Are you feeling confused by all the options for getting online?

Getting a website up and running can be daunting for first-time micro business owners.

In this tutorial series I give an overview of the top 5 things you need to get that website launched, including

  • choosing the right platform
  • purchasing your domain name and hosting
  • designing your branding elements
  • getting started on creating your content, and
  • creating your ‘get found online’ plan

1. First, let’s look at your platform

There are lots of different options for getting a website online, but it comes down to firstly defining what your goals are for your website and for your business. 

Do you do most of your marketing offline, and just need somewhere you can send potential clients to find out more about you? Perhaps you need a simple portfolio or brochure site, something that showcases your authority.

Or do you need a site that will be the main driver for generating leads, whether you complete the sales process online or offline? 

Either way, it’s totally ok to start with a simple one-page site, something you can get up and running super quickly, and build on it from there. But it’s important to have a strategy going forward, and knowing your goals and having a plan to achieve them is the first step.

Platform options

You may know by now that I LOVE working with WordPress. Why? 

>> WordPress provides a lot of flexibility and can easily evolve with you as your business grows. 

Yes, there are other options, such as hosted website platforms like Wix or Squarespace. If you needed to get your website up quickly and cheaply, then perhaps you could have a look at those options as well. You can read more about the various platforms in my blog post Why wordpress is a good choice for your small business website.

What about e-commerce?

If you’re looking to create an e-commerce store to sell your products, Shopify could be a good choice as it is designed specifically for e-commerce. WordPress is also great for e-commerce, using the plugin WooCommerce, and could be a better option if you want to do more with your website than sell products online. 

With WordPress, there is such a considerable variety of add ons we can use to create whatever you need. This flexibility is perfect if this is something in your longer-term strategy, but you’re not ready now. You can get online quickly and know that your website will grow with you when you’re ready. 

In the next video in this tutorial series we delve into more detail, including: 

  • pros and cons of different options, comparing WordPress and other hosted website builder platforms
  • the sort of costs can you expect when starting up, including domain registration, website hosting, and other potential costs

2. Domains and website hosting

This is an area that often causes some confusion.

In a nutshell, your domain is the ‘PO box’ for your website, and your hosting is its actual location on a web server. If that still sounds like double-Dutch, stick around for part 2 in this series where I give a more detailed explanation.

For now, let’s just talk about choosing your domain name, which is the first thing you’ll need to launch your new website.

What’s in a name…

Choosing your domain name can be a little daunting. Generally, you would use your business name if that was suitable, perhaps incorporating keywords depending on what your services or products are. 

Do you need to buy all of the variations? Not necessarily, although domains are relatively cheap so if you plan on building a well-known brand it could be worthwhile. But for smaller local businesses it’s probably not necessary.

What about .com vs .com.au? I suggest the .com.au is best if you’re specifically focused on the Australian market, or a .com if you’re looking at more of a global market. 

Where do you buy a domain?

There are a lot of domain registrars out there, but just be aware – sometimes the cheaper ones such as Crazy Domains or GoDaddy are cheap for a reason. They may have some great sign up offers which are fine to get started with when getting online, however when these domains come up for renewal, often the renewal fees can be inflated. Keep in mind that you can always move to another registrar later though. 

In the follow-up video in this series, we go into a bit more detail, including:

  •  what is the difference between your domain and your hosting, and how they are linked
  •  what to watch out for when registering your domain
  •  what to look for when choosing a website hosting provider 

3. Branding for your website

Branding is super important for your business and its success, as it conveys a lot about you to your target audience. How do you want your customers to perceive you and your business?

A great brand will help drive new business to you and increase your brand awareness. 

It helps to have a branding guide in place for your business when working out the look and feel you want for your website.

If you have the budget to engage a professional graphic designer, then that’s great as they can help you with:

  •  creating a beautiful logo
  •  assisting you with your fonts and your colours and pulling it all together

If you don’t have the budget, then just keep it simple, perhaps starting out with a text-based logo. That’s how I started with mine, using Canva to put my original logo together. Canva also has lots of great tutorials on branding, including colour palettes and choosing fonts.

What about images?

Again, if you’ve got the budget, engage a professional photographer to take some photos. People like the personal aspect of getting to know the person behind the business, so some beautiful pictures of yourself is a must. If you’re on a tight budget, there are many sites to download free, royalty-free images; just make sure you don’t go copying any old image from the internet as they may be subject to copyright which can lead you into a tonne of hot water!

The key with your branding is to keep it consistent when you’re creating your website, ensuring you stick to the same colours and fonts throughout.

In the follow up video to this series, I will go into more detail including:

  •  how to make a great first impression for your visitors
  •  maintaining consistency in your website branding 
  •  where you can find help and resources for your fonts, your colours and your images

4. Content for your website – it’s all in the message

Your content is the most critical aspect of your website, and is all about getting the right message to the right people. What message are you putting out there? 

The first thing to keep in mind is – it’s not about you! It’s about the website visitor. 

Who is your target market? Do you know what they are looking for and how you can help them? You need to be able to speak to them and engage with them on your website. 

It is easy to get bogged down when creating your content. When you’re starting the key is quality over quantity. Start small and build.

Remember, you don’t have to get it perfect! Keep things simple and make sure there is a natural flow of information.  

When someone lands on your website, they must be able to easily find their way around and see what they’re looking for without too much effort.  

Your website visitors need to understand what it is you’re offering and how you can help them!

In the follow-up video, I’ll go into more detail about your content, including:

  •  important pages to include
  •  what to include on the all-important homepage
  •  how to make a good first impression

5. Okay, so you have a website. Great! But how are people going to find you?

>> You need a get found plan!

The first thing you need to know is your keywords – this comes back to your content and knowing your audience.  

If you were looking for you online, what words would you use to search? What is your ideal client going to use?

You’ve probably heard the term SEO and may be wondering what it all means – and thinking it sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo! 

Search engine optimisation is complex, but really it boils down to these three things: 

  1. High quality content that is relevant and useful to your audience 
  2. A great user experience on the site – easy to navigate, mobile-friendly, and fast to load
  3. High quality, relevant backlinks to your website, from other sites such as business directories, social media and other peoples websites.

In our last follow up video, I go into more detail about getting found online, including:

  •  what is SEO – on-page and off-page
  •  finding the right keywords to use
  •  how long you can expect it to take

Next steps…

As a website coach for micro-business owners, I am here to help you with getting online and learning how to create, update and get better results from your WordPress website.

Join my Website DIYers Hub

This is a friendly place to interact and get support, feedback and encouragement, helping you to:

  •  Feel less stuck, more confident, and more in control
  •  Learn about ways to improve your website along with problem-solving tips and short tutorials
  •  Get online, get found, and get web savvy!

Hope to see you there!
Gaye

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