You’ve registered your Domain name, you’ve set up hosting, and you are gung ho to get started with your site. But how do you start? What do you need to begin? Follow these initial 5 steps and you will be well on your way.
1. List 3 things you want to accomplish with your site
The best way to begin your website or blog is to determine what you want to do with it and stay focused to your original plan.
What does this mean?
It means that before diving right in, take some time to think about what you want your site to show about you and your business.
Do you want your site to show your expertise in a field? Do you want to reach new people with your ideas? Do you want your site to reflect your corporate image? Do you want to have members or sell something?
All of these things are possible and are important to keep in mind from the get go.
2. Use those 3 things to determine your pages
The biggest pet peeve I’ve got are when I see sites that have thousands of pages. (please keep in mind that I mean pages, not posts).
No one really wants to read about every employee in your company, see Mission Pages for each of the projects you’ve done, or read about your high school awards if you are now in your 30s.
If you want to show your expertise, for example, make sure that all of your pages reflect this. Usually 3-4 pages are plenty for almost any business. If you have an “About” page, make sure that you use that page to show your expertise. For example, if you are a business owner, instead of saying “I live in Chicago, Illinois with my 4 kids and a dog,” you should eliminate the personal elements and say “I have over 20 years of experience in the Design Industry and have helped over 100 clients expand their brand recognition and increase their profits by an average of 20%.
Which description screams expertise and which one makes you say “huh, who cares?” Every page you create should stay focused on your intent.
Sometimes you might not need any extra pages at all. I once helped out a doctor’s office develop their site—the office manager didn’t want to blog and she was stressed out at the idea of coming up with fresh copy. All the site really needed was their hours, their location, lab hours, and links to downloadable forms. We were able to condense their site into one, clean, clear page that worked beautifully for the people who made it, and especially for the patients who needed to use it.
3. Once you know what pages you need, write them!
This is an obvious, yet often overlooked step. Sounds silly, right? You would be surprised how many people go on and on about having a site, then they even register their site and setup hosting, but THEY DON’T WRITE ANYTHING!
Crazy, I know, but this is the part that people stress the most. This is also another reason why the fewer pages you have, the better.
But if you’ve figured out what you want to do with your site, and you figure out what pages you absolutely must have, then this part is easier. Keep going back to your focus and see if you are staying on track.
Did you start to mention that you like cat videos? Did you mention that you grew up in Oklahoma? Delete all that and get back to why you are so awesome. Use Case Studies, stories, bullet points, and above all, money talks. If you’ve helped someone make money, mention it. Then mention it again in different words.
If you are a blogger, you don’t need a lot of pages, if any, but your blog posts should stick to your focus, too. If your blog is about fashion, stick to the subject. Why? Won’t that get boring for people? No. They came to your site because that’s what they are interested in and that’s what they want to read about. It’s okay to have the occasional post about music or sports, but for the most part, stick to your subject and you will increase your readership.
4. Gather up your images, branding, photos and put them where you can find them
This part can be fun or it can be stressful. But again, if you stick to your focus and keep in mind what you want to do with your site, it can be easier. Here are some good rules to follow:
- If you want to have a professional, conservative site for your business, don’t use fushcia or bright purple.
- If you have a personal blog, do use funny and unusual photos.
- Use lots of photos and artwork and use a combination if you can.
- If you use photos of people, have them looking directly at the camera and crop it so the people are large and take up most of the photo.
- If you have a portfolio on your site, use your best photos, not all of them.
- If you have a business, most sites look better with some sort of a logo. You can use text, or an icon, or anything. And usually with a website, simpler is better. An icon type logo usually looks better than a complicated photo-realistic image.
5. Decide if you want to blog or not
To Blog or not to Blog? This is a great question.
Blogs are awesome. They are interesting and they give you a platform to talk about things you know in an informal setting. They are more personal than traditional web pages and they allow you to show some personality.
But they are a lot of work.
Blogs only work if you are willing to commit to writing on a regular basis. If you write three posts when you first get your site launched and then you never write anything again, it looks terrible.
Plus, your clients will get pretty darned sick of seeing the same posts over and over again so they will stop wanting to come to your site.
However, if you do write regularly, it is a great way to drive people to your site and hopefully generate more business. Keep your articles light, informative, and interesting and your blog can be your best marketing tool. You can even talk about cat videos here, although a Facebook Page is probably a better place for that.
Plus, a blog can give you fresh, unlimited content to SEO (search engine optimize) your site. Imagine if you have 200 blog posts, and each blog post mentions your company 2 times and has 2 links to previous posts in it, plus you use your top ten key words in each post, your Google ranking will quickly skyrocket. That is a really good thing.
So determine if you can and will blog. If you do it regularly, it can be a great thing for your site.
6. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. You actually CAN finish!
This is the most important thing to do when you begin your site–set a deadline for yourself and stick to it.
Most sites can be completed and functional in a week or two. A month at the most. Many people are afraid of “finishing” their sites. This is a myth and it’s nothing to be afraid of. Really.
Web sites are fluid. They change. That’s why WordPress is such a great tool for creating sites, because it’s easy to use and it’s easy to make changes.
So set yourself a deadline and then meet it. But over the next couple of months, get some feedback from people, especially clients. Do all your links work? Have you mentioned all the important elements of your business?
If you have your Construction Business site up for a month and then someone comes up to you and says “oh, do you install windows?” All you’d need to do is go to your site, add a bit about windows, and voila!
On the flipside, if you offer a service and no one mentions it for a year or so, then maybe you should take it off your site. Keep the focus on the work that is in constant demand.
The important thing to keep in mind is that your website can change and it’s not a mistake if you need to change something, rather you are using your website to hone the services of your business. In the long run, this will amplify the impact of your site.