Archive for the ‘Website Tips’ Category
It’s time to ditch the boring head shot!
In the past 2 days, I’ve chatted with 3 new clients who are ready to STEP UP and shine as the experts they are. It always surprises me how quickly “the photo” comes up in our branding discussions.
Intuitively, many solopreneurs understand that the traditional head shot does not serve them.
Are you a professional speaker, consultant, coach, or author? If so, you may be an expert in your niche. In fact, you may be a thought leader, shaking things up in your industry!
If you’re a solopreneur – without question – your photo should be on your website’s Home page, on your business card and, of course, on your speaker one-sheet.
Why? Because YOU are your brand. Your photo communicates who are you, and it creates an emotional connection with your prospects.
I believe your photo is a key Brand Element™. And I believe it must be a GREAT SHOT, not a head shot.
What makes for a great shot? It’s a STRATEGIC discussion and highly individual for each person. The following 12 tips offer guidelines. And scroll down to see 18 examples of my clients who use their great shot on their website Home page. (All are my clients, and all are solopreneurs – most are professional speakers, consultants, coaches, or authors.)
Here are 12 tips to ensure you get a GREAT SHOT (not just a head shot):
- “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Everything your photo “says” – overtly and covertly, symbolically and in subtext – must support your brand. Remember, planning your photo is a STRATEGIC discussion; give it the time and attention it deserves.
- The photo shows more of your body (for example, from the waist up), and therefore expresses more body language. When it comes to poses and props, there are a zillion creative approaches you can take! Just be sure the approach is appropriate for your brand. Take time to look at lots of websites, and be sure to scroll down and see the 18 examples below.
- Your facial expression and body language express confidence (without ego) and approachability (without being folksy). Note that it’s perfectly ok to cross your arms. This is a comfortable posture, and it conveys confidence. I often hear the comment: “But it’s closed body language!” As long as your facial expression and overall body language are warm and inviting, then crossed-arms is fine.
- It’s relaxed and more “you.” It’s not stiff or formal. Also, if you’re a professional speaker, don’t wave your arms around as if you’re gesturing in the midst of presentation. I’ve seen a few photos where this works, but I’ve seen MANY photos where it looks faked. “Fake” is the opposite of honest and earnest – NOT what you want to communicate.
- Instead of taking the shot in the photographer’s studio, there may be a different location – different context – such as an interesting outdoor environment or your work setting. Note that the context can symbolically underscore your message. For example, an artist or personal fitness coach would want their photos taken in their studio or gym, because the context adds more to the “story.” Carefully consider the context. If it isn’t a fit (symbolically), it can detract from your message. For example, a corporate consultant specializing in streamlined high-tech software tools shouldn’t be photographed in a rustic barn – this sends a mixed message.
- The professionalism of your outfit is appropriate for your target market. Not too formal, not too casual.
- The colors in your outfit complement your eye color and skin tone. If you’re already working with a designer, email him/her a few quick snapshots wearing different outfits and ask for an opinion. Designers are color specialists and can offer good advice.
- Get several different photos taken, so you can choose the best of the bunch. Take several outfits to your photo shoot and try different poses. (Don’t settle for one outfit/one pose.) As a bonus, when you give a variety of photos to your designer, you are doing him or her a big favor. Designers relish the opportunity to play with multiple images and ideas. If you have only one photo, this limits their creative options.
- The colors in your photo (clothing, hair, skin tones) “marry” with your logo. In other words, if your photo is primarily pink, it will clash terribly with your purple logo!
- “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Don’t wear large earrings or loud jewelry that take the focus off the eyes. For key photos, such as the image on your Home page, look directly at the camera when taking the picture. That way, in your photo, you are gazing directly at the viewer. Symbolically, this conveys concepts such as straightforward, honest, and straight-shooter.
- Hire a professional photographer. Professionals know how to get that spark you’re looking for! Don’t skimp and ask a friend or family member who is “good with the camera.” Professional photos are well-lit and capture your sparkling personality. “Home-grown” photos tend to be dim and dull.
- Communicate with your photographer. Take time to explain strategic concepts around your brand and what you want the photo to convey. Talk about tactical ideas such as studio shot versus other location, horizontal versus vertical, and website versus speaker one-sheet. (How you plan to use the photo can influence the photographer’s decisions.) Show examples of photos you like and don’t like, and discuss why. Photographers are visual artists, and they will appreciate your visual aids.
Remember, YOU are your brand. Your photo communicates who are are and creates an emotional connection with your prospects.
