A strategic website helps you
(finally) turn your side hustle
into a full-time business
Click the button below to get your free Website Strategy Workbook.
Note: This post was originally published as a guest post of mine at Luxurious Printables, which later moved to Keeshaun Michele. Both sites are no longer available, which is why I’m reposting it on my own blog now.
Want more subscribers? I’m sure you know you need to use opt-in freebies or content upgrades to grow your list. Worksheets or workbooks are great for this. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to create them! I’m going to walk you through creating fillable PDFs using free online tools so you can create worksheets or a workbook for your subscribers.
Designing your PDF in Canva
Create a new design in Canva. It can be any size you like, although for worksheets and workbooks A4 or US Letter size is common. We’ll choose US Letter size for this tutorial.
Click Text on the left-hand side and add a heading, subheading or body text, or pick from one of the text templates Canva provides. Change the font and color to make it fit your brand. Add some text to introduce your worksheet and explain everything someone needs to know before filling it out.
Then, add the visuals for your fields. Add the labels or questions for the fields the same way you add any other text. Add the field background by using shapes.
When you’re done designing your worksheet, hit the Download button in the top right corner of Canva. Download it as a PDF. For our purposes, whether it’s Standard or Print doesn’t matter.
Making your PDF a fillable form in PDFescape
Open the free online PDF editor from PDFescape. Select Upload PDF to PDFescape and upload the PDF you just created in Canva. At the top left, you can choose to insert a Form Field. You can choose from these types:
Text – for just one line of text, such as name or email address.
Text Paragraph – for a paragraph of text, like a comment box.
Checkbox – For a “Yes, I agree” checkbox, or, of course, a checklist.
Radiobutton – For a list of choices where only one choice can be made, like Male/Female.
Dropdown – For a list of choices where only one choice can be made. The list is only visible when it’s opened by clicking the arrow. Useful for a large list of choices, such as countries or U.S. states.
Listbox – Similar to a dropdown, but shows more options at once and allows for multiple options to be selected.
Reset button – clears input from all the fields
Submit button – if you want the form to be sent somewhere
For our fillable form, we’re adding Text for Field one, Text Paragraph for Field Two & Three, and a checkbox. For the text fields, drag the corners to resize the field and make it the same size as the boxes you added in your design.
If you’re creating a checklist for your subscribers to check off items, make sure to uncheck the checkboxes first.
Finally, click the green box with two white arrows pointing down to save & download your fillable PDF.
The resulting fillable PDF:
Open the PDF you downloaded, check that everything is working as expected, go back and make changes if needed, then use it as an opt-in freebie or content upgrade for your site!
Want more subscribers? Get my free Website Strategy Workbook below.
The stats from Google Analytics show your marketing efforts are paying off, the amount of people visiting your site is steadily growing. But you’re struggling to turn those visitors into subscribers, let alone clients. If that sounds like you, you might’ve missed the essential first step to building an effective website.
The first step to an effective website is NOT about technology, hosting or design. Your visitors don’t care whether your site runs on WordPress or Squarespace. And though bad hosting and bad design can definitely hold you back, they’re not the first step. The first step is strategy. Without strategy, design is just art. It’s making things pretty without considering what it needs to achieve. And your website needs to achieve something for you.
Decide on the main goal of your website
For life coaches and other service-based businesses, it should be to get clients. If you’re launching your first (or umpteenth) group program, it’s still to get clients (into your program). If you want more speaking gigs, it would be to get bookings for those. First get clear on the main goal of your website. Then you can break it into smaller steps and add call-to-actions related to your main goal.
Define your call-to-actions
You need to have a clear “next step” for your visitors after they’ve read any blog post or page on your site. A call-to-action (CTA) is what you use to tell them what to do: sign up for your newsletter, buy a product or book a call with you. Think about what you want someone to do the first time they view your website. They say it takes at least 7 points of contact before someone buys, so it might make most sense to get them to sign up for your newsletter.
The Website Strategy Workbook guides you through creating your website strategy. Get it by clicking the button at the bottom of this post.
