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Blog post: Do you need to move web host if you change web designers?

Do you need to move web hosts if you change web designers?

The nature of web design means that your web designer can be here today, gone tomorrow.  What happens to your website when you move on from your web designer to another?  Do you need to move web hosts if you change web designers?

Is this a trick question?

One of the questions a client asked me was if they needed to move web hosts if they change web designers.  They had been chatting to someone in the web business who had advised this.

I, quite frankly, was appalled.

Why?

The client in question owned their domain name AND their own hosting.  The only support they needed was for their website to be updated regularly in terms of content and the website software they were using.

To answer the question above – no, you do not need to move web hosts if you use a new web designer to help you out with your website.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

If you’re feeling bamboozled by the techie jargon and feeling pressured to move your website by a potential new web designer, here are a few things to take into consideration.

  1. What type of help and support are you looking for with your website?

    Why are you moving web designers in the first place? Are you looking for help with maintaining your website in terms of updating the software, plugins and themes? Do you need someone to update and add content for you? Both of these?  Or are you looking for a redesign of your website?

    Get crystal clear on what support you need before talking to a potential new web designer – and stick to your requirements!

  2. Figure out where your hosting is currently situated.

    If you pay for your own hosting of your website, say through a company such as TSOHost, SiteGround or GoDaddy – then you DO NOT need to move your website to a new web designer! It would be like handing over the whole shop, the contents and the keys.  As the adage goes, don’t leave all your eggs in one basket.  Question why they are encouraging you to do this.

    That said, if your website is hosted by your current web designer and you’re moving on, then it may be the right course of action to move hosting.  If this is the case, then I would advocate that it’s time for you to buy your own hosting package. You would then hire a web designer to help you move your website if this is something you are not confident in doing yourself.

    Which leads me nicely too…

  3. Don’t hand over ownership too readily

    When you pay for your own hosting – you hold the keys and the content of your website. You get to decide who you give the keys to. If you hand your hosting over to a web designer you are leaving yourself at their mercy.  If they are a small outfit, how readily are they available if your website goes down?  What if they go out of business or missing in action – what happens to – and how would you access your website?

    By paying for your website’s hosting, you are in control of who you give access to your cPanel.  What I mean by this, is that you get to decide who you give your FTP or account details to be able to set-up, move and maintain your website – and when to revoke that access.

Make Sure You Own THE WHOLE OF Your Website

For something as important as your website, I would strongly recommend you are the one responsible for paying for your hosting. You mitigate the chances of losing access to your website should the relationship end abruptly or your new contact does a disappearing act.  The same premise goes for your domain name.  Make sure both your hosting and domain name are in your name or that of your business!

Setting up your own website? Read more about building a small business website.

 

4 easy steps to tidy up your website

4 Easy Steps To Tidy Up Your Website

It’s on your to-do list. It’s in the back of your mind that it really really needs sorting out. You’re wondering whether you should hire someone or finally get around to hiring someone to do the work, and would it be a web designer or a VA that you get help? …and how much would that cost?

And the questions keep going around and around in your mind for days, weeks, maybe even months and you still haven’t got around to tidying up your website.  Meanwhile, you’ve got a stale and stinky front window that doesn’t do you or your business justice.

Frustrating, right?!?

Get in the right frame of mind

Well, worry no more. Tidying up your website is a bit like tidying up your house. You have to put yourself in the right frame of mind to even start. Like most things, when a task seems insurmountable, it’s best to break it down into manageable chunks of time or tasks, and these are outlined below.

The Website Content Tidy Plan

Step 1: Don’t panic!

Breathe, seriously, take a deep breath. Acknowledging that you need to sort out your website and have the intention to do so is actually the most important step. It puts you in the right frame of mind to tackle the job even if you feel like you’re rattling around in the dark.

Step 2: Identify what you want to achieve

At this stage, you need to think about what you want your website to do for your business goals and clients. Break this into two columns. What things do you want your website to achieve for your business in the next few months? What does it need to reflect where you are in your business today and in the next few months?

This could be new packages, products or courses you want to promote. From a client perspective, think about how you want them to interact and be able to buy what you are selling. Will they be looking for blog posts to get a feel for what services you are providing? Or want to buy what they are looking for and then leave?

Step 3: Do a Web content audit

Here you need to take stock of where your website is today. To do this you need to conduct a website content audit. A web content audit allows you to evaluate the pages and how relevant your current content is.

This then shows you where you need to make changes. In simple terms, these tools help you keep a tab of what needs taking off your website and also what needs adding to your site.

Download your free web content audit worksheet to get started.

Step 4: Make a date with your website

Once you have conducted steps two and three, this step should be relatively easy – it’s time to make the changes.

