As you may have noticed, I recently created a new website for my business.
I’m almost at the end of the journey at this point, and I’m very happy about how it came out.
And… of course, I learned a LOT in the process (which took, I might add, well over a year, a chunk of change + a bit of heartache thrown in).
I’d love to share 4 bits of website wisdom with you from my current vantage point up here in the treetops… The 4th one is so important, I have an entire home study course dedicated to it.
1. You Gotta Know What Kind of Website You Need
Most people in their first few years of a service-based business don’t need a fancy, expensive website and branding package. And, you can have a professional-looking website that doesn’t cost a fortune, using DIY sites like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace.
Up until two months ago, I was using a pretty darn good-looking Weebly site that I largely created myself (with a little expert tech help and a professionally-designed logo) and maintained for $50/year. And people complimented it all the time.
And… there came to be a moment when it was time to upgrade… Time to spend the time and money to have a site that not only looked more authentically me, creative and on-brand, but had the functionality I needed to expand my business.
What do I mean by functionality?
Look, if your business is primarily one-on-one work, or even groups, and all you need your website to do is give people some information and have them sign up for a free consultation or quote, then trust me, you can go simple and use a DIY platform. You can even plug in email list opt-in forms and sell stuff on the DIY site platforms. And if you’re not tech-savvy, there are people out there who can help you with these platforms at reasonable rate to help you tweak it to make it look more pro, or even help you build it from scratch.
But I eventually got to a point where I had an online home study course, wanted to house sales on my site, offer different kinds of payment options, create lots of different landing pages that kept my branding in place, and I also just wanted to be able to do more graphically (there are definitely some frustrating aspects of the DIY platforms). I also wanted my site to stand out more to my target audience, because I was at a point in my business where I actually knew much more about who they are (compared to when I first got started and was still figuring it out).
So after 4+ years, I decided to make the investment in a custom-designed WordPress site, created by a super-pro designer who is also a branding and marketing expert (see below for all my website folks). And, that doesn’t mean you ever have to do this… But if you do, do it for some good reasons, and make sure you’re already earning enough money that it’s not financially stressful to do it. I ended up spending way more than I expected on a variety of things during the process.
This one’s easy. It will take longer than you think it will. Pretty much inevitably.
There are more aspects of this process than you think… there’s copy, images, technical hook-ups between online apps, new headshots, decisions about site architecture and layout, and not to mention…
It can be really vulnerable and scary to create a whole new site all about you and your business and put it out there into the world (especially if it’s your first website)!
Sometimes we’re nervous about this and don’t even realize it, but it can slow down the process subconsciously. And, sometimes, we are well aware of how our fear of being seen can get in the way of hitting that publish button.
Or… we’re waiting til it’s perfect.
Hint: Don’t wait for perfect. It’s SUPER easy to make changes to websites. Just put it out there and let it evolve naturally!!
So if you’re in a rush to build a site, well, let go. I have had clients who build simple sites in a month or so, but it usually takes longer. Just sayin.’
3. You Gotta Have Help
Even if you’re doing the DIY thing, you’re gonna need some support. Possible places you’ll need it are for copy-writing and/or editing, technical and graphic help and professional quality photos. There’s an entire ecosystem involved in creating a website (see mine below).
If you’re hiring someone to build it for you, you’ll want to hire a web designer who can really help you figure out the goals of your site and how to best achieve them (and/or have a coach to help you do this), and for a me, since I find WordPress to be somewhat confusing on the backend, an experienced assistant who can help with more complicated updates.
Not to mention, in either case, it’s super helpful to have business buddies and/or a coach who can give you visual and strategic feedback along the way (so you’re not spending so much time debating between shades of blue, font styles or catchy headlines).
4. You Gotta Know Your Roots
It’s also the one that the most people forget.
Building a website is such a ginormous waste of time and money if you are not first clear on the essential foundations of your business: your niche, your message, and what the heck are you selling.
In fact, this piece is so integral that I have an entire home study course (Roots of Business) that guides you through these 5 essential foundations so you know what in the world to even say on your website.
Your website designer cannot tell you who your target audience is, and they cannot tell you how you uniquely do your work and why. They cannot design your programs either. Some designers will ask you good questions about this stuff, but ultimately, this is something YOU need to spend time with in advance of hiring your designer.
Your roots are necessary to gather the nutrients for the SPROUT that is your website. Don’t avoid them. Dig in.
Best wishes on the journey of creating your new website. I hope some of these tips were helpful!
PS – Meet my incredible website ecosystem:
RKAInc – branding and web developer/designer
Robin Clark – photos of Julie in the woods
Candace Smith and Robin Clark – most of the other amazing photos
Lyndsay Rush – copy writer/editor extraordinaire
Jessica Sala – incomparable virtual assistant services