Once you’re clear on what you want your website to achieve, you can start adding a clear call to action to each of your pages.
- List every single page on your website.
- Next, answer this question for each page: What is the number one thing you want people to do when they’re on this page?
You can have a general number one goal for your blog posts, and change it up depending on the post. For now, focus on the pages and one general CTA for your blog posts.
Keep in mind at what point in the sales process a visitor to that particular page will be. A first-time visitor stumbling across one of your blog posts will be less likely to book your 6-month coaching package straight away, so it’ll make more sense to get them to sign up for your newsletter.
Don’t just ask or tell them what to do either. Give them a reason. Why would they sign up for your newsletter or book a call with you? What’s the value for them in signing up for your newsletter? What value will they get from whatever you’re asking them to do? A call to action isn’t just the button, be sure to add a clear & concise text above the button about exactly what a visitor will be getting from clicking that button.
Make your call-to-action stand out
Be clear in the text on your button. Don’t use “Click here” or “Submit” rather say “Get Started”, “Contact Me”, “Book a Call” or something to indicate what’s going to happen.
You don’t want it to be just a plain link either, make it stand out! Don’t know how to make a link into a button that stands out? Read my post on how to create a custom button for your site.
Get your free Website Strategy Workbook
The Website Strategy Workbook guides you through creating your website strategy. Just click the button in the box below to get it, free!
I was recently helping a client speed up her site, when I found she was using both Google Analytics and another statistics plugin. Using both means additional scripts have to be loaded on the page, which slows down a site. I recommend only using Google Analytics. When I asked her if she was actually using both, she said she installed the other plugin because she couldn’t figure out how to use Google Analytics.
I’m sure she’s not the only one. Are you using something other than Google Analytics for your site stats? Or maybe using multiple plugins as well? Here’s everything you need to know to get started with Google Analytics so you can get rid of other plugins (and speed up your site at least a little bit!)
How to add Google Analytics to your site
If you haven’t yet set up Google Analytics, that’s the first thing you need to do. If you already have, you can skip this part.
There are plenty of plugins to install Google Analytics on your site, but I recommend adding the tracking code with the Insert Headers & Footers plugin, and getting familiar with the actual Google Analytics Dashboard instead of seeing a small part of your statistics inside WordPress.
- Sign up for Google Analytics and set up a property.
- Go to the Admin area of Google Analytics. From the ACCOUNT and PROPERTY columns, select the property you’re working with. Click Tracking Info > Tracking Code.
- Copy the Tracking Code snippet.
- Install the Insert Headers and Footers plugin.
- Go to Settings > Insert Headers and Footers and paste the snippet (without changing anything) into the Scripts in Header box. Click Save and check the Tracking Status in your property to see if it’s installed correctly.
Setting up filters
How often do you look at your own site? You really don’t want your own traffic to influence your statistics, so you need to set up a filter to keep your own traffic out of your stats.
- Go to What’s My IP. Copy the numbers at the top after ‘Your IP Address is’.
- Go to the Admin area of Google Analytics. From the ACCOUNT and PROPERTY columns, select the property you’re working with. In the VIEW column, click Filters.
- Click the button to create a new filter. Give it a name, ‘Exclude my own traffic’, or another name that makes sense to you.
- Under Filter Type, keep it at Predefined and select to Exclude traffic from the IP addresses that are equal to, paste your IP address in the IP address box, then save.
You’ve now set up a filter to exclude your own traffic from your stats. If you travel or work in coffee shops a lot, you may want to instead install a WordPress plugin for Google Analytics that can exclude your traffic based on whether you’re logged in to WordPress or not. If there are just a few places you regularly visit your site from, you can also set up the filter for multiple IP addresses.
You may also want to set up a filter to exclude analytics spam.
Making sense of your statistics
The stats you actually want to know: your most popular posts and where your traffic is coming from
You can find your most visited posts (and pages, Google Analytics doesn’t differentiate) under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
As for the source of your traffic, you can find the social media channels under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Click on Social to see a breakdown of the different social channels your visitors came from.
