Websites for Creative Entrepreneurs: Creating a Positive Experience

Websites for Creative Entrepreneurs: Creating a Positive Experience

Can the process of creating a website REALLY be a POSITIVE experience for those who describe themselves as creative, “non-technical,” or “right-brained?”

I’m going to say yes. 

I build websites for creative entrepreneurs and holistic practitioners. Along the way,  I saw a real, tangible, practical need for some kind of system to help my clients, particularly the ones who describe themselves as being “non-techy.”

First of all, I want to make it clear: Being “non-techy” is NOT a flaw or a weakness at all.

However, It’s good to be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of right-brained thinking when diving into a big project like building a website. Surprisingly, it’s not all “left-brained tech stuff” even though the industry seems to be dominated by “tech people” who can sometimes be “challenged” as effective communicators.

Make sure to check out my blog about the strengths and weaknesses “left brained types.”

I can identify with the creative, right-brain side of me, so I understand it. There’s no judgement here.. I’ve made all the most common mistakes and then some. I still work on awareness on an ongoing basis. We also have a LOT of strengths!

Let’s talk about the creative mind and some of the potential pitfalls a creative person can encounter.

I saw  many creative entrepreneurs struggling with the following when it came to getting their websites built:

• Emotional “sunburn” from bad tech experiences. Everything from “mansplaining” to being talked down to by people who may be great at what they do, but suck at talking to people.

• Fear of what might happen if their website.. actually goes LIVE.  Will people like my site? Will it get no visitors? What happens if someone books a call or signs up and I can’t deliver what I promised? (Deep seated fear of failure and/or success)

• Sabotage via “busy-ness”

• Procrastination

• Not understanding the value of having a website; making it low-priority

• Not understanding the value of creating regular content

• Thinking that SEO is a minor “technical adjustment” that one can “set and forget” or pay $300 for someone to “fix.”

• Getting overwhelmed by looking at the competition’s websites

• Not even knowing where to start, so they never even begin

• Trying to save time and money by taking shortcuts that end up costing more in the long run

• Approaching content creation as something they must do to meet expectations, rather than as something that flows freely from their core essence.

• Not knowing what their core essence, or let’s say unique offering to the world really IS.

• Not having a clue about a niche, trying to appeal to everyone

• Not having a clue about their target market

• Not having a clue about their competition

• Being a visual, right-brained thinker who doesn’t conceptualize a finished website by verbal communication and jargon (this isn’t the problem at all, but the lack of communication is.  a good web developer/designer should be able to communicate with a “visual” client)

•  Getting pulled into the “I’ll know it when I see it” game that wastes everyone’s time, and is everyone’s “fault” if no structure is established.

• Shiny Object syndrome: Getting distracted by every new app or idea that comes along instead of trusting an agreed upon process

• Not having any structure to work within

• Extreme writer’s block

• Taking months and months to deliver a blog or the content that goes on the “about” page

• Thinking that everything is “written in stone” and can never, ever be changed without having to pay the developer to make changes

• Good old fashioned mindset blocks

• Not understanding how powerful a website can be for delivering their message on a consistent basis: video, podcasting, blogging, photography.. those are JUST a START!

• Dreading the whole freaking process, thinking that there’s no way it could actually be FUN. (yes, it can be.. even for creative types. Marketing IS a creative process!)

As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes into this whole process than coding, branding, and marketing functions. It’s a highly personal process too.

Creative types tend to approach the process of building a website.. or any other digital marketing system.. differently than your average developer, and this is NOT a bad thing, at all!

In fact, some of the most successful projects I’ve worked on were the result of very CREATIVE ideas and processes.

But it’s a fine line.  Any of the above scenarios could hinder the progress and the effectiveness of a finished site. Or sabotage it altogether.

This is why people so often resort to “easy” solutions (those web hosting services starting with the letter “W”), or get sucked into working with someone who doesn’t understand the basic aspects of a good website.

These “quick fixes fail to help creative business owners understand the long-term vision of their business. It’s a short term tactic, but not a great strategy.

In other words, if you want your business to grow via your website, it’s a smart idea to choose the right platform to begin with and skip the shortcuts. I usually recommend WordPress, and in some cases, Kartra or Kajabi.

Note: I am not biased for financial reasons but ethical ones.. I cannot in good consciousness take part in working with certain platforms that don’t end up being effective, create problems with workarounds,  and end up costing more in the long run.

What my clients need to know

Technical:

A layperson doesn’t really need to learn HTML and CSS, but I believe they should have easy access to the backend of their site so they can blog regularly and make minor changes and updates to their website.

There is a persistent myth that working with WordPress means not having access to drag-and-drop builders. This isn’t true, and hasn’t been, for a number of years now. I offer training to all of my website and coaching clients on how to edit their sites using Divi, Thrive Architect, or Elementor.

Aesthetic/Branding:

A layperson is going to benefit greatly from going through the branding process. Enough said.

Marketing:

When it comes to marketing, a business owner or entrepreneur shouldn’t remain a layperson. Ignoring marketing and remaining ignorant about it isn’t a smart idea. Even for the marketing alone, a coaching program is completely worth it, as it’s such a HUGE part of your website.

And much more.

But the personal aspects I outlined above.. some of which includes mindset, is equally important. This is what I mean by  comprehensive coaching, and why I think it’s not just a nice bonus, but essential.

