Get An Awesome Website Without A Designer

Get an awesome website without a designer

I took a walk down this swanky gentrified street in Jerusalem known for it's cafes and restaurants. Most of the joints on this street have given their storefronts a total facelift while others, well...haven't.  Like the falafel joint. Now I love a good falafel and in these parts of the world we have some of the best.  But what happens when a tourist comes to town and walks down this swanky street.  Do you think he/she will be attracted to the hole in the wall falafel joint?

I've got a point here. Stick with me.

What would you do? Would you go into the dowdy looking falafel joint  or would you be attracted to the joint with the beautiful awning and gorgeous windows with pretty people sitting inside the cafe sipping their cappuccinos?

My guess is you'll overlook the falafel joint. So what does this have to do with your website? Well, if you haven't put two and two together yet let me enlighten you.

Your business is working online, right? And this business of yours....it's sole purpose is to attract customers so you can sell them your stuff right?

Ahem. RIGHT?

Right.

So it goes without saying that without a beautiful storefront, you're not going to attract clients. Period.

One of the biggest problems I see in my online community of virtual assistants is that many new VAs and some more experienced VAs don't realize just how important good website design is and why bad website design is bad for business. I say this because as a virtual assistant coach it's my job to review my clients sites and I can tell you that 70% of the VAs I work with don't have the kind of websites that will help them build a profitable business.

Here are some examples of bad website design.  Do not be one of them.

A smart website design can make a huge difference for your business, but design alone won't do the trick. You have to combine great design with great content.

Okay, hang on a minute. You're thinking "Reese, you're overwhelming me over here. I need a beautiful website, killer content...I don't know where to begin!".

Well, what can I say, I like to get people out of their comfort zones and push you to do things bigger and better.

I want to get you thinking about your online presence because guess what people? You're doing business online and with the competition out there if you're website isn't attracting attention than you're just another fish in a vast ocean.

Ask yourself this.  Is your website just another same-sy. What's a same-sy? It's a word I just made up. Here's the definition from the Reese Ben-Yaacov International Dictionary:

same·syadjective

1. Identical, not different. 2. Copies another's dress, ideas, or behavior 3. Imitation, like Spam

I've noticed that there are a lot of VA websites that look like they were thrown together in a day.  Virtual assistants are saying the same thing and their sites, while "slightly" different are all sort of the same boring setup and same boring content.

It's shake up time.

Since most of us are bootstrapping our startup process it's important to know where to find affordable resources to help with websites, copywriting and graphic design.

Below I'll introduce you to some of the best online resources I've found that will help you build a killer storefront for your virtual assistant business. With the help of the below tools, you will attract prospects to your virtual doorstep. Once they are at your doorstep your content needs to hold their hand and invite them in.  Good Design/Good Content = WIN.

Don't believe me?  Maybe you'll believe Forbes?  They're preaching the same thing.

Here's that list.

Website Creation

Strikingly

Super simple and fun website creation that will make it look like you hired a designer.

SquareSpace

Another great website builder that's gaining a lot of popularity. I see more and more SquareSpace sites popping up and they are beautiful to say the least.

Wix

One of the most recognized website builders.  Quality sites with good support.

Rocket Spark

Amazing company, amazing founders (I met one of the founders recently) and amazing offers.  They are a website builder plus you can add on logo design, copywriting, SEO help, and if you need your own photographer, they'll even recommend one depending on where you are in the world.  Rocket Spark is great for those in the UK and New Zealand as they are a New Zealand based company with offices in the UK.

Elegant Themes

Choose from thousands of beautiful themes at a very low price. Want to know my personal favs? Let me know in the comments.

Copy Writing Help

A Course About Copy

AWESOME free tutorial videos on how to write one of the most important pages on your site.  The about page. The great news is that once you can write an about page correctly, you can write any page on your site. Pinky swear.

CopyBlogger

One stop shop for all things copywriting.  Has a free copywriting course and tons of information on how to persuade with writing.

Graphic Design

99Designs

Crowdsourcing design. Create a contest for your project, set a price and a dozen or more artists will submit their work for your review.  Pick the best designer for your project.

Fiverr

Great for getting logos or graphics for your site at a super low price as well as a ton of other offerings (my hubby bought me a happy birthday song sung by a guy in hot pink bikini bottoms - umm, weird)

Canva

I absolutely love Canva. I was one of their first users and a total brand ambassador. Design your own stuff, for free and make sure to sign up for their design school to help you learn basic design 101.

PicMonkey

Another DIY design site like Canva.

Did this blog post entice you to make some changes to your website?  Tell me about it below in the comments.  I want to hear from you.

How To Build Your Own Website

 how to build your own website

So you're ready to create your own website. Bravo!

Most people have zero knowledge about building their own site. They would rather fork over cash to someone else to do it for them.

But many of us are bootstrapping and have small budgets.

The good news is that you can build something for next to nothing. If you can teach yourself how to build your own site (and trust me, it's easy) then you can start doing it for your clients, too.

Think about it. If you can offer website creation as a service, how much could you charge? The possibilities are exciting, right?

So, let's go over the different options you have to build your very first website.

I'll start with the free website builders. They all offer more or less the same thing, a free website using pre-made templates that don't require you to have any previous knowledge in code. These free options don't allow you to have your own domain name, meaning your website URL will look something like this:

www.yourname.wix.com or www.yourname.wordpress.com

That said, each of the below options offer you the ability to upgrade to a more premium package so that you can use your own domain name so it will look more like this:

www.yourname.com

Having your own domain name looks more professional not to mention the SEO benefits you'll reap. Another reason to have your own domain name is that you're in full control of your website. If Wix or Weebly went down tomorrow your site wouldn't be affected.

