The Absolute First Thing You Need To Do Before Creating Your Website

Transcript (with Chapter Headings)

You absolutely should have a website, and you absolutely shouldn’t let worries about it not being “done” get in the way of launching it. But the absolute first thing you need to do before creating your website, whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re having someone else do it, is a plan.

Sometimes it can be helpful to get a website up there as a starting point. There is nothing wrong with that. It can actually be beneficial to have at least some place for people to go — that’s not social media — to learn about why they should work with you or buy from you. But then it’s time to get serious.

Two of the most common things I hear from people who don’t have a website or have kind of just a landing page or exclusively use social media. They either say they’re working on it and it’s just taking forever because they need to make sure it’s right or oh, I had one but it didn’t bring me any business. And that’s actually really similar to the people who have a website and don’t share it. The reason for those two things, the thing that those two people have in common, is that they don’t have a strategy in place. They’re working from the end and going backwards.

It’s incredibly hard to create a website that is effective, that is efficient, that will do what you need it to do, without some kind of strategy. Your website should be the central place where people can go to learn about you, and it’s up to you to tell them what they need to know. And what you tell them is going to depend on what your focus is.

Before I start any website project, no matter how big or small it is, is to ask what are your goals here? What’s your plan? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg to get an idea of what somebody wants. You really need to spend at least if you have everything in place and you have a good marketing strategy and you have all kinds of things in place from branding to statements about who you are and what your goals are. If you have all that in place, you should still spend at least an hour just going through what you have and how you want to present that to the world.

Now, if you don’t have those things, it’s, this is going to be a good time to get that in place. You’re going to be doing two things at once. You’re gonna be working on your business plan, your, your mission statement, your goals, your messaging, your tone, you’re gonna be working on all of that at the same time while you have that website and goal in mind.

There’s really no set time for how long it’s gonna take you to do this, but having some guidance from somebody who’s done it before is going to be really helpful. So somebody who offers some kind of strategy sessions or any kind of branding, content writer, people who make websites, anybody who has experience in taking a business and presenting it to the world is going to be somebody that you’re gonna want to talk to and figure out if they’re going to help you strategize and, and figure out how to present that message.

Strategy in website building

So the way that I go about it in the realm of a website is gonna play on those other things. You’re gonna have some marketing in there, you’re gonna have some social media, you’re gonna have some about content. Are you gonna blog? It’s sort of like taking those strategy things that you do as a business and making them tangible.

So some of the strategy that goes into website building is what is your main service or services? What is your main thing? And how does that differ from other people. That’s gonna be where you start and then the way that you talk about that, you’re gonna be talking to the person that’s going to your website.

If you’re sitting at a conference or work meetings or wherever you are, if you’re sitting somewhere and you have two people that are slated to present that day, and you have one person that comes up and says who they are and what they do and their bio and explains to you all the ways that they have spent their lives doing these things. And that’s why they’re the best person for the job. That’s kind of boring. You’re like, I could have just read this in a bio, like they’re not bringing anything to you that you need to know. Like, how is this person gonna help you? You don’t know, they’re just telling you about their qualifications and what business school they went to or what companies they worked for. That doesn’t really help you understand how they can take those skills and translate that into something that’s going to help you.

So you need to take this approach of this second theoretical person that we’ve created in our mini conference here. And what they’ve done is they’re presenting themselves in a way that’s like, hey, here’s who I am real quick. But also I have an idea of what your pain points are. I know what is, is causing you issue, and you want to know how I know? Because I’ve dealt with this before. These are all the things that people commonly come to me about and hear all the ways that I help them solve those problems. That’s going to be the type of content that you need on your website.

So strategy is really important because it helps you start at that, here’s who we are and what we do, and push through, into that really fully fleshed out idea of how you’re going to help people and then how you’re going to present that on the website.

