When you are just getting started, during those first few years as an entrepreneur the best way to create your website is very different than the best way for an established business owner to create a website.
Here’s the thing every entrepreneur desires to look and sound as amazing as possible.
And unfortunately, many new entrepreneurs believe the more money they spend on their visual brand and website (aka a fully customized website with all the bells and whistles), the better the results will be.
So they end up going all in (spending sometimes months and months of their time and racking up huge amounts of debt), only to end up with a visual brand and website that doesn’t sound, feel or look like them. And worst of all it doesn’t help convert visitors to clients.
Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, is the entrepreneur trying to avoid investing at all in their visual brand and website so they end up spending way too much time and energy trying to DIY their site, only to end up with a site that looks DIY, they are embarrassed to share and doesn’t inspire action of any kind from their visitors.
To avoid these pitfalls and others it is important to know “what’s the RIGHT website solution for each stage of your business?”
When to Invest in Custom Visual Branding and Web Design
You’re ready to invest in custom visual branding and web design when:
- you have a clear idea who your ideal clients are…you know everything about them, what their problems are and how you can help.
- you have flushed out your offerings.
- your messaging is successfully attracting the people you want to work with.
- you have taken the time to get feedback from trusted peers and ideal clients so you have a clear understanding of your strengths and what that special something is that sets you apart.
- you have a steady stream of ideal client leads, conversions and consistent income.
I have found this kind of clarity and momentum happens at around 4+ years in business.
It could be more or maybe less.
Investing in custom visual branding and web design/development can easily cost $15,000+, but when done at the right point, with the right self-awareness, it will solidify your place as a leader in your industry, and it will help your business grow to the next level.
I’m an expert at visual branding and web design and I could have easily built a customized brand and website at any point in my business, even day one. But I just launched my first custom brand and website a few months ago…and I am in my 4th year of business.
I built my thriving web design business by keeping it super simple those first few years, with a few basic pages and blog on a template website.
All my energy went into the work I did for my clients. I gave them 110%. My focus was on making sure they were happy with their results and iterating and refining my process and offerings.
Those first few clients are so important to your success. If you do a great job, they will be moved to share your name and offerings with their friends and family. The fastest road to growth (especially in the beginning) is through referrals.
I knew it was important to have a place to direct the people I met while networking and to have a web presence so I would be taken seriously be referrals sent by other clients. So I set up the simplest solution possible.
It was visually clean, gave the basics about who I was and what I offered, gave a way to join my community, and connect with me via a discovery call. It wasn’t amazing, but it was easy to update (which I did frequently as I tried out different messaging, free content and offerings), and it definitely did NOT have all the bells and whistles, but it did the job.
I could have invested the huge amounts of time (which equals money) needed to create a custom brand and website but I knew my energy was better spent learning who I loved to serve, working out packages that sell, discovering what sets me apart and finding and working with my ideal clients.
So What ARE the Best Web Design Options for 0-4 years in Business?
When you are getting started, you are still discovering:
- how you want to show up, your vibe, your essence,
- who you want to serve,
- what offerings are going to connect with your audience,
- how to find consistent leads and income,
- and what business model works best.
All of this is completely normal and even expected during those first years. It’s impossible to know the answers to all of these questions when first getting started.
You will be trying things on, experimenting, and testing things out. You will be changing quickly and iterating your way to success. Which is why it is imperative you can easily change the look and content of your website.
So the best web design options for 0-4 years in, when you are still finding clarity are:
- #1 Option: work with a skilled and trusted web design mentor to create your OWN website, either through either:
- #2 Option: have a professional, create an entry-level template website for you for a reasonable price that they teach you to update.
#1 Option 0-4 Years – Group DIY Course & One to One Mentoring Benefits
Even though it has become possible to create your own website, there is still A LOT to navigate through and figure out.
Without the right guidance and process to follow your DIY site will end up looking DIY…and you run the risk of spending hundreds of hours on a site you are embarrassed to share.
One of the main reasons to get one to one mentoring or join a group program is so you have a clear, step by step path to follow that has been mapped out by a professional you trust using their years of experience. This will allow you to achieve your goal of creating a branded website not only faster but with less confusion, overwhelm and stress.
You will have someone you trust to ask questions of and get honest feedback in real time as you create your content, brand and website. I wish when I was learning web design that I had an option to learn from a mentor like you do today. I had to rely on books, tutorials and asking questions in forums with no idea if I could trust the person giving me the answer.
I actually prefer the group course option over one to one mentoring because the group will provide momentum and accountability. Learning with peers can be exciting and inspiring as you see their pages come together, it gives you the extra energy needed to get yours done too.
