When you’re just starting to build your new small business, it can be really tempting to save as much money as you can. There are some expenses you can’t avoid, like paying for your business license or leasing a brick-and-mortar storefront. But then there are other expenses that you can cut corners on, like the tools you use to manage your day-to-day admin and operations. All of a sudden you’re falling down a rabbit hole of business expenses. That’s when anything that’s free starts to look very appealing.
But like the old saying goes: “You get what you pay for.”
One of the biggest variables in your startup budget is how much you spend on your website. It’s easy for you to think, “I don’t have the budget for a custom website, so I’ll just set up a Facebook business page instead.”
But here’s the thing: Your Facebook business page is not the same thing as your business website. It doesn’t even come close.
If you’re relying on your Facebook business page to find customers and close sales, you’re missing out on some major opportunities.
Why Your Small Business Can’t Rely on a Facebook Page
Your Customers Aren’t Getting a Unique Experience
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling sandwiches, manicures, life coaching sessions or dog-walking services — your business needs to provide a unique experience to your customers.
And they won’t get that if they land on your Facebook business page.
When your client finds you on Facebook, they are having a Facebook experience, not an experience that you create.
They will see Facebook’s logo before they see yours. They will guided by the content layout that Facebook dictates (which, frankly, is cluttered, ugly and confusing).
Your ideal client will associate your business with something that lives on Facebook and not an independent and unique business.
The Facebook experience is generic. It’s predictable and it doesn’t have a “wow” factor.
When your ideal client searches for your business online and the first thing they find is a Facebook profile, there’s no intrigue.
But visiting a custom website piques the curiosity. That split second of mystery is what starts your ideal client down a special customer journey. A journey that is more likely to end with a sale.
When your ideal client visits your custom website, it’s like you’ve given them an invitation to your home. They get a chance to see your business’s personality (also known as your brand identity). They get to see what makes you different from the other businesses they can choose from.
When they see your Facebook business page, it makes your business look like every other business out there.
Doesn’t seem too enticing, does it?
Having a custom website can draw your client’s into a journey that you have designed. When they land on your homepage, you can direct them exactly where you want them to go. You can show them exactly what you want them to see.
A custom website gives your business much more flexibility to stand out. It gives you a better chance to make a strong (and lasting) first impression.
Keep it Social on Facebook. Conduct Business on Your Website
Facebook is a social media platform first and foremost. It’s a great place to showcase your business, but it can’t support all of the functions you need to run your business.
While Facebook might give you some basic business operations like a “Book Now” call-to-action button, you still have to redirect people off of Facebook (usually to your custom website) in order to finish the task.
In that regard, a Facebook page is better suited as a marketing tool than a website. You can use it to get attention from your ideal clients, but your website is where you close the sale.
Sure, Facebook is a great place to hang out with your followers.
You can use it to do all of the same things you would do with your personal page, like share updates and photos and have discussions.
But when it comes to actually running your business, Facebook doesn’t work as a standalone base of operations.
And never forget that you don’t own or control your Facebook business page. If you put all your eggs in the Facebook basket, so to speak, all of your hard work would disappear if it ever shut down.
Your Customers Are Probably Missing Your Facebook Updates
When you’re using Facebook to make business announcements and offer promotions, you’ve got a lot of other distractions to compete with.
The Facebook algorithm that determines when and where your posts appear to your followers is always changing. Lately the trend has been to prioritize and feature posts from friends and family over businesses and interests. Most users don’t even get notifications from pages they follow unless they actively engage with those profiles.
But here’s another detail to consider: Your ideal client may not be on Facebook at all.
Your ideal client may be hanging out on other social media platforms, or they may be part of a slowly growing group of consumers who have opted out of social media altogether.
Facebook is a good place to market your business, but marketing directly to people on your email list has a much higher sales conversion rate.
You can create several opportunities to get people to sign up for your email list directly from your website, and then email them directly when you want to promote your products and services.
And unlike your Facebook page, you do own your email list. You have much more control over it. You can market your business via emails that land directly in people’s inboxes, which is far more effective than getting buried in someone’s Facebook feed.
