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Waterlink Web

Service is in the DNA of Waterlink Web’s Business Strategy

The Waterlink Web story and my story are intertwined. Service to the community is part of my DNA. It is no surprise that service to Waterlink Web clients is in the DNA of our business strategy.

Waterlink Web’s Beginning — Pier Pool

Some of you may know that I live in St. Johns. In 2005 the City Council decided to close Pier Pool, our neighborhood outdoor pool. This pool is important to the children and families in St. Johns. So, along with some other parents, I formed Friends of Pier Park. We collected 700 signatures, we went to the City Council, and we testified about the value of Pier Pool to the St. Johns neighborhood. As a result, the City Council decided to keep the Pier Pool open.

Later I was at a Parks meeting with some Council staff when one of the staff members told me that both Pier and Buckman Pools had been on the chopping block and that the Council decided to keep Buckman open because at the time they had a website.

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learn WordPress

[Online] WordPress Twenty Twenty Theme Demonstration

Join us on Monday, June 1st, for the Portland WordPress MeetUp on Zoom as I take us on a walkthrough of the this year’s WordPress theme.

I will demonstrate two websites built using the Twenty Twenty WordPress theme, describe how to use the page templates, go over the CSS coding to make design changes, and even show how to change the website font! The sites being demonstrated are live and available to view. There will be ample opportunity for questions.

Participants limited to 100. Please RSVP at Portland WordPress MeetUp.

Portland WordPress members at Pike Place Market, Seattle WordCamp November 2019
Pre COVID-19 — Some of the Portland WordPress gang at Pikes Place Market, Seattle WordCamp 2019. By the spring of 2020 we are holding MeetUps online.
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Waterlink Web

Unboxing a Christmas Surprise, 2018

This week I received a surprise gift addressed to Waterlink Web. Generally, I only order software for Waterlink Web, and it arrives via the internet. So, curious about what was in this package, I recorded an unboxing video of this Christmas surprise.

Unboxing a Surprise

Turns out it is a gift from our branding and graphic designer, Courtney Stroup. She sent the gift using an online service that makes personalized greeting cards, Greetabl.

I’m posting this video as a thank you to Courtney and a reminder to all of us that giving gifts brings a smile to our friends and relatives. Merry Christmas today and keep sharing kindness all year long. Enjoy life!

Categories
Waterlink Web clients

Unwrapping Party – Kim Allchurch Flick Opens Eco Inspirations NW Zero Waste Kit

Last week, a coffee meeting with Kim Allchurch Flick left me inspired. It’s always refreshing to see a business owner walk their talk and practice the values they promote.

When I sat down with Kim, the owner of Mighty Epiphyte, to discuss her website and some planned updates, I got a pleasant surprise. At the end of our meeting, she received delivery of a Zero Waste Starter Kit from Eco Inspirations NW.

Mighty Epiphyte

Kim offers strategic marketing and business coaching to social enterprise businesses. She also helps businesses through the sometimes confusing B Corp and Benefit Company Certification process.

But, Kim doesn’t just talk about saving the planet, she practices it by:

  • Using mass transit
  • Reducing her use of plastics
  • Encouraging all of us to follow suit.

As we were finishing up our meeting, Kim surprised me when she received delivery of a Zero Waste Starter Kit from Eco Inspirations NW. She purchased the kit as a holiday gift and to help family members reduce their use of plastics.

Watch the Unwrapping

See everything included, meet Kim and the founder of Eco Inspirations NW, Gina Lascink.

For business coaching and marketing guidance or to get help with a B Corp or Benefit Company Certification, contact Kim through her website. To order your own Zero Waste Starter Kit or any of the other Zero Waste Kits available go to the website at Eco Inspirations NW.

