A website can be the ultimate business card, available around the globe 24/7 to convince that direct client or agency looking for your service to place an order. The key to having a successful, order-generating website is in the structure and organisation of the information you keep on it. Everything else flows from there.
The visitor needs to first find you before reading about you, so the first port of call is making sure the site is indexed (and indexed well) in the search engines. I’ll use this chapter to give you the basic and advanced methods of doing this, ensuring that clients and search engines alike can find your pages.
The next thing the visitor needs is to know if you’re suitable for them, and available for work. Information and a call to action, as explained in the section below on copywriting, turn your visitor into a customer in a process sometimes known as conversion. Conversion rates for internet services and websites typically vary from under 1% to %10, so the aim is to attract as many relevant visitors as possible in order to convert as many new clients as possible. It is a long term process and cannot normally be accomplished overnight. There are, however, ways to speed up the process and start visitors placing orders in days or weeks, if that is your intention. Given this book’s nature, I’ll assume that it is.
The old way to create a website was to painstakingly craft and edit every page in turn. Now general practice is to use a Content Management System (CMS) to handle the nuts and bolts of site creation, allowing you to focus on the content and conversion work. I am going to recommend Wordpress as the main tool for this purpose as it is so well established, developed and documented that you would be hard pressed to find anything better for our purposes on any budget.
You can set up a Wordpress site in just a few clicks with most website hosts nowadays, so research your country’s most recommended site host and sign up for their smallest plan (typically $3-5/month) and follow their instructions to set up your site, email and any file storage they offer.
Selecting a domain name is a subject of many a magazine and blog article, and as a general rule should be kept brief, with no ‘unusual’ characters or numbers that would make it hard to remember or type into a browser.
Wordpress sites are simply made of pages (the main links in the site navigation menu) and posts, which amount to articles you can write to generate interest. It is all very clear from within the site dashboard how to add and edit these. Advanced features can be found in the settings and plugins extend the functionality of your site.
You can of course raise your rates, position yourself and run a very successful business without a website, but if you’re looking to give your business an extremely cost effective sales and marketing tool, this fits the bill perfectly.
Many websites are single-page online calling cards, just a simple contact page. This is great in itself, but a site can be so much more. It can become your main source of new client referrals. It’s just a case of making sure they can find you. That’s where Search Engine Optimisation comes in, or SEO.