An example:

A client may need to learn how to create a launch for her new fertility course. She can hire someone to do it for her, certainly. But it’s a pretty involved process. On the surface it looks like sitting down for an afternoon to create a few blogs or videos and posting them on a web page, but there’s a LOT more to it.

This is why there is a thorough intake and prep process. There are about 50 pieces, some technical, some creative, that go into a launch, and about 100 moving parts and details to attend to. I’m not even going to begin to GUESS what the client wants before building something like this.

She also may not know that she can take it in stages.. and if she does, where does she start so she can leverage her time and make it work with her current budget?

On the other hand, there are ways to build a system, whether it’s a website or a launch, that can evolve and grow with your business or a specific strategy or even a tactic.

There still has to be a starting point and some sort of end goal in mind, but I don’t want my clients to get “analysis paralysis” from thinking that everything is written in stone.

Enter coaching for “right-brained” types. Which actually works well for “left-brained” types as well!

I’m so convinced that this type of coaching, consulting, training, whatever you want to call it, is absolutely essential. Some of it is actually built into my website packages as part of the intake process, but I decided to offer this as a separate service for the following reasons:

• I was spending a lot of extra time with clients working on the above bullet points, and rather than charge a premium to ALL of my website clients for a little extra “hand holding,” I wanted to offer it as a separate, “modular” option.

• I enjoy providing this type of service

• It is very much needed.. it actually saves the client time, money and energy

• I go a little deeper with this service.. a little extra handholding, accountability, and mindset work that I don’t offer with the website packages. For example, with a regular website package,  if content is due on a certain date, it’s the client’s responsibility to provide it on an agreed upon deadline, writer’s block or not.

With the coaching program, I can, and have, coached clients to help them accomplish the goal of creating content in a way that felt natural and painless for them, but still within a structured framework and accountability that helped them get the task done faster than just a plain old deadline would. This greatly reduced their anxiety about the project.

They also learned a lot more about marketing and developing their own personal voice and brand in the process. (There’s a LOT more to this than choosing a pretty website template!)

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I’m all about empowering my clients to get more comfortable with technology, websites, and digital marketing in a way that makes sense for them.

There’s PLENTY of opportunity to do just that. But if you don’t know where to even START, give me a call, and I’ll buy a virtual coffee.. maybe even a wine! Just click on that burgundy button below!

Interested in group coaching? I’ll be offering a VERY good deal this fall to help you get your website done.. AND save a ton of time, money and energy!

How to Effectively Communicate With Web Developers

How to Effectively Communicate With Web Developers

“I’m totally overwhelmed by websites and technology. I don’t even know where to start!”

Sound familiar?

If you took the “How tech savvy are you” quiz on this website, you may relate to feeling a bit of DREAD when it comes to creating, updating, or overhauling your website.

Or you may be a tech whiz!  Either way, often there is a big gap between how tech-savvy and non-tech savvy people communicate.

As someone with both a “left brained, logical ” side AND a “right brained creative” side, I’m going to give you a little “insider’s glimpse” of the LEFT side of the gap. (More about the RIGHT side in my next blog)

How to communicate effectively with web developers and “tech” people when you are a creative type

In this blog, I hope you get some great insight about tech in general, how to communicate with tech professionals, and 3 things to look for when working with them.

Flaws in the system that make it frustrating for “non techies” (and tech – savvies!)

First, let’s talk about some of the flaws in the whole system, as in how certain systems are not always well designed, and the “techies” that are immersed in these systems.

Regardless of whether you are a creative, visual thinker or a logical, verbal thinker, systems should be designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind.

If something is overly complicated, over-engineered, or requires a half hour of explanation to achieve a simple goal, there is a problem not with the 2 people interacting in the moment, but the way the entire SYSTEM is set up or designed in the first place.

It can be annoying, when something that could be simple and elegant, just isn’t, even if you like tinkering with things like websites.

There are clunky systems, and elegant systems. There are systems that really need to be completely re-designed, and systems that make using technology surprisingly easy. There are systems that for the most part, function pretty well but still have a few “bugs” to work out, which is normal.

That’s why I design websites the way I do.. so anyone can step in and pick up where I left off, regardless if they know anything about coding or not.

For the kinds of websites I build and the people who need them, this is the most logical solution for everyone.

Bad Tech Support

I”m going to talk about something most web designers and developers never talk about, because many are too busy blaming the client for being “dense.” Bad tech support.

Even the tech savvy can have bad experiences 

Over the past few days, I’ve been talking to a lot of tech support people. I would describe myself as being about average when it comes to “tech.”  Maybe a little above, since I have more experience under my belt, but I wasn’t born knowing most of this stuff.

There are also tech support people, developers, designers, and such that are fantastic at communicating with clients, others that are slightly above average, and some that are downright abysmally bad.

I’ve been “mansplained” to and talked down to more times than I care to admit, and sometimes I feel crabby when I know I have to reach out to tech support.

Still many more do the absolute bare minimum that their job requires.  This often involves copying and pasting obvious answers. This happens even to those of us who are experienced. We may ask a question about why something isn’t working, and (I’m theorizing) as women, instead of getting a real answer, we’ll be directed to the basic instructions that we have already done a billion times.

