BY Lori Osborne, BizBolster Web Solutions
Is this you?
You’ve decided you need a website or you dislike your current website and want it updated. But when you think about actually DOING a website, you feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start.
You are not alone! As an entrepreneur, it is so easy for us all to get overwhelmed with all the different things that have to be done in our business on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully, though, the tips below will help you get through this one daunting project: THE WEBSITE.
In this blog, I am going to cover:
· Do you DIY (Do It Yourself) or hire a Professional to do your website?
· How to choose a Professional
· What website platforms to consider (and not consider)
· Where to start
· Basic design considerations
· Booking options
Do you DIY or hire a Professional?
There are several factors to consider when looking at whether to DIY or hire someone, including:
· Your budget – Can you afford to hire someone?
· Your technical ability – Most website platforms are “fairly” easy to navigate these days, but it still takes some understanding of how website technology works.
· Your design capability – Even if you have the technical ability, do you have the design capability to make your website a good-looking site?
· Your time – A good website is not something you put together in a couple of hours. As a professional, the average time I spend on a new website is 20-30 hours and I do this every day. You will want to allot at least that and more.
Remember the triangle for any project: Quality (of the product), Price (how much will you spend), and Time (getting it fast). You can probably get two out of three of these, but rarely will you get all three! Choose what is most important to you!
What to look for when hiring a Professional
As with any industry, there are good Web Developers and bad ones. There are also many highly technical people who can make your website do amazing things on the backend, but can’t even begin to design a good-looking site. Consider this when evaluating and interviewing potential professionals! Here are ways to help you decide:
· Review their portfolio (which SHOULD be prominently displayed on their own website!) and first determine if you even like their work!
· Do they have good reviews?
· Do they understand your industry and how to market to your customers?
· Do they have actual experience and solid knowledge in how to make a good-looking, functional website?
· Were they referred by someone you can trust?
· What platform do they develop on? Is it something you could take over and do simple updates on? (AVOID WORDPRESS!!!!!)
· Do they guarantee their work? What are their policies in terms of revisions and updates? Could you be left paying for a website you hate?
· How much do they charge? Is it reasonable for the work they do?
Here is summary of the positives and negatives for the most commonly used platforms. There are a few I did not include (Weebly, GoDaddy, and others) because they would be a last resort in my opinion.
In my opinion, the main things to consider with the platforms are: cost, what you get for the cost, ease of use, and overall options for customization and consistency.
Once you have decided if you are going to DIY or hire a professional and you’ve chosen a platform (or your professional has chosen for you), you need to get started! No matter which way go, whether DIY or hiring someone, you are going to need to follow these steps.
Where do I start?
1. Pick your domain name (your URL). If you have already chosen a business name, you obviously want something that will match the business name as closely as possible. If you haven’t chosen the business name, try to choose the name based on what you can find available for domains.
o Make the domain as short, applicable, and clear as possible. For example: My company name is BizBolster Web Solutions. I own www.bizbolsterwebsolutions.com, but that is way too long to give to people so I shortened it to www.bizbolster.com. And, yes, I used the available URL to help me name the business!
o Always use a .com IF AT ALL POSSIBLE! If not, you are literally giving your business to the owner of the .com if the business is even remotely similar (which it likely is in the yard card business!). Generally speaking, people will go to a .com domain first because it is the most common and what people think about first. Using a .net would be the second choice, but I still strongly discourage it.
o Purchase your URL from Google Domains at only $12 with privacy included! Great deal! And, while you’re there, go ahead and purchase your custom email, too – only $6/month to look like a real business!
2. Have a quality logo and site icon (favicon) created. Make sure the colors you use / have used and font are consistent with the audience you are trying to attract. When a professional does your logo, you should get a vertical version, a horizontal version, an .eps and .png version, and a favicon – the small image that shows up next to your business name in the web browser.
3. Quality images – pull together your best photos of Yard Cards for every category you want to offer services for: birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations, welcome home, welcome baby, etc.