Below is a list of the free website builders that are most popular today.  I'd recommend you check out all of the below before you decide on one because the last thing you want to do is spend time building out a site only to have to re-do it because the site builder you used doesn't have the functionality you need.

Free Website Builders

Wix

Weebly

Jimdo

WordPress

Below are paid website builders. You won't be able to use these services without forking over some amount of cash.  

Paid Website Builders

Squarespace

Yola

Edicy

While you're busy creating your website send prospects to your LinkedIn profile or an About.me page. They are great ways to showcase your talents when you don't have a website ready.

Some of you might ask what I use for my website. I personally love WordPress. WordPress.com is the free option and WordPress.org is the paid version. It has a steep learning curve but it's the golden standard today and I am totally biased. WordPress, like the website builders above comes with free or premium themes to choose from. Check out Astra to find a theme that suits you. Then hop over to Lynda to get amazing training on how to build your own WordPress site (and more).

Use Elementor with your favorite or customized theme. Change themes and still keep all your designs. Landing pages, homepages, posts, portfolios, products. Elementor can be used to design any page or custom post type on WordPress.

What website builder will you use and why?  Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts about the website builders mentioned in this post.

Rock on,

Reese

The Virtual Assistant Website - What You Must Know & Avoid

website dos and donts for virtual assistants
website dos and donts for virtual assistants

If you want to grow your client base and your earning potential you must have a great website.  If you're ashamed of your website it's time to change that.

As part of my blog post series about how to get new clients for your virtual assistant business I’d like to talk about why what you include on your website is just as important as what you should not include.

I will show you how to build a website that leaves little doubt about what you do, and how well you do it.

Let’s say I am on your website. Within 3 seconds do I know what you do and the clients you serve? If I can’t I'm going to bounce off your site.

To prevent this, make it easy to for your visitor to see within 3 seconds what you’re all about.   Include a clear message, whether it's a photo, logo or a well-written tagline. I would recommend doing all three.

What and how many pages should I have?

The golden standard for most websites is 5 pages. They are your home page, about page, contact page, testimonial page, and blog.  There is a lot of controversy about whether or not to post your rates to your website. If you want to create a page for rates, go for it! Alternatively, you can insert your rates in the about page.

Avoid adding additional pages that just clutter up your navigation bar. I've seen some virtual assistant websites include pages such as “why choose a VA” and even a page dedicated to highlighting a resume. Online resumes are good for LinkedIn, not for a website and you're about page should explain why you should choose working with a VA.

Make sure your page titles are easily understood. An about page is one of the most visited pages on your website so make sure your visitor knows where to find the about page. Stay away from kitschy terms like “Get The Scoop, or My Story”. The same goes with your testimonials page. Stay away from titles like “singing my praise”. It’s okay to be creative with the titles of your pages but make sure everyone can understand what each page is and why they would want to open it.

Call to action

When a visitor comes to your site do you have a place to capture their email address similar to my home page? If you don’t you’re leaving money on the table (stop that!). The idea is to grow your email list so you can market to this list at some point by offering special promotions or services. In order to entice people to subscribe to your email list consider offering a useful freebie. If you don’t have a freebie why not create a VA/Client checklist or a short video on how to work with a virtual assistant. Create something useful for any business owner or entrepreneur to use.

Social Media Icons

Is your website littered with social media icons, badges, links or categories? Talk about distracting! If a potential client lands on your site and you've got all this junk in the sidebar how are they going to know what to do next? The idea is to minimize the number of links that lead visitors away from your site. You want to keep people engaged on your site, not off your site.

Clear, well-written copy

We all make spelling and grammar mistakes from time to time but your website isn't the place to make these kinds of mistakes. Go through your website copy and read all the text backwards to see if you have made any mistakes in sentence structure. Run a spell check. Have a friend proofread the copy for you. Do all of this and make it a priority because your potential clients will choose another VA if they see spelling and grammar mistakes on your site.

Links working?

Go through your website from time to time to make sure all your links are working. You can do this by setting up Google Webmasters. Once you have Google Webmasters set up you can receive a weekly report that shows you if you have any errors on your website.

So come clean, are you happy with your website or are you embarrassed by it? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to ask me a question on how to make it better. I read every comment. 

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Rock on,

Reese

Convert Visitors Into Leads With a Well Written Website

Your website is the main hub of your virtual assistant business. The primary goal of your website is to convert visitors into leads. To do this your website copy needs to be persuasive. I am writing this blog post in hopes to get you to realize that copywriting is one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing. Without effective copy for your virtual assistant (or any business medium) website you are leaving money on the table.

What is persuasive web copy? Take a look at Task Rabbit’s website. Pay attention to their tagline “Do More, Live More, Be More”. The next thing to grab your eyes is their header “Get just about anything done by safe, reliable, awesome people”.

These may seem like silly statements to you but these words sell. They grab your attention. They keep readers interested spend more time on Task Rabbit’s site.

How do you write persuasive, professional copy on your website? You’re in luck. I’ve done the research for you and compiled a ton of resources to save you time.

After you’ve checked out all the resources below leave me a message in the comments. Let me know what changes you’ve made to your website copy and be sure to include your website’s url so we can all provide feedback! I can’t wait; this is going to be fun!

If you’re loving this article, share it on Twitter by clicking here

5 secrets to writing non-sucky copy for any business. This is a FREE downloadable from Laura Belgray, one of my favorite copywriters.

Why writing a persuasive About page is critical to your online virtual assistant business. This is one of my favorite topics by Derek Halpern, an Internet marketing genius.

Copywriting 101 – How to craft compelling copy for your website

Write like you talk! Four Steps to Finding Your Ideal Writing Voice