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Business Consultant in Tampa Florida and nearby

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    @EvokingGenius Your point of avoiding situations that do not match your value is spot on @EvokingGenius. http://twitter.com/kshahwork/status/1141363120553779201)

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    RT @NameShouts: For some more #DiversityandInclusion reading... https://t.co/7EVjcUUs37 http://twitter.com/kshahwork/status/1141466303884079104)

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    RT @BlueButterflyGo: What's your passion? #DiversityandInclusion #diversity https://t.co/rMR52KPfSW http://twitter.com/kshahwork/status/1141466437447499776)

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    RT @BelEveUK: Difference is beauty! #DiversityandInclusion https://t.co/MxI0Rk69Ew http://twitter.com/kshahwork/status/1141466371781529600)

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    RT @FiedlerAmy: Excellent article about improving #DiversityandInclusion and ending #manels Cc: ⁦@WomenInThoracic⁩ https://t.co/2iTyJMZwP4 http://twitter.com/kshahwork/status/1141788931106754561)

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    RT @jmhornstein: @Jennifer_GPHCC making great point that if each small Latinx business added one employee, it would add around 10,000 jobs in neighborhoods that need them. Precisely why #DiversityandInclusion matters, why supply chain initiatives like @EconomyLeague #PAGE matter. #tools4philly https://t.co/pQoOPFzfJ4 http://twitter.com/kshahwork/status/1141788854195806215)

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    RT @TTN_50Plus: From @selfpromote and @fastcompany What happens when companies leave #age out of their diversity initiatives and female workers. https://t.co/ssvTik69my #ageism #womenover50 #diversityandinclusion http://twitter.com/kshahwork/status/1141788798000533510)

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    Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, blogger or small business owner, having a website is a must in today’s society. But walking blindly into the world of site creation can be a bit daunting. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with a detailed list of to-do items to plan a website before you build it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.

    Use this post as a template that outlines exactly how to get your new website ready to launch.

    How to plan a website in 7 steps

    Creating a reliable website plan will help you organize your efforts, collect the assets you need, and start off with an outline of your goals and a clear path for achieving them.

    The website plan template will serve as an anchor you can refer to for any later decisions as well as a roadmap that can be used to set deadlines and targets.

    As you plan a website, here are seven steps that will guide you through the process.

    1. Identify your website goals.
    2. Identify your target audience.
    3. Define your unique selling proposition.
    4. Secure a domain name (and hosting).
    5. Pick a website builder.
    6. Create and collect design elements.
    7. Create content for your core website pages.

    Read on for a website plan template that will help you launch your site quickly, easily and strategically.

    1. Identify your website goals

    Before you start building a website, you need to know why you are building it.

    • What is your primary objective?
    • What do you want your website to accomplish for your business?
    • Is it strictly informational, or are you selling products?
    • Are you looking to increase engagement with customers via your site?
    • Is your goal to leverage your website to bolster year-end profits?

    Knowing the answers to these questions will help you create a plan that is strategically tied to your business goals, so it’s important to always start at square one: the purpose of your website.

    Start thinking about the broad purpose of your website

    The purpose of your website is the reason why you want to build it. It’s the somewhat obvious reason for what you think a website can do for you. You might think the purpose is to:

    • Attract traffic and grow an audience
    • Show your products
    • Share what you know
    • Advertise your business
    • Entertain your readers

    While those are good reasons to have a website, they won’t necessarily help you do anything specific, which is why you need to turn the purpose into a concrete goal.

    Turn your purpose into a concrete goal

    The goal is the real, concrete reason why you want (and need) a website. It’s what you want to happen as a result of having a website.

    To find your concrete goal, start with the purpose that seems obvious and then keeping ask yourself “why,” until you get to the real purpose. Examples of this might be:

    Broad Purpose Concrete Goal
    Attract traffic and grow and audience Sell an eBook to your audience
    Show your products Sell more products
    Share what you know Build authority and get speaking engagements
    Advertise your business Get clients to register for a consultation
    Entertain your readers Build your newsletter subscriber base

     

    As you can see in the examples, this exercise narrows your focus so you can see what you actually want your website to do. You can see the conversion or action that you want to drive on your website.

    Decide what your website needs to help you reach your goal

    Understanding the goal for the website (the action you want to trigger) enables you to start designing a strategy that leads to that conversion.

    When you plan a website, look at your goal and determine what your site needs to help you accomplish the objective.

    For example, if your goal is to:

    • Sell an eBook to your audience — You need to funnel users to your eBook product pages and have a way for them to make their purchase.
    • Build authority and get speaking engagements — You need to highlight your expertise through blog posts and drive users to your contact page.
    • Build your newsletter subscriber base — You need to create interesting and engaging lead magnets and add opt-in forms on your site.

    Break down your goal and determine the elements you need on your site (such as opt-in forms, landing pages, etc.) to reach that goal. Also, design the funnel on your site to drive audiences toward the action you want them to take.

    Related: 6 tips for moving your customers through the sales funnel

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    2. Identify your target audience

    Plan A Website Target Bullseye

    Once you know what you want users to do on your site, you need to figure out who those users are.

    It’s critical to clearly identify your website’s target audience when planning your website.

     

    Only then can you create strategic plans to get website visitors to take action.

    Why you need to know your target audience

    If you’re trying to attract everybody to your website, you’re probably not going to attract anybody. Casting a wide, broad net does little to help with driving traffic, connecting with audiences, or driving conversions. So, you need to know exactly who you are trying to reach.