When we say that this option doesn’t work, and neither does any of the other troubleshooting/code tweaking/workaround options, we are told that “we are not paying attention” to what is being said and dismissed as not having a clue.

We  have to ask someone else to get a real answer, like a backend problem or a piece of CSS code. So there’s MY rant.

I’m not saying this JUST to rant though. I want you to know that I get it, and I actually WANT to hear about your experiences, regardless of what level you are at. Of course, the idea is to transform any problem. Being that we can’t always control how others behave towards us, I’ve done a whole talk specifically about how to effectively work with tech support in the most graceful, educated, kind, and empowered way possible.

Inside the mindset of a “Left Brained” Web Developer 

Let’s talk about web developers. Most are good at what they do, but there are also many who are terrible at communication. Not only is there no onboarding process, but clients are left completely on their own when it comes to envisioning and creating their website.

They are not TRYING to be jerks. Being left-brained doesn’t always mean one is a rigid asshat whose job it is to hinder the creative flow of creative types, drive them crazy, or arbitrarily put up roadblocks to creating a dream website.

To be fair, right-brained creative types can drive people crazy, too, by taking up a LOT of people’s time. I’ve been guilty of doing this myself.

Without some kind of structure, a developer could spend HOURS reacting to everyone’s whims, while still being confined to the restraints of the systems one is working with. This can create a LOT of stress. This still isn’t the client’s fault. It’s ours, or at least the people who are making the promises.

I’ve worked as a prepress technician in the past. I learned that working with things like code, technology, and large projects with parts contingent upon OTHER pieces and functions  being properly built and executed… HAS to be exact and precise.

Otherwise  it simply won’t work.

As in, it won’t work AT ALL.

If we can’t build a site because we didn’t get any content from a client, if we run into a CSS glitch and have to do some coding to make the desired styling changes, or can’t create that dream opt in form because your current email service won’t integrate well with your plugin or website platform.. we aren’t being jerks because we say something isn’t possible or will require a lot of extra work.

Usually though, we are compelled to make something work, even if it’s a workaround. This happens, and we’ll do our best to “make it so,” but we must also know that we have a business to run and there needs to be boundaries, just as in any coaching or holistic practice.

It’s the nature of working with technology.

This is why websites can be so expensive, and why many DIYer’s get frustrated. The solution: To me, taking as much of the risk out as possible for both the client and the developer via:

• A flat fee and clearly spelled out tasks and objectives that are mutually agreed upon.

• Working with systems and platforms that have a good track record for flexibility, functionality, and reliability (WordPress, ActiveCampaign, etc) Adding services on later is not a problem!

We also don’t like to have to GUESS.  Many developers also don’t want to have to guess what a client wants. Neither do I. It’s frustrating and a waste of time and money for everyone.

Again, often it is the developer’s fault for not providing any kind of guidance or communication that can eliminate this problem, on the FRONT end of the project. This is mostly our responsibility.

So let’s talk about what makes it a pleasure to work with someone in getting a website built.

3 things to look for when hiring a developer or designer for your website

 

1. Knowledge of the following:

• The technical aspects of building a website

• A solid sense of design and aesthetics,

• Branding

• Marketing specific to your industry. I dive deeper into these skills in this blog.

2. A THOROUGH intake process.

If there is no intake process or even questions ask, walk away.  Just as I wouldn’t even consider working with a patient when I was practicing acupuncture without a thorough intake, I won’t do this with a new website or marketing client.

A website is far more than just a fancy electronic brochure and some generic pictures and a few blogs to make it “look legit.”  Your branding, which is how your business is presented to the world, is “baked in” to the website.

It’s also far more than a collection of clean and elegant code.  This is also a vital component of any website, obviously, but great code is just a start.

For a small service-based business, it’s possible to build a site with only a bit of HTML and CSS knowledge. In other words, you don’t need to be a black belt coder.

The FUNCTION of the site is very important, and sometimes not well-thought out. It’s a team effort. This means that it is essential to determine the PURPOSE of the site, which is also done in the intake process.

If the intake only consists of you saying: I want my website to be the same shades of pink as my favorite coaching site and yeah, I guess I will need a blog, and the developer says “Ok, ” there is going to be a problem. They need to be asking waaay more questions. It’s not YOUR job to know the right questions to ask.. it’s THEIR JOB!

3. Good communication skills

Of course, if you encounter “mansplaining,” I recommend moving on. As a bit of a nerd with a strong left-brained side, I know we can be NOTORIOUS when it comes to speaking in jargon. We often forget that not everyone speaks our language.

Many are also very, very good at what they do and have a great portfolio, but are absolutely awful when it comes to interacting with people.

In order to create a big project like a website, it’s essential to be able to communicate with real people.

Look for testimonials or get referrals to find out if the developer is easy to work with.

Side note:  Keep in mind that introverts aren’t necessarily shy or awkward, but often have a strong dislike for small talk or irrelevant chitchat. Once you get us going on something we care about though, we are very passionate and engaged. We DO care, a lot. Authenticity is something that comes naturally to us. Many of us are also creative!

Also look for developers who are able to provide insight and education during the process. I’m not suggesting that they spend extra time sitting down to teach you about digital marketing, but there should be resources like blogs, onboarding guides, training videos, and everyday encounters that make it easy to learn and NOT feel stupid for asking.