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Waterlink Web gives back

Earth Day 2018

Volunteers gathered at the 2018 Pier Park Pick-Up organized by Waterlink Web
Volunteers from Waterlink Web, Starbucks, Portland Brewing Company, Friends of Pier Park, and U of O Portland Alumni joined together to celebrate Earth Day at the 2018 SOLVE Pier Park Pick-Up. The event was organized by Waterlink Web to improve and protect Pier Park.

Waterlink Web proved once again that our ethics include giving back and helping our community. On April 21st, working with Friends of Pier Park, we spearheaded the SOLVE Pier Park Pick-Up event, resulting in:

  • Building new paths designed to protect the forest floor from the thousands of Pier Park disc golfers
  • Over 200 pounds of debris and litter picked up and bagged
  • An acre of blackberries dug up and removed from a recently planted native plants area.

Of course, we did not do this alone. SOLVE provided supplies and an easy-to-use event registration platform that encourages lots of people to get involved. Participating companies included Starbucks who sent coffee, treats, and volunteers, Portland Brewing Company who sent volunteers only, and the U of O Ducks Portland Alumni who turned out in school colors to work at improving and protecting Pier Park. Thanks also goes out to New Seasons for the healthy treats and bananas and to the Stumptown Disc Golf crew who focused their work on disc golf course improvements. Thank you also to the Friends of Pier Park Vice Chair, Kelly Pergande, who requested and organized the food donations.

Below are some pictures from the event.

Waterlink Web is a corporate sponsor of Friends of Pier Park. We manage and host the FoPP website, email members monthly, and organize the annual Pier Park Pick-Up.

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Waterlink Web

2018 — the End of Net Neutrality? What Happens Next?

Mary Ann Aschenbrenner, President of Waterlink Web
Mary Ann Aschenbrenner is a WordPress website designer working in Portland, Oregon.

The concept of net neutrality is a hallmark of the American internet experience. It encourages internet providers to treat all content equally and enables the robust growth of social media channels, video streaming, and the accompanying rise and fall of tech startups. Startups compete on an equal footing because the internet providers don’t suppress content from one company or favor content from another.

Net neutrality can be compared to an open highway. The internet providers, like Comcast, build the road that the content providers — Google, Netflix, Facebook and others — drive on.

In 2015 the concept of net neutrality was made into law with the Open Internet Order enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It allowed the federal government to regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone service, and guaranteed net neutrality.

The decision was controversial. Many people cheered; the internet providers did not.

Why We Need to Be Aware and Informed

I build websites for businesses and nonprofit organizations always with the end in mind of creating a website that ranks well in search results and comes up fast. When I learned in 2017 that the FCC was revisiting the issue of net neutrality I decided to do my research to uncover the pros and cons and try to decide what may lie ahead for myself as well as my clients.

What follows are some predictions based on my research. I’m not picking a side, and I believe there is still much we don’t know about how this will play out.

Prediction:

In 2018 we will see access to the internet begin to change … slowly.

In December of 2017 the current FCC Chair, Ajit Pai, led the repeal of the 2015 order. He argues that regulations are not needed and that they act as a disincentive to keep internet providers from upgrading or expanding their networks to low-income urban and rural areas.

This decision is also controversial. Internet providers, like Comcast, are cheering the repeal of net neutrality. Netflix, Facebook, and many others, are not.

Expect changes roll out slowly because internet providers are promising consumers that their online experience will remain the same.

This is how it looks in countries that do not enforce net neutrality.

In countries where net neutrality is not regulated consumers choose between internet packages that include more charges for Facebook or streaming services. In the screenshot below, from the website of Portuguese internet provider Vodafone, you can see that consumers are being given a choice of internet packages. If you want Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, that will cost more. Music streaming services are also extra.

Vodafone Portugal screenshot
In countries that do not enforce net neutrality rules consumers pay extra to use Facebook and streaming services.

My prediction is that we will begin to see that in America as well. The internet providers are here to make money and they built the highway. Netflix, Facebook, and other content providers with services that compete will, eventually, need to pay to drive a fast car on that road. This is also called paid prioritization.