    If you skip this step and fail to clearly identify your target audience, it can lead to a variety of marketing problems.

    You won’t know how to talk to your audience. If you don’t know who your customers are and what they like, want and need, it’s difficult to know how to speak directly to them. When you can clearly visualize your audience, it’s much easier to create copy that resonates with them.

    You will develop weak, vague branding. Great branding pulls in a specific target audience. If you don’t know your audience, you can’t design your branding to reach them. You will end up creating branding elements that target everyone, which end up being unmemorable, bland and boring.

    You will struggle with building lasting customer loyalty and affinity. When your brand and marketing messages are weak and generic, they won’t resonate with customers. If you can’t connect with customers in this way, you will struggle with building lasting brand affinity or loyalty.

    You will attract the wrong customers. Vague messaging will not only prevent your target audience from being drawn to your brand, but it will also draw in the wrong type of customers. When your communication isn’t targeting the right audience, you may attract unqualified leads and customers who can’t benefit from your offerings.

    You will blend into the competition. When you don’t know who you are trying to attract, you can’t build a brand with a point-of-view. And without a strong brand identity, you risk looking like everyone else in your industry. Your company won’t stand out or connect with customers.

    You won’t be able to effectively use targeted advertising. Through targeted social media advertising campaigns, you can choose who sees your ads based on details related to demographics and interests. If you don’t know these things about your ideal audience, you won’t be able to launch effective ad campaigns that target the people most likely to buy from your brand.

    Now that you can see why knowing your audience is so important, let’s look at some tips for getting to know your ideal customers.

    How to get to know your target audience

    You may think you already know who your target audience is. Maybe you have an idea in your head. Unfortunately, that image in your mind might be wrong.

    A lot of brands and marketers make incorrect assumptions about their audience.

     

    The only way to truly know who your audience is and what they want, think and need is to do research. To get insights into your target audience, you can do a few things.

    Interview your customers. Get to know the people who are already buying from you. Conduct in-person interviews with readers and past customers and shoppers.

    Interview your ideal buyers. Get to know the people you want to sell to. Identify people who would be your ideal customer and interview them as well.

    Send out surveys. Collect feedback in a more streamlined way but sending out small surveys to your past customers and email subscribers.

    See what customers are saying online. If you can’t get customers to talk to you, go to the places where they share their opinions online. Engage in social listening by browsing hashtags related to your brand or industry, and visit review sites to collect feedback.

    See what your business data says. Business data is information about the products and services you sell as well as how customers engage with your offerings. Knowing what you sell, when you sell it, how often people buy, and similar information will help you get to know your customers and see how they make purchasing decisions.

    See what your website stats say. Google Analytics website traffic monitoring can also offer insights into how your customers act. Use your website data to see what pages customers visit, how often they visit your site before they buy and other metrics to get to know your audience.

    Once you collect this information, you will get a better idea about who your customers are and what is going on in their heads. From there, you can create a clear and detailed description of your customer, also known as a buyer persona.

    Related: Conduct a survey to find out what your customers are really thinking

    How to create a buyer persona

    Plan A Website Shoppers With Bags

    A buyer persona is a semi-fictional character you create to represent your ideal customer. It is a description of an imaginary customer who meets the criteria of your target audience.

    To build a buyer persona for your brand, imagine your ideal buyer and then fill in the following information that describes him or her:

    Demographic details

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Income
    • Location
    • Family situation
    • Annual income
    • Education

    Professional details

    • Industry
    • Job title
    • Company size
    • What are his/her professional goals?

    Psychographics

    • Personality traits
    • Values
    • Attitudes
    • Interests
    • Subconscious and conscious beliefs
    • Motivations
    • Priorities

    Influences

    • Favorite blogs/websites
    • Favorite magazines/books
    • Favorite thought leaders

    Beliefs / Goals

    • What does he/she believe strongly in?
    • What are the characteristics of his/her personality?
    • What are his/her personal goals?

    Challenges

    • What keeps him/her up at night?
    • What are his/her pain points?
    • What challenges is he/she facing?

    Buying process

    • What is his/her role in the purchase process?
    • How does he/she regularly buy?
    • What are his/her objections to purchasing?

    By filling in these details, you create a customer profile that describes your ideal buyer. Then, you can bring the details to life by turning it into a narrative that tells a story about your target customer.

    Don’t just describe the persona as a list of details. Add a photo to the story and write a few paragraphs about who they are and what they need.

    Having a narrative and photo of your target audience will make it easier to shape your marketing messages. You will keep this image in mind as you create your website.

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    3. Define your unique selling proposition

    So far in your process to plan a website, you’ve determined your goals and defined your target audience. Now, you can start developing marketing strategies for reaching the audience and encouraging them to act.

    The first step in that process is creating a unique selling proposition.

    What is a unique selling proposition?

    A unique selling proposition, or USP, is something special that makes your brand, products or services different from and better than your competitors.

    It explains the selling points that get prospects to act and take a step closer toward becoming your customer.

    It grabs the attention of your ideal customers and is the reason why they choose you over all others.

     

    You need to know your USP as you plan a website because your entire site will be positioned around your unique selling propositions. All of your copy and content will be positioned to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) promote your USP and drive website visitors to buy from your brand.

    How to develop your unique selling proposition

    To develop your unique selling proposition, think about your brand, products and services and answer the following questions.

