Building a website is pretty easy once you know what your brand, know how you want it to flow and the content you want to include. However, simply building a website and leaving it to petrify isn’t good for your business. It also means your website will never fulfill its true potential.
Your website does a lot more than you may think because it…
Lets potential customers know who you are
Your colours and branding should represent your business accurately. This may change over time, so it’s important to update your site to reflect those changes.
Gives you a space to connect with customers
You may have a presence on social media for more instantaneous contact with your customers, but you don’t own those sites. You do, however, own your website. Posting blog articles that show your specialty and expertise are a great way of making sure that people revisit your site for inspiration and advice. That’s where they will then see new offers and decide to work with you. Check out this great article on HuffPost on why you should start your own blog if you don’t already have one on your website.
Screens and filters potential customers
It’s just as important to know who you DON’T want to work with as who you DO want to work with. A well-designed website that truly reflects your values and brand will actually filter out customers who don’t fit with what you do. Saying your target audience is ‘everyone’ is simply not good practice. Focusing in on who you want to work with will give you an edge.
So is your website fulfilling its potential?
The simplest way of checking this is to get a colleague or friend to visit your website and ask them to answer four questions about it:
- What does this website sell?
- Who is the target market for this website?
- What does the brand of this website say to you?
- Was it easy to find what you were looking for?
If their answers don’t match what you are trying to convey then it’s time to have a rethink and spend some time modifying your content and branding. Just like I’ve done this month!
Oh, and if you need any help creating a new website that is easy for you to manage yourself then you know where I am…
P.S. Since I launched my rebranded site I have asked my own ‘tribe’ to let me know what they think. Their comments and suggestions have been really useful in helping me to fix a few errors that I thought only I may have spotted!
Font and typography have always been an important part of design and document production – from leaflets to magazines, from websites to posters. In fact, many of the typefaces we are familiar with can be traced back centuries such as Garamond (1490), Baskerville (1757) and Bodoni (1780). The typeface you use gives your written words their character and sets the tone of your message.
I am a huge fan of using different typefaces. You can frequently find me browsing the latest gorgeous additions from websites such as Font Bundles and 1001 Fonts. We are so fortunate to have access to such a massive collection that there is honestly no reason at all to use Times New Roman for every single thing you create. Unless you REALLY love it.
However, just because there are thousands of fonts available to you doesn’t mean you should use them all – well not all at once anyway!
Here are my two simple steps to using fonts on your website and within your brand in general:
Set the Tone
Decide what tone you are trying to set and choose a font category to match. The four categories are:
- Serif (such as Times New Roman and Baskerville Old Face) is the traditional font dating back to Mr. Garamond’s day. These fonts convey a conservative and safe feel.
- Sans Serif (such as Arial and Helvetica) is more modern and convey a minimalistic and clean feel.
- Script (such as French Script and Edwardian Script) are elegant with a handwritten feel and lots of loops. They convey sophistication but can be difficult to read.
- Display (such as Comic Sans and Papyrus) are big and bold and convey fun. They are great for headings and posters but not so much if you want to be taken seriously.
Think about the type of business you run and the type of customers you have. These will help you decide which font categories would work well for your brand. Your fonts should be fit for purpose and match the look and feel your business has, just as much as the colours and design do.
You can mix and match these categories to great effect, but choosing too many fonts can be a huge mistake – which leads me to my second point:
Simplicity is Key
“I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” ~ Lindon Leader
Most designers will agree that sticking to a maximum of just three fonts is a good guide for not just websites but in all design. Each font has italic, bold and italic bold options making a total of 12 variants for you to choose from. Then you can change the size and colour too. Pick a fancier font for your headings and display pieces and then stick to Serif or Sans Serif the rest of the text.
Whatever fonts you choose STICK TO THEM throughout your brand. The confusion comes when businesses use one font on their website and another in their literature and emails. Find a font that works for you and use it for everything to build consistency and trust in your brand.
And finally, take a look at some of your own favourite brands for inspiration. It’s important to create your own look, but there is no harm in seeing how the companies you admire already do it. Getting clear on your own tastes helps you create a brand that reflects who you are!
