Building a website seems so daunting, but if you start at square 1 and focus on the critical first pages, it'll get easier, I promise. Brochureware sites vary a bit from blog-based sites, but everyone needs these initial pages regardless of the end-resulting site type. Home, About, Services/Products (yes, with prices), Testimonials, Contact There's more to it, of course, but that's the barebones basic list of what you'll need at first.
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Build a Badass Business: Episode #6:Websites Part 1 – Pages You Need
Coming straight to you from her basement home office in suburban New Jersey, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and created her very first website so long ago, people were still using Netscape. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.
My very first website was called TinyStar.com. Tiny Star jewelry was a company I started probably right around the end of college, and I was making bracelets and reselling them, and I at some point in time realized I needed a website to be able to sell my wares around the internet. So that was the very first website I started ever, ever. I even had an emailing list for it, and made little postcards for these different street fairs that I did, and really was kind of out there doing all this marketing stuff from a very young age. I don’t even know how I kind of got the idea that I needed to do that, I think it was just a matter of seeing different customers at shows repeatedly around different counties in the area, and recognizing the fact that, in order to let them know which future events I would be at, I needed to somehow stay in touch with them. And I could do that with a website, for sure, I could do that with a postcard at one event, but if I could email them, then I could get into their inbox and let them know, not only what was coming up, but remind them about it right before the event. So, I learned at a very young age that an emailing list was really important, and I did that with my website.
Ok, in today’s episode, I want to talk about website questions, because you guys have had tons of questions about building a website, about content for a website, all that good stuff. The first question I want to address for you is, do you need a website, or do you need a blog, or do you need both.
What I want to talk about today is really those of you who just need what I would consider a brochureware website. So that would be someone that doesn’t necessarily need a blog, or a place that they’re going to write articles, or continuously share new information, posting relevant information regularly, or doing anything to kind of continuously update it. Typically, that is somebody who has a very specific product or a very specific service that doesn’t evolve and change too much over time.
Also, perhaps for somebody who isn’t interested in just writing and getting more communication out there all the time. I think, also specifically not having a blog and really just keeping things to a brochureware site may be more relevant for those of you who have local based businesses, versus something that may be more national or that you can work with people remotely, where you don’t need to be face to face with them.
Part of what a blog can help with is to develop rapport without actually having a one-on-one interaction. So for example, somebody who offers a very personal service, like nutrition counseling, having information on your website that is a consistent sort of outpouring of support, just to the general public, helps somebody to vet you, and to figure out if, number one, your thought process and line of thinking are right for them, and two if they like what you’re teaching. That’s kind of more information for a blog than a brochureware site.
For those of you who may not be aware of this, I worked in small business marketing for four solid years specifically at a company called Graphic D signs, GraphicD-Signs.com, and interestingly enough, I was probably the first real employee of the company. My boss was working out of his basement, probably like many of you are, and his mother-in-law was doing billing and bookkeeping, and I was the first real employee of the company. At the time, websites for small businesses were really starting to boom, and that’s what we specialized in. We specialized in anything from a one-person company to a small big business, or a big small business. It could have been a company that was making millions, or making a lot, lot less than that over the course of the year. So we really did a lot of different types of websites, and helped a lot of different folks in different service industries, and also selling different products.
So my experience with small business websites, and specifically brochureware websites is rooted in that time of creating them for hundreds of different businesses over that period of time, and even beyond that and outside of that, because I did work a bit on my own kind of freelancing, and helping different types of businesses, even when I started working as a nutritionist, I was still doing a little bit of web design to kind of subsidize my life on the side.
So here are the basics you need for brochureware website. These pages actually can translate over to a blog. So if you are thinking about whether or not you need a blog, or just a brochureware site, if you will eventually include a blog, you still need these other pages as well, because this is really what’s kind of the foundation of, as I mentioned, people getting to know you and especially if you’re not going to create new content all the time in a blog. So you’re going to have a home page, probably most obviously, and you want to make sure that this is something that really does a good job of introducing you to those people who do land right on the home page.
Now, in the stage of internet search and Facebook shares, and a million different ways that people find your website, the home page is not necessarily the only isolated point of entry that folks will have. But you do want to make sure that it’s a really clear representation of who you are and what you do, and you want to make sure that it says exactly what you want that person’s first impression of you to be, because even if they don’t land on the home page to start out, they’ll probably visit it when they’re considering whether or not to buy from you, whether that’s a product or a service. So it’s really important that you kind of get your home page directed the way that you want it to be, and really make sure that you get those key words about what you’re doing. And I’ll talk a little bit more about search and search marketing later, because I think it’s too big of a topic to address now. But remember that the person who lands on a page within your site and goes back to the homepage, they’re assuming the homepage is sort of your best foot forward. It’s really your primary information that you want to share with people, and it’s also your introduction to them.
