Jeremy Gray – The Geriatric Entrepreneur
IBGR. Network. The World of Business at Your Fingertips
Is retirement not for you? Me neither! I have always known that retirement did not hold any attraction for me. Those financial product advertisements promising early retirement never resonated.
In season 10 we will look at how to launch your second career, in a time of raising interest rates and a falling stock market. I invite you to join me, as I build my business plan to escape the tyranny of the clock which limits my earnings to the hours I work. Over the next five years I plan to build an income portfolio that will support my family into the future. Please join me as I plan that journey.
Episode 13 The essentials of strategy and names.
There was a time, and not so long ago, that some pundits used to say that you do not need a website to start a business. Maybe that is still true but if you set yourself up as a consultant, coach or content creator you need some form of on-line presence. Facebook, LinkedIn etc. may get you where your want to be, but as I mentioned last week you do not “own” your Facebook page, Meta, Facebooks parent company can take you offline at any time, or change their algorithms so you no longer appear in searches. Incidentally I am not a Facebook user, yes I know I should have a business Facebook page but that is not high on my priorities. Not being a Facebook user I get frustrated when I click on say a restaurant’s “website” link and get taken their Facebook page. I often get presented with the message “Sign in for more information” which of course I cannot do. Not a great user experience. There are a massive 1.7 billion Facebook users, but that leaves some 6 billion people who do not have a Facebook account.
To build your business you need to be in control of your online presence which means have your own website and building your own e-mail list. I talked about building your email list in episodes 5 to 8 of this season.
Your website is your online presence, It allows your business to be available anytime and from anywhere in the world. Eventually you want your website to be a tool to increase your revenue; but caution is needed people are not stupid and if they detect a sales pitch before you have built their trust they will quickly move on. Build your community with valuable content before attempting a sales pitch.
Let’s start planning your website.
Define your site’s purpose and strategy
It sounds like such a simple point to make, but before you jump head-first into designing your website, you first need to be clear on its purpose.
Beyond simply knowing your industry and defining a content strategy, you need to think about what your USP (unique selling point) is, and how you want to come across. Your website’s design is directly linked to your brand, and it needs to come across as authentic and engaging.
By understanding what you aim to achieve you can plan the elements of your website that will enable you to achieve that goal. Some goals you might set yourself could include:
Having decided on your site’s purpose you should select a suitable Domain Name. Forbes.com suggest the following tips, I have added some thoughts of my own.
A good way to start is to look at your potential competitors’ sites. An easy way to start is to search the keywords that you would expect people to use when they are looking for your products or services.
Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ websites. What do you like? What do you dislike? Are there consistent themes across the websites that could be considered an industry standard.
Avoid the trap of researching sites in an adjacent space that may not be relevant to your business. For example, in the field of consulting there are companies that focus on selling to major corporations such as Accenture and Deloitte. And there are consultants that work in the SME space.
Episode 14 – Site Structure – What you need to know
As I mentioned in episode 13 when you start to build a website, it is tempting to just jump in and add content right away. Getting started with a website builder is exciting, and you probably can’t wait to begin sharing content with the world. Do not hesitate, start adding content immediately because the motivation from seeing your website develop will be worth the effort.
However, as I have learnt you should step back and take some time to think through your sites structure.
Your site’s “structure” is no more than how you’ve organized your content and how you’ve set up your navigation menus to help visitors get to that content.
Having a logical, optimized site structure will create a more user-friendly experience for your visitors and it can also help you improve your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).
In this episode, I am going to help you plan your site’s structure by focusing on three key areas:
Properly using categories and tags to organize your content.
Creating an effective main navigation menu to point people to the most important areas on your site.
Using your site’s footer to provide deeper links to your site’s content.
Note some of terms I will be using refer to WordPress as that is the tool I am most familiar with and is the tool I will be using to rebuild my websites. However I am sure other website building tools use a similar structure.
As an aside you may come across the term content management system or CMS. A CMS is software that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge.
In simpler language, a content management system is a tool that helps you build a website without needing to write all the code from scratch (or even know how to code at all).
Instead of building your own system for creating web pages, storing images, and other functions, the content management system handles all that basic infrastructure stuff for you so that you can focus on more forward-facing parts of your website.