4. Determine how you want your services booked:
o Contact Form only – follow up with phone call for details and invoice for payment
o Order Form – follow up with invoice to collect payment
o Order Form and Online Payment – follow up less likely!
o Online Scheduling with Payment – follow up much less likely and you stay much more organized! (See more on this later in the blog)
5. Website Copy – Even with a professional developing your website, you are going to need to prepare written copy for the summary of your services and your “About Us”.
6. Navigation – What pages do you want on your website? At a minimum you need:
o A Gallery of pictures to show off yard card options
o How it Works – prices, length of time for rental, your coverage area, ordering
o Contact Info
o Call to Action – Book Now, Call Us, Order Here, etc.
Your Brand and your Website
It is very important to keep your visual brand consistent across all modes of communication with your customers – website, social media, yard card displays, invoices, etc… In short, make your brand recognizable because of its consistency. This includes the actual colors in your logo (hex colors), the font(s) used in your logos, and any images you create or use to compliment your logo. Below are examples of how I use my logo and overall brand on my website and outside my website:
Online Scheduling – what is it all about?
We have set up many yard card companies with online scheduling and paying options and it is a game-changer to take you to the next level in your business! So how does it work?
· Customer goes to a custom order form (with your branding) linked to your Call to Action button.
· Customer selects the date they want – and if a date is not available because you are booked that day (a setting in the scheduler), it does not show as an option.
· Customer fills out a full questionnaire detailing what they want, where they want it, and design requests.
· Parameters are set to the best of our ability around where you do and do not deliver to help prevent orders coming in outside of your delivery area.
· Terms and Conditions are displayed and must be accepted for order to complete.
· Payment is collected.
· A customized confirmation email is sent to customer as well a 24-hour reminder email.
· In the confirmation email is also the option to reschedule or cancel online (which can also be disabled if you prefer they call to cancel and/or reschedule).
· Limitations are set on how last minute someone can schedule, reschedule, and cancel.
How do potential customers find my website once it’s set up? SEO!
Search Engine Optimization is exactly that – optimizing your website and complimentary tools to help search engines (particularly Google) find YOUR BUSINESS. When people say “I want my business to come up first in Google” – THAT IS SEO! So what do you need to know about SEO?
· Every search engine and social media platform has thousands of algorithms controlling what you see, if you see it, when you see it, etc.
· SEO experts typically charge in the thousands to provide you any guarantees.
· There is a ton that can be done, but some basics that every company should do!
Make sure you:
· Complete SEO on your website – every page, every photo – go through the platform guide if one is available.
· Google Tools – You need Google My Business, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console set up and tied to your website.
· Pictures, pictures, pictures – Constantly update social media and Google My Business!
· Keywords – Pay attention to what works and doesn’t work through watching analytics and update your website and advertising accordingly.
· Use Backlinks if possible – This means having a connection to your website through someone else’s website. If there is anyone you do business with or share customers with, you should be backlinking to each other’s websites!
· Reviews – Make sure you are getting reviews from your customers on Google.
· Get help if you don’t have the time or ability to do it yourself! We’re here to help if you want: www.bizbolster.com/seo
So how much does all of this cost?
Nothing in life is free, and that’s true for this as well! Here is what you should expect:
· Google Domain: $12 per year
· Google GSuite (custom email): $6/mo or $72/year
· Platform/Hosting: Average cost $225/year
· Acuity Scheduling: $15/mo or $165/year (if paid annually)
· SEO: We offer starter packages at $150-$400 for setup and $100-$150 per month
· Website Development: I typically charge $1800 to $3000 for new websites, but Yard Card Supply and BizBolster have partnered and come up with some amazing packages for you that range from $599 to $1599!
Lori Osborne, is the owner of BizBolster Web Solutions. Lori has been working within the technology industry for over 20 years. She is passionate about quality design, customer relationships, and reliability.