How to get started with a website for your personal branding

April 21, 2020
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April 21, 2020 Stanley Ship
Imagine that you just got to meet a businessman.
 
He hands you his name card and you’re feeling great to have built a new network.
 
When you head home, you want to learn more about what this person does. But, you find that there’s no website. No social media profile URL, or any other way to find out more about his business online.
 
At this point of time, what would you have thought about him?
 
The purpose of this article is to help you to start owning a website in the online avenue for your personal brand. That will become a win for your business. It’s really not that hard!
 

This guide is suitable for entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs and freelancers of different industries.

 

The 2020 online situation

It’s hard to believe that in the year 2020, you don’t have a website or an online profile.blank

Source: https://vo.shgstatic.com

But still, we can safely say that 40% of small businesses still do not have a website. This is according to Visual Objects who surveyed 529 small business owners across the U.S.

Many of these businesses are relying on “traditional” means to generate sales, mainly through their networks and word-of-mouth referrals.

Some who are savvier would work with the press and create publications to build their brand as an industry expert.

That tells me that there are still those out there who are not sold on the idea of having a website and “going-online” per se.

Well, if you are one of them, and you have no intention to continue to be in business for the next 5 to 10 years, and you have no desire to scale and grow, this article would be pointless to you.

Let’s not think so much about branding in terms of the business. Let’s start with personal branding. Which is easier to build compared to a business’ brand. Coupled with the going-online approach and digital marketing, it makes no sense why you shouldn’t take advantage of the digital space now.

As the years go by, the market will change and evolve.

The business landscape will become more and more competitive.

Consumers need a reason why they should do business with you (as a person, not as a business) and not your competitors.

Businesses will not only need to innovate their products and services but also how they do business and market themselves.

In my humblest opinion, I believe that going online and having a solid personal brand strategy with an online approach is the easiest and most affordable way to implement and gain a competitive edge.

Is it really important to get a website?

First of all, the cost of getting a website is really low.

In fact, there are many ways to make use of your website. Many people have also talk and blog about the benefits of having a website.

I want to emphasize, that even traditional, brick and mortar businesses benefit from having a website. It is not exclusively just for those who have a business model heavily dependent on the Internet.

Local, traditional, brick and mortar, small businesses actually need an online presence more than internet-based businesses.

Now, different websites have different objectives and it really boils down to what is your strategy and purpose of having a website. Generally, having a website will:

    1. Save cost on print materials and offline distribution collaterals.
    2. Provide customer information on your product & service
    3. Promote your products and services
    4. Make your business mobile-first and easily reached by customers
    5. Provide customer information on your business’ background and credibility
    6. Give customer the ability to quickly and conveniently communicate with you and give you feedback
    7. Increase customer’s perception of your business’ trustworthiness and validity

How can you get started with a website

Most of you must be worried that you might be bored halfway through this article. I promise you that this is not going to be awfully technical.

In my experience, I know it is sometimes difficult to find the right person to create a website unless you have a friend that does it and you completely trust his skills.

I also know that it’s going to take time and effort to build and then maintain it.

At some point in the early days of my business, I thought that it wasn’t really relevant to have a website. After all, I’m already doing good by just having a social media presence and being dependent on some offline methods.

Little did I know that there is a way to create a website that is so simple, and yet I could still enjoy all the benefits of having a website.

I always thought that creating a website would take weeks. That’s because I’m a perfectionist, and I tend to be very detail-oriented.

But if you’re looking for a way to just take advantage of having a website without spending too much time, money and effort building it. You have come to the right place.

5 Super-easy steps to get started with a website

First things first, this article is designed to help those who are looking for a simple solution to get started with the website. It serves as an alternative unconventional way to start with a website. 

That means I won’t be covering WordPress and many other “higher-level” website builders that naturally will produce a prettier and better function website. However, everything written below is the essential and most basic things you need to get started very simply.

Also, there are many different types of website, like company/business websites, blogs, e-commerce site etc. This article will only guide you to create the simplest business or personal website (which is what you only need to get started, forget all the other complicated and fancy stuff).

Alright, enough said, let me lay out the steps for you here to give you an overview:

Step #1: Buy a domain
Step #2: Get a website builder
Step #3: Design the website
Step #4: Create websites 5 main pages/section
Step #5: Checking and Testing

(click on any of the above to go to that section).

Step #1: Buy a domain.

A domain is like your business name. That means it’s unique and once that domain is claimed or bought (even though there’s no website on that domain), you cannot use that domain anymore. I bought stanleyship.com and have been using it since 2 years ago and will continue to use it until another person buy it from me at 100,000 USD.

“Wait what it worths that much?” I conjured up a figure and that domain is also my name, it belongs to me and if I say it worths that much, it is (Obviously I don’t want people to buy it).

But that’s just what it is, a name. 

Don’t be silly, every standard domain will cost you less than 20 USD per year.

For this step, I won’t over complicate things because they’re not very important especially when you’re getting started. But if it matters to you, there are a few details you don’t want to miss when getting a domain.

