If you are starting your own online business, it’s about time that you carve out some space for yourself on the World Wide Web. What does that mean? A website, of course. And if you don't have a well-functioning website that you can send your ideal clients to (telling them exactly who you are, what you do, and where they can buy now), then you're doing yourself a disservice.
I know first-hand about the anxiety, overwhelm tech issues, and budget that comes along with building your first website. Luckily, there are amazing hosting sites, low-cost templates, and passionate creators out there who can help you get your website up and running in no time!
Why is it important to have a website and not just a social media page?
Social media can be a fantastic tool for generating leads, raising brand awareness, and increasing sales. Many people do build their businesses on social media, but we have to keep in mind that we do not own the space of our social media accounts. With stories of Instagram accounts getting deleted for no apparent reason, Facebook groups disappearing, and the algorithm changing constantly, it's hard to not be a bit worried about spending your precious hours building your social media accounts as your main online store front.
So, what’s the answer? A website!
A website that you own means you can have a lot of control over it. Having a website is like having your own billboard that you control the message and can design however you want. There will always be a need for a well-designed site and your social media can transition into a way for you to get people to your amazing website!
“When you first launch your website, it might not be perfect, and that's okay. But over time, you can always add things to it and make it to where it is kind of this machine that can consistently get you leads, it can consistently drive business for you. “ – Lexie Sparrow
How to Get Started with Your Website
When you're just starting out as an entrepreneur, you don't necessarily have to invest 1000s of dollars in a custom website. If your business is just getting off of the ground, chances are it will look very different one year from now. Maybe you're still figuring out your niche, maybe you're still figuring out what exactly you're offering and so your website is probably going to change a lot, your brand is going to change a lot and that’s okay. You don't have to make it perfect, just get started.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN WEBSITE: 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO DECIDE ON AND KNOW BEFORE GETTING STARTED
1. How Will You Build it: Website Templates, Custom Design or DIY?
When it comes to websites, you have 3 main options. D-I-Y it - meaning completely design, code, and create it yourself. Custom Design - meaning hiring a web designer to create your site for you and take care of it all. Lastly, you can purchase a Website Template - which is somewhere in between.
All 3 routes will leave you with a website, however, D-I-Y-ing from scratch can leave you taking on a ton of learning and research. My personal recommendation is purchasing a website template or finding a platform that offers free templates.
When you’re just starting out, a website template can meet you where you’re at in terms of skill, business journey, and budget! If you have really no clue or are not sure what you want your website to look like, what to say, etc - it’s nice to have a semi-custom type of site with a designer's best design principles in mind you can invest in. Most of the time, these templates include step-by-step instructions and videos, so you can build a good-looking, conversion-oriented site within seven days.
Photography tips for your website
In service businesses where you are your brand's face and you're trying to build trust with your audience, high-quality photography is a key to really standing out. However, you don't have to spend a lot, you can start investing a few $100 and get some high-quality photos taken of you.
Start writing down your ideas, and researching some designs and photos of what you think resonates with you and your ideal clients. Search on Instagram or Google, find inspiration on Pinterest, create a little mood board and try to find some brand photographers in your area that kind of match your style, and invest in that for your website.
Find a brand photographer that is well versed in your website needs.
Start with four to six photos at the minimum. If your goal is to set up a super simple site you can then supplement with some stock photos. With either free stock photography (there's a couple of websites like Unsplash or Pexels.com) or paid stock images from Stocksy.
If you can stretch it a little bit more, it’s always beneficial to have a full photoshoot because you can use it on social media (Instagram, Pinterest) and really anywhere you promote your business. It's just a really nice thing to have. But again, don't stress out if you feel like you can't invest in that when you first start. Just try to find a photographer that you can book with for like an hour or two and that will definitely get you started.
Really stuck for brand photography? Try these tips
If you’re truly not at the place to invest just yet or haven’t found the right photographer for you and your business, try out these tips for taking high-resolution photos on your own.