Getting a GREAT SHOT is a STRATEGIC discussion and highly individual for each person. If you’d like to strategize YOUR great photo, click HERE to schedule a consultation.
Website copy must be on-target. Period. Do you know how to write your website content, so it meets the mark?
Is your website out-of-date, even embarrassing? Does it deliver qualified prospects – or does it just sit there, gathering dust? Have you been procrastinating, because you just don’t know where to start? Start here / start now, with my “Write Your Website Content” one-on-one coaching package.
As your most powerful marketing and sales tool, your website must work hard for you. It must:
- Present your brand and key messaging
- Ensure you shine as an expert in your niche
- Speak to your target market and address their needs
- Clearly state the results and benefits your clients get
- Build your list
- Deliver leads (qualified prospects)
- Sell your products and services
That’s asking a lot! So let’s start here…
With guidance, your website CAN do everything it needs to do. That’s why I offer an affordable “Write Your Website Content” one-on-one coaching package. In this 2-step coaching process, I’ll personally guide you to write on-target website content, whether you want to update your current website or create an entirely new website.
Every journey needs a roadmap! Your Website Roadmap clarifies where you want to go and how you’ll get there. This roadmap adds tons of clarity for you AND for your website developer. Believe me, having a clear plan lays the foundation for a streamlined, cost-effective, hassle-free website development process.
Step #2: With guidance, you’ll write your website content
- Be approached as marketing copy.
- Address navigation, usability, and other website-specific strategies.
- Emphasize benefits and results for your customers, rather than blandly discuss the business.
That’s why this coaching is so helpful – you get my personal guidance in one-one-one coaching calls, plus my proven tools. You’ll get the coaching, motivation, and the know-how to write your website content – copy that is clear and on-target. You’ll love this energizing process and the results you get!
“Write Your Website Content” one-on-one coaching package
Here are some of the tools and guidance you get:
- 1-hour one-on-one coaching call with Patrice to create your customized Website Roadmap
- Patrice’s personally created website content template, which offers the structure (and written advice) for how to write website copy
- Three 1-hour one-on-one coaching calls with Patrice (once a week for 3 weeks) regarding how to write your website copy: get direction, advice, answers to your questions, and a healthy dose of motivation!
- Bonus articles and videos include:
- “The power of clarity” (video)
- “Using the easy itch-and-scratch approach: How to write website copy and marketing content” (video)
- “How to create a project plan: Step-by-step instructions to get your project done” (a useful tool for your website writing project!)
- Patrice’s personal project plan template
- “Get qualified leads from your website by transforming your contact form into an inquiry form”
- “How to ask for (and get) client testimonials”
- “Checklist: How to edit testimonials to ensure they are professional and add value”
- “How to improve your writing: Patrice’s top 2 tips”
- “12-point checklist to systematically review your new or updated website before it goes live”
- Patrice’s preferred vendor list
This is a proven process to guide you to write your website content – clear and on-target copy that meets the mark. You’ll love this high-energy, results-oriented approach to write your website content!
Use this checklist to ensure a successful launch for your new (or updated) website!
Over the years, I’ve reviewed hundreds of business websites to ensure they were polished, professional, and working properly.
Before a website goes live – and immediately after – I thoroughly review the website. Top to bottom. Using my systematic approach.
Use this checklist to thoroughly review YOUR new or updated website. The goal, of course, is to successfully launch your new, polished, professional website, so you can happily share it with the world!
Here’s my 12-point checklist. Use it to review your new or updated website before it goes live AND after it goes live.
- Test all links – Click the across-the-top navigation to ensure every web page is linked appropriately. Next, scroll down to the footer and click all text links to ensure they’re set up correctly, including social media icons. And don’t forget the site map: open the site map web page and check every link. Next, systematically move from web page to web page testing every link: any text links in the body copy, videos, audios, PDF speaker one-sheet, PDF resume, and all graphical elements (e.g., logos). If the blog has categories and a FeedBurner type of email subscription, check these links as well. Finally, on the interior pages, try clicking on the company logo in the banner – this should take you back to the Home page.
- Complete all forms to ensure they work – Complete all opt-in boxes and contact forms. Put on the “customer hat” and experience the process from the website visitor’s point of view. If there’s a PDF giveaway on the Thank-You-For-Subscribing page (from the opt-in box), click the link. It’s shocking how often this is overlooked! In fact, thoroughly review these behind-the-scenes thank-you pages (developers call these “success pages”). Also, critically look at any Captcha-type spam-control plugin the developer may have added to your contact form. Personally, I find reCAPTCHA beyond frustrating. If you and your website developer decide your website needs a spam-control plugin, select a version that your target market can easily use. Imagine a qualified prospect taking the time to thoroughly complete your contact form, then throwing in the towel due to a frustrating experience, right when they’re ready to hit Submit – you won’t get that lead.