So there’s gonna be that really difficult home page. And it’s always like, what do I put on my home page? What’s the, what’s the one way that I’m gonna get somebody to see who we are and what we do? Well, you don’t have to start there. A lot of times it’s really easy to start with like a contact page. So where are the end points gonna be that somebody’s going to go to? You have contact, maybe you have a newsletter sign up, maybe you have an inquiry form or some kind of class sign up. You have these places that people are going to go. And so you start there, you create those pages. It’s gonna be really easy. Is it a form? Is it a phone number? Is it an email address? Is it come to our office? Whatever it is, those are pretty easy to do.

And then from there you’re gonna decide what your main things are that you want somebody to do, and then you’re gonna decide where you’re gonna put them. So a few ways that somebody may contact you would, would be or not contact you, but a few ways that somebody would be at the top of your funnel. Would be, maybe they have a newsletter, maybe you have lead gens, maybe you have free guides, maybe you have a demo, whatever it is that you’re offering people to get them interested in your product or service, you’re gonna decide what pages on your site match up with that.

And then from there, you’re gonna then create the content around those pages. And then when you have each type of page is gonna have a different strategy associated with it and all of that is going to come back to your other efforts. Do you have landing pages that your social media ads need to go to or your Google ads? Do you have paid landing page templates that you have to create. Do you have a service that you’re featuring, that you may want to switch in the future? It’s websites are dynamic? It’s all about the strategy behind it.

And so it’s really important to, to remember that while we’re not letting perfection get in the way of launch, we do still want to have some kind of strategy. So even though we’re saying yes, all of this content can change in the future, you still want to launch a website with a really good strategy behind it. And that all starts from your goals and then translates into the content that you create around that. That is not just describing your services but is truly content. There’s a reason why in the website world, it’s talked about as content and not text or blog posts are separate from content. So like content, when we say that we’re referring to this very specific content editor, there’s a reason why there’s all kinds of specialties in writing. A novel writer or a short story writer or a poet isn’t necessarily going to be really great at writing website content. Somebody who writes marketing sales copy may not be the person that’s going to be effective at writing your website content. Now, they probably will do a very good job because it’s very similar. But there is a little bit of a different sort of language that you need from getting somebody to click on an ad versus somebody being on a website to take an action or to remember you or come back to the website later.

So like I said, this all comes back to strategy. You need a plan because it is very difficult to keep track of everything. That person that says it’s taking forever because I need to make sure it’s right. Well, that’s because they don’t really have that plan or that strategy behind it. If you have very set goals and you have very specific plans for how you want to structure your website, your content, your marketing, your messaging, if you know how you want to do that, you are just filling in the blanks along the way.

So I have, for example, for Overnight Websites, I have a form that I have people fill out and that helps in the planning aspect of it, but it’s still not a replacement for strategy. It’s just creating ways to know what you need for a website. But before you come for an Overnight Website or for anything else related to any other website service, it’s really going to come down to strategy, content, branding, all of that has to be in place before we can even think about the website. It could be helpful if you know that there are certain things you need like a membership portal or an ecommerce site. That’ll help you get to where you need to go, but you really need to do that thinking behind it.

Multiple websites complicate things

You know, having multiple websites will often complicate things. I know a lot of entrepreneurs tend to have many ventures that they’re working on so that just adds in another variable into the mix. And that is also where strategy is going to be extremely helpful.

How do all these services fit together? Should they all be on one website? Are these all separate services? Are you trying to do multiple things where you’re the figurehead? And so you have your own website talking about you and then you have these other websites talking about the services. And is there a unique enough content? That’s really where I see a lot of this strategy come into play is when things start to get complicated.

So there’s different levels of strategy here too. So if you are a solopreneur, you’re an entrepreneur, you have one business, you have one thing you’re selling, even if you have multiple offers, it can be a lot easier. The strategy is not going to take you as long as somebody who has multiple things going on multiple websites, they’ve thrown up a bunch of websites along the way and you know, yeah, they’re working, but now they want this other website.

