My Best (and Most Ignored) Advice for Small Business Websites

My Best (and Most Ignored) Advice for Small Business Websites

It’s common for me to advise my clients–mostly small businesses, nonprofits and independent professionals–on all phases of setting up their websites. Heck, it’s my job!  Often, they even listen to my advice. But not always. The best  suggestion I give out routinely is, ironically, the most ignored by my clients.

When I set up shop for my web design business a decade ago, I knew I needed to be easy to locate online. (Would you take a web designer seriously if you couldn’t find their site?)  So I needed to make some offering to appease the search engines gods. I knew very little about search engine optimization (aka SEO), but did a little reading and got the most basic search engine advice out there: Content is king. Okay. I need content…Write some articles.

But what to write about?  I asked myself a simple question: What information would my potential clients be looking for? The  obvious answer was “Choosing the Web Designer of Your Dreams.” So I wrote it up and put it online. I decided to write in my own voice, complete with wisecracks and informal tone, despite concerns that clients may not take me as seriously that way. Ultimately, I figured I’d get the “best fit” if clients hired the real me, and not my buzzword-speaking-paradigm-spewing doppelganger. What’s the point of having your own business if you cannot be yourself, after all?

I followed up with a couple more (including info on how to become a freelance web designer and tips for do-it-yourselfers) and just put it out there.  And you know what? Those few articles I wrote up have served me in ways I could not have even imagined for a decade now.

  • People who were looking for tips on choosing a web designer found me. And called me.
  • Infomation on setting up a freelance business both added some “expert status” credibility and gave potential clients information about how I do business.
  • Visitors got a feel for what kind of person I am (and many decided that was the kind of person they’d like to work with)!
  • People perceived me as being generous with my time and information–those do-it-yourself tips were not all about me getting hired. And yet, the fact they weren’t all about helping get me hired did help me get hired.
  • I got to share what I hope and believe is helpful information. That was the main point, but it turned into much more.

When someone requests a quote from me, I frequently ask why they choose me. After doing this for years, I can say without hesitation that the few hours I invested in those information articles got me more business than any other single thing I did to promote my business (outside of doing a good job–duh).

Now, I’m not saying every small business needs a blog (although it’s great to have one if you have the inclination and time or staff to write it).  But not every small business has the resources to crank out daily blog posts–and nothing more sadly screams “We’re not on top of our website” like a blog that gets posts once every six months.

What I am saying is that taking the time to generate a few informational articles, of interest to your target market and/or relevant to what you do, is one of the best investments you can make in your business. So get writing!

photo credit: Lost in Scotland

  • Medski The Prophet

    Good lookin on this article and the others. I tend to agree with the notion that giving people an insight into your (real) thought process is key. Despite the possibility that you might alienate a few.

    Save the ones that’s saving you.