    1. How are you different from your competitors?
    2. Why does that difference matter to customers?
    3. What specific benefit do customers get by choosing you over the competition?
    4. Why does that benefit matter to customers?

    Don’t rush through this exercise. The things that immediately come to mind might be too obvious. Spend time really digging into how your offerings truly help your customers and solve their problems.

    Related: How to find inspiration from your competitors (without stealing their ideas)

    Tips for finding your USP

    If you’re having a hard time identifying your unique selling proposition, use the following tips for help.

    • Think about what your customers value and how you help them get those things.
    • Think about the problems your customers have and how you help solve them.
    • Consider the unique strengths that your brand brings to the table.
    • Look at your competitors to see how you can differentiate your brand.

    Remember, unique selling propositions aren’t specific to eCommerce sites and service-oriented businesses. If you’re a blogger, you’re likely “selling” information and want to establish yourself as a thought leader. The above questions still apply — what are you doing to do to set yourself apart from the crowd?

    For more tips, use this guide on finding your unique selling proposition.

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    4. Secure a domain name (and hosting)

    Now that you have finished a big portion of your website strategy, you can start getting ready to set up your site. Begin that process by securing a domain name.

    What is a domain name?

    A domain name is the heart of your website address, and you need a domain (and web hosting) for your website to show up online.

    Think of it this way: Your website is like your house. Your web hosting is like the land your house sits on. And your domain is like your street address.

    As you learn how to plan a website, it’s important to know the difference between a domain and hosting and to understand how they work together. These two elements can be purchased together or separately, although many times they are purchased together.

    Likewise, hosting is included with some website builder solutions — including GoDaddy Website Builder and Managed WordPress (more on that later).

    Domain names and web hosting packages are purchased for set periods of time and their pricing varies depending on a variety of factors. For hosting, those factors include the amount of website traffic you expect and the complexity of your website.

    Domain name costs typically range from $2 to $20 per year and hinge on factors including the demand/popularity of the domain name and/or its extension.

    Related: What is a domain name and How to find the best hosting company.

    Choosing a domain name

    As you choose a domain, you have two pieces of the domain to consider — the custom phrase that comes before the “dot” and the domain extension. In these examples, the domain extension is in bold.

    • domainname.com

    The most common domain extensions are .com, .net, .info, .co and .org. These were the first domain extensions that existed, which is why many sites use them. They are also in high demand because they are the most recognizable.

    Related: Domain extensions guide — What you need to know before you pick a domain name

    But, now there are hundreds of new domain extensions known as generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) you can use. You can now choose domain extensions that are highly relevant for your brand, such as:

    • domainname.guru
    • domainname.nyc
    • domainname.photography
    • domainname.marketing
    • domainname.consulting

    When you choose a domain for your site, you will need to come up with the branded phrase that comes before the “dot” as well as the extension that will come at the end of your website address.

    Related: 10 tips for choosing the perfect domain name

    Go ahead — give it a try

     Purchasing a domain means that you register the domain for a set amount of time. You don’t buy it and own it forever. You need to continually renew the domain over the time that you want to keep and use it.

    Related: How to buy a domain name

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    5. Pick a website builder

    At this point in planning your website, you’re ready to decide which website builder will be the best for your project.

    When it comes to building your website, you have four options. You can:

    1. Use an easy DIY website builder like GoDaddy Website Builder.
    2. Use a more advanced DIY content management system like WordPress that requires a bit more technical know-how (although GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Hosting makes starting a WordPress site much easier).
    3. Use custom code and start from scratch rather than using a pre-designed template.
    4. Hire a professional web designer to do it all for you.

    With all your business information laid out and a domain in hand, take a closer look at what type of website platform will best suit your needs.

    As yourself the following questions to get an idea about your needs for your website.

    • Do you want to blog?
    • Do you want to collect visitor information?
    • Do you want to sell products or services?
    • Will you accept electronic payment?
    • Will you use a calendar or schedule appointments?
    • Do you want to track inventory and shipping?
    • Do you want total control over the site’s code?
    • Do you prefer an easy-to-use builder?
    • Are you going to hire a professional?
    • Are you going to design on your own?
    • What’s your budget?

    These answers will help you determine the type of platform that will work best for you.

    Quiz: Which website builder is best for you?

    Which website builder tool is the best for you? Take our quiz and find out!

    Question

    Your answer:

    Correct answer:

    You got {{SCORE_CORRECT}} out of {{SCORE_TOTAL}}

    SHARE YOUR RESULTS

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    Your Answers

    Option 1: DIY website builder

    Website builders are typically drag-and-drop tools. That means they don’t require you to learn or write any custom code. You select a theme or website layout, and drag pre-set elements to where you want them on each page.

    Website builders allow you to easily add structural components (such as spaces, dividers, background images, custom headings, footers and menus) as well as design elements such as:

    • Images
    • Videos
    • Text blocks
    • Titles
    • Galleries
    • Forms
    • Slideshows
    • Buttons

    You can create multiple pages in a few hours by simply dragging and dropping the elements where you want them on the page.

    If you’re short on time (or money) or simply don’t want to add “web design” to your already overflowing plate of tasks, then a site builder such as GoDaddy Website Builder might be in your best interest.

    GoDaddy’s solution is cost-effective, incredibly easy to use, and comes with many built-in features — like SEO tools, SSL and email marketing.