WordPress is a prime example of a content management system but there are many out there. For a review of 15 available CMS Ctrl+Click here.
Let’s get started so that you can create a strong foundation for your site and set it up for long-term success!
Here’s Why Your Site’s Structure Is Important
In a nutshell, the structure is important because it will affect how easy it is for your site’s visitors to find the content that they’re interested in.
If people can easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll be more likely to stick around and engage with your site. But if they can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll be more likely to “bounce” and leave your site. Basically, even if your site offers exactly what the person is looking for, they still might leave if your site’s structure doesn’t make it easy for them to discover that content.
You can also use your site’s structure to highlight key content and nudge your site’s visitors towards the content that you want them to engage with.
If your goal is to make money with your website, this means that optimizing your site’s structure can help you boost your revenue and other key performance metrics.
Beyond that, your site’s structure will also help search engine robots like Googlebot understand which parts of your site are the most important, which can affect your site’s SEO.
Now that you know why site structure is important, let’s talk about how to get it right…
Three Key Elements to Plan Your Site Structure
If you want to create an optimal site structure for your site, you’ll want to focus on three key elements:
These are not the only elements that affect your site structure, but they are the most important and they’ll apply to all WordPress sites.
In general, it’s useful to plan out these structural elements before you build a website. While you can always change them later, it’s better to get them right, from the very start.
Shishir Mishra writing for Harvard Business Publishing in an article entitled Website Design Tips and Tricks suggests that use sticky notes to create a site map of your website. Think of a family tree! This will allow you to map out the user flow for your website. This will help you outline how the user will navigate through the different pages of the site. The user flow should be set up so it helps the user take the action you want them to take. That could be sign up for a newsletter, take advantage of a free trial, purchase a product or service. Remember to make your call to action clear and visible. Only one CTA per page. I may be digressing slightly here but setting a deadline for your CTA will encourage your potential client or lead to take action. An example is an offer we are making at IBGR for the first 15 folks who sign up before August 15th for the “365 Incubator Program – Your Fast Track to Profitability” will get a massive 50% discount of the regular price. This is a unique program specifically for Coaches, Consultants and Course Creators to pair them up with their own Fractional Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer plus the added benefit of coaching to go with it. Your team is prepared and ready to work with you to uncover your Signature Program. Set up the platforms necessary to market and sell it and create a financial plan to make it profitable. What makes the program special is the unprecedented level of personalized attention you will receive from your consultants and coaches.
To be a host on IBGR you must have willingness to serve. If you think this might of interest to you go to:
https://www.ibgr.network/365.html and book a call with Donna to explore whether the program is right for you and if you are right for the program.
Jeff Walker who developed what he calls the sideways newsletter, although he uses videos rather than text recommends set out a short and clearly defined period when people are allowed to buy your offer. Typically, three to seven days. Walker describes this as “cart open” and “cart close.” This gives people a compelling reason to purchase now. If you want to know more about this technique you can listen to my Season 8 Episode 50 which discusses the how and the pitfalls of designing an online course.
In Episode 15 we will look at categories and tags and how they help you organize your posts. You can assign categories and tags to posts as you create them
We’re starting with categories and tags because how you structure them could play a role in how you configure the other navigation areas on your site.
Both categories and tags help you group your content together, but they do so in different ways so it’s important to understand the differences.
Episode 15 Optimize your categories, tags and menus
Categories and tags are key to optimising your site’s structure. They work differently but both are important for improving the users experience while on your site. Attention spans are getting shorter, people skim through pages rather than reading them. Research has shown you have 8 seconds to grab a viewer attention.
Categories are a hierarchical grouping mechanism, which means you can have parent categories and child categories. Think of it kind of like nesting a folder inside another folder on your computer.
For example, if you have a blog about soccer (or football, depending on which side of the pond you’re on), you could have parent categories for the popular leagues, such as:
Then, inside each league’s parent category, you could have child categories for each team.
For example, you could create child categories inside of the Premier League category for Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and of course Newcastle United.
If someone clicked on the Premier League parent category, they would see content from all the teams. Then, if they wanted to filter out content for a specific team, they can select that team’s child category.
Creating these hierarchical categories can be helpful for your site’s visitors because it creates a natural funnel to draw people into your site. For example, someone could land on your homepage, click into the Premier League category to catch up on league-wide news, and then drilldown into their favourite team.