Because of consumer opinion, that change will be slow to arrive. It may show up in internet bundles where the consumer pays directly for those services.

Will it affect my clients, small businesses and nonprofit organizations? Not likely, in my opinion. The internet providers will not bite the hands that feed them or demand paid prioritization by slowing down the content providing search engines themselves, Google, Bing or Firefox, for example, that bring up the websites I build.

Prediction:

Rural areas without internet will get internet service.

Ajit Pai testifying on net neutrality before a Senate subcommittee in 2016.
Ajit Pai testifying before a Senate subcommittee in 2016.

In a PBS News Hour interview with Ajit Pai, he said that since the Open Internet Order in 2015, investment among the top 12 internet providers is down by 5.6% or several billion dollars. Smaller providers, those with 1,000 or fewer customers, claim the regulations have prevented them from getting the financing necessary to build out their networks.

It should follow that with net neutrality regulations lifted, rural areas will begin to see a build out of internet services. Rural areas are particularly hurt by a lack of internet service as marketing products and, in many respects, running a business have become internet based activities.

This will be a positive for small businesses, especially those in rural places that are now underserved. They may choose to build and manage websites to market what they grow or raise directly to the consumer and not sell at lower prices to middle men.

Prediction:

Paid prioritization will allow more low-income families to afford internet service.

According to Michael Katz, formerly chief economist at the FCC and now an economics professor at Berkeley, the most basic packages will likely become more affordable as some of the money that internet providers receive from content companies will be passed on to consumers. Katz believes that the low-cost internet option will entice more households to sign up, creating a win for both internet providers and content makers.

If these predictions bear fruit, that could allow the 13% of Americans without access or who cannot afford basic internet to become subscribers. This includes children living in poverty whose families cannot afford internet service in their homes.

Prediction:

Startups will have a harder time gaining traction

Over the past two decades startups have been very important to the American economy. Because all content was being treated equally, startups operated on a relatively equal footing with established companies. That could begin to change in 2018 if the costs associated with obtaining fast internet make it more difficult for startups, particularly for those providing content streaming services that compete with services provided by the internet providers themselves.

More to Consider

Lawsuit to be filed against the FCC over net neutrality.

Just when you thought this was settled a Silicone Valley lobbying group representing Facebook, Google, Netflix and dozens of other tech firms has announced it will join a legal attack against the FCC’s decision to deregulate the broadband industry.

Net neutrality is far from settled and brings to mind a quote from baseball great, Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

What I am confident of is that building websites that rank well in search results and come up fast will be just as important in 2018 as it was in 2017.

I will close with this quote from Ajit Pai where he explains the case for ending government rules requiring net neutrality,

I have met with folks from Kalamazoo, Michigan, down to Carthage, Mississippi, from Barrow, Alaska, to Diller, Nebraska, what they tell me is that the concern is not that their Internet service provider is blocking lawful traffic or doing something like that. It’s that they want more competition. They want better, faster and cheaper Internet.

Will deregulating net neutrality rules offer better, faster, and cheaper internet? It remains to be determined.

Categories
grow a business on the web

Digital Marketing Helpdesk, Nov. 1st

If you want to amp up your digital marketing skill set and improve your company’s marketing profile, then the Wednesday, November 1st, “Assembled” event is an opportunity to learn about digital marketing and begin planning for your company’s long-term success.

 

Assembled Round-Robin Workshop

David Mihm, the founder of Tidings, has put together a round-robin of experts in every major discipline of digital marketing. He included Mary Ann Aschenbrenner as an expert on WordPress websites. She will be on hand to answer your questions about theme choice, usability, hosting, security, content, and much, much more.

This event is a round-robin workshop beginning at 8:00 a.m. and closing at 4:00 p.m. It will be at the Elevator Cafe and Commons, 1033 SE Main Street in Portland.

Use This Link to Reserve Your Ticket and Save

Mary Ann has secured a discount for Waterlink Web clients and blog readers. Book your ticket in advance and get personal advice in the areas you need the most help — solutions to your most painful digital marketing problems.

