The Ultimate Guide to Launching Your Website
Are you wanting to launch a business or up-level your current one but have no idea where to start?!?
I hear you, it can be quite daunting to think of all the different pieces needed when creating a ‘brand’ new business online. You want it to look beautiful, get across who you are, appeal to your target clients and convert your audience into paying customers.
I’ve put together this ultimate guide (I used it for my own website and all of my clients) so that you can launch your online business with ease and slightly less panic from wondering what the hell to do and when.
I take you through Branding, Photography and finally the Website.
LET’S GET STARTED
Establishing how your customers sees your business and how you are different is all done through your branding. This is mostly done visually but it can also be done through your values such as customer service.
OK so if you’re anything like me, you easily forget someone's name when you’re first introduced to them but you recognise their face. That’s the same with a logo, you remember the visual, forget the name.
Your logo doesn’t necessarily have to resemble the business that you’re starting eg. piggy banks for if you’re a wealth coach but it needs to represent your brand personality.
When creating your logo you have 2 options, hire a graphic designer or do it yourself.
Graphic Designer - Fiverr and Upwork are my fave websites to hire a freelance graphic designer to create a logo for you and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg
Do-It-Yourself - Squarespace Logo Maker and Free Logo Design are free tools you can use to go it alone
For social media you may need different dimensions and options. For example take my name, Elizabeth Ellery - it’s a lot of letters and would be quite small to see if I had that as my logo for my Instagram profile picture. Instead I may take my initials, EE and use those instead.
For me this is the most visual way of identifying your brand quickly on your website, if you’ve looked at my website you can see that bright pink is my main primary colour.
A good way to pick your brand colours is to look at what colours you wear the most, in your 2home you may notice that you have tens of green ornaments or just take a look at your Pinterest Vision Board to see what colours are jumping out at you.
For your branding colour palette, it’s usually split up into 1-3 main ‘primary’ colours and 2-3 ‘secondary’ colours, usually they’re softer versions of your main colours.
I had a friend the other day who was creating her website on Squarespace, as easy as Squarespace can be, it’s also like any new program a learning curve. She was taking so long to do things that she hadn’t even considered fonts and just using the ones in the template, do not do this!
After explaining how important fonts were to her, she totally got into it and wanted to find the perfect ones to convey her brand to future clients - luxury and style.
What it should do is set the tone and personality of your brand, if you’re a wealth coach you probably want something that’s sleek and trustworthy perhaps not bright and squiggly.
Top tip. Install What Font Chrome onto your browser. When that’s installed, find websites where you like the fonts, click on the What Font extension and hover over the font you like on the webpage and it’ll tell you what it is. This literally changed my life!
You ideally want to pick a serif and a sans serif font that compliment one another.
If you don’t have your own photos, the funds to hire a photographer or the ones you do have aren’t good quality then I recommend using stock images.
The best paid stock image sites are Getty Images and Shutterstock.
My absolute fave though is Unsplash, the images are free and ridiculously good. You can thank me later!
Now this can be a tricky beast, most of us find it super tricky talking about ourselves, should it be in first person, third person etc, how long should it be? Etc.
My bio is written in the first person because my ‘branding’ is all about being personable and friendly. Your branding voice might be to a more corporate customer so a third person bio would probably suit you better.
About Page - The long bio, showcase your why, your expertise and how you can help
Social - Super short and succinct, in just a few words state what it is you/your biz does
Press Release - The elevator pitch, should always be in the third person
PERSONALITY & BELIEFS
Every brand has its own personality, so make sure that yours is true to who you are.
I talk a lot about visually conveying your brand online but COPY is equally (and some would say) even more important. Always be authentic when writing your website copy - look at Virgin for instance. Virgin are all about adventure and not doing ‘the norm’ in business, nowhere is this more evident than in their tongue in cheek, playful copy.
The personality isn’t just something you can see visually or even your copy, it’s also about your customer service and how you interact with your community.
Your personal branding photographs are telling the story of who you are so that your potential clients are thinking, she looks lovely and approachable, I want to work with this woman.
I think we have a tendency to feel overwhelmed with the ‘what the hell do I wear for my photoshoot?’ We often get panicked and perhaps wear items that aren’t the real us.
Now I’m going to say something that might be a little contradictory; - Wear clothes that you feel your best in (don’t try to be someone you’re not). What would you wear to meet your dream client? - But also look at what you’ve been pinned on your Pinterest vision board. Pick the items that are the most you and inline with your brand vision but remembering that you do have to be strategic, these clothes are part of your branding. You’ll be using them on your website from anywhere from 6 months to 2 years+.
To make your photos even more gorgeous, think about props that you can add to jazz up your photos. If for instance your brand values are all about being feminine, joyful and positive, your brand colour may be yellow so buy some sunflowers or props that go well alongside yellow. If you’re brand is about health you may want to have the ingredients in to make a smoothie and put it in a pretty glass. Perhaps place books in the shot that tie in with what your business is about.
Find a photographer whose photos you love and gets your vision for your brand. You can do this by looking at peoples accounts you admire on Instagram and you can sometimes see who they credit the photograph with. Search on PInterest for ‘personal branding photographer or the tried and trusted, just google it. Or better yet you can work with me in capturing your brand photos, you can see my work on my website.
