When you’re just getting your online business (or your existing in-person one) online, it’s easy to think about how all you need is a website. How the right website will be just the thing you need to take you from where you are today to reaching more people and making more money.
But a website is not a business. A website is a means to an end. It’s a piece of the puzzle that helps potential clients to learn about you and your business. And the biggest note – the most successful websites are successful because it is part of a bigger strategy.
That’s why I hate to see newer business owners spending a small fortune on a beautiful website only to end up disappointed. The big dream they had of all the new clients they’d have magically knocking on at their digital door never actually materializes, as it’s just not that simple.
To get customers coming through your digital door, you need to invest in building a business foundation first, as your website won’t do the work for you.You need to invest in building a business foundation first! Your website won't do the work for you.Click To Tweet
Here are four things to nail before you invest big bucks in your website:
#1: Prove Your Concept
I’m sure you have no shortage of ideas for your business. You could do 1:1s or a group program or a membership site or any number of other things. But before you go all in, you need to take the time to prove your concept by working through it with real people.
That’s right – you need to get that idea in front of actual human beings.Before you drop big bucks on a website, make sure people actually want what your business has!Click To Tweet
Ideas are great, but if no one wants to actually pay for what you’re offering, the concept isn’t going to be viable. So dropping thousands of dollars on a website that you’re building around an unproven idea may be a recipe for frustration (and dwindling bank account).
When you’re figuring out how to take those ideas to the public, start with the minimally viable version and build from there. This is especially important if you’re dreaming of building an online business with group programs or digital products.
Once you know that there are real people who want what you have to offer, and preferably a few clients under your belt to be extra sure, then you’re at the perfect point to build a starter site for your business.
#2: Get Clear on Your Message
Usually, when I talk with new entrepreneurs about their online presence, the only thing they are thinking about it what it looks like. The colors. The fonts. The graphics and photos and videos.
Which generally leads to a pretty site… but not a clear purpose.
The design of your site is only part of the equation. A bigger part of the equation? Clear, compelling copy that’s engaging and easy for your visitors to understand. When you’re in the process of developing your message, figuring out your story and more, it can be extremely hard to write copy that resonates with your dream clients.
Without a message and purpose of your website, your potential clients are likely landing on a pretty page with no idea why they should stick around. It’s your messaging that helps them to see they are in the right place and you are the right person to help.Design is fun - but a bigger part of a successful website? Clear compelling copy!Click To Tweet
Your core content should be created way before you start putting together your website. It’s a designer nightmare to start building a website without a single line of copy or clear content strategy! In fact, the best designers won’t even get started without first understanding the purpose of your website.
#3: Know Your Niche
Over the years, I’ve watched clients have serious a-ha moments as they work through defining their programs and offers. It typically comes from realizing that they positively love working with a certain type of client or adore people in a specific niche.
Knowing your niche only comes from working with actual clients and getting their feedback. The niche you think you may want to serve may turn out to be a group of people that gets on your last nerve. Or you may find a niche you never even would have thought of!Clarity comes from doing, not daydreaming!Click To Tweet
Attempting to figure out your niche without actually working with people is nearly impossible! But it’s completely common for new entrepreneurs to spend thousands of dollars on their first website only to realize they chose the wrong niche and need to completely start over just 6 – 12 months in.
#4: Start Small
A website isn’t an all-or-nothing deal. If you need to get a website out there, you don’t need to start with a $6,000 plus fully custom website. In fact, starting simple and strategic with the right WordPress theme and some DIY design can be exactly what you need.
I’ve heard time and time again from business owners that start off with a high price site only to find that they outgrew less than a year later and had to start over with a new design.
While I have a designer and developer on my team today, up until 2014, I did all of my own design work for all of my websites.
Why did I do it myself?
1. Return on Investment. It’s easy to believe that a high-end website will bring you a big return on investment, but for service-based entrepreneurs, that’s rarely the case (especially in the first couple years). If you’re a bootstrap entrepreneur like myself with a limited budget to start up your business, you can quickly overspend on websites and design and underspend on the right tools, training, or support. The money I would have spent on a high-end website was invested into building my community, tools to create my online program, and hiring my first team members.
2. 100% Control. Wake up one day and want to update your website? You can! When you know how to build and update your website, you’ve got full creative control to make tweaks and updates on the fly. And thanks to the ease of technology today, anyone can learn how to do everything themselves.
3. Evolve As You Need To. Too often, getting a highly customized website turns into a trap where you’re afraid to change anything because you invested so much into it! But in the lightning-fast speed that business moves online, it’s important to be able to have a website that can evolve and grow with you. You can start small and be successful. Over time you can upgrade your site as you need it.
So instead of spending lots of time, money, and energy on a site that’s not going to evolve with you, start where you are now. If you need a helping hand, you can get started with our all new free guide right here:
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