Creating a new website is a big undertaking. Believe me, I know!
I myself can spend FOREVER bringing my own work to light and when I work with clients, it’s not uncommon for them to get challenged by what it takes to gather up all of the information, content, writing, and images.
Projects that they think will take just a few weeks can easily drag out to a few months because of how overwhelming it is to get all the stuff together.
But, creating a website for your business – one that’s well thought out, purposeful, on brand, that clearly communicates your message and that draws people in is one of the VERY BEST investments you can make.
It’s an investment in money – especially if you hire someone to do it for you – but it’s also an investment of your time.
Your words and ideas don’t just magically appear on the page, you have to dig in to create them. You have to get organized and you have to spend some time mapping out exactly what you want.
The reason to do this is so you wind up with a website that’s designed to GROW your business.
So let me help you get started…
Here are the steps I recommend you take to get your website ready.
Step 1: Brand Clarity
What I mean here is getting super duper clear about the heart and soul part of your brand.
What is your big WHY?
Who do you serve? How do you help people?
What makes your business unique?
It’s important that you know the vibe and spirit of your brand so you can create something that communicates powerfully what your business is all about on your website.
Step 2: The Purpose Of Your Website
What do you want your website to accomplish for your biz? More sales? More people on your list? Credibility? A place to show off your work?
It may seem obvious, but knowing what you want your website to do will guide you as you make design/layout choices and as you start to write up your content and gather your materials.
Step 3: Your Visual Story
Once you have clarity about your brand and you know what you want your website to accomplish, you can create the visual story for your brand – your logo, the colors, fonts, images, etc. that will help you connect with your audience and produce the results that you want.
I for sure wouldn’t do this until you know the vibe of your brand and the commitments that your business is here on this earth to make happen. (from step #1)
Step 4: Your Site Content
This step takes some real thinking. You’ll want to list out every page that your website is going to need.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to write up all of the pages yet, but get them listed out so you can make a plan for getting these pages ready.
Plus, if you’re going to hire a designer to build your website, they’ll want to know this information to give you an accurate quote for the project.
Step 5: Your Sales Pathways
Making sales online is a little more complex than just putting up a page with the items or services you have available.
Are you going to have an individual page per offer or one single page that lists them all out?
What’s going to happen once they decide to buy – where will they go?
To paypal? To a contact page to set up a free consult? To your etsy store? To a shopping cart? A registration page?
Then, once they pay or reach out to you – what happens next? What information do you need to share with them and how will you deliver this information?
There are often many steps to your sales process that you can’t see until you take the time to map this out. There could be additional pages to add to your site content list or 3rd party services that you’ll need to sign up for.
Because making sales or booking more clients is likely a big part of WHY you’re creating a website, you’ll want to thoroughly think through your sales pathways so you create something on your website that feels polished, professional AND helps you make the sale!
Step 6: Your Site Navigation
Once you have your content listed out and you know what your sales pathways are going to be, you can now map out your website.
What pages will go in your navigation? What pages link to each other? How will people interact with your website and find their way around?
A suggestion here is to write up all of your pages on individual sticky notes and then start arranging things until you come up with a plan that makes sense. Then draw it out on paper to use when you start building your site, or hand your site map over to a designer.
Tip – Make it easy for your visitors to find what they need. Don’t complicate your site layout! Keep things simple and as straightforward as possible.
Step 7: Your Homepage
Your homepage is the place to really let people know who you are, what you do and how you can help them. BUT, you don’t want your homepage to be a huge chunk of text that’s overwhelming to read.
Think of your homepage more as a tour guide, directing people to where you want them to go.
Mapping your homepage includes thinking about what’s THE most important thing you want people to do when they first land on your website and making that front and center.
Then, where else do you want to send them and how will you do that? Buttons? Feature boxes? There are tons of great ways to do this.
I have an awesome exercise for how to plan out your homepage inside of my Website Planning Course – you can access that lesson for free here (sign up for the sneak peek).
Step 8: Your About Page
After your homepage, this will be one of the most visited pages on your website, so you should make it count! You’ll want to do similar work to what you did on your homepage – really think through what you want on your about page and map out what the page will look like.
Tip – your about page is not really about YOU! It’s about why someone should trust you with their hard earned money.. so create something that builds trust and relationship with potential customers.
Step 9: Your Blog Plan
What do you want your blog to look like? What types of images are you going to use? What do you want on your sidebar? What are you going to write about?
I highly recommend that you have 3 blog posts ready when you start building your website so you can see how they’re going to layout as individual blog posts and on your main blog page.
Step 10: Prepare Your Pages
You’re going to need to do this for your home and about page, but also for all of the other pages on your website, including your sales pages.
Here’s how to get your pages ready:
- Get clear about the purpose of each page – WHY it’s there and what results you want it produce.
- Map out and plan the layout of the page.
- Write up all of the content – being sure to think about the layout that you’d like. (if you’re working with a designer they’ll be able to help you get this part organized)
- Gather up all of your images, graphics and any other materials that you’ll need to put this page together.
Then, lather- rinse – and repeat this process for every page on your website. This is the BIG work part of getting your website ready and what can slow down the building process.. so take it on like a champ!
Step 11: Choose A Platform
Are you going to build your website on squarespace, wix, wordpress, or somewhere else? What you’re actually able to create will be influenced by which platform you choose – they all have limitations and parameters to stick to.
But, now that you know what you really want for your website, that knowledge will guide you towards the platform that will best serve your business needs.
Poke around, ask questions and make sure whatever platform you choose will give you the website that you truly want for your business.
Step 12: 3rd Party Accounts
Now that most of the materials for your website is ready to go, you’ll want to sign up for any 3rd party providers that you’ll need to conduct business on your website.
Things that you might need: a newsletter provider, all of your social media accounts set up, a way to collect payments (paypal or stripe), a scheduling service, etc.
If you hire someone to create your website for you, you might want to wait on this step – the will likely have recommendations and suggestions that will make things easy and simplified.
Step 13: Begin!!
The next step is to decide if you’re going to build your website yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
There are pros and cons either way you go – do what you think is best for your business! Just be sure to do it. In other words, don’t procrastinate! Commit to getting it done and get started.
Having an awesome website can do SO MUCH for your business, it’s one of the best investments you can make. Pinky swear promise. SO worth it, even if it feels overwhelming. You can do it!
Here are some resources I’ve put together to help you get started:
The Brand Quiz – a free quiz to give you some insight into the heart and soul of your brand.
Brand Clarity Workshop – a DIY course that walks you through creating a powerful brand, including the visual parts of your brand.
WordPress For Beginners – don’t shy away from wordpress.. this course gives you a foundation for using this dynamic platform.
Website Planning Workshop – a guided version of this blog post with videos, worksheets and a more in depth break down of all of these steps so you can create a kick ass plan.
The Prep Your Site Bundle – Purchase the 3 courses above (brand clarity, wordpress, and planning) as a bundle and save.
Rock on! You can do it. 🙂