If you use our reservation link, you will receive a 33% savings. Our cost is $39. [button link=”https://www.picatic.com/assembledpdx?code=stjohns”]Assembled Reservation Link for Waterlink Web Clients & Friends[/button]

In the meantime, I will leave you with today’s comic from F Minus, a cartoon by Tony Carrillo. If you are wondering how things go viral, the Assembled workshop will answer that question.

F Minus cartoon illustrating the mysteries of digital marketing.
Categories
testimonials Waterlink Web clients

The Story Behind the Testimonial — Dynamic Presentation Training

Mary Ann Aschenbrenner in her office at Waterlink Web
From our Portland office we work with clients across the U.S.

One of my favorite things is working with clients opening new businesses, clients who need a starter website.

Like many of my customers, Laurie Schwartz came to me through a referral. She has years of experience in sales and marketing, including working with Fortune 500 companies, and decided to launch a business helping people deliver presentations with confidence and enthusiasm in corporate environments, Dynamic Presentation Training.

While I have never met Laurie, she lives in Chicago and I live in Portland, I enjoyed getting to know her and creating a website that meets her vision and needs. Dynamic Presentation Training is a starter website and Laurie made good use of each of the five pages included in this economical package. Rather than reserve a page just for emailing, Laurie opted to add a form on the Home page that allows clients to email her and check their areas of interest.

I highly recommend subscribing to her blog where she writes about interview tips, using humor in presentations, and many other topics related to public speaking.

Laurie’s Testimonial

This is what Laurie has to say about her experience working with Waterlink Web:

I had no idea how to design a website and I really needed a lot of help to design and launch a professional looking website for my new business. Someone referred Mary Ann Aschenbrenner from Waterlink Web and that turned out to be my lucky day!

Mary Ann worked with me from start to finish on every detail and made several helpful suggestions that I never would have thought of. She was always patient and minimized my stress for what seemed like an overwhelming task to me. She has excellent web design skills and really knows what she’s doing.

My completed website came out better than I ever could have hoped for thanks to Mary Ann at Waterlink Web. I highly recommend her and would not hesitate to use her services for any future projects.

Thank you, Laurie. The pleasure is mine.

May I Help You?

If you need help getting your business on the internet, establishing social media, and building a website, let me know. Check out our page on Starter Websites to learn more.

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testimonials Waterlink Web clients

The Story Behind the Testimonial — Sea Monkey Private Charters

Or, how to get Google to confirm a business listing without a mailing address.

I met Alisa, owner of Sea Monkey Private Charters, early in 2016. She was a referral from another company, an online advertising agency specializing in pay-per-click. I was recommended to help set up the Sea Monkey social media accounts.

The work was straight forward and included:

  • Establishing her Facebook Page and Trip Advisor accounts and adding cover images
  • Diagnosing a Facebook mapping error and getting Facebook to correct it
  • Adding the Trip Advisor app to Facebook and their badge to the website
  • Setting up the Facebook feed on the website and adding the Yelp badge
  • Client training in how to size images and post on her blog
  • Fixing the site when it suffered an online attack

Nevertheless, one (very important) step eluded us — her ownership of the Sea Monkey Private Charters Google business page.

Sea Monkey Private Charters on the Lahaina Wharf in Maui, Hawaii.
Alisa and the Sea Monkey Private Charters’ ship captain on board the Sea Monkey. USPS does not deliver to the Lahaina wharf.

When you attempt to confirm ownership of your Google business listing, Google will mail you, via USPS, a postcard with a code. Once you receive the postcard you can log into your account and insert the code. After that Google will recognize you as the owner of this business allowing you to add pictures and update the listing. This geographic listing is important because it also allows Google to serve up your listing in local search results.

Get Google to confirm a business listing without a mailing address

Alisa operates out of the Lahaina, Maui harbor and the address is a boat slip. USPS does not deliver to this wharf. She tried repeatedly to get ownership of her listing with no success.