The general rule of thumb I use is:

    1. Make it as similar or close to your name or your business name as possible
    2. Don’t let it be longer than 3 long words.
      • Thepricestrategy.com&nbsp
      • Theultimatepricestrategy.com&nbsp
    3. Exception to 2, is that it can be a really simple sentence like iwillteachyoutoberich.com but not everyone can pull that off. Ramit is already famous.
    4. Avoid complicated and easily misspelt words like focusinpossibilities.com can be misspelt to focusimpossibilities.com
    5. Avoid using the word that has two same letters side by side like digginggold.com 
    6. Oh yeah, always, always go with .com

If you prefer to watch a tutorial instead, check this video. (still uploading)

Do these:

    1. Brainstorm domain name ideas, you can use a tool like domainwheel.com and put in your keyword to generate some names
    2. Write down a few domain names that you came up with, then prioritise them according to which one you really like.
    3. Go to namecheap.com or godaddy.com
    4. Search for the domain name and check if it is available.
    5. If it is, you can then proceed to purchase the domain.

Note this:

When purchasing the domain, the standard package is 1 year and then renew it. You can go for a multiple year plan which is totally up to you. 

A basic domain purchase will include an ICANN fee (read more about it here) and a WhoIsGuard for free (a privacy protection service that prevents people from checking the details of the domain’s owner).

Whenever you buy a domain from a domain registrar company, they will try to sell you the add-ons:

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None of them are necessary for now. 

Step #2: Getting a website builder.

The website builder that I recommend to use is carrd.co. It’s not a very popular web builder but it fulfils the purpose of keeping things simple.

If you’re looking for a more popular approach, then I’d recommend weebly.com

Now, let me tell you a little about Carrd. The 3 big reasons why I suggested the web builder is:

    1. It’s very affordable compared to most website builder
    2. Carrd helps you to host your websites that are built in Carrd.
      Advance website builders nowadays don’t really need you to get a hosting on your own unless you’re looking for hosting features (like a CPanel)
    3. It’s seriously simple. That means you won’t have too many choices in terms of designing it, but you don’t want to waste your time doing that.

If you prefer to watch a tutorial instead, check this video.

Do these:

  1. First, go to https://carrd.co/ and click “choose a starting point.” Of course, feel free to explore the web page.
    blank
  2. Next you’ll see lots of template, I would personally recommend you to start with this one.
    blank
  3. After that you’ll see an instruction page, everything is self-explanatory. Click “Okay, got it!”
  4. Practically, you got a website now! You want to go and click save first and create an account. Don’t worry you won’t get charged yet.
    blank
  5. Then fill up the Title and Description, and switch to draft first. You can edit the Title and Description later on.
    blank
  6. Click “save,” if there’s a pop-up saying there’s an unconfigured element, you want to delete it first. Then save.
  7. Check your email to verify the account.

Step #3: Design the website

Okay now you should be in your dashboard.

Before we actually look at how to design your website. Let’s establish some rules first so that we can make this more efficient.

These rules are here for you to make it quicker to launch your website.

    1. Only have at most 3 colours in your website (excluding your background colour)
      1 for primary colour, another one for emphasis, and one more for buttons.

      Go to coolors.co or https://www.instagram.com/coolors.co
      You want to set the rightmost and left most palette to white (#ffffff) and black (#000000) and then start generating for colours. You can get some inspiration in their Instagram Page too.
    2. Always remember contrast. Dark background means Light content and vice-versa.
    3. Use templates as reference, or simply edit from template. 
    4. Only use 1 type of font. As to what font, do check out this article and select one that you like.

Tip: Get the best out of this tool

This website builder is known for its simplicity and speed in getting a website up. In order for you to get the best out of this tool, is to design using templates or reference other websites built with Carrd. 

It is not very advisable to reference designs from Pinterest or from anywhere else as it is not that compatible.

So, this is where I suggest to refer to their demos:

  1. Carrd’s own Template
  2. Carrd’s extra Gallery
  3. Drrac who makes and sells templates
  4. Makerpad’s templates (there are many different purpose demo at the bottom)

You’ll have to choose which font you want to use and what colour. That’s all, really simple. For the sake of this tutorial, I’ll settle on the font Oswald and #FF4040 (red) for colour. 

With these steps in mind, let’s go ahead and edit the website that we created.

On your dashboard, click on the website you first created and you should see this again:

blank

At this point, there are only 4 main things that you want to learn and do.

Do these:

  1. Edit and apply changes to each element and add new elements
  2. Apply changes to header and footer
  3. Add new pages and 
  4. Apply changes to element content of each page

It will probably take another 1,000 words for me to explain how to do it here. I don’t want to belabour you, so that is why, I’ve screen recorded on how to fully edit a Carrd template, with each of the functions explained and showed in detail.

Step #4: Create websites 5 main pages/section

Now, the most basic pages that every website has will be:

    1. Home Page
    2. About Me/Us page
    3. Contact Me/Us Page
    4. Privacy & Terms Page
    5. Services/Products/Pricing Page

In this step, I will just very simply go through a few essential things to include in these pages. One very important thing to remember here is not to overthink. Just keep things simple.