Now taking your introduction to them one step further is the next page I want to talk about, and that’s your about page. So there needs to be somewhere on the website where you talk about who you are, what you do. Maybe your experience in the field. Maybe your education. You want to maybe give a head shot. I personally find that even when I go to a website that’s for a company, so whether that’s a small food company that’s like a paleo-friendly food company, or gluten-free, something like that, I want to see who’s behind this company. I personally prefer to see some faces, and see some information about who they are and kind of how they wanted to start the company, and all of that background. So this is where you have a chance to really give your background information, talk about all of that.
You can also use this page if you want to link to any of your certifications or help people to see what it is you are studying. That’s a really common question that I get about the nutrition studies that I did and different programs. I just link it all through my about page, because if people are asking that question, then they can find out a lot more information just by clicking through.
Next up is your either product or services page. Now, I’m not necessarily going to get into full details on e-commerce right now, because again that’s another topic that can take an entire episode. But if you have services that you’re offering, you should list out the services, and fully detail what they include. Just kind of depending on what it is that you offer. Of course, there are probably very personal services that you can’t fully explain on a website, but you want to give this person as much information as possible, because you’re not just trying to sell them something with your website, you’re trying to prequalify them as somebody who should be a customer of yours. You want people coming to you who know what you do and what you’re about and what you offer, and also who are clear on what you don’t do. So that’s a really big one for coaches, nutrition coaches specifically. You really want to make sure that you’re detailing what you're helping with, and what you’re not helping them with. That really goes for any type of service out there.
If you are selling products, this is the place where you can show a photo of your product. I do recommend that you have either a professional photo taken, or get some tips from someone who can help you make very clear photos of your product. At this stage, iPhone photos are fine, it’s just more a matter of clearing out whatever’s in the background and making sure that they’re very well shot. You want to detail what the product is all about, you want to write the price of it, and this also goes for your services. I personally am of the opinion that you should put a price on your services, and it should be visible and listed on your website.
Now, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who don’t agree, or who think that maybe you want to have a conversation with the person and then talk about price. I think it just sets you up for the wrong type of impression if you don’t just put it out there, say, here’s what I offer, and here’s what it costs. It really starts to take the whole, sort of awkwardness if you’re feeling awkwardness around asking for money. It starts to take that away, because it’s a nonissue. You just take it off the table in the first place. If price is a barrier for them, they get to make that decision right away. And you really don’t want to compromise on the price you set. You’ve decided, at some point in time, that this is what your time or product or service is worth, and you really shouldn’t have to fluctuate on that.
I can guarantee you that 9 times out of 10, if a person is on your website, and they are desperate for your help, and truly cannot afford it, and they’re a hardship case, and it’s a situation you really would want to help them, they’ll probably email you, and ask you, is there any way that you can help me, I can’t really afford your services. You can make that call. I’m definitely not one for just throwing out discounts and kind of going crazy to get people in the door, but I think there’s always a time and a place for you to be flexible on that and make your own judgment call about your pricing.
I’ll talk more about pricing strategies and ways to think about it, ways to do research, and ways to figure out what you think is the best way to price what you’re offering, but that’s kind of my basics on how to put that on your website. And just go look around other folk’s websites. There are probably lots of people in your field who you like what they’re doing, and see what they put on their services page. It’s totally fine to just look at another example, and then write what you need to write on your site. That’s a-ok. It’s totally fine.
When you're explaining your services on this page, I do think it’s important again to detail them out as completely as possible. You don’t need to get into super nitty gritty stuff, but I think it’s really important to show the detail of what you offer so you can provide value to the person who’s looking at your service listing. So, again, for example, if you’re a nutrition coach, you don’t just say, this includes a one-hour one-on-one coaching session. You might say, this includes a one-on-one one hour coaching session where we talk about XYZ, and then I leave you with 3 action steps for the week, or something to that effect. Something so that they know what to expect ,and what they’re going to be getting for their money.
It’s also important at this stage to write on your services page if there’s anything that’s expected of them before they might come to you. So, if you have intake form or if you have any questionnaires, or if they need to sort of be prequalified, if you want to tell them, you need to check with your doctor before you do this. Whatever it is you want to tell them, I think that’s a good place to do it, is right on that services page.
If you are selling products on the website, but it’s not necessarily a full-blown e-commerce site, where it’s a robust shopping cart or anything like that. If you perhaps have a PayPal button or a way that they can contact you to get credit card information or mail a check, whatever the case may be, just make sure you’re very specific about the types of payments that you take and any terms surrounding that, as well as, again, very clear again on what they’re getting for their money. I do think that picture help with this, as well as very specific product details. You can look at websites, like Etsy.com for examples of how people explain their products, what type of pictures they show, and exactly how much detail to go into.