    With its swipe-to-style interface, hundreds of industry-specific themes, professionally selected photos and more, you’ll have everything you need to build a site — in under an hour. Even better? You can try it first for free.

    GoDaddy Website Builder Sample Template
    GoDaddy Website Builder offers beautifully designed templates for myriad types of sites.

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    Option 2: DIY content management system

    If you want more options than what are available with a DIY website builder, you may want to choose a DIY content management system (CMS) like WordPress.

    Building a website using a CMS like WordPress provides a balance between ease of use, flexibility and scalability.

    Creating a website using WordPress, for example, requires some intermediate skills — such as installing the plugins that will boost your site’s functionality. If you choose to go with the free version of WordPress, you’ll need to purchase a hosting account and install the WordPress files. You’ll also be tasked with maintaining your site’s security through any necessary software updates, backups, etc. It’s not easy, but also not too difficult if you’ve got some tech chops.

    If you want the customization and functionality that a WordPress site offers, but don’t have the time or skills to handle the more technical aspects of creating and maintaining a WordPress website, a solution such as GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Hosting could be the answer.

    The Quick Start Wizard makes launching a new WordPress site fast and easy — no coding or CSS knowledge required. You’ll also get access to thousands of free themes and plugins, daily backups, automatic WordPress core software and security updates, and GoDaddy’s award-winning 24/7 support.

    GoDaddy Managed WordPress Sample Theme
    Browse the theme gallery for GoDaddy Managed WordPress Hosting to view customizable themes available for just about every kind of website.

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    Option 3: Custom code

    This method gives you the ultimate flexibility. However, coding your own website requires specialized knowledge and is almost certainly impractical for your needs.

    To go this route, you are going to need to use a web programming or scripting language that provides instructions for either the “client” side (a user’s web browser) or “server” side (the server where your site’s files are stored). Those languages include:

    • ASP/ASP.NET
    • CSS
    • HTML
    • JavaScript
    • Perl
    • PHP
    • Python
    • Ruby on Rails
    • XML

    The operating system of your hosting account determines which languages you can use so if you choose to go this route, be mindful of what language you want to use when you purchase hosting.

    Plan A Website Computer Code

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    Option 4: Hire a professional website designer

    If you don’t want to go any of these routes, you have one other option. You can hire an expert to design your website.

    A professional web designer will take the information you have collected and construct your site for you. That site may be built through one of the options mentioned above. The designer may use a website builder, content management system or custom code for your site. The price of your site will be more expensive for custom projects and less expensive when designers use prebuilt themes and drag-and-drop tools.

    Ask the designer what they will use to build your site to get an idea about their work, experience and pricing. Also, keep the following questions in mind as you research to find the perfect designer to work with.

    • Has the designer committed to a career in web design?
    • Does the designer provide direct access to their completed work?
    • Are they good at communicating?
    • Do they have references?
    • Do they have a portfolio?
    • Do you like their portfolio?
    • Are their previous projects high-quality?

    Related: What to look for in a website proposal from a web pro

    Before you hire a designer, get to know them and their work to make sure that they are the right person for the job.

    GoDaddy Website Design Example Green Land Nursery
    The pros at GoDaddy’s Website Design Service can build you a mobile-friendly, beautiful WordPress website that reflects your industry while following your lead and input. Check out the design gallery.

    And, before you decide to start the project, go through the rest of this website plan post to make sure you have all of the strategic, design and copy ideas you need to launch the right way.

    Once you’ve determined the type of platform you’re going to use, it’s time to start creating design elements.

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    6. Create and collect design elements

    Now, you have a strategy, domain name and platform for where you will build your site. The next step in this website plan template is putting together the content you will need to fill your site. Start this process by creating and collecting design elements.

    Create and collect branding design elements

    Brand design elements are graphical representations of your business. They are the design elements that help customers get to know and remember you. These design elements define your brand personality and help customers feel what your brand represents through the use of:

    If you aren’t sure what this means, look at competitor websites and sites you love for inspiration, in addition to website themes and templates available in website builders.

    Pay attention to how other companies use branded designed elements to tell a story about who they are.

    Once you decide on the elements you will use to graphically represent your brand, outline all of these elements and standards in a brand style guide. When you have a brand guide, you can create consistency across your website and all of your other marketing materials as everyone on your team will have a guide to direct the look and feel of your content.

    Related: How to choose brand colors and use them on your website

    Pick out a theme/template you like

    Even if you aren’t going to use a theme for your website, you can benefit by browsing through theme showcases.

    The best way to figure out what you want out of your site is to look at what else is out there.

     

    You can identify what you like and what you don’t and then use that in your development process.

    If you are building your site using WordPress or a website builder, pick out a theme/template that you will actually use. Note that you don’t have to use the exact look of the theme. There are ways to customize the style and design to match your branding and preferences.

    If you are hiring someone to build your site or doing custom coding, pick out two to five themes that have elements (such as color schemes, layouts, functionality, fonts, etc.) that you would like to see on your site. Provide these themes to your designer to show them what you like or don’t like. Or, use them as inspiration if you choose to code your site yourself.

    Create and curate images

    Plan A Website Curating Images On Laptop

    Images for your website are just as important as they copy that will fill your pages. They visually display your offerings and help audiences get to you.

    So create and curate images that will help you represent your brand, products and services.

    If you have products, take professional, high-quality photos of them. Get three to four shots of the product to show it from different angles. Customers want to see what they are going to buy, so product images will be vital for driving sales and interest on your website.

