When I first started freelancing as a web designer, I had a website that listed my previous experience and skills, sort of like a digital resume (ex: HTML/CSS, JS, PHP, Photoshop). I thought that was the information my potential clients were looking for. But that’s because I didn’t understand exactly who(ideal clients) I wanted to be working with and what types of projects I wanted to actually be working on.
It took me a while – years, in fact – to figure that out. Once I did, I realized my website was all wrong!
After I honed in on my ideal clients and also what my ideal work week looked like I was much better able to create a website that truly attracted exactly that.
I put together a list of mistakes I made and that are very common for online business owners, especially when they’re just starting out. I also packed this post with tons of website tips that can save you years of time (if you’re anything like me when I started my business).
It’s not easy for potential clients to find what they’re looking for.
In the world of the internet the attention span of an average person is about less than second (totally made up statistic but you get what I’m saying here). That means you have to be quick about attracting and engaging visitors to your website. A HUGE part of this is making it SUPER easy for them to find what they’re looking for.
- Make sure your website is optimized for mobile (it looks good and is still easy to use)
- Make sure that your homepage has details about who you are, who you serve, your offerings and a call to action(CTA).
- Your navigation menu should be clean and concise with links to the most important pages right at the top of your website.
- If you have a blog, be sure that the sidebar has relevant and useful info such as a quick blurb about you and link to your about page, links to your recent and/or most popular content and don’t forget your CTAs!
- Having important page links in the footer can be helpful for when you have a lot of content so that once people scroll all the way down, they can easily access the next page they’re looking for.
- Another way to help with this and to keep readers engaged is to link between pages and posts as often as possible. Just make sure that you’re linking to content that’s relevant to what they’re currently reading.
2. You focus too much on YOU and not enough on your potential clients.
But it’s MY website so…why wouldn’t it be about me?
Because it’s actually about your potential clients! When someone from your target audience lands on your site you want them to feel understood and like they’re in the right place to find solutions and answers. That means you need to have content that speaks to their pain points, struggles and frustrations as well as their goals and hopes that led them to your content in the first place.
Your website and content should be a good mix of teaching what you have to offer (knowledge, skills, services, etc) and appealing to your potential clients’ needs. Try thinking about it from their perspective while reading your website and imagine how it will make them feel.
3. Your site is too slowIf your website is too slow, you will lose clients and customers. Learn how to avoid this common mistake. Click To Tweet
This ties into the limited attention span of website visitors. If your site takes too long to load (especially on mobile, which accounts for more than 60% of all web traffic these days) then people simply will not stick around.
Luckily, speeding up a slow website is fairly easily fixed with a couple of quick tweaks and tools.
- Optimize all images. Use a tool like TinyJPG to compress your images before uploading them to your website.
- Try a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache, which I’ve used and would recommend. You can follow these instructions for getting it set up.
- Using a dedicated web host, such as Flywheel, can also help to improve the speed of your website (among many other perks such as security and excellent customer support). If all of these tips are sounding a little confusing to you, I also offer a Managed WordPress Hosting plan where I can get it all set up and manage plugin updates for you.
4. You’re not being clear about what you offer and who you serve.
Remember, visitors to your site are busy. They don’t have time to read super long paragraphs of text about your services or on your about page. They want to know how you can help them with answers to questions or solving a problem they’re dealing with. Be quick about communicating exactly that.
I recommend putting a headline at the top of your homepage with a tagline that follows this formula or something similar:
I am a __[your job title]__ and I help __[your ideal client]___ to __[what their life will look like after working with you]__ by __[the work you actually do for/with them]__.
Then as you write or edit the copy on your site, keep referring back to that tagline as a reminder of who you’re talking to and why. Every piece of content you create should either be in service of your ideal client, helping to draw their interest or provide value for them or helping them get to know you to grow trust. If doesn’t check any of those boxes, then it can either be deleted or needs to be re-worked.
5. You’re not making a personal connection
It’s important to remember the KLT factor (know, like and trust). It really helps people feel a connection with you if you put a picture of yourself on your website. I recommend one on the homepage or services page – or at the very least, on your About page.
It’s also helpful to incorporate personal tidbits or stories throughout your content to help people get to know the actual person behind the website and make you seem more relatable. This is especially effective if you can share stories from your own experience that your ideal clients can relate to because that’s where they’re at right now.
6. You’re not giving people a chance to take the first step.
If you don’t have some form of CTA on your site, you’re missing out big time. Think about what actions you most want people to take on your site and then make it really obvious to them with a clear invitation such as “buy now” or “Sign up for my newsletter.”
If you don’t give people the chance to buy or subscribe or connect with you in some way, then they may leave your site and forget about you forever. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the nature of a fast-paced world. You have to engage them during the small window of time that you have.
7. Not having an email newsletter or a content upgrade (opt-in freebie)
Many of my clients over the years have been hesitant to start an email list if they were just starting out or felt like they needed to wait until they had more experience or more to say, etc.
If you’re thinking that, then please erase that thought from your head now! It’s important to start NOW because like I said, you don’t want to miss out on potential clients. By having a newsletter sign up form on your website you’re giving people who are interested in what you’re offering a way to stay in touch. Don’t decide for them.
Having an opt-in freebie is also a great idea because not only does it incentivize people to sign up for your list, it also provides value for them. This is also going to improve the Know Like and Trust factor because they will be getting valuable information and solutions for free from you.
These are all ways that you can up-level your website and get ahead of the game even when you’re just starting with your business. Once you’ve implemented all of these strategies, you’ll be much closer to attracting your ideal clients and consistently growing your business online.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you’ve made changes to your site based on some of these tips, I’d love to hear about it!