Home Page

In the Home page, you want to make sure you include these things.

      • Brief introduction or Tagline

This is where you should put an image and also a short convincing sentence that will be people’s first impression on your site. You need to make a solid first impression!

The objective of this is to be clear on what you do and why should people continue checking out your site.

You could include your tagline that acts as a mission or what you do as a profession. Here are some examples:

      • First Call-To-Action

This will tie in your objective. What should people do when they come to your website? Ultimately, is it to engage your services and checkout your products? You must first figure this out even before thinking about getting a website.

Once you got that figure out, you’ll know what call-to-action phrase to include. Read more about call-to-actions for home page or landing page here.

      • Your latest work or portfolio

This part here is to showcase your successful projects and services. Make sure to put images or customer reviews and testimonials.

You can include this before the first call-to-action. Remember, people need a reason why they should do business with you and that is what this part is trying to achieve.

About Me/Us Page

There is only one thing to remember here. Although, it is an about me or about us page, don’t make it so that it sounds like you are bragging and only talking good about yourself.

Let’s keep this page at about 500 words, you don’t want to make it a long read. Be sure to include headings as well for people who like to skim.

Usually you want to give your website visitors some context and background about you. In order to achieve that, just write a 100-300 word brand story or background story. If you are looking for a framework to write your brand story, do check out this article!

The rest of the content in the “about” page should be about what value you can bring to your customers. What can you do for them? How can you make their life better? Why should it be you?

Find some examples of good “about” pages here!

Contact Me/Us Page

This is a very simple page. Let’s just put a line of “Let’s get connected” and “[why should they connect with you].”

Then after that, add a form, with a submit button. You can also add your social buttons. Here’s how it looks like.

blank

Privacy and Terms Page

You don’t have to get a lawyer or write a privacy policy and terms of use page on your own. Just go to this website to generate a Privacy Policy and this website to generate a Terms of Use.

You will see a page that looks like this:

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For both of the pages, the first step is to fill up these details.

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Then on the next step, just select the “no” option for all the statements.

blankblank

And fill up the last step and you will get a full privacy policy and terms of use text that you can just copy and paste it to a new page in your website.

blank

Services/Products/Pricing Page

You may not want to include every single detail of your service or product page unless you are building an e-commerce website. You would also have to specify an objective for this page.

Do you want users to order straight from your website, or do you want them to reach out to you to arrange an appointment? Make sure you have a buyer journey so that you know where this page fits in when it comes to a prospect of becoming a customer. That means mapping out the touchpoints of a buyer journey. 

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Source: https://www.powerpost.digital

Read more about the buyer journey here.

When you have an objective for this page, do these:

  1. Draft your top 3 services/product that you sell
  2. Draft the details of these services
  3. List it down on this page.

Here is how it looks like:

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Source: https://www.pancommunications.com/our-services/all-services/

Do These:

  1. For all of these 5 pages, open a new Powerpoint or Keynote document to start planning what you want to write and what images you want to include.
  2. Then, go ahead and build these pages.
  3. If you want to take a look at how I do it, check it out here. (still uploading)

Step #5: Checking and Testing

Finally, we have reached the last step.

In order for you to publish your website with your own domain on Carrd, you will have to upgrade to their pro version.

But before you do so, there are a few things that you want to test and make sure everything is okay with your website.

Here are a few things you want to make sure:

    1. No spelling and grammar errors on your website.
    2. Every button is clickable and leads to the correct place.
    3. Make sure the social buttons lead to the right profile.
    4. The images are loading fine and are clear.
    5. No dummy elements (like lorem ipsum) or text placeholders that are not filled.
    6. Test out the contact form to see if you actually receive the email.
    7. Make sure all your contact information found anywhere in your website is correct. 

Once you got all these things down. You can now consider your website LIVE!

Conclusion

Congratulations, if you have reached the end of this article, that means now you either have a complete website or going to have a completed website. Either way, I am really, really excited for you.

Actually, this is not the end, but the beginning of your website strategy. There’s still so much we can talk about and now that you have a website, what’s next?

Let me give you a few things that you can start with. You should be as proud as I am now that you have a website up. And because you are so proud, you should share the link of your website in your social profiles. Send it to your friends and let them have a look. Ask for feedback and ask what they think about it. 

I hope this guide has been helpful to you and most likely in the future I will also talk about the more advanced website builders should you be keen to explore. Not only that, I already have plans to talk about how you can make full use of your website so that it actually brings you to return for your business and fulfils the objectives in your business.

Lastly, if you have completed your website, do send over your link to me via email ([email protected]) or via DM in Instagram (@imstanleyship). I’d really love to take a look (:

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Stanley Ship

I'm a Marketing Strategist and the founder of Renesis Group, which is a marketing agency. I help business owners grow brand presence and continuously get new customers by executing clear marketing strategies. If you're looking for possibilities and opportunities in growing your business, you definitely need a marketing strategy (and a good one).

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