To see keywords and phrases people used to find your site, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels and click on Organic Search. Most will be “(not provided)”, but there might be some gems in here for you to use to optimize your content for search engines.
Dashboard: Quick overview
On the first page of the Google Analytics Dashboard, it shows you a quick overview of the visits over the last 7 days.
Users is the amount of unique visitors to your site, sessions includes recurring visitors.
Don’t pay too much attention to bounce rate and session duration. Bounce rate shows how many people came into your site on one page and didn’t visit any other pages in that session. It doesn’t really tell you all that much. They might be subscribers already (so didn’t subscribe and get sent to a Thank You page). They might’ve spent 15 minutes extensively reading your blog post and got a lot of value from it, maybe even pinned it to Pinterest or shared it on other social media before they left. OR they might have spent 5 seconds looking at it, realise it’s not for them and leave.
As for session duration, you also need to know that time on a page in Google Analytics is not that trustworthy. It can only track how long someone has been on a page, if they leave that page to visit another page on the same site. So if they go from Home to “Blog Post”, they can tell how long someone’s been on Home (from the time the visitor came on, to the time they went to Blog Post), but if the visitor then leaves the site, they can’t say how long that person has been on Blog Post and it shows as 0:00. So if someone came in at a blog post, read it for 15 minutes and left, it shows as 0:00 for session duration.
Acquisition is about where visitors came from when they visit your site. On the dashboard, you see an overview split into Traffic Channel, Source/Medium and Referrals. It only shows the top sources in this overview. You can click through to Acquisition Report for the complete list of traffic sources.
- Organic search are the visitors that found your site through Google and other search engines.
- If you use Google AdWords or other advertising platforms you also see Paid Search as a separate channel.
- Referral means these visitors came to your site through a link on another site.
- Social is the traffic coming from places like Facebook and Twitter.
- Direct are visitors who directly entered your website URL into their browser’s address bar.
- Email comes from clicking a link in an email (obviously).
- Other is the catch-all for anything that for some reason could not be tracked as coming from any of the other sources.
This shows the traffic split out by actual source. You can see how many visitors came from Google, Facebook, etc. It also shows which traffic channel each source is listed under (organic/social/referral/etc).
Here you get an overview of the visitors that came to your site through a link on another site – and which sites they came from.
On the GA Dashboard, you can also see on what day and what time of day you get the most visitors, what country they come from, what devices (desktop/tablet/mobile) they use and which pages are most visited. For every overview on the Dashboard, you can click through to the full report.
For location, you can click through to the full list of countries your visitors come from. If you click one country in that report, you get to see it split up by region (e.g. by state if you click the U.S.), and can also see the amount of traffic per city etc.
When you set up goals to track for your site, they are also shown on the Dashboard.
Once you’ve set up Google Analytics, you can start getting strategic about your site. Sign up below for my free Website Strategy Workbook and use your site strategically for your business.
One of the most difficult decisions to make when it comes to web design is if you want to do it yourself, purchase a pre-made theme, or invest in a custom design. Today I’m sharing when it’s the right time for each option.
When to go for DIY + pre-made themes
When you’re just starting out and getting the hang of things, still working out what your business is, who your ideal client is (and who isn’t) and what your unique selling point is, you probably don’t have the budget for a custom website nor do you need one. There are plenty of how-tos and tools out there to help you DIY your website. Webdesign + development may not be your zone of genius, and that’s OK. But spending a lot of money on a custom website is just money down the drain when you’re still figuring out your target market & offerings. Make a site you can be proud of, at least enough to make you want to promote yourself. Then you can grow your business to the point where you will be able to hire someone to do it for you.
Unless you like the DIY so much and want to learn all about design and development, keep things simple. When you’re just starting out, you don’t need the prettiest design – you just need one that isn’t so bad that it distracts from your content. Look for a theme (free or premium) with lots of white space. Focus on making your content super valuable and keep blog post images one width and all the same style.
Your site won’t necessarily look unique, but it will look professional so you – and your readers – can focus on the content.