- Invest in a tripod so you can set it up with ease. I suggest looking for one that you can adjust to different heights. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Take a look at Amazon.
- Consider purchasing a bluetooth clicker for taking pictures. This way you don’t have to keep running up and setting the timer over and over. However, that is always an option - position yourself and your camera and set your phone to self-timer for 10 seconds to give you time to get back in frame.
- Use good lighting for the best quality photos. This means you need to be in a well-lit room, preferably near a window with natural light. Make sure you are facing the window, so the natural light is focused on you, and have your camera in front of you.
- Adjust your phone setting to the highest resolution possible. Depending on your phone time, storage amount, etc, you may have the photos adjusted to save at a lower resolution, as to not take up more room on your phone. Make sure to adjust them to the highest setting while taking your photos.
2. What is Your Main Marketing Message?
There are so many amazing women who offer quite literally life-changing services and yet, their website and their overall marketing messages don’t confidently and clearly state exactly who they help, how they do it, and how to work with them.
Take the time to get your messaging right. The copywriting should be clear, concise, and empathetic. Often, our ideal clients are not very familiar with the holistic wellness space, therefore, the goal here is to make sure your visitors understand who you are, what you do, for whom you do it, and why, as well as your proof of product/ services.
Invest in a Copywriter
You can find a lot of amazing copywriters out there, especially those who specialize in the holistic wellness space. Or you can try to write it on your own as well. The most important thing you should do before writing any copy is to sit down and visualize who you want to be known for. How can you ensure that your ideal clients know that you are exactly the person they are looking for? Your home and your services page will be the two most important pages of your website. Be very clear and concise with your writing.
This is where nailing down your messaging is key. If you’ve yet to settle on a niche or get clear in your marketing voice, you need to clarify this before going any further with your website copy. Need help? Check out my FREE Guide on Niching Down in your new business.
Learn a few copywriting tricks
Don't worry, you really don't need to start with hiring an expensive copywriter. You can get started writing your OWN copy with a few simple tips and tricks. I teach you how to write your own website copy inside my course One Week Website. Learn more here.
Getting this right will put you far ahead of a lot of other people, and give yourself grace that you don't have to get it right the first time. Remember, you can just keep changing it, or keep editing it, or keep trying to do it differently.
3. What are your Services and Personal Story?
When it comes to the main pages of your site, the thing that really works well is storytelling. Many people get into coaching or nutrition because they have a personal story that led them there. Maybe they had an autoimmune disease and they couldn't figure out the root of it and they went on their own journey to realizing how they could heal their symptoms naturally. The About Page gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and tell your story, which will help to set you apart from others and also build trust.
How can you get your client to connect with you? Of course, the fastest way to do that is to tell a really compelling story that puts them in a place in time in your life and chances are it's going to be very parallel to what they're going through.
Write your messaging with your ideal client in mind; so less about you and more about them! Keep it concise, but still relate it to your ideal client who is reading your story because that's what's going to resonate with your stories.
A quick way you can optimize your About Me page
- Go a few steps further on your about page, introduce yourself on your about page, tell your story if you have it, or just say why you started your business.
- Establish your authority. What certifications do you have? Show them your credentials. Or, if you've had a media or press cover list them on your about page, that's a great place for that. Also, include a couple of testimonials.
- Don't forget to add your services. Add your main /high ticket offerings, 1:1 coaching/ 6 months coaching program that you really want your clients to book. You want this to be clear, so you'll appear to be the kind of person that they are looking for to solve a specific problem. It’s a natural progression for them to click and go to your Services Page.
When setting up your Services Page, remember that it's not about you, but it's all about your clients! It’s about the way that you are going to make them feel as a result of working with you. This ideal client is coming to you because they are dealing with a health issue. There may be no answer for them. They may feel worn out from googling into oblivion, so remember to empathize with them. Put yourself in their shoes. What are their biggest pain points and/pr symptoms? How will they feel when they come across your website?
