VinSolutions Websites Forms 1

Just over a month ago the company I work for switched a few of our websites to VinSolutions.  The forms on the entire website looked like crap and needed to be fixed.  As with any CMS there is a learning curve.  I downloaded their CSS files and attempted to figure out if they were using any kind of standard.  There were a bunch of css files and they all appeared to be randomly coded with very little commenting.

—  This post has moved to: http://defoenet.com/2015/08/vinsolutions-websites-forms-1/

Visit that link to read this entire article . . . note there is helpful code information that you may want to implement on your VinSolutions website.


New Search Engine

Many many years ago I had created a regional search engine and sold it for a very small amount of money.  Recently, while scraping the content from a website (because we were moving CMS providers), the idea surfaced again.  The scraping gave me great insight into why to use schema.org markup (http://defoenet.com/2013/08/why-use-schema-for-products/).

Fast forward to January 2015.  My son was working on a website and had some questions about the coding.  While helping him as well as providing him with a book to learn more, I decided once more to see about building a little search engine.  After a little research a decent domain was located that had some SEO juice and just got put back out for sale – webzlinks.com


Going back to the old-school search engine way of doing things, WebzLinks only picks up the root domain (on interior pages), site title, site description, and some of the body.  I figured the body would serve for information if the site description didn’t exist.

After crawling my first 1,000 domains I looked at the database.  It was amazing the number of websites that have no description.  Just over 40% of the website home pages had no meta description tag.  This is especially surprising given the fact that this is SEO 101.

The other issue was so surprising.  When scraping the beginning of the body of a page I was getting menu text and on many pages getting some javascript.  This issue wasn’t so surprising because html5 is still fairly new and a lot of these website were old or not updated in quite a while.


Product Photography

I decided that the past weekend would be a great time to get some marketing for my photography studio rental business.  Knowing that people like to see an  equipment list I figured that was a good place to start.  Being both a photography studio and an online marketer, I figured that a list wasn’t good enough – there has to be pictures.

photography light modifiers

So after some vacuuming and general cleaning I pulled down my white paper backdrop.  There was about 7-10 feet of spots and other nastiness where the models had been standing on the paper over the past few months.  So the next thing that had to be done was cut off the paper.  Using a razor blade I lopped off a few feet.  “Well there goes about $20,” I said to myself as I threw the paper in the storage room.  The next step was to put pull down the white paper and lay the white floor on top of it.

Because the pictures were going to be of the strobes and light modifiers that are available for rent with studio time, constant or “hot lights” were going to be required.  If you’re not familiar with photography terminology, the term hot light has been used for years because the amount of light required for photography meant high wattage lights that get very hot when left on for any amount of time.  Now days the lights typically are LED or florescent so there isn’t much heat created.  I pulled out two Interfit Photographic Super Cool-lites with softboxes and wheeled out my first product.

Going to take my first picture I couldn’t find my tripod.  No big deal, I said to my self, I can just make sure I’m standing in the same spot.  MISTAKE.  When the images were brought into Photoshop for editing they were all different sizes because the focal distance was not consistent.  Not only that I had zoomed in the camera differently for each image.

Mistake #2.  I had forgotten to check my white balance settings on the camera.  The camera was last used with the auto white balance setting.  Because of that each image was a little different.  For the images that had white on the product the balance was good.  For the images that had little or no white on the product the balance was off and the background look grey.

I’m supposed to be a professional at this stuff and made a few major mistakes.  These mistakes cost me a lot of time because of extra editing that needed to be done.  Guarantee I won’t make that mistake again.


The War on Spam

Anyone who has tried to fight spam knows that, unfortunately, the spammers are better at getting through spam filters than the companies we want email from.

Last month I wrote a short tutorial on my blog about how I’ve learned to configure SpamAssassin to combat spam.  While I am blocking about 9,000 spam emails every day there is still enough coming through the filter that the business owner is still complaining.