That’s why I like to have tools like the glossary of digital marketing terms you will find on this website.

And this is why I’m offering individual coaching in addition to, or as an alternative to, the classic intake and onboarding process. I provide a lot of extras and help clients get “unstuck” whether it’s a technical glitch, or a deep-seated mindset block that’s resulting in a lack of clarity and flow in defining your unique offerings and your brand.

Look for developers and designers who can speak in plain English. Clients should be able to say “I like the big picture on the front page of my site, it’s striking. Can we change the color of the bar up top?” without feeling silly.

In fact, one of the things I like to do is have a client show me visually what they like.. and what they don’t like.

It’s also great when you can learn the lingo along the way so that you can say: “I love the HERO image, but can we change the font on the heading? The subtitle looks great. I like the navigation bar, but would it be a CSS nightmare to change the color and adjust the padding on the bottom, maybe 10 pixels or so? *wink* Actually, no. Just speak to us in English, and leave the pixel tweaking and nitpicking to us.

Bottom line: I want my clients to be.. to use an overused word.. Empowered clients. I love it when a client has a shift in their relationship with “tech” so that it no longer feels quite so much like a necessary evil.

I hope this blog helped you navigate the “left side” of the gap. I’ll be talking about the “right side” in my next blog in this series! Meantime.. if you need some extra help and guidance from someone who knows BOTH sides of the gap and you need a bridge.. I’m here. You can book a call for a free 30 minute consultation by clicking on the burgundy button below.

Why I Chose WordPress for my Acupuncture Website

Why I Chose WordPress for my Acupuncture Website

Are you planning on building a new website?

You may be wondering: “Is WordPress the best option for my holistic practice? Should I use WordPress or SquareSpace or Wix?

I’m going to tell you the exact reasons why I chose WordPress for my acupuncture website over other platforms like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace.

As a digital marketer, I witness a lot of confusion about what hosting platforms (not to be confused with hosting plans, from hosting companies.) As an acupuncturist, I understand how cash flow can be an issue when you first start out.

Many choose to start out with the cheapest and “easiest” options. After doing a lot of research, and testing Weebly, Wix, and SquareSpace myself, I’ve come to the conclusion that my initial instinct was correct: WordPress can save  time, money, and energy in the long run, if we know how to set it up correctly as an entire marketing system.

I’m going to go even deeper than what most developers typically share, because many of them don’t know much about marketing, or the acupuncture and tourism businesses.

First, let’s talk about what a hosting PLATFORM is. 

Some examples of major platforms are:

Wix
Weebly
SquareSpace
Joomla
Drupal
WordPress
Kajabi
Kartra

From here on, I’ll be referring to WordPress as WP, and Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace as WWS platforms to spare myself having to type each one repeatedly.

I won’t be referring to Kajabi and Kartra in this blog. They can make sense for certain types of businesses, usually global sites, and I’ll be writing about them soon.

I also won’t be exploring other self-hosted platforms like Joomla or Drupal.

Many people tend to default to the first three because they think it will save them time and money. (WWS) In the vast majority of cases, I don’t think this is a great idea. Let’s talk about what might work for you, and why.

I’ll also give you some specific examples, not just dogma or theory.

An honest guide

Obviously I’m biased towards WP because it is my preference and I truly believe it is the best option for most small businesses. In addition to my opinion, my goal is to provide you with up to date and accurate information.

For example, many WP developers mislead readers by telling them that their Wix page will be doomed to SEO invisibility because of javascript or flash coding, which isn’t really true anymore. WWS has gotten better about that.

WWS bloggers also have their own bias and tend to manipulate data, stretch the truth, and leave out important considerations when it comes to writing about what WWS platforms are best for specific users.

Before we begin, it’s important to be familiar with a few key concepts:

Hosting: Self-hosting vs. Fully hosted

A lot of people get confused about this.

Self-hosting doesn’t mean that your laptop is a server. It simply means that you pay a fee, typically yearly, to  host your own site, but via a hosting service. When most North Americans think of web hosting, they probably think of the big, obvious companies like GoDaddy or HostGator.

This is a different scenario from paying a monthly fee for WWS services, which host the site for you.

What’s the big deal? Why is a self-hosted WP a better choice?

1. You own your own website. With a hosted platform, all of your site’s data and assets are stored on their servers and can’t be moved. With WP, you have control over your website.

2. Portability. All of your content and databases can be moved on a WP (self- hosted) platform. Most hosting companies support WP. If you are not satisfied with your current host, you can migrate the site to a new one.If you want to relocate a WWS site, you will have to build it from scratch.

Since eventually people discover that WP offers so much more in terms of building a powerful marketing website, migration and portability IS a major thing to consider. These 2 reasons alone are compelling enough to make the switch.

Themes

Themes control the overall look and navigation features of your website.

While WWS platforms give you a fairly decent selection of pretty and elegant themes to choose from there are a few rather significant caveats:

1. You can’t modify a WWS theme. This may not sound like a big deal, but once you start really getting into the nitty gritty of how your site will work and how it will need to evolve in order to grow your business, you may find yourself either becoming frustrated with the limitations of a WWS site or settling for a less than desirable option.

