So, you’ve created your biz model, list of services/products, and are ready to start promoting your work! In today’s digital world, a website is a must for any small business. Keep reading to discover how you can create the gorgeous website of your dreams and start promoting your work successfully online!
Hey there, girl! I’m Amanda Mansard, web designer, Squarespace expert, and founder of Theory House, a full-service creative studio. My mission is to help fellow go-getting women launch beautiful websites that get them seen and heard online. (Sounds amazing, right!?)
I get it… Starting a website can be overwhelming. And, it’s probably the last thing you have time to do while running your business.
When you Google how to start a website, there are SO many platforms, layouts, and plans to choose from. And, it becomes a full-time job in itself figuring out where the heck to start.
I’m here to simplify the process and share my top website secrets!
Whether you’re ready to put in the time to DIY your website or prepared to hire an expert web designer, there are a few things you’ll need to add to your to-do list to prepare.
I encourage my clients to think of their websites like their own online slice of paradise- a place where anyone and everyone can learn about who you are and what you do.
It typically only takes about 30 seconds for a visitor to decide whether they want to stay on your website. (Yep, you read that right! Only 30 seconds!) That means your content must be clear, concise, and direct.
Before starting your website, create a document for your website copy. A website copy is a fancy way of saying website wording. This includes your page breakdown and the wording you would like on each.
For example, my clients like to start with their About Page. We write out a description for their business, their mission statement, and a personal description of them.
Next, we create a list of benefits or solutions that customers or clients will gain from purchasing their services/products.
When it comes to launching the perfect site, your website does not have to be launched as the perfect representation of the next 5 years of your business. A website grows with you as your business grows! So, expect to add new information and make updates throughout the year.
If you’re just starting your business or are new to having a website, I recommend starting small with a quality Home Page, About Page, Service or Product Page, and Contact Page. These 4 primary navigation pages should be everything you need to start sharing your work online! (Very few small businesses need to launch with more than this, and very few website visitors will take the time to look at more pages than these.)
Once you’re ready to add more info or offers, you can easily add-on to what you already have.
Struggling to create the copy for your website? No worries! There are several great copywriters that are experts in conveying messages online. If you don’t have the budget to pay a copywriter, you can find several great copy templates on Pinterest. (Note: If you choose to work with a web designer, most will require that your copy be completed before designing your site.)
In addition to creating website copy, quality photography for your site is a must-have! I highly recommend investing in a website photoshoot to capture portraits and lifestyle imagery of you in your element.
Don’t have the budget to hire a photographer? It’s totally possible to capture shots with the help of a significant other, friend, or family member.
When I first began my web design business, my boyfriend (now fiance) and I drove downtown, found a brick building that matched my primary business colour, and used my iPhone to take photos for my website.
I’ve since replaced the images with professional shots, but I’m still super proud of what we were able to do with some creative DIYing!
What is Squarespace and Why I Recommend It
There are several website building platforms out there that act as hosts for your website. If you are not a coding wizard Harry, you definitely should be using a website-building platform!
Some of the most commonly-used website platforms include Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify, ShowIt, and Wix. As a website designer and builder, I’ve used them all.
When choosing which platform to go with, it’s important that you have a clear vision of what you’re going to be using it for. Ask yourself these questions…
- Are you going to have a blog?
- Will you sell products through an online shop?
- If you plan to sell online, do you want to sell in-person too?
- Would you like to use your website to highlight your services?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I would recommend you use Squarespace as your website platform. And, if you’re thinking that you would like to add a blog or shop, later on, I would definitely recommend Squarespace!
At any time, you can easily add a shop or blog page to your Squarespace website. So, if you’re not sure how the growth of your biz will look in the coming years, Squarespace includes tons of extra features that will allow your site to grow as you grow!
(Note: The only time I do not recommend Squarespace is when my client is dropshipping. Dropshipping is a type of online sales that requires third-party integrations to communicate sales to manufacturers. In this case, product is shipped directly from manufacturers to customers without the seller housing the physical product.)
- Save Blog Drafts and Schedule Posting
As a blogger, it’s a necessity to be able to start a blog post, save it, and come back to it later.
With Squarespace, you can not only save your drafts but schedule blogs to automatically post. There’s nothing cooler than hanging out with friends and receiving a notification that your blog is live!
- Friendly CMS
One of my favorite features of Squarespace is its friendly CMS.
CMS stands for Content Management System. Each website builder has its own CMS that varies depending on the interface. For novice web builders, it’s important to have a friendly CMS that allows you to update information without a headache.
Squarespace has a very simple CMS where adding new information can be as easy as adding a block. Whether you’re wishing to add information to your website after working with a designer or adding editing your DIY site, Squarespace’s interface makes it easy to do so.
- Block Coding
To edit one line of coding on a website, I’d typically have to go through several back pages of coding to find what I’m looking to change. (Sounds annoying, right? I can assure you it definitely is!)
It can be like finding a needle in a haystack! Say goodbye to that with Squarespace. Its block coding feature allows you to insert coding in specific areas of your site, without searching through the nonsense.
Additionally, the platform’s “Custom CSS” section functions as a forum for any code you may wish to insert into your website. (Cue my developer happy dance!)
- Affordable Plans and Templates
While trying different web platforms, I found that many charge hefty fees for premium templates in addition to their annual fees.
Squarespace has a great selection of free templates and categorizes them to make suggestions based on what type of business you have. Each template can be customized, some more than others, and it’s easy to change templates if you decide you don’t like the one you’re working with.
Squarespace organizes their layouts by family. (My favorite is the Brine family because it allows for a large amount of customization!)
- Great Customer Service
Squarespace’s technical team can be reached via chat on their website. It’s a lot like instant messenger! You can see your customer service rep typing in real time.
In a matter of minutes, you’ll have a technical expert responding back to your messages and helping you fix whatever problem you may have. You will have access to the customer service team, regardless of what level of plan you have with Squarespace.
- SEO Capability
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a necessity for any website! When your website has good SEO, more people will be able to find your website. You’ll notice your ranking among search engines like Google will increase.
It’s important for potential clients or customers to be able to find your website. Squarespace’s SEO options allows you to connect common search words with your website.
- Email Marketing
Squarespace has an email marketing feature that allows your website visitors to sign up for you newsletter. Drop a Newsletter Block on any page to encourage viewers to subscribe.
In addition, you can create custom newsletters to email to your subscribers as often as you’d like. Set up emails to be automatic or send them on the spot. If you’d like to share a new blog post or new store product, it’s easy to drop it into your newsletter!
I hope you found these steps helpful and that you’re on your way to creating a gorgeous website for your business! For more Squarespace tips, feel free to check out my blog here! For 10% off a website strategy call with me, fill out my contact form and mention the word “REBEL”!