Alright, the next page I think is really important, especially for service based businesses, but also for product based business, is a testimonials page. This is where you have your opportunity to help the person who is now on your website to see themselves in the story that someone else is telling about their success. So an example of this would be if you coached client who lost 20 pounds in a couple of months, whether that was nutrition coaching, exercise, whatever it was. Chances are, there are lots of folks who are looking at your website who are hoping that you’ll be able to help them do exactly the same thing. They want to read that story, they want to identify themselves in that story, so as many varied types of testimonials as you can get, and I do recommend you get them from people who aren’t your friend. Because you don’t want somebody coming to the website and saying, oh, you know, I know Suzie Smith is her friend, so I don’t know if I really trust that testimonial.
This is where, even if they’re not your friends, if you do start out your services, or even your product offering with something that’s complimentary, maybe you give somebody free product to try, or maybe you offer coaching to a friend of yours a couple of times just on the arm. It’s for free. Or perhaps, when I was really new in doing what I was doing with one-on-one nutrition coaching, I actually found folks who were fans on the Facebook page. I wanted to get a couple of example clients, and different types of clients. I could very specifically say, is there somebody here with an autoimmune thyroid condition who I can help, and I can really specifically get that type of person so I could help them.
I might have helped them for free or at a discounted rate, and I would say to them up front, all I’m asking in exchange for this is an honest review of the work we’re doing together, and a testimonial for my website. And it doesn’t have to be a positive review, I may or may not use it, but I want your review and your feedback to be completely honest. Then you just go from there. So that’s one way to kind of build them up in the beginning. But over time, I think it’s critical to ask all of your clients, as much as you can, for a testimonial because you’ll find in the long term, that page is one of the most heavily visited pages on your website.
This is obvious when you look at a site like Amazon.com that sells a product, where you look at the customer reviews. So if you have a product offering, if there’s a way for people to review it right on the page, or to send you their reviews, you definitely want to share that with other people. And I think it’s also important to take those reviews, take the feedback, the criticism, the constructive criticism hopefully, and take it into account. Sometimes it can be upsetting to hear something that’s not perfectly positive about what we’re doing, but it’s your open opportunity to make a change for the better, whether that’s in a product or a service that you’re offering.
If you offer a service that has an end resulting product, so for example you offer design services, landscape services, some sort of creative service where there’s a product at the end of it, the testimonials page could also be a portfolio page. It could be, and/or; it could be both together, or one or the other, whatever works for you. But if you’ve got something you need to show somebody what you do, absolutely do that. Have a gallery of images. They can all be on one page. There’s lots of different plugins to use on websites. Make sure your photos are clear and excellent. But I think it’s critical that you show people examples of your work. And this is where you could also include something like a before and after photo with the testimonial of either the product or the service that you’re offering.
The last page I want to talk about, because I want to keep this episode under 20 minutes, is your contact page. It’s extremely important that people can contact you, and in this day and age, we don’t all necessarily need to put phone numbers on our websites. I think depending on what you offer, and if you don’t have a business location, if your phone number is only your cell phone, and you find that that’s too personal to share with a greater audience, you absolutely need to have either an email address listed, and I do think you should have an email in addition to a form, if you put a form on your website. I think having an email address is good if you’re a smaller business just starting out, just in case somebody goes to use the form and for some reason it’s not working. If you’re worried for some reason they won’t be able to use it on their browser, or if they’re just not that familiar with how to fill out forms online. You’d be surprised. So make sure you offer both the email address and the form.
I think forms, specifically, I like a company called Wufoo.com, and they have a free offering. It’s a freemium service, meaning it starts out as free and as your needs grow and your business grows, you’ll be charged, which is very similar to Mail Chimp, the email service that I recommend. Wufoo, what they’ll do, is also maintain the database of those contact forms, which is awesome, because at any point in time, you can go back and log in and find the form that the person filled out. This is a really fantastic service, I’ll talk a lot more about it down the road. But for now, that’s on your contact page.
If you have a physical location, you should be listing your address. I would include a map. Google maps has a way to take the map and imbed it into the HTML on your website. It’s a very simple copy and paste of a code, you don’t need to know how to code to do this. I would list your hours, very clearly, and anything else that’s relevant to somebody finding your location. So if you don’t have a big sign, tell them a landmark, anything they need to know. If there’s a bus line they can use to get there, anything else that’s relevant, because whatever keeps somebody from finding you is obviously going to keep them from using your business.
That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. And drop me a review to let me know what’s speaking to you from the show. If you want to get in on the conversation, and you haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, get on over there and join Build a Badass Business group. I share insights and tips regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page. Do work that you love, and don’t be afraid of making money while you do it. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.