Want to know the secret to becoming a fully-booked out web designer?
It’s not the ability to build super trendy, eye-catching websites, or having access to some crazy-advanced coding knowledge…
The secret to booking out your design business is actually your own website! And understanding how to properly set it up to sell your services in your sleep!
But after filming, I realized that these are actually the exact principles that we as designers need to know!
Not just for building our own sites, but for designing the best possible website for our clients as well!
So I want to invite you behind the scenes to watch day 1 of that site fixer upper challenge I did, so you can learn the essential foundations most people (including even experienced designers) miss when building websites for themselves and their clients.
Oh and don’t forget to grab your copy of the workbook that goes along with today’s video before you dive into part one of the challenge!
In the beginning of your business, it can feel like setting up your website and getting started with online marketing is some scary, overwhelming topic!
But I want you to know that with a bit of knowledge on the topic, you too can turn your website from one that no one ever even goes to, to a place bustling with traffic from your ideal clients!
Your website CAN attract exactly the clients you want to work with, charm them into dying to work with you and get them to book in your next available slot….
…all without ever leaving your site!
Once you nail the whole strategic website thing, your website truly can sell for you.
And it also means NEVER having to create a custom proposal ever again.
(Which, between you and me, who wants to spend time doing those things?! I know I don’t.)
So if you’re down for your website to do the sales work for you, then you are in the right place!
Together in this challenge we’re going to put an end to useless websites full of fluff, and turn your site into one that gets your potential ideal client to fall in love with you and your work, and gives them the information and ability to book in for your services right away.
SO often I hear from business owners “What should I put on my home page? And what goes on my services page? How do I decide what goes where on the whole site?”
And what generally ends up happening at this point is one of two things…
This results in a whole lot of brand designers or architects or wedding dress designers coming out with strangely similar websites and text that pretty much says the same thing, but in different words.
You know how all the business experts say you need a ‘Unique Value Proposition’ for your product or service?
I have to admit, those experts are on to something when they say that businesses and products or services need to be unique in order to sell.
If I’m looking for a wedding photographer and every single one on their website is that they love love and their drink of choice is an iced coffee … cool, but I mean, you and every other photographer out there too honey. ♀️
As a bride, how am I supposed to choose?
If you’re the same as everyone else, people start shopping on price.
I mean, if you can get the same thing, but for $500 less, why not right?
THAT’S why you don’t want to look at the sites of your competitors when you’re building your own.
Because you’ll start getting ideas of design and layout and what to put on your site and what to say from your competitors, and what do you know, suddenly you all appear very alike.
Granted, I get that when designing a site, it’s hard to NOT look at other sites in general. It’s hard to think up creative website ideas out of thin air.
Go crazy looking at all the inspiration websites in the world. Just not ones in your same industry and definitely NOT your direct competitors.
Start with the websites you personally frequent and like or just businesses in other industries.
Is there a blogger you follow? Or a business you love to buy from? Or the website of a magazine or brand whose content you love to consume?
Write a list of those sites down and take a poke around them.
Then note down, what is it about their site or voice or vibe or layout or design that you really like?
Think back to the last time you hired a service provider, what made them specifically stand out to you? Why did you choose them? Did you have a similar mission or values? Did they offer something at rush speed? Did their package just include absolutely everything you needed, and nothing you didn’t? Did you feel like vibe-wise you just really loved the person?
Picking up on these things can help you reflect these same questions back to yourself and pick out the factors that you’ll highlight on your website, which will then make you stand out and be different from your competitors.
Okay, so now that you know NOT to go looking at your competitors sites first thing, let’s move on to the second thing that tends to happen once people get their template and then get stuck.
They follow the template to a T and just swap out the demo content in the template for their own, making their new content fit exactly into the old template.
Where they see a picture, they put their own in…
Where they see text on a banner, they write in a few new words….
Where there was a paragraph before, they swap in their own words with some stuff that relates to their business, while trying to keep the number of words the same as before so their content perfectly ‘fits’ into the original template layout and design.
And then they figure “I mean, that should work right? I followed the template exactly.”
Which, I totally get. It’s a logical thing to do.
I mean, you would assume a website template was created with site design best practices in mind right?
Unfortunately, those templates are built in pretty generic ways so they could apply to any business.
And honestly, while there are common threads of site layout and design best practices, the setup of a wedding venue website can and should be very different to that of a wedding photographer.
Just as the content and layout and end website goal of the website for a brand designer will be very different from a coach or consultant.
So now you know NOT just to swap your content into your template and then call it a day, let’s talk about what you should do instead!
They land on your home page from Google, or a recommendation of a friend, or social media.
They’re brand new to your service, they’ve maybe never hired someone for the service that you offer before.