Having a Facebook business page and a custom website isn’t an either/or choice. It’s a both/and choice. You want to be accessible to your target audience from many locations. Ultimately, all marketing channels should lead back to your custom website, where you have more control and autonomy over how you run your business.
This post contains affiliate links and i may earn a small commission from your purchase.
If you’re a small business owner, blogger or online entrepreneur, you already know that growing your email list is the best way to reach your audience and make sales. Marketing directly to your email list is way more effective than trying to sell to cold leads on social media or through organic search engine results.
Yes, you can totally drive traffic to your website from social media and search engines, but then you’ve got to snag those visitors and get them to opt into your email list. That’s where the real customer journey begins.
So make it super easy for your website visitors to sign up for your email list by creating more than one opportunity for them to find your opt-in form. The more you put your email opt-in form on different places on your website, the more chances you have to get visitors to sign up.
Don’t worry about coming across as too pushy or salesy. This strategy is designed to help you meet your visitors where they are when they enter your site, no matter where they land.
Here are a list of seven places you can add your email opt-in form on your website to increase your conversion rate:
7 Places to Promote Your Freebie Without Being Salesy
1. A Banner on Your Homepage
Placing a clear and obvious email opt-in banner on your homepage is the bare minimum of how you can invite people to join your mailing list.
As soon as someone lands on your homepage, they should see your form. Bonus points for putting it “above the fold,” meaning your visitor can find it without having to scroll down-screen.
Extra bonus points for adding a some snappy copy to the banner that lets your readers know what benefit they’ll get from your freebie.
Email service providers like Mailchimp and ConvertKit allow you to create single-line, horizontal forms or “inline” forms that you can embed as part of an overall banner on your homepage.
If you’re just starting out and don’t have a squeeze page for your freebie yet (keep reading to learn more), your homepage is a sufficient alternative. Putting your banner above the fold gives visitors less reason to click away.
2. Homepage Footer
If your homepage has a longer layout with lots of content, don’t make your visitors scroll all the way up to the top of the page to opt in. I know it sounds silly, but let’s be honest — most readers will have forgotten that you have a freebie to offer by the time they get to the bottom of your homepage.
Take out all of the barriers and excuses and add an email opt-in form to your homepage footer. The design can be narrower and simpler than the banner you placed at the top of the page so you don’t feel like you’re pushing your opt-in too hard on your visitors.
3. Blog Sidebar
Your blog sidebar is also a must-have location for your email opt-in form. If you write blog posts to promote your business, you’ll be popping up in people’s search engine results, which means they may only be reading that one post before they leave your site. That visitor may never even see your opt-in form if it’s only on your homepage.
So take advantage of this kind of traffic by adding your email opt-in form to your sidebar. My favorite WordPress tool for adding a sidebar opt-in form is Bloom by Elegant Themes. Bloom integrates with several email service providers and has an abundance of customization features for cohesive branding.
The benefit of adding your email opt-in form to your blog sidebar is that you can set it and forget it. You don’t have to worry about remembering to include it on each individual blog post.
4. Blog Posts
Double-down on your email opt-in opportunities by adding your form after the content of each blog post.
While having your form in your blog sidebar is a good start, adding it to the bottom of your blog posts is a level-up.
Most email service providers have WordPress plugins that let you add web forms to your posts. I use the ConvertKit plugin for WordPress which allows me to connect my opt-in form to the bottom of every blog post I write. (Keep scrolling to see an example of how I do it.)
This option is very convenient if you have various content upgrades that your readers can sign up for. While your readers may not use your sidebar form to opt into whatever freebie you’re offering there, they may opt into the content upgrade you’re offering at the end of your blog post.
5. Squeeze Page
A squeeze page is one of the essential pages every entrepreneur should have on their website. It is an effective tool you can use to market and promote your freebie without distracting visitors with other content on your website.
For example, if you’re promoting your freebie on social media, you can use your squeeze page URL as your profile link. Also, if you’re a guest contributor to a blog or webinar, you can promote your squeeze page link to increase conversion from your exposure to new audiences.
If you send new and targeted visitors to your homepage opt-in instead of your squeeze page, they may get “shiny object syndrome” and get distracted by other content on your website. Worse yet, they may get confused when they land on your homepage when they were expecting to land on a straightforward and simple opt-in page.
