Four time-saving questions for planning your website

My first semester of college, I tried to write essays with no outline. I'd open up a blank word document, sit down to let the brilliance flow, and then...nothing.

When I eventually did write something, I’d end up revising and re-writing until the sun was coming up.

The problem was, I was trying to plan, create, and edit my work all at the same time. It was a total nightmare!

This is also how most people build their websites:

  1. You pick a website platform

  2. You create a new page

  3. Then, you try to learn a new tech tool, plan your site, build your site, write copy, and create visuals… all at the same time

No wonder building a website can feel like torture! This is such a frustrating, time-consuming approach.

It's easier and faster to write an essay when you have a plan first, and the same goes for your website.

Today, I’m going to show four time-saving questions for planning your site. Don’t do anything with your site until you’ve considered these!

Four time-saving questions for planning your website,

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    Reminder: as you read this post, you might find that there are questions you don’t have all the answers to just yet. Don’t stress about it. Just do your best and aim for progress, not perfection.

    Question 1: why do you have a website?

    When you’re planning your site, the first thing you need to figure out is why you have a website in the first place. No-one (not even me!) has a website because we want to be the proud owner of a pile of code and pixels.

    why do you have a website?

    The answer is pretty simple… when you own a business, your website only has two jobs:

    • Generate leads

    • Make sales

    Your site doesn’t exist for any other reasons because without these two things, you don't have a business.

    Of course, you might have other reasons for having a site. Maybe you want to share your expertise, connect with others, provide inspiration and empowerment, or create a community.

    These are all valid reasons, but when it comes to creating a website that helps you grow your business, these are supporting reasons. They help support your main goals of generating leads and making sales.

    This idea is simple, but it's really important to remember as you start planning your site.

    If something doesn't help you generate leads, make sales, or support that process in some way, it shouldn't go on your website.

    TAKEAWAY: your website exists to help you generate leads and make sales.

    Question 2: what do you sell?

    If your site exists to help you generate leads and make sales, then it follows that the next step in the planning process is to figure out exactly what you’re selling and generating leads for.

    Here are a few questions to help you get clear on your offerings:

    • What products and services do you sell right now?

    • Which category does each offering fall into? Is it a service? Is it a digital product like a course or a pdf, or is it a physical product?

    • How much does it cost?

    • Are you and your clients happy with this offering?

    For example, a photographer might offer:

    • Family portrait sessions (service)

    • Group coaching program for other photographers (service)

    • Online photography course (digital product)

    • Photo albums for clients (physical product)

    In the example above, you can see that this photographer has a mix of different offerings. Her portraits and group coaching bring in most of the money in her business, so she considers herself mainly a service-based business owner.

    There are lots of different ideas out there about what kinds of offerings work best, but here’s what suits me personally: offer less, not more, and keep it simple.

    Having too many offerings is confusing for your clients and website visitors. It also makes your life complicated in terms of delivering those offerings and handling all the admin.

    For your website, I recommend starting with 1-3 offerings that are simple to explain, sell, and deliver.

    My client Aimee has three offerings listed on her website:

    simple offerings work best

    Aimee’s clients all want the same results: peace of mind around their finances. To help, Aimee has created three offerings:

    “Assess the mess” gives her clients a quick win. “Intensive” sessions go a few levels deeper. Full-service bookkeeping gets long-term results.

    This offering structure — high, medium, and low — helps Aimee serve a range of clients while keeping things simple to understand (for her website visitors) and simple to deliver (for her).

    TAKEAWAY: to create a website that sells, you first need to know what you’re selling.

    Question 3: who are your clients?

    So far, we've talked about why you have a website and what you sell through that site. Now, it’s time to consider the other half of the equation: your clients!

    I want you to think about your website as both your hype man and your bouncer. It should attract people who are a great fit to work with you and repel the ones who aren’t.

    who are your clients?

    To get a clear idea of who you’d like to attract and repel through your site, consider these questions:

    • Who are your current clients?

    • How are they finding you?

    • Who do you love working with? Why?

    • Who do you hate working with? Why?

    • Where did your last awesome client come from?

    Knowing your ideal client is important to every aspect of your business, and your website is no different. Your clients are the people who’ll actually be using your website, not you. It’s your job to figure out who they are, then create a site for them.

    TAKEAWAY: your website should be your hype man and your bouncer, and that means getting clear on your ideal clients.

    Question 4: how do you want people to hire you?

    By now, you’re hopefully feeling more clear on why you have a site, what you sell, and who you sell it to. The last piece of the puzzle is to get clear on how you’d like people to hire you.

    In other words, you need to get clear on your sales process.

    Knowing how you want your clients to hire you will help you decide what features and functionality you need on your website. For example, if you’d like them to book a call, you’ll need a scheduling software that integrates with your site.

    The most common way service-based business owners book clients through their websites is through consult calls. Here’s how it works:

    1. A visitor comes to your website (I use Squarespace)

    2. They book a call (I use Acuity*)

    3. You host the call (I use Zoom)

    4. You send them a contact and invoice (I use Dubsado* with Stripe)

    5. They pay the invoice and become a new client!

    Website sales process infographic

    Not every business owner wants their website visitors to be able to schedule calls directly on their site, and that’s cool. It’s your business, you get to set the rules!

    In that case, you can use a contact form instead:

    1. A visitor comes to your website

    2. They fill out your contact form

    3. You correspond by email (I use G-Suite) and schedule a call to chat about their project

    SSB contact form flowchart.jpg

    Here are some things to consider when you're planning out your own sales process:

    • How do people expect to be able to buy the thing that you’re selling? What are they already comfortable with? For example, if you’re selling $5,000 coaching packages, your clients will probably expect to have a consult call. If you’re selling $27 e-books, they probably expect to be able to click a button and buy it immediately.

    • How do you personally want to be contacted?

    • How can you make the process simple for everyone involved?

    TAKEAWAY: Your sales process should be simple for both you and your clients

    To recap, in this post we’ve talked about…

    1. Why you have a website

    2. What you sell through that website

    3. Who you sell it to

    4. How you’d like them to buy it from you

    These four questions create the foundation for the rest of your site.

    Getting clear on the answers to these questions is the secret sauce that separates a website that looks nice but doesn’t do very much from a site that helps you grow your business. It’ll also help you save a ton of time and stress down the line!

    Want to take your insights and turn them into action?

    Make sure you download the free website strategy workbook below👇


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    Want to save time planning your site? Grab the free website strategy 101 workbook!

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