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Is your website hurting your business?

Ah, there are so many platforms demanding your attention as a small business owner these days.  Whether it’s being told to post on Twitter ten times a day to make sure you get that pesky newsletter out once a week. That’s on top of all the other stuff you need to do to run your business.

It’s enough to make your head spin and you can see the task of updating your website sinking further down the to-do list. However, could neglecting your website be hurting your website?

What hurts a business website?

How frustrating is it though when you come across a business or brand you love, visit their website and leave feeling wary because of the state of their main online platform?

Out-of-date Content

One of the most frustrating of websites is coming across one that has out of date information, old pricing and a business blog that hasn’t been added to in over 6 months or more.

Out of date content, old pricing and services make you look unprofessional and will leave people wondering if you’re still in business.

Think of your website as your digital shop front window – you want your best wares on show to reflect and show you are a professional outfit.

Inconsistent Content

There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a website where the content is inconsistent and doesn’t align with the brand or core message of a business.

This could be ill-formatted copy, long-winded copy that makes no sense or is delivered in a way that is more about the business rather than solving the tasks of the potential visitor.

Broken navigation and links

Making it difficult for visitors to find what they are looking for is a sure way to reduce the chances of earning custom and business.

Whether it’s broken links that send you to 404 Not Found pages to menu links that link to pages that no longer exist, trust in your business will be diminished and that potential client will go looking elsewhere.

Getting to the root of the problem

While it’s understandable that you can’t always give your website the attention it needs, neglecting to maintain your website will ultimately hurt your business, especially if you market yourself predominantly online.

While it’s understandable to concentrate your digital marketing efforts where you have the most engagement, it’s incredibly important to have a website that is current.

A website is never a done and finished thing and it’s a business task that is as important to keep on top of as your books or other marketing efforts.

If you’re struggling to keep on top of your website, the next thing you need to do is identify and figure out your main stumbling blocks.

Time

Along with running your business, working with clients or fulfilling customer orders, marketing, keeping on top of the books, running your own business means a never-ending to-do list.

Ask yourself, do you genuinely not have the time to update your website? Or is it a task that you are able to book into your diary on a regular basis? You can update your website on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.  If you don’t have the time – then perhaps it’s time to outsource to a VA or a content professional, such as The Content Alchemist.

Budget

Ah, but that’s an expense I can’t afford I hear you say.  If this is the case, it may help to think of it in terms of sales. How many products or how many clients could you build or see in the time it would take for you to update your website? The time you spend on the actual bits of the business you love could pay for someone to take the task off your hand, giving you peace of mind that the job is done.

Skills and Confidence

Perhaps you’re not feeling as confident as you like to or the website system feels like rooting around an alien spaceship. Either way, it takes an assured business owner to admit they need help.

Here you need to decide if your lack of skills in this area is something that is not your forte or a set of skills you are willing to acquire.

In the case of the former, and if budget permits, you could look at outsourcing the task.  If you’re in the latter camp, then it’s time to look around at training opportunities – either through local business groups or online, depending on how you prefer to learn.

Your website needs an audit

The final issue may be that you are well and truly unhappy with your website.  You know it’s out of date, you know it needs an overhaul, but you’ve become overwhelmed by the amount of work it looks like it will take.

At this point, you need to bring some order and structure to the process of sorting your website and this can be achieved by conducting a website audit.

A website audit takes an overview of your website. Highlights the issues and shows you the ways to improve your website so that it is in alignment with where you are in your business now and in the months to come.

Your next step

Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step, getting to the root of the issue the second, the third is to take action.  Tell us below or on Facebook what’s the main thing holding you back from updating your website.

Before you go…

The Content Alchemist - 30-minute free website audit for small businessesThe Content Alchemist is offering a FREE 30-minute website audit to small businesses.  Sign-up here to start yours.

If you’d prefer to do your own audit – download the Website Audit Checklist.

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: How to create great photos for your business website with your mobile phone

How to create great photos for your business website with your mobile phone

 

I often dream of having a proper DSLR camera. I think it’s the inner photographer wishing to emerge.   Alas, the budget has never permitted. While I’m no professional photographer, I have managed to pick up and learn a few handy tips along the way when it comes to creating great photos for business websites.

We all want to include photographs that look attractive to our customers, gain admiration and put our best feet forward as businesses.  I can’t reiterate enough how incredibly important to have good photographs for your business website.  I completely understand though – how many of us little businesses have a spare £100+ to hire a professional photographer for a headshot or product photo shoot.

You can make a decent job of it yourself and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. The main aim is to strive for consistency of colour and theme across all the photographs you include on your website.

In fact, with a little practice, imagination, creativity and using the tips below will help the professional look and feel of your website no ends.

Concept

For this tip, you need to think about what image do you want to portray?  Friendly, warm, professional, quirky?  Think about how you want to present yourself to your customers. You can do this by adding props (like flowers for instance) that will resonate and tell the story of your business and the products you want to sell. Don’t forget to also think about your website branding too.  What colours do you use? How can you incorporate these into your photos to create a consistent look and feel across all the elements of your website?

Use a plain, light, background

Busy backgrounds detract from the main object of the photograph – either yourself or the product you’re looking to sell.  Having a minimal background works for both headshots and product photographs.  Don’t have a plain desk surface to hand?  I found a fabulous trick about buying a piece of wood (my husband would know the proper term), about a 50cm-1metre square (depending on the size of your products) and you then paint the wood white or the light-colour that you use as part of your business branding. Genius!  You could also invest in a lightbox. Again, this will create a consistent look and feel across all your photos on your website and social media channels.

Grab the best light

Decent lighting can be the difference between a great photograph and a rubbish one. If you don’t have the fancy camera lighting equipment to hand,  there are a couple of tricks you can use.  The best time to take photographs using natural light is either first thing in the morning or at dusk.

Be conscious of where the shadows fall that will make the subject of your photograph look dark, and also where there is too much light that will give you a fabulous, but not very professional-looking halo. If you’re taking photos at the laptop, you can also invest in a selfie ring light.

Tell a story – it’s all about angles!

This relates to the first point of this list, but I also wanted to mention that your photos need to tell a story.   If you work in your own studio, can you include artefacts or tools that you use on a daily basis to show visually what you do?  If you make a product, such as soap or gifts, can you include a few photos? One of the individual product being made, the finished product and a close-up to showcase the detail?

Thinking about the ways you can share your message and story about what you do in your business will make your photographs much more attractive and it will also be easier to sell your services and products.

Share your suggestions

That’s my two pennies worth of advice to creating great photographs for your business website.  Do you have any of suggestions from your own experience?   What tips can you share with us all?