2. With WWS, once you choose a theme, you are stuck with it. You can’t go back and change it.

3. WWS sites tend to have a similar look and feel.

The other day I saw a beautiful site my friend just had built. It is unique and looks custom-made, and her branding is spot-on. You won’t get this from a WWS platform.

Limited Marketing Tools and Options

One of the biggest mistakes I see is when business owners focus solely on how a site looks, while overlooking how it actually works as a marketing tool.

I get it. It’s hard to predict and envision what you are not yet familiar with!

Marketing tools can mean added features, but also how the user experiences the site. Much has to do with the specific actions they can take as you guide them into your marketing funnel and begin a relationship with them.

I don’t generally recommend certain platforms for many essential marketing functions.

Specific example: Recently I had a client who wanted to create an opt-in form to collect leads on her SquareSpace site. In WordPress, the whole process would have been a matter of setting up from a choice of decent plugins.

As of the time I write this, in order to do this type of lead capture with forms that are attractive, professional looking and able to convert.. AND for her to have the choice of using her current email marketing service, we had to rely on ONE third party service (Privy). Yes, we made it work, but:

The problem with this: 

1. It was pretty much a “jury rigging” or stopgap solution.

2. 3rd party services can and DO go out of business. In fact, I had only one option simply because a guy named Seth was one of the few who were able to offer the service currently provided only by Privy.

This isn’t a great situation to be in.

I’ll be honest too: From a technical standpoint, it was a bit of a pain. WordPress would have been much easier in this case.

It’s also cheaper when you have the flexibility of using which ever email hosting service you prefer, rather than be locked into the whims of a freemium platform.

I don’t blame them for wanting you to buy their stuff, if it offers everything I need.

For the price, this is inching towards the cost of a more powerful platform like Kajabi or Kartra.

If you find that you need to rely on 3rd party apps and Zapier (Another 3rd party solution to make apps “talk” to each other) in order to perform some pretty basic marketing functions, it ends up being a bigger headache.

The solution is also often more expensive than having the flexibility that WordPress offers.

I must say that SquareSpace does have great customer service, which came in handy.

I highly recommend considering your needs not just for the coming months but for a few years out, and to sit down and crunch some numbers.

Often WordPress isn’t a bad option, evven for bootstrappers. It could be worth it for many to take the time to learn it.

WordPress Has More Powerful Tools

With WP, you have access to many more plugins. As they say in WP land: There is plugin for everything!

From creating clickable Twitter quotes to optimizing photos to setting up child themes to creating custom opt in forms, there are plugins to customize your site to make it work exactly the way you want it to.

A word of caution: Too many plugins can slow down the performance of your site, and the wrong plugins can actually harm your site. (more on this later)

This is important, especially once you start adding more and more content to your site,. Yes, you SHOULD be doing on a regular basis!

 If you want leverage your site as a true marketing tool, I highly recommend the power and flexibility that WP provides.

Here are some specific elements you may likely want to integrate into your website:

• The ability to connect to certain databases which may be an integral part of your services. Real estate and job recruiting comes to mind.

• More options for connecting to booking sites, reviewing sites, webinar platforms, and other widgets. Even for a simple sales funnel, it’s good to have customized options.

• Advanced ecommerce features. If you are selling a product, such as herbs, memberships with recurring monthly fees, or online courses, you may need some of the more advanced features WP can offer.

• Memberships

• The ability to create an email opt in form and customize it to work the way you want it to and connect to the services you want and need. The site should serve your funnel, not just sit there and look pretty, waiting to be discovered!

• Integrating your content and SEO in a seamless manner

• Themes with features and navigation options that work for your business and are not limited to the rigid structure of the WWS theme

(WWS platforms do offer a wide variety of “plugins” (or apps) as well, but not nearly as many as you can find in the WP environment.)

Another thing to consider is that in WP, you can have multiple accounts and administrative roles. Say for example you hire a blogger. You can limit their access to the vital functions of your site, while still allowing them to publish posts. You can’t do this with WWS services.

SEO

SEO best practices are more dependent on creating high quality content and on-page SEO than what any one platform can offer as far as features. In other words, it’s  the CONTENT of your site that matters the most. However, WP does have more features.. and plugins available to make SEO much easier. My favorite is Yoast.

It’s no longer true that WWS platforms are terrible for SEO. As I mentioned earlier: in the past, Wix was based on Flash and Javascript code, which Google robots can’t see. Since iOS stopped supporting Flash a few years back, it followed suit and bases its sites on HTML and CSS.

Still, WP has an edge. Since WP is a CMS and was originally created for blogging, and maintaining a blog is one of the best ways to improve SEO.

Potential drawbacks of using WP

These drawbacks are not to be considered risks if you take proper care of your site. A good web hosting service can also be very helpful when it comes to making sure you have easy options for backing up your site content AND database. The 2 main things to consider are:

• Hacking
• Plugin conflicts

Is it because WP is inherently inferior and “buggy? No. WP is an open source CMS. (content management system) This means that its code isn’t proprietary, as is the case with hosted platforms.

If you talk to a WP advocate, they will tell you that this is a GOOD thing.. and it IS!

But you do have to keep your site “healthy” by choosing only trusted plugins and keeping everything updated.. especially WP itself, in your dashboard.

