10 Fundamental Elements of an Effective Website

Your website is an important part of your marketing strategy and it is often the first impression potential clients have of you. Thus, you really want to make sure that you maximize the space so that it effectively showcases you and your expertise, educates the visitor of who you help and why, and draws the visitor in to further communication with you (i.e. signs up for your email list).

Now, I am not a web designer, but I have been online since the dark ages and I have worked with clients doing WordPress blog and content maintenance/management long enough to know (for the most part) what works and what doesn’t.

Image by Mocho (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Ultimately, it all comes down to user experience. What do you want the visitor of your website to come away with? How do you want her/him to feel? What do you want her/him to learn? How can you solve her/his problem?

1. Show Your Personality

If you are shy and introverted, like me, it is very tempting to hide behind a sterile, formal website that simply states who you are and what you do. It is scary to put yourself out there and show yourself. However, you know that nowadays, expertise isn’t enough. People want to know, like, and trust you before they buy. Well, they can’t get to know you if you don’t show them who you are.

One way to do this is to have pictures of you on your website. There are a lot of people who have pictures of themselves in different poses and in different places. That’s great, but if you are uncomfortable with that, at least have a head shot with you smiling and put in on your header. That’s what I have on my website, for now, as you can see if you are reading this on my website.

Some entrepreneurs get different types of professional pictures done and then use those for images for their blog posts or pages instead of stock photos or object images.

One more way to show your personality is in your content. There can be a fine line between coming across as a professional and expert in your field and showing off your personality, but it can be done. The trick is to write more conversationally: write the way you talk.

2. White Space

Websites that are cluttered with a lot of (internal or external) links are distracting and takes away from your message. It also makes it harder for your visitor to find what they are looking for, if it is something specific.

One trend I have seen, and like, is taking away the side bar on some or most of the web pages. I like this because it make a website look cleaner and more focused.

Truth be told, most of the links and images, etc are unnecessary. You can have a main link on the navigation bar with a drop down menu that leads to other pages that contain the information you want to share.

3. Error-free Copy

Let’s be clear, I am not talking about perfection. Heck, you probably may find a couple of errors on my website here.

What I am talking about, it making sure that your copy is clear, concise, and correct as much as possible. If you aren’t a writer have a friend look over your website or hire someone to professionally proofread your copy for you.

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again: Everything you write (including your website copy) is a reflection of you. A website that is full of grammar errors, misused words and other mistakes will come across as unprofessional.

If you want/need to proofread your own website copy (or any text), here is a link to a post I did that outlines 7 Tips for Proofreading Your Documents.

4. Updated Blog

Speaking of content, it is important to make sure that you update your website regularly. What that means is up to you. It depends on what changes are going on in your business, and your business goals.

I am speaking mainly to those who have a blog. If blogging is part of your business strategy, then you need to blog consistently. This is especially true if your blog is the first thing a visitor sees when they come to your website. The last thing you want is for a visitor to come to your website and see that you haven’t blogged in 3, 6, or 12 months. They may wonder if you are still in business!

If you can’t blog consistently, then move the blog from the front page of your website. You can easily create a welcome page that visitors see when they come to your website and then have a link to your blog on the navigation bar and/or link on the welcome page or other page.

5. Updated About Page

Did you know that the about page is one of the most popular pages that visitors read? They want to get to know who you are and what you are about. Thus, it is very important that your about page is updated frequently, or at least looked at, every 6 to 12 months.

Make sure that any pictures of you or your family are updated and not from several years ago. Make sure all the content is updated and correct for you and your business. You may even want to separate your about page into different sections. I have an about page about me, one about my company, and one that outlines my manifesto. You can take a peek of it here.

6. A Lead Magnet or Freebie

It amazes me how many coaching websites do not have a free offer. Some sort of free consultation or strategy call is a given for any business or life coach. It is still important to have some sort of other free product that allows potential clients to get a taste of your work.

Of course, don’t forget to link the freebie to your email list! Growing your list and nurturing your list is essential for growing your business.

7. An Easy to Find Contact Page

It is so frustrating when a visitor wants to contact the website owner but can’t find a way to reach her! A visitor should never have to hunt down a way to contact you. It can have the consequence of losing a client.

