Website Like It’s 1999

Update Your Website

Sorry, the Party's Over

I get it, solo pros, you’re busy and your website isn’t top of mind. But have you looked at it lately!?

It’s almost the end of 2015 and I just clicked on two links in an email newsletter a colleague sent me. The links were testimonials from clients raving about her services, and I’m sure the professionals mentioned were excited by the opportunity to get some extra visibility in her newsletter.

What did I find when I clicked?

As Lieutenant Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter (one my guilty pleasures) would say,
“Oh my, my…”

It wasn’t pretty.

I’ve blurred identifying in the attached screen shots, but take a look and you’ll see what I mean.  1999 called and they want their websites back!

website1   website2

Psst! Websites Have Changed

I’ve been involved with the Internet in various forms since 1993 (yes, I’m that old). “Back in the day,” websites were simply brochure-ware. People would take their marketing materials, convert them to HTML and that was that.

A few years later, Flash! came into fashion and things got fancy.

Since then, things have changed—a lot.

Flash! has since faded away and parallax sites are the trend of the day. Mobile has become ubiquitous and responsive technology helps people view sites from their phone or tablet. (Like, say, the people in the audience at the talk you just gave.)

Web design has trends, which I enjoyed watching during my five years I was honored to judge the Web Marketing Association’s WebAwards program. Like fashion, in web design, it’s a case of you’re in one day and out the next.

It can be expensive and time consuming to keep up with the trends, so I completely understand why solopreneurs and even small business owners put off updating their sites.

The sad thing is, eventually that dated website will hurt you.

What Are You Missing?

If you’ve been in business for a while, it’s probably safe to assume you’ve had some success. You might believe that means you don’t need to worry about your website, especially if all your business comes from referrals. You’re wrong.

When someone tells a potential client, “Call Suzy, she can help,” where do you think they go? Research shows they look you up on Google and LinkedIn. The next stop is most likely going to be your website.

And what do they find there? Do you have a modern website that provides social proof, with testimonials, articles you’ve written, current information about your work and an interesting write-up about your background? If so, all this adds up to convince prospects you’re the one to hire.

Or it maybe you have an old site that screams, “I’m outdated!

Subtle messages matter.

In the airline industry there’s something called the coffee stain theory. Basically, it shows that when someone boards a flight and finds coffee stains on their tray table, they quickly wonder what else has been neglected. “Is maintenance current, or will I die when this plane crashes?”

Is that what you want people to think about working with you?

If you can’t keep your site up to date, people will wonder if you also neglect professional development or client relationships. Can I trust that you’re an expert in your field with the latest thought leadership and innovative approaches?

Probably not.

It’s Not as Hard as You Think

Creating a modern website is not difficult or expensive these days. For the budget-conscious, free sites like Wix and SquareSpace let you create a lovely site from a template in a matter of hours. They're not my first choice, but they'll do in a pinch.

If you want something more unique, a WordPress developer can create a highly functional site that makes your brand shine for a few thousand dollars.

I know from my work with clients that the most difficult part of the whole process is figuring out what you want to say and how to say it in a way that attracts the right prospects. Add some great photography and a professional headshot, and you're in pretty good shape.

Thanks to Google, the search engine optimization (SEO) games of days past are much less effective now, so you don't need to worry much about the nuances of SEO. Simply tell your story in an earnest and clear way, and people will find you. SEO plugins make it easy to optimize your site, and there are a wealth of resources to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Over course, there are lots of other solopreneurs out there who specialize in this space and you might want to hire one of them to guide the way.

Once your new site is up, you can update it easily whenever you feel like it. Make changes regularly, and do a full review at least once a year. With the speed of technology and design trends, you'll want to do a complete overhaul every three years or so.

I guarantee that if you’re charging what you should for your work, one good project will cover the cost of bringing your web presence into the 21st century. If you're serious about being a successful solopreneur,  you can't afford not to.

What are you waiting for?

Photo by Martin Simonis on FreeImages.com

Joey is the founder and CEO of Claravon Group and the creator of Solopreneur School. A consultant, business coach, speaker and author, Joey draws on her expertise in strategy, branding and marketing to help entrepreneurs accelerate growth and improve profits.

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