Furthermore, since most websites are built using WP, the statistics don’t show that a site is more likely to get hacked just because it is a WP site. There are simply more WP sites that get hacked because there are more WP sites!

A blogger biased towards WWS will play this up as being a HUGE negative.. as if your site will likely get hacked unless you “lease” from a WWS platform.

The truth is, keeping your site healthy isn’t difficult. Every site owner should be spending a set amount of time each week on maintenance and adding new content anyway, just as you would with bookkeeping.

Here’s another analogy: You may have a high-performing custom made race car, but you DO have to change the oil and you DON’T want to hire a bad mechanic to do your maintenance or add sketchy performance-enhancing features.

The above points are important to be aware of, but not good reasons for avoiding WP. That would be like saying it’s not worth it to invest in a property that is likely to appreciate in value because a sink COULD get clogged.

I think we all need to get over it and stop seeing a website as something you set up and then ignore until it becomes so outdated that an overhaul is required. A website is a “living” entity and should be treated as such.

Having said that, hacking does happen. You do want to take whatever methods you can to prevent it. If the worst case scenario happens.. don’t panic. If you have a good hosting plan and do regular backups, it won’t be as devastating as you might think.

Finally, I will say this: If the choice of platforms for a serious business owner is based SOLELY on avoiding hacking and plugin conflicts, perhaps some re-thinking of priorities is in order.

Choosing WordPress can save you money in the long run.

Let’s continue with the leasing analogy. Sure, the $29 a month sounds more affordable, but if you do the math and factor in lost time and revenue, it could be that you are throwing money away in the long run.

As your business matures and begins to require a stronger market presence and tools in order to grow, the drag-and-drop environment will begin to lose its effectiveness.

And once you build it, you are stuck with it. You are leasing a site that very likely will be underperforming, if your plan is to grow your business.

WWS platforms are also classic “freemium” services. “Extras” that you need to run your website like a true marketing tool tend to require subscription upgrades.

Eventually, the hours you spent on your WWS site or that $29 per month that didn’t really do anything for you.. is simply wasted time and money.

There are WWS biased bloggers (affiliates) that inflate the actual costs of building a WP site, and make the monthly rates sound attractive. Lost revenue due to underperformance, site migration costs, and having to start from scratch are not surprisingly, also not factored in.

It makes no sense to “lease” a site that will probably need a major overhaul once your business gets to a certain point. And in today’s online world, that’s probably going to be sooner than you might think.

You built this.. but do you OWN it?

My favorite analogy is that using hosted WWS platforms is like renting a home that you can redecorate up to a point, but can’t customize. Anything you invest or put into the home also cannot be taken with you when you move. To me, it doesn’t make sense to put so much time and energy into something I can’t even take with me!

WP is like owning your home.. when it’s time to build an addition you will need, you can easily do it, change domains, switch hosting plans, and tweak your site to meet the demands of your growing and evolving business.

Hiring a professional also doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars, especially for a simpler coaching or acupuncture site. As your business grows, you can pay for added features, content, marketing, and SEO as needed. It could be cheaper in the long run to pay a hosting company and up-front developer fees, and this doesn’t even factor in the ROI of having a better performing website.

It’s at least worth sitting down with a calculator as you investigate all your options, looking at not just your short-term goals, but the big, overall picture.

WordPress, honestly, isn’t that hard to learn.

Yes, it does have a learning curve. But it’s not nearly as overwhelming as it’s made out to be.

A lot of right brained types have shied away from WP because they think it will be too hard to learn. Honestly, it’s not THAT difficult to learn. Almost anyone can set up a basic site in under an hour, if they want to. (This doesn’t mean you need to, you can outsource it too, of course!) My point is that it’s not impossible.

Many WordPress themes don’t really require any HTML or CSS coding knowledge. This website is actually built using a theme/builder called Divi. I use it because it is easy for a client to manage on their own without having to rely on a developer or coding knowledge.

Other builders on the market included Elementor, WordPress Bakery (formerly VC or Visual composer) and Beaver Builder. Even Gutenburg is fairly intuitive for WWS builders who may be used to the block format.

The truth is, “drag and drop”  is no longer a valid argument for avoiding WordPress in favor of WWS.

It’s true that learning the basics is easy, but mastering WP does take more time. As you become more skilled, you can customize your site in order to take your business to the next level. With WWS platforms, you are limited.

If you are used to a certain platform, there may be a learning curve not necessarily because one is inherently more difficult, but just a different intuitive process. Much like driving a different type of car.

It could be entirely worth it to purchase a few domain names, purchase a starter hosting plan, (some companies now allow you to pay on a monthly basis) and explore WP.

I do get that it just isn’t something that everyone wants to spend time with.. whether it’s WP or WWS. It could also be entirely worth it to outsource to a developer (the RIGHT developer for YOU) who is willing to show you how to manage your own content and make modifications.

Bottom line:

WWS platforms are a placeholder option for those who just want to begin a website presence. Sometimes, it makes sense.

But if you are serious about leveraging your website as a marketing tool in the long run, WP is the way to go.

When clients work with me I have an onboarding and offboarding procedure I walk them through so they can feel confident about using their own site. Depending on your needs and budget, there are customized options available which can make having your very own self-hosted WordPress site entirely DO-ABLE.

Want to know more? Click on the nifty burgundy button below for a consultation.

