People everywhere are looking at their phones.
Some of them may be potential customers, or clients. How are they going to find you?
Or buy from you?
Any business not online and actively working to reach out to their potential customers, is invisible and potentially losing money.
In space no one can hear you scream
That’s the tagline from the movie Alien released in 1979.
In Cyberspace, no one knows you’re there.
That’s the big reality of any business today.
If you’re in business, or starting a business, you will need to attract the people who need you and who you might want to work with. It works both ways. That means doing the work to attract their attention, and keep it.
Unless you have already have lots of contacts, a good network, are well known in your field or you can get work from previous employers; your website needs to do the heavy lifting; over time, to get the attention of those customers or clients you want to work with.
And it is getting harder, and harder to get that attention.
Most self-employed professional women get their work through word-of-mouth.
But, if they are that busy, why would they need a website?
The benefit for a busy professional is to re-assure clients or potential clients that they are legitimate and it can prove their expertise. This can re-assure potential clients that this is the right person to talk to. It can also be used deliberately to attract or deter the clients you want to work with or not. This can be done through setting a minimum price for services – in sales terms this means ‘qualifying’ potential clients, or ‘disqualifying’.
The main use today of a business website is to publish articles and documents to extend influence. By using a website as a publishing platform it pushes out their articles through Google, or social media, to demonstrates expertise. Not just locally.
Without a website your reach and influence is limited to your local network ie. the people you know.
Who’s looking for you?
Google generates billions of searches daily with nearly 50% and growing on a smart phone or tablet.
Think about it, when you want to know something what do you do? Chances are you Google it.
What you have to offer, needs to be found.
Google’s one job is to match a search query with the best answers.
This allows searchers to seek out ideas, solutions or fixes to the problems they’re trying to solve.
They may just be looking for what you have.
Bricks and mortar business might do ok if they’re in a busy location from passing traffic, or have the funds to spend on large, ongoing advertising campaigns.
The reality is that many more businesses are tucked away or working from home, hubs, local cafes or the library.
Hence the need to be found for what you can help others with.
When and how to start?
Hasten, but don’t. But don’t take months to get started. You don’t have the time. Like all good projects, you needed to have started more than 6 months ago. Prior to starting you need to think some things through.
The decisions you need to make will determine the future of your business. So rushing out and getting any old website won’t work.
You need to think about how you are going to attract the customers you want to your business and then how to get them to take some action.
The most important way to do this, for professional women, is to write about what you know. You already know stuff; stuff that will help others. This builds up your expertise, and naturally can attract Google searches. You will need to develop research and writing skills and write on a regular basis to create and build up your content. This is critical if you wish to build up a position of authority through your website.
Then you will need a budget.
A couple of years ago I worked with a couple who owned a bed and breakfast on the start Great Ocean Road near Torquay, just out of Geelong. They had an old website that rarely had a visitor and even rarer a booking. The first thing we did was had a look at what they wanted to achieve and did some basic research about what tourists were searching for.
It wasn’t hard to see how they could tap into mainstream search terms to attract visitors to their site. We built a neat but easy to update website where bookings could be made online. Within the first few weeks they had $1000 worth a bookings via smart phones, many of those bookings from overseas.
However there was quite a bit of work involved in getting this all to work and keep it going.
Eventually, after several years, they decided that they needed something that was easier to manage, so we shifted them to a site that looked after most of the updates and hosting in one package. See the wix or squarespace links below.
This was an example for a simple website for a bed and breakfast and the sort of work I no longer do.
I now work with mature professional women who want to build up their authority and influence within their industry. They do this through writing (blogging), providing downloadable ebooks, white papers, checklists, interviewing interesting people in their field to create podcasts and more. It’s not hard, and they really don’t need to attract hundreds of visitors to their website, just the right few.
1. Answer the big question first
What need or want can you help your potential customer or client with?
Maybe it was something that you solved for yourself, or you have deep know-how.
How can you provide evidence of this and what can you offer on your site that helps Google link you to the searcher looking for your answers.
The idea is to be an influencer, and prove it with the content on your site.
2. Know your customer or client
3. Research the search patterns and keywords
What are they searching for online?
4. Plan forwards by going backwards
5. Gather your marketing assets
Have good clear images of products, offerings or services
6. Build an easy to update website
This will depend on your budget
WordPress is used in over 25% of the websites built in the world. It gives you the ability to add functionality by using specialist plugins for online training, member sites, digital downloads, lead capture for email campaigns and more. You may have to pay for some of these by subscripition, monthly or yearly, others are free.
Make or buy?
If you have the budget, pay to get good advice and have someone to build your website. You’ll save a lot of time by engaging a web developer or digital marketing agency. This may help you jump ahead of the pack. Do your homework first and make sure they understand what you are trying to achieve.
A cheaper alternative might be to checkout themeforest (affiliate link) for attractive themes. You will even find cost effective hosting and website set-up packages for many of their top selling themes. This can save you money. Another one is to Google outsourcing or freelancer websites and go from there.
If your budget is low, consider subscribing to a managed platforms that allows you to build your own site using their templates. These can be customised it by using drag and drop features. These services look after the hosting and maintenance of your site. Your site stays live as long as you keep paying.
I would strongly recommend using the managed platforms for ecommerce sites. While I have built over 50 sites with WordPress, I think the better solution for a small business selling products online is to use these, rather than suffer the headaches involved in adding products, setting up payment systems and running the shop.
Mind you if you are selling just a few products, then a WordPress can work well.
For the ecommerce platforms, see:
When I work with my clients, mature professional women, I help them with the shift to self-employment. We work together over 12 months or more to create an authority site that promote their expertise.
This involves developing a simple strategy of what they might like to achieve; mapping out a simple marketing plan to go about this; building up marketing assets and social media profiles; then getting to work to develop the content while building an attractive WordPress site.
This takes time, patience and discipline. It requires an academic approach to create the content, do the research, drafting, editing and publishing to the site on a regular, scheduled basis. The point is not to create content for contents sake, but to create something useful. To start getting the right people searching for your content, and reading what you have to offer.
A professional, well designed website will help you to reach out and influence your industry and attract clients. It takes work and will not be an overnight task. It is part and parcel of your ongoing marketing.
Owner of 13th Beach Marketing Services Pty Ltd, working out of Geelong and Melbourne, Australia. I provide marketing services to a range of companies in Geelong, Melbourne and Brisbane Australia. I am now working more with professional women who are making the shift to self-employment.