Back in the dark ages of the web, websites were either hand-coded in static HTML or you had to hire a developer to build a custom CMS if you had any hope of updating your own website. Ultimately, this resulted in a lot of out of date websites and nobody really blinked an eyelid if you hadn’t touched your business website in a year or two.
These days, it’s easy for anyone with even minimal web knowledge to set up their own website and if your online presence isn’t up to scratch, clients won’t even find you, let alone put their confidence in working with you. Whatever kind of business you run, WordPress is a great choice for managing your website, allowing you to build a professional looking site that is easy to update.
Whether you’re a web developer, photographer, business consultant, or life coach, you’re up against thousands of others offering similar prices. By carefully considering how your site appears to clients, you can gain the edge over your peers and position yourself more competitively in the marketplace.
1. Choose a Slick WordPress Theme
It’s important that your site looks unique and professional if you’re hoping to attract clients with it. Many businesses and freelancers choose to have a completely bespoke theme developed to suit their purposes, but if you’re on a smaller budget, a well-designed premium theme should do the job.
Of course the type of theme you choose will depend on the type of service you are offering. Portfolio themes work well for photographers and artists; minimal, typography-focused themes work particularly well for writers and one-page themes are great for pretty much any kind of business.
If you work in web design, marketing or any other fast-paced or technology business, it’s important to follow popular design trends and update your theme accordingly. Using a theme that’s based around the trends of two years ago might give the impression that you don’t keep up to date in your industry and can be enough to put off some clients.
For visual creatives, take care not to choose a theme that will over power your work. Simple and basic themes work best, to keep the focus on your images.
2. Optimize your site speed
Most web users won’t bother sticking around for longer than a few seconds if your page is slow to load and the same will be true of prospective clients. You can make sure your site loads quickly by choosing a minimal theme and avoiding large images and video.
To give your site an extra speed boost, consider installing the W3 Total Cache Plugin, which can increase your site performance significantly and also cut down on bandwidth usage.
3. Don’t Forget SEO
A site that is properly optimized for search engines will make it easier for clients to find you. This is particularly important if you offer your services mainly locally. Say, for example, you’re a wedding photographer in Houston, Texas, then you’ll want to try and make sure your site comes up in the first page of Google results for someone searching for “wedding photography Houston TX”.
The easiest way to SEO your WordPress site is by installing a plugin link the All in One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO Plugin. These plugins will optimize your site structure and titles to make it easier for search engines to find your site.
Installing an SEO plugin is the minimum you should do. You should also think about including appropriate keywords in your web copy and titles, renaming your images to have keywords in the filename and interlinking your site’s pages wherever appropriate.
Creating a site map and submitting it to Google can also be helpful for SEO. You can do this easily by installing a plugin like Google XML Sitemaps.
4. Be Easily Contactable
You could have the best designed WordPress business site in the world and it would be useless if there was no contact information to be found. Make sure you include a clear “Contact” link in your site navigation and include several different ways to contact you on this page.
While it’s tempting to just put up a page saying “Contact me by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org”, but publishing your email like this can attract spammers. It’s best to put up a basic contact form instead of your email address, which is easily achieved by using a plugin.
If you have a physical office, include the address and it’s also a nice touch to embed a Google map with your location on your contact page. You can do this with WP Google Maps or a similar plugin.
5. Be Yourself
It’s amazing how many freelancers don’t think to include a photograph of themselves somewhere on their website – not even on their “About” page. When you’re finding clients online, they don’t always have the benefit of meeting you face-to-face as they would in the real world. Dealing with a faceless entity is pretty unappealing to most people so go ahead and let them see who they’re thinking of working with.
Showing the world your face helps to develop a feeling of trust and helps to build your client relationships before they even make first contact.
For the same reason, don’t keep saying “we” if you’re a solo freelancer. Many freelancers think this makes them sound more professional, on par with a big firm, but in fact it often comes across as stand-offish and impersonal.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through into your business website. Your clients are human too and they’ll be more drawn towards working with you if they get the impression that you’re the kind of person they’d get on with outside of work.
6. Polish Your Copy
The text on your site is as important as how it looks. Effective copywriting draws clients in, illustrates what you can do for them and compels them to want to know more about you and your business.
Many freelancers and small businesses make the mistake of making their website all about them rather than the client. Rather than simply listing your skills and achievements and talking about how great you are, work towards forming an emotional connection with prospective clients and positioning yourself as a solution to their problems.
Copywriting is a real skill and it takes practice to get right. If you can afford to, it’s worth hiring a professional as it can really make the difference when it comes to turning website visitors into paying clients.
If you can’t afford the services of a copywriter, brush up your own writing skills by studying the art of copywriting, in particular, sales copywriting. Copyblogger has some useful tips and there are also some good books available such as The Copywriter’s Handbook.
7. Write a Blog
WordPress was first developed as a blogging platform but of course now it’s used for all sorts of websites, not just blogs. Your business website doesn’t have to be just a set of static pages – take advantage of WordPress being the best blogging platform out there and get writing on a regular basis.
Blogging is not only great for SEO and helps to drive extra traffic to your website, but it is also a great way to demonstrate your knowledge in your industry area and position yourself as an authority. Several writers, web designers, life coaches and more, all get work through clients that have discovered them through their blog.
For more detailed advice on blogging for your business, check out this post.
Invest in Your Website for Business Success
It’s easy to put off working on your own website when there’s client work to be done, but putting a little time and/or money into making your site more attractive to prospective clients can really help to grow your business fast.
The advancement in technologies like WordPress and its associated plugins have made it easier than ever before to set up and take control of your own website. No more excuses for having a shoddy business site or online portfolio!