They don’t know/like/trust you at all right now. So we’ve got to get them from the place they’re at now, to one where they get what you do, feel a connection to you in some way, see you’ve done legit amazing work in the past, trust you, understand the options and packages you have to work together and actually get them to take the right first step towards working with you.
First, let’s go through exactly how you can achieve this on your site.
Let’s say you’re a brand designer.
The first thing they probably want to see is your past work. Do your past brand designs fit with their style? Are the past clients you’ve worked with similar to them? Do you even have past designs at all?
After that they probably want to know, what are her prices and packages? What types of design work does she do? Can she do the type of design work I want? Some brand designers only do print work, or logos, or book cover designs.
So it’s important they find out if you offer the type of services they want.
They need to be easily able to see ‘ah, that package/service is right for me’ so you want to make sure to clearly define your offerings and if you have multiple, indicate which is best for what type of business or what’s different between your offerings or how to pick the right one for them.
And then after that, they need to know ‘okay, what happens next?’
So you want to make it crystal clear what is the one action they need to take in order to get started.
For a wedding venue, this would be different. First, the most important thing is obviously your physical location, where you are, and getting a sneak peek of the venue itself, normally through a gallery of images or a video.
Some other general venue information would also be needed to make a decision. How many people is the max limit for that venue? Do you have hotel rooms on the premise? Do you offer the catering and staff and bar services? Or do you just get the venue and need to organize the other vendors yourself?
Next your bride is going to wonder, ‘okay, is this amazing place in my budget?’ and after that, she’s going to want to take a tour in person, possibly with 7 family members and bridesmaids in tow, before she’s ready to book of course.
Now, how does this translate into your website?
As you can tell, these two types of businesses need to show different information on their website in order for their ideal client to be ready to say yes! Which again brings me back to my point that just swapping out the current content and sticking yours in isn’t a solid strategy.
So let’s map out what pages and therefore what content should be on each of these websites.
Our brand designer would want to start off her homepage with making it quick and clear what she offers, brand design services, followed by some mini preview and call to action to go to her portfolio page full of her past work.
(If you’re wondering, what the heck a call to action is by the way, basically it just means a button telling your site visitor to go somewhere or do something, so in this case it’d be a button saying maybe ‘view portfolio’.)
After that we know the next most important thing for our ideal client to see is our offerings, so a call to action to the services page at the bottom of the portfolio page would make sense.
Getting your ideal client to that page and having them complete your desired action, wether that be completing a form or booking a call, means you’ve gotten your ideal client to complete your websites true goal!
For the wedding venue, the layout of content and the pages a visitor would need to visit are different. It would start with a home page with that quick and clear info stating what the offer, an amazing wedding venue, in X location, followed by a call to action to check out the venue, driving to a gallery page or ‘virtual tour’ page or whatever you want to call it.
On that page, like the brand designer, you want your packages and pricing, but also you’ve got to answer some important questions.
You need to define what exactly you offer, seeing that it’s very different between venues. You’ve got to talk about total number of guests your venue can accommodate, hotel room offerings either on site or close-by, catering options, bar service options, pretty much the necessities that will be important to your potential bride to know.
Of course you can discuss more of this with her in-person, but state the make-or-breaks on your site. If your location can only fit 50 people and she’s having a wedding with 150, there’s no point in her even getting in touch, wasting both of your time, so state that stuff up front on your website.
After that, you want to WOW the bride with your location in person.
For a lot of service providers, like brand designers, a consultation call makes sense, and that’s enough to close the deal, but in this case, even if you absolutely charm the bride on the phone, she’s still not going to be ready to book until she sees the place in person.
So don’t waste time with an unnecessary step and consultation call, make it easy for her by making the next step on your site a page where she can book a venue tour in person, and drive to that page with Calls To Action from your info + pricing page.
As you can tell from what I defined here, the information necessary, and the amount as well as the final goal of the sites are VERY different between a brand designer and wedding venue.
Both are service-providers, but site info is very different.
Which again brings me back to my original point, you do not just want to swap your content into a generic template and call it a day, because what you need on your site may be very different from other service providers.
Not to mention, most templates I see look super beautiful with photos everywhere and just little bits of text here and there, whereas most websites need a lot more text to explain their offerings and important info.
So trying to fit all your text into the tiny paragraphs in the template won’t work well.
And then lead them through your site with Calls to action throughout and at the end of each page so they know the next page they should go to next in order to get to and complete your final website goal.
See my point here?
Create both a list of the vital info your ideal client needs to find in order to be ready to book
Create a little example roadmap through the sites for the service-providers we talked about, the brand designer and wedding venue.
When I say roadmap by the way I mean basically just listing the pages that your ideal clients should go through, in your perfect-world certain order, that you determine.
I have an example for you linked in the worksheet which you can grab below!