- Now try to BREAK all forms! – What happens if you don’t complete a required field, then hit Submit? Is the “error” dialog box helpful? Or is it cryptic and confusing? On the contact form, can you input a long European phone number in the phone field or does it only allow 10 characters for US and Canadian phone numbers? Spend time trying to “break” every opt-in box and contact form. If there are any issues, it’s best for YOU to find them, not your customers.
- Purchase your product – Whip out your credit card and purchase your book or downloadable product. Check to ensure all pricing and shipping information is correct. Put on the customer hat to experience the purchase from the website visitor’s point of view. Is the purchase and downloadable process easy? Did it work properly? Are all directions throughout the process clear and easy to understand? Jot down any errors – and possible points of confusion – and discuss these with your developer.
- Test all email addresses – Is the main email address on the website Info@ABCcompany.com? Are there other email addresses? Ensure all are properly set up. If they don’t work, you may lose email messages from qualified prospects.
- Test all other features/functionality – Does your website have a search function? Test it. Any other features or functionality? Test these thoroughly, wearing the customer hat.
- Proof every word – Typos slip in … it’s a fact of life. Weirdly, typos seem to “hide out” best in 24-point headlines! Here are my favorite tips to flush out lurking typos and sneaky grammar and punctuation errors. This is an important step to ensure your website meets your high standards of professionalism.
(A) Print every page and proof the old-fashioned way – on paper. This simple trick offers a surprising level of objectivity and is much more effective than proofing at the monitor.
(B) Ask a family member, friend, or colleague to proof your website copy for you. Choose someone who has this skillset.
(C) Hire a professional proofreader.
- Critically examine stock photos – If the developer used stock photos in your new website, are the images fresh or trite? Do the images support your message? Ask pointed questions of your developer to ensure you have purchased the rights to use all stock photos and clipart. Finally, you’ll want to ensure photos with people present a mix of male/female, various ethnicities and, depending on your target market, different age groups.
- Check all redirects – For example, if your website address is ParagonConsulting.com and you requested that your developer redirect ParagonCoaching.com, then you’ll want to ensure this is set up.
- Ensure your developer has implemented basic SEO strategies – Like a well, this is a deep subject, given the plethora of SEO strategies and philosophies. At minimum, ensure your developer added a unique meta title and meta description for each web page and incorporated important organic keywords.
- Review using different browsers and multiple mobile devices (both Apple and Android) – Yikes, this is the bane of every website developer – and reviewers! This task can be time-consuming, and many developers do not conduct a thorough review. However, it’s YOUR website so, ultimately, it’s YOUR responsibility. At the time of this writing, there are 5 major browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera. Download each browser onto your computer and test the key features and functionality of your website on every browser (especially email and contact form). Yes, it’s a pain, but this is vitally important. And take time to review your new website on a variety of mobile devices – both Apple and Android. I recently found a significant issue when reviewing a client’s new website on my Android smartphone – an issue he didn’t encounter on his iPhone.
SIDE NOTE: As of December 2014, W3Schools.com listed the most popular browsers (in terms of market share) as:
- Google Chrome: 61.36%
- Mozilla Firefox: 23.6%
- Internet Explorer: 8.0%
- Safari: 3.7%
- Opera: 1.6%
- What’s missing? – I’ve done a ton of professional editing in my career. Long ago, this realization popped into my head regarding the difference between a proofreader and an editor: The proofreader looks at what IS there; the editor also looks at what is NOT there. Step up to the 10,000-foot level and ask yourself: “Is anything missing? Are all photos, videos, and other assets represented in my new website, as planned? Is the contact form robust, so it serves as a hardworking inquiry form? Have we overlooked anything?”
If you have thoroughly reviewed your new or updated website – using this checklist and a systematic approach – then you’re ready to go live. Congratulations!
GET QUALIFIED LEADS. Clearly, this is a top goal for your business website.
In fact, from a marketing/sales perspective, most of us have 3 key goals for our website:
- Build the list with quality prospects
- Sell products and services directly via the website
- Get qualified leads from your website in order to sell products and services
Sometimes minor tweaks to your website can reap great rewards. One is transforming your basic CONTACT FORM into a hardworking, strategic INQUIRY FORM.