You don’t necessarily have to have a link to your contact page everywhere. It is enough to have an easy to find link on your navigation bar, perhaps a small link on the footer of your website, and maybe a link on your about page.

On the contact page itself, it is a good idea to give the visitor different options to contact you. For example, give then the ability to email you, reach you through social media, and/or a contact form on the page. I even give visitors the option to send me snail mail.

However you do it, just make sure that potential clients, possible joint venture partners, or media people can reach you!

8. Easy to Find Search Box

Personally, it is so annoying when I can’t find the search box. Sometimes, when I come across a new website, I want to do a search on different topics to see what the person has to say about it.

For example: Suppose you are a weight loss coach and someone finds your website. She may want to do a search on your website on the Paleo diet to see what you have to say about that topic. If she resonates with what you have to say, she may want to sign up for your email list or connect with you some other way.

Or, maybe you are a business coach, and a visitor wants to see what you have to say about closing sales calls. If there is no search box or easy one that is easy to find, the person may move on to another website.

Having said that, you don’t have to have a search box everywhere – again you don’t want your site too cluttered. For me, I have my search on my blog page on the side bar. You have to scroll down to see it but it is easy to find. Or, you can put the search box on the footer of your website.

9. A Testimonial Page

I probably don’t have to mention this, but at the risk of being the master of the obvious, do have at least a couple of reviews or testimonials from previous or current clients.

If you only have a couple of testimonials, you don’t have to have a dedicated page for testimonials. You can just put the testimonial on your side bar or at the bottom of your pages or posts wherever it is appropriate. For now, I have one review on my side bar and a link to my testimonial page on the bottom of several of my pages.

10. Focus on the Audience

The last thing I want to encourage you to do is to speak directly to your target audience. Speak to their problems, to their needs, and to their wants. Make your website, your blog posts, and all of your content about them, not you.

For the longest time, I mad my website about me. It was all about what I do, who I am, and me, me, me. Big mistake. People don’t care about me, except in how I can help them. Guess what? People don’t care about you or your business. Yes, they want to get to know you but only so they can find out how you can help them solve their problem.

There are other elements to a good website to think about, and I recommend that you hire a professional web designer if you can afford it. In the meantime, I encourage you to take a look at your website (especially if you haven’t done so in a long time) and see if some of these ideas are useful in updating it.

To help you with that, in this week’s Friday Freebie, I will be giving you a website checklist to use when going through your website.

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P.S. When you are ready, here are four ways I can support you in your business:

1.  Snag a copy of the free report, “5 Ways an Online Business Manager can Impact Your Business and Increase Your Profits.“

In this report you will discover just how much freedom and success you can have in your business if you stop doing everything alone.

2. “Like” my Facebook page.

It is the place to be to get free weekly training, support, and encouragement in growing and automating your business.

3. Sign up for a Business Audit Mini-VIP Session.

During this session, you will discover the gaps and holes in your business processes, where in  your business you can delegate and automate, and get a strategy to help you make more money, take better care of your clients, and create a better work/life balance.

4. Work with me and my team privately.

I have several packages and programs to help you run a successful, profitable, and enjoyable business. I can help you see the big picture of your business and then create a strategy to move your business forward. Then, I can help you implement that strategy. Take a moment to learn more and get on my calendar today.

3 Risks Coaches SHOULD Take in Their Businesses

There are always risks in building an online coaching business but here are some risks you should take:

Image by kellepics (2017) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

1. Risk Rejection

Even if you have been able to build a coaching business and have a certain degree of success, the fear of rejection is very real. It is scary to put yourself out there. No one wants to be humiliated to left feeling less than enough.

The reality is that there will be people who reject what you have to offer. There will be people who will not resonate with you. Guess what? That’s a good thing! You can’t work with everyone anyway and if you take the risk of putting yourself out there, the RIGHT people will come to you and resonate with you.

Your action step: What is one thing that you have been wanting to put out into the world but have been putting it off? Is it doing a live video? Reaching out to someone as a possible joint venture partner? I want you to take a deep breath, make the commitment, and actually do that one thing.