So for example, if you have a person who is a speaker. They get hired to go to conferences, to go to companies, to go to all these different places and speak, that’s a service they offer. But it’s really important that they show people who they are and why they’re the type of person that needs to speak there. But then a lot of times speakers will also have a consulting business. And then so there can be people who are on their team with them that do certain things related to that consulting business, whether it’s for diversity equity inclusion, maybe it’s for tax consulting. I mean, you can basically be anybody and be a speaker and a consultant and you’re just going in and helping people. And so you still need that here I am, here’s who we are, here’s what the company is and here’s why we’re really great to consult for you. And so there’s still that figurehead to it, but it’s still a little bit different than that main speaking site.

So now our example, person, they’ve got sort of these two ventures. Well, now they’re thinking about launching a product. They want to make it really easy for businesses to type in a bunch of tax stuff and, you know, spit out a bunch of numbers and it’s this program that they’re building, some kind of app or something. So, now here’s a third facet of themselves and it’s, it’s good. Let’s launch a website for it. Launch a website app and maybe it doesn’t need as much, you know, figurehead kind of stuff. But it does talk a little bit about, you know, who the person is and what they do and whatever, but it’s really, definitely not as much involved. It’s really more about app forward kind of stuff. Ok. So now that’s, that’s three different things that we’re talking about here. We’ve got, you know, some person that’s got an app now they still go on speaking engagements and they’re getting hired for like high ticket speaking things. And then they also have this consulting business that they have.

Now they want to write a book. That’s always the natural sort of progression because they’ve got a lot of information to offer and it’s something that they’ve always wanted to do and so they decided to write this book and now they have to shop it around to people. It’s like how to understand the tax code for, you know, small businesses, whatever their book is, it’s really kind of along the same lines, but it’s a different medium, a different way to go about selling themselves, giving people a way to understand their ideas. And so now we have this book that we wrote or that we’re planning on writing that we want to shop around. So now we have this other website that we have to create for this book because the book has a totally different audience. You’re gonna have a link to the book. Or if the book isn’t quite written yet and you’re trying to shop it around to publishers, maybe that website focuses a little bit more on who they are, but still separate from that speaking thing. So that speaking website is them and why they’re a great speaker and why you should hire them to speak at your engagement. And then you have this book that’s sort of talking about them in an entirely different way. So, now we’ve got four things. Oh, you know what else they’ve decided to do is coach people, one on one. It’s a little bit different from consulting the consulting business. It’s big companies. It’s people with, c-suite level people, you have mid level managers, you have all these different people that they’re helping sort out, you know, stuff in between different things, making sure that they keep track of all their expenses, whatever it is that they’re consulting on, that’s for big businesses. Now they’ve decided to, you know, bring that to a smaller group of people for coaching. Do we create a 5th website for this person or do we slap it on to an existing website?

Strategy is ongoing

You can see where this sort of gets out of hand, right? So, maybe it’s tempting as a small business to have your main website and then you have like this landing page somewhere else. It’s not quite as complicated as this five site plus person, but it’s still the same principle, right? You have to, every time you add something to your business, you have to really just pause, pause for a second. It’s exciting. You want to bring your idea forward, you don’t want to waste any time in doing it, but you just have to pause. Ok, great.

We wanted to offer this thing. We’ve sent it out to a few different groups of people, it seems like the appetite is there for what we have to offer. And so now that we’ve given the proof of concept, we’re ready to make this an official thing. Cool. Now, where does this fit into the picture? So maybe if it’s your first website, if we bring it back, it’s your first website, you know, you kind of just want something out there so you can add it to your social media profiles and maybe you just create a quick little, you know, linktree and put it up on social. That’s fine. The strategy is going to be a lot easier.

So even though you don’t know that you’re doing it, you still have a strategy. You’re creating this website and your main goal is to have something to accompany social media. So in that really simple, easy website that you just launched to put up there, that’s why you don’t want to let this idea of perfection get in the way of launching a site, right? You need to have something up there, but once that’s up there and once a little bit of time has passed, you don’t want to just let the website become a thing that exists. You want it to always be a part of everything else you’re doing.

