You’ve made the leap to go self-employed or you already run a small business – hooray!! Welcome to the most amazing ride of your life…
What you may not have counted on when you went solo was the multiplication of skills required. Not only are you now doing the thing you love, the reason for your business, but you are now also the boss, administrator, customer service representative, accountant, web designer, publicist, sales manager, and chief coffee maker! It can all seem overwhelming and as your business grows and I hate to tell you, it’s only going to get worse.
At some point, you are going to need to look at outsourcing one or more parts of your business if you’re going to maintain your sanity.
You may have already decided that you need to do this, and I’m here to explain why I believe that outsourcing your website is one of the best things you can do for your business (unless, of course, you’re a web designer). I outsource something I don’t like doing, but you’ll have to read through to the end to find out what that is – and you probably won’t guess unless you’ve read my bio.
So, here are my top three reasons why you should outsource your website:
TECHNOLOGY KEEPS CHANGING
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, times change. But in the field of technology the pace is relentless. Only 15 years ago I was teaching people to create websites using Microsoft FrontPage with scrolling text!
Since November 2017, we’ve seen mobiles and overtake desktops as people’s preferred means of surfing the web so mobile responsivity isn’t just something that would be nice for your website, it’s a must-have.
Companies like Google (who were relatively unheard of when I first started working – anyone remember Ask Jeeves??) are now part of the English language. Did you know that to ‘google’ is now officially a verb in the English Oxford dictionary? The power of this enormous company also means that your ranking on their search engine is completely down to their algorithms – which they can change at a moment’s notice.
And the speed of change is only going to continue. Do you want to keep on top of all of the changes – or do you want to have someone who loves the changes and will do the work for you?
THINGS GO WRONG
I spend as much of my time creating new websites for clients as I do rescuing clients from old websites that have gone wrong. This is usually for one of two reasons:
- They have built it themselves and not looked at it since it was published way back in 2005 (see my point about technology keeps changing!).
- They have entrusted it to a web designer who promised the earth but delivered manure.
As with everything you do for your business, take the time to get quotes and interview different web designers. We’re not all created equal and you need to make sure you have a great working relationship with your designer and that they really ‘get’ you and your business.
Then, when things go wrong (notice I say WHEN not IF), you will have someone you can call who will calmly sort it out for you because they speak technobabble…
FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS
I am a huge fan of focussing on your strengths and not trying to be everything to everyone. This has taken me a very long time to figure out but I am pleased to say that with the help of Marcus Buckingham and his Strengths Revolution I now know what I’m awesome at and what I should really leave to someone else (who is awesome at what I’m not).
“Strengths are not activities you’re good at, they’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.” – Marcus Buckingham
If you want to figure out what your strengths are, then I highly recommend taking the Strengths Finder test. It confirmed what I already knew about myself and helped me clarify my business and personal life – and stop worrying about what I’m not good at.
In terms of your website this is really important. If you don’t LOVE logging into your website and updating it or taking time to check the colours or the coding then you should really consider giving the work to someone who does. Like me!
It will free you up to do the things you’re actually great at and bring even greater success to your business. Time is money when it comes to running your business so instead of looking at the cost of a new website and cringing, think about how many hours of YOUR time getting a website built for you will free up.
So what do I outsource? Have you guessed?
Yup, it’s my gardening. OK, so it’s not a part of my busines, but I’m a solopreneur who also happens to be a single mum and committed volunteer – and I HATE gardening with a passion. It’s not one of my strengths but I adore a lovely looking garden. Thankfully I’ve found someone who LOVES it so I get to work to my strengths and so does she…
And, if you’ve already outsourced part of your business – or something at home – I’d love to know what it is…
OK, I’m a Web Designer so you would be right in thinking that I believe that every business needs a website. Duh!
To be honest, I am actually amazed when people I meet ask me if they need a website at all. I guess I just figure that everyone accepts that they do – but that’s clearly not the case.
I believe that every business needs a website because I know that without one your business is missing a key marketing component that can’t always be measured by SEO or sales conversions. And if you’ve already got one and don’t think it’s working for you, then this post may help you realise just how much your website is doing for you too.
Recently, one of my clients contacted me about updating their website. The M.H. Vehicle Services website has been live for 3 years (a bit of a shock to all of us) and since then I’ve only made one update. It was a simple build to replace a website that wasn’t really doing anything for them and they are a successful family-run garage business that you wouldn’t actually think needs any further advertisement. The website they have doesn’t cost a lot to maintain (under £100 per year) and I was called in to update their address and add a couple of pages to the site to reflect a physical move to new premises and add some new services. Standard stuff.
And while I was there Matt (head mechanic and owner) confirmed that clients told him they look at the website and compare the photo of their garage with the building when they arrive to know they have found the right place. His wife Gill, administrator extraordinaire, admitted that people also say they look at the website before they call. Even without massive updates, this site provides potential clients with proof that the business exists and that they provide services that these customers are looking for.
So, here are my Top 5 Reasons your business needs a website:
#1 – YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE
Let’s put it this way, if I can’t find a website for a company I’m looking to work with, or to do work for me, then I usually don’t bother going any further. The website doesn’t even need to be fantastic. It just needs to tell me that the business is what it says it is. I go for honesty and the more detail the better. Links to social media are good too as it shows they are interested in communicating in real-time. It really frustrates me when I know a business can’t be bothered to have even a basic site.