Tags are a non-hierarchical or “flat” grouping mechanism, which means there are no parent/child relationships.
Instead, each tag exists by itself and has no relationship to the other tags or categories. Typically, you’ll use tags to group posts by very specific topics that don’t merit their own category. Your visitors might use tags if they want to dig into a specific topic on your site, but most people will browse your categories.
When to Use WordPress Categories and When to Use WordPress Tags
Now, let’s talk about when you should use categories and tags to organize your content. Generally, you’ll want to use child categories for specific topics that you regularly write about and tags for very narrow topics that aren’t regular features on your site.
Keep in mind that you can use categories and tags at the same time. If you write a post about a specific player on Manchester United, you could put that post in the child category for Manchester United while also tagging it with the player’s name. That way, your visitors could use both methods to discover the post.
How to structure your sites menus
Primary Navigation Menu (Header)
Your primary navigation menu is the menu that appears at the top of your site, typically in the header.
You want to use it to direct visitors to the most important parts of your site. You’re not trying to include top-level links to every single piece of content on your site – you’re just telling visitors how they can get to the most important parts.
As a rough rule of thumb, you should normally aim to have around four to eight top-level navigation items, along with options to register or login if applicable to your site.
For example, the WordPress.com navigation menu has four top-level navigation items (beyond the log in and register links):
These numbers are not a hard rule – you can add more top-level items if needed. But you don’t want to feel like you’re trying to cram in every single link on your site. Remember, you just want to help people quickly access the most important content on your site.
If you do want to provide links to “deeper” content on your site, you can make use of drop-down menus or mega menus that appear when a visitor hovers over one of your top-level navigation items.
Drop-down menus can be really useful for displaying your site’s categories. For example, you could create a top-level menu item that links to your main blog page, but then you could show your primary categories in a drop-down menu so that people can jump straight to the content that they’re interested in.
While you should limit your primary navigation menu to just a few top-level menus, your footer can include a lot more navigation links.
For example, while the WordPress.com header only has four top-level links, the footer includes 27+ visible links, divided into four columns.
Typically, your footer serves two key functions.
Second, you can use it as a “sitemap” to provide direct links to your site’s most important content.
If you browse travel booking sites or real estate listing sites, you can find some excellent examples. For example, look at the footer from Agoda, a popular travel booking site. It includes utility links in the grey section and then a detailed sitemap to popular destinations and guides.
Wirecutter from the New York Times also illustrates this principle. The footer includes both utility links and direct links to all the categories.
On your site, you might break it down into three to four columns like so:
If you want to create the best experience for your visitors, you should plan out your site structure early in the site-building process. Limit the options you offer your visitors. Keep in mind that 8 second attention span, readers will tend to scroll through pages, skimming information rather than take the time to read the information thoroughly.
The more choices you offer your reader the lower the chances that they will take action. If your website navigation pane has too many links to browse or you have a long scroll homepage you are offering too many choices. If your landing page has three options it will lower the likelihood that the visitor will take any action at all. So, offer only one option – the one you want them to take. Remember only one CTA per page.
To begin, plan how you’ll organize your site’s content with categories and tags. Here’s a quick recap:
Categories are hierarchical (they can have parent/childrelationships) while tags are non-hierarchical (each tag is completely separate).
Use your parent categories for broad topics. For more specific topics, you can consider child categories (aka subcategories) or tags depending on your site’s content.
You must assign each post to at least one category but using tags is optional.
Once you know how you’ll organize your content, use your site’s header and footer navigation to make it easy for visitors to access important details. Remember, your header should just have a few top-level items for the most important content on your site, while your footer can include more “deep” links and utility pages.
Episode 16 – Make your site visually appealing.
We’re often admonished not to judge a book by its cover. But that rule doesn’t apply in the world of web development, as visual appeal is everything. Your website’s visual appeal plays a vital role in your website’s usability, and you will be making a mistake neglecting this aspect of your website.
Visual appeal has been found to influence the purchase intent and likelihood of a second visit. According to research, users are more likely to trust a website with an appealing design than one cluttered with lots of moving objects and shiny colours.