So strategy is very important. Planning is very important. It should be something that you do uh periodically along the way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be every week or every month or even every quarter, maybe once a year, you do a check in while you’re starting out and then as you’re creating this sort of bigger and better website, maybe you’ve got this phase two thing, it can be really tempting to just be like, ok, let’s take the website we’ve got and just redesign it. We want to make it seem more professional. Maybe we update some copy to reflect the new brand voice and things like that. That’s, that’s good. Definitely want to do that.

But rather than put in all of this effort into a website, whether all this effort means a weekend or a months long process, you wanna make sure that you’re planning your website to coincide with your business and that means you have to plan and strategize your business and your end goals. If your goal, if that person’s goal, that five business person’s goal is to eventually take themselves out of that consulting business, take themselves out of the app and really only be themselves and their book. Ok. Well, maybe you don’t need all five websites then. Maybe you just have the one that’s for you that’s to talk about, you know, who you are to talk about how you can offer great stuff for people. And I’m an awesome speaker and I take those principles and I built it into this book.

So maybe you combine a little bit of that stuff, you say, ok, where am I the figurehead? What is attached to me inherently? And create website around that. Maybe it was helpful at the time to have the book be its own website because you needed to shop it around, you needed to publish it, you wanted it to just sort of sell itself. But now that time has gone on the strategy around that has changed and you’re gonna combine you as a person or this, this dude as a person and then the app website is the app website. The consulting business is the consulting business. And then they can take themselves away from that.

But it’s easy for all that to get muddled up. Because then you’re like, ok, well, cool, let’s redo the website and then cool, let’s redo this other website. All right, cool. Now it’s time to redo this website. And so it’s just this revolving door of redoing websites. And then eventually the wires are gonna cross everywhere. You’re gonna have a million pages that you don’t know what it does. You’re gonna have landing pages, you’re gonna have old pages that were for launches that you did five years ago. And it’s just gonna, it slowly becomes a little bit more muddled because you don’t have that strategy behind it.

You need strategy, no matter how complex that strategy is

So the message here is the absolute first thing you do before creating your website is creating a strategy. Even if that strategy is simply, I want my website to help me bolster my social media efforts. Good. Done. That’s your plan. Your plan is very simple and straightforward.

Maybe your plan is, I want a website that displays me as the nonprofit director of, et cetera, et cetera. Maybe it’s, maybe you work with a bunch of different nonprofits. I know a lot of times you have you as a person and so you want your personal website to reflect what you do and then it’s independent from these other companies and things that are regulated or that don’t really have anything to do with you. You just sort of work there and you maybe it’s a portfolio site, maybe it’s whatever.

What is the goal of this site and what that means is, what is your strategy behind this website? What is the purpose that this website is trying to do? And then from there you launch the site, you see what it does, you see if it brings you in leads, does it bring you in qualified leads? Is it doing a really good job of repelling the people that you don’t want to work with and attracting the people that you do want to work with? Is it giving people all the answers they need? Are they contacting you saying, Oh, do you do this? Oh, do you do that? What about this? I was trying to find this and I couldn’t figure out that. What is your pricing? Are people asking you questions that you don’t have on the website?

So strategy is an ongoing thing as with everything involving a website. But ultimately, it’s gonna be really important. Maybe not at first, maybe not when you have just a linktree, maybe not when you’re doing something super simple that is more of an accompanying thing to have. But when you’re ready to take that next step into an amazing quality website that is gonna work for you. That’s when you need strategy, you have to figure out how is your content fitting together? How are your pages fitting together? How is your marketing going to bring the people to your website? How is your website going to reinforce what you’re doing?

And it’s really important to get that clear. And you can ask people for their opinions, ask a marketer, ask a website person, ask a content writer, ask a designer, everybody’s gonna have their own perspectives on these things and then you can take all of that create, it doesn’t have to be like a full-fledged business plan, but you need to know what you want and that’s gonna get you an amazing website.