I have a website, now what?

crowd in an art gallery in Tel Aviv

How do I make my website to look like this (but virtually)?

First, congrats on making a website! Perhaps you even used my guide to creating a website in 6 easy steps.

And second, congratulations on creating your very own black hole. Your website has the potential to suck endless time and energy from you, with limited rewards…

Websites are static – people will visit you once, and probably never come again, unless you do something about that.

They rely on people finding you. How will you get your website get out there? Unfortunately, it’s pretty unlikely that someone will do a Google search and find you in particular. Unless perhaps your restaurant already has rave reviews. But how many of us can swing that?

Here are 8 things you can do to get people to your site and help you understand how they find it.

1. Remember your motivations
Many of your decisions about what to do now that you have a website will circle around the question:

“What do you want people to do when they arrive at your website?”

Do you want them to:

  • Buy your product?
  • Hire you?
  • Use your services?
  • Join your network or follow you?

Make sure your website tells people what you want them to do, in every place possible.

The answers to these questions should shape where you invest the most time on your website.

2. Set up Google analytics

Google analytics is a must have for websites. It’s free to use, and there are some great instructions on how to install it on the Google analytics page. It will probably take you less than an hour to install, catering for a few mistakes along the way. Google analytics provides valuable data on the visitors to your site – where they live, how they reach you, and all sorts of other things that I probably didn’t need to know. One important way to use it is to see what blog posts you write are the most popular, so you know to write more similar to that.

Black hole alert!

I must admit that I spend a lot of time wading through site statistics – that might have something to do be with being a big fan of stats, but it’s also a great way to waste time. It is cool that 12 people in Bologna, Italy, visited my website, but what does that really matter?

Here is a handy beginner’s guide to Google analytics.

3. Send an email to everyone you know (or at least your friends)

Launch your website with an email to your friends. They’re going to appreciate an email rather than hearing about it with the masses on Facebook when you announce it there. While you’re at it, ask them to respond if they want to receive regular updates from you. Then you can add them to your email newsletter list…

See also: A beginner’s guide to social media for small businesses

4. Start an email newsletter

Email newsletters are a great way to communicate with people who are interested in what you are doing. It is a means of direct contact, not dictated by whether your audience happens to be on social media at the time of your new release.

I started out using MailChimp. It is free to use up to 2000 subscribers. I enjoyed its very simple interface and lots of ready-made templates.

However, I moved over to Aweber because I wanted to be able to send auto-response emails, which means a single email or a series of emails that will be sent automatically when a person signs up. This is better than having someone sign up and then not hear from me for up to a week when I send out my weekly broadcast message. Aweber has great customer service for any problems that you have, and provide excellent training in how to use the system.

A basic way to get people to subscribe via email to your website/blog is to use Feedburner. There is also plugins for WordPress and blogger that send automatic emails. I wouldn’t recommend these due to the lack of control over your posts.

Once you’ve signed up for an email newsletter service, you need to put the sign up form in as many places as you can. Put it on your website, in the side bar, invite people to sign up at the bottom of every blog post, and you can even go for an annoying pop-up when people enter your site. It really depends how annoying you want to be (or how many people you want to sign up).

5. Update your email signature

Make sure your website address is in your email signature. It’s a small thing, but it really helps!

6. Write regularly in your blog

As I’ve mentioned before, a blog is a great way to have a dynamic website and to build a following. But don’t leave your blog to fester with old posts. Create a writing schedule and stick to it. Once a week is good for me, but Seth Godin the marketing guru writes every day, and Chris Guillebeau writes his Art of Non-Conformity twice a week . I think once a month is not frequent enough – people forget who you are in the mean time.

I really should listen to my own advice – the Stick Around blog is looking a bit neglected!

stick around blog

The somewhat neglected Stick Around blog.

7. Connect with peers

Is there a blogger whose writing you love reading? Send them an email! Ask to write a guest blog. Get yourself out there in the online community, it will all help. Keep trying to connect.

8. Design

If you want to revamp your website, a good design will be essential. A great way to get some design work done at a price you can afford is through using 99 designs – you say you’re your specs are, and your budget, and people from all over the world will contribute designs for you. Otherwise, find a lovely design student that needs to beef up her portfolio…

 

Here are some quality links that I’ve found for those starting their own website:

Big marketing ideas for small budgets

Tips for increasing engagement on your business website and blog

Top 15 free things every e-commerce website should do after launching Admittedly, I don’t understand all these tips, but the ones that I do look super useful!

Next week: Social Media!

I bet you’re wondering why social media isn’t featured on this list? Well I started writing about social media, and I kept writing, and writing, and decided that really it needs its own post. So stay tuned for next week – a beginners guide to social media.

This was Part 2 in my series on how to create your online presence. Read Part 1: How to create your own website in 6 easy steps, and Part 3: A beginner’s guide to social media for small businesses.

Jo Savill is a writer, science communicator and entrepreneur. Stay up to date with Jo’s writing by signing up to her newsletter

 

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