I am persistent, however. This spring I attended the Governor’s Marketplace in Salem and the Google seminar that was part of the event. After the seminar I spoke with the Google representative about Sea Monkey Private Charters, got the representative’s name, business email, and the magic words to add to our inquiry, “_______ says you can make this happen.”

It took several back and forth emails with Google, but it did happen! Alisa is the owner of the Sea Monkey Private Charters Google business listing!

This is her testimonial:

Waterlink Web is an amazing Company and Mary Ann is a miracle worker!

She has done a lot of work on our website and social media and I am more than pleased. She was able to get us back online after our website (not designed by her) crashed in the quickest way possible. She simply dropped everything she was doing and went to work until the problem was resolved. Since, our website is the main source of all of our customers it was very critical to have it fixed ASAP, and she did just that.

She also helped us to put our business on Google maps and helped us verify it. Although it may not sound like a miracle work to some — it really is when your business is located on a wharf that does not get mail delivery. She was able to connect with someone at Google to help us and stuck with the process through several rounds of emails until the verification was complete. The usual steps of “setting up your business on Google” only work for businesses with mailing addresses at their location.

Thank you so much, Mary Ann, for all your great work and personal attention!!!

Thank you, Alisa. The pleasure is all mine.

If you need help establishing your social media or getting Google to confirm you as a business owner for your own company, please let me know. I can help you.

Check this link for more of our client testimonials.

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Waterlink Web

In Memoriam: Lucie Bea

When my youngest daughter, then in 6th grade, confided she was afraid to go walking or running alone, I began to look for a dog. We found one, one that joined our family for 13 years. I named her Lucie because she her fur was red and because each time I came home I could say, “Lucie, I’m home,” in my best Ricky Ricardo voice. I loved doing that.

Lucie Bea and Kindra at the Oregon Coast
Lucie and Kindra at the Oregon Coast.

She was Kindra’s dog mostly, one who could lead an athletic junior high girl on a run or make sure I kept a quick pace on a walk. She loved everyone, greeted strangers like a family member, and never showed aggression while walking in our neighborhood.

Her exuberance at seeing us return home from work or school came out in wiggles, her butt moving left to right as she came to greet us in a wild sidestep, that let everyone know it was a joy to see them again … or even for the first time.

Lucie and Alexis at the Southern Oregon Coast
Lucie and our oldest daughter, Alexis, camping at the Oregon coast.

She was the most affectionate dog I’ve ever owned. Sit on the couch and Lucie would curl up next to you. Sneak off for an afternoon nap? Lucie would find you and join in. She was especially affectionate of my daughters’ boyfriends. It didn’t matter how awkward or tall, bring a boy home and Lucie wanted him to be her boyfriend too. She would ask to sit in their laps, all 64 pounds of her, and lick their faces.

One day we were alone in the house and I watched as she stood looking out an upstairs bedroom window intently observing the outdoors. I followed her gaze to see a squirrel. ‘She looks so observant and intelligent,’ I thought. Then I saw a stream of drool bubbling our of her mouth and knew the truth. “Yum, squirrel,” was what was really on her mind.

Needless to say, we kept screens on all the windows. Sometimes they got scratches and holes, which we repaired, but they did keep her from leaping out after a member of the local fauna.

Lucie Bea on a red couch with comforter and pillows
Lucie was soft and loved soft places to rest.

Lucie was blessed with the gift of softness. Her ears, her tummy, her fur … all soft. Kindra loved hugging her, we all did. My husband scratched her ears and nibbled on them too. It was easy to have her sleep in our bed. She would curl up at our feet, keeping them warm. It wasn’t until later in the night when she would migrate up to sleep between us, pushing one or the other of us out with her feet.

