Christmas and New Year has been a busy time, but I've been so pleased to fit in a number of photoshoots during the past several weeks. Thanks so much to everyone who asked me to help with family photos, personal photoshoots, business photos and public events. It has been a privilege to help you create some special memories.
This week I'm in Christchurch, and doing lots of photo-editing, but I do have some spaces free for more photography while the weather is still looking great. Get in touch if you'd like to book a spot. You can also find out more about my photography services here.
I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year, and that you're enjoying getting back to work as much as I am.
Before choosing products and services to buy, your customers are going to do their research online. This means your website needs to be the very best that it can be.
Give your website a quick health-check, and make sure you’ve got these five basics right.
1. Clearly state who you are and what you do.
This might sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked.
Once a new visitor clicks through to your website from Google, statistics say they’ll spend less than a minute deciding whether to stay or leave. In those precious seconds, you need to make sure that people can immediately identify whether or not they’ve arrived at the right place.
Make sure that your homepage clearly identifies who you are, and what you can offer.
2. Use high quality photographs (preferably individual to you).
We all know a picture says a thousand words. Well, a bad picture also says a thousand words… but probably not the ones you're aiming for.
A website provides you with the opportunity to build credibility, so make sure your photos contribute positively to this.
If you’re going to take your own photographs, try to avoid using a mobile phone unless this is your only option. Always shoot when there is good natural lighting, avoid using a flash, and think carefully about what you’re including in the shot. Photos that are taken with lots of unnecessary clutter in the background; or from awkward, close-up angles should be avoided.
If you’re having trouble taking your own photos, you can have a look for stock images. There are lots of great sites, such as pexels.com, where you can use to find high-quality stock photographs for free.
Stock photographs can be a great alternative if your own photography skills leave a little to be desired, but they do have the pitfall of being rather generic. Ideally, you want your images to show people makes your business, products and services individual. At the very least, if you are using stock photos, check your competitors websites to make sure that you aren’t using the same photos.
If you want the best of both worlds, invest in professional photography that will both capture what makes you business special and result in high-quality images.
3. Get the spelling and grammar right.
I've already mentioned that your website can build your credibility. Well, trust me, potential customers will be put off if you haven’t taken the time to proofread your text. Visitors want to see that you are professional and and you want to show them that you put the effort in to produce work of a high quality. What’s more, search engines will punish you for spelling and grammatical errors by moving your page further down in their rankings.
If you’re not totally confident in your own proofreading skills, asking someone else to check your text is a simple solution. If they’re checking the text that’s already on your site, this also gives you the opportunity to ask them for all sorts of feedback. Could they find their way around easily? Did they encounter any links that aren’t working?
4. Include a way for visitors to sign up to a mailing list.
The average person visits almost 100 different websites every month. Hopefully yours is one of them.
Once they do find your site, creating a way for visitors who are interested in your products and services to sign up to a mailing list provides a way for you to encourage them to come back, and to keep up-to-date with what you have to offer.
Mail Chimp is a great service that will help you to gather and organise email addresses, and distribute professional and eye-catching email newsletters. It also gives you a range of sign-up options for your website.
When asking visitors to sign up to a mailing list, it's a good idea to tell them how often you’re going to email them. Bombarding people with too many emails will simply result in them unsubscribing from your mailing list. Carefully crated, monthly or quarterly email newsletters are a good way to start.
Finally, don’t forget to include the odd special offer for people who’ve signed up. If they’re showing an interest in your products and services, and have volunteered their contact details to you, a bit of VIP treatment is a great way to show your subscribers that you appreciate them.
5. Create a blog, and some individual content.
I recently read that the average person now spends over 60 hours each month online, and much of this time is spent engaging with social media. Unfortunately, the internet is saturated with shared material. Cut through the competition, and grab your audience’s attention by creating some individual content that says something about what you have to offer.
Not only does a blog allow you to talk about your business, products and services, but it can improve your search engine rankings, making your site more likely to be found in searches.
There are two reasons to blog. Firstly, you are creating additional pages and content, which will make your site more appealing to search engines. Secondly, if you are sharing your blog posts on social media, you are creating links back to your website. The more links to your site, the more likely it is to be found by people and search engines alike.
If you’re not sure what to blog about, stick to what you know. You’ve created your business and your website because you are able to offer expertise in a particular area. Giving people a taster of that expertise is another great way to build your credibility, and generate new customers.