Rarely does one regret taking the risk of putting herself out there, but most people do regret not putting themselves out there.

2 Risk Failure

The fear of failure is also very, very real. This is especially true if you have tried things in the past that haven’t worked out. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying!

In your coaching business, there will be times when you put out programs, or offers, or products that will flop. There will be times when you try different tactics or ways of doing things that won’t work out. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. Those things were not a waste of time, they were learning experiences and opportunities to grow as a person.

Your Action Step: Don’t stop trying out new things just because they may fail. Things not working out or failing doesn’t make you a failure. Take a chance!

3. Risk Success

There is a lot I want to say about the very real fear that we can have about being a success. But, I am going to let Marianne Williamson speak instead:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Your Action Step: Think bigger. Let your light shine and let that brightness take away the darkness of everyone who crosses your path.

I want to encourage you to take at least one of these risks this week. 🙂 Put yourself out there in a way that you haven’t done before. Make mistakes and “fail” so that you will learn and grow. Be talented, brilliant, and fabulous!

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P.S. When you are ready, here are four ways I can support you in your business:

1.  Snag a copy of the free report, “5 Ways an Online Business Manager can Impact Your Business and Increase Your Profits.“

In this report you will discover just how much freedom and success you can have in your business if you stop doing everything alone.

2. “Like” my Facebook page.

It is the place to be to get free weekly training, support, and encouragement in growing and automating your business.

3. Sign up for a Business Audit Mini-VIP Session.

During this session, you will discover the gaps and holes in your business processes, where in  your business you can delegate and automate, and get a strategy to help you make more money, take better care of your clients, and create a better work/life balance.

4. Work with me and my team privately.

I have several packages and programs to help you run a successful, profitable, and enjoyable business. I can help you see the big picture of your business and then create a strategy to move your business forward. Then, I can help you implement that strategy. Take a moment to learn more and get on my calendar today.

5 Signs You Will Never Live a Life of Freedom as a Coach

Ah, the beautiful sound of freedom! One of the main reasons people start their own business is for freedom. In fact, according to a survey done by businessjournals.com, the second most popular reasons people start businesses is, naturally, freedom! It is certainly one of the reasons I started my business, and I am guess it is one of yours. (Do I get an amen?!)

5 Signs You Will Never Live a Life of Freedom as a Coach

Image by Jill111 (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

But, here’s the thing, rather than gaining freedom when they start their businesses, many business owners (including business and life coaches), find themselves stuck in business “jail.” Sometimes, they don’t even know why they don’t have the freedom they want. Well, I know and I am going to tell you. 🙂

I have seen many business and life coaches (and other entrepreneurs) fall into the same traps that keep them (YOU) from the freedom they (YOU) desire. The business simply cannot run without them. Can your business run without you? Here are the five signs you will not have freedom in your business:

1. You Have No Plan.

If you don’t have a plan, and try to fly by the seat of your pants, you are never going to have freedom in your business. You will be too busy putting out fires, running your business in constant reactive mode, and letting the business control you instead of you controlling it.

However, if you take the time to plan, you can outline what needs to be done in order for the business to run without you. You can take the time to set your goals, create actionable, deliberate steps, schedule those action steps into your calendar, and implement that plan (or better yet, delegate those steps).

2. You Fail to Delegate.

You cannot, I repeat, you CANNOT have a business that can run smoothly without you unless you are willing to delegate. You absolutely cannot do everything yourself and expect to have the life and work balance you so desperately desire.

However, if you let go of the reins of your business and delegate (even just a few things) you will begin feel relief and joy and freedom! Just knowing that you have someone, or even better more than one, to help you with the everyday running of your business will make a huge difference.

Who should you bring on as team members? It will take a separate article to fully answer this question; nevertheless, I will start by saying that you should start small and bring on only one person at a time. The first person you bring on should be the one who can help you with the tasks that you like the least or are the least good at. This may be a Virtual Assistant to help with basic administrative tasks or customer service. It may mean bringing on an Online Business Manager to help you with the big picture of your business and who can help you manage YOU. It may mean a social media specialist or bookkeeper.