Not sure how to create a squeeze page for your website? Many email service providers include a landing page builder feature that you can use as an alternative.
6. Resources Page
Every entrepreneur and blogger should have a resources page. It’s an opportunity to generate affiliate income for products and tools you love and can recommend.
A good resources page also includes recommendations for free products and tools as a sign of goodwill to your audience so they know you’re not just in it for the affiliate commission.
So why not include your lead magnet as one of of the free resources that you can recommend to your audience?
You can take the same format you used for your homepage banner or footer opt-in and add it to your resources page.
It’s not salesy or pushy to do this. You’re literally providing free value to your audience by adding another opportunity for people to get the resources that can help solve their problems.
7. Website Pop-Up
I know what you’re thinking:
“Everyone knows a pop-up makes you look very, very salesy.”
I was one of them at first, too. I thought pop-ups were annoying, and quite honestly, a little presumptuous.
I’d see a pop-up and think, “Hey, can I get 10 seconds to actually read the content on your homepage before you start hounding me to sign up for your email list?”
But then I learned that you can choose when and where a pop-up is displayed on your website. Yes, it’s true!
When I started using Bloom by Elegant Themes I was able to control the trigger for my pop-up, which made me feel much less spammy. Now I trigger it to only display on pages other than my homepage, or when someone has scrolled all the way to the bottom of a page.
Adding a pop-up to your website is a good thing. Most people expect to see one nowadays. We’re used to being inundated with advertising.
And now that you know your pop-up doesn’t have to be the only opportunity you have to promote your lead magnet, you don’t have to feel like you have to display it immediately on your site.
A pop-up also gives your visitors the impression that you’re a serious business actively trying to build an audience and gain customers.
Adding your email opt-in form to multiple locations on your website will create increase opportunities for you to convert visitors into subscribers. It doesn’t matter if your website has heavy traffic or one unique visitor per month. Every chance you get to market your business or blog is worth taking. Plus, these are all ways to grow your email list on autopilot, which is always a welcomed benefit.
*THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS AND I MAY RECEIVE A COMMISSION FROM YOUR PURCHASE.
When you visit a website, chances are you use the navigation menu at the top of the screen to tell you what pages to look at. When you decide to create your own website, you might think of that same list of pages and say, “That’s what I need for my site.”
Small business owners and online entrepreneurs can get away with having 4-5 pages in the navigation bar. But your website needs more pages than what’s shown in that menu.
These extra website pages will protect your business legally, help you connect with your visitors and help you build your email list.
10 Website Pages Every Entrepreneur Needs
Your homepage is more than just the first page people see when they visit your website. It’s your first impression. It’s the page where you get to explain what you business is (which may not be obvious at first). Your homepage can also serve as a mini sales page, outlining what you have to offer and what kind of client you target.
Your homepage can also act as a “greatest hits” page, showing things like:
- Your picture
- Your business tagline
- Featured blog posts that might interest potential clients
- A mini description of your services with a button that leads to that page (more on services later)
- Featured product images with a button leading to your online shop (more on that later, too)
- A call-to-action to sign up for your email list
- Social media feeds and/or follow buttons
You may not have all of this content when you’re just starting out, and that’s okay. As time passes, you will develop more content that you can add to your page.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Your homepage is often the only page that people visit, so don’t try to save the good stuff for some place else.” quote=”Your homepage is often the only page that people visit, so don’t try to save the good stuff for some place else.” theme=”style1″]
2. About Page
You may be thinking, “But wait, you just told me to talk about my business on my homepage. So what’s the difference between that and my About page?”
Good question. Your About page gives your visitors deeper insight into who you are. More than that, your About page shows your visitors WHY you do what you do.
A lot of people think the About page should read like a resume, but that’s an old-school technique. Nowadays the trend is to use your About page to share your philosophy on your industry. It’s where you show your readers that you relate to them.
Are you a health coach? Tell your readers what inspired you to start your business. Maybe it’s because of a personal (and relevant) story. Are you a wedding photographer? Tell your readers your philosophy on capturing those special moments on film.
Use your About page to tell people why you love doing what you do. You may have a long list of qualifications and experience, but your readers want to know that you’re the right fit for them.
