I have this philosophy on what you should invest in when you get started with your freelance business. The three big investments that I think you should spend your money (and/or time) on are branding, your website, and strategy. This is week two of three where I talk about how to invest in these crucial parts of your business, without breaking the bank.
Let’s talk about your Website.
My bread and butter. My babies. The things I love. Changed my life. All those pretty flowery things.
There are MVP sites. And then there are sites that work. And then there are sites that really, really work.
MVP sites are great. They have a purpose (proof of concept) and often times they go up before you’ve taken a deep dive into your business. Or you’ve spent too much time without one and need to throw one up. MVP sites are what I call (hopefully) pretty pictures. They layout basics of your biz, of you and have a consistent color palette and typography choices.
MVP sites don’t always start out that way. Sites can also grow (or stagnate) their way to MVP sites. My site is currently suffering from being built by a working freelance developer/designer.
By that I mean this here developer is so busy building sites for other people, training up the next set of developers and freelancers that her site gets left in the dust. Darn me for having too much work to do things like clean my house and my codebase. Sidebar: The second I am able to take a minute to find help I’m throwing (figurative) glitter all over my site.
Enough about me, on to the good stuff!
You have to invest money to make a professional website.
I make websites for a living and I do not think you should spend $5,000 on a website your first go around. If your business does not already have $5,000 in profits (after paying yourself) it’s not the best investment for you to make. But you can invest $500 in a course. Or $750-1500 for a newer professional to create a simple site (if you have the revenue). You may think I don’t need to spend any money to create a website. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Sorry dear! But a free website with the webhost’s name all over it is not going to cut it for a website for your business. Most independent web hosts (i.e. Bluehost, GoDaddy, Dreamhost, etc.) require you to purchase an annual package. Be aware that they all pull you in with monthly pricing rates for a multi-year annual package. There are monthly payment options, especially using website builders but you’re going to have to pay for something. And depending on your web host, you may have to purchase a domain. All in, you should expect to spend from $100-400 annually for hosting your website.
Even if you spend an entire weekend building your website (and then 3 months tweaking) you’re still going to have to fork over cash. You’ve been warned!
How to not invest in your website
I’m going to let you in on an industry secret. Developers are really opinionated. Especially when it comes to all things dev. There are a few tools I firmly do not believe in. And I’ll guide you away from them if you’re my client. If you insist on using them I’ll point you elsewhere.
I’m not going to let my strong opinions cloud your judgement. You should make the best decision for your and your business – just be aware are of the pros and cons. Questions? Ask a professional. Or your online business owner friend who knows what Google Analytics is and how it affects their business. The ability to beat (or not beat) the Google algorithm is often where website builders can fail you.
Zipping my mouth and dropping some resources here ↓↓↓
- The downfalls of using wix or weebly for your website
- The top web platforms dukie it out
- How to pick the best website platform: WordPress vs Squarespace vs Weebly vs Wix
How to invest in a DIY website
Last week we talked about DIYing the branding for your website but you still need to know how to actually get the thing up there.
Enter my favorite thing ever (okay, one of) online courses.
This is the easiest way to get you from blank screen artfully-crafted, high-converting website.
Skillcrush – Frontend Developer and Freelance WordPress Developer
These two courses are really primed to help you if you think you eventually want to build sites for other people but they can still help you get from 0 to .com bomb.
Courses by Jessica – #AllTheThings
If you are need to figure out how to build a fancy selling machine on your own – run over here! There are courses on DIYing your website with WordPress, courses on mastering ConvertKit and Mailchimp, selling digital products, figuring out Yoast (the top-notch Google Analytics plugin for WordPress) to improve your SEO. More or less it’s an a-mazing one-stop shop.
Femtrepreneur – Website in a Box
Lover of the Squarespace? You are in good company. A lot of online business owners use Squarespace for their MVP site and then tweak it and hack it to work as their business grows. This template walks you through all the things you need to get your website up – complete with graphics, sales pages, and webinar page templates.
Ready to invest in a done for you website?
Start with a short chat with your possible designer or developer. They’ll probably explain things that you don’t know that you don’t know – and that’s why you hire them. There are things about text headers, alt tags, image file size, web hosts, and about 100 other things that you don’t think about if you don’t live and breathe web design and development.
Let them take the lead. They should ask things like why do you want a website (or redesign) what does your website need to do, what is your budget, your timeline, etc. Let them explain their process to you. Ask any questions that come to mind. And then wait for them to get back with a detailed proposal.
Here’s something a designer/developer knows that you don’t
If you sell online you want to make it easy for people to buy on your website. But first, you have to get people to your website. Pasting your URL everywhere and handing out a ton of business cards will get people to your site and make purchases right? Wrong. First, people don’t normally buy the first time they go to your website (unless you’re an impulse buyer with an exception for pretty mugs) so they need a reason to go back to your site. So give them reasons to come back. Place a sign-up for your email newsletter (and a non-generic CTA) on your site. Actually send emails. Start a blog and pin the heck out of it. And if you’ve done a great job of making it appealing – on visit number 7 you’ll get a buyer.
Final thought on this! Consider building your website to dyeing your hair. Yes, you can often hair color from a box that you buy at your local beauty supply store – just like you can get an awesome website by DIYing on your own. Your hair will be a little better if you get a friend to help you color the parts that you can’t reach. And you’ll be able to maintain touch-ups on your own the longer you work at it. But if you want fancy awesome unicorn hair – you cannot and should not DIY it without a cosmetology degree. Or you’ll often end up in your stylist’s chair to get your color fixed.