3. You Fail to Trust Your Team.

It is not enough to have a team (be it one person or 10). You have to trust them and allow them to do their jobs. If you constantly feel the need to micromanage, then there is a problem. Either you need to get new team members or you have to look to yourself.

However, if you have hired the right team, and they are experts in their particular fields, you should not have to worry about them doing a good job. In fact, giving them the freedom to step fully into their roles will allow you to concentrate on the things you need/want to do and the freedom to take time off!

***A little note here*** Yes, your team members will make mistakes. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. You aren’t perfect and they aren’t perfect. When those mistakes happen, deal with them and move on. Don’t let the fear of mistakes keep you from trusting and relying on your team!

4. You Don’t Have Systems and Processes in Place.

Having the right systems and processes in place is a magical thing! On the flip side, if you don’t have the right systems and processes in place, you will find yourself wasting time, energy, and resources that could be used elsewhere in your business.

However, if you take the time to put systems in place that can automate your business as much as possible, you can create a business that runs like a well-oiled machine (with or without you)! Additionally, if you create processes for different areas of your business, you will save a lot of time and energy – especially when it comes to things in your business that are repeated, such as welcoming new coaching clients.

5. You Fail to Create (and Update) a Staffing Handbook or Standard Operating Procedures Manual.

If you are serious about creating a business that can function with or without you, it is essential that you have an SOP. Without a staffing handbook or SOP, you will most likely have to be the one to step in every time a team member is unavailable or every time a new member comes aboard or every time a team member leaves your company!

What is an SOP manual or staffing handbook, you ask? It is a document that lists everything (and I mean everything) that is needed to complete a particular task. For example: an SOP for on-boarding a new coaching client would include every single thing needed to do so correctly. It would include what forms would need to be filled out by the new client, a template for the welcome email that needs to go out, the information needed to add the new client to your CRM system, etc. Everything and anything that needs to be done (including WHO does what) would be included that SOP. (I will do an article soon about the whys, hows, and whats of doing SOPs soon.)

If you always have an updated standard operating procedures manual or staffing handbook, anyone will be able to take over just about any task when necessary. The person stepping in will know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it, probably without even having to ask you! It will allow your business to run more smoothly when there are bumps or emergencies and allows you to focus on those things that need your attention more.

BONUS

6. You are too Busy Being “Busy!”

Don’t worry you aren’t alone. It happens to all of us. You sit down at your computer and instead of getting right to work on revenue generating activities or client care or following up with potential clients, you decide that your website needs tweaking or you “need” to read that blog post or watch that training from your favorite expert. OR the dishes need to be washed and the dog has to be walked. OR, you really do have to do some internet research only to find yourself mindlessly surfing the net for an hour.

The thing is, you will have to learn to reign yourself in if you truly want to have the freedom you desire. This is where having a plan and inserting the steps of that plan into your computer will help. If you build a habit of opening your calendar each morning and working on at least one or two things that will help you achieve your goal, you will achieve that goal in no time! Better yet, check the calendar at the end of your day for tomorrow’s tasks, along with everything you will need to complete those tasks, and you will be able to hit the road running every morning.

It also helps to have someone, like an Online Business Manager, help you stay accountable. If you haven’t had an accountability partner before, you’ll be surprised how much more you will get done knowing you have to fill that person in!

By the way, I’m not saying you shouldn’t tweak your website or mindlessly surf the internet. What I do say, however, is that you should schedule those tasks on your calendar. You absolutely should make the time to do the things you enjoy, including non-revenue generating activities, as long as you don’t let them suck the life and freedom out of your business! Be intentional about how you manage your time or your time (and business) will manage you!

The Big Questions

Do you see any of the above signs in yourself? It is time for you to go deeper. You may want to journal your answers or talk them over with someone. Ask yourself: In what ways am I in business “jail?” How is my business running me instead of me running my business? What steps am I going to take so that I can begin the process to gain (or regain) freedom in my business?

Psst….

If you recognize yourself in any of the signs you read today, and are truly ready to get out of “business jail,” I would love to have a conversation with you to see if I can help. I invite you to get on my calendar for a free, no obligation consultation to see if partnering together would make sense.