For this post I figured I’d list a bunch of spamming domains that were (they are not anymore) making it through my SpamAssassin filters.  Most recently I’ve been seeing a bunch of .xyz domains:


The other TLD that started showing up as .click:


From time to time I will update this blog with domains that are causing me a bunch of extra work and lost productivity.


Win A Nikon D750

black nikon d750 with lens
Last year I made the switch to Nikon and have been looking at the new D750 for a second body so I can have a backup.  I almost had the money saved then an emergency came up and I had to spend about half the money.  Bummer.

So last night I saw that FroKnowsPhoto was giving away a Nikon D750 (or some Canon – whatever).  So why am I posting this?  It would be nice if very few people entered so that I had a better chance to win.  But that’s probably not the case.  His (Jared Polin aka Fro) YouTube channel has almost 400,000 subscribers and over 50 million views.  But hey, I get a few more entries for every friend I refer.  So click here and enter!

So why is he doing this?  Just because he’s a nice guy?  Well I’ve never met Fro but I’m sure he’s a nice guy.  No he’s doing the giveaway to promote his new “Guide To DSLR Video.”  I’m very tempted to purchase it but $97 seems a bit high.  If I was/planning on selling video services for weddings this would be a no-brainer.  But since photography is a very expensive hobby (although I do own a photography rental studio in Bay City, MI) that’s a little high.  Perhaps I’m just a tightwad and I am very very tempted to buy it while writing this post.  If for some reason the purchase does happen you’ll see a review of the program here.


0 Down Lease Deals

toyota dealership in michigan
Super low lease payments are always being advertised by car dealerships.  I’m not sure if anyone believes them because there is always fine print and fees they don’t tell you about.  What if I don’t want to waste my time going into the dealership just to find out I need a few thousand due at lease signing or the monthly payment goes up by over a hundred per month. So now I can’t afford the car that caught my eye in the advertisement.

It can’t be just me who wants the truth.  Show us a real monthly payment with very little due when I sign the lease.  And by monthly payment I mean what I see is what I’m paying each month.  I can’t be the only person in America that pretty much lives from paycheck to paycheck and doesn’t want to dip into what little savings are available to get a new car.

Best selling authors of the past few years like Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Malcolm Gladwell, and others have all been talking about the importance of trust and community.  Trust is hard to build with all that fine print in standard “0 Down Lease Deal” car offers.

That’s why it was refreshing to hear that the sales manager at Labadie Toyota wanted to put out a 0 down leasing deal without the standard BS.  He is advertising 36 month 36,000 mile zero down leasing deals with $0 security deposit and all the tax, title and fees are included in the advertised payment.  I hope this trend continues – or at least the fine print becomes regular sized print so we can trust the car dealer advertising that we see.


Buick Leasing Deals

A new month means new deals at the Buick dealership in Michigan that I work at.  As an Internet Marketing Director it is my responsibility to get all of the new information and deals out to many many places.  Unless you are familiar with website coding and graphic design, you probably don’t realize how much time it takes even to update small things.  One of the time consuming parts of the job is content for the big ass electronic sign we have out front.

The sign out front of the business is basically like a huge television.  The only problem is, the software used to run the sign is very outdated and clunky.  There are many steps involved just to update an image let alone a video.  For the sake of time my department usually creates static images first and then slowly throughout the month create video.

First thing this morning we wanted to get the Buick leasing deals up and running.  With an electronic sign the person driving buy has about 2 seconds to view the screen so the message needs to be big and short.  Here are a few that were created this morning.


Lingerie Model Danjer Kat

The other week Danjer Kat visited my photography rental studio in Bay City, MI.  I had tried to work with here a few times in the past but this was the first time we were able to get together.  The way I usually enter into a photo shoot, especially on the first shoot, is to see what the model brought with her and have her wear what she is comfortable with.  I don’t dictate the outfit (or lack thereof).  Once I see what the model is wearing I’ll figure out how I want to light and shoot it.  Danjer Kat brought with her a great selection of colorful lingerie.  When I saw this bra and panty combination I figured that putting here on a black background would be perfect.

female lingerie model