical changes almost effortlessly.

So let’s break it down even more, shall we?

Information Architecture

Today, you want three columns on your web presence. A big juicy “content” column and two “sidebars.” No problem.

Tomorrow (or next year), you change you mind and decide two columns is better. One juicy content column, one sidebar. Again, no problem. A few clicks on your WordPress dashboard at your Thesis options. Done!

Or let’s say you decide you want to keep three columns, but you want the layout to be skinny sidebar, juicy content, skinny sidebar. A very popular approach. Again, click click click. Done.

In the past, when a web site was built from the ground up… meaning every last bit of code is custom, these simple changes would mean a significant overhaul. Or, paying a skilled technician (web coder) to rearrange the code for you to get it to display the way you want. Time + money.

Because Thesis makes these types of changes so easy, you can do it yourself (really); saving yourself (you guessed it) time and money.

Look and Feel

From the look and feel side of the house, changing fonts and colors is, again, as simple as a few clicks. Whether your want the body text or sidebar text affected, those options are provided for with Thesis.

Introducing a custom header banner… again, once you have the artwork, it’s a matter of cutting & pasting the code into the right place on your WordPress dashboard.

But Mynde, what about free templates all over the web?

Yes. There are free themes and templates all over the web. It’s true! So why spend $87 bucks on Thesis?

Free templates are great. Really. I used a few of them for WordPress and many, many more for Blogger.

I encountered three big problems when I was using free templates.

#1 – A free template is too cookie-cutter for most people who want a unique web presence that represents who they are, what they do. They feel constrained by certain limitations that come with each individual free template. You invest some time and energy into making it un-coookie-cutter only to run into some very real blockages for growing forward that can only be solved using a more flexible content management system and/or template.

Thesis solves all of this. Simply scroll to the top of this article and begin reading from “What is Thesis?” :-)~

#2 – Any code tweaks I made to the free template, and believe me, you will have some because there is always something on the free template that you need modified or changed slightly. Rarely have I seen the free template utilized in its entirety straight out-of-the-box (or, after you’ve downloaded and installed it).

When WordPress introduces upgrades to its platforming technology (which happens all the time because the people at WordPress are constantly working to maintain their state-of-the-art content management system with security upgrades and functionality enhancements, to name a few), this can wreck havoc to your custom free template tweaks. Many times causing complete re-work of the tweaks. Or basically, re-investing the time, energy, resources that made your free template custom for you, all over again!

Thesis is built with this very thing in mind. Every custom tweak you implement on Thesis is saved in a way that helps minimize the need to re-customize everything all over again when WordPress (or the Thesis template itself) introduces an upgrade.

#3 – Support. When a free blogging template is born, it’s usually been created by a single developer who may or may not have the time to answer your specific questions about how to use it, how to fix issues that are introduced as a result of upgrades. This varies from free template to free template, of course.

With Thesis, a gynormous community of people who are already using the Thesis theme comes with it. This means forums for getting your questions answered and in some cases, by the Thesis developer himself (@pearsonified on Twitter and http://www.pearsonified.com/ on the web).

Not to mention, so many professional web designers are using Thesis for their clients, you can easily find other people in the same space I am (providing custom Thesis designs) to help you take your Thesis theme to the next level.

For me personally, I’m a starter-outer. I get you going without breaking the bank plus teach you how to use your WordPress dashboard including your Thesis options.

Why am I writing about Thesis?

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support CommunityWell, it’s true, that throughout most of my articles, I’ll provide an affiliate link. That means, I get a small kick-back from people who decide to purchase (in this case) Thesis for their WordPress blog using my Thesis affiliate link.

Yes, affiliate income generation is a popular strategy on the web. But it seriously does not pay my bills. It does, however, offset my overhead. And this is a good thing!

So my intention with my blog and anything I write about is not to make money by writing about the product itself. Yes, I’m here to make money, no lie. However, I enjoy making money by being in service to others. Leveraging my own life experiences to help you round corners and jump out of window ledges.

I wrote this article because so many of my best clients really need some support with the language of web technology, i.e. domain names, URL, hosting, Thesis theme, etc. All words you hear, but may not comprehend when you are just starting out. Which is my ideal client.