If you want to make it just a little more unique than the pre-made theme you chose, pick just a few Google fonts and colors to use throughout your design.
Going for DIY? Sign up below to get your Online Business Toolkit – with 70 tools every online service-based business needs!
When to go for custom design
What’s included in custom design varies widely from one designer to the next – and so does pricing. Before you invest in custom design, you should have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your site. You also need to be clear on why you need a new design.
Design isn’t just about making things pretty. It’s about solving problems, so make sure your designer knows what problems you want to solve.
Maybe you want to be done struggling with code. To not have to worry about messing up the design when you just wanted to add a new course or service. Maybe you feel that your current site doesn’t reflect what your business is about. You need to be able to communicate what your business is about. Who is your ideal client? And what is your unique selling point? You should be able to answer these questions before you hire a designer, or you’re just wasting money.
Are you ready to start delegating?
Maybe you want to be done struggling with code – you know this tech stuff is not your cup of tea and you would rather spend your time doing what you do best. If so, I have just the solution for you: a custom-designed site that’s super easy to update. You shouldn’t have to bother with code every time you add a course, service or anything else to make it look good. I create custom functionalities so you just add the content and it’ll show up on your site the way it was designed. No more struggling with code to make things look good.
So stop stressing out about your site and free up time to spend on the things you do best. Or maybe just have some more time to sit back and sip Tequila Sunrise with friends.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, check out my webdesign packages.
Going for DIY? Sign up below to get your Online Business Toolkit – with 70 tools every online service-based business needs!
Even with great content, if visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll just leave. Make sure it’s easy to navigate your site: here’s how you can improve your site navigation.
Improve your site navigation: Planning
Planning is one of the most important steps in any web design process. You should be planning out your content and your navigation before you create the visuals. Plan how you want your visitors to get from A to B on your website. Make sure they can get there as quickly as possible. Your most important content should be easy to access.
Your navigation needs to be consistent throughout your site. This means keeping your main navigation areas in the same place and ensuring that you use the same colors for links across the site. Your main menu should appear in the same place on every page, although you should feel free to have page specific sub-menus for drilling down into different content.
Consistent navigation – in both how and where it appears on your site – promotes ease of use and increases your visitors’ ability to find relevant information more quickly. If your navigation is constantly changing from page to page (except where absolutely necessary), visitors lose their on-site sense of direction and must reorient themselves constantly.
Let people know where they are in your site
Breadcrumbs are those little links at the top of a page, usually below the main navigation bar, that show where you have been and where you are now. They make it easier for a visitor to figure out where they are at that moment, and how they got there. They take the form of Home > Sub-Page > Sub-Page. They’re really only necessary if you have a lot of pages and subpages. Stick to 5 top-level items at most. If you only have top-level navigation items, there’s no need to add breadcrumb navigation. But when you do have lots and lots of pages and subpages, adding breadcrumbs will do a lot to improve your site navigation.
Use words your visitors would use. If you’re using icons, make sure to also have text with it. It’s words that really makes us humans understand what to do, will clicking this one get me the information I want, or should I click the next one? Using actual text also helps make your site more easily indexed. Visitors should have a general idea of what they should find on a page even before clicking any navigational link. Stick with things like Services, Products, Projects, About Us, Contact, etc. Don’t try to be too cool.
Also make your URLs readable by humans, it makes it easier to remember and helps with SEO. Use WordPress’ permalinks settings.
People have gotten used to looking for certain elements in certain places. Logos are usually in the top-left of pages, or centered at the top. It’s often linked to the homepage. People browsing the web have come to expect this so you should make your logo clickable.
It may be a bit boring to stick to such conventions, but it will help your visitors a lot in getting to where they want to be.
The One Exception: Sales Pages
Whatever the reason, you don’t really want to distract people with lots of other information. Sales or landing pages work as they help to focus the reader on what you want them to do (i.e. buy your product). On these specific pages, you don’t really need social media links, or subscribe boxes as you would rather they buy your product. You can even leave out your entire main navigation.
