Hello everyone, welcome to the Balanced Business Leaders Podcast hosted by yours truly, Claire Jones, owner of Liminal Clarity. We are a business development agency that helps small business leaders scale and grow without burning out.
This is the next podcast in a series where we will be discussing the various trials and tribulations that lead me to creating my Three Pillars of Business Success, a framework that represents the foundational systems that contribute to sustainable business growth.
If you’re interested in learning more, please join us in our free Balanced Business Leaders Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/balancedbusinessleaders.
Ready? Alright, let’s dive in.
So I started this podcast as a way to tell my story, particularly when it comes to the many, many different lessons that I have learned over the years when it comes to founding, developing, running, and growing small businesses.
This particular episode is about Websites & Google My Business, because you need to take control over how you and your business are showing up online.
A lot of small business builders tend to be intimidated by these two things, mainly because they are preconditioned to think that it is complicated and takes a lot of time to master. It’s something that exists in the “discomfort zone” for many people.
And that perspective is definitely valid, because for many, many years, this kind of stuff was complicated, it was obscure, and it did require a lot of specialized knowledge. But nowadays, technology has advanced to such a point that it’s now easier than it ever was before.
Unfortunately, however, there are a lot of web professionals out there who would rather keep business leaders in the dark – because they can profit from your ignorance.
I’ve seen too many people get screwed over by overpriced, under-delivered web services – and that unfortunately seems to be the norm. But I’m here to change that. I’m here to educate you so that you can make informed decisions moving forward, so that you can actually save time and money while building your dream business.
There are a lot of softwares and platforms out there nowadays that will pretty much do the work for you and as long as you know where to go and what button to press it’s going to be pretty easy.
This is actually one of the services that I offer for a lot of clients when they’re focusing on their marketing strategies, I help them look at all of the different options to make sure that their websites are optimized for their needs and set up in a way that doesn’t cause customers and visitors to bounce off their sites without buying something from them or inquiring about their services.
Now, you may be asking – how does she know so much about websites?
Well, I’ve created, edited, updated, and maintained a lot of different websites on a lot of different platforms over the years. That’s the thing about small businesses, you kinda need to learn a lot of different things and wear a lot of different hats.
Fortunately, I grew up as part of one of the first generations that had computer classes starting in Kindergarten.
At age 5 or so, I remember sitting in front of an ancient computer that only had the black screens with the green text and printing things out on dot matrix printer. Remember those?
Then, as time went on and technology progressed, I learned all of the different operating systems and learned all of the different softwares that were used by the various businesses I worked for.
Over the years I’ve used databases like Access, LineWatch, The Museum System, ProVenue, and TextAid. I built and edited websites on Yahoo, WordPress, Shopify, and WebFlow. I’ve used softwares like MailChimp, Basecamp, Quickbooks, Airtable, Asana, Adobe, Hootsuite, Canva, JotForm, Calendly, Nimble, Vend, the Microsoft Suite, and – my absolute favorite – the entire Google Suite of applications.
So I’ve had a lot of experience poking around on new platforms and I usually have a good idea of how to interact with and use most software applications
And what I’ve found over the years is that it’s not exactly rocket science, but you do need to engage your critical thinking skills when comparing and contrasting the various technologies that you can use in your business.
Alright, let’s dive in…
So there are three different routes to take when creating a website.
Route #1 would be DIYing it and setting up your own domain hosting and website platform. Don’t worry though, this is often easier than it sounds.
Route #2 would be half DIY/half automated. These are platforms that give you lots of customization abilities but also provide you with robust reporting, inventory management, and backend features.
And then Route #3 is paying someone else to do it. Often, people don’t know what to look for when they’re deciding who to hire so I will also talk about my preferences and what features to ask about.
When it comes to Route #1, there are multiple domain hosts that you can use for this. Some of the more popular ones are GoDaddy, DreamHost, BlueHost, or HostGator.
But I’m a fan of GreenGeeks in particular because, not only are they easy to work with and offer great features for low prices, but they are also a carbon-neutral company (that’s why they’re called GreenGeeks).
They even have a setup system that works directly with WordPress and so it’s very easy to set up a simple website hosted this way.