So Thesis is a theme. It’s utilized to make changes to your web presence more efficient. It’s flexible and scalable. Helping your web presence grow with you and your biz. It’s not free, but you get what you pay for. And the $87 bucks is a wise investment in a theme that is widely used and supported. And all upgrades to the Thesis theme are free after you purchase it.

It’s why I choose Thesis for my own WordPress web presence and why I recommend it to my best clients. Not to make money by selling it to you. But to help you make the best decision for you right now. So you can take the first step to getting webified more easily and confidently head in the direction you are wanting to go with you and your biz.

Thanks for reading and I hope this has helped to demystify some of your webification process. If you like my optimystical approach, I’d love to help you get your tech-savvy on. You can find out more about that under the Expand Your Biz tab.

And one last time, here’s where you can get Thesis. And if you’d like to contribute to lowering my overhead, Thank You and use this link instead.

Optimystically Yours,

Why This WordPress Sugar Mama Recommends Godaddy

Yeah upsells suck, but at the end of the day, GoDaddy makes the web stuff of my life so much easier.

This is really simple. Godaddy’s rates stay extremely competitive while providing the best customer support & service around.

When it comes to choosing a place to get your domain name or set up your custom Thesis WordPress installation for your web presence on their network of hosting servers, GoDaddy is the one-stop shop that just makes my web life (and my clients) easier.

GoDaddy Domain NamesManage all your domains. Yes you may have multipes. And did you know you can point several domain names to a single web presence? Godaddy domain management makes this super easy to do.
Grow your hosting needs as your business grows. With Godaddy, you can upgrade any time to more space, so you don’t ever have to bite off more than you can chew (raise your hand if you’ve ever done that.) Yeah, it’s a big deal when you’re just starting out. You don’t need a huge hosting package. Just a place to get your garden growing so your business can show you what it needs and then you can make choices from that place.

When you purchase your Godaddy shizzle, make sure and get auto-renew on everything! This way, you will avoid any service interruption. And the longer you can extend your term when you purchase with Godaddy, the more you’ll save. If you have the budget resources from the top, and you’re serious about getting your web presence on, commit to a five year plan, if you can. You can always review where you are later and make necessary changes then (cancel, extend, switch domain name service providers).

The biggest con for using Godaddy is Upsell Hell. And for all the benefit of having a live person to talk to 24/7 that helps me get exactly what I need, it’s a more than fair trade-off for doing business with them. So just say no to the upsells. You can always get whatever they are offering later.

And here’s more honest truth… most of my clients don’t know what they are doing when they begin. That’s why they need me. And why Godaddy is such a perfect match for both of us. Whether they’re helping you complete your purchase transaction or helping me work out a complicated DNS issue and every place in between…

Bottom line: yeah upsells suck, but at the end of the day, GoDaddy makes the web stuff of my life (and my clients) so much easier.

So I say GoDaddy! (yes, that’s an affiliate link)

Mobile Notary Tales

In between helping women get their tech-savvy on and talking with others about personal living strategies and astrology, I am also a mobile notary.

If you follow me on Twitter, I may have mentioned this a few times. And I don’t really talk about it at all on my website.

So this post is for those of you who may have wondered what the heck I’m doing driving all over Southern California…

Living My Dreams & Making Ends Meet

It’s taken me a while to figure out how to be an entrepreneur.  I’m still figuring it out. And in all honesty, I don’t think we ever do. Figure it all out.

One of the things I resisted for a while was making money in any other way, other than how I saw my dream job explicitly being. I wanted the “don’t quit your day job” people to eat crow.

Eventually, one day, I woke up and realized that my technical skills were in demand in the market I was working (and playing) in. And I let go of how I thought things should be and decided to show up with what is.

And a whole lot of worry, fear and anxiety shifted.

I figured out I can do a lot more of what matters when I feel good about myself and embrace what is with an attitude of acceptance.

Opening To What Is Available, Right Now

This sounds so easy. Like I simply changed my mind.

But there really is a whole complicated mess in the background I’m sifting through. The more complicated and messy it gets, the harder it is for me to access my own Jedi. Which is why getting support becomes so essential.