Still, you should have at least one visible link back to your main site. They may have gotten to your sales page from someone else’s social media post and not really know who you are and want to take a peek at the rest of your site first.
Add links between blog posts. Besides adding links to related, older blog posts when you post something new, go through older blog posts to add links to your newer content. A new visitor may first come across an old blog post of yours and be interested in reading more, but they might not want to go through the haggle of actually searching through your blog post. Adding links between blog posts increases the chances of a visitor viewing more than just one page or post on your site, and it might well turn them into regular readers.
Set external links to open in a new window. You don’t want to lead people off your site, you want to keep them around to show them all the awesome content you have and the great things you can do for them, so that they’ll sign up for your newsletter, buy something from you or do whatever else you want them to do.
You can add target=”_blank” to your links, or just tick the box to open links in a new window.
If you’re serious about improving your site navigation, you need to test your navigation to make sure that it is actually a useful navigational tool. Don’t just test it yourself. Ask your friends and family, people unfamiliar with the site to test it for you. That pair of fresh eyes will help to pick up on any problems and inconsistencies.
Give them tasks like ‘If you want to [buy this product from me/book a call with me/sign up for my newsletter], how would you go about it?’. Then, sit back and just watch. Don’t tell them what to do, just give them the task and watch what they do. It can be really interesting and educational to see them struggle with things that seem so very obvious to you, and if they do struggle, ask them how you could make things easier. They might give you great ideas for improvements!
So a visitor has been able to find the information they were looking for on your site, but then what? You should give specific directions for further actions if you want your website to serve some purpose. Did you add a Call to Action on every page?
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll have lots of great content just sitting around in your archives. All that content is probably not being read as much as it could be. Your writing has improved over time and it’s unlikely that every page and every single blog post you have on your site is amazing. There always are things in our content we can improve upon. You want your content to be the best it can be, so read on for 6 ways to improve an old blog post.
Improve an old blog post: NOT all posts are created equal
Not all posts will be equally useful to clean up & improve, so focus on posts that have “evergreen” content, which is content that’s basically timeless, for example I could have a post on color psychology, that’s unlikely to change a lot over the years. A post on some design trend might not be as hot a few years down the line, so that’s less likely to be linked to later on. So for improving & cleaning up older posts, focus on those timeless posts that will still be able to get traffic even a long time after you’ve posted them.
Here are 6 steps to improve an old post:
Improve the title
A title can mean the difference between a post being read or not. Use keywords in your title & in your post. This will not only help readers quickly find out if they’ve found the information they’re looking for, it also really helps your SEO. That said, don’t overload your content with keywords. Google and other search engines regularly update the way they index and rank sites. The only constant with these updates is the focus on content being truly valuable to humans. So while you can and should make sure you’re using keywords in your posts & titles, you also need to keep it easy to read and have valuable information for your visitors.
Your title needs to invite people to read your post, but if your opening lines are no good, people will stop reading right there.
Add a Call-to-Action
What do you want people to do after reading this blog post? Add a call to action to make them do that!
Add depth to your post
Adding examples and graphics, suggest further reading or share your opinion if the post was originally very fact-heavy.
Most people rarely read every single word on a page or blog post; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. You need to make sure your content is scannable. This means:
- break up longer text with meaningful subheadings
- highlight keywords
- bulleted or numbered lists
- one idea per paragraph
You can also break up longer text with photos, illustrations, charts and other graphics.
A lot of content can be improved with some extra proof reading. Also pay attention to links that may have become dead, or facts and other info that’s become outdated or inaccurate.
Your readers may interact with your posts for days, weeks, months or years after it was first posted. Follow up on recent comments, even if it’s on an old post.
Once you’ve cleaned up & improved an old blog post, you might be able to add some new & current information and re-post it. For SEO purposes, avoid duplicate content by either using the same permalink of the old one for the new one and remove the old one, or if you have the date in your permalinks, redirect the old post to the new post.
Do you regularly improve old posts? And if you do, what do you do to improve them?