3. Blog Page
Yes, you need a blog page. This is where you get to show off your knowledge. This is where you get to educate your readers, one topic at a time. This is where you get to create tutorials so when clients ask, “How do I do that?” you can say, “Oh, let me send you a link to a post I wrote that answers your question.”
Your blog page is also where cold leads can discover you in their search engine results. It’s where you can collect content that you can repurpose for social media posts. (You know how you never know what to talk about on your business profiles?)
If you’re not already blogging as a way to promote your business, I strongly encourage you to start.
4. Services/Pricing/ Shop Page
You need a page that shows your readers what they can pay you for. That’s why you own your own business, right?
If you have a service-based business, this page will list your packages and pricing. Put a little spice in your copy and let your readers know what they get when they hire you.
Should you list your prices on your Services page?
Yes. Here’s why:
- You can field a lot of unnecessary inquiries by showing your prices up front
- You won’t have to waste time talking to people who can’t afford you
- Your package descriptions should focus on the value you provide
If you have a products-based business, you might call this page Shop instead of Services. Of course, your online shop will have more than just one page, but your main Shop page is the portal for all of that.
6. Terms & Conditions
In the simplest terms, your Terms & Conditions page limits your liability and lets your website users know what they are agreeing to when they use your site.
7. Squeeze Page or Landing Page
Your squeeze page is something you can use to get people to sign up for your opt-in freebie without being distracted by anything else on your site.
A squeeze page doesn’t have a navigation bar, so readers can’t say, “Oooh, shiny objects! I’m gonna click this button or page instead.”
Having a squeeze page also gives you a specific URL to give people when you only want them to visit that page on your site. Say you’ve created a YouTube tutorial and you’re offering a free download that outlines what you just showed in the video. You would paste the URL for your squeeze page into your YouTube show notes. That way, your visitor isn’t confused about where they are when they click the link.
A squeeze page gives a person the option to opt-in and nothing else.
8. Thank You Page
Your Thank You page is another page on your website that won’t be shown on your navigation bar. It’s what people see after they sign up for your freebie or subscribe to your email list.
Your email service provider (like Convert Kit or Mailchimp) will give you the option to use a submission confirmation that they create, but here’s why using a Thank You page is a better idea:
- You can personalize your message with your copy and images
- You can give your subscriber instructions for what to expect next (e.g. “Your freebie is on the way! Check your spam folder in case you don’t see it in your inbox.”)
- You can track your conversions by connecting your Thank You page to Google Analytics
Your Thank You page gives you yet another opportunity to connect with your audience and leave a lasting impression.
9. Contact Page
You want to invite your website visitors to contact you. Be accessible to potential clients in case they have questions. Other entrepreneurs in your niche might want to collaborate with you. Make it easy for people to do that.
You don’t need to add a lot of copy and images to your Contact page. A simple headline with a call to action is fine.
You can either add your email address directly to the page or insert a contact form like Typeform or Gravity Forms for WordPress.
The good thing about using a contact form is that you can insert it into other pages on your website, like your About page. You can also customize the copy which adds a personal touch.
10. Resources Page
Last but certainly not least is your Resources page. This is not mandatory either, but you will notice that a lot of online entrepreneurs have one in their navigation bar.
A Resources page is where you make recommendations for products, tools and services that relate to your business and your clients.
For example, my Resources page includes suggestions for web hosting, email service providers, project management apps and other tools that a new online entrepreneur could benefit to know about.
Your readers will appreciate that you have sorted through all of the choices out there that confuse them. Your Resources page tells them, “Here, I’ve already done the research and here are the products that I use and can recommend.”
Having a Resources page can also generate affiliate marketing income for you. Affiliate marketing is basically promoting products that you use from companies who offer you a commission for the sale. Make sure you add a transparent affiliate disclosure on your page, though. No sleazy sales tactics allowed, please.
You may think you only need five website pages, but that’s just the beginning. Your website doesn’t need to start out with all of these pages. You can add some of them as your business grows. However, if you are serious about launching a successful business, you will want to give your users the best experience possible. You also need to protect your own interests.
How’s your business working out for you? Do you have a steady roster of clients who keep coming back to work with you again and again? Are your products practically selling themselves? Is your calendar booked from here to the next Winter Olympics?
