Remember those linebacker-padded ‘power suits’ women wore in the 80’s? Neon leggings? See many around today? Exactly. Just like fashion, websites get out of date, and like bad fashion, disaster’s not far behind.
So how does a website get ‘dated’?
There’s the blatantly obvious – like static html websites that looks like they were built when we were all partying like it was 1999, all scroll-y, flash-y, Times New Roman (if your site looks like this, know that you’re missing out in a huge way by not reaching your potential audience). Then there’s the more hidden and insidious faux-pas in the background that can sabotage the success of your business and cost you. Big time.
Do I have your attention? Good. Because I see mistakes, easily avoidable (and easily fixable) mistakes, every single day that tear me up because they directly affect the potential of your business to create a life you love in very big and profound ways.
So what are they?
Mistake #1: Not Being in WordPress
If you’ve got a static HTML site, let me say (with love) that you really, really (and I’ll say it again), REALLY need to get your business into the WordPress platform. And not WordPress.com, but a self-hosted WordPress site at a reputable hosting company like Starrhost.com, Hostgator.com or other highly regarded providers. When you do, not only will you be able to do your own content updates, saving yourself a lot of moolah in the process, but you’ll have complete control over your website. No more being held hostage by some web guy who won’t give the passwords to the back end of your own site, then disappears and takes your entire online business presence with him. Nobody needs that.
Now, having complete control over your own website is pretty great. But even better is the fact that the search engines love WordPress (so if you do things right, your site will end up higher in the page ranks, which means its easier for people to find your business), it’s designed to be state-of-the-art when it comes to what’s happening online, and it’s super easy to keep updated (see Mistake #2 below).
As with anything worth doing, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but there are a whole lot of skilled people out there (including ourselves… ) who would be thrilled to help via Skype tutoring sessions, as well as countless fabulous tutorials online. Don’t have time, or not interested in learning how to move your existing site to WordPress? We can help there too.
Mistake #2: Not Keeping WordPress, Plug-ins and Themes Up-to-Date
Unfortunately, I see this a lot. Way too much, actually. Beautifully designed sites I know people spent a lot of money to have built that haven’t had WordPress, the theme, or the plug-ins updated in months. What’s the problem with that, you ask? If you fail to keep these components updated, you run the risk of:
- Having your site crash when everything gets too old and potentially starts conflicting with other software; and/or
- Getting hacked and losing your site entirely (at least temporarily). The WordPress ‘core’ is updated regularly, sometimes to introduce new features, but more often to seal up security holes that may create space for unsavoury types to access your site and do their nasty business.
I’ve seen clients lose days of potential sales because they neglected their site maintenance. I’ve heard about even worse disasters through the grapevine, where content is lost and the site needs to be rebuilt from scratch.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Most WordPress core and plug-in updates are simple to do and don’t create any issues. Theme updates can be little more risky in terms of potential conflicts with plug-ins and other old themes you may have installed. But usually, in a given month, it shouldn’t take you any more than an hour to update everything. Some months will be more work than others, depending on how many updates are required, and if something goes sideways, you could be in for hours of sleuthing trying to figure out what happened. To avoid any hassle, a lot of business owners choose to have a WordPress expert do the updates for them every month. Removes the potential for ‘oopses’ and creates peace of mind. Worth every penny.
Mistake #3: No Interaction
When you build a business online, you’re building a community – or at least you should be. And the best way to do that is to first create content that people actually want to read, then invite them to comment, and finally, you have to actually go back regularly and respond.
You’ve probably seen some of those high profile blogs where readers are leaving comments but it seems like nobody’s home – the blog owner/writer never comes back to answer readers’ questions or even acknowledge appreciation for the visits and comments. Crazy. If you have comments open on your site, and people are commenting, make sure to go back regularly and show them you appreciate them and that you’re there to serve. If you don’t, you’re missing a massive opportunity. People with multi-million dollar brands are showing up to respond to readers and followers personally. The rest of us have no excuses.
Note: I’ve also seen a few big name blog owners respond to readers, but frankly quite rudely. I haven’t figured out if that’s worse than not responding at all… but at least it’s a response and shows they care about your business. I just don’t understand why they have to be so nasty.
Mistake #4: Never Posting New Content
Full disclosure: as of the time of writing this post, I haven’t been posting to my blogs (here or at modernhomesteading.ca) as frequently as I know I should. But I do post. Here’s the thing – search engines love fresh content. Regular content. Valuable content. A static website that’s the same today as it was 6 months ago doesn’t serve your business or your customers and will put you at a disadvantage online. Your competitor who posts to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and who uploads fresh, useful articles, how-to’s and videos to their WordPress site every week (or even better, daily) will beat you to your customers every time.
If you resist the idea of creating consistent content like I used to, have no fear – it’s actually easier than it might seem. Blog posts don’t have to be long – they just have to provide value for your customer or potential customer. Articles as short as 500 words are totally acceptable. And if the thought of writing feels about as comfortable as sitting on a chair of tacks, you can easily upload short video or Soundcloud recording (1-2 minutes, or even shorter) on a topic important to your audience. This is where your trusty smartphone comes in super handy. It doesn’t have to be super polished – it just has to be something your audience is interested in, and it has to be authentically YOU.
Which leads us to the last big mistake…
Mistake #5: Feeling Like you Have to do it All Yourself
Anyone struggle with this, the downfall of many a new entrepreneur? (Hand raised). If so, I can tell you you’re definitely not alone.
Until just recently (and maybe even still… just a little bit), this was me. Because I can do a lot of different things, I felt like, “Why should I bother hiring someone else to do this when I’m perfectly capable. And I’ll save a few bucks.” Sound familiar? Ffftt! As a recovering perfectionist who just about went batty trying to do it all myself, I’ll tell you right now – it can’t be done. Not and have a healthy body, great relationships, a successful business and a life that looks the way you want it to. Not. Possible. At all.
Bottom line is that every penny you spend in getting competent help for the tasks you’re not so good at or don’t enjoy will come back to you two fold, if not more. You know what I’m talking about – those tasks you end up spending WAY too much time on. Time you could be using to build your business… or spending on activities you really enjoy… or with your family.
Maybe you need a virtual assistant to schedule all your social media posts and set up your newsletter each week. Maybe you need some help with site back-ups and updating your WordPress plug-ins and theme instead of spending hours fighting on tech support forums when something goes wrong and your site crashes. Or maybe you really need to quite trying to learn Adobe Illustrator and just have a professional graphics person design that new header you need for your upcoming product release.
You can save yourself a lot of headaches, regain time with your family and create an amazing business if you’d just admit one thing – you can’t do it all yourself. Nor should you. You’ve got bigger and better things to do… you’ve got a message to bring to the world!
Here’s your task for today:
- Grab a pen and paper, your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
- Open up your website and take a good look at it, based on the list above, then make a list of 5 areas where it could be brought up to date.
- Take a look at that list, and identify one thing you could do today. Then either do it yourself, or get someone who’s a pro in that area to take it off your plate.
- Take a look at the list again, and pick another thing you could get done – or have someone else do – by the end of this week.
- Do the work or connect with someone else who can get the work done for you!
Sharing time! Have you ever made any of these mistakes with your website? What did you do to fix them? We’d love to hear your stories, as they’ll help others in the same boat. Please let us know in the comments below!