One of her joys was dog parks. She enjoyed the chasing and games. I was amazed at her agility the first time I saw her run alongside another dog, jump up on his back and off again landing on her feet and still running, as the front legs of her companion gave way from the weight that had been on his back and he tumbled into a summersault. After witnessing this a time or two, however, I realized this would need to stop. She could have hurt an older or weaker dog and, further, their owners did not approve. A few timeouts and she stopped the acrobatics but continued to enjoy dog parks.

Lucie Bea and Mary Ann Aschenbrenner
Lucie and I enjoying spring.

For the first years of Lucie’s life I was working outside of the home, maintaining and marketing carpooling websites for a local government agency. When our family would all be gone for a long day Lucie sometimes got to go to doggie daycare. At the end of the day when I picked her up I was always advised how Lucie never slowed down, how full of energy she was, and how she would be tired and go right to sleep when we got home. She never did. Sometimes I would buy her a chew toy and she would carry it home in her mouth, her butt sashaying as she walked pulling on the lead.

The years passed and my children grew, left home and went to college. One Christmas season when I was preparing for their return, Lucie came to find me busily cleaning house. She was sick. Her back arched up unable to eat. I took her to Dove Lewis. X-rays revealed bone spurs growing down her back from each vertebra. All the years of wiggling in joy when we returned home or greeting friends had taken their toll.

Lucie opening gifts at Christmas
Lucie enjoyed opening gifts, even if the gift was poop pick-up bags.

She got a lot of attention that Christmas. We lifted her onto the beds and helped her back down. The attention and muscle relaxants helped, and Lucie recovered.

After Kindra graduated from college, traveled, and found employment, Lucie became more my dog. I had changed careers and was working from home now building websites for small business and nonprofits. My office was upstairs and each day as I worked Lucie would join me, lying on the futon couch or alongside the desk at my feet. Often she slept and often she snored. Sometimes a client on the phone would ask, “What is that sawing noise?”  Then we would share a quiet chuckle.

A year ago on the way home from a walk, Lucie began to limp. The vet diagnosed it as a torn ACL. She had laser treatments, medicine to block nerve pain, a steroid to reduce swelling, and another tablet that acted as a hormone replacement. It all worked. Despite “old dog lungs” (that was the vet’s term), arthritis in her hips and back, and, of course, the bone spurs she continued, not as wiggly as she had once been, not as agile, but sill a happy dog.

In September Kindra married in a remote park on a lake in Southern Oregon. Lucie and the groom’s family dog served as ring bearers. Despite the distance dozens of relatives and friends made the trip. The toasts, dinner, and party lasted past dark. When we were getting ready to leave I found Lucie curled in a ball asleep close to the banquet tables.

John Aschenbrenner with Lucie Bea playing in the St. Johns snow
John and Lucie playing in the January snow in St. Johns.

In January, the night of the big snow, she took a walk with my husband and I carefully leaping to catch the loose snowballs John threw out for her. It was a beautiful snow covered night in St. Johns and, while Lucie walked slowly, she seemed to enjoy the beautiful night as much as we did.

Time is a cruel master. Despite our best preparations and precautions, it taxes us all.

The last time she made it up the stairs I had to hold her and help her lie softly just to keep her from collapsing in exhaustion. The last two weeks of her life Lucie needed help to stand. When she was up and outside each step seemed to be painful. She never wined or cried out, but the last few days when she went out I saw tears from her eyes down the furrows of her muzzle. The medication had helped, but it was no longer enough.

In the late winter, we called a vet to our home. Lucie was lying on her bed in our living room. I had spent time in the afternoon talking with her, caressing her soft ears, and enjoying my last moments with her. The end was peaceful. Today she is out in the garden with a new hydrangea growing from the deep grave my husband dug.

Mad River Beach, California.

Since her death, each time I return home and unlock the front door I think, “Lucie, I’m home.” I no longer say the words aloud. I miss her and her sweet generous and joyful spirit.

Lucie Bea, January 21, 2004 to March 17, 2017. Rest in peace, beautiful dog.