For anyone with a product-based business, selling online is relatively straightforward. In fact it should easily cover the cost of maintaining a website in the first place. But for those running serviced-based businesses, recouping the cost of your website may seem impossible.
However, here are three easy and proven ways to ensure that not only does your website bring in more physical business, but that it pays for itself every single day…
If you run workshops, speaking events or courses, consider setting up an online booking system for these. People who would not otherwise email or call will often book online through your website. This is one of my favourite ways to book because it is instant and can be done at any time of day. Integrate your own calendar of events or use services such as Eventbrite or TicketSource to manage your bookings. For smaller events, you can simply add tickets to a shop on your website (such as on the Create platform). Sharing these through your social media channels will spread your message further still. For my own Digital Training I use a WordPress plugin called Events Manager Pro. It links directly with my Paypal account and allows me to track bookings straight through the site for both online and offline payments.
Become an Affiliate
Affiliate marketing is BIG BUSINESS! If you use a product or service and you love it, then why not consider becoming an affiliate for them. Every time someone clicks through your website to theirs and makes a purchase you get a small percentage of that sale. Each affiliate program is completely different and I would only ever recommend signing up for programs that you honestly believe. It’s your reputation on the line as much as theirs! I’m an affiliate for Create because I love their website builder and use it for lots of my clients and also for Danielle LaPorte as I LOVE her products. You can also find affiliate programs for many of the larger online retailers such as Amazon or you could think of setting up your own program for others to recommend your products and services!
Sell Digital Products
If you have a program or book that you can sell online as a digital product then this can also bring in a great residual income. It often requires very little effort (after you’ve created it of course!). Just be aware that if you are located in the UK and sell to a consumer in any other EU country, you will fall into the messy business of VAT-MOSS. Now I’m no expert on this at all so it’s worth checking out the HMRC Website and speaking to your accountant. It applies to supplying things like ebooks, templates, apps and purely online courses. You can get around this by selling through a third party that is already set up for VAT-MOSS such as Etsy. They collect the VAT and pay it for you. I actually run a hobby business completely set up with digital products and it’s definitely worth it.
Implementing just one of these ideas on your website can cover the annual cost of your site without costing you too much time or effort. And of course there are many, many more ways to leverage your website such as membership sites, creating a YouTube channel, creating apps and licensing your own programs – this list is just the tip of the online iceberg!
Now, you might be thinking that this is a very strange question for me to be asking you. And to be honest I would have thought the same when I worked in a soul-less corporate job many years ago. But now that I have been self-employed for over 13 years this question is just as much a part of my business planning and measurement as my profits and customer testimonials. In fact, it drives everything that I do in my business.
So, instead of my normal WG techie post, today I am going to share my annual New Year business ritual and the tool that I use to keep myself on track for what I want to achieve for the coming 12 months.
If you’re used to simply setting business goals in terms of profits and growth then you may be wondering why I’ve gone all ‘woo woo’ on you. But stick with me here. Because I promise that financial gain will follow if you actually take some time out to think about WHY you do what you do. This is how those big businesses that we all love (or love to hate) are so successful – Apple, Virgin, Innocent. They don’t make different products and sometimes they don’t even make the best products, but they are selling a FEELING that we just can’t get enough of…
And, with the new year almost upon us it’s the perfect time to try something new. We often set unrealistic resolutions at this time of year and then promptly break them throughout January and completely forget them by February (I too used to be one of these people) so why not see if you can do better for 2017?
New tools for the New Year
A few years ago I discovered a book called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte and then Start with Why by Simon Sinek (inspired by his fantastic TED Talk). The thinking within these books isn’t new, but it’s something we seem to have forgotten when it comes to running our businesses and living our lives.
“You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling”. ~ Danielle LaPorte
This quote pretty much sums the whole problem up for me. We are so busy chasing external goals that we lose sight of why we started our own businesses in the first place! To feel free, to feel powerful, to feel relaxed, to feel balanced, to feel important. To feel however you wanted to feel when you became your own boss.
It’s a matter of not losing that feeling just because your business is growing. It still needs to have your essence – otherwise, it’s not you.