Use this checklist to get highly qualified leads:
- Have two different fields for First Name and Last Name (not just one field for Name).
- Ask for Email Address and Website Address.
- If you do business internationally, change the “Phone” field to “Phone/Skype.” Ask your website developer to ensure this field accepts numbers and letters, with room for at least a dozen characters.
- Add at least one question – with a drop-down list or radio buttons – that empowers the prospect to provide specific information that helps you qualify the lead. You may want to include multiple questions. For example, inquiry forms for professional speakers often request event date, location, and length; audience size and demographics; topic choice; and so forth.
- Make all important fields mandatory. However, if your form is lengthy, don’t make all fields mandatory. The prospect may lose interest and not complete the form.
- Make your Comment box work hard for you. Instead of asking for “Comments” or “Give us your feedback,” ask a direct question that encourages your prospect to provide useful information. For example, my inquiry form says: “How can we help you? Please tell us about your business – and how we can be of service.”
- When prospects hit “Submit,” they should automatically be taken to a thank-you page (aka Success Page). NOTE: Your prospects just took a BIG step forward in your relationship. You must ensure the content on this page is warm, friendly, and customized – not a basic template page with a skimpy, impersonal “thank you.” In your copy, add a note that you (or someone on your team) will follow up with a personal contact. On this page, consider adding: SEO keywords in the content, your scanned signature beneath a personal note, a photo to add warmth and personality, a prominent button/link to the Home page.
- Test your revised form to ensure the entire process works properly, including the fact that you (or your assistant) must receive an email notification with all information. NOTE: Thoroughly test your form by entering wrong information and intentionally making mistakes. Do the error messages work? Is the wording in the dialog boxes accurate and friendly – or cryptic and techie?
- Ask your developer to ensure the prospects’ names/email addresses are automatically added to your email database system: AWeber, Constant Contact, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, etc.
- Treat your qualified leads with the importance they deserve. Shockingly, some businesses do not have an efficient process to follow up on website-generated leads. They allow these valuable inquiries to gather dust. Meanwhile, those qualified prospects will go elsewhere to find the products and services they need.
Your website is your most powerful marketing tool. Yes, you want to get leads. Better yet, you want to get QUALIFIED leads from your website, via a hardworking and strategic INQUIRY form.
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Here are 2 examples where I have transformed a basic CONTACT FORM into an INQUIRY FORM.
Example #1 – Before and After
Example #2 – Before and After
Shout-out to the Findability Profits Lab: My half-day workshop on website copy that helps you “get found”
Here’s a big THANK YOU to Heather Lutze and the participants of Heather’s October 2014 Findability Profits Lab.
During the 3-day Lab, I presented a half-day workshop on writing strategic, on-target marketing content for websites for solopreneurs and small business.
Heather asked me to present on the topic of website copy, since we both know from experience that writing, updating, and optimizing website content can be a sticking point for many solopreneurs and business owners. Unfortunately, this sticking point can slow or even halt progress on their website update.
If you’re looking to optimize your website – or “get found” as Heather says – I highly recommend Heather Lutze’s Findability Profits Lab.
THEME: Use the “Itch-and-Scratch” approach to write marketing copy
TIME: 2 minutes
LOCATION: Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Colorado Springs, Colorado
THE KEY VIEWPOINT: Use the time-tested and proven Itch-and-Scratch approach to write your marketing copy – especially website copy. And see what poison ivy looks like – remember, “leaves of three, let it be!”
Grab a pen and paper – get ready to take LOTS of notes!
In this webinar, my friend and colleague Heather Lutze, SEO expert and owner of Findability Consulting & Speaking, interviews me on the topic of writing website copy that connects and converts.
It’s a lively discussion with oodles of tips, tricks, and hints from us both. We offer guidance for you to write (or edit) website copy that connects with your target audience, is benefit rich, and contributes to search-engine optimization. The goal, as Heather says, is to “get found.” Along the way, there’s lots of laughter and a few myths dispelled!
Last week, I got a phone call that rattled me.
“Wanda,” the sole marketing person for a small business, called to discuss the possibility of writing copy for her company’s new website. Typically, a small business website requires only 8 to 20 pages.
However, her SEO consultant advised creating a 75-page website!
Wanda’s company makes one product, with a wide variety of applications. In the proposed SEO strategy, about 60 web pages would have IDENTICAL content except for each page’s respective SEO keyword.
Why was this an issue?
- For Wanda’s business, creating the new website would be a huge investment of time and money.
- For the website visitor, this would be a navigation nightmare.