Is answer to any of those questions is “Mmm, not so much…”?
Then you need to be blogging for your business. Like right now.
You’re probably thinking, “But, isn’t blogging for college kids and stay at home moms?”
Yes and yes. Oh, and by the way, and both of those groups are crushing the small business game right now.
Why? Because they are using their blogs as tools to promote their various businesses and side hustles.
So here’s the thing — blogging isn’t like journaling or writing in a diary. It’s more like sharing what you know so you can provide valuable information to your audience. In your case, your audience is your clients, customers and prospects.
If I told you that writing blog posts for your business could increase your sales and help you book more clients, would you be interested in adding that task to your to-do list?
Well, if you need some more convincing, here are a few benefits of blogging for your business:
Blogging for Your Business: Why You Need to Start Now
1. Position yourself as a credible expert in your industry
Show your potential clients and customers that you know your stuff by writing about topics that relate to what you offer. You may take those topics for granted, but I guarantee you that your audience knows less about it than you do. And they are looking for an expert like you to break those topics down for them.
Blogging about topics that you are an authority on will give you credibility. It will make your readers trust you. Once they trust you, they will be more likely to pay you for whatever products or services you offer.
Here are some topics that you can start blogging about today, no matter what your industry is:
- How-to tutorials
- Current trends in your industry
- Reviews, comparisons or benefits of resources or tools in your niche
- Why a particular habit or skill is important to your audience
- Introductions to the essential principles or guidelines of your niche
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Whether your a holistic health coach, a bookkeeper, a baker or a landscaper, you have valuable knowledge that you can share. All of that knowledge needs to be posted to your blog.” quote=”Whether your a holistic health coach, a bookkeeper, a baker or a landscaper, you have valuable knowledge that you can share. All of that knowledge needs to be posted to your blog.” theme=”style1″]
2. Get more search engine visibility
Whenever I want to find an answer to a question or solve a problem, I google it. Then I scroll through the first page of search results and find the blog post that has the information I’m looking for.
I’m sure you’ve done an internet search dozens of times to figure something out. How else would you have learned how to cook vegan, gluten-free mac & cheese for your cousin for Thanksgiving?
Your blog post could that problem solver for someone in your audience.
It’s all part of a larger sales tactic to bring more visibility to your business. It starts with a blog post and builds into a relationship with you and your reader. Every time someone finds your blog post through a random search online, you have the chance to convert that reader into a customer.
But you don’t have to rely on Google alone in hopes of getting noticed. I like to add all of my blog posts to Pinterest, which is a popular search engine due to its visuals-first approach. Your audience may prefer to use Pinterest as their go-to search engine, especially if they are looking for DIY ideas.
It will take time for your blog posts to drive traffic to your website (unless you already have a website with heavy traffic or you’ve written that definitive post to beat all posts which put you at the top of the search results.)
If you’re not blogging for your business, you’re missing opportunities to show up in thousands of individual searches.
3. Repurpose your blog for social media content
Your blog and your social media content should always be intertwined. You can repurpose your blog posts as fresh content for all of your social media profiles. Here’s how:
- Post a status update with your blog’s link to Facebook or Twitter
- Add a photo to your Instagram grid with a caption that includes a CTA to read your blog
- Talk about a few of your blog’s main points in an Instagram story or Facebook Live
If you’re struggling to figure out how to use social media to promote your business, you can always rely on your blog posts to give you something to post online. Plus, sharing your new blog posts on social media is another way to drive traffic to your website. Now, isn’t that cyclical?
4. Stay in touch with your email list
When someone subscribes to your email list, they are saying, “Yes, I want to hear more from you.” So keep in touch with them by sending your blog posts directly to their inboxes. Your email subscribers are warm leads. They’ve opted in to your message, so don’t hesitate to share it with them.
Send regularly scheduled emails to your subscribers with a strong call-to-action to read your latest blog post. You can even copy and paste the entire post into the body of the email.
Let your email list get to know you over time. Build their trust without asking them to buy anything at first. This will eventually lead to increased sales and more clients.
Marketing is essential to every small business. Dedicate a block of your time to blogging for your business and promote your posts on social media and to your email list. It’s free advertising.
