Do I need a website?
Yes! Yes you do. Word of mouth will always be a powerful tool, especially as you grow your business and hone your skills. However, more often than not your potential clients (that’s your target market, see no. 3) are using the internet as their first port of call for information.
You cannot underestimate the power of the internet. Your clients of tomorrow are surfing, FaceBooking, Tweeting and buying (gift vouchers) online at home and on their smart phones. Can you afford to close your door to the vast number of people who connect to the internet every day?
As a consumer, if YOU are looking for a service or product, how do you find it? Do you search online and ask your friends? We bet the answer is yes. Personal websites with testimonials (as a flexible extension of your leaflet) and online service/product reviews, are a primary selling tool.
Join in! With a friendly web designer by your side, you can easily learn to make friends with your website and harness it as a great business tool. Get online to grow your business… start with baby steps to save yourself feeling overwhelmed.
Can I build my own site? Or should I use a professional web designer?
If you are a whizz on computers, yes, you probably could build your own site, with a lot of patience, trial and error and hassle. But should you? If you wanted a massage, would you do it yourself?
If you did some self-massage you would feel better for it, but you wouldn’t be able to do justice to those hard to reach places (SEO) or get the top-to-toe you need. It would be a whole lot more beneficial to go for a massage from a professional (or choose a web designer who speaks your language).
How do I choose a web designer to build my site for/with me?
In a therapeutic relationship, the aim is to create good rapport. It’s the same with your web designer. If the relationship with your web designer is ‘complicated’ it’s not going to support you in wanting to engage with your site. Like someone looking for a good and therapeutic practitioner relationship, find yourself the equivalent in a web designer.
And most importantly, find a web designer who doesn’t tie you into any ongoing contract for updates, who provides you with a site that you can maintain/update yourself and who will help you with some good old fashioned after-sales service.
Please read this blog post: Why should I get a professional to create my website?
Do I need to get into social media (Facebook, Twitter etc)?
If you have a fabulous shop or clinic and it’s down a dark alley you’re not going to get the footfall you need for your business to thrive. Similarly, you may have the most beautiful, interactive website but if no-one knows it’s there then it’s not going to generate leads for you.
Being found on Google etc is one part of the picture (using SEO – see no.7). You can also take advantage of free marketing using social media – Facebook, Twitter etc – to reach hundreds or thousands of people by sharing links to your site. This will vastly extend the reach of your website. And because you’re addressing people who know you and your reputation (your Facebook friends, Facebook page ‘likes’ or Twitter followers) this acts as the modern extension of word-of-mouth.
Do I need a blog?
Again, Yes! Yes you do. The blog is like the magazine part of your site, where you can post articles and your latest news e.g. special promotion or new training. WordPress websites have a blog integrated.
If you want to keep your search rankings high you need to blog at least once a month. Once you have your site up and running, it’s likely you won’t add any content for a while. Google and other search engines like fresh content, so the more active your site, the higher up the list it will appear in the search results. Blogging is an easy way to add new content in manageable bite-sized chunks.
Blogging can be easy and fun too. Get a cup of tea, relax and write about what you love or anything that interests you. Your clients will pick up the phone to call you if they identify with you.
What’s all this about target market?
This is also known as your niche market. Whether it’s the internet, adverts in The Spark, leaflets or postcards, you need to appeal to a specific market. Your message should be targeted to the needs of your ideal client. Who are you addressing?
TOP TIP, you can have more than one target market. So, if you’re a massage therapist you can put some postcards in the garden centre appealing to people who have sore bodies from gardening and put other postcards at the play school appealing to mums to take time out and chill.
When it comes to target market for a website, it’s a little more complicated as you need to appeal to those gardeners and mothers equally. You might want some advice and we can help you there.
What is a domain name (URL), hosting provider and how do I get an email address?
A domain name or URL is the web address where your site is found e.g. thepracticerooms.co.uk
The host/hosting provider provides a space where the pages of your site are housed on their computers, which allows any internet surfer to access them. You could think of it as a virtual filing cabinet.
Your hosting provider should be able to provide you with email too, so you can choose an email address that matches your website (e.g. fictional example: firstname.lastname@example.org). If they can’t do both for you, look elsewhere for another TRUSTED company, with a good help desk that you can call and speak to a person (!!!!) when you need to, and that can provide both hosting and email. In the long run this will save you MANY complications=time=money.
Choosing the right domain name
Please read this blog post: Choosing the right domain name
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Having a website without SEO is like having a magazine with no magazine stands to sell it from. Your magazine is out, printed and ready to sell, but there’s no one to sell it.
SEO puts specific data in specific places on your website so search engines can find you, then your clients can find your site when they type in the ‘right question’ (your keywords). The search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo! Etc – are the magazine stand. If you’re on the stand, people will find you.
TOP TIP: GET ON GOOGLE PLACES even before you get a website
Once you have a location to practice from, GET YOURSELF ON GOOGLE PLACES. Google Places is the map, accompanied by listings, that often appears at the top of a Google search result. If your business is listed on Google Places then you stand a chance of getting a TOP of Front Page result!