Knowing how I want to feel in my business is super important and my core value is being authentic. If someone wants me to change and become someone I’m not or work on a project that feels icky to me, then I know it’s not the right client or project. If I ignore that feeling then I’ve learned that it usually comes back to bite me! So if I keep my feeling of ‘authentic’ at the core of everything I take on then I work to the best of my ability and I feel it every day. I don’t wait for some day in the distant future.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”. ~ Simon Sinek
This is the other part to following your feelings in business. There is so much competition out there for all of us. I don’t sell unique services but I do have a unique skill set that no-one else has. You don’t find many web designer/crystal therapist/geologist/crochet addict/business mentor/geeks around!! So people buy from me because of my passion and personality as well as what I do. They feel that they can trust me and that often results in a crossover between my businesses.
I do what I do because I love empowering people in small business.
How you can do it too
Take some time over the New Year to think about your business NOW. Not in 5 or 10 years but how it makes you feel TODAY. If it wears you out or makes you cringe then it’s time to make some serious changes.
You can do this process just by sitting on your own, or with your business partner, and asking yourself how you want your business to feel over the coming 12 months. If there are products or services you offer just because you think you ‘should’ but you don’t really like them, think about cutting them out so that you can focus on the ones that really make your heart sing. If you are doing what you love then you will inspire more clients because they will see how much passion and enthusiasm you have for what you do.
For example, if I set the intention that I will only take on clients that want to work with me the way that I work best, I ultimately end up with better results. I know that the websites I produce for them are a perfect fit. This in turn leads to more clients because my original clients are happy. However, if I take on every single client who comes to me even if I don’t think their website needs are something I can fully fulfill then I end up stressed, they end up unhappy and my business suffers.
You can also do some reading… Dive into The Desire Map – available here on Amazon, or check out my Desire Map coaching as my alter-ego. And don’t forget to check out Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ here on Amazon.
And let me know if I can help – Empowering people in small business is my WHY!
Christmas is a great time to connect with your customers and clients and is also an excuse to have a bit of fun!
So why not try one of these festive marketing tips:
#1 Surprise your VIPs
Give your top customers or clients a special Christmas surprise – whether that’s a free product or gift or simply a handwritten note to thank them for their custom over the year, your thoughtfulness and recognition of their loyalty will make them feel like they are important to your business and will keep them coming back. If you’re new in business then this list can simply be your most frequent interactors on social media or via email. Whoever they are, make sure they know you think they’re great.
#2 Run a Competition
We all love to win prizes – especially when there may be a festive treat involved! It doesn’t have to be big to spark people’s interest, but offering an entry into your Christmas prize draw if they sign up to your email newsletter or comment on a Facebook post can be a great way to get your customers interacting with you.
#3 Create an Online Prize Hunt
Another simple competition idea is to run an online treasure hunt to get people to interact with your website. You could ask people to find the plum pudding or the treats you have around the site and then email in with their answers. As long as people know what they are looking for then it can be great fun!
#4 Hold a Party
If you have a physical location then putting on a party for your clients or customers can be a great way to keep your business in their minds. This could be limited to your VIPs as another way of surprising them or you could invite everyone who signs up to your newsletter list or who has been a customer in the past year to come along. This very much depends on how many people you think will show up!
#5 Create a Survey
Surveys can be a great way to find out what you clients and customers really think of your business and if you team it up with the chance to win something then you are bound to get people to share their views with you. Think about what it is you want to know and use a free online survey creator such as Survey Monkey to collect the responses.
#6 Sing Silly Songs
One of the funniest things I’ve ever done is create a Halloween video with some colleagues over on JibJab. You simply upload your faces and paste them on the characters and you are all turned into characters on an e-card that often includes hilarious dancing. They also have Christmas ones as well so you and your colleagues can become elves, at least for a short while!
#7 Offer an Early Bird Discount
If you know that Christmas is going to be super busy for you, give an early-bird discount for sales or services in November and let your customers reap the rewards of getting their Christmas shopping done early. Not only do they grab a bargain, but you get more business and hopefully avoid at least some of the last minute shopping that happens. On that note, I actually received an email order at 9pm on Christmas Eve one year so you are not ever going to help everyone be more organised!!