    If the website is about you (i.e. a personal or professional blog, consulting website, etc.), get a few high-quality photos of yourself. Make sure whoever is taking the photos understands that you will be using these on a website. You will want a variety of shots and angles. The best photos for service professionals include a few shots where you (or your staff) are near the edge of the frame as well as in the center.

    If you are selling a service that has an end result, take photos of your finished work. This would include screenshots if you are a designer or photos of a completed project if you are an artist.

    If you are selling an abstract idea or lifestyle, find stock photos (that don’t look cheesy) that represent the feeling you want people to have about your brand.

    Create a file with all of your brand design elements and photos so it will keep them organized until you are ready to start putting your site together.

    Related: How to use Canva to create branded images in less than an hour

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    7. Create content for your core website pages

    Now you know how to plan a website and you have everything you need to build it. You just need one final thing — your copy content.

    For a standard website, you should have content prepped for five key pages: the home, about, product/service, testimonial/review and contact pages. If you plan to have a blog on your site, you should also have at least one blog post ready to go.

    Here are a few tips on creating the content you need on your site.

    Home page

    The home page is your first opportunity to tell your business’s story and start driving website visitors toward the end goal you set out for the site (to get them to join your list, buy a product, etc.).

    Lay out your home page content so it introduces who you are, what you do and how you help as well. This starts to lead visitors down your conversion funnel.

    As you create your home page content, remember to:

    • Keep it simple. Don’t go into too much detail. Use short, scannable blurbs and then drive users to longer pages for more information.
    • Put important information first. Users typically don’t scroll very far down the page so put all of the most important information near the top of the homepage.
    • Explain how you help. Catch attention right away by clearly stating what you do and how you help your audience solve a problem.
    • Present your unique value propositions. Immediately show what makes you different from competitors.
    • Include calls-to-action. Design strategic calls-to-action that move users through your site toward your end goal.

    Related: 8 costly call-to-action mistakes to avoid

    About page

    Your about page is a chance to go deeper into who your brand is, what you do and why you do it. Tell a story that answers the following questions:

    • Who is the site is for?
    • What can visitors can do on the site?
    • Why the site is different than others like it?
    • Why did you start this venture?
    • Was there a moment or event that sparked your desire to bring your idea to the web?

    Your about page will likely be one of the most visited pages on your site. So, if you are rushing to launch, get something up quick. Then when you have more time, go back and spend time fine-tuning your about page.

    Product/service page

    More than likely you are using your site to sell something, whether that is a service that clients must call to schedule or a product that customers can buy directly on the site. So you must have a landing page for your services or an eCommerce product page for your items for sale.

    Use this page as an opportunity to showcase and promote your offers and provide:

    • Information: general details about the product/service
    • Assurance: the reasons why customers will benefit from the product/service
    • Motivation: words that guide interested prospects to the next step toward doing business with you

    Related: How to strategically use copy and visuals on product landing pages

    Testimonial/review page

    Customers need to learn to trust your brand before they will choose to do business with you.

    You can build that trust by creating a page filled with customer testimonials or reviews.

     

    Real reviews and testimonials connect with readers in ways that sales copy cannot because the messages are authentic views of other people’s experiences with your brand.

    Related: How to ask for testimonials and reviews from your clients

    Contact page

    The contact page may feel like a boring, afterthought page, but it is one of the most visited pages on a website. Plus, it’s usually one of the first touchpoints that customers encounter when they decide they are ready to work with or buy from you. So don’t overlook this page.

    Starter blog posts

    Plan A Website Typewriter Blogging

    If you choose to add a blog to your site, it helps to have some content ready to go so you aren’t left with a blank blog page. You can get started with two types of posts.

    Write a post about your launch. Tell readers about you, your inspiration, and what you hope to accomplish with your site. By welcoming readers and introducing yourself, you will start to build your relationship early on.

    Write your first blog installment. Now that you’ve introduced why your site exists, write another blog post that will show readers what they can expect to find there in the future. Write a post that is an example of the type of content your readers can come to expect from your site when it is totally up and running.

    Related: Web content development — What to include on 5 core website pages

    Write the content yourself or hire a writer

    If you choose to write the content yourself, read up on copy and blog writing best practices. Get tips for how to write a blog post that is engaging, interesting and formatted for online readers.

    And, learn copywriting tips that help you write landing page copy that leads audiences through your online sales funnel and converts them into customers.

    If you don’t have the time or inclination to write your own website content, consider hiring a freelance writer to help you create awesome website content. If you work with a writer, include tips and outlines for content creation for each page with links to resources to learn more. Include written content, images and videos. Find a writer who understands the importance of CTAs on each page and on-site SEO.

    Back to Top

    Put your website plan template into action

    Phew! Now, you have everything you need to plan a website and start to build it.

    This post helped you create a website plan template that:

    • Identified the goals for your website
    • Identified your target audience
    • Defined your brand’s unique selling propositions
    • Secured a domain name (and hosting) for your site
    • Planned the best way to build your site
    • Created and collected the design assets you need
    • Created the copy content you need

    Now all that’s left is putting your plan to work. Take the next steps to bring your business, idea or project to life and launch your site!

    Get the tools you need to get your business online — including the right domain name and website — at GoDaddy.

    This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Mukul Sheopory, Tom Rankin and Andrea Rowland.