Early last spring, as I writhed around in anxiety over not being able to generate enough income to legitimize continuing to show up and do what I love everyday, my girlfriend suggested I get my notary commission.

The idea was that in between coaching sessions and teaching online workshops for creating your own web presence, I could make some money simply by helping people sign their loan documents on their home purchases or refinancing deals.

So like before, I decided to show up with an attitude of embracing what is and subsequently #mobilenotarytales began.

What Shows Up, When You Begin To Look

I’ve met some interesting people along the way. Getting out from behind my laptop and headphones and out into the world. Breaking up and through the anxiety and worry of not being able to sustain myself doing what I love (coaching).

Mostly, in the people I meet, I see generosity. I think on some level, it’s my personal experiment with each #mobilenotarytales assignment… to allow myself to notice what else I might be able to see.

To practice being open to the people I meet. The stories they share with me. Sometimes even the food from their kitchens!

Seeing more “enough” in my world when just moments (thoughts) ago I was experiencing the opposite.

Just for today, what could you start seeing, if you began looking? I think sometimes, challenges feel so big, I don’t ever consider something so small, like changing my focus, as having an impact. But it did. And does.

The Perfect Look & Feel

Tech Savvy 101 is a series of posts designed to help demystify some terminology so you can get your brain around what it really takes to start getting your tech savvy on.

Are you letting worry and concern over the perfect look and feel get in the way of getting clear about who you are and who you serve?

When a smart creative woman considers establishing herself on the web, the questions she’ll be answering first or even close to middle way through, are not about the look and feel.

The Look & Feel Never Comes First

Unless you’re a web designer.

So many times I see considerations for look and feel issues take women off track, detouring them into the land of perfectionism.

The look and feel is actually a compliment to, and a part of something else in your web presence. The something else is the part of you (your biz) that wants to be created and expressed.

When you consider large business institutions, its marketing team will frequently re-brand or change the look and feel in order to introduce some freshness. It gives us a sense that the business is actually alive and growing, changing and hopefully, improving! You’ll be doing the same thing with your own web presence.

Invite yourself to see the look and feel as an extension of the greater message and tone of your web presence.

  • Who are you here (on the web) for?
  • What pain do you help solve?
  • What is unique about the way you solve it?
  • What results have people achieved as a result of working with you & your biz?

Flickr photo by karindalzielThese are the questions we start with… this is the something else referred to earlier. It is the point of you being on the web to begin with. And far more meaningful than a pleasant look and feel is the words you’ll drop onto the each page… the voice you talk to us in.

Don’t get me wrong. If you have a screamingly obnoxious color scheme, the look and feel can become an obvious distraction and may even cause your visitor to leave altogether. This is why I strongly urge you to consider general questions early on in your look and feel development strategy (yes, you’ll have one). What colors please you? What fonts do your eyes enjoy reading? What imagery compliments or enhances the message your visitors will be reading?

I’ve yet to work with someone who said to me the “buy or engage” decision was based on the color of blue I chose for my website background. It’s always the words I put down and my willingness to be vulnerable by sharing more of myself that I hear about. It’s saying something in an authentic way that connects me to you and you to your visitors.

Unless you are a designer like me, the biggest favor you can do yourself in the beginning, is simply pick a place and begin! The good news is you can relax into the process, knowing that because everything changes, (even big businesses get rebranded and redesigned) that nothing you pick today is forever. Even that template, that you’ve been spending endless hours searching for on the web, that perfect one… will change at some point in the future.

  • Are you letting worry and concern over the perfect look and feel get in the way of getting clear about who you are and who you serve?
  • What feels like more of a risk? Finding the perfect look and feel or developing some chunks of content written in an authentic way?

Be careful that the look and feel of your web presence doesn’t become excuse not to get clear about you and your biz. Give yourself the opportunity to get started doing something more than fret over the perfect template. Go for the risk, it holds greater rewards!

Your biz (and its perfect customers) are waiting to connect with you!

Still needing that thing for your biz called a web presence? Let’s get on the phone and chat about what your current web presence situation is and where you want to go with it.

Otherwise, what to do if you have ZERO content