#8 Sell Gift Vouchers
You may already be thinking of this for your VIPs but offering all of your clients gift vouchers is a really great way to say thank you for their loyalty over Christmas. Keep the validity short to ensure they use the voucher early in the new year and this can really be a great way to pump up your clientele in January and February. Customers tend to spend more than the value of the voucher and if they don’t use it at all it hasn’t cost you anything either so these really are a great way to celebrate at this time of year.
#9 Write a Christmas Email Series
Send out an email a day for the 12 Days of Christmas. This could each include a special offer valid for 24 hours only or offering special tips and advice over the festive season. Choose something that fits with your industry and have some fun with it.
#10 Send Custom Candy
Sweets and candy are always winners in my book, so why not create some custom candy with your business details on it, or simply a Christmas message. There are plenty of companies out there doing customised food including putting your logo onto m&ms!! Give these to customers in Christmas baubles or create your own crackers for a simple but memorable gift.
There are so many different ways to surprise your clients this Christmas so I urge you to make the effort and spread some festive cheer.
If you run a business, then as well as having a great website, you’ll also need a mailing list. But once you have one set up it can be difficult to know what to actually send in your emails and how often to send them.
So, to give you a few ideas, here are my top tips for sending emails that your clients – and prospective clients – will love!
Set a Schedule
There are so many different opinions on how often you should send email campaigns, but my biggest tip is to go with what works FOR YOU! If you don’t think you’ll ever keep up a weekly email then don’t even start to send them weekly. Consistency, even if it’s only monthly or bi-monthly, is better than sending out something 6 weeks in a row and then not again for another 6 months! Set yourself a schedule and work out what you are going to write about each issue and stick to it. You can always add in special extra emails if you need to for holidays and events, but don’t set yourself up to fail.
Segment your List
There is nothing worse than receiving an email asking you to become a client when you already are one – trust me, I’ve received those before and they’ve made me wonder why I bothered in the first place! All email marketing tools allow you to segment your list into any categories or groups that you set. So, having one segment for existing clients and another for prospective clients may work for your business. You may also have a segment for a specific type of product or even let your subscribers choose their own interests when they sign up for your newsletter. Whichever way you use them, segments allow you to target your email list more effectively and stop you annoying people by bombarding them with emails they don’t want to read.
Personalise your Emails
Make your emails personal. Include merge tags that take the name of each subscriber from the list and add them automatically to the email text. It only takes a few seconds, but reading an email that says “Hi Tony” rather than “Hi Customer” is so much more inviting for recipients. You can even place names within the text so that it reads like you are actually speaking to them. But be aware – too many name placements can look sleazy!
Share your Knowledge
If all you ever send to your clients are sales emails then you’ll quickly see a drop-off in reader numbers. Of course, your emails are there to drive sales but that shouldn’t be their only focus. What does your business do? What knowledge can you share with your current and prospective clients? Do they look to you for advice? Can you send a FAQ email? Add a call to action at the bottom of the email and it still allows you to advertise what you do, but sharing knowledge is a great way to become a trusted source and future business associate.
What is your email newsletter for? Why are you sending it? If it’s to drive people to your website make sure you include prominent links to your site throughout the email and not just in the footer. These can be text links to a specific blog post or a more direct call to action for a new product or service you are offering. Decide what you want the focus of your newsletters to be and stick to it every time you send one out. For example, my Web Goddess clients receive a monthly email with tips on maintaining their own website and I focus on a different topic each month (with the next newsletter being all about email marketing it will link to this blog post!).
Make it easy to Unsubscribe
Not only is this a legal requirement for businesses here in the UK, but it is also good business practice to stop emailing a client if they ask you to! Making sure there is an easy way for recipients to remove themselves from your email list is imperative if you want to maintain a relationship with them. They may just not have time to read emails but still come to you to buy something. It’s imperative that you also gain express permission to add someone to your mailing list. Collecting business cards at a networking event and adding everyone to your list is not only illegal, it will also put you and your business on the wrong foot with those people. The same goes for mass emailing people you ‘meet’ on Linked In or any other social media platform.
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Now it’s up to you to start sending emails to your clients that they’ll love – or at least won’t bin as soon as they arrive in their inbox!