As an independent professional, your primary goal is to find and complete projects that require your expertise and skills. However, no matter what field or industry you are in, you are also a business owner. This means you are not only in charge of managing and running a business, but also in charge of marketing your services to gain new clients.
While networking and referrals go a long way, having a website can spread brand awareness, enhance your credibility, promote your skills, and generate new leads. Yes, it is easy to create an out-of-the-box website and throw some text and images on a few pages, but you first need to take the time to develop a strategy if you want to see real results.
Here are five tips to creating a website strategy that will give your website purpose and allow you to track results:
To develop goals for your website, you need to consider what you want your website to accomplish. Take a few minutes to think about the areas in which your business is successful, where it is lacking, and what you want this marketing tool to do for you. Consider these questions:
Your goals will determine the type of content you put on your website and will also help you measure the effectiveness of your site over time.
Once you have a clear set of goals, you can determine the type of content you will put on your website. For example, if you’re looking to generate new leads, then create content that sells your skill set, includes calls to action, and provides forms so contacts can reach out to you. Or, if your goal is to be a thought leader, create content that promotes your expertise via blog posts, white papers, or guides. Remember, your goals will determine the type of content you create.
With content ideas in mind, put the shoe on the other foot and think about the expectations of your audience. Imagine you are the ideal person you want to visit your website. What would you expect to find? What would you want to learn? What type of information would be valuable to you?
A website is more than a running list of accomplishments. Your content has to pique the interest of visitors in a very short amount of time, or they will leave. Take the time to create content with messaging that gives your audience exactly what they are looking for.
Clearly articulating your value—what you uniquely bring to the table—is an important part of standing out from competitors in your industry. When a potential or current client comes to your website, what do you want them to learn about you? What skills have helped you win projects? What is your competitive edge? How have you helped your clients? When highlighting your accomplishments, be brief and use bullet points so your visitors can digest the information quickly and easily.
A website is not something you can publish and then leave to gather dust. To meet your goals, develop a strategy to measure your progress. Think about the factors that indicate success to you. These could include the number of contact forms completed, the number of visitors you receive, the amount of time visitors spend on your site, or the number of pages they view.
A good rule of thumb is to let data gather and then reassess every 3 to 6 months. You can use great tools like Google Analytics or the website traffic tools included in your website platform to analyze this data. Set benchmarks when you first begin, make changes based on your results, assess improvement, and then repeat the process.
As your business needs change and evolve over time, so will your website goals. But remember, before you create that first page on your website, develop a clear strategy that maps out exactly what you want your website to accomplish, and measure its effectiveness on a regular basis.
To learn more about creating a website to meet your goals, download our guide on Creating a Website as an Independent Consultant: How to Develop a Website Marketing and Optimization Strategy to Meet Your Goals.
Part two of a series about the value of a professional website. Here are five easy steps to create a site yourself.
Four offline solutions to effectively market your independent consultancy for free.