    The post How to plan a website in 7 steps appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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    Finding new freelance web design leads sometimes feels like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel.

    You’re constantly chasing the next project, competing with hundreds of other designers for the same jobs, and fighting to break through the noisy inboxes of your potential clients. Every idea you come across for generating more leads is already being tried by dozens of other freelancers.

    Sure, you’re getting referrals here and there, but you still run into the inevitable dry spell. And when you do, you might have even considered trying freelance gig websites like Upwork or Freelancer—but you don’t want to join in the race to the bottom on price.

    So how can you stand above the noise? How can you build a steady stream of quality leads to help your business grow when the usual lead generation methods are overused?

    To help you out, we’ve put together 10 unusual and underused sources of web design leads for freelancers and agencies. Pick a few ideas, try them out, and soon you’ll have a thriving pipeline of potential prospects knocking at your door.

    10 uncommon web design lead sources

    1. Teach everything you know
    2. Create a gateway product, like a short ebook or email course
    3. Start an email newsletter
    4. Become a podcast guest
    5. Specialize in a particular service or niche
    6. Take advantage of your LinkedIn profile
    7. Lean on past clients
    8. Write detailed case studies showing how you help
    9. Partner with other freelancers
    10. Start a side project

    1. Teach everything you know

    Creating and sharing free, educational content isn’t new, but it’s certainly underused. Instead of trying to convince prospects you’re the right web designer to hire, content marketing lets you show them how you’ve helped other business owners just like them in the past and how you can help them achieve the same results. Sharing everything you know might feel counterintuitive, but it will attract potential leads who would pay to apply your expertise and knowledge to their business.

    Jennifer Bourn, a web designer and agency owner, recommends blogging regularly as a great way to find new freelance web design leads:

    While blogging these days is more about quality content than quantity of content, it is still critical that you publish new content to your blog on a regular basis. Blogging regularly demonstrates your credibility and reliability to your audience and it helps your site stay relevant in search results.

    The biggest reason most web designers avoid blogging? They don’t know what to write about. Instead of trying to come up with ideas on your own, start with what your clients and prospects already want to know. Answer questions that come up over and over, and share your answers where you know potential clients are already spending time like LinkedIn, Quora, or other social media and industry-relevant sites. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • What do you wish every client knew about the work you do?
    • What questions do clients keep asking over and over?
    • What are some case studies or success stories you’ve had with past clients?
    • What valuable resources can you share with potential clients?

    If you aren’t a great writer, don’t worry—try creating short videos, audio recordings, or podcast episodes instead. Ask your past clients which formats they prefer, and pick the one you enjoy the most!

    2. Create a gateway product, like a short ebook or email course

    The best way to prove you’re the best web designer for your prospects’ needs is to show them you know how to — not just that you can — solve their problems. Blogging helps, but creating a small digital product, like a short ebook or an email course, can help establish you as an expert web designer, giving you something to market and grow your audience and proving to prospective clients that you’re the one they should hire.

    Digital products also act as a “gateway” into your more expensive services. Pricing your product as an impulse buy makes it easier to turn prospects into customers, bypassing the potential risk of investing in high-cost services upfront—buying a $5 ebook is a much easier decision than buying a $5,000 site redesign. Once customers have seen how much value you provide in your product, it’s much more likely that prospects will choose to hire you for their project.

    Interface designer and SaaS founder Amy Hoy lists examples of products web designers can create:

    • Themes
    • Templates
    • Resource packs
    • Tools
    • Workshops and webinars
    • Online courses
    • Ebooks

    Starting small is okay. In fact, when your goal is to create an entry-level product as a gateway to more lucrative freelance services, it’s worth starting with the smallest product you can think of. The return on the time you invest can be tremendous since you can sell your product over and over again without investing more time.

    3. Start an email newsletter

    Once you’ve created your content or gateway product, you still need a way to get it in front of potential clients who may not yet be ready to start a web design project. One of the best ways to share content and nurture prospects is by sending out an email newsletter on a consistent schedule. In exchange for receiving your best content in their inbox, clients are gifting you their attention (and their email address)—and in return, you get to provide huge amounts of value that proves you’re the right web designer for the job.

    Newsletters keep you at the top of clients’ minds even if they’re not quite ready to work with you on a web design project. Owning your list means you’re not subject to changing social media algorithms or the ever-increasing cost of paid advertising. But the most important reason to start an email newsletter is to build trust. Email lets you have more personal conversations with many subscribers at once, opening a two-way dialog with prospects and earning their trust before asking them to start a project with you.

    A few tips on how to create a great email newsletter:

    • Newsletters should have a fixed cadence—make sure you’re sending your newsletter at the same time every week, or every month, so subscribers know what to expect.
    • Be personal—share a mixture of personal stories and anecdotes, your own educational content, and curated content related to the industry you serve. Remember: people hire people, and you want to help clients get to know you as well as what you do.
    • Make sure each newsletter includes a subtle call-to-action for your web design services. Don’t go for the hard sell; instead mention that you’re available to take on new web design clients, and they’ll naturally reach out to you when they’re ready.

    4. Become a podcast guest

    Podcasting is taking off—nearly one-third of Americans have listened to a podcast within the last month.

    Become a Podcast Guest - 10 Uncommon Ways to Find More Web Design Leads
    Image via Statista

    Building your own podcast audience takes time, though—and time is of the essence when you’re seeking freelance web design leads. Instead, take advantage of other peoples’ audiences and become a guest on podcasts your prospects are already listening to.