My recommendation is to book your shoot 2-4 weeks before your website design process is due to start, that will give the photographer enough time to make a final selection of shots and touch up whichever ones you want to use for the shoot.
Location, location, location - this can be key to your visual identity. For example if you’re a London based career coach for women working in the city, you may want your visuals to be with well known London landmarks in the background, or if you’re a yoga teacher you would probably want photos in a beautiful studio with lots of light. For instance if you’re dream brand look is light and airy, so you pick your local gorgeous country manor house with tiny windows, that wouldn’t be so great. It may be full of dark wood and little light due to the size of the windows.
Always pick somewhere you can take at least 5-7 different types of shot and within a short distance of other locations if you have multiple places to shoot. I wouldn’t suggest more than 3 venues in a days shoot.
Again refer back to your brand aesthetics and Pinterest vision board.
Decide on multiple ideas for different scenes for your shoot, this will help your photographer and also you think about your outfits and the days plan easily. Here are a few examples;
Working with clients, 1:1 or in a group
Sat with your laptop
Walking in nature
You want to think about what is going to be on your website now and potentially further down the line. If you’re planning an online course you will probably want some photographs of you at your laptop or if you’re planning a workshop, you will want to enlist some friends to set the scene of what a workshop may look like with you.
You will probably have your hair and makeup professionally done on the day if you’re spending the money on a photoshoot but what about the pre-prep?
Get your roots touched up a few days before your shoot if they need doing
Treat yourself to a mani/pedi (doesn’t matter if the toes aren’t show, you wanna feel your best)
Book yourself in for a facial or something equally as lovely to rejuvenate yourself. Obviously you don’t need to do this, but I’m just trying to give you an excuse for some self-care
Eyebrows threaded/tinted - ok maybe that’s just me then!?
Your business’ online shop window. This is where you tell the world and your future dream clients who you are, what you do and how you can help them. Your branding & personality will be best shown here and then can filter through across your social media accounts and offline materials.
Buy a custom URL for your business. This is the almighty big step in deciding shit just got real. It was the very first thing I did when I made the decision to set up my own business.
I used GoDaddy to buy my domain name. I found that their customer service was the absolute best. I love being able to speak to someone on the phone and they’re incredibly helpful.
DOMAIN EMAIL ADDRESS
Get a personalized email address along with your domain name. This will also establish credibility. So mine would be firstname.lastname@example.org
I use Outlook 365 as I like using outlook, from my corporate days. I have friends who use Gmail for their businesses. If you buy the Gsuite you can have a gmail account and lose the .gmail.com and replace it with your domain name if it’s available.
Set up accounts with your business name. You may find that your preferred business name is taken, for instance my Instagram account is elizabeth_ellery, I had to add the _ to my name.
People have a very different thoughts on Facebook and how to use it. My thoughts are that people like talking to real people and will engage more on your personal Facebook profile. Since starting my business, I’m a little more watchful for what I post and I like to post things that are relevant to what I’m doing in my work. I also have a Business Page where I do talk all things business, this is much better to track engagement.
Technology has come a long way in recent years.
People who don’t know coding can build their own websites easily using a website builder. There are simple DIY website builders where you can start from scratch with just basic blocks and then there are more sophisticated builders that have templates in place for you to add your own content and customise as you wish/or not wish.
The most popular website builders are - Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, WordPress
Choose a professional website designer or a template to DIY. Now this is entirely your choice, if you don’t have a budget to hire a designer there are some beautiful templates out there on lots of platforms, you will need to take a lot of time in the beginning to teach yourself how to use the program but if you have the time then it means you can always update it yourself.
On Squarespace there are templates that are suited to different proffesions, so I would take the time to see which one works best for you. Always look at the demo sites provided so you can see if all of the functionalities are what you want as you can’t change it later. My best advice if you are thinking of going the DIY route is to look at lots of articles online comparing all the different builders to see which one suits you best.
If you do have a little budget and not a lot of time (you have to weigh up how important/much your time costs) then you should hire a designer. They can take what’s in your mind and execute your vision in a pain free, no hair lost kinda way. Simples!
Once you’ve created your website you will need to find hosting. Do note that; Squarespace, Weebly, Wix provide website hosting so you won’t need this step.
Web hosting is a service provider that stores all of the content on your website on their servers. When clients are looking at your website online, their browser will gather your content from their servers. It’s basically an online storage unit.
CONTENT & SITE MAP
Plan your website content and page breakdown. Do a massive brain dump of everything that you want to be on your website. How your business will run, will there be online courses? One to one sessions? An online membership? About page just for you or your team too?
Once you have everything in front of you start mapping out what pages certain sections belong in. Will you have a main ‘work with me’ page which has links to the three options of working with you, and those links lead to separate pages? Or do you have just one way to work with you and it’s just one offer?
This is really important to have prepared before starting your copy. It gives you a template to get started.
Your brand voice is equally as important as your brand style. Just as you want to ensure your brand looks a certain way across all platforms, you also want to ensure it sounds the same. Providing descriptive words or phrases along with comparing what the voice is versus what it isn’t is a simple way to ensure a certain level of consistency.
Great copy positions you as the expert, highlights the benefits of working with you and sells your services.
When your site is finished, all that needs to happen is connecting your domain URL to the site and *drumrolllll please…. your website is LIVE baby!
If you’ve found this helpful or think any of your fellow friends/biz buddies need the Ultimate Guide to building their website, please do share.