Five easy first steps to set up a website

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The mystery, the mystique, the wonder and awe of watching a domain name become a website used to enthrall me. It still does in fact.

Someone buys a domain name for £7.19 and within a week it’s a living, breathing digital presence.

I used to think that was beyond me and the average person, but sorry web designers, it’s not. It’s a process, a series of steps to take to get a website live from domain purchase to sitemap being submitted for search.

Here it is in 5 steps:

STEP ONE – DOMAIN

You can find many domain sellers online and I personally don’t waste time shopping round as 99p ones that appeal for year one are often inflated for year 2. I go to tsohost.com and buy domain names for clients there. Invariably they cost £5.99 plus VAT for the year. Because I have payment set up in tsohost, it’s a three click operation.

STEP TWO – HOSTING

You cannot have a website online without hosting. Repeat. Your domain name with a WordPress theme installed does not become an entity without hosting. You can buy it from the domain provider as many web designers insist you do or you can find a web designer who includes it free (me). I don’t go all Go Daddy in Year 2 either and demand £8 a month to continue hosting it. It’s £3 a month or £30 for the whole year, otherwise I remove hosting and that domain and website you’ve had for 12 months disappears. I give warning of course. But £30 for a year is hardly onerous, I don’t think.

STEP 3 – INSTALL WORDPRESS

I do this via hosting, mine is with Siteground. I have access to a control panel where I can add on your domain, point your nameservers to my hosting packing and install WordPress. The website then invariably appears on a default theme of Twenty Seventeen – your website has that ubiquitous cactus showing until I login to the back end and begin.

STEP 4 – DESIGN WEBSITE

I then go into the back end of your website so to speak and install themes and plugins. I tend to use Generate Press, GP Premium, Elementor, Elementor Pro and Avada. Avada costs $60 to purchase with a year’s support from the theme provider. In my early days, I thought buying the domain and installing a theme was all there was to it. There’s far more to it of course, but when you’ve designed 90 in 6 months, the process becomes second nature.

STEP 5 – CREATE CONTENT

The hardest part of web design, trust me, is not putting the pages in a menu, sorting out a logo, setting up sliders, headers and footers, it’s the content. If a web designer (ie, most of them) rely on clients to provide all the copy, there are delays. Some web designers cannot write and most clients are reluctant to. This is one of my USPs – that bloody dummy Latin text doesn’t faze me. I see it as my forté. I love writing. I love web design. A marriage made in heaven. But don’t be fooled. Writing content, that is engaging, accurate, relevant is not a walk in a park. But I do it for all clients, even when they’ve given me copy, I improve it. Teacher in me. English teacher from 1987 to 2013. I can’t help but help.

In my next post, I’ll explain more about themes, plugins, site maps, caching, etc and become quite a nerd.

If you need help with content, web design, blah de blah, contact me now.

Why blogging is good for your business

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Before I get accused of vested interests, I’ll come clean, as I’m always an open book, that yes blogging is good for your business and it is for mine too. I get paid reasonably well to do something I enjoy and am reasonably good at: writing.

When I used to tell people I met that I was a writer, I was always asked for titles of fiction I’d written – there was always a faint whiff of “oh dear” when I explain I write blogs for others.

I’m no author on Amazon, ‘tis true, but I make a handsome and enjoyable loving from copywriting and web designing, as y’all know.

Unless your website is a shop, with new products added and offers, or a forum, with frequent updates, or a news site, you’re unlikely to get much in terms of web traffic on a daily basis. If this website was bereft of blogs (300 plus now), would people turn up to marvel at my mug shot in woods or admire the contact form or read what I do?

Not really.

But when I post a blog, traffic surges.

Now don’t get me wrong – the website doesn’t crash with traffic. Some posts garner 100 views, some a 1000, some even more, according to Google Analytics.

But.

When I don’t post articles, traffic drops to a small amount as the website becomes static.

Yours will too.

A blog keeps the momentum bubbling, engages readers and gives people something to come back for.

Provided it’s not shit of course.

Some businesses write blogs (or pay others to write them) in a SEO mechanistic way. Keywords and phrases sprinkled in and your Google ranking will soar. That is shit of course.

No human, me included, wants to read a post that has been carefully constructed to appease an algorithm, but the real readers not the Google bots, see it as the equivalent of watching magnolia paint dry.

I see it all the time with companies, particularly property companies, playing safe so as not to offend but gaining zero interest with those painting by numbers ghostwritten blogs.

They’re boring.

In my opinion.

If you want people to come back and  read your next post, and your one after, and your one after that, for goodness sake don’t serve them an SEO clappy smiley beige blancmange of words that may please search engines but certainly won’t win you followers.

A blog should do that: it should create tribes of followers who know that when they click that title, that featured image, that it’s not going to be a coma-inducing yawn fest.

If you’ve nothing to say in your blogs that interests readers, don’t say it, but find a freelance writer who can and will – and there’s tens of thousands of us out there, waiting to weave words for you.

Another thing.

Google rewards fresh content.

It likes backlinks too, which I’ve debated this week, but it loves fresh content.

Your website should have a blog page – a news page, articles, call them what you want – and each time a blog is created, with a carefully crafted metadescription, an alt tagged featured image, some H2, H3 subheadings and is submitted to Google Search  Console or to Google Plus, Google’s all-seeing eyes shine with delight.

Even more so when you use the 70-30 rule.

30% spent creating content and the other 70% throwing it to the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, your Facebook page, Stumbleupon, Medium, video highlights of your content on YouTube and Instagram.

A blog post that takes a copywriter an hour to shape, should have two hours spent sharing.