Many people do not consider the mindset challenges that go into building a brand and website. But sometimes those lessons can be harder to master than even the technical hurdles. Things like fear of being seen, procrastination, writer’s block, lack of focus, and perfectionism can stop entrepreneurs in their tracks. Having a mentor and a supportive peer group to turn to can make all the difference in the world. It can help get you out of paralysis and back into action.
We all want to show up perfectly from the beginning, but with this part of your business, your web presence, you need to be willing to start where you are, with what you know now and move forward from a place of knowing things are going to be changing and evolving. A caring mentor can help you get out of perfectionism and into action right out of the gate.
One of the main benefits of working with a mentor either one to one or with a group, is the literally hundreds of hours you are going to save researching the best path forward. The unfortunate fact is that technology is always changing. This results in MANY of the tutorials you find through search engines are going to be outdated and incorrect. Even the most popular youtube video on any given topic about web design runs the risk of being incorrect depending on when it was created and what updates have been made to the platforms it is referencing.
It is impossible for an entrepreneur who is just learning about web design to know what is correct and what is not. So you could spend hours following a tutorial only to find out too late that the steps not only do not work, but they have completely messed things up for you and now you have to start completely over.
Also there are things you just don’t know to ask about or to research that go into building a website that converts. Joining a trusted mentors program ensures the information you are following not only will be correct, but that you are being lead down a path that will create a website you are proud to share, that authentically represents you and that actually converts visitors to clients.
You get to benefit from your mentors years of experience and the process they have developed. You get to avoid making all of the mistakes DIY web designers usually make and instead create a foundation for your web presence that is stable and that you can build on for years to come. You will use the basic design skills you learn in other parts of your business like create simple marketing materials or social visuals.
Working with a mentor you will ensure your site looks and sounds professional. They will help you craft a homepage that encourages visitors to explore the key parts of your site instead of bouncing off, create an about page that connects with your ideal client emotionally, learn to use testimonials strategically to improve conversions and build service pages that make people feel like they have to work with you.
When you do hire a web designer or VA in the future you will be able to communicate with them in their language, it will be easier to get what you need in a shorter amount of time for less money.
As I mentioned above, it’s about referrals and a basic website where you can share information when getting started – somewhere to send people you meet networking or through social media to learn more, to join your community or reach out for a discovery call. At this phase of business it’s about keeping things simple, and being able to easily change and evolve, to try things out and to iterate your way to success.
An because you have been empowered to create your own website, you will not have to pay someone each time you have an offering change or update, you have new events to promote, you have new free content to share or you want to try on or test a new visual style.
You have one chance to create a great first impression, and often your website is that first impression.
What to look for in a group DIY course or one to one mentoring?
As I mentioned above, all group programs and what a mentor offers you are not created equally.
Building a website that connects and converts does not happen by chance, it takes planning, strategy and clarity. Many of the DIY courses I have seen focus solely on the technology and the setting up of the website. While this is important, it is only one piece of the puzzle. I often say, 90% of the work that goes into creating an effective website happens before you start to build it.
To create a website that converts:
- You need to have as much clarity as possible around your ideal client and your brand’s messaging.
- You need to decide on your site’s purpose, what to pages include, their purpose and a clear call to action for each.
- You need to make your visual branding choices like colors, fonts, and photo curation.
- A huge part of the puzzle is creating content that is crafted to connect with your visitors.
- You will need to decide your site layout/template
- And finally you need to build out your website.
The RIGHT visual brand and web design course will include ALL of the above steps with regular live access to the mentor to ask questions and receive feedback.
The lessons should be broken down into weekly, easy to understand, achievable lessons. They should lead you through each of the decisions and the work above above such as:
- defining the site purpose and each page’s purpose and how that information will affect the page design and layout.
- how to pick the perfect template for your brand.
- how to create content that converts.
- and how to include free content that is easily shareable with visitors social communities.
Your mentor should be teaching a process they have used successfully with clients for a number of years and they should provide strong testimonials that support the mentor’s ability and the process effectiveness.
#2 Option 0-4 Years – Professionally Built Template Site Benefits:
So while joining a DIY web design course like above is appealing for many entrepreneurs, for others the thought of learning to build their own website literally sounds like torture.
That’s why it’s super important to know yourself. For these entrepreneurs who are 0-4 years in business and still figuring things out, even with mentoring and step by step lessons, the overwhelm and stress they will feel building their own website is greater than the few thousand dollar investment it would cost to have it built for them.
The professional can design your beginner site from a template, this will cut down dramatically on the cost and time involved to create the site.
But just as I noted above, 90% of creating a website that connects and coverts, happens before you build the website, so be sure your web design package also includes support for strategy, visual brand and content.
And most importantly whomever you work with, make sure they teach you to update and manage the site once it is built.