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There are so many articles and courses out there that encourage bored workers stuck in their nine-to-fives to start a business. And the good news is all you need is a laptop, right? No outlay, no skills, no experience? The reality of setting up a business is a little different. For a start, there are a few ways just to get started. You need to consider what you want to do and how you’ll ease out of guaranteed employed income to self-sufficiency.
But you can become a millionaire and start earning straight away, can’t you? Probably not. From a humble blog to an eStore, you still need visitors to your website. You need a site that keeps these visitors engaged. And then you need to convince these same people to part with cash to support this lavish lifestyle you envisage. It might be a long road to get here, and most never make past the first few months.
What’s Your Specialism?
Your area of expertise might not be related to the job you’re employed to do right now. Perhaps you have expert knowledge of a favorite hobby or pastime? Maybe you fancy taking your parenting experience to publish a blog of anecdotes supporting other parents? You specialism can be anything at all, but you need to make it special to others.
You need to have a deeper knowledge than the people that will come to your website. This often means you have to go and find out more, do some research, and up your game. If you wish to become a voice of authority, then some letters after your name from recognized qualifications will help. Experience is nearly always essential. And a little evidence to support your claims or ideas would be highly beneficial.
Of course, you might be a retailer with a specialism in electronics, fashion, baby gear, or anything at all. If you can throw some deeper knowledge in when it comes to the product descriptions, chances are a customer will buy from you. Know your stuff and customers will recognise that. Now all you need to do is figure out how to be approachable to deliver that next-level insight.
What Type Of Website Would Best Serve Your Business?
The answer to this question depends on your business model. If you’ve decided to become a therapist, then you might want a few blog articles about the different types of therapy. Perhaps you can include a few case studies? Information is key in this case, so a content-rich website would be helpful.
Such a business might also want to use the website for booking appointments or answering queries. Of course, if you sell products to support your holistic approach, you will also need a secure ordering system. You’ll need plenty of product information on the sales pages. It’s essential you use well-recognized payment platforms and high-security data capture on your website. This builds trust with the customer and prevents fraud.
Some websites are set up as forums, inviting visitors to discuss issues freely. This is also a very handy marketing tool for the company that is developing eBooks or products for a niche market. Essentially, you’re creating focus groups! If you’re an artist, you might not have any customer engagement strategy at all. Instead, you might post your different exhibitions, or sell your art directly.
How Can You Set Up A Website That Works Well For You?
Finding the best approach to a website needs to start long before you engage any web developers. In fact, if you know exactly what you need, chances are you can set much of it up yourself. Hosting is the first thing you need to worry about. There are often very good offers for the first year, but subsequent years might be more costly.
You need to consider what kind of hosting service you require as well. If you need a shopping cart facility make sure you choose a host that can serve you securely. Some deals are tied into the domain registration too. It’s worth considering a package when you’re ready. Your online marketing resources are essential to your company’s success, so be certain about the direction you want to take your company.
The domain name you choose might be your company name or a reference to the products or services you provide. It might be your name if you are setting yourself up as a freelancer. Double check the spelling and look at it as a single word. Can it be misread? Will it be difficult to remember? What does it look like your business is all about? Checking everything about the domain name helps you to avoid costly mistakes.
What Goes Into A Successful Company Website?
Successful companies keep adding content to their website every week. This provides more interest and fresh ideas for your visitors. They’ll keep coming back to see the latest article or promotion. You should also have at least one contact form so visitors can engage with you in different ways.
Social media sharing buttons are an essential part of your digital marketing campaign. You should be sharing your new content automatically across all your favorite platforms. The website might be the central hub for your business, but ignore social media opportunities at your peril.
You should have a detailed bio and portfolio if you’re a freelancer or creative. You should also have a company motto or tagline and a full page devoted to a press kit or media page. If you sell products or services, then make sure there are plenty of details. You might also include an FAQ page. Images, podcasts, videos and infographics are all valuable website assets and resources for your potential customers.
Your website should act as a sales funnel. You want to channel your visitors through that funnel, offering them more and more to get them to the checkout. You might offer free publications and eBooks. Perhaps you can share useful information and industry insights? Each step toward that purchase decision must be considered, planned, and catered for with your content.
How Can Customers Find You?
Once your website is up and running and full of interesting and entertaining content, you need to figure out how you’re going to get the traffic to increase. You might try PPC campaigns on keywords relevant to your products or services. It’s usually best to design a landing page for this type of marketing. It makes monitoring a lot easier and helps you to more accurately measure your ROI. Of course, that landing page needs to be part of the sales funnel, enabling the customer to undertake a successful journey all the way to the checkout.
Sometimes a hard sell is not the best approach. If you want to attract visitors and you want to build subscribers or email list, you need to offer something for free. Information and insight are usually enough. You’re building knowledge, interest and desire in a step process that should never begin with a hard sell. Whet their appetite to entice them to come back again.
Why Should Customers Use Your Website?
The answer to this question is your raison d’etre. But answering it accurately means you need to think of it from the customer’s point of view. Why are they there? Do they want customer services, to buy, or to gather information? Maybe they’re looking for entertainment, or saw a photo that interests them?
You need to be clear about what a customer can get out of your website. How does it benefit them? What will make them come back again? And what would convince them to buy from you? Your USP is a big part of this, but ultimately you need to consider design, functionality, usability and likability. Branding is a big part of that too.
You’re putting a lot of time and effort and thought into this website. Of course, you are probably going to need to put a lot of money in too. Third party services like copywriters, web designers, social media experts, and IT specialists will become a big part of your business. Your success might depend on them. The website might be your biggest asset, but it’s unlikely to be the simple, easy, quick money making machine you thought.
What Can Your Website Tell You About Your Customers?
Of course, websites do far more than sell your goods and services. They can also provide you plenty of information about your customers. You can drill deep into each customer’s journey to find out what they clicked on and when they left your site. You can also collect personal data, contact data, and survey their preferences. You might even get ideas for your next product or service.
The website is there to engage your customers. It’s there to sell your products and services. It’s there as a PR tool, and it’s there to support your other marketing campaigns. Is it all you need to set up your business?