Website branding is both simple and nuanced. There are some basic elements that every website should have in order to support the identity and niche of your blog or online business. Once you identify those essential elements, it’s up to you how you choose to design them.
Creating the branding for your website is a lot like building the wardrobe in your closet. Just like a stylist would tell you that every woman needs a Little Black Dress or the perfect-fitting pair of jeans, a web designer will tell you that every website needs a few key pieces to complete your branding collection.
Website Branding: The 5 Essential Elements You Need
1. Color Palette
When I’m designing a website branding package like the premade kits in my Etsy shop, I usually start by choosing the color palette. This gives me a better idea of the overall look and feel for the total brand. Most website color palettes include five to seven shades (including a shade of white and black).
In general, it’s good to have a combination of light and dark shades in your color palette. For the sake of this article, we won’t go too deeply into color theory. Just remember that your color palette should have the following:
- 2 darker shades that ere easy to read on a white screen
- A fun accent color that really pops (great for hyperlinks, eye-catching buttons and call-to-action sections)
- 1-2 light colors that can be used to break up large sections of white screens
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. I’ve seen websites that are completely designed in black and white and they looked super chic. I’ve also seen monochromatic palettes where everything is made up of several shades of pink.
2. Font Choices
Picking the fonts for your website branding package can be really fun once you understand the way fonts express certain moods and feelings.
There are four main types of fonts that most web designers will choose from:
- Serif: Recognizable by the little feet on the letters, serif fonts evoke classic and traditional design. They are perfect for titles or headers and large blocks of text.
- Sans Serif: Meaning “without serif,” Sans Serif fonts are have clean, minimal and modern lines. They are also perfect for titles/headers and large blocks of text.
- Display: These fonts are very stylized, like something you might find in a sci-fi logo or Broadway marquee. They should be used sparingly as a logo only and not for large blocks of text.
- Scripts: These fonts look like handwritten lettering or cursive. They can add a very personal touch. Like display fonts, they are meant to be used sparingly.
Font Pairing is a major trend in website branding. That means picking two fonts that work well together. For example, you could pick a serif font for your headers and titles, and pair it with a sans-serif for your paragraph texts.
Lately font pairings have expanded into trios, and web designers will add a third font (usually a script or display) that can be used sparingly as an accent.
A free tool like Google Fonts [insert link] is a perfect place to search through hundreds of fonts. They also include recommendations for pairings.
3. Header Logo
The header logo is the main focal point of your website branding. As you are preparing to build your website [insert link], you’ll want to have your header logo created so you can get a sense of how it will look on your navigation bar.
A lot of people over-design their header logos with fanciful font choices or graphic images. If you’ve ever watched Project Runway, you know Tim Gunn is always telling the contestants to edit their designs. The same principle applies to your website’s header logo.
It’s perfectly okay to keep it simple and just stick with a text logo that doesn’t have any graphics or icons. If you’re just starting out and you don’t have the budget to get your logo professionally designed, take the pressure off of yourself to design something that’s too intricate. It’s not uncommon to see blogs and online businesses go through a rebrand ever few years or so as they grow.
4. Alternative Logo
An alternative logo is something you can use when the dimensions of your main logo won’t fit into the space of wherever you’re placing it. For example, if your logo is a long rectangle that isn’t very tall, it might not be the right size for a Facebook profile image, which is more of a square.
Alternative logos aren’t used as often as your main logo, but it’s nice to have a backup in case you need it.
Submarks are the final icing on the cake that is your website branding. Submarks are also known as site icons or favicons. Basically, a submark is a small accent element.
If you’ve ever looked at a Google Chrome tab, you’ve seen a submark in action. It’s the little icon on the left hand side of a web browser tab. For example, Google’s submark is the letter G inside a white circle.
Submarks can also be used as social media profile images or your brand’s icon. I like to think of using submarks the same way you might use a rubber stamp on paper.
Don’t overthink your website branding. Some of the best branding out there is as simple as can be, and that’s why it stands the test of time and is still relevant. In the end, it’s all digital. Nothing is done that can’t be redone or undone. You should always feel free to change your brand design if it no longer represents you and your business.