November 1, 2022
How do you feel about your current website?
Do you cringe when you look at it – or hear that potential clients have checked it out?
Maybe you feel it’s a poor representation of you and your brand.
Or it’s simply butt ugly and looks extremely outdated.
You just know it sticks out for all the wrong reasons when compared with your competitors.
Well, I can totally relate!
But – I have just launched a new website! Which was months and months in the making – with many highs and lows. It involved a complete makeover.
Anyone who has seen me in recent months would have heard about this project and my keenness to get it off the ground.
I’ve experienced some frustrations along the way, which I want to help you avoid from today’s episode. Even though it’s easy to blame others, ultimately I need to own those frustrations and acknowledge everything comes down to me.
So I’ve got 7 tips for launching a new website to share with you.
For regular listeners, you probably noticed that I went a bit AWOL with the Marketing & Me podcast over the last month or so. Well, it was predominantly due to my ‘work-on-business-time’ being consumed by the new project – as well as wanting to avoid the creation of extra show notes pages for the web developers. They already have 143 pages to deal with…haha.
And I also admit to losing momentum with the show a bit!
But I’m back on board and keen to re-ignite the podcast by talking about my experiences around the new website – and my tips for ensuring a smooth process if you’re about to – or have plans to – revamp yours. Or set up your first website for the first time!
Let’s jump into the episode.
SEE BELOW FOR ROUGH NOTES FOR THIS EPISODE
Firstly, why did I want to give my website a massive makeover?
Well, the initial one was created 8 years ago on WordPress – back when I started my business. It was set up as part of a contract deal with a website designer, although I think I got the better end of the stick in regards to value. We didn’t properly confirm the value swap and I’m not sure I provided the equivalent value of copy to her clients…but hey. As I said, I came out the winner! I got a free website.
Having said that, I learnt about 12-18 months later that it wasn’t optimised for SEO and didn’t have Google Analytics set up. So I had a nice glossy online brochure that wasn’t really getting many eyes.
Over the years, I played around with the SEO a bit myself – thanks to training from Kate Toon’s ‘Recipe for SEO Success’ online course.
I had attempted to make my own design edits as well, but they just looked like crap.
Then, about 18 months ago, I attempted to create a Wix site myself – which started to look quite nice. But I never made the time to really focus on it.
During all this time, I’d often look at other copywriters’ websites (and other websites in general) and pine over their beautiful and modern creations.
Mine looked extremely outdated in comparison. And for anyone shopping around for copywriters, it didn’t give a good first impression.
Yes, I’d built up brand awareness and have been making an impact on socials, in my newsletter, via my podcast, and in person at networking events.
But my website was absolutely cringeworthy.
I actually stopped making edits to it – meaning it was even more outdated and non-beneficial.
So I decided to stop beating around the bush and make the investment to get a proper, modern website created – by the experts.
I approached Shikha from Web Bloom Solutions – who I met via Bx Networking and had become good friends with. And the process began!
1.Get clear on what you want
I think this was a big downfall for me – and caused the initial process to drag on for so long. I didn’t have enough clarity on what exactly I wanted my business website to portray.
So I couldn’t communicate that effectively to get the results I wanted.
Along with the proposal, the web developers initially provided me with samples of website designs for inspiration. I didn’t take the time to review those properly, so they started developing a website design based on what they *thought* I wanted.
But it didn’t feel right.
And it was only after I went back and looked at those samples, did I realise that they weren’t what I wanted. I wanted something different.
The developers also didn’t realise I wanted a complete makeover with completely different copy. So they were trying to design something that suited my existing copy and layout.
Somehow, I hadn’t made it 100% clear that it was a complete re-do and to ignore everything on my existing site.
Yes, I had provided my recently created brand style guide – thanks to Elise from Pass the Salt. But they didn’t know how to use it.
So – I put aside the time to draw a layout of how I saw the homepage working. And the navigational bars that would best reflect the direction I was taking in my business.
I also advised the colours I wanted to use the most (my turquoise and aquas, obviously) and the ones I wanted to use the least (the peaches and yellows).
Yes, things changed slightly as we went along. But the website development only really kicked off properly after I made the time to get this clarity. I was expecting too much mind-reading from the suppliers and that wasn’t fair! I don’t like it when my clients expect mind-reading from me.
I had also thought that Shikha was the one developing the website….but it turned out that an offshore, male member of her team was tackling the project. And that wasn’t what I was expecting or wanting. I had connected with her and that’s why I chose her. I only found this out after the project was well-underway.
Yes, everything was sorted out in the end and the final website is gorgeous. But still – it would have been good to clarify that much earlier on!
So I recommend asking the question as to who will actually be developing/designing your site before you get started.
I also should have made the deadline clearer from the beginning. We were floating around for so many months with little things done here and there – but there were no clear expectations about a finish date.
I then provided one and it kept being missed. I should have explained the impact NOT launching a new site was having on my business and the potential loss of work etc. Yes, some of the blame could be on them too – but ultimately, it was my project and I should have been driving it a bit better.
So choose a deadline and ensure it’s constantly communicated and reminded!
2. Invest the money or time to work on the content
Okay, so when you run an SEO copywriting agency that predominantly writes website copy – there is a LOT of pressure when it comes to writing your own stuff!
And I’ve ended up with 20 pages for my website…so that’s a LOT of copy…
Look – if writing isn’t your strong suit, please, please seek assistance from copywriters like me and my team.
