One of the very first things I did after starting my wedding photography business back in 2009, was to go out and find myself a simple photography website template. While I didn’t yet have a graphic design degree under my belt — and certainly didn’t understand the significance of branding or high-end website design for a small business — I did know one thing. I needed a website.
But I quickly learned a hard lesson: while building an online presence is incredibly important for any small business owner — having just any old website simply isn’t enough.
I thought website = customers. Unfortunately it just didn’t work that way. I was barely getting any inquiries, and the ones I did get were just price shoppers looking for the cheapest option.
Ugh, so frustrating, right??
[Are you struggling with that? Let me know in a comment below!]
Girl, if you are dealing with this in your own business — I definitely feel your pain! It took me years to figure out the secret to attracting amazing clients who paid what I was worth.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to share with you today — in my latest video:
This is actually the third (of four) videos in a series, all about developing and marketing to your Ideal Client. So if you haven’t already, be sure to check out videos 1 & 2:
You’ll also want to download (and fill out) the free worksheet I’ve created for you: the Ideal Client Avatar!
These other videos and the worksheet will help you understand who your ideal client (your business’ dream client is). And when you know who they are, you better know how and where to market to them. It’s pretty magical — so you definitely don’t want to skip this step!
I know a lot of creative entrepreneurs (including most of my clients) want to jump straight to the “pretty” (the logo design, the website design, etc.) for their small businesses — however, I’m a big advocate for building your foundation first!
So while tip #1 isn’t a website design tip per se — it’s absolutely crucial and definitely the place to start when you want to build a website for your creative small biz!
Not sure where to start? I offer Brand Intensives — one-on-one brand strategy coaching session to help you build that rock solid foundation for your brand! [Click here to learn more]
Chances are, if you’ve been in business for a little while, you probably already have a website. And that in itself is a big step — so let’s take just a second to acknowledge that!
Yes, give yourself a little pat on the back, girl!
Okay, so now, you have to ask yourself:
I’m got gonna lie — this is tough and you have to be really honest with yourself. But if the answer to any (or all) of the questions above is ‘no’ then it’s time to do something about it.
Listen, branding and website design is not the place to DIY — if you’re serious about growing a creative small business that is sustainable, profitable, and successful, then you need to hire a professional.
More than that, you need to work with a brand and website designer who can help you attract that ideal client — which is exactly what I do for my clients! [Check out my branding and web design services here]
Erin originally reached out to me for website design — because she was tired of only attracting “budget” clients. However, when we spoke, I explained to her that a website alone wouldn’t take her brand to that next level — so she decided on a total brand makeover, including a Brand Intensive (one-on-one brand strategy coaching), new logo and brand design, brand photography, and a custom Showit website design.
I just loved Erin’s brand and website transformation — it speaks to her value and expertise as an artist, and her clients transformed as well!
Here’s what Erin had to say about that transformation:
“ I was in a slump and really frustrated with my business. Moriah gave me the boost that I needed and really helped me find my passion again! My business has gotten so busy — and I haven’t and one person tell me I was too expensive!”
Jessica originally reached out to me for new branding. She was making a big change in her business — retiring from wedding photography to focus exclusively on high-end family portraiture. So this was the perfect time for a rebrand!
We worked together on her Brand Collection, where I overhauled her visual branding. I created a new logo system, chose her brand colors and fonts, then designed her brand stationery (business card, thank you card, etc.) as well as her social media graphics and a custom style guide for her clients’ portrait sessions.
At that time, Jessica decided to use the branding I had designed for her to update her old website template. After about a year, she decided the website template just wasn’t working for her.
So she hired me to design a totally custom Showit website — with the new branding I had created.
Here’s what Jessica had to say about her brand and website transformations:
“I was blown away with how accurately she put into a “brand” who I am and where my business is headed in the next few years. There are not enough words to describe how excited, collected, and professional I feel after our experience together!”
As I’ve mentioned in my previous videos, when you start to develop and describe your ideal client, you’ll begin to notice that they have a lot in common with yourself.
Some of my clients feel funny about this — like it’s wrong. However, quite the opposite is true!
You should have a lot in common with your ideal client. You might even discover that you are your own ideal client — and that’s great! Because the whole point is to connect with your clients on a much deeper level and nothing does this more than your shared beliefs and values!
So, once you’ve filled out your Ideal Client Avatar worksheet and know what you have in common, start to share this across your site — by introducing yourself!
The whole point of your website is to get a potential client to fall in love with you, more than your products and services — because when you can do that, their decision is no longer about price! You become ‘the one’ and they’ll pay a lot more for that!
So, when I say “introduce yourself” I’m sure the first thing that popped in your mind was your about page. Now, don’t get me wrong — your about page is super important and you need to really connect with your audience there. [Click here for tips on the perfect about page]
However, it would be a huge mistake to only introduce yourself on your about page! Instead, when I work with my website design clients, we create elements across their whole website and blog to introduce themselves and better connect with their ideal clients!
One of my favorite elements is what I call the “mini bio.” My mini bios live on my clients’ home pages (because that is where most visitors start!).
The mini bio includes a head shot and just a few sentences about the creative entrepreneur. Then I use a button and call-to-action to entice the visitor to learn more (on the about page)!
Be sure to watch the video for examples of my mini bios in action!
I work with a lot of photographers for branding and website design — so this tip is particularly key for them. However, it really applies to any creative entrepreneur.
You need to make sure that the work (your portfolio) that you showcase on your website is attracting your ideal client.
When I was in the senior year of my graphic design degree program, I participated in a multi-state student portfolio competition — and I actually won 3rd place!
However, some of the best career advice I ever got was constructive criticism from one of the judges. She told me to remove one of the projects from my portfolio, because it didn’t fit with the rest.
She said, “just because you made, doesn’t mean it belongs in your portfolio.”
Just let that settle in for a second.
This is a theme I see with most creative entrepreneurs. Simply because we create something (and we’ve probably spent lots of time and hard work on it) we think it belongs in our portfolios — or on our websites.
Your website should only include work that speaks to — work that attracts — your ideal client. Your portfolio should be a cohesive body of work that tells one story — the story that connects with your ideal client.
Just because you made it, doesn’t mean it belongs in your portfolio.
Now, that’s not to say that a particular piece doesn’t have merit, or isn’t any good — it is! I just doesn’t belong in your portfolio.
So now it’s time to cull! Go through your website and take down images and work that don’t fit your brand and attract your ideal client. I know it can be hard to do this. But when you do, you’ll start attracting better clients (and better paying clients) — and that makes it totally worth it!
Was one of these tips a big ‘wow’ for you? Which one will you be implementing in your own website design? Let me know in a comment below!