You need to set aside time to do the work. Go on, open your diary now and put a date in to tidy up your website!

Ok, I understand, you’re possibly breaking under the pressure of trying to keep the rest of your business going. That’s fine – but block 30 minutes in to look around and get in touch with a few VA or content writers (cough! Me!) and ask them how much they charge for updating your website.

If they ask you how much work is involved, you’ll be able to tell them because of the web content audit and the list of changes you want to make.

TIDY UP YOUR WEBSITE DOESN’T NEED TO BE DIFFICULT

Tidying up your website doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Yes, it can seem overwhelming, however, following the 4 steps outlined above you’ll be able to figure out the amount of work needed to be done and also where your skill set needs improving.  Importantly, you will be able to decide if and where you need an hour or two of hands-on support.

Your website is your front window on the Internet. Imagine what you would think if you went to a website that was out of date. You wouldn’t be impressed. You wouldn’t be as quick to buy from them or connect.

Your aim for you is to keep your website fresh and reflective of your business of where it is today. You don’t always need a branding refresh, a new WordPress template or redesign of your website.

What you need is a content refresh.

Updating your content will gain your business more clients and customers. Updating your website content on a regular basis builds your reputation. So make a date with your website and get it sorted.

Sermon over.

Bonus tip – Book Your Website Tidy Up in Every Month!

To keep the website gremlins at bay, here’s a top tip to keep your online presence up to date. Like you would timetable in when you do your books or marketing, book a day and time in your diary for each month to go over your website. You’ll be amazed how much it will make you feel like you’re on top of the job.

The Content Alchemist provides a website audit service for small business websites. If you would like to talk about refreshing your content or need help with planning your website content – let’s chat about how we can work together.

Blog post: Do you really need a website for your business?

Do You Really Need A Website For Your Business?

There are so many platforms to choose from to market and promote your business. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, newsletters and of course, having an online website presence.

It can feel overwhelming trying to keep on top of all these different platforms. Perhaps you are thinking that the website is the most difficult and expensive to maintain and you are considering letting go of or not having a site at all.

In the age where Facebook, Twitter and co, are changing algorithms on what feels like a daily basis, meaning it’s harder to gain visibility in the shared space. Having a website means you are in control of what content you put out into the world and who can see it.

It feels like too much effort.

At first, perhaps, when you’re building your website. Here’s the thing, you can make as much of your website as you want. You could have a three-page website where you share your services, about you and how people can get in touch. Or you can have an all singing, all dancing website with a blog that you maintain on a regular basis and take bookings and payments for services, products and courses.  It depends on your circumstances.

Identifying time and budget needs

Websites evolve. Always. Your site isn’t a done article once you’ve finished building it, or your web designer has handed over the keys. No. The brilliant thing about having your website is that you can make it a central part of (or not) to the marketing of your business. You have full control over how much effort you want to put into it.

If you’re still umming and ahhing about the cost of the website, there are many options out there to get started. While I strongly don’t recommend going for a completely free sit. There are options out there to get you started for as little as £40 a year for a simple website. If you’re thinking, well I can’t afford a web designer or don’t have the skills to build your own – check out the create a business website page for tips and guidance.

Not everyone is on social media!

Gasp! In this day and age, it’s easy to presume that everyone has a Facebook account or is present on one of the many social media platforms. Nope. I know a good handful of people that are not and don’t intend to be anytime soon.

I’ll tell you a story. Recently I asked for recommendations in a Facebook networking group for mobile hairdressers and make-up artists for a friend who is getting married. All of the people who responded shared their Facebook Pages. Of those, about 80% didn’t have a website for me to be able to send my friend too. One person who contacted me personally told me they’d got rid of their website when they had closed their bricks and mortar. By not having a website, the person received no business or referral as they only had a Facebook Page.

I understand though; there is so much information out there about how effective social media is, that having a business website may be seen as old school and not worth the financial outlay, time or commitment. However, it’s still an incredibly important part of your marketing mix. It’s your digital storefront window that enables people to stop by and look at what you have to offer regardless of their social media use.

Do you still need to have a website for your business?

In one word, YES!

Even if it’s a one-page website with your services and contact information, you’re still miles ahead of the next business, showing your clients that you take your business seriously and professionally. Having a website builds trust in your business and also your reputation.

Looking for help with your website? The Content Alchemist has a range of tools and services on your journey to online success.

To your business success,
Steph

Blog Post: Are you suffering from bright shiny solution syndrome?

Are you suffering from Bright Shiny Solution Syndrome

Does this sound familiar?   An online coach encourages you to use a particular tool or service because they do, only for them to change it a few months down the line and you’re a good few money pounds lighter and their bank accounts fuller from affiliate ch-ching?!?

