A friend of mine who is starting a new business texted me today to ask some questions and at the end of the text, she mentioned that she was overwhelmed at the thought of having to write all her web content. She found my response helpful, so I thought I'd share it. Maybe it will give you ideas if you, too, feel stuck when thinking about writing the content for your website.
To be honest, I'm more of a DIY-er and don't think it's necessary, as a new business owner to invest a lot of money in a perfectly branded website. If you really want a custom website and don't have the means just yet, set up a professional website today and save your money until you have enough to pay a designer. There are many inexpensive tools and resources out there to help you create a professional-looking website. More important than the look and feel is the content. I want new business owners to be able to get something up and live and going so you can feel like you've hung your OPEN sign on the door.
Getting Your Website Up and Running
Okay, I'm going to assume you've already secured your domain name and web hosting, and you have purchased your website template (I do recommend purchasing a premium template over a free one) or have a designer working on it for you. You've created some sort of business and marketing plan and you have some general ideas on what you're offering. You have a niche or are working on deciding on one. You're now at the point where all you need are words on your website before you make it live. But you're stuck. Maybe you feel this is a huge project, and yeah, it is kind of big. Maybe you're saying to yourself that now is not the right time, or that you can't start your business until your website is perfect.
You are ready. And your website doesn't have to be perfect. Have you heard the saying, "Jump off the cliff and build your parachute on the way down"? You're at a point where you can totally do that. You're just going to take some baby steps, build confidence along the way, and take consistent action to get your website content written and online.
The key to preventing overwhelm is to break down the writing of your web content into bite-sized pieces. So to start, I want you to think about doing just one page at a time. Let's begin.
Focus on One Page at a Time
People who are looking for your services need three things after they find you - they want to know a little bit about you, they want to know what your services and rates are, and they want to know how to contact you. So, this means you work on your About, Services and Contact pages. Keep it bare bones for now -- I'd rather you get something out with your basic information than you waiting until your whole site is ready and pretty. It will be pretty eventually. Right now, I want people to start finding you.
Just think - you don't need much content at all, but think about how accomplished you will feel once you get ONE page of your website done!
For your contact page, you want people who are looking for someone who offers your services in your location. So, focus on these items:
- Find out where to enter what's called your Title Tag or SEO Title. If you have WordPress, install the free Yoast SEO plugin. With it installed, when you add pages and posts, the title that you enter in the title field might be "Contact Me", but in the Yoast SEO dashboard where you can enter your SEO title, you might type in "Contact Julie Smith, Chicago Birth Doula". Notice how your SEO title has your name, title and where you're located? This SEO title or Title Tag is the phrase that ends up in search engine results.
- Include your name and title. Use your 15-words-or-less elevator pitch if you have one.
- Include your phone number if you want people to call you.
- Include your service areas. If you want people to be able to find you, the search engines need to know where you provide your services in order to include your site in the search results.
- Rather than include an email address, to minimize spammers, make sure there's a contact form on your contact page (most themes build them in automatically). If there's not, you may need a plugin to help you create the form.
Test out your contact page to make sure that when someone fills it out, you receive the message. All good? Okay, you're done with the contact page for now.
The next page to quickly get up and running is your About Page. Tips here:
- The title of the page might be "About Me", but your Title Tag will be something like, "Meet Chicago Birth Doula Julie Smith,".
- Write a brief summary of who you are and what you offer, plus a brief description of relevant skills. You could also include a bulleted list of your certifications or trainings.
- If you are want to get fancy, you can throw in your philosophy or approach to your work. If you're drawing a blank, move on and come back to this later.
- Below the bio, invite the reader to check out your services or contact you to set up an interview and provide hyperlinks to those pages. If you have a DoulaMatch profile, be sure to include a link to it.
- Include a headshot of you. It doesn't have to be a professional one right now, but great if it can be.
- The title of the page might be "Services", but your Title Tag will be something like "Chicago Birth Doula Services by Julie Smith". Always include your location and the type of services.
- Make a page and list your services. It can be a simple bulleted list. If you have packages, explain what is included in it.
- If you have determined your prices, include them.
- Somewhere on the page, mention the city and state where you provide services.
- Find a nice image to include on the page. Librestock has good free stock photos that don't require a license for use.
- Include an invitation to learn more about you or contact you to set up an interview, along with hyperlinks to the other two pages.
Once you have these three pages done, I challenge you to publish your site and make it live. If you have a WordPress site and your theme allows it, you can set up any of your pages to be your (static) home page. If your homepage isn't set up yet, set your temporary home page to your About or Services page.
Before you move on, submit your site to Google so it can start to crawl your site and get your site indexed so people can find you. You can also register your business with Google if you have a business location. This will literally put you on Google's map.
Making You Shine on Your Website
You've got the barebones information up and out there into the world. Now you can spend some time really honing your message and putting more of your personality into your site. You will start off by making a few lists:
List #1: Who is your ideal client? What are your clients' general demographics - age, gender, socioeconomic profile, kids/no kids, married, single, etc. What common traits do your clients have? How do they like to be treated? Are they researchers and planners?
List #2: What problems are common among your ideal clients? Some will be common among birth professionals doing the same work as you, but some will be unique to the people you want to work with.
List #3: What are you uniquely qualified to do that solves each of their problems? What traits do you have? What skills do you have? How does your personality enhance your results? What is your mission and philosophy when it comes to this work?
List #4: Who do you work best with? What personality types work well with you? Are you a caretaker? Do you prefer people who are clear about their needs? What makes your life easier? What irks you about some people (so you can avoid them)?
Once you have started these lists, you'll be able to write web content to attract the people who are a fit for you. In your copy, talk to your reader. You'll use the information above to refine your About and Services pages. This information may give you ideas on what other valuable add-ons to include with your upgraded packages. It may guide you to choose images that convey certain feelings in your ideal client. It may give you ideas on a freebie that you can create for your newsletter opt-in. The reaction that you're going for is for your ideal client to land on your site and say, "This is me! I love this person! I need to work with her!"
I hope this can get you started with putting together your web content. What I don't want is for you to keep putting off getting your website until you're ready. Take the leap and build that parachute on the way down.
For more support, come join the Inspired Birth Pros group on Facebook.