Setting Up Your First Website
Q. Hey, Cathy: I'm just setting up a website. What should I do?
A. First, don't call the web designer yet! Write out a detailed summary of your ideal client, if you haven't already done so. Get very clear on what benefits you will offer and how you will stand out from the crowd. Before you spend days and weeks refining your copy, test your ideas on real people -- as close to your ideal client as possible. Study your competition to see what works -- and to avoid creating a "me-too" site that gets lost in the crowd.
Most important, get some confirmation that a market exists for your product. Do people actually use this product or service? Do they pay or expect freebies? Do they have a low-price mindset? Do they mind on the web? If you can't answer yes to all these questions, identify resources who can help.
If you are starting a brand-new business with a website, start small. Very small. Don't put a lot of money into your first website. If you want create a professional image, hire a designer, but keep costs down by setting up only a few pages. Your needs will change as your business grows.
Your site needs three basic sections.
(a) What the site is about. I recommend writing two or three sentences for your home page, enough for visitors to decide if they want to hang around.
(b) Who you are. When you're the product, include an "about you" page. I recommend a narrative format to hold readers' interest.
"Griselda began life in a cave somewhere in deepest Africa. After being abducted at age seven, she was taken to the US and... "
Be sure to include links to pages that detail your achievements. This is no time for modesty! List degrees, publications and certificates.
You may turn off some potential clients: some will be put off by too many or too few credentials, or they may have been burned by someone with a similar background. Better to lose them up front, I say.
(c) What you offer for sale. You need a page that describes your products and services in mouth-watering detail. You may include prices and a link to your shopping cart.
Some experienced web business owners choose to omit prices. They send price sheets to people who express interest in their services.
That's a judgment call, too. They hope to hook clients who are so enthused by the website they'll pay more. On the downside, some folks won't even ask -- they expect the prices to be a lot higher.
And you may include options: articles and downloadable ebooks, to allow your web visitors to learn more about you. Write in lively, journalistic, self-help style. Focus on topics that attract your clients' interest. If you sell fitness products, include tips on exercise.
How will visitors find you? You'll need a comprehensive plan including metatags, content keywords, link swaps and articles.
When will you see results? If you have little or no revenue after three months, experiment with tactics, such as getting your website known, revising your site for better navigtion. After six months, it's time for an overhaul. Investigate options for a professional website review.
I offer one-to-one consultations on career and business strategy.
About The Author
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant, helping midlife professionals take their First step to a Second Career. http://www.cathygoodwin.com.
"Ten secrets of mastering a major life change" mailto:email@example.com
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