 

 

Why Your Website Still Isn’t Finished Yet: Part 3

Why Your Website Still Isn’t Finished Yet: Part 3

If your wellness website is not quite finished yet.. no need to worry.

Let’s say you’ve made it through all the mental roadblocks (see part 1 and part 2. 

You have a real health and wellness website.. but it’s not really done.

Congratulations.. you have a live site!  This is NO small thing!  But something still doesn’t seem “right” just yet. Why?

The short answer is:

A website isn’t supposed to ever be done!

What? That doesn’t make sense, you say. Why am I paying for a website if it never gets done?

A website is what some would call a “living entity.” It is designed to be an evolving and dynamic process, rather than a digital thing that sits on a server somewhere while you hope it attracts clients.

Paradoxically, your site can save you a lot of work, but it also requires some work as well.

Fortunately, its the kind of work that feels productive, like creating a new video to educate your audience, or researching the keywords your new target audience is most likely to type in a Google search.

Nurturing your website also saves you from the work that feels unproductive and draining, such as dealing with answering the same old questions, “price shoppers and tire kickers,” and the wrong types of patients, guests, customers, or clients for you.

It puts a large chunk of your marketing on autopilot, even if much of your marketing is done offline.

A website is something you (and your clients, patients, customers, and guests) interact with.

A website should reflect your current story and philosophy. I’m not the same person I was a few years ago, and this reflects in my site.(s)

People don’t JUST buy “acupuncture” or “chiropractic services” or other services anymore unless it’s a super cheap commodity. Good luck with that. They are interested in YOU and what YOU have to offer, and how it benefits them, of course!

This is obviously important for coaches and acupuncturists, but it’s also important for the hospitality and tourism industry. What makes a place worth booking or a tour memorable? The vibe. The hosts. The guide. The experience. The uniqueness of the place. It’s about more than the latest remodeling project or whether or not you have a swimming pool.

PUT THIS ON YOUR WEBSITE! Tell your story and how it relates to your avatar on your ABOUT page. Show your photo. In your own natural habitat. Skip the Linked in Corporate Headshots. People want to connect to other real people nowadays.

Which leads me into..

How to finally finish your website (kind of)

1.  Attract only your ideal client or patient to your wellness website 

This can also change, as you and your business evolves. For example. Perhaps previously you were seeing patients who were only interested in pain relief.

Including some patients who found you on Google and walked through your door seeking a fast, cheap, and effective solution for the pain that is a result of years of bad habits or neglect.

(and this made you tired and frustrated..I get it!)

So you decided to change your focus to functional medicine to manage chronic pain, autoimmune conditions, and and hormone balancing. You are slowly creating great blogs and articles about all of this.

But that’s not the ONLY change you may need to make.

It’s not enough to make just the obvious changes in your services tab or blogs.

You will want to update your site to focus on making the entire site appeal to your ideal patient “avatar” and repel (yes, repel) those who are NOT your ideal patient.

Let’s say for you it looks like this:

Jenny is 45 years old, affluent, proactive about her health, educated, loves cycling, hiking, is into metaphyiscal concepts, lives in the mountains of Colorado etc.

You will want to make sure your entire site will attract the Jennys out there..

… and yes, via branding and content, actually REPEL 75 year old Joe who is grumpy and wants to know how much it will cost to “fix” his back today. (this isn’t age-ism, but about making specific decisions about the demographic you want to work with.. some may prefer working with older patients) I don’t know too many who want to work with grumpy patients who want a quick fix, though. This is draining. 

Another clinic may want to do the complete opposite and focus on being a high-volume low-cost pain clinic that doesn’t have time for lab testing, postural assessments, nutritional and lifestyle counseling, or individualized treatment plans. Perhaps with a specific focus on seniors.

It’s your choice. Yes, you want to be THAT specific. Of course, it is possible to have a few “avatars,” but … remember.

A generic website that appeals to everyone, attracts nobody.

The concept of attracting your ideal client should be built into every function of your site. (For most, the most functional thing about their site is their contact form and phone number!)

This means the way you come across, your writing and communication style, the images you choose, your branding. EVERYTHING.

It includes how you educate and screen out the kinds of people you don’t want to waste time with.. and have your ideal patient, guest, customer, or client say YES! This is the one I want to work with! She’s talking directly to ME, and it’s uncanny!

This is what I did in my practice, and it works for acupuncturists, chiropractors, coaches, and holistic entrepreneurs.

This also applies to the hospitality and tourism industry. A good website for your guest house or Bed and Breakfast will include a sharp focus on your ideal guest and how to attract him or her!

For example, a hostel appealing to a younger audience should design their site to appeal to a younger audience via the same principles.. and yes.. by default, repel an older audience. Not via ageism, but by making it clear that you offer basic accommodations and a party atmosphere, if that’s what you want to create.

Another guest house or even hostel would want to do the OPPOSITE. For example, I use hostels. I’m 52 years old, and I prefer a quiet space where I can relax or get work done. Show me an accurate but attractive room photo, a good “vibe,” good wifi, no stairs to haul luggage up, NO partying.. and proximity to a train or bus station and I’ll book!

What does your new “avatar” look like?

If you need some help, you can download my free version of the ideal client or patient avatar exercise. It’s a fun way to finally get some clarity on WHO it is that you are serving!