#2 – 24/7 VISIBILITY
People surf the web at all hours. You never know when you customers are going to be online. What about shift-workers or insomniacs? Getting your message out 24/7 is one of the most powerful tools your business has if you use it correctly.
#3 – OWNERSHIP
Social media is great but if a platform goes bust or changes their algorithm so no-one sees your stuff anymore then you can’t do anything about it. Your website is YOURS. You own it. You make the decisions you want to make about what it includes. Your website is your hub for all online interaction so it doesn’t matter what the next big platform is – you’ll have content to share to it.
#4 – WEED OUT TIMEWASTERS
The best part about having your own website? You get to share the stuff that’s most important to you. Swear if you want to, use bright colours, share your personality. All of this gives your clients an insight into who you are and helps you weed out those who don’t. You may think that this cuts off your supply of potential clients but it is actually the opposite. If you create a website that you are proud of and it turns someone off then that’s great. You don’t need to waste time on people who don’t fit with you. Better to find out upfront than to be 3 months into a business relationship and find out that you really don’t jell.
#5 – IT GIVES YOU AN EDGE
There are plenty of businesses out there that still don’t have a website – and those that do but haven’t updated it for donkeys years. They don’t think it’s important or they are still living in the age of the Yellow Pages. Move with the times and get ahead of others in your industry. Create a website that people want to visit. If two businesses are up for a job and one doesn’t have a site or their site isn’t great then they are more likely to be dismissed without even knowing it. Your website gives you an edge that you may never really fully measure.
So, are you convinced yet? If you don’t have a website yet then please look at getting one with urgency if you want your business to succeed. And give me a yell if you would like some obligation free advice on the best way forward for you.
This is the question I get asked most often by clients and is usually followed by statements such as:
“I have nothing to write”
“Why would anyone be interested in me”
“I can’t write 1,000 words every week!”
“It’s all too complicated”
The list goes on and on and all of these statements have one thing in common – FEAR! They are excuses to ignore the amazing impact that regular blogging can have on your business – and also on you.
Now, I’ve already written about why your business needs a blog and given you 50 awesome blog ideas so the problem isn’t the WHY or even the WHAT, but the HOW.
Oh, and this isn’t a guide to which blogging platform to use. There are so many of them out there – from WordPress to eBlogger to Medium or even one that’s included with your template website. Here’s a great list of the Top 10 platforms for 2018 if you need help choosing. Once you’re all set up on the tech side, then read the practical soft-skills guide below to getting over that initial paralysis and putting your words out there into the digi-verse!
Step 1 – Decide You Can
I’m not being flippant here – this is simply a reminder that you can do this! Take a deep breath and remember that you have just as much right to share your opinion as anyone else. In fact, you may just be the voice that the world is waiting for. Unless you start, you’ll never know! Once you’ve overcome this initial obstacle the rest of the process actually becomes much easier.
Step 2 – Write Everything Down
I take a notebook with me everywhere I go and jot down interesting thoughts, conversations and questions all the time. You could use your phone or tablet too if you prefer. You’ll be surprised just how many thoughts you have during the day that can be transformed into blog posts with very little work. Inspiration usually hits when you’re not at your desk so don’t sit there waiting for it.
Step 3 – Start Writing
Make time to write a blog post based on your notes. Start with one post and build from there.
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go” – E.L. Doctorow
Don’t concern yourself too much with how many words you’ve written as it can put you off if you think you’ve got too few. Those articles telling you that the ‘ideal’ blog post contains 1,200 words are not helpful here. Any length is better than none and sometimes a quick short post can say it all. Like this post by my friend Liz Abram. It’s under 200 words but wonderfully written and gained good traction for her on social media.
Step 4 – Create Structure
Every blog post needs editing. Writing everything in one long paragraph isn’t going to inspire readers to stick around. Think of breaking your post down into sections using sub-headings (like I’m doing here). Short digestible chunks are what you’re aiming for. Use the built-in Heading styles in your builder to differentiate between levels and use bullet points or numbering if appropriate.
Step 5 – Add Links
Linking to other posts you’ve written and to external websites helps boost the SEO performance of your blog post. It also helps show your readers that you have researched your topic and can point them in the right direction if you’re not covering something they should also know. At least one internal link (your site) and one external link (another site) is a good start.
Step 6 – Add Images
Images break up your text and bring more interest to your post – as long as they are relevant. I recommend using your own images where possible but if you use the work of others always credit the original source either in a caption or by linking to the original source. I use Canva to create my own images (like this one) and recommend Pixabay for royalty-free images if you really need to go there.
Step 7 – Publish It!
I know people who have hundreds of draft posts ready to go but don’t have the courage to press ‘Publish’. Remember that your writing will improve and change over time. You are writing from your current perspective so be brave and let the world see it. It’s actually good to look back at earlier posts and see just how much your style has changed over the months and years.
Step 8 – Share It
Let people know it’s there. Share your blog post on social media. The image you use for your post will be really important here as this will encourage people to find out more and actually click through to the post. If your post contains evergreen content (content that doesn’t go out of date) make sure you share it more than once. Add it to your social media calendar to share again in the future. There is no use writing new content daily when you will be building a library of content to repost.
So, that’s it! My step-by-step guide to taking that first step to having a blog. Consistency really is key so I encourage you to set yourself a goal of regular writing – be that once a month or once a day – and try to stick with it.
P.S. – If you’d like to grab a copy of my ‘Evolution of a Blog Post’ printable, then sign up for my monthly newsletter below. It’s the quickest way to stay informed of new posts and every so often you can also win some 1:1 digital time with me…