Previous blog posts can be reshared too and when someone lands on your website, from a blog, they may just look at the Home page, your bio, your services, your products, your testimonials and your social media links and make a decision to buy into what you’re selling – maybe not there and then, but some time in the future.

It’s an absolute no brainer having a news page.

Any web designer can add one, and you or a paid writer can create the content for you to share with your network.

If you’re keen to know more, drop me an email at stuart@getprocopy.com and I will sort out a blogging page for you or a full website with a news tab, and point you in the direction of some fantastic content creators who I’m friends with.

Let me end with an example.

South Coast Boilers was created from a new domain by me and I liaised with Bruce Crabbe the owner about the news page and together we created three unique posts which you can see here. They signal that this new enterprise is not simply an online business card, but a source of information for others about Ideal, Viessmann and Vaillant boilers.

Bruce knew it made business sense and I was happy to confirm that it did.

Whether you’re starting a business or regenerating an existing one, blogging is good for your business (and of course, mine).

If you’ve got a website, with no blog posts, or a website with blogs that are older than the clients in a Toyota dealership, get in touch and let me help you and your business grow.

 

 

A website is only part of your business journey

That title may sound a bit odd, coming from this Norwich web designer and copywriter, even self-deprecatory to a point of self-defeating but it’s true. A website won’t make you any money. It won’t pay the bills, your mortgage, your car loan and feed you at all.

Let me explain, before you assume I’ve lost the plot and am telling people to not bother with a website.

A website is an important part of your business but a website won’t create business. You do that by sharing and promoting your skill sets, services and providing answers to questions that people are searching for. A website gives you credibility, shows your expertise, highlights your commitment to communication via social media, but unless you’re prepared to work at it, you’d be better off splashing a grand on a week at Butlin’s With Squirrels (Center Parcs).

My point is this – you can lay out a relatively small sum of £300 for a simple, responsive brochure website from me, or £1000 and have a website with functionality like a shop – but unless you’re prepared to roll your sleeves up and get strategically involved, stick to Parc Market for spending sums like that.

You see, a website is only as good as its owner.

I can design one, add a nice logo, optimise the content for search, get business cards sorted, set up company email addresses and your social media channels, a blogging page, but once that month of intense excitement has waned – you’re left with the digital equivalent of a brand new car, which looked and smelled great a month ago, but now has faded from your immediate attention.

You’ve got to work at your website and your digital networking.

It takes time and effort.

But without it, you’re in danger of the fading syndrome of the new car.

How?

Physical networking (which I’m no fan of actually – BNI are three letters that fill me with dread).

Social networking.  Connecting and not selling but conversing and gaining some trust. My business comes primarily from LinkedIn then my website.

Blogging. You either do it or pay a freelance writer to do it – and trust them – no one likes being micro-managed as freelance means you’re free from bosses, technically.

Being a helper. You don’t have to become Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi, but helping others in their business is not only good for your soul but will reap rewards later. If you’re a selfish, money-grabbing type, no one will do business with you.

Finally don’t give up.

You’ve got to have self-motivation by the bucket load and an ability to see the long term picture.

Self-employment is ridiculously painful at times. Working with the wrong clients. Underpricing a job. Chasing payments.

But when I’m on my daily stroll along the Groundhog Day bridlepath and woods with my rescue border collie, I never think I wish I was back in paid work, with commutes, meetings and odious bosses in schools.

No.

I’ve made Get Pro Copy Ltd a success – and if I can do it as a cynical 53 year old with no formal training, other than a lifetime of teaching and writing, you can.

Need a helper?

I’m one – just ask.

 

Communicating with web design via What’s App – what a schoolboy error!

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When I begin a web design project, I often ask “Do you use What’s App” and 97% of the time, the answer is “yes I do.”

Good I think.

That means files, photos and text can be ported quickly between myself and the client with me even having it minimised permanently on the iMac.

It saves the faff of email. It makes communication instant. But it can become an unwelcome distraction and here’s why.

I have “read receipts” toggled on within the app and this is the first issue. Clients, friends expect instant action. You’ve read it and they anticipate immediate answers and quick responses to problems.

Except sometimes I need a break, I need to drive, I need to shower, walk, eat but 30% of clients I’d say expect an instant response and if they don’t, because that is a cultural norm, they can get arsey.

I think most of the time iMessage, What’s App is great, but there is that constant expectation that you’ve deigned to open your phone, read the message and will now abandon your shower, walk, meal to change a word or image on a website.

I’m feeling that vibe now as my client list grows and existing ones and some new ones begin to treat me like an employee.

I’m not an employee, I don’t do bosses, I certainly take umbrage at constant pecking from certain clients who expect responses and actions in nano-seconds.

That’s going.

I’ve actually decided now I’ve become established to drop clients who are bother.

Not because I’m lazy, or can’t be bothered, but because it’s not often reciprocated. That appreciation for the extra mile you walk weekly for all clients is not appreciated or respected.

Some do.

Don’t get me wrong. 70% are fine. They pay for my time, thank me for my time and will leave reviews saying how prompt and thorough I am.

Others – about a third – don’t and when you ask to write a Google review or a LinkedIn recommendation, they don’t respond – even though I respond instantly 95% of the time to sort out their requests.

Things are changing though.

What’s App read receipts are being toggled off and when someone next asks to me to add a block to a website, find a different picture, they can find a different web designer and copywriter.

Not being a prima donna at all, just the new teeth have emboldened me and to be honest, I’m a bit tired of the ball and chain anchoring me to the phone and computer.

New teeth, new me, new What’s App processes.

Agree?