Finish Your Website

2. Add some new marketing tools to your website to get a steady and predictable stream of new clients patients, customers, or guests

So let’s say you start out with a basic site for your new practice or business. This is great! You have 8 pages, links to online booking, an about page, a blog, and a contact form.

This is just the beginning. A website is a powerful tool that can be used to build your email list, link to social media, house online courses or a membership site, and more.

Don’t just use your site as a “glorified brochure,” Which is what many, many business owners do.

Let’s take this a step further and talk about something called Conversions.

You want people to do DO something with your site once they get there.

Do you want them to sign up for a consultation? To book a room? To subscribe to your email list? Download something? Make a purchase?

This of course, helps your business. But it also improves your Google rankings!

Think about it. Google wants users to have a good experience. It’s just like Facebook.. nobody is interested in a cascade of worthless clickbait.

When you get to a site, you want something that is worth your time and offers something of benefit that only you can offer.

So if you are still using your old 2009 site with just your phone number and address and a list of conditions that acupuncture can treat, or the same ol’ same ol’ photos of a room with a bed for your vacation rental, you need to make some changes.

You want to do this NOT just to stay up to date and relevant. It’s also essential these days to take advantage of a website’s ability to inspire a CALL TO ACTION.

You want to make it easy and compelling for visitors to your site to take the next step in your process (or sales funnel, in marketing-speak).. via many tools and plugins available today.*

If you are not sure what this all means, check out some of my courses. My Future-Proof Your Practice Course will show you how to get a basic funnel up and running in a few weeks or less.

3. Data can give you some powerful insights about your wellness or hospitality website. Start using analytic tools!

I wish I could tell you that you don’t have to pay attention to numbers and data. 

I wish I could tell you that branding and picking pretty colors, investing in professional photos of your rooms, and writing an article about how great acupuncture is will be all you ever need.

This is a great start! BUT..

How will you KNOW if all this stuff is paying off? Is it ALL just about bookings and sales calls? Is this the only “metric” one can use to know how much progress is being made?

Of course not.

Real marketing is also about defining objective goals, but also metrics, or data that can be tracked so that you can know if you are heading in the right direction, and what your next strategy for the next few months will be.

Analytics and data to track the performance of your website

Enter the left brain.

Analytics (Google is the most well known, but there is more) can give you insights about your site, what needs improvement such as traffic, bounce rate, user flow behavior, Google rankings, links, and even how “trustworthy” your site is.

This will help you “tweak” your site. I’m a fan of regular website audits.

I do know that many build a site and then just let it sit for years. They are definitely missing out on an opportunity to use their website to build their business.

4. ADD some juicy content to your website! 

You MUST keep adding content and/or refreshing old content. 

This is one of the cornerstones of a good SEO strategy. SEO is a complex art and science. It’s quite involved. But when explaining it to laypeople in a nutshell, it comes down to these basics:

1. Basic SEO setup: Your URL, title, keywords, website navigation, image alt tags, load speed, etc (There is a checklist)

2. Backlinks. This means having high qualtity sites link back to yours. This is also a bit tricky, but do-able. I always do this the same way I practiced acupuncture.. ethically and with no “quick fixes.”

3. Content. It’s not about all those great keywords.. it’s how they are USED in your content: Blogs, videos, articles, etc. Today, it’s all about the user experience, not about Google or algorithms or bots. Google is getting smarter and wants websites to be high quality and “human friendly.” No more of those junky 300 word blogs stuffed with keywords. Those sites were awful. Nobody misses them.

For acupuncturists, case studies can be a great way to add high-quality, real human-friendly SEO content to your site. It highlights you as an expert.

For the tourism  and hospitality industry, this could be regular photos, a gallery with alt tags, and links to an IG or Youtube account.

5. SUBTRACT outdated content

Anything that is no longer relevant, is outdated, or clutters up your site needs to go.

Sites are becoming more streamlined as attention spans go down. There’s a lot of generic-looking sites out there with nothing new as far as content, especially with acupuncture and apartment rentals.

It’s more and more challenging to present the benefits you offer in a clear, easy to read, and uncluttered manner.

The trend of sites in the US built more than 8 years ago tends to be cluttered with too much info on the front page.

Which leads me to..

6. Check your website’s SPEED

This is often overlooked, but loading speed does make a difference.  More than a few seconds and visitors tend to bounce off the site.

There are ways to improve speed. Sometimes it’s a matter of bloated coding, images, too many plugins, or other page content. (hosting videos on your own site, for example) I’ve also had to audit my own site a few times due to slow page loading.. it’s a common issue.

I hope these tips will help you. Remember that just like everything else on your business “to do” list.. your website is a work in progress.

If this is the main “takeaway” you get from this blog.. that’s a huge energy saver right there! 

If you have not read all the blogs in my series about Why Your Website Still Isn’t Done Yet make sure to check them out!

Need More?

Want to see where you stand so that you can start getting more traffic and more of your ideal clients and patients booking through your website? 

 Schedule a free consultation for a “quick audit” of your website by clicking the button below. 

DIYers: Check out the Future Proof Your Practice Course so that you can take your website to the next level and get your wisdom out into the world on the FAST track.  Learn the basics of the client/patient journey and build your first sales funnel.. plus more!