- And for the Google SEO robots visiting Wanda’s website? They could actually penalize the website!
I recommend this must-read article by SEO expert Marie Haynes.
Marie wrote this easy-to-read article for “the rest of us” – those of us interested in SEO yet not immersed in technicalities such as canonicals and crawl errors. (Click to read: http://tinyurl.com/olesugd)
The key point in Marie’s article…
More than ever, Google puts the emphasis on – and rewards – relevant, original, useful, pithy content. On the flip side, Google penalizes websites with tons of duplicate content, as in the example mentioned above. This is thanks to Google’s most recent, and sweeping, algorithm update, which they dubbed Hummingbird.
No trickery. No gamesmanship.
When it comes to SEO strategies, content is king.
In addition to the advice in Marie’s article, here is my longstanding advice:
- In your web copy and blog postings consciously include organic SEO keywords. For example, if you are a speaker/consultant who speaks to and consults with Colorado-based healthcare organizations including hospitals and rehab clinics, then be sure to include these logical keywords.
- Whether you blog frequently or rarely, ensure your blog postings are relevant to your readers and contain original, useful information.
- What’s the right length for your blog postings? Be like Goldilocks! If it’s not too short or too long, it will be just right! (I shoot for 200-300 words.)
- Take time to clarify your brand so you can shine as an expert in your niche. (In Marie’s article, you’ll see that presenting yourself and your website as an “authority” on your subject is surprisingly important.)
- Focus on providing great content and advice for your real-live human readers. They will revisit your website – and so will the search-engine robots!
First, pick up your business card or look at your website Home page. Next, put on your “customer hat” to look at your marketing tool from their perspective.
Now take this quick quiz …
When prospects look at your business card or
visit your Home page, can they quickly discern:
- Who you are
- What you do
- What they get – the top benefit or result they get from your consulting, coaching, speaking, or books
Why does this matter?
Because your prospective clients are busy people! They rarely take time to read a lot of content and connect the dots.
This means your brand – your key messages (not your logo) – must be clear, compelling, and consistent throughout your marketing toolkit:
- Speaker one-sheet or author one-sheet
- Business card and stationery
- Social media
- Even your elevator pitch!
How’d you do on the quiz?
When prospects see your website, business card, one-sheet, LinkedIn page, or other marketing tool, can they immediately discover (1) who you are, (2) what you do, (3) what they get? (These 3 points are pivotal in my Nail Your Brand™ process, refined over years of teaming with solopreneurs.)
Take a second to comment below – I’d love to hear how you did!
For guidance to clarify your brand, read my article: Take 1 minute to clarify your brand – Identify your Brand Elements™
Spoiler alert …
This weekend, I’ll be presenting at the Author U Extravaganza in Denver, leading an interactive session to guide authors to transform their author one-sheet into a hardworking marketing and sales tool – simply by using my 3-point branding guide. Participants will learn to clearly and quickly communicate (1) who you are, (2) what you do, (3) what they get. See you there!
Want to make a BIG IMPACT this year? Want to clarify your brand? Want to make your website work hard for you?
Then mark your calendar and register today for 2 information-packed presentations in February. Join my Feb 12 lunchtime presentation on branding – and my Feb 15 workshop focusing on strategies for a hardworking website.
Wednesday, February 12
DTC-Colorado Business Women
“Nail Your Brand: Get clear, get moving, feed your family!”
A lunchtime presentation with Patrice Rhoades-Baum
When someone asks THAT question – “What do you do?” – do you hem and haw? Think for a minute? Sputter out a laundry list of services? Here’s the key: Clarify your brand, and your elevator pitch will flow naturally. Plus, you can ensure “what you do” clearly resonates in your website and marketing tools. Do this, and you have built a solid foundation – or launchpad! – to promote and grow your business. Join us to step through a simple process to clarify your brand. Then you can ensure “what you do” is crystal clear in your website, brochure, and even your elevator pitch!
Join a vibrant group of gals for this fun and informative lunchtime presentation!
CLICK TO REGISTER.
Saturday, February 15
Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA)
“Sell Your Book with a Hardworking Marketing Website!”
A fun, interactive workshop with Patrice Rhoades-Baum
Learn strategies and tips to make sure your website works hard to sell your book and build your brand. We’ll look at different websites and learn what they are doing right and wrong. Plus, CIPA members will have an opportunity to get feedback and advice on their own websites!
This 2-hour workshop will focus on branding, clear messaging, using the right call-to-action, and important features like a blog and opt-in box to build your list, sell your services, and sell your books!