When someone searches your name, what shows up? Whether you are building a brand for your career or a business, you can easily set up a website in 30 minutes. However, not all sites are created equal, and they shouldn't be. Depending on the purpose of your site, personal or professional, there are going to be some key components that you don't want to overlook. Online portfolios and websites are both marketing tools that will attract or repel your audience depending on the design, presentation, and content. A professional online presence - if developed properly - gives you a competitive advantage over your peers. This blog post will teach you everything you need to know to build a next-level website.
I have an idea for a site, what should I do now?
So many women reach out to me saying that they want to start a blog or website, and they are dragging their feet because they're nervous or unsure of where to start. Before you start to do the most and overthink the whole situation, buy the domain. Regardless if you're going to launch in 5 days or 5 years, securing the domain and the social media handles will save you a ton of headaches in the future. Get the easy, inexpensive things out of the way first. Trust me, you don't want to wait and then the URL you want is taken. It's annoying and can be expensive. One you have purchased the domain, you can use a tool like Knowem to claim all of your social media handles.
Wordpress vs. Squarespace: What platform do you recommend for hosting a website/blog?
If you are on Wordpress.com, you must and I mean MUST, switch your site to a self-hosted Wordpress.org or Squarespace site. Period. This is a non-negotiable. You will not be able to do anything at a professional level on Wordpress.com, because it is made for the most basic of blogs. In order to take advantage of all the functionality the other platforms have to offer, you have to choose between Wordpress.org or Squarespace. So which one is right for you?
FOR THE BLOGGER OR PERSON THAT NEEDS GREAT DESIGN
If the goal of your site is to share content like blog posts, then you need Wordpress. Wordpress is the easiest platform to use and understand. The templates and plugins allow you to build the most customized site for your style and needs. It's just perfect. I used it for 5 years and miss it a ton. Most of the websites you see on the web are powered by Wordpress. It is the OG of the website game, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. To get started on Wordpress:
You need a web host, it's like paying rent for your space on the Internet. Signup with website host like this one (they are the best and most well-known hosting company for Wordpress sites. Plus, the domain is free! I use it for all my clients' websites.)
Choose a template here. Don't immediately go for a free one. Invest in something you will love.
- If you are building a site for business, install these plugins: CoSchedule, Yoast SEO, Sumo Me and PopUp Ally.
- Get it all installed by my girl Sue on Fiverr. Nobody got time or energy to figure it out by themselves. Once you sign up for hosting and choose a template, send it all over to Fiverr with a list of plugins and have a freelancer get it up for you in a few days for less than $100.
FOR THE DESIGN SAVVY BUSINESS OWNER
Squarespace is the better option for a more experienced blogger or a business owner who needs a simple polished design. Once you've been blogging for a while, it's easier to figure out scrappy ways to get around some of Squarespace's shortcomings and lack of functionality. It's also perfect for a business owner whose site's main purpose isn't a blog. While it can be a little more expensive because of the monthly cost of Squarespace and other premium tools, it will balance out with its simplicity. I use Squarespace specifically because it helps me to sell my products and services in a much simpler way than Wordpress does. However, it’s really easy to create a hot mess if you don’t have the design savvy to work with the templates. (They don't have many options either, so you have to get creative.) You can easily make the site look crazy and cluttered. If you don't have too much design experience or want to make changes to your template quickly without breaking the site, Squarespace isn't for you boo.
FOR THE ONLINE SHOP OR BOUTIQUE OWNER
If you are interested in building a site for e-commerce purposes, just go with Shopify. You can try it for free for 2 weeks and see how easy it is for yourself. Unlike Wordpress and Squarespace, Shopify is built specifically to sell both online and offline. You can customize your storefront to match your brand, but have a powerful backend to help you track sales, inventory, shipping and more. If you are planning on selling things like merchandise, clothes, or more than 10 products, this is the platform for you.
FINAL VERDICT: SQUARESPACE VS. WORDPRESS
Although Wordpress is a few extra steps, they have wayyyyyy more options in terms of templates and plugins. I prefer their functionality much more and had to sacrifice a lot of it when I moved to Squarespace. For every beginner or newbie, Wordpress all the way.
How can I create an email with my domain name?
I know you have been getting by with that fabulous gmail email, but it's time to graduate to something a little more professional. Now you're probably asking, "What's wrong with my gmail email?" It’s tacky and complicates things when you want to use email marketing software like Mailchimp. If you want to monetize your business and to be taken seriously, you need all the necessary parts. To get your custom email like firstname.lastname@example.org, you are going to need Google apps. All the functions of gmail, with your own domain. This is very important if you plan on sending newsletters or doing any email marketing. Platforms like Mailchimp and Converkit do not work with @gmail/hotmail/yahoo/aol addresses.
Well that's it. Domain, site platform, email address.
Don't make this more complicated than it needs to be. Once you have your site set up, work on creating your content, about page, and contact page. If you need more guidance, get my Hobby to Business Guide. It will guide you through the 30 must-have components for a business website that sells.
You can be the greatest in your industry, but if you fail to package and present yourself properly, you will be at a disadvantage. You must give yourself permission to be an expert and deliberately use your online presence to position yourself as such. Digital tools such as a website and online portfolio allow you to communicate your value and abilities and eliminates the confusion of what your brand is, who you are and what it is that you do.
What else do you want to know? Ask me anything via Twitter by clicking the tweet prompt below.
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