Owning your own website can be very satisfying. It is a very effective way to share your work, sell your products and services, and connect with those who are looking for what you have to offer. A website is the cornerstone of your web presence.
But there are a few things that new website owners often don’t realize about owning a website.
If you’re about to launch your first website, these are some of the things you should know.
1. It won’t happen overnight.
The day – or week, or month – your website launches, is going to be a very happy day for you! But that day, your newborn site isn’t going to be at the top of the search results on Google. Actually, it’s probably not going to get a large number of visitors. And you’re probably not going to suddenly become rich from selling whatever it is you’re selling.
Your new website is a seed, and it needs time to grow.
Getting well-ranked on Google for terms relevant to your site, attracting visitors, and making sales are all attainable. There are things you can do – and really must do – to get these things to happen. Then, typically, you should begin to see some good results in about 3-6 months, provided you’re doing the right things.
So what are the right things?
1. Regularly update your website. This will keep both your human visitors and the search engines coming back to see what’s new.
2. Get the word out about your site. Use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networking sites. Start a newsletter.
3. Have buttons / links to all your social networking sites on your website. Install social sharing links too, so that others can easily tell others about what you have to offer
4. Link to your website from all your social networking sites, and any other sites on which you have a profile.
5. Get links to your site. This is a big one. Sites without links to them – preferably from related websites – just don’t get found in Google searches. They just don’t.
6. Tell everyone you can about it – online & off.
7. Make sure your site is built so that the search engines (as well as your human visitors) can understand what it’s about. Because most visitors to your website will find it via search (probably through Google), this is critical – and most new website owners don’t know how to do it. This is called search engine optimization (SEO). It isn’t particularly difficult but there’s a lot to learn, it is detail-oriented and takes some time to do it right. You are going to have to either learn or hire a web designer or SEO professional who knows how to.
Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how to optimize your new site for success with search engines.
You might notice that all these things take continuing time and effort. You can’t just make it, and leave it and expect it to do well – it won’t. You really can’t have a successful website without spending time with it and giving it some TLC.
What you can have (and will, if I build your website) on launch day, is a beautiful, personalized, well-designed website that’s loaded with features you need to help you start getting the word out about your work.
How you use those features and content – and how successful your website becomes – is up to you.
2. You can start early.
Before your new website is even launched, there are things you can do to get the ball rolling. You can actually start getting your site on the right track before it launches.
1. Get accounts on the social networking sites, and begin growing your list of followers. These are the people you can announce your site to when it launches.
2. Establish yourself on websites and forums relevant to your work. For instance, are you an author? Get set up at GoodReads, LibraryThing, other author sites, and forums that relate to your work.
3. Get any promotional materials drawn up. Business cards are always helpful.
4. Posting new information on your site on a regular basis is important; why not start on a few posts ahead of time?
5. Write a press release or other promotional material, so it’s ready to go when your site launches.
Of course, you don’t have to start early, but the bottom line is this: the more outlets you have to promote your site after it launches, the more potential it has to be successful.
3. It’ll take some trial and error.
Your website is unique to you. While you definitely should do what’s been proven to work for other sites (as described above and elsewhere on this site), the exact combination that’s going to get you the results you’re looking for is going to be a little different than for anyone else’s site. Every site has its own needs and it’s not always apparent on the first day exactly what those are.
So, it’s going to take a little trial and error to figure it out. That’s OK. Hey, even the first Starbucks store was just a little one-off coffee shop–figuring out how to grow the business–for years before it became a small chain. And that was years before it became a huge corporation. Like growing a business, growing a website takes time and experimentation.
4. There will be spam.
Yep. It’s unavoidable. On your website, you’ll have an email form so people can get in touch with you. Most of the people who use it will probably be sincerely interested in what you have to offer. Great – that’s why you have an email form.
But others will send spam to you through your form, to try to get you to buy their services or visit their website. It’s just a fact of life.
Some forms have features to help deter spammers. But even those will attract some spam. You’re gonna get some spam. When you do, don’t sweat it — just delete it.
5. It’s a lot of fun!
Sure, owning a website isn’t always easy. But it can be fun – you can promote yourself and your work, meet new people with similar interests, make sales, and you can be creative while doing it. Your website can be the hub around which your other online activities and interests spin – it’s your home base, the place you can link to your social accounts, places of business, get the news out, and the first place your friends and customers will come to see what’s new. Having your own website – and, importantly, one that makes a good impression – is the foundation of having a successful web presence.