    Becoming a podcast guest instead of starting from scratch has a number of advantages. Podcasting helps you establish credibility with potential clients who naturally see you as the expert. By “borrowing” this credibility from hosts, you can grow your audience much more quickly. Podcasting also brings many SEO benefits to your business—it’s faster than writing guest posts, but you still receive valuable backlinks to your site, and hosts often help promote each episode. Most importantly, though, podcasting helps you reach pre-qualified leads—choosing the right podcasts lets you quickly reach a pre-made audience of ideal clients.

    Start by finding the right podcasts to target. Ask past clients which podcasts they’re already listening to, or search iTunes, SoundCloud, or Spotify for industry-specific keywords. Next, reach out to each host—make sure you don’t just describe what you do, but instead focus on how having you on their podcast will benefit their audience.

    Once recording day arrives, be a great guest. Share valuable web design tips, tell stories about how you helped past clients, and let your personality shine through to help attract your ideal clients. At the end of each episode, provide a clear call-to-action for listeners—ask them to visit a dedicated landing page on your website to find out more about your services. After the episode is published, make sure you help promote it—share it with everyone you can, include a link in your email newsletter, repurpose the content into a blog post (with permission from the host, of course), and help get your voice out there.

    5. Specialize in a particular service or niche

    Being a jack-of-all-trades web designer might feel like it gives you a little more project variety, but marketing yourself to potential leads is much more difficult when you help everybody with everything. Instead, consider choosing a niche or specific service to target with your messaging. This could either be a particular vertical, like websites for dentists or coffee shops, or a horizontal service you can offer across many different industries, like Shopify store design or custom WordPress themes.

    Brennan Dunn recommends on his site Double Your Freelancing that web designers choose a specific niche, not as a way of limiting their business but as a positioning and marketing tool to help potential leads understand how you can help them:

    If you think telling the world that you’re a web designer is going to help, you’re right… but you’re only going to help companies who already know they need a web designer.

    But if you decide to share with the world that you specialize in helping online stores increase sales by creating human-centered designs, you’re now speaking to anyone who runs an online store. (And you can then educate them about how design, done right, can help increase sales.)

    The reason freelancers avoid choosing a niche is because they’re scared they’ll exclude everyone else who could also benefit from their services. They’re afraid that choosing the wrong niche will lead to boring and monotonous projects. Don’t let this hold you back—if you find you aren’t enjoying the niche you chose, you can always change niches later.

    Start by seeking out any unfair advantages you already have—clients you’ve enjoyed working with or areas where you’ve helped clients the most. Don’t stress about ignoring clients who don’t fall within your niche—you can still take on clients outside your niche. Instead, concentrate on focusing your messaging on that one ideal client, and you’ll find your marketing becomes much more effective.

    6. Take advantage of your LinkedIn profile

    In the past, LinkedIn has felt a little like the awkward cousin of more popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Many employees and part-time web designers only update their profile when something big changes—usually the start or end of a job.

    But over the past few years, LinkedIn has become one of the best sources of leads for web designers and other freelancers. It’s a channel that’s underused: out of over 250 million monthly active users on LinkedIn, only 3 million share content on a weekly basis.

    It’s also much more effective for generating leads than other social networks. Potential clients are already searching for freelancers on LinkedIn—since visitors are in a business-oriented mindset (unlike Facebook, say, where they’re probably looking for photos from friends), posting content is much more likely to lead to engaging conversations and potential leads. In fact, a study by HubSpot found that visitors from LinkedIn converted at nearly three times the rate of those from Twitter or Facebook.

    Take advantage of your LinkedIn profile - 10 Uncommon Ways to Find More Web Design Leads
    Image via HubSpot

    Jake Jorgovan runs a LinkedIn lead generation service called Lead Cookie. He recommends that freelance web designers begin by optimizing their profile before reaching out to clients directly and use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool to connect with potential leads and share valuable content. He suggests not pitching people immediately but instead send a casual connection request to each prospect, for example:

    Hi {{first_name}},

    I was browsing your profile and noticed we are in a similar space, so I thought I would reach out to connect.

    Jake Jorgovan
    I help agencies and consultants win their dream client

    This non-salesy approach has worked well for his clients and also works well for freelance web designers looking to reach out to prospects. Just make sure you have your positioning and niche well-defined before you start!

    7. Lean on past clients

    Most freelance web designers rely on referrals as their biggest source of leads—and past clients are your most obvious referrers.

    Unlike cold emailing, you already have an “in”—asking past clients to draw others’ attention to your work is often as easy as sending off a few quick emails. Past clients have seen the high quality and value of the work you produce, and they know which leads would be a good fit to work with you.

    The best time to ask for referrals is right after you complete a project. Make a habit of asking for one to three recommendations or introductions when you send your final invoice. Most clients will be more than willing to help you, although you can test offering discounts on payment or other incentives in exchange.

    When asking for referrals, be polite and keep the focus on the client as much as possible—you don’t want them to feel like you’re using them to get to their friends and colleagues. Instead, make sure they’re happy with the work you’ve done together, and politely ask if there’s anyone else they know who could benefit from the value they’ve seen you provide.

    Here’s a template to get you started:

    Hi [client’s first name],

    Hope all is well! I’m glad you’re so happy with the results of our project together. [Insert something here about specific results and value they’ve gained from your project.]

