Henry used to work in a web design company, making websites for small businesses and start-ups, a bit like you probably! The problem was the price… they were building and selling websites for £3000 or more and for what? Do you think that spending £3000 guarantees you customers?
You might’ve heard the expression build it and they will come. When it comes to websites it’s not true. Build it and no one comes. In June 2014 the number of websites worldwide passed 1 billion. What makes you think yours will be found? And when they find it (because you’ve somehow dragged them there by the face, metaphorically speaking) what do they need to see?
Alan spent £1000 on his first website but got zero customers so he spent a bit more on the second - £1500. What do you think happened? Yes you’re right, nothing. £2500 later and no customers.
What did Alan do next?
He built his own, this time for free! With the launch of the PopUp Business School, Alan created an account on Weebly.com? He built a website for free, published it straight away (Simon then stayed up all night correcting the grammar) and made it look pretty and started sending to potential customers. Did it work? We’re still here 7 years later.
THE TWO MAIN REASONS WHY YOU MIGHT BE SHIFTING IN YOUR SEAT
REASON #1: Won’t a free website look less professional?
We used to think that too. Until Tony from Somerset, UK won blue chip clients from a free website that took him to hours and helped him earn six figures. And frankly the website doesn’t look great. The thing is the free website builders have really evolved. You can make your websites look really good. Also don’t buy your domain yet! You can have your free version out there for a while first – not many people will see it anyway and if someone sent us cash every time a start-up changed their mind about name, business type, target customer etc in the first year, we’d be gazillionaires. Stay agile, flexible and solvent (it’s easy to waste thousands on websites, domains and hosting you don’t need – just ask Simon and Alan.
Steps to a minimal website with maximum effect
1.Start building for free
The first thing you’re going to need to do is find a website builder that you like and want to use. We currently use Weebly.com as it’s the one we find the easiest to use. Have a read of this article to compare different editors.
Basing these guidelines on Weebly.com (other builders operate differently), once you’re account is set up, you will be faced with a selection of themes for different types of website. All you need to do is simply chose the most relevant to you! All of this can always be changed later if you decide to. Scroll down for some more help using the Weebly editor…
2.Borrow with pride
Much easier to be inspired by (copy) than dream up from scratch. Find some websites you like the look of that aim to reach the same kind of customer you’re going for. Ignore the worst bits, take the best bits and borrow their best ideas (without blatantly stealing stuff – you need your own pictures and text – more on that later).
3.Make a one page website and PRESS PUBLISH
Photo and/or video clip, a strong call to action (email me, call me now etc), get people’s attention, put something they’ll find interesting and make visitors go wow – I want that! THEN PRESS PUBLISH! Avoid the paralysis trap. Press publish straight away! No one will see it yet! That gives you a sense of urgency to get things done.
5.Send people to it!
Then send it to everyone you know and ask for help to make it better. Involve your friends, family and potential customers in building your business – you’ll build trust and find it easier to sell to them, or get them to tell others.
6.Improve as you go
Most people want their website to look perfect first time out, but the reality is it’s never finished. We’ve been going even years and we still make daily changes.
There’s more help for you on our YouTube channel on building websites. Click here to go to the Website Playlist!
HOW DO I MAKE A FREE WEBSITE USING THE WEEBLY.COM EDITOR?
The first thing you’re going to need to do is find a website builder that you like and want to use. We currently use Weebly.com as it’s the one we find the easiest to use.
Of course with a ‘free’ website, there are costs. The cost that Weebly implement are not monetarily however their branding will be present. With a free Weebly website, you will have a ‘Sub Domain’ of Weebly e.g. myfreewebsite.weebly.com. Does this matter? Our most successful participant, Tony Pass made £100,000 in his first year using a free Weebly website. It does not make a difference. If the content is killer and the marketing is magic, customers will not even notice! Weebly will also put their branding in the footer of your website but who the hell scrolls to the bottom of a webpage these days?
So now we've covered that, let's dive right in!
Step 1 – Pick a theme.
The first thing Weebly.com asks you to do is find a theme. It will ask what type of website/ business you are and recommend themes it thinks will work for you. The things to keep in mind at this stage are:
Step 2 – Choose a domain name
You will be given three options here; the first option is the free one. Now pick a domain name. This does not have to be your business name; it could just be your business in the most simple terms, e.g. if your business is call “Luscious Cakes” and you’re based in London our domain could be “londoncakes.weebly.com.” It may work in your favour! People search for what they know… They don’t know your business exists yet!
TOP TIP: Don’t make it too long and think about what your customers will be searching for – there’ll be some clues!
Step 3 – What the hell is all this?
You should now be in the editor. What you are seeing here is a live preview of what your website looks like. Because we’ve chosen a theme from Weebly, they have filled it with their own dummy content to show you what you could do. So you’ve got two choices:
Spend some time here at this stage to get used to the editor, find your way around it all and explore. That’s the best way to learn!
TOP TIP: If the buttons don’t work how you want, click the browser refresh button
Step 4 – What do I actually need?
You will have various pages with various bits of content on your site already and hopefully you’ve had a bit of a play and are more comfortable in the editor. So here’s the big question… What do I actually need on my website?
People will tell you different things. Some will say you need a full, up to date, perfect website with EVERYTHING on it. How long will everything take?
The only things you need on your website are as follows:
It’s helpful to have other bits on there like contact forms, maps, address, phone numbers etc. but it all depends on what your customer is going to want to see. And that is the answer to all of your questions: Who’s your customer?
Good enough is good enough.
You can drive business with a one page website. Spend more time meeting, chatting and building relationships with customers; the website will be powerful enough in whatever state it’s in. As I’ve mentioned already, people will not just find your website, we need to tell them about it.
TOP TIP: USE GREAT PICTURES! You can make an average website look great with great pictures but a great website will look rubbish with bad pictures. You can get great looking stock photos for free with websites like www.pixabay.com
Step 5 – Publish that mother!
This is part where people hesitate… publishing. Let me make it not so scary.
What happens when you publish your website?
If I could leave you with a final word to the wise it would be this:
Spend more time marketing your business and telling people about your website than you do building it. A good website will never be finished so don’t try to rush it to the end. As good as your content may be, your marketing has to be 10x better.
“Content is king but marketing is queen. And she runs the house.” – Gary Vaynerchuck
Magic marketing and killer content is what is going to make your website a raging success.
Some examples of successful Free sites
http://www.theretailoperation.co.uk/ (Recently updated his domain)
http://www.bitterandtwist.com/ (Recently updated his domain)