For Route #2, there is also a whole range of platforms to choose from – from Wix, to Squarespace, to Weebly – there are a ton of them. My personal favorite is Shopify.
Shopify will actually register your domain for you as well so you don’t even need to go through a domain host like GreenGeeks. Just buy your domain through Shopify and the basic pricing I think it’s around $30 a month for the site and $14 per year for the domain.
This platform is basically an all-in-one eCommerce option that combines:
– Website layout themes (free and paid)
– inventory management,
– marketing integrations, like email campaigns and social media ads
– in-person POS (point of sale) systems with card swipers,
– Various reporting and analytic capabilities,
– customizable invoices
All kinds of different stuff, and I just really like the support they offer as well. There’s a huge library of helpful blogs and how-to articles as well as support via online chat or phone. And I really like the reports that they give you on the back end so that’s why I prefer Shopify personally as the eCommerce platform.
And then, for Route #3, which are done-for-you web development services – again – there are a ton of different options. My personal favorite is Cosmital – C O S M I T A L.
Cosmital is an all-in-one web design service and they do 18 month contracts. So most web designers will make you pay a lump sum up front, anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 depending on how complicated the website is.
Cosmital, on the other hand, will charge you a monthly fee for an 18 month contract and so, depending on how complicated your web site is, you will be paying $50 per month for a basic site, $80 per month for an eCommerce site, and $80 per month plus other fees if you want something more complex.
So, for the full 18 month contract, that’s a total of $900, $1,440, or $1,440 plus additional fees (respectively). And they will do maintenance for you throughout the term of the contract, so you get continued support and can update your site whenever you want during those 18 months.
After the 18 months are up, you can either decide to stay with them for another contract period or they will transfer the ownership of the site over to you.
So, when you start working with them, you will talk about layout options, gather images and materials, and then they will create a mock-up site for you. After that is approved, they will do periodic maintenance for you throughout the 18 month contract.
Most website designers are going to charge you a minimum of $1500, so this is actually going to be a discount if you don’t want to do anything yourself. My website is currently hosted through them and I love it.
Next, when it comes to your Google My Business profile, this is the information that will show up on the right hand side of a Google search – including your website, hours, location, menus, products, videos, reviews, anything you choose to feature.
It’s like your business listing in the phonebook but now it’s Google because Google pretty much controls everything nowadays.
If this is not optimized, your audiences are going to get confused because they’re not finding the information that they’re looking for. You will miss out on a lot of business opportunities this way.
Google is the number one search engine in the world right now, there are 5.6 billion searches a day! How can you afford to not use these tools that are available to you?
Remember, this is all about how to set up your digital presence so that it showcases an accurate and well-executed public image for your business.
Your marketing platforms – like social media, websites, and search engine listings – are the infrastructures that will support, host, and distribute your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly marketing activities. The infrastructures come first, because the content we generate needs to be formatted for those infrastructures – if you create the content first, it’s like putting the horse before the cart.
Your marketing platforms, website, and google profile are the cart. Whereas your marketing content is the horse.
And you have to have both:
If you only have the infrastructures, the cart just sits there with no forward momentum. Your business will sit like a dusty sign, waiting to be stumbled upon.
If you only have marketing content, the horse isn’t anchored to anything. Your audiences won’t have context for what you’re telling them, they won’t know what to do with the information you’re providing.
Is this tracking with you guys?
Alright, so next time comes Touchpoints – because you need to know how often you will need to produce and/or engage in the marketing activities that bring exposure to your business. You need to know how many touchpoints, emails, social media posts, ads, phone calls, networking coffees, etc. are going to engage your audiences and compel them to buy your products and services.
I hope to interweave my personal experiences with the business lessons I learned along the way so that I can paint a full picture for you guys.
And please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and love connecting with my audiences.
If you want to learn more, I personally invite you to join us in the Balanced Business Leaders VIP Group Program. In as little as one hour per week, you will walk away with a clear action plan to grow and scale your business sustainably.
Please visit linktr.ee/liminalclarity for more information.
You can find the episode outline, video recording, transcript downloads, related links, etc. below.
And, until next time, love you all, take care, and I hope you have a good day wherever you are.