A great tip is to put a very clear statement on your Services Page that explains your offer(s) in one short sentence.
Think of how you can open with empathy. What is your ideal client sick and tired of doing and why are they on your site? Are they on your site trying to resolve this problem?
For example: Start out by saying "hey, I see you, I hear you and acknowledge you and your pain".
Make sure to highlight what the clients will feel or experience while working with you. What is the result and how does that change their life?!
Focus more on the feeling and the outcome rather than the deliverables.
4. How do you want people to Contact you?
Keep your contact page simple. Ask yourself: what is my main goal for people landing on this page? Would you like them to fill out that form? Or do you want them to schedule a one-on-one with you? You should always have a navigation button that says "Book Now" or whatever your main call to action is.
Using Squarespace, you can use something like Acuity Scheduling, which integrates directly with the platform. When you update your availability on your Acuity calendar, it is automatically updated within Squarespace. This makes it seamless for you to have potential clients book right from your website!
Provide contact opportunities throughout your website
Sometimes it's smart to put a Contact Page button at the bottom of your About Me and/or Services Page. Besides your social media links, you can also include your physical location if you have one (like your address and a map). Try to keep the Contact Page as simple as possible so people do exactly what you need them to do, which is to get in touch with you to book a call or service!
5. Where will you be building your website?
Having been in business for over 5 years now and not only building my own websites, but also building websites for other coaches and business owners; here are my top two recommendations for website platforms when you’re just getting started.
First, you need to ask yourself what functionality you need your website to have. For example, if you are trying to become a food blogger and you genuinely want to work to make money off your website, you will need to be able to have the function of placing ads on your blog, adding in affiliate videos or links, as well as putting your recipes on your site with a “print recipe” page. For this, you would need a highly customizable website code, like the kind you can build on WordPress.
WordPress has so much functionality that it can be a big tech beast to tackle on your own. If you are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the tech space, WordPress can be a really intimidating platform to work on and would require you to hire someone to do the coding, designing, etc. One of the things that makes WordPress so powerful is the plugins. Plugins are basically little snippets of code that you can put on your website. These add functionality to it because WordPress has 1000s of plugins available to you, it is so powerful.
A WordPress blog function would allow you to learn how to post, edit and add to your own blog posts, but much beyond that, you would most likely always need the help of an expert.
If you decide that you just need a space to sell your services, your one on one coaching, or even small digital products, you may not need to hire someone on a monthly basis to update the site for you, and therefore, you can learn how to go in and make necessary changes to photos, texts, blogs, services pages, etc. If you don’t mind taking on the website learning along side starting your new business, WordPress is going to be an excellent option for you!
For a much simpler site model that you can update on your own (and is more user-friendly), you should check out Squarespace.
Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder that is much easier to learn (even with little tech experience). I've used it for years and it's what I recommend to my clients and students.
Squarespace offers many user friendly features like: embedding your scheduler/calendar so clients can book appointments right on your site, selling digital and physical products right on your site (think ebooks and guides), template based website pages, and it even has a simplified blog function so you can start showing up as the expert in your niche topic on your own site! You can even add on other extensions that will allow you to host a membership site.
With Squarespace, you don’t have to worry about the back-end coding aspect of building your site. You can choose from any of their free-to-use templates, or find a Squarespace designer-made template you love.
If you want to learn more about how to get your site up and running on Squarespace, I teach you everything you need to know inside my course One Week Website.
There you have it; the 5 things you need to know to create your own website! As your business grows, you'll get even clearer on what you want, what your website needs to do for you, what you want it to look like, and how you want it to function!
By the time you need a higher functioning or completely custom designed website, you’ll have more money in your business to invest into your site too. You can also always switch from one platform to the other, so don’t let all the decisions paralyze you! Just get started and build from there.
Happy Website Building!
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