Day 9 of #the100dayproject - Create Your First Website
A big mistake with online marketing is trying to run before you can walk. Many people think they can quickly create a website and they will start selling online immediately. That is just not the case. If you have followed this project this far you will have realised that there are lots of things to think carefully about before setting a website up at this point and those things will strongly influence the design of your website and you will realise in a few moments that we are by no means ready to set up an all singing all dancing website with online shop etc at this point. That comes later. Over the coming weeks you will also realise that having a website presence isn't the end of the story, there are many many things you need to do to drive visitors to your website otherwise you own a gorgeous store on a deserted high street, passing trade will come in but not in the numbers you need!
What we want to create at this stage is a simple online presence. There are then many more things that we will put into place over the coming weeks that will help your website evolve into that all singing all dancing website. At this point we just want to create a simple website for you that will link everything else we are going to do together and that we can build on as we go forward.
A second big mistake is the thought that building a website is rocket science and beyond you. Yes to do it well a good degree of skill is needed, however, starting your business when budget is tight there is a lot you can do yourself with the right guidance and tools that are now available to you. As you start to sell more, however, it may become a distraction and you may wish to move it across to a specialist but starting out why not have a go yourself and see what you can achieve, you might surprise yourself!
Another common mistake is to believe that you do not need a website. Every business needs a website. You might think you can set up an Etsy, Folksy, Not On The High Street, Art Finder or similar shop and it will do everything for you, however, within these systems you work to their rules, you use their layouts, pay their commissions, put things where they ask you, sit in amongst all your competition. Within your own website you work to your own rules. By all means set up an Etsy shop or similar and link your website to it to handle sales, however, make sure that you create a website to showcase your brand, host your mailing list, link everything together including your shops, social media accounts, to show your portfolio, blog and so on. Customers will expect a professional business to have a professional website and a professional email address so show them you have one even if product sales are handled externally to start with.
So where do you start? There are many companies that provide website hosting with many different cost offerings and a wealth of different tools to create your website. The good news is that these days it is very unlikely you are going to have to get involved in coding webpages like I did much earlier in my career. Today most systems offer professionally designed website templates that you can choose from and then you can go in and customise them using easy to use tools until you achieve what you are looking for.
I prefer to use Jimdo. when creating my websites. Jimdo is an easy way to create a website on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet, with no coding required. Founders Matthias Henze, Fridtjof Detzner and Christian Springub started Jimdo in 2007 in an old farmhouse in Northern Germany. They had no budget, but shared a vision: build a tool that makes it fun for anyone to create their own website. Today, people from all over the world have built over 20 million Jimdo websites - online stores, blogs, portfolios, business websites, and more. Jimdo has over 200 employees working from offices in Hamburg and Tokyo, all of whom share the same goal: help users share their passions and build something truly great.
I find Jimdo well supported and it has lots of resources and training materials available to not only help you with the technical side of things but also to help with business ideas and marketing. A great package and what's more you can start with a free website and grow from there!
If you create a new website on Jimdo the first thing you will be asked is what kind of website you want - a portfolio website, an online store website or a blog website. This choice is simply to get you started and you can easily switch between them all so don't worry too much. For a new art or craft business I would choose the first option 'website' as it keeps it simple which is how I like to start!
Next choose if you want to let the AI (artificial intelligence) system build it quickly for you or whether you want to build it from the ground up yourself. That very much depends on you. You can use the AI tool to connect to your Instagram account and it will pull images in for you. It will help you with branding and create something very quickly just by answering a few simple questions. It does, however, have more limitations and can be a more expensive account in the long term. If you are prepared to roll your sleeves up you can choose the other option and choose from a number of professionally created templates, have access to more flexibility and ultimately create something much more in line with what you are looking for. The choice is yours but why not try both options and see which you prefer? I usually chose 'build it up from the ground yourself' but I have done a few of these now!
Next you will be asked what kind of industry sector you are in. I chose 'Art and Design' on this occasion for Tabatha but you can skip that option to be offered a wider choice of alternatives. Then finally you will be offered a list of sample templates each given the name of a famous city. All of these templates have been created by professional graphics designers so they look professional immediately but you are not tied to them. You can start with one template but change to another later using the design option on the menu and you have complete control within the template to change colours, text, images and lots of layout. I chose the 'Shanghai' template first then later changed the template in the menu area to the 'Rome' template to create the website below.
When you create your website you will be asked what you want to use for your business name. Think back to Day 1 - Choose A Name and what you chose. You will be given the option of using a free domain such as www.mydomainname.jimdofree.com. Replace mydomainname with what you chose earlier. If, however, your want to experiment a little first with the AI vs build it from the ground approach use another temporary name that you can discard later. You can create multiple free websites until you create one you are happy with! You can choose to attach a recently purchased domain (Day 8 - Choose A Domain) or move the domain across from your current website but you need to upgrade to a chargeable account to do that. I prefer to run with the free account first while I build the site then upgrade to attach the domain name later.
Today I created a new free website at Jimdo for Tabatha Gell, aged 15, just starting out on her art career. I chose the Jimdo option to 'build it from the ground up' (as I have done a few of these before!) I answered a few simple questions then chose their 'Rome' template which is one of my favourites although there are many others to experiment with. The whole process took me under an hour to add a holding picture, create a simple menu, style some colours Tabatha chose in Day 7 - Create Your Branding and simple text on the homepage from Day 2 - Define What You Do and Day 3 - What Are Your Unique Selling Points earlier in this project. Over the next few days I will examine each of these pages in detail as we add some more content. You can watch the site as we start to build it at www.tabathagell.jimdofree.com.