Where are the results?

No wonder you feel peeved off and wondering where are the results that were promised.

What you need to realise is that they are recommending tools and solutions on what works for their business – not yours. It might be the right tool for you now, or it might not. A particular tool might work for you when your business has developed to where they are in your business in 6 months time, or it may not.

I understand there is an element of risk when you commit to a new tool, solution or service. No one can predict the future so to speak, but what if you have not got the budget?  Or placing all your hopes and business dreams on a particular solution? You need to make savvy decisions that yes, will build your business, but will not break it or your bank balance in the process.

So how can you minimise a potential fall against the backdrop of wanting to expand your business?

Discernment, My Dear, Discernment

When you’re presented with a solution you need to come to your decision-making process with an air of discernment. Ask yourself the following questions…

  1. What other solutions are available to me that are within my budget and do what I need to them to do?
  2. Am I scared of missing out?
  3. Will this tool, solution or service really help me move my business forward or streamline an aspect of my business?
  4. Do I have the client or customer capacity that justifies the price tag?
  5. Does this tool or solution align with the business goals  I want to achieve within the next 6 to 12 months?
  6. Can I afford it now?
  7. Will I be able to afford it in six months time?

You need to be really clear what you want to achieve in your business rather than hoping the latest shiny object will deliver the results you think you are after.

To give coaches and internet experts their due, they are keeping up with what works for business and I imagine most do this with a genuine desire to help.

However, it is incredibly easy to get swept away with the hype and excitement.

Don’t.

When you are really clear what business goals you want to achieve for your business – now and what you want to implement in the next 6 months or so, your decision making about the latest shiny solution will be a lot easier and most importantly, informed.

Blog Post: 4 must have pages on your business website

4 Must have pages on your business website

Isn’t this a bit 2007?

You’d really think the days of these types of blog posts were banished to websites circa 2007.  However, if you’re a woman starting out setting up in business, you may find yourself with a shell of a website or staring with creeping panic at a blank screen wondering what needs to go on your website to market your business.

Sounds familiar?

Signposting in the right direction

A refresh is needed to signpost those who are either building their own website or for those scratching their heads wondering what do for the best for showcasing their business online.

Websites can have as many or as little pages as you want them too. I’m quite taken with the one-page sites with scrolling sections at the moment, but this type of solution doesn’t always work well for businesses who have a few different strands. Or where a website is to being used as a client and customer-generator, rather than a billboard.

The trick is to optimise the number of pages your website needs

The trick with a small business website is to have the optimum number of pages to represent your business. Too few can leave a potential client wondering what you’re about. Too many will have others reaching for the close tab button quicker than you can say ‘cross’.

4 Types of Pages Your Website Needs

However, if you have a service based or product based website there are a number of pages that can make a visitor feel they can gain a greater understanding of what your business is about.

These are:

1. Home Page

The front face of your business. You need to be succinct and to the point about how you help people with your services and products. Use the space effectively to guide visitors to where you want them to go next.

2. About Page

Strangely, your about Page isn’t actually all about you – ouch! This is your chance to tell your visitors who and why you help your ideal client or customer. It’s the chance to outline the ethos of your business, then you get the opportunity to talk a little bit about yourself – always in the context of your business and how you help your clients.

3. Contact Page

Also an essential page. Now, this is your chance to set boundaries about how you want to be contacted by potential clients and other interested visitors. You don’t have to put lots of ways that people can get in touch unless it is applicable to your business situation. It’s understandable that a freelancer working from home may not wish to give out her private address. However, if you own business premises like a shop, then make sure people know where to find you.

4. Blog Page

This isn’t the same as an individual blog post, which some areas of t’internet like to call a blog (confusing, right?!). It’s a list of your current blog posts that visitors can skim through to get a feel for a) if you’re posting consistently b)  to see if you know what you’re talking about.

5. Ok there’s a number 5 – it’s your service or products pages.

This can be a “Work with…” page or a “Shop” page if you’re a product based business. This page is usually more than one and is specific to the type of business you have.  It’s where you sell your services and encourage potential clients to book an appointment with you or buy a product.

So what are your thoughts? What pages do you think are a must on a small business website? Do you think a website needs more or fewer pages?  What’s been your biggest challenge when deciding what pages to have on your website?

Share your experiences in the comments below or share your thoughts on the Facebook Page.

Blog post: 4 tips for creating an e-commerce home page customers love

4 tips for creating an e-commerce home page customers love

 

Your home page is one of the most important pages on your e-commerce website.