Many people forget that a pretty website doesn’t convert. It’s otherwise just a pretty, but empty, shell if you don’t have strong content that effectively communicates your messages.
Good website design and good website copy work hand in hand. That’s why I’ve formed so many positive collaborations with website designers and developers. They get it!
Yes, it can be a bit of an investment. For example, our website copy packages start at $3000+GST for 5 pages. But if it’s done well – and we always do it very well – you won’t have to change it much. Although I’ve heard making updates every 6 months is very worthwhile!
At Write Time Marketing, we offer split payments over 2 or 3 instalments to make it easier to afford.
If you want to take a crack at the writing yourself, that’s fine too. But making the time can be super difficult.
Personally, I set up ‘Writing Time’ sessions for every Friday from 3pm to 5pm. My friend, Estelle, and I committed to do it together – for me to work on my website copy and for her to work on her book. Now that my website is launched, I’ll start using that time to work on my own book too.
But this accountability time via Zoom ensured that the writing *actually* got done. I was the host, so I had to show up. And we did the Pomodoro method of 25 minutes working and a 5 minute break. So I had to be productive if I didn’t want an embarrassing chat at the end of the 25 minutes.
While it took me 2.5 months worth of ‘Writing Time’ to complete my website copy – it got done! And I am very happy with the result.
So I recommend that you set up something similar. Don’t just have the writing time in your calendar. Make it a meeting and ensure there are plenty of people to keep you accountable.
If you read out your copy after it’s completed and it doesn’t sound like you – or doesn’t sound like the voice you’re going for in your business – then simply adjust it. What you write doesn’t need to be locked in forever. That’s part of the beauty of the online world!
3. Get new professional photos done
As part of your website makeover, I highly recommend getting fresh new photos done.
I knew I needed new photos. I’ve been re-using the same 5 photos over the past 4 years!
And those photos didn’t properly portray me and my offerings. I mean, so much has changed in that time!
So I invested in a full 4-hour professional photoshoot with Eric from EYXL Photo. I’d met him via networking as well. Finding a venue that suited my new brand style guide was a bit of an effort – as I didn’t want anything that cost heaps of money.
Last time, I just hung out at the Start Up Hub and the park outside Wynyard Train Station – for free. But it meant we were a bit limited in capturing much more than me with my laptop.
In the end, I decided upon Wotso at Zetland. Yes, it was a bit of a schlep for me – coming from the Hills District – but I’d been there before and the vibe was right. We got a good rate for a room (to leave our stuff). I also planned to get some models to portray my workshops and other trainings.
So that meant locating some people in the East who could pop by for a couple of hours. Thankfully, I found 3 willing volunteers (plus a somewhat-willing photography assistant).
These photos turned out absolutely beautifully! Yes, I was a bit stiff at the very beginning but the shots towards the end really capture my personality and who I really am.
I recommend getting various poses that can be used on different pages of the website. Like confused expressions to highlight client pain points and me mucking around with a microphone to highlight my enthusiasm for the podcast.
I love these pics and it was totally worth the investment!
4. Regularly check in with your developer/designer
During the initial development period, I was meeting with Shikha every week for 1 – 1.5 hours. I found this to be very helpful for updates and knowing what actions I needed to take.
Although, a week goes by very fast and, in many cases, one of us hadn’t proceeded much further with things. But I definitely recommend doing this to keep across the progress.
I also recommend being kind, yet firm with your expectations. As per my previous comments about the deadline, I should have been reminding the team about this every time we connected.
5. Outsource the annoying tasks
Sometimes, you need to source/create images for banners or find backlinks to things. And it can be bloody annoying to do them yourself.
So don’t be afraid to put your Virtual Assistant (VA) to work to tackle these things.
Just ensure your VA completely understands the task you’re asking them to do – and the task matches exactly what the web developer has requested – so you don’t waste anyone’s time and energy doing the wrong things!
Don’t have a VA? Then seek someone on Fiverr or Upwork to provide temporary help. You might appreciate their efforts so much, they end up becoming your VA anyway!
6. Allocate the time to properly review everything before giving the go-ahead
I’m very good at filling my calendar with meetings and projects for clients. But not very good at allocating time to work on my business – hence the writing time.
And then as my website launch date got closer – and I was asked to review everything and give final feedback – I struggled to find the time!
So I recommend blocking out time to look at the pages again prior to launch – at least 2 hours – and then again after it’s been launched to iron out any issues.
7. Organise a website launch strategy to celebrate
Okay – so after all the blood, sweat, and tears, quite literally, you need to ensure you announce the website launch.
And I mean – tell everyone!
That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve obviously released this podcast episode and written a blog.
I’ll also send out a stand-alone eDM shouting it from the rooftops.
But to go one step further, I’m putting together some fun giveaways.
I’ve collated an awesome prize pack for a social media competition, that involves people liking the post and tagging 2 people. The aim is to get as many people aware of the website as possible! That prize pack has been collated via some items from me and generously donated items from business women within my networking community.
Check out my instagram bio – @leanneshelton247 for the link.
I’m also running a mini website scavenger hunt. I’m hiding a secret word among the pages – but you’ve got to be subscribed to my newsletter list to get the 3 clues…The first 5 people to email me with the word and the page they found it on will win a free Power Hour with me (valued at $250+GST).
Oh and I’ll also be verbally telling everyone at networking events! Haha.
I’d love to hear about your website launch ideas or what you’ve done in the past!
Anyway, that brings me to the end of this episode/blog covering my 7 tips for launching a new website based on my own experiences and learnings.
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