    Since things are going so well for you, I wanted to reach out to ask if there’s anyone else you know who might benefit from the kind of value you’ve seen me deliver.

    Do you know anyone you could introduce me to? I’d very much appreciate any suggestions you may have, and I’d love to help them achieve similar results.

    Thanks again!

    [Your name]

    If you don’t hear back straight away, make sure you follow up a few days later—your prospects are likely very busy with other efforts, and if they don’t reply the first time, a short and polite follow-up can do wonders for your response rate.

    8. Write detailed case studies showing how you help

    In terms of bang-for-your-buck, it’s hard to beat a good case study as a marketing tool for web designers. Case studies let you turn your customers’ success into sales for your freelance business, helping you attract and convert potential leads and showing them the value you can provide. Unlike educational content (see Idea #1 above), case studies should explain both the results of your work and specifically how you achieved those results.

    Conversion copywriting expert Joel Klettke, who runs Case Study Buddy, a service that helps businesses generate leads, describes the value of a well-written case study on the Write Life:

    When done well, case studies combine all the best elements of social proof: A customer your lead can empathize with, testimonials and quotes that substantiate your claims, and a clear narrative our brains find easy to follow. They show leads that a business just like theirs got the results they want by choosing your service, and hammer that home in a story format that follows a before, during and after arc. For a moment, leads join your customer on their journey and see themselves in it.

    Your case studies should showcase past clients before, during, and after you worked with them. It’s important to focus not on the work you did (again, you could use this content in email courses or educational ebooks), but instead, describe the benefits and value they experienced as a result of that work. For example, as a web designer, don’t just say that a client came to you wanting a new website. Make sure your case study answers the following questions:

    • Why did the client come to you in the first place? Did they want to attract more leads for their business? Did they need help converting those leads into paying customers? What’s the problem they needed to solve?
    • How did your design work help them achieve that goal and solve that problem?
    • What was the outcome for their business after achieving the goal?

    Once you’ve written your case study, share it on your website, and send it to prospective clients when they first inquire about working with you. Case studies can amplify your marketing and sales, and they’ll help set you apart from the pack.

    9. Partner with other freelancers

    You might be a first-class web designer, but no one can be great at everything. Collaborating can be a great way of both strengthening your work and generating web design leads.

    Partnering with other freelancers who offer complementary services, like copywriters or graphic designers, lets you play off your own strengths and share work in areas where you might be less comfortable. Even partnering with other web designers can be valuable—instead of seeing each other as competition, send each other work when you’re overloaded.

    Kaleigh Moore, a freelance copywriter, suggests finding online communities where other freelancers hang out:

    There are so many different Facebook groups, Twitter chats, Slack groups, etc., that bring groups of freelancers … together. These groups are places where you can build relationships with like-minded individuals (that can eventually turn into referral sources.)

    Participating in these groups can help you build up a network of connections—and freelancers are known for being huge generators of referrals. In fact, Freelancers Union found that as many as 81% of freelancers refer work to each other, while 52% partner up on projects.

    It’s worth reaching out to other freelancers not just to find new leads but to make new friends, build relationships, and have real conversations. Once you have a network of other freelancers to back you up, the referrals will start coming in naturally.

    10. Start a side project

    Side projects can be another great way of getting yourself in front of potential clients, even if they don’t directly lead to sales.

    Starting a side project lets you show off your design talent and expertise. Without the usual constraints that come with client projects, you can go deeper and have more fun when you’re building the project on your own. Sometimes side projects become so popular, they even start to outpace your main business—Unsplash, for example, started as a side project before becoming the popular photo-sharing platform it is today.

    Jon Yablonski, Director of Digital Experiences at AIGA Detroit, explains in Smashing why side projects can be so valuable:

    Personal side projects are a cornerstone of creative growth and discovery. While they might not always result in financial gain, the long-term benefits are often much more useful. Benefits such as personal growth, creative exploration and generation of professional opportunities are some of the reasons to engage in them.

    There are thousands of great examples of side projects started by web designers—some interesting and creative examples include the Web Field Manual, Species in Pieces, and the World’s Longest Invoice. The World’s Longest Invoice is a great example—a side project from Freelancers Union, it helped attract new members to their community, brought in lots of media coverage, and also acted as a lead generation tool since users needed to enter their email address to get their results.

    Start a side project - 10 Uncommon Ways to Find More Web Design Leads
    The World’s Longest Invoice. Image via Freelancers Union

    Side projects are all about reaching new people—but it’s important to retain your connection with them. Use your side projects to drive leads back to your web design services. Look for ways to capture contact details so that you can nurture your new leads, and you might even end up with more work than you can handle.

    Bonus tip: Talk to everyone you can, regularly

    No matter which tactics you use to generate new leads, business is all about relationships, and freelance web design is no different.

    The best way to find new leads is to talk to everyone you can—from potential clients to friends and family, work colleagues, and fellow freelancers. Ask about their problems, and talk about how you can help solve them with design. Let people know you’re out there, and you’re willing to help. Give free advice. Get to know people on a personal level. Try the above tips—see which methods you enjoy the most and which methods bring in clients, then double down on what works.

    Yes, it’s a lot of work. But freelancing often requires that you do unpaid work to find more paying work. Establishing more web design leads takes time, effort, and perseverance. You can do it!

     

    Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

    The post 10 uncommon ways to find more web design leads appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.


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