It’s often the first place a potential customer will land. It’s the chance for you to showcase what you are selling and draw customers further into your website. But if a customer lands on your home page and can’t find what they are looking for, chances are they aren’t going to stick around and will be off to the nearest competitor.

The thing is, you probably love what you sell, you know in your head how fantastic the products are that you sell.  You need a little help making sure your customers find them and realise they love them too.

I understand though, you can get so involved in the setting up of the website. The important points that will make more sales for your business can be overlooked or not realised until you take a step back and reflect on what is and isn’t working.  You may also be scratching your head wondering what is missing.

The tips below will help you create a home page that your customers love… and brings in the sales!

1. Take stock of your home page

The first thing you need to do  – what’s missing? Is the home page really clear about what products you sell?  Can customers connect with your products straightaway?  Take 5-10 minutes out of your day and see what you feel is missing from your home page and what you can do about.

2. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

Now, this can be quite a fun part of improving your website.

Set yourself a number of tasks that you want the customer to be able to complete from starting at the home page. These could be:

1. find a particular product,
2. make an order
3. be able to contact you.

Now imagine you are your ideal customer who has just landed on the home page of your website.

  1. Can you complete those tasks?
  2. What’s missing?
  3. What information could be added?

Doing the above exercise will help minimise the chances of visitors bouncing right off your website and you’ll gain a greater appreciation of what is called the ‘user experience’.

Always come from a customer perspective when adding content and information to any page of your website.

There’s nothing like being excited to find out about the lovely products your selling and then they land on your website and meh, where are the lovely products you were just talking about? Where are they?!

3. Add your products to the home page!

Which brings me nicely to… don’t t forget to actually add the products to the front page of your website.  I’m often surprised by how often I see an e-commerce website without images of the products they sell.  Don’t be one of them!  No point hiding your products away in the shop section! That’s what people have come to have a look for!

This is not the moment to be coy either! Don’t be shy about putting your products out there. Whether you are showcasing products from different sections or individual products, make sure to add them to the front page of your website!  Don’t forget to include photographs of your products that showcase them in the best light.  Not confident you can do this? Read this blog post about how to create great photographs for your business website.

4. Navigation

Customers are not psychic, you need to make it really easy for them to find what they’ve come to find.

To do this you need to have clear navigation that guides the customer to what they are looking for.  Navigation isn’t only for the top bar of your website.  Your home page is prime real estate in terms of promoting your products.  You can use the home page to highlight different products at relevant times of the year. Or highlight the categories with a photograph of the item you want to promote.

Keep Products at the front of your mind and your home page

Your website home page is your digital shop window.  Imagine how you would dress a physical shop window and then think about how you can emulate this for your website homepage.

The main takeaway should make sure you promote your products on your front page and be sure to keep the customer in mind so they can find what they are looking for easily.

Your turn

What tips do you have for creating an effective home page for your e-commerce website?

Blog Post: wait what you have to plan your website

Wait, what, you have to plan your website?

Ah, I know what it’s like… you’re starting a new business or perhaps you’ve been established a few years and someone keeps nagging you to get a website.  You start looking tentatively online to see what all this marlarky is about and before you know if you’ve heard terms like ‘domain name’, ‘web hosting’ and ‘SEO’ and probably a few more terms that makes your head spin.

However, I’d like to introduce to a strange concept – when you first start thinking about your website – you don’t need to buy anything!  That’s right, nadda!  Wait, what?!? I hear you cry, someone might snatch my business name from me. Possibly. But can I ask you to take a deep breathe for a minute.

Don’t waste your money

First up, if your business name hasn’t been taken by the domain gods that be at this point, it’s probably still going to be there tomorrow unless you’ve shouted from the rooftops that you’re thinking of buying the damn thing.  Secondly, you need to have a bit of time to reflect on what your business needs from a website rather than trying to fit it into the solution being rammed down your throat by the well meaning biz people, website software gurus and the likes.  I don’t mean to be flippant or facetious here, but there is a lot of noise out and web designers vying for your hard earned pennies for you to just hand it over without planning and thinking about what you need.

…and the way to avoid costly pitfalls?

First and foremost you need to come up with a plan for your website-to-be.  You need to sit and think about what it is you want to achieve online for your business.  You know those ideas you’ve got whirring around in your head about how you want to promote and connect with your clients – get those down on paper.  These become your website requirements.   These requirements will guide you in your decision-making when you start building your business website.  It help you decide if you need x, y and z or help you determine if it’s just some bright shiny new tool that looks cool, but serves no purpose in helping you achieve your business goals.

…and the upshot is?

You need a plan for your website! Seriously, save yourself the headache, the time and the making of unnecessary purchases by writing down what you want you website to do to help your business become visible and shine the best way you can online.

Need help with that?  I have just the service over here »