5 questions you’re embarrassed to ask about websites

1. What is your domain? What is hosting?

Here’s how I explain it to my clients: The domain is your address online. Your .com address. (unless you’re cutting edge and in the .biz or something else category). They cost about $15 a year and you can save by purchasing 2 years at a time. Hosting is where your website lives.

Here’s how I like to think of it: domain is your street address, hosting is your foundation. Your website is the house that’s built on the foundation.

You can use two different companies to purchase your domain and hosting, but I prefer to just keep it all together on one account. Your domain isn’t automatically hosted, you have to tell your hosting to connect with your domain.

Pro tip: Set your accounts to auto renew with a credit card on file to save the stress of your site being taken down because you forgot.

2. What do I need to have on my website?

This is such an important thing to think about before you make a website and is often left as the last thing, when it needs to be the first thing.
Essentially, there are 3 things your website needs to make very clear:

  • What is your business
  • Who are you
  • Who you do it for

Every page of your site needs to go back to those 3 points.

Your website needs:

  • A home page (read my post about what your home page should include)
  • An about page
  • A services/shop page, a place to sell whatever you’re selling
  • A contact page (you can put this info in the footer too, but most people look for “Contact” in the navigation at the top of your site.

There can be more, but start there.

3. How do I get people to find my site?

Getting people to your site is all about marketing. I like to have several different strategies and traffic sources going at once and working together.

  • Social Media: use your social media with a goal in mind: getting people to your website. (And then your website needs to have goals too, like getting people to sign up for your mailing list.) So when you’re posting, think of how you can entice and tempt people to click on that oh-so-important link in bio. On Pinterest, pin vertical (long) graphics and photos that go back to your site. On Facebook, tell your audience when you’ve published new blog posts. Go live and direct people to your site to sign up for something special.
  • Email newsletter: Your email newsletter is a great way to get people to your site since they’re already an engaged audience. Make sure you tell them when you have new stuff going up.
  • Other websites (referrals): The more sites that are linking to your site does two things. First — it increases your SEO rankings (see below) by telling Google your site is important and credible. Two — it gets more visitors over to your site. Guest blog posting is a great way to do this.

4. What does SEO mean and how do I do it?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Whenever people talk about it they’re saying they’re trying to do things to get higher rankings on Google when keywords are searched related to their business. If your site is “search engine optimized”, in theory it’s easier to find by people searching on search engines. But it’s more complicated and confusing than that and isn’t a one-time thing you do for your site.

To keep it simple and sweet, the most important things I suggest for my clients with SEO are:

  • You need a mobile-friendly site (no scrolling or zooming in required on phones and tablets)
  • Choose a list of 10 or so keywords that you want to target. Keywords that you think people will be searching for when they’re looking for someone like you. These words are super important, ask around to get feedback on what you’ve suggested.
  • Write long-form blog content (more than 500 words) that incorporates those keywords and topics.
  • Shoot for new blog posts every 1-2 weeks at a minimum. Google likes when your site is updated and fresh.

5. Why does it cost so much to hire someone to make my website? Can’t I do it myself?

Yes, you can make your own website. There are plenty of tools and builders out there that make it relatively easy to do so. (stay away from everything besides WordPress and Squarespace though.)

Here’s the way I like to think of it, and this goes back to our house comparison. Can you do your own house renovations? Yes. Thanks to Home Depot and Youtube, you can tackle just about any home project. But. Can you sometimes tell when someone has DIY-ed their house renovations? Not beating around the bush here, but sometimes those reno’s don’t look bad. Or the wrong materials were chosen. Or corners were cut. Lots of things can go wrong.

It’s the same with websites. Some people can make them themselves and do a good job. But often, that’s not the case. I did a whole post about how your DIY website is holding you back, so I won’t get into all the reasons why here, go check out that post.

So let’s talk about cost. Hiring someone to make your website shouldn’t be super cheap. Prices are all over the place of course, but hiring a professional for your website should cost between 4-8k. Why? Because it takes a lot of technical skill and work to make a really good website that converts page views into sales. For me, it involves questionnaires and intakes with my clients, research, planning, strategy. And that’s before the design even starts. For the design portion it’s more research, Pinterest board sharing, design mockups. Next comes the technical part: building the website into a website (i.e. lots of staring at, writing and tweaking code). And the last part is launching and sharing the new site. In short, it’s a lot of work.

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