There is plenty advice available regarding ideal positioning of elements on your website such as the rule of thirds used in photography. That is, you should visually divide your webpages into thirds vertically and horizontally and place your most important elements at the intersections.
In much of the world people read from left to right. At the start of a page, they may read all the way to the end but as they go down your page the less of each line they read. Therefore, the most important information should be placed on the lefthand side of your site.
Also, you can find information on using colours from branding, but as I am colour blind and graphically challenged I would recommend that you learn from other IBGR hosts who are experts on marketing.
But I do have some advice regarding design that will improve your sites appeal to visitors.
The best converting websites are those that keep it simple and uncluttered. Review your website and remove anything and everything that is not informative or useful to your visitors.
A great example is Apple’s website. Apple has a lot of products it wants to sell but by using plenty of white space they have a simple clear design. White space increases the readability of text, it makes images and videos standout.
Avoid deadwood phrases such as “at the present time” use now. Not “despite the fact that” use although.
As mentioned in the last episode the average attention span of a site visitor is only 8 seconds. You have only 8 seconds to grab their attention, if you don’t your click through rate will suffer. Some tips that can help:
Let me expand on a couple of those tips.
Use human images to make your site visitors feel connected with your brand, humans tend to relate with other human faces. Use them in your case studies, articles, landing pages etc. Ideally use the faces of people behind your brand for a solo consultant this could be you, your family, friends etc. If you do not want to use your images, you can use stock images that are readily available.
Use high quality images to boost conversion. Images on your website will increase engagement. Use high quality photographs to improve your site’s visual appeal. But optimize them for speed, resize them using tools that are freely available. Use Google to find them.
Website abandonment rates increase rapidly over time. Research shows 40% of visitors will abandon websites if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. By six seconds you have lost all but the most patient of viewers
What’s even more shocking is that 80% of those visitors won’t return to that website. This is terrible for your SEO ranking because it ultimately kills traffic to your site.
But on the flip side, if your page loads fast, people will keep coming back.
E-commerce is a popular way of generating a second income so some ideas for those of you considering this option.
1. Double Up on Security Credentials and Certifications
As popular as online shopping is nowadays, it doesn’t mean that consumers will be quick to trust in it. In fact, the opposite might just be true. In the eyes of the consumer, a website with minimal badges and/or security credentials is one that should be avoided. Meanwhile, having multiple trust badges on your e-commerce website, including but not limited to fully secured SSL checkouts and money-back guarantees, among others, can help improve confidence and conversions.
2. Use Unique Product Descriptions
You’d be surprised as to how many e-commerce websites use the same product descriptions for multiple products. The same can be said for a wide variety of Amazon e-sellers and many others. The product descriptions can end up looking like copied content, which may turn off some consumers.
Without specific and unique product descriptions given, customers are not able to make an informed choice. They would like to know more about the product they are buying and how they can benefit from it. Invest time to put out specific and informative product descriptions that show off the unique qualities of each product and highlight their value so that your audience will be more drawn to making their purchase.
3. Invest in Professional Photos
They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and in e-commerce websites, this is certainly true. Use professionally taken photos and videos – this will also assure your consumers that you are offering high-quality products and services and your brand has a sense of professionalism. These pictures will also help to show off the product in a better light so customers know what exactly they are buying.
4. Quality Content
Complement your e-commerce website with blog content. This can help to draw in consumers to read and learn more, so they can make better decisions in engaging in your services. Quality content drives traffic to your website, thus increasing engagement and improving conversion rates and sales.
To conclude this week’s show:
Going the extra mile to enhance your website’s visual appeal and landing pages will go a long way to influence your customers’ buying behaviour. It creates trust, evokes emotions, and encourages them to take action without hesitation.
Your website is yours to own. No one can take it away from you, unlike other social media challenges. Over the episode 5 to 8 I have discussed how it should be the backbone of your email marketing strategy. In episodes I discussed the what why and how of how to optimize your site for Search Engines such as Google. And today we have looked at design elements to encourage visitors to take action. You will notice there is a lot to consider when developing your website. Building a business is a full-time occupation. As Sahil Lavingia puts it being an entrepreneur is working 60 hours a week, so you do not have to work a forty hour week. I’ll be back next week to share what I have learned about preparing a social media strategy.
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