So, you have a great business idea, but the thought of putting a website together seems overwhelming. Where in the world do you start when you want to build a professional looking and beautiful website?
A quick google search on ‘how to build a website’ comes up with a million results telling you to purchase a domain name, get some hosting, and you’re good to go. In reality, it’s not as easy as that. But this doesn’t mean you can’t put together an amazing website that will have your viewers turn into paying customers.
To help you get started with your website, I’ve listed five things you need to consider and decide before you jump to building the actual site.
What is the website for? And what is the priority behind it? Are you creating a blog, shopfront, membership space, or a course platform? Now, you can have all of these aspects on your website, but you need to have one as the main focus of the website.
You need to be efficient with your time when running a business. While you can have a blog, course platform, and shopfront all on the same site, a clear focus will help you prioritize your time and efforts. It will also help guide you on the technical side of setting up your website. And be super clear with your marketing and communications.
Many solopreuneurs who are just starting out are often looking to do one of the following:
Provide business information
- Demonstrate their products and services, making them available to customers
- Produce an “About” page that highlights their background and a little more information about them.
- A contact page making it easier for potential customers to reach out to them
- Content could be in the form of blog posts, videos or podcasts. This is a great way to build authority in your niche and engage customers and followers.
Marketing communications and funnels
- A website can be very helpful in marketing your products and services. This can be done through using banners or sales pages on the website.
- Marketing funnels are essential for capturing client details to send out emails regularly. One way to do this is through opt in pages that can be found on your website.
- A website can be used to host your online store selling products and services, by having these available to purchase on the website.
Other aspects to consider
- Online courses and membership areas can be added to your website to further provide services and offers to your users. These can be hosted on your website directly but are slightly more technical.
When starting out, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with how many different areas you can have on your website. Focusing on one thing will help you produce a better and more informative website that looks amazing — and is easy to navigate.
That being said, think about whether you need a website in the beginning at all. Perhaps your business model only requires a landing page for opt ins and a facebook group or social media page to build a community. This can be a great way to capture clients or customers without splashing out on developing a website.
2. Content strategy
The next thing to consider is what type of content you will be producing, and where it will go.
Will the main type of content be blog posts, podcasts or videos? Will these be produced on a weekly or bi-weekly basis? The key to a successful website that converts readers into paying, loyal customers is consistent content.
Again, deciding the type of content is important in helping you decide on the style of your website and helping you to determine which technical strategy to go with.
Perhaps your aim is to create a number of landing pages for opt ins connected to other content you are producing on social media. This could be created used platforms that are quick and easy to customize, such as Leadpages.
Note: Leadpages is a paid service. There are a variety of WordPress themes that enable you to make landing pages quickly.
Consider where you will place this content on your website. Often, the homepage can be used as the page where new content is posted to. However, there is also the option of having a complete separate area such as a “blog” or “podcast”. If this is the case, what might you have on the homepage? This could be a landing page with an opt-in freebie or perhaps an overview of what to expect on the website and from your services.
At this point, it’s also a good idea to think about your navigation. To make finding content easy on your site, the main navigation links should be descriptive and meaningful enough for the users to understand where they are navigating to.
Also, be careful not to create too many top level links on the navigation. While you might think that showing as much as possible is the easiest way for the user to find things, actually the opposite is true. With too many options to choose from, users can get confused and abandon your site.
Decision fatigue is a real thing.
3. Platform and technology
Now, we are moving into territory that can seem daunting, but it can be broken down into bitesize chunks. Before you’re building your website, you need to choose the technical platform you’ll be building your website on. The main focus of the website and the content strategy discussed above will really help you make this decision.
To break it down, here are some platforms that you could use depending on what you’re goals are and what types of content you’re planning to publish:
WordPress is an online software that is used by millions of websites. It allows you to develop your website on the back end, to upload content and develop multiple pages for the various areas you want to cover.
It can be used to make business websites to blogs to ecommerce to membership sites. There are two services available: wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The former is a free service that is used on your own web host to create a website in your preferred design while the latter is a paid for service, hosted on the WordPress platform with limited flexibility in design.
Squarespace is maybe the most intuitive website builder there is. The templates are beautiful and easy to use. At the same time, it’s not super easy to customize the code and there’s less integrations and plug-ins available then there are for WordPress.
Squarespace offers online shop, portfolio, basic web pages, and blogging templates, among others. It’s great for beginners because it’s so easy and quick to get started. However, it’s not the most affordable option there. And the price adds up quickly if you need to add more advanced e-store and business capabilities.
Wix is another website builder that uses modern and flexible designs. This is a great starting place, if you want to house simple content. Unlike WordPress, Wix does not allow building large and complex sites.
Shopify is a web application that is designed to online shop owners to build and launch their own online stores. There are a range of templates offered that can be customized to meet your requirements. Shopify targets those who have no or limited web development skills.
Kajabi is a platform that offers a number of different services. Not only can you use it to host your website, it can be home to all your lead pages, list building and courses. This is, however, reflected in the pricing Kajabi has to offer.
Leadpages is often thought of as a wordpress plugin however the platform is not restricted to using just on wordpress. If your aim is to capture email addresses from your social media followers, simply having a lead page may suffice.
4. URL & Hosting
You may have come across the terms “Domain name” and “Web hosting”. The domain name is the name of your URL. For example, www.google.com would be the domain name. Having a domain name alone does not create a space on the world wide web for your website. Web hosting is needed to house all of the files that make up your website.
The domain name is the address of your house, and the hosting would be the actual house the address points to.
All websites require web hosting. Some companies will host your website and provide a domain name, like shopify, however others may require you to purchase two separate services.
Common places to purchase domain names and hosting include GoDaddy and Bluehost.
5. Look and feel
Now comes the best part of creating the website: the design. Developing a brand for your business is important. While branding is more than just the look and feel of your business, ensuring you have a color palette and selected fonts to maintain a consistent look is important.
Other things to consider include a logo that represents your brand and photography that depicts your services, products, and of course yourself.
That being said, remember your branding can be adapted and evolved as you grow and develop your business. Nothing is set in stone. When you’re starting out, it is better to start somewhere than have no website. To get started establish some rules about colors and fonts you will be using:
- Are you using light, regular, bold, extra bold or italic font?
- Will your headings have a different font to the main text?
- What 2-3 colors will you use in addition to black, white and gray?
The most important thing is to have something set in place so you can start developing a community and relationship with your customers. Whichever path you take, like mentioned above, is not set in stone and you can always change your style or the technical methods you choose.
If you haven’t already done so, come check out our free Facebook group DIY Brand Design & Strategy for Soulpreneurs where I teach soulpreneurs like you to build their own branding and create their own designs.